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A perfect day trip to Lille

A perfect day trip to Lille – Things to do in Northern France

Lille in the Northern part of France, which is close to the Belgian border is an ideal day trip city. It’s very easy and inexpensive to travel to Lille – around 80 minutes by one of the European bus lines from London or less than 2hours from Bruges or Brussels. There is also an opportunity to visit Lille by train.

Lille, Northern France
Lille, Northern France

Lille is not at the top of most European bucket lists but it’s fifth largest urban area in France with a rich history. It’s the centre of French Flanders with crucial influence of Belgian and Flemish culture. It has a compact size so you easily reach everything by feet, you can also rent a bike. You can also enjoy a bus tour through Lille which introduces you to the main sightseeings. All in one 1 day in Lille is enough to discover the best of it.

Lille, France
Lille, France

There are some interesting facts about Lille like it was Cultural Capital of Europe in 2004. Moreover the name “Lille” evolved from “L’Île”, meaning “island”. The French city originated on a tiny island in the river Deûle.

Where to stay in Lille

Hotel Ambassadeur, Lille
Hotel Ambassadeur, Lille

There is a different price range of hotels and B&B places in Lille, France. You can definitely find a budget staying but also very fancy accommodations. I would definitely recommend Hotel Ambassadeur. This hotel located in the centre of Lille just next to the Hospice Gantois and less than 1km from Grand Place Lille. Rooms are small but tidy and cozy. Ah and of course the price is unbeatable!

One day in Lille – Top things to do

The Place du Théâtre, Lille
The Place du Théâtre, Lille

Start with the Place du Théâtre

When arriving at Lille Flanders Station the first beautiful sightseeing of Lille that you will discover will be the Place du Theatre. This is where you can start to absorb some of the Lille’s main sights.

To recharge your batteries in the beginning of your day have a delightful breakfast at one of the cafés at the Place du Theatre. All of them look very charming and serve delightful croissants and coffee. We stopped by We are ARA, which is not very traditional but still worth of visiting.

Try some beers in Lille
Try some beers in Lille

Opera De Lille

Take a quick look around at the Place du Theatre and you will discover Lille’s grand Neo-classical Opera House, officially inaugurated in 1923. The architecture and opera’s facade are pretty impressive, which has been designed originally by Lille architect Michael Joseph Lequeux but because of a fire accident in 1903 Opera de Lille has been redesigned by multiple architects.

The best view of the city from Beffroi de Lille

Beffroi de Lille
Beffroi de Lille

The symbol of Lille and also a must-do attraction is definitely the 104 metres high Beffroi de Lille or Belfry. You can climb over 100 steps to cherish the 360 degree view from the top of the UNESCO heritage site. On a clear day you can observe Mountains Flanders and the valley of the Lys. Try to buy ticket online and you will save 1,50€!

The Place Charles de Gaulle

One of Lille’s first attractions that you are going to see is the Place Charles de Gaulle, named after the French general and later president De Gaulle. It’s the central square in Lille Old Town surrounded by charming bars and restaurants. Ideal spot to immerse into the vibes of the city. From here you can also easily explore the entry city of French Flanders.

Unfortunately the view of Lille might be obstructed by the amount of homeless people with dogs and also beggars. Looks like it’s a significant issue that the city struggles with. Nevertheless locals are very kind to the minorities by giving them food and water.

Sweets in Lille
Sweets in Lille

 Palais Rihour

Palais Rihour is a flamboyant example of gothic buildings in Lille, built in 1453. On the ground floor you will find Lille’s tourist centre in the Salle des Gardens. Upstairs the Sacisity are venues for various public events and also exhibitions. If you travel to Lille in the winter then don’t hesitate to visit the Christmas Market on the square in front of the Palais Rihour.

Book Market on Vieille Bourse

The Vieille Bourse or also known as “Old Stock Exchange” is the building of the 17th century which consists of 24 identical houses built around an inner square. It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful architectures in the square, and probably in Lille.

Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral

Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral
Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral, Lille

On your day trip to Lille you should doubtlessly visit the beautiful Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral. Located in the heart of Lille you can step into the extraordinary scenery of gothic architecture without paying any entrance fee. Don’t be foolished by the underwhelming exterior made from concrete and stone and lacking on aesthetical appeal. Inside is a completely different story: colourful stained-glass windows and amazing interior artwork.

Where to eat in Lille

Place aux Oignins, Lille
Place aux Oignins, Lille

There are plenty of nice places where you can have a bite or try something sweet. And yes, because Lille is located on the border of two countries Belgium and France it combines the best of both. It means you will discover various delicious chocolate creations and amazing dessert stores.

If you’re on the hunt for something savoury I would recommend to visit the Place aux Oignins just next to the beautiful Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral. It’s a hidden square with charming cafés where you can enjoy your lunch or dinner.

Musee de l’Hospice Comtesse

If you are curious to get to know more about local architecture then don’t miss Musee de l’Hospice Comtesse. It’s hidden behind the shops and small streets but worth visiting. It was founded by the Countess of Flanders in 1237 as a charitable gesture to poor people but now it has been transformed into an interesting museum with many Flemish paintings and Lille tapestries.

Architecture in Lille, France
Architecture in Lille, France

The Palais des Beaux Arts 

If you have an affinity for the fine arts then don’t hesitate to visit famous the Palais des Beaux Arts. The permanent collection, taking in 22,000m², implements mainly art works from the 17th until the 19th century.

Because of its magnitude, this museum is often called the Second Museum of France, with the Louvre being the first. Nevertheless you will need quite some time to cherish the collection of paintings. The building is also a distance away from the Old Lille that’s why I would recommend to take a city bike to save some time.

Walk through the Porte de Paris

Porte de Paris, Lille
Porte de Paris, Lille

Not far from the Palais des Beaux Arts you will find another Lille’s impressive tourist attraction: The Porte de Paris (“Gate of Paris”). It’s an Arc de Triomphe which was build in the 17th century to commemorate Louis XIV conquering the city. Great spot to take Instagram pictures!

Lille Citadelle

To be honest, you won’t make it to see everything in one day but you can decide whether you explore the last two sights or Lille’s beautiful Citadel.

The Citadel is a French military base. You can’t enter it but you can admire the various gates and outer walls on a ramble in the canal-side park, in Esquermes. The star-shaped citadel was built in just 3 years after Louis XIV conquered Lille in 1667. Not only the speed of the project was incredible but also a fact that three million stone blocks, 70,000 lumps of sandstone and 60 million bricks were needed to build this construction.

Pinterest: perfect day trip to Lille, France
Pinterest: perfect day trip to Lille, France
Wu Wei, Sauna in Kortrijk

Amazing Wellness & Spa Hotel in Belgium, Wu Wei in Kortrijk

Wu Wei Wellness Hotel, Kortrijk

Belgium offers numerous amounts of wellness hotels, spa experiences and outdoor saunas. Nevertheless to find one which would satisfy all your wishes, let you have the ideal relaxed weekend getaway and also won’t cost you a fortune is definitely not so easy. Believe me, I’ve been there. Sometimes renting some private sauna in Belgium cost so much just for few hours that it’s cheaper to have holidays abroad. My exaggeration is not far from reality but let me introduce you to the amazing wellness hotel in Kortrijk, Wu Wei.

Room at Spa Wellness Hotel, Wu Wei
Room at Spa Wellness Hotel, Wu Wei

We wanted to have a romantic getaway in Belgium and got the chance to stay at the modern 4-star wellness hotel Wu Wei. “Wu Wei” means the art of non-doing and life to the rhythm of things by the way. And this is definitely a little paradise oasis where time stops and you feel like you are not in Belgium anymore. Isn’t it something that we all want to have sometimes? Just to escape from reality and be far from our daily routine.

Wu Wei is a day Spa and wellness hotel which is located just 10 minute walk away from the train station in Kortkrijk. There is also a free parking spot in case you’d decide to come by car. The architecture of the old industrial building is based on the idea of the simple, the clear with calm colours and plenty of light. It reminds me of Scandinavian modesty and basic design with wooden elements. The rooms in the hotel are spacious with oak parquet floors and equipped with all necessities, free Wi-Fi and toiletries. In the beginning it might feel a bit empty but after some time you start to appreciate these minimalistic elements because your mind doesn’t get distracted and you can fully relax.

Wu Wei Hotel Room, Belgium
Wu Wei Hotel Room, Belgium

The best part of Wu Wei hotel is it’s impressive spa area with outdoor swimming pool at 32 degrees, Canadian sauna at 80 degrees, outdoor Finnish sauna at 89 degrees and traditional 3 room Hammam. Just bring your towels, slippers and swimsuit to be able to access the area. You can also rent it at the hotel for a small price. We we’re staying over night at Wu Wei hotel that’s why we could find all essentials in our room.

Cafeteria at Wu Wei Hotel, Kortrijk
Cafeteria at Wu Wei Hotel, Kortrijk

In my opinion Wu Wei wellness hotel is a perfect combination of tranquillity, water and greenery. The various relaxing rooms with wood fires and dimmed light let you experience relaxation to it’s purest. There is also an interesting shower that will bring you to life in 4 different ways: With warm, cold, hard and soft water streams. Great experience! There is also salt scrub in the showers that everyone can use.

Wu Wei, Kortrijk, Canadian Sauan relax area
Wu Wei, Kortrijk, Canadian Sauna relax area

On the rooftop terrace it is possible to book a private spa with plunge pool, hot water bath, another sauna and relaxing room. In case it’s not booked you can also access and use it from the public spa. This is what we did because we were visiting during the weekdays. The wellness hotel was pretty empty, lucky us!

Last but not least there is a cafeteria with essential drinkable water which is gratis. This is very important to stay hydrated after all the healthy sweating in the saunas. It is also possible to order delicious snacks and soup which are served on beautiful wooden plates. In the evening after 6pm we were able to order a delicious and healthy dinner from the restaurant.

Wu Wei Wellness Hotel, Kortrijk
Wu Wei Wellness Hotel, Kortrijk

We wanted to accomplish our magical spa break with one of the treatments that Wu Wei offers. There is an extensive range of massages but we decided to book duo treatment of the back to relax our muscle tissues. Did you know that massage therapy has health benefits like reduction of pain caused by tight muscles, it can improve sleep and even increase endorphins levels. The duo treatment was performed by one person. I would prefer to be massaged separately so there wouldn’t be any waiting time in between but of course I was covered in scrub for some time. It was a good experience though!

Breakfast at Wu Wei Hotel, Belgium
Breakfast at Wu Wei Hotel, Belgium

All in one I can say that we found our perfect spa wellness in Belgium, Wu Wei in Kortrijk. Everything is just lovely there, tranquil atmosphere and cozy surroundings. In the morning we had a simple breakfast and could enjoy another day in the idyllic and peaceful spa.

Planning to explore surroundings of Belgium? Find out more about other wonderful hotels and hidden gems in a wonderful Belgium.

Hidden Gems of Belgium: Weekend in Durbuy, Ardennes

Holidays in the Belgian Ardennes

Durbuy is a hidden gem of Belgium, located in the French-speaking community of Wallonia. You can find this beautiful region in the Ardennes, south of Belgium. It’s not only famous for it’s magnificent old charm and tranquil atmosphere but also for being the “smallest city in the world” with it’s population of 11.ooo inhabitants.

Weekend in Durbuy, Ardennes
Weekend in Durbuy, Ardennes

It’s very easy to fall in love with the medieval city of Durbuy, filled with cobbled streets, authentic ancient stone houses and a beautiful castle at the centre. The city is surrounded by impressive hills that used to be one whole structure. But overtime the river carved a path through them by eroding the strong stones. After some time the river changed it’s direction and people built the impressive little town that welcomes around 2 million tourists every year.

Top Things to do in Durbuy

Explore the Old Town

Hidden Gems of Belgium, Durbuy
Hidden Gems of Belgium, Durbuy

The magnificent Old Town of Durbuy enchants only 50 inhabitants, the majority live in the surroundings of the Durbuy region. Nevertheless the historic centre has plenty of interesting things to discover. There are a few lovely shops with local goods such as Durbuy’s dandelion jam, artisanally brewed beer and of course famous Belgian chocolate. The most prominent one you will find at Rue Alphonse Eloy.

Durbuy, Ardennes
Durbuy, Ardennes

Furthermore mesmerising Durbuy is the perfect place for photography lovers. Every corner is a great spot and opportunity for an impressive picture. Especially if you visit it during late spring or summer time.

Dine in a nice restaurant

Durbuy has a great reputation for hosting high quality food. You will be surprised how many restaurants and cafés this tiny town accommodates. You will be spoiled for choice, wherever you choose will be a good choice. We enjoyed our lunch at Saint Amour. It offers a relatively simple and old-fashion ambience but don’t judge book by it’s cover. Their lunch menu was voluptuous and sumptuous including a delicious variety of starters with paté and quiche. Furthermore there were unexpected refreshing surprises between the dishes. I would recommend to visit this restaurant and be prepared to spend at least 2 hours of happy feasting there.

La Bru'sserie, Durbuy, Belgium
La Bru’sserie, Durbuy, Belgium

If you are searching for a more over the top fancy dining experience then reserve a table at La Bru’sserie. You won’t be disappointed with the modern beauty of the interior and the quality of dishes.

Enjoy Wellness & Spa at Azur en Ardenne

Wellness & Spa at Azur en Ardenne
Wellness & Spa at Azur en Ardenne

The Ardennes are an ideal region to get away from chaos and immerse into tranquil nature surrounded by greenery. It’s perfect to unwind in one of the spas and recharge your batteries. We were staying at Azur en Ardenne, the wellness oasis surrounded by a beautiful forest. It’s also perfectly situated close to Durbuy’s Old Town and various activities, which you can easily reach on foot.

Comfort Room at Azur en Ardenne
Comfort Room at Azur en Ardenne

We booked the Comfort Room for 2 nights to disconnect from the outside world. The room was simple but well equipped. We received bathrobes and a welcome chocolate bar from the local chocolatery. I really liked the spacious white bathroom with a nice shower and a big bath. There was also tea, instant coffee, kettle and paper cups. I would definitely recommend to take some body cream with you after visiting sauna because hotel provides only with soap.

http://www.azurenardenne.be
http://www.azurenardenne.be

The best part of the Azur en Ardenne is the wellness area with a lovely indoor swimming pool. Furthermore there are 2 saunas, jacuzzi, hydrogen massage and a great panoramic view. The atmosphere is very relaxing and peaceful, accompanied with soft background music.

Breakfast at Azur en Ardenne
Breakfast at Azur en Ardenne

Wait until you see the breakfast that is served at Azur en Ardenne! It’s an epitome for the perfect start of the day. You can find everything what your foodie soul can crave for: muesli, fruits, warm waffles and pancakes, eggs, proper bacon, cheese, all kinds of teas and soft drink and even almond milk. It’s wonderful to wake up with beautiful views and voluptuous choice of treats.

There is also a restaurant that unfortunately didn’t approved my expectations but I got an insider tip: Just down the road there is place where all the chefs of Durbuy go to dine: Gastropub Gaspard . If you plan to visit this restaurant definitely reserve a table in advance because it’s small and always full!

Radhadesh Retreat Centre

You will be surprised to discover that in the middle of the Belgian Ardennes, in a fairytale castle you can find the spiritual community and one of the most important Hindu centres in Northern Europe. The beautiful castle Château de Petit Somme is home to the largest community of Hare Krishna, a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu organisation in Belgium. It’s an interesting experience to see the contrast between the grey cold stones of the huge castle and colourful interior and sculptures held in Indian tradition.

Radhadesh Retreat Centre
Radhadesh Retreat Centre

Radhadesh is a non-profit organization administered by a democratic general council and is the main center for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in the Benelux. Additionally it’s also a retreat where you can join various courses and even cultural festivals like popular Holi Festival. I personally enjoyed visiting the Museum of Sacred Art where you can observe Indian art traditions and enjoy various exhibitions. Also worth visiting the vegetarian restaurant and cafeteria.

Mystical Megaliths: Menhirs and Dolmens of Weris

There is a lot of mysticism around the Durbuy area and one of them is the 8 km rows of megaliths made of huge conglomerate, nature’s version of concrete stones. These stones are well anchored into the ground and date back to the Neolithic era, that means they are over 5.000 years old. Scientists are still asking themselves how people could put these massive stones in alignment with almost no tools?

Mystical Megaliths: Menhirs and Dolmens of Weris
Mystical Megaliths: Menhirs and Dolmens of Weris

There are two main sites which are categorised as Weris 1 and Weris 2. The purpose of the menhirs is still not clear but there are some conclusions that it once was a spacious megalithic center for religious ceremonies, astronomical observations, healing of people and manipulation of the Earth’s energies. Nowadays people are still coming to immerse into the strong field of energies.

Interesting building: La Maison de Hary Cot

La Maison de Hary Cot, Durbuy
La Maison de Hary Cot, Durbuy

Close to the mystical megaliths you will discover La Maison de Hary Cot. A house that resembles Tim Burton’s crazy and intriguing creations. I was surprised to find out that it’s actually one of the finest restaurants in the region of Durbuy. Unfortunately it was not open when we were passing by but I would doubtlessly recommend to try to reserve a table at this admirable establishment which by the way belongs to the young couple Gael Colinet and Fanny Perreaux.

Visit Durbuy’s local brewery

Every town in Belgium is famous for their local beers. That’s why it’s a must to taste Durbuy’s own locally brewed beer, La Ferme au Chene. The brewery was established in 1560 by Philippe Marckloff and it’s located along the river Ourthe. Here you can also dine in the the local cuisine restaurant.

Sensation seekers should visit Adventure Valley

Adventure Valley in Durbuy is an amazing and challenging park with various activities for young and old. You can choose between climbing the side of the mountain with different difficulties, free fall from 32m high, going through the 3D labyrinth or enjoying the tumbling slide. There is also a possibility to crawl and climb between trees at different heights but also experience mega zipline.

Adventure Park, Durbuy, Blegium
Adventure Park, Durbuy, Blegium

Additionally all this fun is very safe, everyone receives a professional explanation in addition to helmets, security belts etc. You can see little children of age 5 and 6 being much braver than their parents and fearlessly climbing the various heights. It’s definitely memorable fun for the whole family! There is also a huge and gratis playground next to the café in case you don’t feel like spending money on an adventure.

Admire the World Largest Topiary Park

Have you ever heard of Topiary? It’s a beautiful practice of shaping or better to say clipping trees into ornamental figures. Since 1997, Durbuy Topiary Park has numerous amounts of tree figures, 250 masterpieces to be exact, on a 1-hectare garden. Moreover there are 39 flower bed and a breathtaking view over the river Ourthe and Durbuy castle. It’s truly a highlight and a must visit in Durbuy so plan to spend a few hours admiring the green art!

Outdoor activities

Ardenne, Belgium
Ardenne, Belgium

Nature and sport lovers will be surprised about the amount of outdoor activities that Durbuy can offer. You can enjoy the river with canoeing, rafting and kayaking. Moreover there is a possibility for horse riding and mountain biking. Last but not least Durbuy has incredible hiking trails with beautiful views. Just get more information at the tourist info point in the Old Town or at hotel Azur en Ardenne.

Best places to visit in Belgium

If you are spending a week or maybe even longer in Belgium then definitely visit the following cities:

Bruges, the fairy tale town of Belgium. The romantic atmosphere, smell of waffles and chocolate, mesmerising houses, bridges and swans on the canals will doubtlessly let you escape reality.

Brussels, as the capital of Belgium, attracts it’s visitors with beautiful historical monuments and world-class museums.

Ghent is a student city with beautiful and impressive medieval architecture and surprisingly un-touristy atmosphere.

Belgium Vacation Ideas Visit Terhills Hotel in Maasmechelen

Belgium Vacation Ideas: Visit Terhills Hotel in Maasmechelen

Terhills Hotel, Belgium
Terhills Hotel, Belgium

If you are planning your vacation in Belgium then I would definitely recommend to visit Maasmechelen for a weekend. This is one of the hidden places in Belgium that not everyone knows about. Nevertheless it has a lot to offer for a romantic and lovely getaway for couples, friends and families. You can easily reach Maasmechelen village by public transport but it’s even more comfortable and faster by car. Less than an hour drive away from Brussels, Antwerp or Düsseldorf, Maasmechelen Village is located on the Meuse river in the Belgian province of Limburg. There are plenty of opportunities to park your car for example at Terhills Hotel in case you decide to spend the night there.

Where to Stay in Maasmechelen

Terhills Hotel

If you decide to stay in Maasmechelen then you should experience your stay at the historic building of Terhills Hotel. It’s a beautiful 4-star hotel with a modern interior which used to be a the main building of the Eisden mine. Already the arrival at this place will leave you speechless: An amazing green garden that reminds a little like Versailles and an imposing historic building at the end of it. This location is very popular for wedding photography.

Wellcome Drink at Terhills Hotel
Welcome Drink at Terhills Hotel

Terhills Hotel is not only unique but it’s also an architectural icon. Everywhere you can see hidden elements of the mining pre-history of the building well combined with a modern makeover: There is a half a meter difference in level between both sides of the building and the front stairs seem to look crooked. The building was built in 1932 but it had remained empty for around 25 years.The cooperation with Dôme Deco from Limburg turned the hotel into an impressive ambiance with elegant and stylish interior design.

Rooms at Terhills Hotel

I loved every moment of my stay at this hotel. From the very beginning you feel very comfortable: Welcome drinks and beautiful decorative elements, all these create the perfect atmosphere. After a fast and easy check-in the ultra-modern lift brought us to the second level with spacious corridors where our room could be found. Terhills Hotel offers 5 different types of rooms. We were staying in the Superior Room with Garden View.

Rooms at Terhills Hotel
Rooms at Terhills Hotel

Our room was outstanding: comfortable king-sized bed, flat-screen TV and an awesome big freestanding shower with bath robes and free toiletries. A sweet message from the hotel manager accompanied by Neuhaus pralines, tea, coffee and bottle of bubbles made us feel like home immediately. The beautiful view from the room and cozy vibes let you feel so good, you don’t want to leave this little oasis.

Breakfast at Terhills Hotel

Breakfast at Terhills Hotel, Maasmechelen
Breakfast at Terhills Hotel, Maasmechelen

I am very critical regarding breakfast because I’ve noticed nowadays it’s really hard to find a place that offers a delicious variety of food at the beginning of the day. Most of the time it’s just simple boring eggs and croissants. But at Terhills Hotel I was positively surprised and definitely satisfied with the quality and diversity of the dishes. They serve everything that can please your breakfast wishes: From scrambled eggs, proper bacon, American pancakes to fresh yoghurt with fruits, granola, chia and nuts. Different juices and hot drinks like coffee and tea accompany the sumptuous breakfast.

What to do in Maasmechelen Village

Designer Outlet Shopping – Shopping in Belgium

Almost everyone who lives in Belgium has at least once visited the famous designer outlet shops at Maasmechelen Village to stroll through luxury fashion and homeware stores and enjoy great discounts of up to 60%. Many famous brands present their products at significant reduced prices that you rarely can find in the cities.

Designer Outlet Shopping - Shopping in Belgium
Designer Outlet Shopping – Shopping in Belgium

The Designer Outlet is located just behind Terhills Hotel and it looks very modern and clean. There are various interesting sculptures worth of taking a picture for Instagram and comfortable benches to relax on the way from one shop to another. Families with kids will be happy to discover a big playground where they can let their toddlers have fun so the grown-ups can be focused on spending money.

Shopping at Maasmechelen Village
Shopping at Maasmechelen Village

You can easily combine smart shopping with nice dining. There are some lovely options to get food on the way or enjoy your meal in one of the three main restaurants. All in one Maasmechelen Village doubtlessly provides a relaxed and pleasant shopping experience. The best way to enjoy your shopping to maximum is to stay at Terhills Hotel and get an additional 10% discount on every purchase like I did. Sounds awesome, right?

Hiking in Belgium: Visit Connecterra

Limburg has a lot of stunning nature and picturesque views. One of them is the popular panoramic getaway in the National Park Hoge Kempen. It’s located just next to Terhills Hotel and is definitely a must visit. This place used to be used for coal mining until it was closed in 1987. You can still view the impressive shafts of the former Eisden mine which mainly have a decorative value nowadays.

Hiking in Belgium: Visit Connecterra
Hiking in Belgium: Visit Connecterra

For 3€ you can explore the park on foot. There are three well marked out hiking trails that will lead you to the best spots of Connecterra. You can also decide if you would prefer to have a short 45-minute walk or more extended 2 or 3-hour hikes, which goes around a lake and through the woods. I would suggest to go for the longer hiking trail as we did. Either way you will be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view over the Belgian forest and lake. Some spots can be a bit steep but all in one it’s a very easy hike that everyone from young until old can enjoy.

There is visitors lounge with a little café and a great playground at the main entrance of Connecterra. So by the end or beginning of your walk you can enjoy your drink surrounded by nature. Families can let their little rebels climb around and have some fun at the modern playground.

Malta things to do and see

How to Spend Great Family Holidays in Malta

Malta is the best destination for a family holiday with kids. It’s an island country located in the central Mediterranean Sea, it’s small but with a rich and turbulent history. The country is an archipelago with the three largest islands being Malta, Gozo and Comino. Malta played a crucial role in the struggle of power between the ancient cultures of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. But why are over 2M tourists so curious to travel to Malta every year? First of all the capital of Malta, Valletta is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites plus it has been crowned as the European Capital of Culture for 2018. There are various beautiful architectural masterpieces as well as the oldest Megalithic Temples in the world, which were also included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The weather & the best time to visit Malta

Moreover summer is almost all year round, winters are very short just 2 months long. I would suggest to visit Malta in September or beginning of October to avoid the heat of the hot and dry summers. Malta in September is warm, sunny and dry. The temperature is around 26°C to 29°C. Nevertheless take enough sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin from the vicious sun.

Streets of Malta's Capital, Valletta

Streets of Malta’s Capital, Valletta

Maltese people & Maltese culture

The medieval Malta is a small island with the population of 460,297 citizens. It’s full of lovely villages, reminiscent of when the Knights of Saint John settled the island. Maltese’ hospitality is renowned for it’s warmth and kindness. Additionally they adore babies and children, so if you travel with your little one and he gets fussy, don’t worry, people in Malta will smile and wave at him to help you out. The official languages are Maltese and English, making it easy to travel on the island. The Maltese language by the way is a fusion of Arabic and the Sicilian dialect of Italian. Because of being under British rule from 1800 until 1964 there are various English influences like driving on the left side of the road. Nowadays Malta is a part of the EU so the local currency is the Euro. Everyone who visits Malta can find something to fall in love with. No wonder that movies like Troy, Game of Thrones, Gladiator and Assassin’s Creed were filmed on this ancient island.

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta

Getting around in Malta

There are various ways to explore and get around Malta. The public transport mainly bus rotates daily and frequents between all the towns including the coastal road. A one way ticket costs 2€ but you can also get a 1 week pass for 14€ to save some money. Because of high numbers of tourists and locals buses driving between St. Julian and Valletta are often crowded. Most families own cars but because the number of vehicles per household is one of the highest in Europe there is a lot of traffic going on on the roads of Malta.

MCabs Personal Driver Service in Malta

MCabs Personal Driver Service in Malta

A great and efficient way to travel in Malta is by private driver. Because we were visiting the island with our baby we decided to arrange personal transport from and to the airport with MCabs. We arrived pretty late and our driver was already expecting us directly at the arrivals gate with my name on a sign. It’s an amazing feeling to know that everything has been taken care of in advance. We arrived at our destination safely and without any hustle.

You can also find ferry services between Malta and Gozo, and even Malta and Sicily.

Where to stay in Malta

 St. Julian's (Maltese: San Giljan)

St. Julian’s (Maltese: San Giljan) in Malta

On our family holiday to Malta we decided to book a hotel which was based on the seaside town  St. Julian’s (Maltese: San Giljan). It’s situated next to Sliema, a former fishing village that turned into shopping and eating area and it’s north of the Malta’s capital, Valletta. St. Julian’s is known as a tourism-orientated area full of hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. Honestly I was surprised that so many 5 stars hotel were located in this town, it’s not a very charming place, the atmosphere wasn’t very appealing to us and there is not much to experience as a family. Nevertheless we were lucky to watch the beautiful fireworks from our balcony dedicated to the Independence Day of Malta on the 21st of September.

Where to go in Malta with kids

As I already mentioned Malta is indeed an open air museum with numerous scenic towns. The main attractions of it are spread all over the island that’s why we decided to experience MCabs’ Full Day Tour to save some time and patience while we were also traveling with our baby. It was the best decision to see everything in one day on our family vacation in Malta.

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta

Visit capital of Malta, Valletta

We were picked up from our hotel at 9:30 am and headed straight to beautiful Valletta. It’s a must visit and wander through the charming narrow streets of Malta’s tiny capital Valletta, built by the Knights of St. John on the peninsula. It’s founder decreed that it should be “a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”, and it retains it’s 16th-century golden-stone fortresses. Don’t be fooled by it’s size because Valletta is “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world”.

View from the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta

View from the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta

James, our guide was showing us the most significant areas and buildings of Valletta. He told us a lot about Malta’s history like the meaning of Order of St. John. Besides on another day you can also visit the famous St. John’s Co-Cathedral if you don’t mind standing in the long queue, or the Casa Rocca Piccola, a 16th century palace repleted with impressive paintings and antique collections. Enjoy the picturesque view of the Three Cities and Grand Harbour from the Upper Barrakka Gardens. If you make it there at 12am you can witness a midday gun salute, firing the cannons. Surely but right Valletta spoils it’s guests with numerous cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy a glass of local wine or beer Cisk on the terrace.

Exciting Corsairs of Malta Tours

Exciting Corsairs of Malta Tours

Fun things to do in Malta: Pirate Tour

There is another great guided walking tour that introduces you to Malta’s shady mysterious past and I  would definitely recommend it to everyone. Corsairs of Malta Tours are full of provocative and captivating information, on the other hand if you are traveling with little ones it can also be organized to be innocent children’s ears friendly. I didn’t expect that there are so many dark secrets about the corsairs, the Order of St. John and Malta’s cruel history. All these intriguing facts have just recently been exposed and the tour guides are continuing to research this shocking topic. That means more and more of these violent but colourful facts will be added to every tour.

The Most Famous Fishing Village in Malta, Marsaxlokk

The Most Famous Fishing Village in Malta, Marsaxlokk

Things to do in Marsaxlokk, Malta

After spending 2 hours in the capital of Malta we’ve been driven to one of the most famous fishing villages in Malta, Marsaxlokk. The brightly colored fishing boats, morning markets and restaurants serving freshly caught fish among the harbour are the main attractions of this peaceful place. Interesting fact though every boat has an eye painted on the bow, the symbol of health and protection. It ensures that the fishermen are being kept safe while they are out to sea.

The "Silent City", Mdina

The “Silent City”, Mdina

Things to do in Mdina

We tasted the local seasonal fish lampuka at one of the restaurants in Marsaxlokk. My tip let your tour guide know what your budget is for the lunch so you won’t be surprised with the bill. Afterwards we made our way to an ancient capital of Malta: Mdina. Located at a high point in the heart of the island, medieval Mdina has been dubbed as the “Silent City”, which perfectly describes this place. Approximately 300 residents mainly aristocrats and nobility live in the fortified city that traces back to 800 BC. There are limited cars and all this contributes to the peaceful and timeless atmosphere.

The View from the Top of Mdina, Malta

The View from the Top of Mdina, Malta

We were exploring magical Mdina, walking through it’s walled, narrow laneways and visiting some churches. We could also enjoy the 180º view of the island from the top of Mdina. Afterwards we were invited for a drink in one of the gorgeous cafés with unique views over the countryside, Fontanella Tea Garden. Regrettably I didn’t try their homemade cake but this place is famous for it!

Rotunda of Mosta, Malta

Rotunda of Mosta, Malta

Rotunda of Mosta, Malta

Rotunda of Mosta, Malta

Why you should visit Rotunda of Mosta

Our final destination after the exciting day of getting to know the best of Malta was the Rotunda of Mosta. Mosta is at 66m high the third largest unsupported Dome in Europe after the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Golden limestone from the outside and amazingly colorful and quiet inside, this gorgeous building is indeed impressive. There is a tragic and fortunate story behind it: During WW2, a half tonne bomb was dropped on the building, going through the roof, it didn’t explode or injury anyone, this was regarded as a miracle. There is a small room in the church which shows a replica of the bomb.

Replica of the Bomb

Replica of the Bomb

Around 6pm we were brought back to our hotel bursting with memorable impressions of Malta. My partner and I were truly amazed on our first day what this tiny island has to offer and our baby seemed to enjoy his first trip as well. It was doubtlessly worth to plan a tour with MCabs, our guide James showed us the best of Malta and introduced us to the authentic Maltese culture. Loved it!

Visit Malta’s the Three Cities of Cottonera

The Three Cities of Cottonera, Malta

The Three Cities of Cottonera, Malta

One of my favorite parts of our family trip to Malta was to be transported back in time and explore three fortifies cities of Cottonera: Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. The most common and easy way to get there is to use the 58m high Upper Barrakka lift in Valletta that you can take downstairs for free. This lift will bring you down in 25 seconds from where you can enjoy the  beautiful view of the harbour. It is also possible to combine the ferry ticket to the Three Cities for the lift as the quickest alternative to get back into the city from the Valletta waterfront.

The streets of Senglea, Malta

The streets of Senglea, Malta

The three cities are mine kind of area: tranquil streets, picturesque views and colorful details of the architecture. This is where the Knights of St. John first settled in the 16th century and many of the buildings and forts are older than in Valletta.

Pinterest Top Things To do in MaltaVittorioso also known as Birgu existed since the Middle Ages well before the arrival of the Knights. It’s also the most popular and impressive one. Vittoriosa’s waterfront is truly impressive with various sizes yachts and a fortress on a peninsula. Senglea Cospicua suffered great damage in WW2 and needed to be rebuilt. Today they are full of golden limestone houses blended with historical buildings, charming narrow streets and  appealing restaurants. The Three cities are indeed an open air museum where you can get lost for the whole day.

Food in Malta

Maltese Traditional Snack, Pastizzi

Maltese Traditional Snack, Pastizzi

While you are in Malta it’s crucial to taste the traditional cuisine which offers you an influence of cultures like Sicily, Arab and Malta’s own. The prices in Malta are a bit high for the EU standards: 10-15€ for pizza or pasta and 20-25€ for mains. A typical and very popular Maltese snack is pastizzi: Deep fried pastry filled with ricotta or any other delicious mix of vegetables and meat. It’s extremely tasty but you need to be careful not to exaggerate with it’s consumption because one pastizzi which costs around 30-40 cents contains about 500 calories. Yes, I know calories don’t count on vacation but there should be a limit.

Traditional Maltese Pizza, Ftira

Traditional Maltese Pizza, Ftira

The best place to dine in Malta

To experience high quality and traditional delicious food I would suggest to visit Nenu the Artisan Baker in Valletta. This place is not only serving local authentic cuisine but also lets you immerse into the history of Malta. Relics of the old bakery can be seen in the restaurant and their traditional delicious Maltese pizza, ftira is made in an oven that is between 80-100 years old. Ftira has a thick but fluffy base and often topped with different local specialities like cheese, fish, meat, olives and even potatoes. We’ve tried one with the seasonal local fish Lampuka. In addition to it we ordered the local favorite beer Cisk and Malta’s very own soft drink, Kinnie, which is made with bittersweet oranges and aromatic herbs. Kinnie reminded me somehow of coca cola with a zesty orange aftertaste.

Octopus Stew with Potatoes

Octopus Stew with Potatoes

We also ordered a traditional octopus stew with potatoes, which was my flavorful highlight of the night. Before our mains were served we were being treated with fresh-made Maltese bread and delicious dips. Important to mention that Maltese hospitality is a top class in service: The staff is quick, helpful and friendly. Nenu’s menu offers great choice of Maltese food with decent portions. This place is also very beloved by locals so I suggest that one makes a reservation.

Amarino Ice Cream in a shape of Flower

Amarino Ice Cream in a shape of Flower

For a tasty cooling dessert on a the hot day I would highly recommend to visit the small but wow ice cream café Amorino. This place is not only serving delicious Italian ice cream with natural ingredients and amazing flavors but also shapes your ice cream into a flower, a true masterpiece. You can also ask to taste some flavors before you make your final decision and add as many as you want to your floral creation.

If you are searching for some other interesting holiday destinations in Europe, you can find some inspiration here!

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