Quirky Berlin

Quirky Berlin

Quirky Berlin

Quirky Berlin is a city with a gritty exterior and a heart of history and culture. It’s easy to tick off the top sights of which there are many – but look deeper and you’ll find hidden gems and things to taste, drink and try. Here’s a guide to some top Berlin quirks that you might not otherwise find or know about!

Berlin Wall - quirky berlin

Look Down

So often our eyes are drawn to a city skyline – but some of Berlin’s history is literally at your feet.  Across Berlin, you might notice a double line of cobbles with an occasional brass plaque. This immortalises where the Berlin Wall once stood and starkly reminds us of how the city was literally split overnight.  Another quirk of Berlin is the vast amount of cobbled footpaths. These cobbled paths are amazingly simple and traditional for a city full of concrete. Built with only 3 ingredients – cobblestones, sand and a hammer.  Watch out for the tell tale signs of recent repair by noticing any small remaining piles of sand on the pathways.

Touch the wall - quirky berlin

Touch the wall

Remember when you were young and visited somewhere like a museum, castle or historic site?  I was always being told ‘Don’t touch anything’.  For once you don’t have to worry, for as historic as the Berlin Wall is – you can touch it! There are plenty of places to see and touch the wall, to look up and imagine the powerful restriction on your life that the Berlin wall was for so many.  If you visit the East Side Gallery (a must in my opinion), then look out for the ‘Touch the Wall’ mural.  It’s an incredible place to feel part of living history.

Cross the road in Quirky Berlin

Travel like locals

At pedestrian road crossings in Berlin you’ll find a push button to stop the traffic safely for you – except, as I found out – the buttons don’t push! You simply wave your hand over the sensor and that is enough!

Bikes are very popular in Belin too – and there are certainly many bike tours and bike hire venues.  The public transport system is also excellent – plus it’s a flat city so walking is a popular mode of transport.

Graffiti

Graffiti

Graffiti is everywhere in Berlin, but ask a Berliner about it, and they will probably say they don’t notice it.  Unlike in other cities, graffiti isn’t just for underpasses or derelict buildings.  In fact, you’ll find it on the building walls of high end housing blocks and public park structures.  You can take graffiti tours in Berlin, and I even learnt a little about tags, throw ups and murals on my Eating Tour!

Quirky Berlin

The famous Trabi

The Trabant car (meaning companion) is one of the most iconic symbols of Berlin. This small, inexpensive vehicle was manufactured from the GDR since 1949. It was loud, slow, run by a 2-stroke engine and with wings and doors made of plastic. With wait lists of up to 10 years, some citizens signed up their newborn children to the waitlist.  The Trabi’s are a long way from what we drive today, but it’s amazing to think that a car can be such an icon for a city.  If you are looking for something fun, different and traditional to do in Berlin – why not take a self-drive Trabi tour around Berlin.  You can find out more on the Trabi-safari website.

Pipework in Berlin

Pipework

Another quirk of Berlin is the pink overground pipework – 60km of them to be exact! As Berlin is built on swampy land, these pipes pump ground water away from building and construction sites to the River Spree and other canals. Why pink? The pipes supplier Pollem wanted to make a statement with the pipes. After discussions with psychologists, pink was chosen as the most popular colour choice of children and because it seems a fun and youthful colour to adults.

Food in Berlin

Eating around the city

Two of my passions are travel and food – so an eating tour of Berlin was a must for me!  Focussing on the East of Berlin, I wandered streets filled with Turkish and Syrian influence.  My guide Clara, taught me the difference between a Shawarma and a Donna and I tried a delicious hummus-style dish called Mutabal.  There were some Berlin classics too like a Flammkuchen and a Currywurst. We sampled beers, a Fritz Cola and a Berliner Weiss Cocktail (I think I prefer a cosmopolitan more!).  Scattered with history and explanations of modern-day life in Berlin, the tour was a great way to spend an afternoon eating and learning on the go! I booked a tour with Eating Europe.
Beer in Quirky Berlin

Drink like locals

Set amongst most small rows of shops in Berlin, you will find a Späti.  They are small shops filled with chillers of beer and soft drinks, a few snacks and the obligatory bottle opener on the side of the cash till.  This is where you stop as a local, anytime of day, to pick up a cold beer.  There’s often a few chairs outside or a small bench seat.  Or of course, you can carry on your way drinking your beer en route, because unlike in other cities, it’s not forbidden to drink alcohol while walking around the city.  Spätis are cheap, practical and a really local quirk of Berlin.

RAW nightclub

The smallest nightclub in the world

The RAW Tempel in Berlin is definately a quirky venue. It’s a sprawl of abandoned hangars full of graffiti and huge murals, mixed with a contemporary art exhibition, restored furniture shops and biergardens. You can climb an old bunker transformed into a climbing wall or skate at an indoor skate park that is enjoyed by famous skaters. My favourite suprise? – the Teledisko, the smallest nightclub in the world built inside a telephone booth complete with disco ball and fog machine. It’s an edgy part of town and I’m not sure I’d venture there on my own after dark! but it’s fun and certainly quirky.

Top things to see and do in Rome

Top things to see and do in Rome

Top things to see and do in Rome

Rome is the ultimate bucket list city!    There are iconic ancient wonders, movie-worthy backdrops, incredible cuisine, fountains and architecture.  It’s a city I could happily return to time and time again.  You will keep finding new hidden gems and you’ll never tire of the Rome classics. For a first trip or to make every moment in Rome count, here are my top things to see and do in Rome.  It’s your ultimate Rome bucket list.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum is the essence of Rome and often of Italy itself.  Its size and atmosphere are immense and the emotions when you step into this ancient amphitheatre are overwhelming.  With over 2000 years of history, the Colosseum was started in 72 A.D and finished in 80 by Emperor Titus.  The 188m long and 156m wide Colosseum (or Flavian Amphitheatre as known back then) allowed more than 50,000 Roman spectators to enjoy exotic animals, gladiator fights, recreated battles and executions.  It remained active for 500 years before lootings, earthquakes and even bombings undeniably took their toll.  Despite this, the Colosseum is now one of the seven wonders of the modern world and over 6 million tourists visit annually.

Top things to do and see in Rome

Top Tip

Book in advance! and take a guided tour.  I’d recommend one of the ‘Full experience ticket’ tours with entry to the arena of the Colosseum or arena and underground if available.  You can also get combo tickets to include The Forum and Palatine Hill.

The Forum
The Roman Forum

Symbolic and gloriously atmospheric, the Roman Forum is a large rectangular plaza surrounded by ruins of important ancient government buildings.  It was the heart of ancient Roman life – where speeches, trials, processions, elections and gladiator battles took place.  Walking around the Forum is a wonderfully immersive experience.

Palatine Hill

The most famous of Rome’s 7 hills, Palatine Hill offers wonderful views of the graceful ruins of the Roman Forum some 40m below.  It was an impressive location for the homes of aristocrats and emperors.  The area housed Roman palaces, a vast complex of pools, saunas and even a gym for the Emperors.  Find a shady spot to sit and enjoy panoramic views across the city.

Palatine Hill
Top things to see and do in Rome include the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain

La Fontana di Trevi (The Trevi Fountain) is perhaps the most famous fountain in the world.  This Baroque fountain on the piazza was built between 1732 and 1762. At 20m high and 26m wide, it’s Rome’s largest fountain.  Its name – La Fontana di Trevi, comes from the fact that 3 (Tre) roads bisected this point back in Roman times.  The water glistens turquoise and the stonework is a crisp, cool and clean backdrop for wonderful photos.

Want to return to Rome? With your back to the fountain, throw a coin with your eyes closed over your left shoulder using your right hand.  Over a million Euros are thrown into the fountain each year going to charities.

TOP TIP: For the best photos and to experience the fountain without the tourist hustle, visit before 7 a.m.

Enjoy local foods

Testaccio is the original foodie neighbourhood of Rome. Less busy than other popular food areas, you can enjoy Testaccio Market as well as a wonderful choice of restaurants.  Pretty Trastevere with its cobbled streets and alleys is another lovely place to dine.

What should you try? These are some of my favourites…

  • Amaratriciana Pasta  – a sauce of tomato, pecorino romano and guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl – which tastes better than it sounds)
  • Pasta alla Gricia – a sauce of guanciale, pepper and pecorino romano
  • Carbonara – a sauce of guanciale, egg and parmigiano reggiano
  • Cacio e Pepe – a sauce of pecorino romano and pepper
  • Carciofi alle gudia – deep-fried artichoke
  • Suppli – breadcrumbed and deep-fried rice and tomato spheres stuffed with cheese
  • Porchetta – slow roasted pork with garlic, sage, salt and rosemary

 

things to eat in Rome Carciofi-alle-giudia
Granita de cafe
Coffee – the Rome way

Look out for Italian coffee bars, rather than cafes.  Don’t sit to drink your coffee, instead order at the bar, stand and drink it in a few gulps.  Milky coffee is generally only deemed acceptable at breakfast.   For something cooling in the summer Rome heat, try a granita de cafe topped with whipped cream – Delicious!  If you are heading home after dinner you might like to stop for something ‘stronger.’  Try a caffe corretto – a shot of espresso with a liquor of your choice to ‘correct’ the coffee. 

Admire the view

With so many historic landmarks, ruins and fountains – admiring Rome from above allows you to appreciate the immense scale of Rome.  Palatine Hill offers a wonderful view but there’s a way to get higher and see more.  The Vittorio Emanuel ii Monument is on an epic scale in a striking position next to the Roman Forum.  A super cool bonus is the glass-walled elevator that can take you to the rooftop.  Aptly named ‘Rome from the Sky,’  there are the most amazing views over the city and surrounding areas.  Although it’s a relatively expensive ticket for an elevator ride – the view is really worth it and generally the rooftop is extremely quiet by tourist Rome standards.  The ticket will also give you a museum entry – so you may want to allow extra time.  

View from Vittorio Rome
Things to do in Rome include Piazza Navona
Spend an evening in a piazza

Resting your weary walking feet in a piazza restaurant as sun sets is a pure joy.  Piazza Navona treats you to three grand fountains and you can enjoy street performances from one of the restaurants that line the square.  From the Piazza della Rotonda, you can take in the wonder of the Parthenon which is beautifully lit at night.  So many piazza’s and so little time. 

Enjoy a real Gelato

So here’s the scoop… (sorry I couldn’t resist)

Is gelato different to ice cream? Yes – because gelato uses much less fat than ice cream and it’s churned at a slower speed giving it a denser texture and more intense flavour.  It’s also served at a higher temperature than ice cream so the flavour pops more.  But as the word gelato and artisanal are not regulated in Italy – how do you find the real deal? You can look for:

  • Natural and muted colours
  • Seasonal flavours
  • The use of a metal space, not a scoop
  • Gelato that isn’t piled too high but is stored in a lidded metal container
  • Gelato that isn’t shiny

 

top things to do in Rome
Parthenon
Pantheon

    One of the most recognisable buildings in Rome, building work commenced in 27 BC and its original use is still unknown. In 609, the Pantheon started to be used as a church.  To this day, it’s one of the best preserved monuments of ancient Rome.  You can buy entrance tickets online here including tours and audio guides.  This opulent building is also beautiful to enjoy from a pretty piazza restaurant.

    Rome is a heady mix of history, archaeology, architecture, culture, art and food.  It’s a romantic, exciting and atmospheric city to visit and explore – one you just can’t get enough of.  I hope this list of top things to see and do in Rome will help get your adventures underway.

    Ciao!

    Make the most of Berlin

    Make the most of Berlin

    Make the most of Berlin

    History, Culture, Graffiti and more – here are some ideas of how to make the most of Berlin.

    Berlin is a gritty city that is bursting with history, education and reflection.  The numerous memorials make this a city that honours those affected by Berlin’s past.  But it also allows the new habitants to express their views and celebrate their culture and passions. It might not be a top choice for a romantic getaway, but Berlin has a passionate heart that will touch any visitor.

    Berlin’s Geography

    The city of Berlin stands in a low and marshy area of Northeastern Germany. With the river Spree running through the city, you’ll find canal networks, parks and a wide low-rise feel to the city. 

    Berlin Facts 

    Berlin, North Eastern Germany, Europe

    Germany's capital city is perfect for history and culture lovers

    Spring and Autumn are perfect to visit Berlin. The summer can be very hot and the winters very cold - so dress accordingly

    A very large, walkable, flat city with great U Bahn, S Bahn and Tram systems

    There is no real city centre but lots of Kieze (communities)

    The River Spree runs through the city - boat tours are available

    Museum Island

    Yes, in Berlin there is a whole island dedicated to museums.  Five large museums sit proudly on Spree Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Berlin’s historic Mitte district.  The Pergamon, Bode, Neues, Alte Nationalgalerie and Altes Museums offer you art, and antiquities on a grand scale.  If you are a museum lover – then you might want to invest in a Museum Pass Berlin. Even if time doesn’t permit museum meanderings, the Museum Island area is one of the most attractive areas to visit in Berlin and definitely worth a walk around.  (The Pergamon Museum is closing for extensive renovation on 23rd October 2023 so check before you visit).

    Make the most of Berlin at Museum Island
    Checkpoint Charlie
    Checkpoint Charlie

    There’s debate about whether Checkpoint Charlie should be on your to-see list because it’s now considered a tourist trap.  I understand as the site is – well, small and a little underwhelming. Plus you have to dodge traffic to get a good photo.  But this Berlin wall Crossing point symbolises the Cold War and was the scene of the brief but potentially future-changing face-off between Soviet and American tanks. So go and visit and get the photo!

    Brandenburg Gate 

    This much loved German landmark is built on the site of a former city gate that started the route to Brandenburg an der Havel.  A symbol of Geman division during the Cold War, it now offers a national symbol of unity and peace. It’s located in a pedestrianized area often used for large public shows and events.  There are some fabulous photo opportunities here before moving on to the Reichstag.

    Make the most of Berlin at Brandenburg Gate
    Jewish Memorial - Berlin
    Memorials

    If you are heading from the Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag, do take a short detour to take in the sombre but beautiful holocaust memorial / Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  In 19000 square metres, the 2711 concrete stelae wave abstractly through the space  – a very unique place of remembrance.  

    The Reichstag

    The Reichstag is a short walk away and is the current home of the German parliament.  You can sit outside on the grass for a picnic – or make a reservation in the rooftop restaurant.  You can even enjoy panoramic city views from the glass dome.

    Reichstag
    Berlin Wall - make the most of Berlin
    The Wall – or Walls!

    It feels surreal to me that in my lifetime, there was a wall that kept a whole population in.  The 27-mile-long wall was 2 walls, with a ‘Death Strip’ in between.   For some, removing the wall after its demise, was essential to remove the painful reminder of a sad past.  Others argued that parts of the wall be left intact in remembrance of the historic events and perhaps as a stark reminder to us all of how fragile peace can be.  The Berlin Wall is still very visible in parts of the city – as too is the double cobbled strip with brass Berliner Mauer markers that you will find if you keep looking down to the ground across Berlin.  Experience the Wall for yourself at Berlin Wall Memorial, Mauerpark, a small section near Checkpoint Charlie and most prominently at the East Side Gallery.

    East Side Gallery

    One of my favourite sites in Berlin is the East Side Gallery.  If like me you are walking around Berlin, you might find its location a bit of a trek from the famous Checkpoint Charlie, Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.  Despite the walk, it is SO worth a visit.  On one side of this 1.3m long stretch of wall, you will find the familiar graffiti that really is everywhere in Berlin. But the other side of the Wall is remarkable. 118 artists from 21 countries were commissioned to paint murals that would become the longest open-air gallery in the world.

    East Side Gallery
    Tunnel 29
    Underground Berlin

    Between 1961 and 1989 thousands of East Germans risked crossing the border to get to the West.    Before August 1961, up to 1700 people daily, were leaving through Berlin.  The German Democratic Republic officials decided to close the border to stop the drain.  Escapes became a focus of those determined to seek out a life in the West.  Tunnels were popular between 1962- 1964, with serious planning involved to consider reinforcements, lighting and ventilation.  Berliner Unterwelten offers a unique underground tour where you will learn more about the tunnels, underground Berlin and experience both first-hand.

    Eating around Berlin

    There are some absolute classic dishes to try in Berlin.  A Currywurst from Curry 36 is a must – although maybe once will be enough. Flammekueche with its toppings of creme fraiche, onions and lardons is a delicious lunch.  Then there are the popular Turkish and Syrian dishes which you will find all over the city, including a Shwarma or the hummus/baba ganoush style Mutabal dish.  For drinks try a Fritz Cola, Berliner Weisse Cocktail or a Radler for a refreshing lemony beer drink.  Authentic German cuisine is served at the Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt. It’s got a great atmosphere and a delicious menu from Wiener Schnitzel to the crispy knuckle of pork (be warned that it’s big enough for 2!).  

    Flammekeuche

    Book ahead for a bonus glass dome tour

    Unlike the roughly €25 trip up the Berlin TV Tower,  you can enjoy panoramic views from the Reichstag glass dome for FREE.  Go online well in advance of your trip (bookings were being taken for 2 weeks time when I checked).  Alternatively, you can visit the ticket booth situated to the side of the Reichstag, and make a reservation if spaces are available, for the same day or later in your trip.  PLEASE remember to take ID for all of your party as you cannot book in person without it. Book in advance here  – Reichstag Building and Dome Tour

    A great way to make the most of Berlin is to understand some of its history before you visit.  My favourite way to research a city is by listening to podcasts. With a podcast, I can search for episodes, download them and then listen when I’m driving. If I’ve got time I’ll try and get my hands on a few books before I go too.  I have to admit that I didn’t finish the Checkpoint Charlie book before my visit.  But honestly – it felt pretty great to be sitting in a cafe directly opposite the actual border crossing that I was reading about!

    Research Berlin to make the most of Berlin

    My top tips to read and listen to before you go:

    • Book – Tunnel 29 – Helena Merriman
    • Book – Checkpoint Charlie – Iain MacGregor
    • Podcast – BBC – Tunnel 29 (10 episodes)
    • Podcast – The Rest Is History – No. 83 The Berlin Wall
    • Podcast – Short History – Season 2, E29 – The Berlin Wall
    • Podcast – History HIT – Escaping the Berlin Wall
    Touch the wall

    One of the most culturally diverse European cities, you’ll notice and appreciate German and international influences on what you see, taste and enjoy.  Berlin will educate you and make you reflect on the past. What it lacks in romance, it makes up for in history, diversity and culture.  Enjoy making the most of Berlin.

    Enjoy Croyde – Devon

    Enjoy Croyde – Devon

    Enjoy Croyde – Devon

    Enjoy Croyde – Devon. Here’s what to do, see, explore and eat!

    Have you ever loved somewhere so much that in all honesty, you aren’t sure you want to tell anyone about it? Well, that’s how I feel about Croyde!  This little gem is in North Devon and is an idyllic surf village that still offers old-world charm. There’s a stunning beach, fantastic hikes, surf schools and some lovely local shops. Accommodation is varied with something to suit everyone and did I mention the most amazing places to eat! 

    The ideal family holiday resort and surf location

    Croyde is known as Devon’s surfing capital and rightly so.  It offers a stunning sweep of golden sands with wonderful coastal walks. Nearby Braunton, Woolacombe and Ilfracombe mean you will have endless day-out options too.

    Croyde, North Devon, England Facts

    Croyde, North Devon, England

    Parking available at the National Trust Car Park EX33 1PA

    No dogs on the beach May - Sept but plenty of dog friendly walks!

    Surf’s up

    Croyde has a large sweep of golden sands which makes it perfect for families and surfers alike.  It’s fantastic for beginners as well as the keen surfers.  There are plenty of places to hire surfboards or to book lessons – you won’t miss The Little Pink Shop on your drive or walk in.  Surf at Croyde, and you’ll be making history as you enjoy time on the 18 miles of coast that is the UK’s first World Surfing Reserve.

    Little Pink Shop Croyde

    For Serious Surfers – here’s what the surf report website Surfline has to say about Croyde!

    One of the UK’s most popular surf destinations, this is a high-quality, hollow, peaky beachbreak, hemmed in by Downend Point to the south and Baggy Point to the north. The currents and swells conspire to produce heavy, low-tide barrels and excellent waves as the tide pushes in. The average surf here tends to be a bit smaller than in Cornwall, but six-foot Croyde can offer board-breakingly good Hossegor-like conditions. Gets crazy busy in small summer waves.

    Biffens Kitchen Croyde
    Where to eat

    My number one recommendation for eating in Croyde is Biffen’s Kitchen at the Ocean Pitch campsite. Biff offers a variety of surf destination cuisines made with locally sourced produce and cooked fresh.  Breakfast and dinner are offered from early April to the end of September. For me, it’s all the added extras on your dish that make Biffen’s Kitchen so special – asian slaw, togarashi edamame, pinkled onions  – even corn dust!

    For something more traditional – how about a cream tea at the Sandleigh National Trust Cafe. Set in an allotment, it’s a perfect stop off at the end of a walk to the National Trust’s Baggy Point.

    Where to stay?

    There really is something for everyone in Croyde.  If you have a tent or campervan then Ocean Pitch Campsite​ should be your first choice.  Benny and the team are super friendly and welcoming and there’s a relaxed and happy surf vibe.  The facilities are amazingly set up for beach lovers or surfers with great facilities including all you need to wash up your pots and pans or your wetsuits! With Biffens Kitchen on-site, it’s our favourite surf campsite – but be warned – it books up quickly!  For a luxurious cottage getaway – try Ocean Cottages ​ They have a fantastic array of places to stay in and around Croyde.

    Ocean Pitch Croyde
    Baggy Point Croyde
    Wonderful walks

    Baggy Point is an impressive rocky headland with dramatic cliffs and fantastic views towards Lundy Island.  Park up at the National Trust Car Park and follow the easy access path along one of the circular walks.

    Following the South West Coast Path is another great option. The path is England’s longest waymarked long-distance footpath and stretches for 630 miles. Take a walk over to Woolacombe, or up past Saunton and along the estuary into Braunton.

     

    Bucket list hike

    With a little extra effort, you can take on the highest sea cliff in England and the highest point on the South West Coast Path – Great Hangman!  Although the top of Great Hangman isn’t particularly notable – the stunning walks up the summit are really worth the climb. I took two Stagecoach buses from Croyde to Braunton and then onto Ilfracombe to start my hike.  My finishing point was Combe Martin – a small seaside resort in a sheltered cove, where Exmoor meets the sea.

    Great Hangman
    Museum of British Surfing
    Surf Education

    Over in Braunton, you’ll find the charming Museum of British Surfing  Started in 2003 with donations from the family of Britain’s first professional surfer, it has staged touring exhibitions at museums all over the UK. It’s believed to be the largest and most comprehensive collection of surfboards and related memorabilia in Europe.   I really loved their new exhibition for 2023 – The Women of British Surfing – a fantastic exhibition to get women and girls of all ages fired up about surfing!  Run by volunteers and with a bargain entry fee of only £2 – what’s not to love!

    Getting crafty

    Want a break from surfing and hikes? Then take it easy at the Croyde Craft Market in the middle of the village open most Thursdays and Bank Holidays – you can find them on Facebook too.  You’ll find perfect surf-inspired decor for your home, wearables, beautiful hand-crafted jewellery and some yummy treats to take away.

    Craft Fair Croyde
    Surf at Croyde
    All inclusive Croyde

    England’s first official surfing centre specifically for people with disabilities, opened in Croyde this year.   The ‘Adaptive Surfing Hub’ enables users to engage with surfing through modified equipment allowing them greater independence, comfort and confidence.  What an inspiring way of ensuring more people can access all that the ocean has to offer!

    Enjoy Croyde Devon

    So there you have it – all there is to love about Croyde!  Think of me when you go and enjoy this lovely little spot.  After all, it’s good to share.

     

    Borough Market of London

    Borough Market of London

    Borough Market – London

    There’s a fascinating story behind Borough Market of London – arguably Britain’s most famous food market.  Back in 900AD when London Bridge was constructed, London was a small walled city on the North of the river Thames.  Southwark was a southern neighbour and the home to hawkers, craftsmen and criminals.  In fact, for many years a felon committing a crime in London could flee to Southwark where the bailiffs weren’t allowed to touch them!  Years moved on and the vital artery of London bridge encouraged traders – including butchers whose live produce would often cause havoc when they escaped.  The market’s popularity and location changed and nearly ended in the 1970s when New Covent Garden Market was constructed.  But in the 1990s the revival of artisan foods and the endorsement of almost every British chef, secured the market its position as a genuine institution. 

    There’s no need to get up early to visit this food market! Head over for a coffee and stay for some amazing street food. Pick up artisan foods to enjoy at home and choose some thoughtful gifts for family and friends.

    Borough Market, Southwark, London, England

    Food and drink

    Visit 7 days a week

    Mon-Fri 10am - 5pm

    Saturdays 8am - 5pm Sundays 10am - 3pm

    Coffee and Sweet Treats

    There are so many vendors to choose from offering pastries, brioche, coffee, mulled drinks or homemade fudge. Try The Colombian Coffee Company for a deliciously smooth coffee while supporting a worthwhile Social Enterprise. Choose the Castillo variety which is sweet and delicate, and grab a bag to take home. They will even grind the coffee to perfectly suit your at home coffee maker.

    Colombian Coffee Stand
    Discover Borough Market Fruit and Veg
    Fruit and Vegetables

    You don’t need to be a vegetarian to LOVE the fruit and veg stands at Borough Market.  Full of fresh, weird and wonderful varieties – it’s a great place to pluck up the courage to buy something and then figure out what to do with it when you get home.  I bought some pretty and striped baby aubergines which I can’t wait to try in a Thai Curry.

    Taste the globe

    If travel isn’t on the agenda for a while, Borough Market provides the perfect opportunity to eat around the globe instead.  Taste Croatia Deli offers unique cheeses, jams, oils and vinegar that celebrate Croatian gastronomy.  You could try their amazing pumpkin seed oil. It completely changes up a tomato and finely sliced onion salad with its rich green colour and unbelievably nutty flavour.  Travel on to Russia and the Baltic at the Karaway Bakery.  Their Lithuanian rye bread is super soft for a rye-style bread with a hint of caraway.  Layer up slices with soft cheese, salad leaves, smoked salmon and dill making a quick and nutritious lunch.

    Taste Croatia Deli
    Discover Borough Market
    Herbs and Spices

    If you haven’t got room for fresh produce, or you need something that will last – try Spice Mountain.  Who knew that the world offers so many varieties of peppercorns?  There are herbs and spices to enhance every dish, from tagines and curries to mulled drinks and chai latte ingredients.  Unique spice containers, pestle and mortars and dainty spice spoons are all on offer too.  Spice Mountain is a go to stall for exciting foodie-lover gifts to treat your loved ones.

    Under the sea

    The meat counters at Borough Market of London look amazing, however, for me, it’s the fish stalls that steal the show.  You are likely to find seafood varieties usually only tasted on holiday and certainly not available in the supermarket.  Tucked around the corner from the vendors, you’ll come across seafood paella and mussels being cooked up so you can try the fish even if you don’t want to take it home on the train!

    Fresh Fish Stand Borough Market
    Discover Borough Market - greenery
    Gardening and Greenery

    Not everything is edible at Borough Market. The Gated Garden brightens Three Crown Square with a colourful array of flowers, plants and garden ornaments. Pick up tulips to take home or a pretty jug or bowl for use in arrangments at home.

    Feeling peckish

    It’s impossible not to feel hungry wandering around Borough Market. As lunchtime approaches the hustle heightens as locals pop out of their offices to stop in for lunch.  There are street food vendors with a huge variety to choose from – Mexican to Apple Crumble! For me, there is nothing like watching something being made in front of you – and even better when a taster is offered.  The fresh mushroom risotto is a super popular choice – amazing to watch and delicious for lunch.

    mushroom risotto at borough Market

    Want to find out more about Borough Market of London? Head over to the Borough Market website.

    the Shard
    Beyond Borough Market of London

    When you’ve shopped the market and eaten until full, the area of Southwark has plenty more to offer.  The Shard is just down the street and offers a viewing gallery with 360-degree views for up to 40 miles.  Book tickets ahead of time to save disappointment.  Nearly sunset? Head up to one of the Shard’s restaurants for a sundowner with a great view. Down by the river you’ll find a lovingly reconstructed replica of Sir Francis Drake’s 17th-century Golden Hinde ship. From a very different era, you could also explore the HMS Belfast Warship. If fashion is more your thing – delve into contemporary fashion at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum.

    Looking for something quirky? How about this..

    The Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret

    It’s housed in the attic of the early eighteenth-century church of the old St Thomas’ Hospital and is only accessible via a spiral staircase. This atmospheric museum offers a unique insight into the history of medicine and surgery. The original timber-framed Herb Garret was once used to dry and store herbs for patients’ medicines and in 1822 an operating theatre was included. Predating anaesthetics and antiseptics, it is the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe. Here’s a link to their website – The Old Operating Theatre

    And finally, if you are heading home via Waterloo Station, then take a short detour to The Cut. You can enjoy a delicious and authentic Italian meal at Olivelli’s. No frills, friendly service and wonderful food.

    What to see in wonderful Copenhagen

    What to see in wonderful Copenhagen

    What to see in wonderful Copenhagen

    Wonderful – Wonderful – Copenhagen – the famous song rings true! Copenhagen is one of Europe’s oldest cities which means you can explore everything from Viking culture to over 1000 years of Royal history.  There’s a pretty canal network, a squeaky clean harbour, a dreamy amusement park and fairy tale heritage to soak up.  With Danish design shopping streets and modern Nordic food to try – here’s what to see in wonderful Copenhagen.

    How to see Copenhagen in just a day

    Let’s start in Nyhavn Harbour, the iconic and photogenic harbour.  Nyhavn is a 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment district, lined with brightly coloured townhouses, bars, cafes and restaurants and home to many historical wooden ships.  Take some memorable photos and enjoy a waterside cafe. 

    What to see in wonderful Copenhagen - Nyhavn harbour

    Next, head North to Amalienborg Palace, home of the Danish Royal family. It consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard; in the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederick V.​  The Amalienborg Museum is also an option if you’d like to explore where the Royal family live and hold special events.  There is Christian X’s study, the Fabergé Chamber and the Gala Hall.  The Marble Church, a stone’s throw away, is worth a quick look at with its mesmerising ceiling. ​

    Amalienborg Palace

    Insider tip!

    Arrive at noon and you can catch the changing of the Royal Guard as they march from their barracks. Don’t worry where you stand as they circle most of the courtyard.

    Royal Guard Amalienborg

    Now we can walk North through The Citadel (Kastellnet) – a well preserved 17th Century citadel that is still in use by the Danish Military. It’s a hidden gem and is a lovely place to stroll through, past the Commander’s house and barracks.

    What to see in wonderful Copenhagen - Citadel - Copenhagen

    We can’t miss the Little Mermaid!

    Once through Kastellnet turn right and follow the corner around to the famous – Little Mermaid.  This has to be one of Copenhagen’s most iconic tourist attractions (although it might be a little smaller than you expect!). The sculpture of The Little Mermaid was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince on land.  It was unveiled on 23 August 1913.  The statue is made of bronze and granite and was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen and was sculpted by Edvard Eriksen.

     

    The Little Mermaid Copenhagen

    Walk back past St Alban’s Chuch and the beautiful Gefion Fountain, the largest monument in Copenhagen and a beautiful depiction of the legendary Norse goddess. You’ll continue South along Bredgade until reaching the Kongens Nytorv square and gardens with its elegant buildings and statues.  There’s some wonderful shopping to enjoy along Ostergade.  Stop in to enjoy some Danish classics – Illums Bolighus, Royal Copenhagen (China), Georg Jensen, Lego and Hay House to name a few.

    What to do in Copenhagen - shopping streets

    Ending the day at Tivoli Gardens amusement park is a delight.  Built in 1843, Tivoli is the third oldest amusement park in the world.  It was said to the be inspiration for Walt Disney’s theme parks.  Head into the park at dusk and enjoy a romantic night filled with twinkling lights, traditional and modern rides all with an authentic vintage feel.  There are lots of places to eat – from fine dining to traditional theme park fare.

    What to see in wonderful Copenhagen - Tivoli Gardens

    There are so many other highlights in Copenhagen – so mix and match as you like!  Here are some of the other top Copenhagen locations on offer!

    what to see in wonderful copenhagen - botanical gardens

    Botanical Gardens

    The Botanical Garden is Denmark’s largest collection of living plants, a few steps from Nørreport Station. It’s a free public green space to roam and relax in and is filled with rare trees, shrubs and herbs. There’s also a flower shop, cafe, butterfly house, and a beautifully renovated Palm house.

    Church of our saviour

    Church of Our Saviour

    The Church of Our Saviour is one of Denmark’s most famous churches. Ever since the serpentine spire was inaugurated in 1752, it has been a popular pastime to climb the 400 steps to the top. From 90m above street level, the view over the city is impressive.  The last 150 steps are outside the spire – this is not an ascent for the vertiginously challenged! Open from 9 – 8 daily but not in all Winter months so check before you go.

    what to see in wonderful Copenhagen - round tower

    The Round Tower

    This is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe – and as you’d expect has a fantastic view from the top.  Finished in 1642, the slightly eccentric architecture involves a long internal brick spiral ramp.  You can also enjoy the small library hall that is a museum today.

    Rosenborg Castle

    Rosenborg Castle and Gardens

    Rosenborg Castle was built by one of the most famous Danish kings, Christian IV, in the 17th century. The beautiful castle features 400 years of royal treasures, and the Crown Jewels and Royal Regalia.  The gardens are as delightful as the castle and include rose gardens and even talking statues.

    Copenhagen food delights!

    Make the most of traditional foods, fine dining and fresh food market produce

    Reffen – Open daily, Reffen is an urban playground for co-creation, innovation, food and creativity – and last but not least – the largest street food venue in the Nordics. You can get there by bike, bus or boat. More than 50 chefs and artisans share their food passion and knowledge.

    Torvehallerne Food MarketWith over 115,000 locals visiting every week, Torvehallerne is a popular spot to find local produce and farm-to-table dining. There’s a mix of Danish specialities and global cuisine.  The undercover market housed in two buildings is located near the central pedestrian zone by Nørreport station.

    Fine Dining  – In 2022 there were 15 Michelin star restaurants to choose from in Copenhagen – try Geranium, Alchemist or Kokkeriet.  Seaside Toldboden might not have the stars, however it has fantastic food and a wonderful harbour view!

    Broens Gadekøkken  – At the Inner Harbour bridge between Christianshavn and Nyhavn you find Broens Gadekøkken, with harbour views and amazing street food. The food stalls offer delicious street food from established and well-known chefs and restaurants in Copenhagen and it’s a real melting pot of flavours.

    For more information on Copenhagen, here’s a link to the Copenhagen information website

    Pin It on Pinterest