Cycling the French Wine Region

A bike parked outside a wine shop in Libourne. A sign reads, 'Cognac only.'

Not far from Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of France’s famous wine regions. French wine is a delicacy that anyone hoping to encounter the nation’s culture must delight in. French wine production is second in the world league tables, and cycling French wine regions is certainly great travel activity.

On the periphery of Bordeaux, sits the Libournais wine region which is named after the beautiful medieval town of Libourne. Geographically, Libourne sits on the banks of the Dordogne river and played an important part in the shipping of French wine.

I visited and stayed in Libourne during my French travels. I soon found that the best way to travel around Libourne was to cycle. There is nothing more relaxing than a slow cycle through ripe vineyards, past medieval town buildings and quaint French villas. Green country rolls out beyond you and well-kept cycle routes connect Libourne to surrounding French wine destinations. The roads are beginner-friendly and from Libourne, it’s only 5 miles to Saint Émilion – the oldest, and most charming wine producing town in the Bordeaux region!

Libourne on Sundays

Beginning our tour, my two friends and I ended up landing in Libourne for a Sunday. On Sundays, Libourne’s market comes to life and wandering the streets up from the town square, you can step into history. Smelling fresh oysters and purchasing local fruits gives you the sense that you are retracing the steps of medieval locals and participating in the preservation of Libourne’s market-town heritage.

Fortunate to be hosted by local friends, we observed life as those in Libourne play it on Sundays: up early, stroll the markets, and stop for a coffee (or a glass of French wine) in the indoor market café. It’s simple yet wonderful!

A girl in a red bathing suit paddling in the Lac de Daqueys

Our friends then headed off to a local wine bar to join friends for a bread & cheese lunch – something the locals enjoy alongside some French wine to continue good friendships. We picked up some bread at the market and jumped on the bikes to continue through Libourne.

A 20 minute gentle cycle along cycle paths landed us at Libourne’s local lake, Lac de Dagueys. This large, man-made lake is the perfect pic nic spot and place for an afternoon swim. You can cycle round the lake to a beach area and other attractions also sit along the perimeter, including a water park which opens during the summer. Since everything closes and life ‘halts’ on Sundays, the lake is by far the best way to relax and live like the locals!

Pedalling the French Wine

Experiencing French wine often comes by tasting, buying, smelling and perhaps visiting vineyards. We found another great way – cycling the French wine region! Pedalling through the countryside and quite literally rolling past grape fields on your bike gives a new perspective. Each vineyard is part of the network of the Libournais production. Besides, it’s just incredibly relaxing!

From Libourne, cycle routes will take you out of town and beyond the railway. From there you can follow quiet country roads, past a number of vineyards and a couple of wine museums. The route is a total of 5 miles (approximately 40 minutes at gentle pace) to Saint Émilion, and flat most of the way. [See the route here.]

Saint Émilion – A French wine must-see!

Built into a hillside, Saint Émilion is a beautiful medieval city to meander through. Rest from cycling and park your bike by the Saint Emilion church and take a look inside. You will find a beautiful mural in the cloisters!

Then, I advise you walk around the corner to the office desk tourisme where you can pay €2 to climb the tower. Here you get stunning views out across the region. Look back on where you cycled from, or absorb the green scenery; I enjoyed watching people wander through the lanes below you.

Saint Émilion Recommendations

Back on the ground, take a day to explore French wine! There is no set way to do this, other than to meander and experience as much or as little of the wine shops and bars ass you like. However here are some suggestions from our French Wine cycling trip:

  • Cloitre de Cordeliers: a beautiful converted church and cloister, now selling French wine & gifts, offering tasting, and a coffee shop in the cloister gardens.
  • Find an art gallery: there’s one here.
  • Sit in the square outside the Ermitage de Saint Émilion: Have a glass of French wine from one of the cafes, or enjoy a picnic.
  • Walk along the Rue du Convent: Here you can enjoy some beautiful views of Saint Émilion and continuing past La Tour du Roy, you can venture towards the cities old wine tunnels – where barrels of wine are stacked up and stored in the heritage network of underground caves.
view of Saint Emilion from the rue de covent, with the church spire in the distance

End your French Wine tour well!

After a delightful day, you can pause to stop for an ice cream right where you parked your bikes! This place has some delicious flavours and a private courtyard with a water feature to sit in, if you enter and pass through the back door of the store. What a dream – French wine and ice cream, and well deserved after that cycling!

Cycling the French wine region of Libournais is a wonderful way to slow down and soak up culture! We added a trip into Bordeaux onto our 48 hours and it was definitely worth it. Whilst we took a 40 minute train from Libourne, there definitely would be an option to hire bikes and cycle along Bordeaux’s river to.

Thinking of planning a holiday? Cycle the French wine region of Libournais!

More on France? Click here!

Want more cycling ideas? Take a look at this cycle tour of Helsinki.

Street Photography | People in Paris

A collection of street photography: portraits of strangers on corners or through windows.

Some people people-watch, sitting on street corners or at cafe tables. A select few reach for a note book and sketch away, creating characters with stories and adventures imagined. Yet, I find there is a frustrating sense of inactivity involved in this process, feeling stuck and still with one single frame in which to capture.

Thats why I take to the streets. I walk and delight in the split-second moments that a 50mm lens affords me to capture. With street photography, I’m no longer observing but stumbling upon a moment – an exchange and interaction. Some of my subjects notice. Others will maybe never know. All are captured with the intent of dignity.

The French, I find, are more expressive of their personality. Each individual follows a fashion of their own style and lives out their unique moment, perfectly intertwined within habitual routine.

All street photography images subject to copyright –  © Eleanor Hyde 2022

More from France here.

More street photography: ‘Humans of Japan’ here, or Camden Streets here.

A French artist wearing a beret sketches a portrait in the street
a woman in a pink dress walks a large grey Great Dane dog through a large French square

*Disclaimer: One or two of these were shot in Bordeaux, although the majority were from the streets of Paris.

Pompidou | Paris

Graduating Architecture via the Pompidou

picture of a red road sign and the Pompidou Centre on the right
photo of the Pompidou Centre eco-skeleton with a zig-zagging staircase hanging on the exterior

Home to a large public library and the Centre National d’Art et de Culture, the Pompidou Centre in Paris is well worth a visit. An artistic statement in itself, this high-tech influenced piece of Architecture is a must see on anyone’s Paris bucket list. Having just finished my Architecture degree, I headed to France as a well-earned break, whilst awaiting results. I made a B-line for the Pompidou.

About the Pompidou

Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the Pompidou Centre 1971-77 is revolutionary to this day. To state the obvious, this high-tech statement was a successful expression of an ‘inside-out’ concept. All the structure, mechanics, circulation, vertical cores and ducts were placed to the exterior. This colour-coded system of pipework, structure and access encased an open interior, free of clutter and perfect for functional program. The result was a cocoon-like array of fabricated scales.

It was not just the form of building that launched its presence in Paris and global fame. The building houses more than an art museum: a library, theatre, music venue… As a result, the building became an exciting hub transforming the idea of what a museum could be. The Pompidou was and is the precedent of a museum that engages with the city on diverse levels, offering social and cultural exchange beyond the idea of ‘museum’ in the 1970’s. The Pompidou had ‘everything,’ and could not be defined as a single type of building – it had multipurpose.

Image through the structure of the Pompidou. On left Sid of image, you see an external view of Paris. On the right, the image looks internally through a glazed viewing corridor

Views from the Pompidou

Image of view of Eiffel Tower from Pompidou
Image of view of Sacre Coeur from Pompidou

Today, many visit the Pompidou and entry into the art museum’s exhibitions only costs you €16. Additionally, due to the building’s diverse range of function, the concourse is publicly free to enter. A grand open centre inclusively offers bookshops, toilets, information and temporary displays. More so, ascending the famous exterior escalator is free to all and arrives at a public viewing terrace.

The corridors stretch along the same line, one floor above the viewing terrace. Along this axis, you are given one of the best panoramic views in Paris. Along a single linear route, you can see both the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur. It really is a must see! Although on a hot day, I advise finding the external terrace quickly, because the 1970’s glass tubes are really nothing more than unpleasant greenhouses…

The Backstreets

The backstreet regions around the Pompidou are also worth a stroll. Located adjacent to Le Marais, you will find colourful pocket galleries, street art, artisan shops and more! Perhaps you’ll spend an evening strolling avenues or enjoy a bite in one of the many Brassieres or Creperies.

Heading to Paris? Add it to the itinerary!

Want more French inspired blogs? Check out the France series over the next month or so.

Previous Travel Series: Japan; Canada; Italy


Vancouver is a huge city filled with diverse culture. There are strong links to and from Seattle, areas to see theatre and music, popular public parks and famous food markets.

If you are road tripping or city hopping, Vancouver connects to a range of destinations. Seaplanes are a preferred form of transport for connections to Vancouver Island and even Seattle. An evening by the waterfront can be enjoyed in many restaurants and bars, watching the planes land and take off on water.

Stanley Park Cycle Route

Since Vancouver is so huge, one of the best ways to enjoy it is by bike. Multiple places around the famous Stanley Park offer bike rentals and you can follow a circular route through the park and out towards Granville Island, a thriving island filled with food markets and culture. The route then continues round and returns past the TELUS Science World.

Vancouver Public Library

If you are passing, the Vancouver Public Library is definitely worth seeing. It makes for some great photographs and is structurally interesting. However I did find it a bit pastiche and ‘colosseum.’ I couldn’t quite persuade my brother to go inside the library and the atrium itself is nothing more than a shop front.

Culture and History

Vancouver is full of culture and heritage. Within the city, Gas Town and China Town sit adjacent to each other in Downtown Vancouver. Ideally you want to experience Gas Town in the evenings. The area is filled with Victorian buildings, a steam-clock and restaurant bars – perfect for a Friday Night. China Town is home to a beautiful Japanese Garden.

Further from the centre in North Vancouver, is the Capillano Suspension Bridge. You can visit the attraction and learn about the history of the bridge building. On the other side of the river, there is a treetop park to enjoy however I soon discovered that the attraction is overpriced. You’ll be paying to queue across a bridge and then walk about a kilometre. Again, the pictures are pretty but in terms of experience, it wasn’t really worth it.

Museum of Anthropology

I initially had the Museum of Anthropology on my bucket list for the architecture. It turns out that the exhibitions themselves are just as impressive and extensive. In fact, it’s probably the best thing you can do in Vancouver if you want to learn about Canadian heritage. Unfortunately, my trip was cut short when someone broke into our rental car but despite this is was a really great trip – just park close to the front door!

Whale Watching

Finally, you can’t go to Vancouver and miss out on the whales! We booked on an organised whale watching trip and spent 3 hours watching killer whales fishing and diving around. We also saw seals, sea lions, eagles and herons on the way. It’s not every day you get to see a whale! One tip I do have though – book an afternoon slot because the morning slots spend time trying to find the whales in the first place. Go in the afternoon, and the boat will head straight out to the whales meaning you get more time to watch them play. We did this and it was worth it!

Vancouver is a very diverse city break and there is a huge range of things to do and see. My favourite though had to be the whales! It’s not everyday you get to spend hours photographing such incredible animals!

Want more of Canada? Check out my mountain photography and road trip through The Rockies here.

Canadian Mountains

Mountains are spectacular! Canada is home to the most incredible expanse of mountain tops.

It’s almost October – what? After my crazy summer of travelling I threw myself back into a new job and new house. Now the rain is here, the sweaters are on and I still have mountains of Canadian moments to share.

I went to Canada in June. It was the trip that my Dad and I have always dreamt about. We hired a car and spent two weeks road tripping from Calgary to Vancouver with my Mum and brother.

Never in my life have I ever stood 7,500 ft above sea level and just stared out across a mountainous valley. I love mountains. I love to stand in high places and look out over vast expanses of land – it excites me!

We aren’t just talking one spectacular view like Kambadaga Falls, or Nikko’s mountainside Lake Chizenji. I’m talking about miles and miles of road winding between peak after peak. In the height of summer, you can look up and see glaciers.

I spent one beautiful morning running from Tunnel Mountain into Banff, following the river as it wound through the valley. Watching the fog lift and the mountains break through was such an incredible life-giving experience.

The best morning run I’ve ever done!

Time stands still in the Rockies. As a family we just slowed down completely. Mornings are quiet in the little mountain towns. Days were spent watching elk and bears, parking up at various view points, canoeing, hot-tubbing and relaxing.

God often uses mountains to speak to me. Often He will remind me of how faith can physically move mountains, or in the hard, muddy, valley moments He promises to stand on a mountain top with me. He shows me all the things he has for me in the next season.

How beautiful are the mountains! I just love to look through all my photographs and breathe sometimes. One day – just maybe one day – I’ll live on my own little mountain.

I’ll share more about our road trip stops in Calgary, Kelowna and Vancouver but for now, enjoy the mountain pictures!


Japan is a rich, dense nation deeply routed in buddhist and shinto culture. Tokyo makes it incredibly easy to forget such roots with it’s metropolis of high rise developments, huge business and city life. Kyoto, Japan’s former capital however, offers a charming insight into Japanese culture.

As a UNESCO world heritage site, Kyoto is home to some of Japan’s oldest, most beautiful buildings. Traditions such as tea ceremonies and kaiseki dining offer tourists an opportunity to encounter such a beautiful culture. Kyoto mixes history, beautiful architecture, religion and natural beauty within a city demographic.

Kyoto charm

Kyoto’s charm and beauty is displayed throughout the city but the three most incredible and enchanting spots have to be, the Gion District, the Nansen-ji temple and the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

kyoto Fushimi


The Gion district is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. Gesiha are entertainers who perform theatre and dance in tea houses. Traditionally, many women use to train at a young age and become Geisha. Performing for those in high society, it is still one of the best and most well-respected jobs a woman in Japan could have. A stroll by the river and then along the little lanes of ancient wooden houses can lead you to stumble across Geisha, dressed in typical kimono. The Gion is also home to one of the ‘most beautiful Starbucks in the world’ which offers a tatami style (typical of Japan) seating.

Nansen-ji Temple

Kyoto is home to so many incredible temples. The Nansen-ji temple is one of the most impressive just by shear scale. A walk around the grounds is a pleasant stroll or you can head up the Philosopher’s Path, which is a hike up the mountain giving spectacular views of the temple and city from above. I didn’t get chance to do the hike but it’s definitely worth it if you happen to have time spare in Kyoto.

nanzenji temple

Fushimi-Inari Shrine

Kyoto’s must see attraction is the Fushimi Inari Shrine dedicated to the God of business. Many businesses donate a red torii gate, writing their business name on it. 10,000 of these gates create a trail up the mountain and it makes for a beautiful walk. The attraction is extremely busy however the further up the trail you get, the less people and the views are an added bonus!


Kyoto is beautiful. The heritage of the city is enchanting. Its also the place for souvenirs, Japanese food markets and good speciality coffee. Not to mention the stunning Arashiyama bamboo forest…

I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to visit Kyoto and I wish I could have spent longer there. It’s taken a piece of my heart!

Tokyo Technicality

Tokyo is an explosion of high-rise technology, conservative culture and tasty food. If you’re a fan of all things instantaneous and a sucker for a quirky vending machine, then Japan’s capital is for you!

One of Shibuya's intersections, surrounded by sky scrapers. In the centre sits a teal coloured taxi.

Upon arriving in Tokyo, you are bombarded by bright reds, crazy billboards and colour-coded metro mazes. Restaurants displaying plastic models of the food on offer are juxtaposed next to huge department stores and office blocks. Locals move effortlessly through the crowded umbrella tetris, always dressed formally in navy, black and white.


Tokyo is made up of a number of districts, each entirely unique. The most famous, Shibuya filled with offices and the busiest intersection in the world is home to some of the largest sky scrapers. Crossing the intersection is compulsory. Yoyogi Park and the 1964 Olympic stadium are nearby. Yoyogi is the perfect picnic spot and often hosts festivals; a walk through the park leads to the Meiji Shrine and the famous Harajuku shopping district.

Another beautiful district is Ueno, home to Ueno park, Japan’s first ever public park. In these grounds you will find a vast number of museums, an art college, a few shrines and even the Ueno Zoo! Behind the park sits Ueno lake which again is a beautiful spot to experience Japan’s greenery. Ueno and Iriya offer some great accommodation options just along from Asakusa (Taito City), Tokyo’s beautiful old town and close to the Tokyo sky tree. 

If red is more favoured, head to Shinjuku the famous red light district. The government metropolitan building offers a free trip up to the observatory. If you want to see the real electronic Japan, spend the day in Akihabara. Akihabara is Tokyo’s entertainment district and filled with arcades, anime shops and electronic stores. You’ll also find the freakishly Japanese maid cafes here. Many Japanese men pay to dine in maid cafes, where the waitresses flirt as they serve. I certainly did not try it but if that’s what floats your boat… A friend did try it and left saying, “that was the most uncomfortable experience of my entire life!


The Hidden Districts

Tokyo has umpteen districts to discover. A couple more include the Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza (home to the Tokyo International Forum) and Minato city. These are less touristic but worth a visit, especially Minato (home to google HQ and a large number of embassies) home to design sight, a pleasant sculpture park housing a Tadao Ando art gallery.

Tokyo International Forum

What about the food?

Now, you can’t come to Japan and avoid the food. It’s a no go. Whilst the capital does offer western alternatives, it’s basically a crime to eat in these when there is so much Japanese delicacy to try! Districts such as Ueno and Asakusa are brilliant for your cheap, authentic Japanese dinner plates: rice, meat, and miso soup. If you want incredible ramen, I heard you’re best off heading to Shibuya and Shinjuku. All department stores have basement food halls where you can pick your way through soy bean dumplings, takiyoka (octopus in batter) and all things sweet.

If you do your research (or just check tokyocheapo), you will be able to hunt down a street festival and grab at the street food! Also, you have to try the freshest sushi breakfast at Tsukiji.

(Please avoid the tuna – it’s definitely not a sustainable choice!)

On the note of sustainability

It was regrettably difficult to eat responsibly. Most fish is over fished, Blue-fin Tuna being close to extinction after falling by 96%. All restaurants use disposable chop sticks that have been chemically processed. Pretty much everything in sight comes wrapped in excessive plastic.

A few things you can do include:

  • taking a reusable water bottle (all tap water is safe).
  • buying reusable chopsticks in a 100yen store.
  • refusing plastic bags in stores.

Some vending machines offer canned drinks which is at least better than plastic. Keep hold of the can and take it to the next vending machine as you often find recycling bins next to them!


Tokyo is a great place to explore regardless of the weather. I actually turned up during June’s rain season. Whilst it’s humid and you will be armed with umbrellas all day, it’s a cheaper and much quieter season. Alternatively you could battle the crowds in May to see the cherry blossoms or pay the price in August / September. 

To go to Tokyo?

Everywhere you look, there is a building to surprise you, a colourful craze to gaze upon and a delicious meal to eat. I’d argue that Tokyo is a perfect city break with the addition of rich culture and new experiences!

Love it and want to keep following the Japan travel blog? Find it all here!

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21-21 Design Sight, Minato City


Last week I made it to Edinburgh for a December day trip. The Christmas markets were calling me and I just had to check them out. Since it’s only 90 minutes on the train, I made it to the city by 9:30, giving me the entire day to explore.

I’m pretty familiar with Edinburgh and so I spent most of the day just taking in the atmosphere. However, I have never really ventured up to Nelson’s monument so this time, my friends and I made sure to head up there.

The views are stunning! We timed the walk for sunset and the winter skyline was worth the wait! From this point you get a 360 degree view of the city and you can even look over towards Arthur’s seat.

Once the sun had set, I spent some time in the Edinburgh Christmas markets. It’s safe to say, it’s definitely bigger and better than most – it even beats Bath! However, there were so many people that I got barely any photographs. But sometimes you just have to put the camera down and enjoy the experience…

It is so nice to escape to Edinburgh every now and then! What a great city it is!

What is your go-to day trip?

London Docklands

shard London BridgeI knew it wouldn’t be long before I got bored of being settled. Six weeks after moving down south, I was desperate to get out and explore. The London docklands were calling my name. Seriously, I am suffering from some kind of “settled-down-crisis.” I thrive on new adventure.

Now that I’ve migrated, London is a really feasible distance and so at the start of November I escaped for a weekend. Whilst I have done London a few times, there is always more to discover and brand new attractions popping up all over the place.

The main purpose of my trip was to spend time with my wonderful family who all came to meet me. We were celebrating my beautiful Mum’s 50th birthday and since I’m now 6 hours away from ‘home,’ London proved to be somewhere accessible for all.

LondonSo, what did I do in the big smoke this time?

Forget tourist Thames-trips and London eye visits. We spent the weekend wandering around London Bridge, catching up with friends in the city and dining out. Using the docklands as a base was a bit of an experiment. Safe to say it’s more affordable and the new developments include some great hotels. However it does take a good hour to get across London to Paddington or Oxford Circus.


02 pavilionDespite this, a brand new attraction has been placed over at the docklands. Cable cars have been installed that transport you over the Thames towards the 02 arena. From these cars you get stunning views of Canary Wharf. Four weeks ago they opened an outlet shopping centre that sits on the circumference of the 02 arena. This has brought a fair bit of trade to the 02 pavilion and is a brilliant place to eat out. The riverside is also full of colour and as you can even climb up the 02 itself should you find yourselves daring for a challenge!

November in the city was just what I needed. I definitely recommend it if you’re a commutable distance because sometimes you just need to escape – right?

London docklands

02 pavilion

Rome Travel Guide

When in Rome do what the romans do

Rome. Straight roads, ancient architecture and empires come to mind. The capital of Italy is impressive and definitely worth a visit! This summer, we couldn’t hit Venice and Florence without going to Rome!

Rome Travel Guide


There were a lot of things that I loved and found to be unique about Rome:
  • Hundreds of sites to see!
  • A good range of restaurant types – in other Italian cities you are restricted to Italian restaurants alone.
  • There is a brilliant contrast between ancient and modern architecture, educational museums/art galleries and family friendly attractions.
However, some things to be aware of are:
  • Metro Tubes and Buses get VERY busy and are rather claustrophobic.
  • It’s difficult to find somewhere inexpensive to eat unless you go out into the suburbs.

Sites and attractions

Ancient Rome:

You can’t go to Rome and not see the Colosseum! The largest amphitheatre ever built is one of Italy’s most renowned attractions and built beside the Forum and Palatine, makes an exciting day out.

On Palatine Hill you get some incredible views of the city and the forum ruins!

You can buy a combined ticket that grants a pre-selected, timed entry into the Colosseum and then also one entry into the Forum and Palatine. This ticket lasts two days to enable you to take your time in each since the Forum takes up a vast expanse of landscape itself.

However, don’t be fooled! Whilst the ticket is a two day entry, you can only go in once – no return. We discovered this when we came back a day later to finish seeing the Palatine, not realising that the Forum and Palatine Hill don’t have separate entries. Thankfully we managed to persuade the staff to let us in as the ticket was not very clear.

Rome travel guide Rome travel guide

The Pantheon

Rome travel pantheonThe Pantheon was built as a roman temple to the gods. It has no windows and it’s only light source is a huge hole in the top of the domed roof. Apparently it does rain into the Pantheon but the floors are designed to allow the water run straight off towards the edges of the building.

Now the Pantheon is used as a church so you get free entry. Whilst statues of the roman gods have now been removed, the interiors are still very royal.

Rome travel guide pantheon

Rome travel pantheon rome travel pantheon

Trevi Fountain

Rome travel guideThe fountain makes for a pleasant place to sit for a little while but I wouldn’t allow too much time there. It’s a very busy site and whilst beautiful, takes time to find and there’s not much else there! But if you fancy an ice cream, then why not?

Spanish steps

The Spanish steps connect Piazza di Spagna with the upper Piazza Trinita dei Monti, and are considered to be Rome’s most romantic spot. They were built to represent peace between France and Spain. From the top you get some lovely views of the city. The place seems to come to life during the evening where most people congregate to enjoy the fountain after dinner.

travel guide Rome

The Vatican

The Vatican is the state belonging the the Pope and technically the smallest country in the world. Here you can visit the Vatican Museum, St.Peter’s Basilica and the famous Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo’s incredible works can be found on the ceiling.

We didn’t get chance to go into any of these sites because we didn’t prebook fast enough – the earliest tickets (unless you want to waste 4 hours queuing in the sun) were for two weeks after our trip! However if you know you’re heading to Rome, I would definitely recommend the Sistine Chapel. Why? You aren’t allowed to take photographs inside and it holds some of the world’s greatest paintings – they are a must see and you won’t find any pictures of them online!

travel guide vatican

Bioparco Di Roma

A day out to a zoo always goes down well with the family! We find that it’s a relaxing break from site-seeing and something that all of us can enjoy. Bioparco is easy to get to on the bus and the animals are really well cared for. Every hour they have scheduled feedings, including hippo feeding! Tickets are €16 per adult which is amazing value and the park offers some good, valuable food choices too.

Why you don’t need an organised tour

So many people these days opt in for organised tours – you see offers everywhere! It’s almost as if people aren’t willing to ‘risk’ it and try to see the city themselves…

This is why you don’t need one:
  • They are extremely expensive (€50-80)!
  • Long and awkward hours: often tours last all day but start as early as 7am and finish at 5pm. This means you are up early and doing most of the tour in midday heat. Most places in Rome open late so it’s a lot better to go in the evening when it’s cooler.
  • Large groups: I mean why do you want to be carted round in a group of forty, camera-clicking tourists? I’ve been there, done that and I can tell you that it’s one of the most stressful things ever!
Are the benefits actually benefits?
  • “You get to skip the queues.” Perhaps it’s satisfying to skip the queue and not worry about handling tickets but you pay a fortune to do so. The best way to skip queues is to prebook tickets because you just pay a standard price.
  • “It’s easy to use the hop on and hop off buses.” This is ridiculous! These sorts of buses charge a premium when you can buy a Rome day ticket for the metro and bus. You can buy a 24 hour pass for €7 or a 72 hour pass if you stay longer.
  • “The audio guide provides all the information you need.” Most museums and sites will either sell a paper guide or have a free audio guide app – so you really don’t need a personal tour guide! Or save even more and buy a good Rome travel book!

Rome travel guide


Of course you want to know where to stay and eat…

We actually stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in the suburb of San Giovanni. It only took 15 minutes on the metro and since it was a more residential area, we found a brilliant pizza restaurant and bistro. It was a lot cheaper than central restaurants and greater quality too – we actually ate there twice after trying two not so great places in the centre.

over and out

That’s it for Rome! There are so many more museums and galleries that we could have visited but we didn’t quite have time. I would definitely recommend Rome if you are looking for a city break or holiday.

Our Italy blog ends here too. Of all the countries I’ve visited, Italy definitely wins for transport – the trains are irreplaceable! It makes touring the country easy, quick and affordable. If I were to pick a single destination, it would have to be Rome simply because of the range of sites to see – Venice is beautiful but at the end of the day, it is just canals and art galleries!

I definitely recommend splitting your flights and using the trains. We flew to Pisa, then went Florence, Venice and flew back from Rome. However there isn’t a great deal in Pisa besides the leaning tower so it might be worth flying to Venice first and passing through Florence on the way to Rome!

I hope you have found all the information and inspiration you need to hit Italy yourself!

Is there anything else you would like me to write about?

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