How to Spend 48 Hours in Utrecht

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Travelling throughout the Netherlands on a whirlwind week of adventures, I was eager to discover the best cities and towns, each with something different to offer. After visiting The Hague, I made my way by train to Utrecht, a city that has come to be known by many as “Amsterdam’s cool little sister” as quoted by a local.

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

Touch Down: In Need of Coffee?

The best way to experience Utrecht is not necessarily to “see” the city, but to “do”. The city of Utrecht doesn’t offer much by way of must see attractions, as the whole charm of the city is purely in experiencing it. With plenty of great coffee shops and bakeries, there’s a lot to begin discovering!

De Koekfabriek – at the cookie factory you get free cookies with your coffee. Ummm yes please!

Carla’s Conditorie – located right behind the dom is one of the cities’ cutest cafe/bakeries with a hint of Scandinavian flavour.

The Village Coffee – said to be the best coffee in the entire city.

De Bakkerswinkel – I first discovered this little gem in The Hague and was delighted to see it again in Utrecht! A very cute old school bakery with great (and huge) breakfasts.

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

From the centre of town you can explore all that Utrecht has to offer, which is predominantly centred around the cities’ canals. The city is full of cheap eats, al fresco restaurants, boutiques and the usual chain brands you’ll see everywhere in Europe.

The best way to discover Utrecht is to begin on foot around the city centre, later renting a bike when (and if) you feel comfortable navigating the streets to explore more of the neighbourhoods on the fringe of the CBD!

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Climb the Dom Tower to get your bearings

Figuring our your place in a city is often a task that takes a few days to master, but the city of Utrecht has one main attraction that is better experienced sooner rather than later. The Dom Tower Climb is an absolute must when in Utrecht and will give you a much better understanding for the city from above.

Climbing the tour is by guided tour only, lasting 60 minutes total. There are 465 steps to climb (yup!) so make sure you wear your comfy shoes before you commence your climb of the highest church tower in the Netherlands.

The climb begins at the Tourist Office and you can purchase tickets on the day.

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The city of Utrecht comes to life in the evenings, when the canals reflect the buildings and their light. Be sure to wander late in to the evening to really get a feel for this city – there’s a lot to discover in the cobblestone alleyways!

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Cheap Eats Around Town

Frites Atelier

Although they began in Amsterdam, I discovered the Frites Atelier in Utrecht and my goodness what a find! These fancy fries are as good as they sound with house made sauces like “Deep Truffle”, “French Bernaise” and “Indian Curry”. There are also flavour specials like “Indo Peanut” to discover, which come with fried onions, peanut sauce, rempejek and lime zest. Life made.

Frietwinkel

For research marketing purposes I made it my business to try another frites shop in town: Frietwinkel. This is more of a traditional offering and a really popular choice for locals. The only downside was the minimal sauce (though I am someone who has more sauce than fries most of the time!)

Stach

This bakery is originally from Amsterdam but I loved it so much I had to give their Utrecht store a mention. They specialise in meringues, cookies, and traditional Dutch sweets (like stroopwaffle).

De Oude Muntkelder

In need of a pick-me-up? I’ve got just the answer for you! The best poffertjes (dutch pancakes) in town are said to be had at De Oude Muntkelder. These pancakes are covered in icing sugar and full o’ goodness (by no means sugar free or anything free)!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

Free cookies at the cookie factory!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

A healthier dinner option from SLA (vegetarian and vegan)

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

Seek Out the Miffy Traffic Light

Sometimes I get a little (way) too excited about tourist attractions you won’t find elsewhere in the world, like the “Miffy Traffic Light”. I only learnt on arrival that the creator of Miffy was a resident of Utrecht, making Miffy a celebrity of the city!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

A Day Trip to Kasteel De Haar

On my last afternoon in Utrecht I made a mission out of riding my bicycle to De Haar Castle, an apparent 50-minute ride out of Utrecht. With many wrong turns and failed attempts at gear changes (haha) I made it there in around an hour (okay, maybe a little more).

The castle closes at 5:00pm in the evening, so be sure to around before 4:00pm if you plan on going inside. The entrance fee is 10€ or for entrance to the gardens only it is 5€. Due to my late arrival I only had time to enter the gardens, but what I did see was certainly worth while!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust Malie Hotel Utrecht

Check In: Malie Hotel

For my stay in Utrecht I checked in to Malie Hotel, located in a residential neighbourhood which gave me the perfect excuse to go complete “Dutchie” and ride a bike everywhere! The hotel offers rental bikes for 8€ a day, which seems like a pretty reasonable deal to get around.

Walking to the town centre was a 20 minute trip one way, which gave me all the more reason to stop at my favourite ice cream shop on the way home every day! The buffet breakfast was really generous and if you’re after a nice hotel out of the city centre, this is the perfect choice.

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A huge thank you to Visit Utrecht for welcoming me to explore the city and supporting my visit with endless recommendations and research! I loved my time in Utrecht – all opinions and photos are my own.

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

A Day Trip to De Haar Castle in the Netherlands!

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During my time in the Netherlands I had one wish: to see a castle. Whether it be from a train or a plane above, I was sure I would see a castle of two through my travels. Nope. Nada. So when I researched where to find the castles in the Netherlands I came across De Haar Castle, said to be the prettiest castle in the entire country and only a short drive away from a city I was visiting: Utrecht.

I had only two nights in Utrecht so I first made sure I saw everything I wanted to see in the city, then made plans to visit the castle. Given that the public bus to and from the castle took one hour each way and Google maps suggested bike riding would be slightly less than that (47 minutes), I rented a bike for €8 and went on my merry way to the castle.

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Visit the Village of Haarzuilens

As it would turn out, the 47 minutes soon turned in to 90 as I mistakenly made wrong turns, was led to locked gates, and finally found a local village person to ask for directions. The castle closes at 5:00pm and I arrived at 4:15pm, so I was somewhat unsurprised to learn that I could no longer enter the castle itself, only being allowed access to the grounds (which was still so worth it!)

On my way to the castle I got lost inside the Village of Haarzuilens, built at the turn of the 19th century after a fire swept through the castle. The village itself is enough of an attraction – built in the same style of the castle with red and white stripes at every turn. I would highly recommend visiting the village after the castle (there’s a great pub / eatery in the centre of “town”).

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The Castle Grounds

Given that my entry was restricted to the gardens and I was still on a time limit, I found myself prancing around the grounds in a half-sprint, half-dance, too happy to care that it was raining with gloomy skies. I know, I know, castles aren’t that exciting to Europeans, but for an Australian who lives on an island, I was in heaven!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

Inside the Castle

If you’re smarter than me (not difficult) and arrive prior to the closing time, be sure to buy a ticket to enter the castle and learn about its history. Entrance to the gardens was €5 versus entry to the castle and gardens for €10. I’d allow at least 2 hours to enjoy the castle and grounds, as well as another hour to explore the nearby village. Bike riding was by no means a bad idea (it took me precisely 47 minutes to cycle back to Utrecht), but may not be the best idea I’ve ever had when it starts pouring down with rain. The alternative would be the public bus or to drive – both options that will keep you dry (and prevent getting lost – which isn’t as good a story now, is it?)

De Haar Castle | World of Wanderlust

Thanks to Visit Utrecht for welcoming me to the city!

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

A Day Trip to Delft, Netherlands

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A medium sized city just a 30 minute tram ride from The Hague, Delft is surely the most picturesque stop on any traveller’s Netherlands tour. Known for its blue and white ceramics and beautiful old town, Delft was my favourite find on this trip through the country and if I could change anything about my itinerary it would have been to spend at least one but preferably two nights here. If you find yourself in The Hague looking for a day trip or would prefer to base yourself in Delft to explore the region, here is a complete guide to Delft, Netherlands!

A Day Trip to Delft Netherlands | World of Wanderlus

Introducing Delft, Netherlands

A city more than 750 years old, Delft was built around a canal known as Oude Delft (old Delft) and later many other canals were dug around the city to make Delft what it is today. In the Netherlands and beyond, Delft is most known for their blue and white ceramics known as “Delftware” (believe me, if you don’t know what they are yet, you will by the time you leave!) It is also my top choice for the prettiest city in the Netherlands, moreover one of my top picks for Europe as a whole (seriously, this place is a postcard waiting to happen!)

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A Day Trip from The Hague

Arriving in Delft is by train, tram or car, depending on the rest of your itinerary in The Netherlands. For me, I chose to visit Delft as a day trip from the Hague as it was just a few minutes by train or a 30 minute tram ride from the city centre (I chose the latter so I could see more between the two two cities).

Given the compact size of the city and in particular the old town where you are likely to spend your time, a day trip is plenty of time to discover the city of Delft. It is however the kind of place you could spend a few days wandering at leisure, trying out all the different cafes and bakeries, so it wouldn’t be a bad option to base yourself here to explore the region (and probably cheaper than The Hague).

Things to See

Nieuwe Kerk – Protestant place of worship housing the tomb of William of Orange.

Oude Kerk – 13th Century Gothic-Protestant church with an impressive 9-tonne bell.

Main Square – The liveliest part of town and a great chance to sample local produce.

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Around Town: Shops, Cafes & Bakeries!

The greatest joy of Delft is just to wander without rhyme or reason, popping in and out of little boutiques that take your interest! Here are a few of my favourites:

Chocolaterie De Lelie – Hands down the best gelato in town (SO GOOD!)

Ten to Three Bakery – The cutest bakery in town – great little people watching spot, too!

Vintage Island – Really cute vintage shop – full of day dresses for your Euro wardrobe.

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Delft by boat, walk or bicycle

There are a few ways to see the city and if you have more time to enjoy the city, I’d recommend trying all three. Seeing Delft from the water is a relaxing way to see the city, as well as getting a commentary on the history and happenings as you float along.

Walking the city is by far the most popular choice as the city is mostly flat (like much of the Netherlands) and the only difficulty you will encounter is dodging bicycles who whizz past you!

The final option is to join the Dutchies and grab a bicycle for yourself (and by grab I mean rent one – ha!) This is a great way to explore any Dutch city of town, but just remember to stay to your right, ring your bell when approaching pedestrians, and use your arm to signal a turn before it happens. Voila!

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Souvenirs to take home

As you will soon see, the city of Delft takes a lot of pride in its Delftware and there are many shops selling various levels of quality for you to purchase and take home. If you’re a souvenir kind of person (me personally, I am not) then this would be a great keepsake to take home from your travels to remind you of the Netherlands.

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Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

Checking In: The Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam

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I knew it would be a fairytale evening the moment I walked through the impressive glass doors of the Pulitzer Hotel in Amsterdam. On previous visits to the city I had kept my accommodation low key and more towards the budget side, so I was eager to check in to this ultra luxe hotel in the canals district of Amsterdam, for a night I will surely never forget.

Amsterdam is a romantic city in every sense of the word. While it doesn’t compare to Paris, this city built on canals has a complete magic of its own. I arrived in Amsterdam in the late morning, catching the train to the city for convenience. From there I made my way to the Pulitzer Hotel; my home for the evening.

While I knew it would be too early to check in, I dropped my bags with the porter and pledged to return later in the afternoon, leaving plenty of time to freshen up before my later afternoon boat ride on the hotels’ house boat aptly named The Tourist.

My first impressions were that I should have booked a second night, for this would be one hotel stay I would never dream of forgetting. The Pulitzer is the quintessential experience one imagines when arriving in Amsterdam: looking out over the canals at dusk, sipping a glass of whatever is on offer, opening the window and soaking in the atmosphere of one of Europe’s finest cities.

The Politzer Hotel Amsterdam Politzer_Amsterdam Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam by World of Wanderlust

The Room

The minute I checked in to my room I had flashbacks of some of my favourite hotel experiences the world over. Grungy like downtown Manhattan, the hotel has an effortless appeal with playful splashes of mustard and deep purples, giving it an art deco feel. My room was located at the back of the hotel, giving me an absolutely perfect view of the canals out my window (which open 1/3 of the way).

The bedding is plush, cozy, and allowed me to kick jetlag in one night of uninterrupted sleep. All of the mod cons are featured – cable television, light control from the bed, and everything one would expect from such a swish establishment. On arrival I was greeted by stroopwaffles (a packet of which is replenished throughout your stay!!!) and some macarons (salted caramel, no less!)

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam by World of Wanderlust Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam by World of Wanderlust

Dining at The Pulitzer

As the hotel occupies a huge number of canal houses (all interconnected), I made it my business to explore the hotel at great length. For a fancy evening meal the hotel has Jansz, which is also where you can enjoy breakfast. As someone who likes to keep it casual when travelling (unless its a special occasion), I grabbed a light bite from Pause, the hotel’s casual restaurant that is mostly popular during the day time when many locals frequent the hotel’s public spaces.

The Pulitzer breakfast was a force to be reckoned with. From croissants as good as those to be found in Paris through to fancy eggs on brioche (yummmm), there was no way I would be needing lunch that day.

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The House Boat

Before flying out for Europe I made it my business to research each and every inch of what the hotel has to offer. After all, this was a once in a lifetime kind of deal! I was excited to read that the hotel offered boat tours on the canals of Amsterdam, all from the comfort of their beautiful house boat. It didn’t take more than two photos to convince me I must make this a part of my stay, so I booked my magical afternoon for the day I arrived in the city.

The house boat tour takes place on “The Tourist” and lasts around 75 minutes. From the iconic canal houses you will make your way out to the outskirts of Amsterdam, all the while being given a detailed account of the city and its history. If it weren’t for this boat and our captain, I wouldn’t have learned fun facts like the canal house “hooks”, used to lift furniture in to the higher levels of the houses.

Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam by World of Wanderlust Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam by World of Wanderlust

Overall: Would I Recommend?

If you’re reading about it here on my blog, you know its good! The Pulitzer was a once-in-a-lifetime kinda hotel stay. I would recommend this hotel to anyone who has an appreciation for interior design, who feels like they should have been born in New York during the art deco age, or who just loves a good canal house view to wake up to. This was an absolutely faultless stay and if you’re looking for a night of modern luxury, this is where to find it in Amsterdam!

A huge thank you to the Pulitzer Hotel for welcoming me to Amsterdam! All photos + opinions of my stay are my own.

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

Amsterdam Photo Diary

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I hardly know where to begin when it comes to selecting a reasonable amount of images to portray my time in Amsterdam (believe me, there were A LOT to choose from). These few days flew by so quickly and, if it weren’t for my desire to see more of the Netherlands on this trip, I could have easily stayed here a whole week to explore.

Below you will find a selection of images that I believe showcase what Amsterdam is all about (through my eyes/lens). Beyond the canals I have tried to capture the minor details which are often overlooked, the way of life in the Netherlands and of course, all of the food!

Each image comes with a brief caption – often a description but sometimes a thought from that moment. I hope you enjoy!

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Amsterdam via canal boat.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

A walk through Jordaan.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

The change of the seasons.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

(if you dare).

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Near to the Anne Frank House.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

My favourite wonky corner in all of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

We’ll call it “Spring Snow”.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Apartment dreaming.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Although difficult to see, there are large hooks on the top of every canal house in Amsterdam. This is used to pull furniture up to the higher floors. 

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Found in the 9 shopping streets.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Dreamy reflections.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

“The Tourist” canal boat.

Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam by World of Wanderlust

Good morning you.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Canal houses.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Happiness comes cheap.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Neighbourhood strolls (cont…)

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Do what you love – love what you do.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

A walk through the more colourful part of town (ahem…!)

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Cheese is to the Dutch what gelato is to the Italians.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

In the evening time the bridges light up in streams of solid globes – don’t miss it!

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Whilst photographing the flower pots on this particular bridge, the lady who planted them came over to give an inspiring talk about “her garden” (which was 3 pots total). She was the kind of person that would let you pat their dog. Sadly, no dog in sight.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Sausage dog

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Checking in: The lovely Pulitzer Hotel

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

< lamp shade >

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Favourite shots (Part I)

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Favourite shots (part II)

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Bikes, in whatever shape or form, reign supreme.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Do you even meringue?

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Little red car

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On board “The Tourist” and feeling more Angelina Jolie than ever.

Politzer Amsterdam

De Nederlands

Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam by World of Wanderlust

“Its a blogger favourite” said my host. Y’all can see why. Pulitzer Hotel.

Cheap Eats in Amsterdam | World of Wanderlust

Nutella filled donut balls. HEAVEN IS REAL.

The Best Cheap Eats in Amsterdam | World of Wanderlust

Patatje Oorlog (potato fries topped with peanut satay sauce, mayo, onions). Nom.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

The local

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Souveniers

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Happy – in a world of colour

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Ze coffeeshops (not my thing, but maybe yours)

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

I can sniff out pastry shops from miles away. This one was especially pretty.

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Vaarwell, Amsterdam!

Thanks for dropping by! Interested in the camera gear I use?

I took all of the above images on my Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II. Most images are using my new 25mm PRO lens. Some of the landscape shots were taken with my 12-40mm PRO lens.

I edit my photos with lightroom.

You can find more of my photography tips and tricks here.

Please leave any questions or lovely comments below – I would love to answer any Q’s!

NOTE: All images are mine except for the ones containing me. They were taken by the lovely Omar.

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

The Best Cheap Eats in Amsterdam

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Stumbling across cheap and delicious food is a win on any given day, but especially so when you find yourself on the beautiful but outright expensive streets of Amsterdam. The good news is there are plenty of great street food stalls and hole in the wall friteshuis’ to discover, so without any further convincing, I present to you the best cheap eats in Amsterdam!

Cheap Eats in Amsterdam | World of Wanderlust

Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx

Hands down the best fries in all of Amsterdam and according to their sign, “The Best Frites in Holland”. While I haven’t tried all of the fries in Holland myself, I can say with certainty that these are some of the best fries I’ve had in my life. You can opt for the traditional “patatje oorlog” (fries topped with peanut satay sauce, YUM) or for any number of combinations (you can’t beat ketchup and mayo if you ask me!)

Vlaams Friteshuis | Voetboogstraat 33, 1012 XK Amsterdam

Price: €2.90 for a medium serve, €0.70 per sauce (cash only)

Greenwoods Keizersgracht

Located on the Keizersgracht is a great little find for those in-the-know. This would be my first choice for brunch or breakfast in Amsterdam, and for an Australian who is spoilt for choice back home, that’s a pretty big call to make! The cafe are super accommodating for veggies and vegans, making this one of my top spots for cheap eats. (Hot tip: Greenwoods is also located on Singel canal).

Greenwoods Keizersgracht | Keizersgracht 465, 1017 DK Amsterdam

Amsterdam Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Burgerlijk

Cheap and burgers are usually two words you’ll see together, but the good news is these burgers are good, too. When I stopped by Burgerlijk they had sold out of veggie burgers, but a local expat assured me these are some of the best burgers in town – or at least in the touristy areas of Amsterdam of which you are likely to find yourself on vacation. Check out their instagram for some drool worthy pics.

Burgerlijk | Runstraat 1, 1016 GJ Amsterdam

Price: €5.50 for a base burger, additional for cheese, sauces and frites

PIQNIQ

I do love a resident cafe cat and at PIQNIQ you’ll be welcomed as a guest in Pedro’s home. Although the food is nothing to write home about (not bad by any means but nothing super special), I have to mention PIQNIQ for being one of the cutest little cafes in Amsterdam. This place is usually packed so be prepared to wait for a table if you come at peak times.

PIQNIQ |Lindengracht 59 hs, 1015 KC Amsterdam

Cheap Eats in Amsterdam | World of Wanderlust

De Drie Graefjes

When I read online that this was “the best red velvet cake ever”, I knew immediately that I would have to go and check it out. While the red velvet cake wasn’t quite all it was cracked up to be, the hot chocolate gave me faith in the reasoning behind this cafe’s superstar rating online. Its cute, cheap, and full of cakes. What more could you need!?

De Drie Graefjes | Rokin 128, 1012 LC Amsterdam

Price: €4 for a slice of cake (which is so huge you’ll need a takeaway bag)

Jacketz

Want cheap food that will fill you up? You can’t go past a hot jacket potato (seriously, who has ever had a bad one of these babies!?!?) Jacketz is home to just this and you’ll be sure to thank me later. The toppings are plentiful and generous – but best of all, its cheap!

Jacketz | Kinkerstraat 56, 1053 Amsterdam

Cheap Eats in Amsterdam | World of Wanderlust

Vegan Junk Food Bar

This. Place. Is. Bomb. One of my readers (shout out to Taylor!!!) thought to take me here and I’ve gotta say, it was one of those meals you’re so happily confused about that you’re almost certain you will talk about it for months to come. Not knowing that vegan food could taste so good, I was pretty hesitant at first. How wrong I was. From burgers to cheese croquettes and all of the delicious deep-fried goodness one could imagine, this place was ridiculously tasty. The only down side? Vegan food will never taste the same again.

Vegan Junk Food Bar | Staringplein 22, 1054 VL Amsterdam

Price: €8.50 for a deliciously filling burger

De Vier Pilaren

Pancakes, anyone? Here’s where you’ll find some of the best in town AND they’re cheap. Located near Vondelpark (which isn’t far from the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum) is this cute little pancake eatery that tastes as sweet as it looks.

De Vier Pilaren | Stadhouderskade 11, 1054 ES Amsterdam

Over to you! Any cheap eats you would like to add?

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

Helsinki Photo Diary

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Casual and unassumingly cool, the capital of Finland serves as a great pit stop to begin your Euro adventures, particularly if you’re looking for a glimpse in to Scandinavian life. With a heavy focus on old meets new, Helsinki has a strong design-focus in the present day, whilst managing to preserve and celebrate its architectural history that has stood the test of time.

Although once at the hands of the Swedes and later the Russian Empire, the Finnish capital retains its own identity with distinctively German architecture (the city was largely designed by Carl Engel). So with just 48 hours to snap happy my way around the city, here’s a complete photo diary of my time here!

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust 48 hours in Helsinki | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

The cafe scene in Helsinki is slowly emerging and gaining popularity. Though not as progressed as other Scandinavian city, the few hipster haunts I did manage to find were really innovate and unique.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Outdoor entertaining is seasonal at best, and visiting in Spring still meant 0 degrees much of the time! Hot chocolates are a must.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Architecture in Helsinki.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

The cities’ attractions are mostly dominated by churches of different beliefs. Other than Helsinki Cathedral, be sure to check out Uspenski Cathedral and the “rock church”, a church quite literally built in to a rock!

 

Camera Information:

All images created with my Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II

Lens #1: 12-40mm PRO

Lens #2: 25mm PRO

more of my photography tips here.

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

The Top 10 Things to do in Tallinn, Estonia

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Inviting and mysterious, the medieval old town of Tallinn is a welcoming balance of intrigue and a picture perfect postcard. The old town is so well preserved that you’d be forgiven for pinching yourself and questioning reality – it really is too cute! Whether you’re spending a few days in the city or visiting on a day trip from Helsinki, here are the absolute best 10 things to do in Tallinn!

1. Start in the Market Square (Raekoja Plats)

As the central point of the old town, the Market Square is a great place to commence your meanderings through the cobblestone streets. From here you can already get a great idea of the vibrancy this city offers and within a 360 degree turn you will see the set of Game of Thrones come to life (minus the tourists, of course).

Tallinn Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

2. Check out the view from Toompea

Many will tell you that the best view of Tallinn is found on top of Toompea. While this is a beautiful view, sure, it isn’t quite the best view of the city from above (read on to find out where you’ll find the very best view!) Toompea is a neighbourhood overlooking the old town and it is here where you will also find the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Tallinn Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

3. Step inside St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Located high on the hill of Toompea, St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a beautiful church of the traditional Orthodox faith. The cathedral was built in 1900, when Estonia was still a part of the Russian Empire. Although photographs aren’t allowed inside, you should take the time to step inside the cathedral and look around to marvel at the ornate architecture, mosaics and gold candelabras (besides, entrance is free!)

Tallinn Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

4. Take in the view from St Olav’s Church

It surprises me how many visitors to Tallinn don’t make their way up the 258 stairs to the top of St Olav’s Church, which arguably has the best view of the old town. The tower dates back to 1267 and has previously been used to beacon approaching ships and as a KGB watch tower, though nowadays it is one of the must do tourist attractions in the city. It will cost you 3 euros to enter – a small price to pay for those picture perfect photographs!

Tallinn Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

5. Stroll the cobblestone Streets 

One of Tallinn’s greatest pleasures is just to wander for hours through the winding cobblestone streets. The old streets are incredibly photogenic with their pastel coloured buildings, unique shapes and my personal favourite: the colourful doors of Tallinn! The prettiest streets I stumbled upon were Pikk (the longest street in the old town) and Katariina käik.

Top 10 Things to Do In Tallinn | World of Wanderlust

6. Purchase yourself some powdered unicorn horn

The beauty of Tallinn is often found in its ability to remain in another era. Located in the market square, the town hall pharmacy is where you will find powdered unicorn horn, mummy juice, and all kinds of quirkiness. The pharmacy is believed to be Europe’s longest running pharmacy and was once a favourite of the Russian tsars. Keep in mind the pharmacy is unfortunately closed on Sundays.

Top 10 Things to Do In Tallinn | World of Wanderlust

7. Walk the Town Walls

Another great view over the city is found when wandering along the medieval walls surrounding the old town. Once you have finished walking the walls, make your way over to kiek in de kök to learn about Tallinn’s defence history. To this day you can view the cannonballs left behind by Ivan the Terrible during the Livonian War.

Tallinn Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

8. Indulge at the cutest pastry shop in town

After a long day of wandering the streets of the old town, make your way to the cutest (and tastiest) pastry shop in town, Rukis. Located on Viru Street, this pastry shop is full of temptations and at 2 and 3 euros a piece, its difficult to say no!

Top 10 Things to Do In Tallinn | World of Wanderlust

9. Toompea Castle

Located opposite St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Toompea Castle, which now houses the Parliament of Estonia but was once an ancient stronghold, used since the 9th century.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

10. Take the Day Ferry to Helsinki

If you’re visiting more of Estonia and haven’t arrived by ferry from Helsinki, then be sure to make a day trip two hours north to Finland! Helsinki is the complete opposite to Tallinn and offers a more urban experience, particularly appealing to design lovers and cafe hunters.

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I flew to Europe with Finnair, arriving in Helsinki (capital of Finland) at 6:00am, before taking the two hour morning ferry to Tallinn. Purchasing a ticket at the ferry port cost me 35 euros return on the Viking Line, which is the easiest/most accessible port if you are staying in the centre of Helsinki. The ferry offers free wi-fi and affordable food options (though they do leave a little to be desired!)

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

48 Hours in Helsinki

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I didn’t fall in love with Helsinki on my first visit two years ago, but my second visit to the city has convinced me this city has much to offer for a 48 hour stopover. Flying to Europe with Finnair for the second time, I decided to spend two days in Helsinki before embarking on the rest of my European adventure. Not only did the cold force me to shake my jetlag, but it also made for quite the comedic day out with friends as we saw snow falling in Spring!

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Helsinki Cathedral

Visiting Helsinki usually starts with the Helsinki Cathedral, located smack bang in the centre of town and offering great insight in to architecture in Helsinki: imperial, imposing, and when you look closely, very intricate. I found the cathedral was best visited in the early hours of the morning, when the rest of the city was sleeping and you could enjoy the impressive church to yourself.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Cafe o’ clock

Helsinki has a strong emerging coffee and cafe scene, so I didn’t waste any time testing them out! Scandinavia has built a really strong reputation for drip coffee, which is best found at Paulig Kulma and Fratello Torrefazione. Other great coffee shops in own include Johan & Nystrom (hipster haunt), Cafe Fazer (chocolate, chocoalte, chocolate!!!) and Strindberg for great coffee in a casual setting.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Helsinki Harbour 

The harbour of Helsinki is one of the cities’ most central points and places of business. Here you can visit the local markets, wandering along the waterfront or even take in the view from the ferris wheel.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Market Hall

Located down on the waterfront is one of my favourite finds from my second visit to Helsinki, that I somehow overlook on my first visit two years ago! Inside the market hall you will find a variety of local produce, farm to table products, local delicacies and some traditional giftware.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

The Esplanade

Not far from the waterfront is perhaps my favourite area of Helsinki to wander around: The Esplanade. This is where you will find the cities’ most luxurious hotel; Hotel Kamp. Nearby are a range of upmarket restaurants and cafes, as well as upscale boutiques both local and international. Kappeli is a great place to grab lunch, especially in the warmer months when you can enjoy the outdoor seating. Don’t forget to look up when walking through this part of town – the architecture is amazing!

Experience the Finnish Sauna

One experience you absolutely must have in Finland is to enjoy a traditional Finnish Sauna. Many of the hotels in the city will have a sauna for you to use, but if not check out Helsinki Day Spa for the full experience. The more traditional way to spa (found outside of the cities) is to follow a hot sauna with an ice cold plunge in the lake (have tried it once, will never again!)

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Pastry shops to visit for a pick-me-up

After all your wandering, head to one of these great pastry shops for a sugary treat: Paulig Kulma, Fazer Cafe or the very cute Frangipani Bakery Boutique.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Uspenski Cathedral

Another impressive church in Helsinki from the Orthodox faith is Uspenski Cathedral, located near to the harbour. The church was but in the mid-late 19th Century and is the largest orthodox church in Western Europe.

Tallinn Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Take a Day Trip to Tallinn

As beautiful as Helsinki is, there’s an absolute gem of a city located just a two hour ferry ride away. You guessed it: Tallinn, Estonia! Ferries run very frequently every day and it is a great way to spend 6-8 hours of your day in Tallinn, before returning to Helsinki in the late afternoon or early evening.

Helsinki Photo Diary | World of Wanderlust

Useful Information:

Arriving in Helsinki Airport

Helsinki International Airport is located a 30 minute drive from the city. The most affordable and convenient way to the city is with one of the public buses or the Finnair city bus (both around the same price).

Arriving in Helsinki City

The buses will drop you off in the centre of town at the main train station. For convenience I would recommend booking a hotel within the Kluuvi area, especially if you are only in town for a couple of days.

Early arrivals

Arriving early in Helsinki? There are luggage storage lockers below the main train station, costing 4-6 euros for 24 hours (depending on the size of the locker required).

Ferries to Tallinn

Catching the ferry is extremely simple and affordable. Purchasing a ticket at the ferry dock cost me 35 euros. To reach the port, it is around 20-30 minutes walk from the main train station.

Money matters

Finland is on the Euro and ATMs are widely available both at the airport and in the city centre. Most places will take card payment.

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

How to make Fluffy Pancakes (The Fluffiest!)

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My childhood memories are riddled with pancakes for breakfast: be that making the batter, eating the batter raw, cooking and eating a stack the size of my head or getting creative with lavish toppings (anything that was in the pantry at the time). As I’ve grown older my love for pancakes has only strengthened, so when I opened Charlie’s Dessert House I knew we had to have my homemade fluffy pancakes recipe on the menu. What makes a great pancake to me is a plump, fluffy pancake that tastes as good as it looks. I’m confident to say we’ve got the fluffiest pancake recipe on offer and I’m proud to share it with you on the blog!

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Pancakes are one of our top sellers off the breakfast menu and its not hard to see why: they’re a fail proof choice, every time!

The trick to a beautifully plump pancake is the generous addition of baking powder, which will help puff up your pancakes rather than leaving them flat and lacklustre. We serve two pancakes at a time and the recipe below will make around 4 pancakes (enough to serve two people). Enjoy!

How to make Fluffy Pancakes | World of Wanderlust How to make Fluffy Pancakes | World of Wanderlust

Ingredients

2 cups flour

5 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

3 tsp sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

1 egg

60 grams butter

Toppings

Top your pancakes as desired – there’s no limit to your creativity! I like to add:

Mixed berries

Maple Syrup

Vanilla Ice Cream

Icing Sugar Sprinkle

Method

  1. Melt the butter in the microwave briefly and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

  3. Create a well and add the milk, egg, and melted butter.

  4. Whisk together until smooth and no lumps remain.

  5. Heat your pan for 3-5 minutes, until the pan is hot and better sizzles when placed in the pan.

  6. Portion our your batter and cook until golden brown.

  7. Serve with maple syrup, mixed berries, vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of icing sugar!

How to make Fluffy Pancakes | World of Wanderlust How to make Fluffy Pancakes | World of Wanderlust How to make Fluffy Pancakes | World of Wanderlust

This recipe is from Charlie’s Dessert House, my bakery in Tasmania.

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