There are millions of beaches in the world, one more beautiful than the next. They come in all kinds of shapes and forms, from palm-fringed to scraggy, from volcanic black-sand on Iceland to white-sand on Hawaii, from touristic to secluded, from popular to hidden secrets. Beaches are the ultimate escape for every traveller. Most tourists dream of well known beaches in Rio de Janeiro, Bora Cay, Miami, Phuket or Algarve, but we want to present you beaches so beautiful they could be from a fairytale and are spared the burden of mass tourism yet.
Praia de Cassagne / Peninsula de Marau, Brazil Praia de Cassagne was voted the most beautiful beach of Brazil. This ecological paradise offers miles of white sandy beaches, dense Atlantic forest, centenarians coconut trees and nature trails. The beach is free of rocks and reefs making it ideal for water sports. If you’re lucky you can watch hummingbirds slurp nectar from colourful flowers and monkeys dangling from the trees in the morning.
Es Trenc / Mallorca As one of the last large natural beaches in Mallorca that hasn’t been spoiled by big hotels and a whopping amount of seaside restaurants yet, Es Trenc is considered to be one of Europe’s most dazzling beaches. Despite it’s only 2 hours on a plane from Berlin, Es Trenc’s balmy waters and white sand create a pristine beach experience with Carribean flair. Even though Mallorca isn’t as gay friendly as Ibiza yet, a pink bungalow on Es Trenc heralds the forthcoming of more opened minded times.
Diana Beach / Barbuda This exclusive beach named after Princess Diana is a true Carribean diamond. The secluded 165-acre peninsula with its pristine pink and white sand beaches is wonderfully uncrowded and far off the hustle and bustle of other Carribean islands. Barbuda is less westernised than its neighbouring islands and maintains an authentic Carribean charm. It wasn’t only Princess Diana’s destination of choice, celebs like Robert DeNiro and Eric Clapton are known to enjoy their holidays under coconut trees in this tropical hideaway.
Grace Bay Beach / Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos is the world’s #1 beach, according to TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice awards. Provo has been ranked “Best Beach” by Conde’ Nast magazine and by the World Travel Awards for several years running. The sand is perfectly white without a single rock, there is literally no pollution and instead of seaweed you’ll find vibrant aquatic life with spectacular coral reefs that protect the bay from the ocean swells of the Atlantic. It’s easy to see why Grace Bay was voted #1 in the world. The water is so turquoise, it blinds you!
Beach No. 7 / Havelock, Andaman Islands Picture the white beaches of Ko Pha Ngan before backpackers, full moon parties and cheesy tourist bars arrived, and you have a good idea of what the Andaman Islands look like. Though a little pricier, an eco-village is the only hotel on Radhanagar beach – ‘the best beach in Asia’ according to TIME magazine. Beach No. 7 is also home to Rajan, the last of the famous ocean-swimming elephants.
Tulum Beach / Mexico Tulum is one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayas and boasts an unrivalled historical past among the Carribean top destinations. It’s considered a Bohemian beach paradise where you can still experience Mexico’s untouched beauty, even though the little town is home to comfortable accomodations and restaurants catering to all budgets. People are scarce on Tulum’s beaches which make them ideal for travellers who enjoy a low-key escape with pearly-white sand beaches off the beaten track.
Tip of Borneo / Malaysia After finding your way through remote villages and coconut plantations, you’ll find Pantai Kalampunian, a long stretch of beach on the most northern tip of Borneo, the third largest island in the world. There are hardly any structures along the beach, which just adds to the unearthly beauty complemented by azure-blue water and perfectly white sand. The coastline can be treacherous, though. The Kalampunian light house towering above is a reminder of the many shipwrecks that lie before the coast.
Zapatilla Keys / Bocas del Toro, Panama Over 18 countries have filmed their respective versions of the successful reality show “Survivor” in the exotic Archipelago Bocas del Toro off Panama’s Carribean coast. The Archipelago is famous for its many beautiful beaches, but the most breathtaking beaches are to be found on Las Isla Zapatillas, two small islands consisting of just 34 and 14 hectares. Nature remains almost completely untouched on these 2 gems, there are no big hotels or upscale restaurants, but you will find ruins of an old house that is said to have been built by pirates.
La playa de Las Conchas / Isla Graciosa, Spain Las Conchas is a dreamy beach on the Canary Islands, though not without its pitfalls. Due to its northern location on the island, the strong currents can turn your diving fun into an open sea excursion if you don’t watch out. If you stay close to shore though, your biggest concern will be rubbing yourself with sun cream regularly and enjoying the views over Montana Island just off the coast.
Kondoi Beach / Taketomi Island, Japan Taketomi is largely unspoilt and is home to a village in the traditional Kawara style with red tiled roofs and lion dog figures to ward off evil spirits. Visitors must either walk or rent a bicycle as there are no rentals cars on the island. Taketomi is home to one of the most pristine beaches of Japan, featuring a beautiful crescent-shaped bay and shallow turquoise water.
Has there ever been a city name more befitting than Los Angeles(“The Angels”)? Legend has it the city’s high-rises tickled the skies so the stars fell down from heaven and landed in Hollywood. In a big car. In front of their villas. Ready to party. As far as we are concerned, the trend-setting metropolis could very well be the flashiest places in the milky way.
L.A. is mainly known for its sand beaches, tanned movie stars, nonstop nightlife and more celebrities than anyone cares to count. But when you look beyond all the eye-candy, you’ll find vibrant multicultural neighbourhoods with very distinctive personalities. A mixture of the most fascinating areas can be found in Downtown L.A., where each neighbourhood has a unique style and the district’s soul is determined by a mix of cutting-edge and classic influences.
Known as one of Downtown’s most energetic districts, the Historic Core is what brought L.A. on the world’s map in the first place. From the Broadway Theatres to galleries and contemporary food destinations, the Historic Core offers an exciting insight into the city’s turbulent past.
Downtown wasn’t on an insider’s coolness radar for a long time. It has undergone a revivification over the last two decades, growing well beyond the borders of the business center. It’s still a little rough around the edges, but the ongoing cultural renaissance is slowly turning it into a stronghold for culture, architecture, amazing sights and of course – parties. We’ve compiled a list of attractions that you wouldn’t want to miss.
While L.A. in general offers some of the best restaurants in the USA, it’s Downtown’s culinary scene that has seen a real boom over the last years. Finding more than a few great restaurants was quite a mission not too long ago, but now you’ll have a hard time ignoring the tasty odors filling the air on almost every corner. Acclaimed chefs have conquered Downtown to leave their mark in the history of one of America’s hippest culinary bastions. With so many great restaurants around, it can be hard to keep track. Read on for our personally compiled list of amazing treats.
Otium (top pick!) – contemporary restaurant that draws from the rich culinary heritage of Chef Timothy Hollingsworth. Otium boasts a vertical garden, wood-burning oves and the best food in Downtown!
Spring – French cuisine with stunning open kitchen and relaxed&sophisticated atmosphere
Cicada – Extraordinary fusion of Art Deco and contemporary design
71 above – Breathtaking oceans views and elevated American cuisine at 290m
Shibumid – Kappo-style service and cuisine like in Tokyo
eatwinsome – Great neighbourhood restaurant with typical LA cuisine and warm interior
Baldoria – Hybrid bar-restaurant with easily sharable plates and hearty cocktails
Baco Mercat – Low-key eatery where every snack is a revelation
Redbird – Modern American cuisine in a vast open space
The Palm – Renowned for prime beef, lobsters and its authentic Italian cuisine
Some like to call the Art’s District “Coffee District”, and rightfully so. The surge of ambitious coffee-nerds-turned-business-men has caused a real boom for trendy&tasty coffee roasteries over the last years and rumour has it that without the coffee, Downtown’s renaissance would be a long time coming. Here are the 8 best coffee stops in town.
Verve coffee roasters (top pick) – Lovely espresso bar with automated pourover brewers, cold presses juices, seasonal specials and slick furniture
Demitasse - Coffee geeks shop where every barista has his speciality
G&B Coffee - Award-winning, warm, unfussy location in Grand Central Market
Cliftons – The biggest public cafeteria in the world
All the roasteries and restaurants in the world are no use if you want to have a REALLY good time. Where life pulses, drinks aren’t far behind – and in Downtown, the life beat is constantly speeding up. In a town full of plastic surgery and sunshine, Downtown’s bars offer a refreshing mix of gourmet and edgy. From a beer with friends to cocktails with the stars – a Downtown night has lots to offer.
Perch (top pick) – Art Deco roof top bar with upscale casual vibe and French-inspired menu
Redwood Bar & Grill – The pirate decor will make you feel like you’re in Pirates of the Carribbean
The Downtown clubbing scene has come a long way. Its variety and uniqueness easily puts it at eye level with the legendary Hollywood parties, creating even more hype for the up and coming Downtown scene. From hipsters to hip hoppers, from subtle to all-out, from easy-going to full-blown sound systems, you can find it all in Downtown. Dance your feet off!
The Edison (top pick!) – Multidimensional club in a former power plant with old brick walls & generators
Exchange LA – Art Deco building turned into a modern club experience with House, Techno and Trance DJs
Club Mayan - Two-level main room with the look of a Mayan temple
The Crocker Club – Part of the club is inside a former safe deposit box in an old bank building
Downtown’s hotel scene is spoiling travellers from around the world. Luxury and glamour are just around the corner, but you can also find more affordable hotels for budget-conscious travellers. The current generation of hotels boasts anything from intimate one-of-a-kind boutique hotels to timeless classics and luxurious digs with panoramic views over the city. Whatever kind of accommodation you’re looking for, Downtown won’t let you down.
Ace Hotel (top pick!) – Upscale boutique hotel with amazing roof top and unique personality
The Standard - Stellar 24-hour restaurant that boasts a rooftop beer garden serving traditional German food and beer
While Downtown enjoys a lot of attention, the Art’s district is the area’s real jewel. For everyone creative, cool and aspiring this is the place to be. Creators from all over the world have found a home in the ultra cool hood consisting of warehouse wasteland and stylish galleries, trendy coffee shops and some of the best bars & restaurants in town. Don’t miss these hotspots and enjoy your trip to LA:
Bestia (top pick!) – A multi-regional rustic Italian restaurant focusing on a “from scratch” approach, offering house-made charcuterie, handmade pasta and pizza
Zinc Cafe – open kitchen and peaceful courtyard dining area provide a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Downtown
The Spring – Health space with fresh food, yoga, wellness & workshops
The formerly run-down soviet seaside town Sopot might not exactly have been number one on jetsetters’ top-travel lists for a long time, but in recent years Sopot has become an increasingly fashionable seaside destination. Today it easily competes with the famous rivieras in Spain, Italy and France – at about 1/10 the price of its Mediterranean rivals. Poland’s summer capital is rich in tradition and history and was considered “Monte Carlo of the Baltic” ever since its rise as a fashionable resort in the 19th century. Sopot became Europe’s ruling class’ beach destination and was in full bloom as the most popular resort of the Baltic sea for the best part of a century.
However, after the mayhem of World War II the Soviets did not care much for reconstruction and the Polish lacked the funds to do so – until recently. In the last 10 years the smallest member of the Tri-City (consisting of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot) has once again become a hip and happening town. Its sandy beaches, top class spas&resorts, elegant villas and vibrating nightlife scene make it a one-of-a-kind experience.
The picturesque sea side resort offers a whole range of fascinating views. Apart from the longest Pier in the Baltic region you’ll also find stunning architecture, historical places and some of the best party options in Poland. Here’s a quick overview of the places that we consider a must-visit!
The Pier – with 511m it’s the longest pier in the Baltic region. Stunning views of the sea!
Lighthouse – located right next to the pier entrance. A spiral staircase takes you to the 25m viewing platform, where you can see Gdansk and Gdynia in the distance
Crooked House – crooked, crazy and absolutely amazing. Design that melts brains
Esplanade – 10km path right past sandy beaches and a maze of trees – leads all the way to Gdansk
Before its return to glory and glamour, Sopot was mainly frequented by party-hungry Poles. The restaurants weren’t exactly sophisticated at that point, but with the development in the city in recent years Sopot now has a fair share of high class restaurants to dine in style. From Polish cuisine to international, from fusion to Italian or Chinese – quality food has conquered Sopot!
White Marlin (TOP PICK) Excellent location right at the pier. Elegant Scandinavian interior meets great service and marvellous food. Easily the best restaurant in Sopot.
Caly Gawel Stylish cantina coffee shop serving food from local and regional sources: lovely breakfast, few mains and creative burgers. The place has been around since December 2015 and is already frequented by urbanites, hipsters and young families.
Avocado In this fusion restaurant you’ll find Asian food combined with European influences. Fresh lobster as a specialty. It’s located on the main street of Sopot and boasts a wonderful outdoors terrace, great atmosphere and definitely the best sushi in Tri-City!
Image Very cozy, small restaurant. International kitchen with some inspirations from Polish Cuisine. Beware: the paintings on the sealing are only for adults.
Bocian Morski Author kitchen specializing in local products and fish. Cozy place with a warm brick interior. They offer a big variety of wines only one turn from the main street.
Galeria 63 International cuisine, everything from traditional Polish dishes to pasta, fish and steaks. The deco is modern, on some evenings a DJ plays discreet chill out music.
Rucola Inspired by the world’s diversity, Rucola offers Polish specialties and innovative combinations, exotic meals, an extraordinary wine list, only local, fresh products and fresh fish from the local fishermen. Located in the famous Mont Cassino Crooked House.
Toscana Authentic Italian cuisine. 10 min walk from the hotel – delicious sea food and pasta.
Multi-level cultural centre with art exhibits, resort, beach restaurant & club.
Party Destination Sopot
Ask anyone in Sopot where the parties get the wildest and you’ll only hear one answer: Monte Cassino. A lively mix of people from all over the Tri-City rush into Sopot’s main drag at night, where the concentration of clubs, bars and more sophisticated drinking establishments is so high that even Chuck Norris would get drunk. The strip’s intense charisma is crowned by the fairytaile flair in the air, radiated by the Crooked House – basically a house that looks like it’s been taken straight from Alice in (Sopot) Wonderland. Just.. this Alice goes full-blown party mode. With a nightlife as unique and pulsing as Sopot’s, make sure to hit up at least one or two of the famous night clubs as well. But beware of lightly dressed ladies, they’ll dance the money out of your pocket in no time.
Wtedy (TOP PICK!) - new happing place with industrial charm
Zatoka Sztuki Beach Club (TOP PICK!) – “THE” beach club on the Riviera of Polen. Party animals keen to soak up that hedonistic Sopot summer vibe won’t want to pass up on the Beach Club culture – This is undoubtedly one of the places to be in the Tricity! Situated on a prime spot of Sopot’s beach, it’s easy to believe you are on Ibiza as you sip a cocktail, watch the sunset and enjoy the open air parties.
Sofitel The Grand Hotel - There is a big private beach out front making the Grand Hotel a top-class beach hang-out during the summer.
Tropikalna Wyspa – People are raving about their food but come here to drink outside with the sea lapping less than a stone’s throw away
Scena Klub - Restaurant, bar and beach lounge with cabañas overlooking the bay.
Libation (TOP PICK!) - The fashionable location is owned by the Polish metal band Behemoth’s lead singer. Their motto: “decadent atmosphere of pre-war Paris and Berlin, strongly inspired by the theatre”. With a more select crowd, leather sofas and somewhat pricier drinks they’re definitely not far from it. Well done!
Sfinks – Advanced clubbing with an international DJ line-up
Obviously Poland’s #1 seaside resort doesn’t have to hide when it comes to housing. You’ll find something appealing near the center in all price ranges – from hostels and pensions to luxurious hotels, Sopot has it all covered. Better book in advance as the demand for rooms goes through the roof in the main season!
Sofitel The Grand Hotel (TOP PICK!) - Formerly known as the “Grand” and “Kasino”, The Grand Hotel has a long history in Sopot. Its marvellous location and the lush surroundings are nothing short of spectacular and unmatched in the whole of Sopot. Get comfortable in one of the 127 charming, elegant rooms and you’ll soon feel the hotel’s class and luxury. When you’re done being pampered at the Grand Spa, do take a visit to its in-house Art Deco restaurant and taste creative French cuisine with a Polish twist!
Mera Spa Hotel – highlight: infinity pool on the roof with stunning view of the sea
Fisher House – highlight: Scandinavian styled resident hotel set next to the beach of Sopot
Sheraton – highlight: private beach area overlooking the bay
With two beautiful cities like Gdansk and Gdynia just a stone’s throw away, they’re the perfect choices for your next day trip. You can hop on the train in Sopot and 20 minutes later you’ll already enjoy a cold drink in the shade of one of Gdansk’s many attractions. Optionally you can always choose the easy way and order a cab, which will cost you about 50-60 Zloty (about 13€) to either Gdanks or Gdynia.
The Hanseatic Pearl looks back on more than 1000 years of tumultuous history. Gdansk is a marvellous medieval city permeated with the currents of different cultures, nations and believes. Both beautified and scarred by history, Gdansk looks like no other Polish city. Cobbled streets with imposing buildings, distinctive cafés and a selection of amber shops create a crossroad of old and new and make it the perfect destination for dwelling in Europe’s architectural history.
Gdynia used to be a little fishing village near Gdansk and Sopot. With the end of World War I, the Polish state was reformed and in desperate need of a port, since Gdansk was still controlled by the Germans. So – within just 5 years – a new city and major port had been built, going by name of Gdynia. Today the city has a population of over 250.000 and one of the most flourishing economies in the country, while still managing to look like a relic of the Soviet era. Start your day trip at the harbour area with its museums and theatres and then work your way towards town, where you’ll find restaurants and cafés to suit your culinary needs.
Taipei is World Design Capital 2016! The city hasn’t turned up on many Western tourists’ radars…yet. As world wide trend hunters we packed our bags and hopped on a jet to the up and coming Asian metropolis to see what the buzz is all about.
Taipei sits in a mountainous basin at the Northern tip of Taiwan and is surrounded by a wonderfully green scenery, boasting several nationals parks and untouched nature. An economic boom in the 80s led to heavy urbanization and the constant extension of the city’s borders. In densely populated areas like Taipei, intelligent design is becoming key for an attractive, efficient and liveable environment. The Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese and more recently Western influences combined with futuristic design-thinking and respect for the ancient Chinese roots create one of the most interesting travel destinations in Asia and have earned Taipei the title of World Design Capital.
The skyline is dominated by the mighty Taipei 101 skyscraper (508m) – wagging tongues suggest it looks like a huge stack of noodle boxes – but it’s not the only thing that makes the urban attractions stand out. Taipei is well known for its unique nightlife, boasting trendy bars and clubs, but also edgy night markets such as the famous Shilin Night Market where you’ll find anything from super delicious food to clothing and consumer goods. The blend of classic street eats and new restaurants is creating a buzz right now, and insiders already know that Taipei will be the next big foodie travel destination.
With a population of 7 million, Taipei boasts lots of distinctive districts. Our top pick #1 is Fujin Street, an 800m long road home to vintage stores, designer studios, trendy cafes, hip retail spots and multi-concept stores. Its beautiful gardens, artistic boutiques and lush atmosphere make it a laid back getaway area that’s easy to fall in love with.
Your dreams of time-travelling become reality on the quiet Dihua Street. No skyscrapers, no flashy advertisement displays. The colors, the buildings, the smell, the pace – everything takes you back to the beginning of the 20th century. Young enterpreneurs are creating a beautiful combination of past and modern influences. The cafes, restaurants and boutique shops blend in perfectly with charming antique attractions.
Where to start - Starting location: Daqiaotou (大橋頭) Metro Station, Exit 1 — or Shuanglian (雙連) Metro Station, Exit 2. Dadaocheng is located by the Danshui (Tamsui) river in the North-West part of Taipei.
Another must-visit is the hustling and bustling Da’an District. Da’an boasts upscale shopping centers, vibrant night markets and is one of the liveliest hoods in Taipei. With several sought-after universities in the district, you will find a young and hip crowd populating the numerous quirky cafes, clothing shops and of course the popular Tonghua Night Market and Yongkang Street where you’ll find some of the best street eats in Taipei. When it gets too busy for your taste, you can retreat to the evergreen Da’an Forest Park – Taipei’s version of Central Park. Learn more about Da’an here.
We also visited the beautiful Bopiliao Old Street in Taipei’s oldest district – Wanhua (more info about Wanhua). The street still retains the look it had 200 years ago and has been richly decorated by national and international artists. You’ll find a broad selection of stores here: a clock store, a knife shop, a taoist shrine, a tea room and a rice company to name just a few.
Where to start - go to the Longshan temple station. From there you can discover the area around Mengxia Park, along Guangzhou St and the narrow streets between Mengxia Park and Kunming Street.
The home of subculture and counterculture undisputedly is Wanhua’s Ximenting (read more) . It’s the perfect spot if you’re looking for alternative lifestyle. Street artists, magicians and dancers give a lively touch to the area that’s visited by several million people per month. There’s also a great selection of shops for alternative music, costumes, books, toys and anything else that’s off the mainstream. The district’s highlight is the magnificent Red House Theater built in 1908, where you’ll find an artists’ market on ground floor and live perfomances on the second floor.
Also known as the “Manhattan of Taipei”, the Xinyi District boasts important landmarks such as the City Hall, Taipei 101 and several flagship shopping malls. It’s definitely the place for all shopping crazy tourists and fashionistas. You can shop for days and it never gets boring!
A multi-functional place in a three-story building with a fashion market on the ground floor, and a cool restaurant on the top floor. The restaurant features Sichuan and Shanghai modern Chinese cuisine. It is like an old Shanghai supper club dolled up for modern-day Taipei. There is also a cosy caféand a trendy east/west fusion lounge bar on the second floor, complete with antique furniture.
RAW - Most talked about gourmet restaurant in Asia
In the Xinyi District, home to W Taipei, there pulses a neon current, creating a sanctuary where serenity meets energy. An endless stream of people, ideas and atmosphere. Woo Bar is one of the most happening bars in town. It’s the place to be see and be seen.
The successor of the famous Spark club is living up to its name. The atmosphere is electrifying and attracts a classy and refined crowd. What’s pleasant about that is you don’t have to party with drunk 18 year olds who just turned old enough to visit a club. Instead, expect to pop a lot of champagne bottles!
When you talk Shopping in Taipei it’s always the night markets that come to mind first. But in busy Da’an and Xinyi fashionistas will be delighted to find elegant shopping malls and high-end designer labels just waiting to clothe you for the night. The huge number and variety of shopping streets in Taipei has gained it a reputation as shopping mecca for tourists. Department stores, underground malls, night markets, shopping districts…you name it, it’s there.
Taipeis traditional night markets are where the soul of the city shows. The odors of soy, sesame and spices fill the air as you take a deep breath and open your eyes to a colourful world of food, people and twice as many promotional signs. The night markets open at 4 in the afternoon and often go well beyond midnight. It feels like a little carnival that’s taking place every night. The night markets aren’t only a great shopping destination for lower-priced clothing and food, they’re part of the cultural experience in Taipei.
Shilin Night Market (our top pick!)
Shilin is the biggest night market of them all. It may not be the most exclusive or cheapest one, but at least once you have to experience the waves of people shifting through the vidid streets while all of your senses are busy taking in the impressions. Shilin gives you the classic experience of a Taipei night market and should not be missed on your trip!
Nanjchang Night Market – less crowded and amazing food
Raohe Night Market – Taipei’s oldest night market, perfect for people watching
Shida Night Market – on of the coziest night markets
Ningxia Night Market – many local visitors, affordable food
Located in shopping and commerce hub Xinyi, Humble House is the pearl of the art and hospitality scene. Its interior designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates shows matt and mute tones to create a mix of hotel and art gallery with pieces such as Italian artist Paola Pivi’s Crazy Ball, installed in the hotel’s Italian restaurant. Guests can also lean back on the lush roof terrace and enjoy a mind blowing view on the Taipei 101 skyscraper. The rooms are simple, stylish and elegant and start at a cozy 26sqm, reaching up to 73sqm for the biggest suite.
W Taipei boasts cutting edge design and is the obvious choice for everyone who enjoys a creative and highly stylish environment. The dining options in the hotel are unbeaten – Woobar, Yen Chinese Restaurant and The Kitchen Table offer a combination of treats what will never make you leave the house again.
Quote is the perfect blend of design and boutique. With only 64 rooms it’s also a lot smaller than Humble House and W Taipei and creates a more intimate setting. Guests can enjoy food and drinks in luxurious opulence in the 333 Restaurant & Bar and the H.Q. Lounge.
French elegange meets Taipei’s Da’an district. Expect boutique service, luxurious design and modern amenities. With pieces by Dali, Warhol, Yin Sun and Gai Xiao Wu the hotel puts even art galleries to shame.
What Berlin is to the gay community in Europe, Taipei is to the gay community in Asia! Taipei is tolerant, open, progressive, same sex activity is legal and the city and has banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Each year it hosts a massive gay pride parade, attracting more than 50.000 people to dive into Taipei’s welcome culture.
The most vibrant gay scene is centered in the Red House district. You’ll find more than 25 gay bars, shops and restaurants in close proximity, most of which have outdoor terraces and invite you to watch heavily muscled Taiwanese guys walk by.
Kenting – the Riviera of Taiwan
Not many people have heard about this paradise in Taiwan’s South, especially not in the Western world, but it has drawn some attention in international media during the shooting of Life of Pi. 75% of the movie was shot in Taiwan – for example the movie’s main scenes of the Pacific Ocean were shot from a former airport, the floating island was at Pingtung Banyan Park and the Mexican Beach was at Kenting Baisha Bay.
Kenting is the perfect getaway location if you’re looking for some tropical flair. With its evergreen forests, seaside cliffs and great beaches it’s Taiwan’s Capitol for leisure and quality time for locals and tourists alike. Kenting Baisha Bay is a private scenic spot and is less frequented as not all the tourists know how to find it. A shame, seeing that the white sand beach is embraced by spectacular coral reefs. Must-visit!
The one and only beach resort with direct access from hotel to the private beach (3 km long!). A bit old fashion with a very big capacity, but a beautiful setting with sunsets guaranteed to make you fall in love. The best about it? They even offer beach barbecue and a beach bar.
Gloria Manor is a mountain resort with stunning view of the Kenting bay and offers pleasant privacy in a lush surrounding. The design is very sleek and the hotel is not missing any facilities if you are getting bored. Fine dining restaurant, bistro & cafe, bar, library, spa and a huge pool are at your service.
For more information about cool Taipei, check the following links!
Here in Europe, only few people know Miami is often considered the “Magic City”. And rightfully so, considering that a hundred years ago, the city which is home to millions today was nothing more than insect-infested swampland. To be precise Miami’s population as of 1900 was 1.681 living souls. Today Greater Miami has a population of around 5.5 million people. That’s a growth of 327000% in a hundred years!
Miami’s idyllic location has gained it the reputation as the “American Riviera” or “Gateway to the Americas”, boasting blue skies, art deco buildings, designer districts, international art events, hip hotels, gallery-filled neighbourhoods and top-ranked beaches. Due to its close proximity to the Bahamas and Cuba, many of Miami’s inhabitants are hispanic, infusing the city with the magic of a multicultural metropolis. Admittedly, 250 days with sun a year probably helps that magic unfold!
It was about time for us to pack our things, hop on a plane and visit the pearl of the USA, where jetset fantasies become reality and we can finally put our favourite speedos on again. Watch out, Miami, here comes Berlinagenten!
The action in South Beach (or rather “SoBe”) centres on world famous Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. Search your brain for an episode of “Miami Vice” – or any movie shot in Miami – and you’ll instantly remember the amazing setting. In the daytime South Beach can be a family friendly getaway location, inviting you to work on your tan as you watch your kids swim next to water-friendly hipsters (…or get eaten by sharks – they like Miami, too). You can wave to bronze-tanned rollerbladers, celebs behind their sunglasses and lots, lots of tourists as they make their way down Ocean Drive. Here it’s snowing glamour flakes.
However SoBe’s gloriest days are numbered. The scene has started extending north and with the major facelift of Fontainebleau, Mid Beach is undergoing a renaissance that could soon close the coolness gap between South and Mid Beach. The really cool kids now move to upper South Beach, enjoying the best of the two worlds and creating a new jetset hubs.
Coolhunters have long found this once-forbidden neighbourhood to be the next star on Miami’s art radar. With the artsy Wynwood neighbourhood to the South, the historic 1920s Buena Vista to the north and the wealthy Upper East Side to the east, the Design District brings a lot of different currents together. The once worn-dorn district is now home to more than 130 art galleries, showrooms, creative spaces, luxury fashion stores, chique eateries and trendy bars. Don’t miss out on this!
Much like the Design District, Wynwood has a troublesome past. However it has developed to become a trendy arts hub, now containing over 70 galleries. Some call Wynwood an outdoor street art museum, and it’s easy to see why. The gentrified renaissance has led to an upspring of cafés, pop up parties and galleries – often leading to unlikely collaborations between muscians, artists and all kind of creative types. Wynwood offers a whole selection of international joys. There’s new craft beer bars similiar to the ones in Brooklyn, hip restaurants reminding you of the Shoreditch dining scene and creative coffee roasteries as known from Sao Paolo. It’s safe to say that right now, Wnywood is the center of cool in Miami.
Downtown used to be an area closely linked to Miami’s image as a trading city. Business, business, business. Now the city’s hipness is on the up. With the finishing of numerous new condos in the last years, Downtowns population has more than doubled since 2000. The cosmopolitan flair has lured a wealthy social class into the the city’s core, creating a whole industry branch responsible for the entertainment of said class. Listing all the museums, parks, cultural spots, shops, restaurants and bars Downtown now has to offer would probably take longer than visiting them.
Coloral Gables translates to “city beautiful”. The once tiny suburb has become as truly vibrant arts community. The trademark of the habitat are terracotta roofs, flashy colours and lush vegetation. The Mediterranen flair is reflected by landmarks as the Biltmore Hotel, which boasts a 300-foot bell tower and one of the largest pools in the whole U.S.
Just down the road from Coloral Gables you’ll find the palm-lined Coconut Grove. The name sounds promising, and the Grove lives up to the expectations. It’s a picturesque bayside oasis and considered the oldest continuously inhabited neighbourhood in Miami. The bohemian village boasts the world famous CocoWalk, where festivals, open air dinners and concerts keep you busy day and night. The laid-back ambience attracts a crowd of shoppers, bar-hoppers, students and tourists alike.
THE best sushi restaurant in town. Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi has long been on our top notch list for sushi chefs, but our visit to Katsuya this year blew off our hats. With extraordinairy sushi rolls, Uechi fuses Japanese tradition and American cravings to a truly unique outcome. Do try the Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno and Black Cod – it’s your dreams come true.
Hands down to Michael for bringing the trend of using local ingredients to Miami. His cuisine is fresh, simple and stands for one thing: quality. Do book your table early, Michael’s restaurant is popular with both locals and tourists. We were especially impressed with the wood-roasted farm egg with aged gruyere. Simple, but delightful!
Enjoy the view on Miami’s bay and skyline as you delightfully eat your way through Gastón Acurio‘s masterpieces. Gastón is considered to be Peru’s Jamie Oliver and has opened restaurants in Madrid, London and Buenos Aires and San Francisco. His approach of creating a mix between international gourmet cuisine and typical Peruvian ingredients as reviewers world wide go crazy! Make sure to rob a bank before visiting!
This place is inspired by the early 1920’s in Berlin and definitely is one of the coolest places to go out in Miami. Live acts such as Nicolas Jaar, Moby, Will Smith and Florence Welch show just how popular the Bardot has become – yet they’re also home to celebrated underground artists and DJs, offering a wide spectrum of musical perfomances.
Dress up, ladies and gentlemen. Miami’s professionals like to take the elevator to the 16th floor to Area 31, an epic outdoor terrace amidst skyscrapers. The seasonal cocktails here are real mind-blowers.
The vivid recreation of a 1930 Jazz hotspot. The Cuban influence shows on the cocktail list: try the Mojito Criollo with mint leaves and extra sugar or the Canita with white rum, lime, house-made honey sryup, guarapo juice and sugarcane stick!
Some of the best things to do in Miami are done after the sun goes down. The jetset girls put their fancy make up on the and Ferrari’s are fueled for the night. Miami offers everything from Spanish-flavoured Latin clubs to sweat-breaking EDM clubs, where international top DJs like AVICII, Tiesto and Calvin Harris are regulars. Some of the party guests look more like Barbie and Ken than anything real persons, but that’s just something you have to get used, too. This is Miami afterall.
Visiting Club Space at Sunday 5-6am in the morning almost feels like hitting a club in Berlin. Energetic crowds dance to loud and blaring electronic dance music, even long after sunrise. International top DJs like Dubfire, Carl Cox, Boris, Loco Dice and Jamie Jones are residents in Club Space. Most clubs can’t even afford one of them! On top of that, the upstairs loft and the rooftop patio make party goers scream with delight time and time again. Definitely Miami’s best nightclub!
When you’re on the hunt for trendy clothing, unique jewelry or designer accessoires, Miami is the place for you. They feature some of the country’s coolest shopping malls and their downtown shopping areas are very distinctive. Whereas Berlin’s Kudamm is stacked with design and luxury stores only, Miami has a different approach. Don’t be surprised if you find a 5$ “I’m in Miami, b****” shirt store next to an uber-chiq boutique. With the sun up and the mood high, you’ll even find numerous sex shops, thrift stores and vintage clothing stores in the streets of South Beach. No wish needs to go unfilled here. Check out our selection of great shopping malls!
The mother of malls. More than 300 retailers from high-end couture to inexpensive clothing shops call Aventura their home. The mall draws more than… wait for it… 28 million visitors a year. That’s more than the whole city of Washington D.C.
Eclectic shops for your off-the-beaten-path shopping experience. No fancy super mall, but Bird and Ludlam pays hommage to Miami’s vintage style from the 70s. There’s retro-styled clothings shops, vinyl, vintage newspapers. Everything you don’t need but absolutely want.
Miami isn’t cheap. Even value for money hotels start at 250$ at night in high season. The great thing is you have a wide range of different hotel types, from intimate boutique hideaway to full blown luxury resorts, all your needs are covered. Also South Beach is no longer the only cool place to say in, Downtown and Mid Beach have taken the hotel world by storm and now offer some of the most advanced properties in town.
Just north of South Beach, the Soho House sets new standards in the hospitality industry. It boasts two pools (one for adults only), a cowshed spa (the BEST massages on the whole beach), a snug screening room and a laid back club bar. There’s also no less than three restaurants. The member club floor with al fresco & drinking and the new Mandolin Beach deli in a tropical garden are reserved for members only. Just like the London-based private club Soho likes it, their audience is a little more sophisticated than your regular Miami visitor. The only restaurant open to public is the celeb hotspot #1 Cecconi’s Miami, which requires a reservation well before your vis
A touch of Latin America, a touch of Asia, and a touch of the Mediterranean. SLS Beach is a feast for the senses.
Art Scene & Walks
Every year thousands of artists gather for the Art Basel in Miami. The fair has become a central meeting point for galleries, sellers and art collectors to buy rare masterpieces. Even Picassos are on sale here. There worth of the art displayed exceeds 3 billion dollars! Miami’s love for art doesn’t only show in the art fair, the whole city is full of rare designs and unique neighbourhoods.
Wynwood, a district once avoided by locals and tourists alike is now a magnet for galleries and studios. Art and design have given the district a unique personality.
The so called Art Walks in Wynwood and the Design District take place every 2 weeks and lure thousands of visitors into the districts, where they can wander up and down the streets and enjoy Miami’s vivid art scene.
The sun loves Miami. As Florida’s most southern point, hardly a day goes by without sunshine. Miami’s beaches are great for sun bathing, swimming, surfing or just soaking up the atmosphere. They’re also well-suited for watching the amazing outcomes of pricey plastic surgery! We approve.
Here are our 5 top beaches.
Miami Beach Central (top pick!)
A popular beach for strolling, jogging and skating. It’s close proximity to sidewalk cafés, bars and the Soho Beach House make it the ideal spot for jetsetters.
The dense vegetation on the dunes blocks the views from curious onlookers. Perfect if you want to get away from crowdy beaches or spend some time on the nude section of the beach.
If you’re looking for fun, Hobie beach is the place for you. You’ll find windsurf, jet-ski and boat rentals onsite.
South Pointe Park
A 70 000 sqm park boasts a white sand beach with picnic areas, a playground, a fishing pier and great views of impressive cruise ships passing by.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
A picturesque beach complete with bronzed lifeguards, coconut palms and a slightly fancier crowd that the Miami Beach area.
We’ve all see the legendary music video of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. This Bahamian graveyard is were the movie was shot in 1983! Spooky: the coffins aren’t located under the ground, but at ground level…
In little Havanna you’ll find what makes the Cubans’ spirit rise. The ultra-strong coffee cubano. It’s made from equal parts espresso and sugar and is guaranteed to blow life into you faster than Berghain’s sound system.
It’s really hard to say “no” to Swedish girls (or boys). It’s just as hard to say “no” to our new favourite island – Gotland – which attracts droves of beautiful people in the summer time. Known for its vast cultural treasures and calming landscapes, it’s especially Swedish townsmen from Stockholm that come to Gotland to recover from their hasty lives. But the island’s undisputable beauty hasn’t gone unnoticed by Stockholm’s hip and cool crowd, who have created a different scene in the island’s South. A scene best described with one word: excess.
Sweden’s coolest kids gather at Kallis Beach Club in Visby. Hot chicks. Hot guys. And an atmosphere that only a dancefloor located right at the beach creates. Needless to say, we felt at home immediately. Have a look at the crazy videos below to get an idea of the incredible energy of a Kallis party (but first, finish reading!). Kallis was recently voted to be Europe’s best beach club, beating rivals from both Croatia and Ibiza.
It doesn’t stop here. After getting over your hangover from the night before, Gotland invites you to discover a truly remarkable island. White sand beaches off the beaten path, Visby – a medieval city that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and countless campsites will make your heart scream with delight. Even though Gotland is the size of Luxembourg, it only has around 60.000 inhabitants, giving you a wonderful feeling of space as you explore the island. We don’t want to bore you with too many details, but this is gold:
If you’re a fan of the original Pippi Longstocking movies from that 60s, you’ll find the original film location (“Ville Villekulla”) just a 20 minutes drive from Visby. Greet Mr. Nilsson and Lilla Gubben from us!
On our Gotland adventure, we’ve compiled this list of things you should definitely visit. Enjoy!
Visby – The “Dubrovnik of Scandinavia“
In summertime, stylish visitors invade this beautiful town to park themselves at one of the many cafes and trendy eateries and soak in the medieval surroundings with a contemporary cup of coffee and Gotland speciality saffranspannkaka, a saffron pancake with red berries and cream. But it is not only the medieval town tourists and international visitors who decide to pay a visit to Visby. It feels like you have arrived at an exotic destination somewhere around the Mediterranean Sea. There is a unique summer vibe, smell and atmosphere – with other words – there’s magic in the air as soon as you touch ground in Visby. Must do’s in Visby include strolling around town to see its medieval marvels and a walking tour along the 2 km-long medieval wall of the city. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly think about you mendering around in Dubrovnik for a second because of the wall and the charm of this hip town.
Klinten. Walk up the staircases of Domkyrkan and go over Klint Square and along the North Wall Street. Watch the incredible sea views.
Botanical Garden, Almedalen and the harbour.
The ruins. Everywhere around the inner city and the towering walls are ruins you can go into.
Fiskargränd/Norra Murgatan/ Tranhusgatan. The alleys where it is teeming with roses along the facades.
The seaside promenade. Walk on the boardwalk from the Harbour to Tott Hotel and sit at the restaurant at sea in front of Tott Hotel
Restaurants, Bars & Cafes
Lindgarden (Our top pick!) picturesque garden with wide menu
Bolaget(the perfect bar & kitchen for people watching)
Cafe Krönet (best cafe and lunch place for a view over the city)
Visby turns a few weeks every year to a pumping party town which is comparable to other stylish party destinations like Ibiza, Marbella and Hvar. Week 29 is one of the peak week – a week popularly known as the “Stockholm Week” which mostly draws young party people from Stockholm who want to get wasted in high heels and spend all their money on Champagne. If you don´t like a huge drunken crowd invading the city for one week you should consider visiting another week.
Scandinavia’s largest beach club is in Visby. Kallbadhuset (called “Kallis”) is a hugely popular beach club. This is where the jetsetters, sexy party freaks and the show-off crowd hang out in the afternoon. Few places in the world have things move on as “Kallis” on an ordinary afternoon during the summer months of June to August. Here you can order a lunch, drink and rent a sunbed next to the palm trees. Kallbadhuset is a fantastic location by the sea. Welcome to THE open air club experience of Europe!
Hands down, the best hotel in town. Tott hotel is located by Gotland’s popular Norderstand beach and boasts 100% stylistic confidence. The rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, complete with modern décor and designer furniture. Each room has its own balcony/terrace, allowing you to enjoy picturesque sunsets right from your room. The high society swoons about the Ibiza style pool and the exquisite dishes served in the gourmet restaurant with sea view.
Bungenäs – Gotland´s newest hotspot! (our top pick!)
Bungenäs Matsal (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Kalkladan in a huge barn (cafe, bar and restaurant) and Nyströms Kafé in a former shop (cafe/bakery). Top secret: they let room in the same building as Matsal if you desire to stay overnight here and enjoy the place.
There is a private pier for people arriving with yates and sailboats, there is a stone beach with millitary sun beds and bikes to use for free in order to discover the entire area.
Furillen (our top pick!) A former limestone quarry transformed into Sweden’s farthest-flung design hotel. Inside the hotel, you’ll experience a welcoming interior that utilizes modern Scandinavian design and incorporates myriad shades of gray and white. Visitors are invited to explore tha nearby fishing hamlet, traverse the hidden reaches of the peninsula on a bycicle and afterwards enjoy a meal with local ingredients.
Studio Furillen, nearby the design hotel Furillen you will find an architectual masterpiece in the forest. Sleek simplicity meets the beautiful island of Gotland. Andreas Forsberg, AQ Architects, has used a glass and aluminum system in order to realize their ideas and combined function and design with modern technologies.
Rute Stenugnsbageri is a hipster´s cafe in the middle of nowhere, you think you will be the only one finding it but once you drive up the tiny road in the forest you will discover an old barn and a stylish gigant green house packed with trendy tourists. No wonder, as the founder is running a popular cafe in Stockholm. You come here to eat and buy homemade sandwiches, fresh bread and Swedish pastries. They bake their bread in a wood-fired stone oven. A dreamy place with style!
Blå Lagun (or Blue Lagoon) is a stunningly picturesque old quarry site that has been reclaimed and reimagined as a public bathing and barbeque area. The water is turquoise blue and warm(ish) as it’s an inland lake with no rivers coming in or out. These quarries are deep and the water is very clear and turqoise, just like one might find in the Caribbean. The most famous quarry is called The Blue Lagoon. In the summer it is crowded with people swimming and sunbathing.
„Björnes dinerWelcome to the new dine cafe in Kappelshamn’s old grocery shop designed in reminiscence of the 50s in the USA. They serve burgers, bookmaker toast with Gotland beef, BBQ-glazed spareribs, beer, milkshakes, coffee, muffins, and more.
Maven Accommodation by the sea (same owner as above)
Fårö is a small but absolutely gorgeous island just off north of Gotland. Swedish film making legend Ingmar Bergman used to live and love on Fårö and probably was the Island’s most popular inhabitant.
Ahead in skill and care! Known as the best gas station and rock´n´roll club in the world to some, the last resting place of the genuine Bonnie&Clyde T1 model … (read more here) Kutens Bensin is a tribute to the USA’s 50s. It looks like a bizarre mix of a graveyard for cars and a deserted gas station. Its nostalgic charm is unmatched. If Elvis was alive today – this is where he would live. The unique concept features a whole variety of unforgettable locations in close proximity:
Slow Train bed and breakfast. (Out top pick!) Imagine the house on the hill of Norman Bates in the horror movie „Psycho“ and you get very close to the charm of this edgy place: We had the suite (the over floor of the villa, the only room alternative offering an own shower in the bath room! Sea view!)
Crêperie Tati (french crêpes and cool apple wine – fuel for your soul)
Sea stack fields The giant Rauks of Langhammars, Gamle hamn and Digerhuvud are some of Fårö’s expansive sea stack fields. Sea stacks are large vertical rock formations that have been shaped by the sea, leaving a core of limestone
Norsta Auren & Skärsudden – probably one of the most beautiful and remote beaches in northern Europe. This naturalsandy beachwithout anyfacilities is on the north side of Fårö. The beachbegins a fewhundred meterswest of Fårö lighthouse andis 4 km long. Norsta Aura is verydesolate and more wild with big dunes in the middle. At both ends there are roads near the beach where most of the people hang out.
Sudersand – the most famous beach on Fårö is also the name of the Sudersands Semesterby (camping village). The beach is perfect for those who search for all facilities you need like a beach bar serving food, massage, shops and parking space.
Skalasand – a hidden pristine white beach, where the chances are good to be completely alone
Sylvis Döttrar. One of the most famous and popular bakery shops on Gotland. People are queueing from morning to evening to buy home made cookies, Swedish cakes and the yummy fresh baked Cinnamon Rolls.
I wish you a long and happy life” is the traditional greeting of Sri Lanka’s friendly citizens. However, the country has long been a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s that beautiful tropical island that boasts a spectacular combination of white sand beaches, stunning landscapes, exotic wildlife and an unique cultural heritage. On the other hand, the country was war-torn for a quarter century and its east coast was badly devastated by the 2004 tsunami. Add a little (read: a lot) corruption on top and voila, you’ve got all the ingredients needed for a questionable international reputation.
Buckle up, here’s the news: Those times are over! The war is long over and the new government is trying hard to fight the rotten roots of corruption. Sri Lanka now finds itself in the spotlight of countless international travel guides as it emerges as one of the world’s best tourist destinations, boasting eight (!) Unesco World Heritage Sites, epic surf locations, tropical rainforests and pristine beaches. We’ll tell you this much already: all the buzz is justified.
The country’s picturesque beauty is still clouded by the remnants of war: left overs of military checkpoints, sniper hideaways and ruins of internment camps are a constant reminder of the country’s bloody recent past. However the repairs and infrastructure are coming along nicely: a 100 mile ride from the airport to the southern coast, where international buyers who have smelt the bait take up residency these days, now only takes 2 hours rather than 6.
The newly won ease of access to the island is a big plus for any tourist looking for some adventurous days with visits to Sri Lanka’s famous beaches, bamboo grooves or wild grounds where exotic animals such as elephants or leopards still reign supreme. The improved infrastructure also caused a boom in the hotel scene on the island. Upscale hotels add a touch of luxury to the exotic island and make it even more attractive for international travellers. Now, while Sri Lanka is still pleasantly uncrowded, is the best time to hop on a plane and discover the island’s mesmerising beauty by yourself!
Berlinagenten’s exclusive 14 day trip
Since we’re always aiming to supply you with the best tips and secrets wherever the wind takes us, Berlinagenten has spared no effort and compiled the perfect route for two weeks of culture, discovery and adventure. First tip: It’s not a must, but the easiest way to go will be to hire a private driver for the trip. Prices are around 100€ per day including car and fuel.
Welcome to the Kandy Krush Saga! Located in the center of Sri Lanka, Kandy was the residency of Sri Lanka’s last King until he was forced to step down in 1815. The city of 120.000 can easily be reached by train from Colombo – passing through a spectacular jungle scene it’s definitely a very pleasant way to do so.
Biggest highlight is the Sacred Buddhist Temple of the Tooth, which is considered to be one of the holiest places for buddhists from all over the world! It’s located within the walls of the royal palace, which features other vast cultural treasures such as the four hindu Devales (hindu temples) or the holy Bodhi-Tree, guarded by a chained elephant.
Since the days in the heritage city Kandy can become a little hasty, you’re well advised to have a little break every now and then to refill your spirits. Our absolute favourite spot was the British Colonial style Queen’s Hotel, the perfect spot to sip on a cocktail (or tea if you’re driving) while overlooking the splendid surroundings of the picturesque Kandy lake.
2. The Nature Route. Kandy -> Nuwara Eliya -> Ella -> Tissamaharama (Yala Nationalpark)
Sri Lanka’s real flavour lies in the journey to the heart of Sri Lanka’s famous tea-growing area, which is located almost 2000m above Kandy. Sri Lanka is world famous for their teas and the world’s 4th largest tea supplier. Cutting up through countless hairpins at a sweaty 35˚C, the view gets better and better as you get higher until you reach the top where you’re greeted by a contrastive 16˚C. While passing gaps in the woods, your heart stops for a beat to contemplate the sheer beauty of the panoramic views and you’ll often find yourself gazing in wonder for minutes and minutes. Passing idyllic waterfalls we felt like we were stuck in a scene from Jurassic Park, expecting dinosaurs to come rumbling through the forest anytime now…
Whatever you do, stopping at one of the many secluded tea factories is an absolute must-do! We recommend Mackwood’s Tea, who provide a full range of unblended black and flavoured teas with colourful tastes and delicious aromas. Drink a tea here and you’ll never look at tea the same way again!
2.1 Nuwara Eliya
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the top! Nuwara Eliya is also called the “city of light” and with and average 16˚C is one of the coolest areas in Sri Lanka, so don’t forget to bring a cozy jacket. Blessed with a much less humid climate, breath-taking valleys and plenty of greenery Nuwara Eliya ranks among the top destinations for tourists in the whole country.
The cooler climate was also a reason why many of the English colonialists were drawn to the village – they felt reminded of England. As a left over from those times there’s even a golf course and a horse race track built by wealthy British settlers… got to leave it to the English, they know how to make themselves feel at home! Swing by at the private Hill Club Sri Lanka and feel like a gentleman of the old days – overseas visitors are admitted as temporary members in this exclusive gentelmen’s club.
Have you ever put your eyes on a valley that stretches for 15km and is located a staggering 1000m below you? No? Welcome to Ella. This little town on the southeast side of the hill country offers some of the most stunning views in Sri Lanka. The world famous Ella Gap is just one of them, accompanied by the Ravana Ella Falls and the tremendous Adam’s Peak. Tip: Book a hotel with a view on the Ella Gap to wake up each morning to have your mind blown before breakfast.
There’s a charming idyllic train station in the center of Ella that infuses the place with a sympathetic charm – the tourism boom hasn’t quite reached Ella yet. The local taverns offer tasty Curry and traditional meat dishes, no fine dining here. Just authentic, real, delicious food. Our personal highlight was a visit to Asha Suwamedura – a fully equipped Ayurveda Health Resort. Let your body, mind and soul relax while receiving an amazing tingling water massage and watching the vivid nature through the windowfront. Aahh, we want to go back!
Ella also is a great starting point for you next trekking tour and should definitely be on your itinerary!
2.3 Yala Nationalpark
No Sri Lanka vacation without visiting Yala Nationalpark! Of course a Safari in Sri Lanka can’t be compared to visiting Africa, but it’s still considered to be one of the best wildlife parks in Asia with a wide range of animals such as monkeys, peacocks, sloth bears, wild hogs, bunnies, elephants, water buffalos, crocodiles and countless colorful birds. And of course there’s the undisputed king of the jungle: the mighty leopard. Leopards lead a secretive life and the gods were on our side that day: we saw two of them. Bingo! We managed to get out uneaten and well. Double Bingo! Even the leopards pay their respect to Berlinagenten, no other way to put it.
Another tourist highlight in the area is the brand new luxury hotel Jetwing Yala, who call themselves the “beacon of light in the deep South”. Well, a beacon they are, seeing that 40% of the hotel’s energy requirement is generated by a Solar PV system, making the hotel number one when it comes to sustainability. The hotels boasts a beautifully illuminated 100m pool, direct beach access complete with mini-bar, lounge area and a gang of good looking lifeguards.
3. Rekawa Beach
Welcome to paradise. Rekawa is a very secluded beach where you can hear every single wave crashing on the shore, feel the unspoilt sand beneath your toes as you take a deep breath and let your mind wander. Nothing comes close to the experience of feeling untroubled and peacefully facing the sea – be mindful not to step on any baby turtles, though. This beach is known to attract different species of turtles in nesting season and with a little luck, you can witness a baby turtle seeing the world for the first time. As not to disturb the little cuties, the Turtle Watch Rewaka is organising the Turtle Watches, so they’re not harmed in their natural habitat. Must see! You can learn more here.
Now turtles are fun and all, but what if small animals don’t really impress you that much? No problem. Mirissa is another secluded beach that isn’t really much of a backpacker’s secret anymore, and there’s one unusual activity that makes this place so special apart from its beauty: whale watching. If you’re visiting between December and April chances are pretty good you’ll be able to lay eyes on one of the rarest views in nature – blue whales, baby. The boats leave pretty early in the morning (around 6am) and if you’re lucky you’ll even meet a gang of dolphins, who are known to chance boats for the sport of it! If you can’t wait already, here’s your chance to book a tour.
We love it when different cultural influences blend together and create something unique. While most bigger cities in Sri Lanka don’t exactly look beautiful and tend to be a bit of an insult to your sense of smell, Galle boasts a charming blend of Dutch colonial architecture and south asian vitality. The city is set in a tropical Asian surrounding and still feels a little European – complete with cosy eateries, trendy shops, art galleries and a boom of boutique hotels that offer uncompromising luxury. Galle is the new destination for jetsetters and high end travellers looking for a laid back holiday with colonial flair! We recommend you to visit the Historical Mansion – a bizarre mixture of museum, junk shop, jewellery and craftwork collection found in the ship wrecks off the coast.
6. Bentota Beach
Bentota is home to an uprising hotel scene and boasts 8km of continuous beach with accomodations for every wallet size. Thanks to Sri Lanka’s laws, hotels may not be bigger than the surrounding palms, so don’t worry about concrete block-like hotels messing up the beautiful scenery! Despite the hotels, you won’t meet many people as you take a refreshing stroll along the beach – not even in peak season, which gives the beach a wonderful touch of intimacy.
Just 10km from the town you’ll also find a real gem for every Sri Lanka vacation: Bevis Bawa didn’t lead the usual Sri Lankan life – his father was extremely wealthy, his brother Geoffrey an important architect and Bevis himself a homosexual eclectic known to be a heavy drinker and to throw sex orgies in his Jungle Book like riot of a garden – the Brief Garden. The garden’s countless statues and sculptures are a real eye-catcher and have largely been built by Bevis himself – and here’s the best part: the garden can be visited. There’s a caretaker who offers guided tours for around 1000 Rupees – don’t miss out on this, but don’t touch any statues!
Our last station is Colombo – Sri Lanka’s booming Capitol. With more than 3 million residents, the urban image is characterized by an ever-going hustle and bustle and many tourists quickly pass through this diverse city on their way to more southern domains. However Colombo’s cosmopolitan site has developed into a wide array of new hotel complexes, galleries, art shops, museums and cosy eateries and is no longer just a frantic stopover for ambitious travellers! Right next to modern skyscrapers you’ll find small shops and joints or even buddhist shrines and colonial churches. The colourful blend of attractions creates the unique urban image and does take some getting used to – but once you find the city’s beauty, it’s hard to ever let go again.
The latest addition to Colombo’s luxury and fine dining scene is the sparkling Arcade Independence Square, which represents the immense efforts put into to beautification of the Sri Lankan Capitol. It’s facing the prestigious Independence Square and has all your needs covered under one roof. There’s a trendy shopping mall with exclusive boutiques and stores, but also a huge selection of upper class restaurants just waiting for your famishing tastebuds to arrive! The Arcade sets new standards for luxury in Sri Lanka and shouldn’t be missed on your to-do-list for Colombo.
Sri Lanka offers a wide range of different hotels, however the trend is leaning towards new upscale accommodations. The war created a niche for luxury in the tourism scene that is being filled now, so you’ll find anything from a simple backpacker’s lodge to newly built top notch hotels – no matter the size of your pursue, Sri Lanka is the right place for you. We compiled a list of the most noteworthy hotels on the island:
Jetwing Yala is in close proximity to the Yala Nationalpark and you can literally hear the sounds of wild animals in the distance as you dwell on the hotel’s grounds. It’s a little scary knowing that just a few kilometres away from you, wild leopards might be taking a midnight snack. However the hotel itself is our absolute favourite: luxurious, a huge infinity pool, direct beach access (with a bar!) and a spa that let us forget all about the leopards. Definitely one of Sri Lanka’s upcoming super stars!
Get comfy in your two-store bungalow surrounded by the ocean on one side and the jungle on the other. Almost every night turtles crawl up the shore to lay their eggs in the sand of Rekawa Beach, so be prepared for a tasty turtle soupin the morning! Joking. Good Karma Hotel is your best choice when you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing holiday – deserted beaches, white sand, tropical gardens and monkeys, peacocks and lizards as your direct neighbours. The perfect getaway.
Amanwella offers 27 suites that each come with a private pool and terrace, all connected by pathways along a landscaped rise with beach and ocean view. The golden beach is located in a crescent-shaped cove fringed with palm trees, while the resort finds itself surrounded by a coconut grove. Feel jealous yet? There’s also nature walks that wind through the jungle and often end up in the close by village of Tangalle, where you’re free to stroll around and explore Sri Lanka’s village life. Do check your calender every now and then – the risk of forgetting time completely is high with this one.
Hotels aren’t quite your thing but you still want to spend your vacation with style? Check out the three-roomed Landesi villa near Galle, the undisputed cultural Capital of Sri Lanka’s south. Spacious and luxurious, the dutch villa actually feels like the colonial time wasn’t quite over yet – in fact, if it wasn’t for the showers, air conditioning and electricity you’d be lured into thinking you just took a trip to Sri Lanka’s colonial era. From here the adventures of the South are just a jump and a hop form your doorstep: surfing in Ahamanga, whale-watching in Mirissa or just watching the stilt fisherman – the South pleases all your desires.
Remember all these great looking postcards you get from your colleagues while they’re on holiday? This is probably where the stayed while taking them. Vivanta By Tay offers a relaxing stay with gourmet meals, luxurious health and wellness experiences and absolutely breath taking views of the Indian ocean’s blue water. Book one of the 160 rooms and enjoy lush gardens, colonial architecture with red tiled roofs and the terraced infinity pool to cool you down after a long day in the jungle. Absolute stunner!
Restaurants, bars & cafes
Slightly Chilled (Kandy) – Perfect place to get away from Kandy’s hustle and bustle and enjoy a great view over the city.
Cafe Chill (Ella) – A colourful, cozy little café that will make you feel at home in seconds.
Amangalla (Galle) – Eat in the “The Zaal” (The Great Hall) and enjoy a wonderful colonial feel with high ceilings, overhead fans and chandeliers.
Fortaleza (Galle) – Kitchen chef Arun serves some of the finest food in Galle, using only the best seasonal fruits, vegetables and freshly caught fish.
Pedlar’s Inn (Galle) – The first coffeeshop to be established as UNESCO Heritage site.
Raux Brothers (Galle) – Flagship store for handcrafted furniture.
The Three Hotel (Galle) – where Asian design, Scandinavian thinking and western standard melt together.
The Living Room (Galle) – Great atmosphere, screaming colours, glitter, feathers and leopard prints. On of the country’s best bars!
Lucky Fort Restaurant (Galle) – Best dish: Rice with 10 different curries (feeds two). The place boasts a nice living room atmosphere and some great homecooked food, a real insider tip!
Since Rio de Janeiro has already given us a sweet taste of the life on the beach (and god it was tasty), we decided to give one of sunny Spain’s most legendary cities a shot. Barcelona. A city that seems to be consequently turning up in any “top city destinations” lists we can get a hold of. So, about time for Berlinagenten to check out what all the buzz was about!
It was easy enough to see when we got there. The city virtually pulses with life and creativity. It’s located right on the mediterranean seaside, features untold cultural treasures such as Gaudi’s Modernisme masterpieces (the most prominent one being La Sagrada Familia, the colorful city architecture and of course a world-class dining and nightlife scene. Star and Celeb-studded bars, easy going cerveserias in downtown (yes, that means beer) or all-night dancing in one of the many discotecas – a Barcelona trip comes with the guarantee of unforgettable nights.
Ever since the city was host to the Olympic Games in 1992 and the Universal Forum of Cultures in 2004, there seems to be not stopping its success story. Authorities have aimed to cause gentrification around high-quality architecture by building museums and promoting cultural sites and have thereby helped to greatly improve rundown districts like El Raval into a new home for trendy restaurants, bars and even the wealthy bourgeois. There’s probably no single city in Europe that has underwent such a radical change in the last decades. The urban renewal transformed Barcelona from a provincial port into a glamorous seaside metropolis that draws tourists from all over the globe. After the rediscovery of its beauty there’s been a steady supply of movies based in Barcelona, such as All About My Mother , Woody Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona and The Gunman.
But be advised: the huge amount of tourists also attracts some of Europe’s best pick-pockets! Put some drawing pins in your pockets to find the (now screaming) thieves. And don’t forget the evil laugh afterwards! Also, make sure you don’t forget about the pins when reaching for your wallet yourself. Turns out that happens pretty easily.
Now. Lean back, grab a cerveza and enjoy our tips for a perfect stay under the Iberian Sun!
The Best Hoods
Barcelona holds vast cultural gems. Barri Gotic is the city’s most ancient quarter and home to the historic old town of Barcelona. Expect to see the mesmerising heritage of centuries: monumental buildings, medieval housings, impressive squares and narrow cobbled streets will take you on a trip back to the 15th century. Pablo Picasso lived here for 10 years and his spirit is said to still roam the deserted streets at night. Hah! Nothing scares Berlinagenten! We didn’t feel the need to check it out at night however. No point taking chances.
Eixample or the “Extension” is famous for being home to Barca’s dazzling Art Nouveau masterpieces, Moderniste townhouses and a high-class residential and shopping area. Designed by Catalan engineer Credes in the 1850s, the square feels like a huge Moderniste open-air museum. It boasts a vigorous nightlife scene and a flourishing café culture. The square has become the place to be in Barca, featuring some of the finest upscale cuisines, art galleries and international design shops. This is where the wealthy kids in town slurp on their Cappucinos!
The most fashionable neighbourhood in Barcelona has to be bohemian La Ribera(with El Born as main drag). Gentrification has ensured the constant emergence of cafés, cool restaurants, small design boutiques next to some of the cities most iconic buildings from the Moderniste Palau de la Musica Catalana to the Museu Picasso, which attracts more than a million visitors annually. When your feet start hurting just lean back in one of the many waterfront cafés and enjoy a freshly made coffee before heading over to the beach for a long tanning session!
Gracia is one of the most popular districts of the city. It’s basically a little village of its own which has become a part of Barcelona when the city started to massively expand about a hundred years ago, hence it still bears a lot of its original historical charm and individuality. Garcia always was home the city’s working class and students, making it Barcelona’s unique hippie neighbourhood, known for the highest density of bars in the whole city. We had a great time in Garcia and probably bought more cans of beer form the street sellers than the average tourist does in a year!
When you’re looking for the most multicultural district in town, don’t miss out on El Raval. It has a bad reputation for being dirty and once having been home to Barca’s red light scene. However the district has been partly gentrified and now features a host of hotels, bars and small thrift shops with clothing you won’t find anywhere else in town. If you’re of the daring sort, put on your fanciest clothes and check out the Southern part of the district at night. Don’t forget your bazooka, though. Just in case.
Other districts include:
Montjuic is a hill overlooking the south side of the port. If you’re trying to get away from all energising excitement the city brings, Montjuic offers a very relaxed atmosphere and some must-see sights like the Magic Fountain, the lush Jardins de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer or the MNAC, one of the cities most important museums. One of the most overlooked districts in Barcelona probably is Poblenou. It’s off the town’s hustle and bustle but still has beach access and an incredible sunny disposition away from the concrete jungle. Swing by here for some relaxed hours at some of the city’s best beaches. Another districts that’s sitting right on the beach is Barceloneta. While it’s relatively uncrowded in winter, summer is guaranteed to bring a steep rise of tourists on the beach and and evenly steep rise of street sellers. You might come for a little sun and ice cream and end up with a bunch of new shirts, bags and a parrot called Diego.
The home of awesome. Sitting right in the middle of the Catalan capitol, Mandarin Oriental is just a stone’s throw from the classiest high-end boutiques and Barcelona’s most upscale streets. It features a Michelin-starred restaurant, a spectacular spa, a plunge pool on the roof terrace with a great view and a highly stylish interior design. Staying in this hotel will make you feel like a celeb in split second!
The Serras is a brand new 5 star luxury boutique hotel in 2015 near the marina. Historic Barca meets modern chic. The hotel is located right in the heart of a trendy neighbourhood on the seaside, their spacey balconies offering your front row seats to the spectacle going on below. Just like the Mandarin The Serras offers a fabulous culinary variety cooked by a Michelin-Star Chef and a breath taking rooftop terrace. If you like the fresh sea wind gently blowing in your face after waking up, this is the place.
The iconic building was once home to the headquarters of Cotton House Manufactures. Today it’s a high class boasting a very trendy concept and elegantly decorated rooms. The love for detail is what catches the eye from minute one. Naturally there’s a seasonal outdoor pool, an on-site restaurant, a gym and a massage room just waiting for you to swing by!
Jaimie’s 500sqm store is a crossover between a concept store, an IKEA for the stylish&wealthy and a cozy little eatery. Sit down in the 80-seat café and have a snack as you decide which of the design objects to take home!
Bar 68 is located in a very energetic neighbourhood, where you’re not sure if you want to take a look into one of the bars or take a look into what the next hooker has got to offer. The menu however offers a mix of Latino, Mediterranean and Italian flavors. The food is great – but the famous cocktails are even better. We have no idea how we got home afterwards… good job, Bar 68!
If Picasso was still alive, this is the bar where he’d end up. Just a jump away from the Picasso Museum, you’ll find tasty tapas and antipasti on the menu, along with a choice selection of wines. Perfect way to start your evening.
El Nacional boasts 3000sqm space and 770 seats dedicated to fresh food, drinks and the joys of the Spanish cuisine. Design tsar Lázaro Rosa-Violán reincarnated the former parking lot with an
airy, laid back cosmopolitan atmosphere. We tried the two main restaurants La Braseria and La Llotja, which come with a considerable price tag, unlike the somewhat cooler La Taperia and La Paradeta, which offer small-plate dining and snacks. The food was delicious – what really stays in your head is the marvellous interior design, though.
The OneOcean Club is located right at the marina front (who would have thought) and offers an elegant comfort without feeling too pompous. We were almost surprised by the interior modesty – until we had a look at the menu. It’s really not inexpensive, but forgivable if you consider the high quality of the ingredients and the delicious taste. It’s not coincidence this restaurant is a direct neighbour to Port Vell – the place where all the superyachts are anchored.
An awesome venue for a tasty afternoon with friends. The place gets packed quickly and the noise level goes up to a point where you have to shout to get the casually dressed waiters to your table. However the food is incredibly good! Kitchen chefs Oriol Casto, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casanas learned their showmanship from culinary grandmaster Ferran Adrià and are guaranteed to pamper you for the night.
This marvellous place has been nominated for a place among the popular World’s 50 Best Bars and won 3 national spanish cocktail awards last year, such as best gin&tonic bartender, best cocktail-pairing chef and and best healthy mediterranean cocktail (called “Bloody Sun”). If that hasn’t convinced you yet, the stylish interior will!
Betty Ford is the home of Raval’s hipsters. Locals and tourists alike have taken a special interest in the bar, especially since the drinks are even cheaper during happy hour from 9-11. Swing by the trendy venue and enjoy some Barcelona’s most powerful cocktails. Warning: the chance of addiction is high with this one.
Ocana offers a whole selection of possibilities to spend your time: a top notch restaurant, a cozy café, a cocktail bar and a cool nightlife clubs that feels like a combination of Berlin cool and lenghty Ibiza party nights.
The crazy KER parties aren’t always commencing at the same spot, right now they’re occupying the Sunday slot at Danzatoria. They’re hosted by ROW 14, who are known for their former Ibiza-like parties. We’ve had a blast at KER and can honestly say, it was one of the best parties we’ve had in a while. And we party a lot!
This club is only opened in summer, so expect to be surrounded by hot chicas wearing little to no clothing. La Terreza is trying to create a bit of a hype and considers itself as a more glamorous option of spending your clubbing night, which tends to show in your wallet at the end of the night. From local DJ to international big game DJs, there’s everything to be found!
Music on every day of the week! Dance along to pop-rock on Mondays, electro and indie at on Tuesdays, root music on Wednesdays and bassheavy Boombox on Thursdays. Weekends are stacked with world class acts and are even better than the weekday program. Swing by!
Gaudí’s masterpieces, e.g. La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, Park Güell & Sagrada Familia
Gaudi’s famous buildings are shattered all over the city. His distinctive style can be recognized from afar and his legacy is among most popular architecture in the world. Probably his most
famous work, Sagrada Familia, has been under construction since 1882 and counts as one of the most extraordinary interpretations of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages! His superb craftmanship shows throughout his works: from the beautifully colourful Park Güell to the aesthetical masterpiece that is Casa Batlló, the uniqueness never ends.
Olympic stadium & Montjuïc hill
The Olympic Stadium was home to the Olympic Games in 1992, the games that would bring the turning point in the development of urban Barcelona. In front of the stadium there’s bronze footprints of spanish sport stars in the pavement, reminding of Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame. Though it’s mostly unused these days, it boasts an interesting architecture and comes with a trip back in time guarantee!
While all the other museums are closed on Mondays, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona is closed on Tuesdays. In other words: the perfect place to go if you’re looking for some cultural activities on a Monday. Renowned for the impressive exterior design by Richard Meier as well as for the impressive collection of about 5000 artworks (not all of which can be displayed at the same time), the MACBA never gets boring.
Walking along the beach from W Hotel (Barceloneta) to Parque del Forum (Diagonal Mar)
Best Day Trips
Hop on a cable car at Montserrat-Aeri station and drive up to the isolated monastery of Montserrat, which sits on top of mountain with the same name. Apart from a great view there’s also a choice selection of beautiful walks around the mountain, which are just waiting to be discovered and invite you to pleasurable walks in the green.
When you’re done refilling your energy, hop on a train to Sitges to find beautiful beaches, where you can finally tear off your clothes and enjoy some nudist beach tanning! In the evening head over to Catalunya’s No. 1 party town for an endless night of cervesas!
Once your headache has gotten better, Theatre-Museum Dali awaits your visit. The building was designed by Dali himself and his mortal remains are burried beneath the building. If you love surrealism as much as we do, this is the place for you!
We’re lucky enough to get our share of enjoying top notch destinations around the globe, but we were completely awestruck when we visited Brazil’s crown jewel Cidade Maravilhosa (The marvellous city) last month. Never before have we seen such a breathtaking setting for a city – surrounded by beautifully shaped mountains, curving white sand beaches and ridiculously blue water, we soon had that delightful fluttery feeling in our stomachs that you only get on a very special occasion: when you’re genuinely falling in love. With Rio de Janeiro.
The overwhelmingly friendly habitants (called Cariocas) create a very unique and laid back atmosphere that lovingly embraces the whole city. It’s not only the obvious love for the easy life that makes this city so very special, it’s also the fact that Rio is pure sex. With a coast line of 73km the city practically lives on the beach and the art of perfecting your body and showing it off publicly has become one of the most popular sports (after football, of course).
What this means is: smoking hot people. They’re on the beach, in dance halls and open air cafes. They’re all over the place. Women trying hard to cover their assets with as little clothing as possible and numerous shredded-looking men consequently strolling around with partly erected speedo-inhabitants. Maybe that fluttery feeling of ours was a redirection of the blood flow down south after all. Sex is in the air. We love it.
Now of course Rio isn’t without their share of problems (City of God, anyone?). More than 1000 favelas (slums) are spread across the city and have been poverty-stricken and have seen high crime rates for a long time. With international events like the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics in Rio in 2016, a new police force has made almost all the favelas safe to visit and has thereby created lively cultural hubs that peacefully co-exist with the ongoing sound of catchy samba tunes rather than the fire of gun shots. The favelas are not only where the kids dream of becoming Brazil’s next great football players and vigorously conquer the streets to work on their dream’s fulfilment, they’re also the source of a near infinite creativity that’s expressed year by year when the lively melodies of the favelas take the whole city by storm in carnival season.
Rio has enchanted its visitors for centuries and is so much more than just an inhibited, opulent city with countless dainties, bars and eye-catching costumes. Rio is a way of life.
Berlinagenten has toured this beauty of a city and found the perfect hotels, restaurants, hip boroughs, bars, clubs, shopping malls, scenic highlights and even private tours for your next getaway vacation.
Santa Teresa used to be home to the city’s wealthy upper class that left when the neighborhood started suffering from decay and neglect. Today Santa Teresa can be considered as Rio’s cool bohemian Montmatre – the city’s artistic heart. We hoped to take a challenging ride on the the old-fashioned street cars called bondes to get a very unique view over the city that way. Unfortunately they were down for maintenance, so we hopped on a taxi instead and drove up the serpentine alleys to discover a few marvellous old mansions along the way. Once you made it to the top you’re rewarded with magnificent view over downtown!
When most hoods get quiet after midnight, Lapa becomes the new queen of nightlifte districts. The perfect starting point for discovering the hood is the old aqueduct Arcos da Lapa. Lapa is relatively small in size but very popular for its vivid nightlife – many of the district’s houses have been turned into late night bars and dance halls over the years, making it home to unforgettable samba nights. Arrrrrriba! (Make sure you don’t spill your drink while shouting).
The city’s center is best known for its cultural highlights: Prestigious churches, historical squares, colonial buildings, modern skyscrapers, art deco architecture and museums roam the streets and wait to be discovered. Don’t miss out Teatro Municipal (a masterpiece), Arco Do Teles and the colonial streets around Rua Do Ouvidor, Real Gabinete Português De Leitura (a library a la Harry potter) and the Cathedral of Rio De Janeiro. All with guaranteed wow-factor!
The famous beach is home to swimmers, joggers, surfers and is a real hot spot (literally) for going out and having a few drinks. And watching certain parts of the body happily bounce to the constant rhythm of beach volleyballs flying from left to right. The Nossa Senhora de Copacabana is one of the two streets inland and boasts lots of shops and boutiques, so shop away! Approximately 80% of all hotels in Rio are squeezed into the 4 km long neighbourhood so expect mass tourism and less glamour. The golden days of this area are gone but with the new museum Copacobana gets a new landmark right next to the beach.
Ipanema is easy to love, it reminds you of some of the world’s best beach hoods: Miami South beach, Tel Aviv and Venice beach. The district’s buildings aren’t exactly the prettiest we’ve ever encountered, but you can feel the diversity of the area on every corner. The vivid borough is marked by the peaceful co-existence of stereotyped gays, boho-chic locals and sexy tourists. They meet at the beach every day for beach activities, pick-nicks and lots of caipirinha causing a daily party vibe when they all crawl over the beach promenade to the nearest bar in the hood after sunset. Especially on sundays, when the beachside street gets closed for traffic, Ipanema beach gets really crazy. Cyclists, inline skaters, sun seekers and muscle posers take over the place, showing off their best assets. Clothing has never been so tight and the caipi has never been so yummy!
A little more sophisticated than Ipanema, Leblon probably is the trendiest neighbourhoods right now. Accommodation here comes at a price and you won’t have trouble finding top notch bars and restaurants to fulfil your culinary needs. Local television and movie stars frequently visit the beach, infusing it with a touch of exclusivity. And Silicone. Don’t miss walking up to Mirante Do Leblon (direction favela Vidagal) to get the much envied facebook picture of Leblon and Ipanema beach.
Places To Be
Rua Dias Ferreira, Leblon. Bar and restaurant hopping among hipsters, telenovela stars, creatives and fashionistas. Check here for more.
Praça São Salvado, Flamengo. Somewhat off the beaten track, this place is a true treasure cave on any evening of the week. Especially on the weekends it’s the perfect location for drinking beer, watch locals hanging out on the square, socializing and chilling in a beautiful setting. We met many cool young people and think it’s a great place for traditional meals in one of the local pubs and restaurants around the square. This is the place.
Praça Santos Dumont, Gávea. Only on Sundays you will find a flea market here. Get here in the afternoon and hang out in front of any of the local restaurants and pubs, grab a beer at Bar do Alemão and soak up the local flair away from all the mainstream tourism. Surfers, skaters & bikers pop in for a beer, to pose their muscles and tanned bodies… a perfect start for a night out on an early Sunday!
Farme de Amoedo, Ipamena. Rio’s gay street where it gets busy as soon as the sun goes down. Perfect for watching people with an after beach beer in your hand. You have probably never seen so many half naked men mingling the streets just in zungas (speedos) but no wonder when the temperature hardly drops under 30 degrees by night in the summer. The main gathering inns where the action keeps going on until late hours are Galitos, Tô Nem Aí and Pop Eye butthere are lots of cosy eateries to be found in the side streets.
Where to stay?
Rio’s hotels have been in transition for a while now – unsightly towers along the beach have dominated the scene for years, offering poor service and even less luxury. These last years have seen an eagerly awaited upspring of trendy design & boutique hotels though, that initiated a whole new era of upscale hotel luxury in Rio. The rates of the beachfront lodgings are now amongst the most expensive in the world and they like to double or triple their rates during high season (New Year & Carnival), so you’re well advised to book months in advance.
The jewel in the crown of Rio’s hotel scene is the fabulous Fasano Rio, designed by Phillipe Stark. Not only the London bar and groundfloor restaurant boast uberstylish visitors. Its rooftop infinity pool is the hangout for visiting A-listers and attracts a model look-a-like crowd. Splash in the pool all day and make sure that you don’t miss the sunset from the rooftop, just stunning! Book a room with ocean view in order to get the full Ipanema experience.
Very exclusive. The hotel features a swimming pool, beach service, a tennis court, a fitness center and even two boutiques within the hotel. With the beach just meters away, you’re right in the epicentre of all the buzz.
This property is member of Relais Châteaux and is a hidden oasis up on the hills of the historic district Santa Teresa. The hotel boasts spectacular panoramic views of the Bay of Rio and the Centro, colonial atmosphere, “tropical chic” design and a lush garden with a pool. The restaurant reinterprets contemporary Brazilian cuisine and the Bar Dos Descasados is an exclusive meeting place by nights.
The Cariocas love food. Their cuisine is heavily influenced by the Portuguese colonisers and Africans who immigrated to the city centuries ago. Expect intense flavours, spices and lots of meat. Great thing is, you can take your time while eating. No waiter is even going to think of asking you to leave because their shifts are over, so have great, long talks, linger over your meals and don’t forget to sip on your cold beer in between. There’s no excuse to rush in Rio, because service is very slow! Note: table reservations are only accepted until 8pm, or you drop in with risk for long waiting list!
Rio’s nightlife isn’t half as wild and cosmopolitan as it is in Sao Paulo. The focus is more on getting tipsy on the beach and enjoying caipis in a corner bar than advanced clubbing and sleepless nights out. However, there’s countless ways of getting your game on in Rio, starting from buying cooled beer out of the trunk of a car on the next corner, visiting one of the botequins (bars) where you’re welcomed by finger foods and even more cold beer or opting for a more sophisticated venue and hitting one of the trendy & expensive bars with live music in Leblon. You definitely can’t do wrong with these:
As Rio grows into an international destination a little more every year, their nightlife is continually reinventing itself and new neighbourhoods with bars and clubs popped up lately. Check out the area around Rua Sacadura Cabral in Saúde. Even though Sao Paulo is boasting the ultimate club scene on this planet (comparable with Berlin) the party lovers will find satisfaction in Rio as well if they dig in the program and ask around. Everything is on the menue these days but you won’t get away from the Samba rhythms in most venues. It’s summer in Rio right now, so the nightlife is as hot as it gets. Just the way we like it. Our top picks:
These are traditionally the nights where Rio goes completely CRAZY. With million of people celebrating on the streets, you’re guaranteed to never experience anything like it anywhere else on the planet. But on New Year’s Eve pull on your favourite white beach outfit (white is the base outfit and means peace) and enjoy the mesmerizing fireworks from the Copacobana beach with 2 million people! Definitely on the list of “hundred things you have to do before you die”!
A secluded bay with the most pristine beach off the beaten track below the superluxurious villas of Joá district – Rio´s answer of „Beverly Hills“. Well worth the visit if you want to get away from the crowdy beaches in the city!
This place is settled right on the shore of the picturesque hood of Urca and it is considered to be the longest open air dining place of Rio. Grab a beer and some typical Brazilian delicatessen at the bar and prepare your lunch or pick-nick on the stone fence by the waterside just opposite the bar. Not only is the atmosphere and the food great, it also comes with a spectacular view of Botafogo, Flamengo & Centro. To round up the visit, take a ride on a cable car to the top of the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain and enjoy panoramic views over one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
Overlooking the Copacabana’s legendary swimming pool, Pérgula Restaurant offers first class Brazilian and international cuisine in a refined yet relaxed atmosphere. The casual poolside ambience is perfect for Pérgula’s renowned Sunday Brunch from 1pm – 5pm.
The Institution in Rio´s gastronomic scene since 1894. A traditional coffee shop reminding of a Viennese coffee house.
There’s lots to be discovered on your own in Rio, but if you really want to get to know Rio off the beaten path and find out it’s best kept secrets and spots, try one of these great private tours! We recommend:
For two people with an included car you’ll have to pay 1350R$ with Marco Bransford Tours. We took a dive into the districts of Downtown, Lapa, Santa Teresa and the Prazeras Favela. Both tours were absolutely great and provided us with insider knowledge you won’t find in any city guide, so don’t hesitate to take one of these amazing tours!
This month’s global hotspot: Cracow. There’s something that keeps drawing us East time after time again. Perhaps it’s the fact the people in the East are great to hang out with and always keep good faith, even though their intensely cold winters will probably soon make you understand why Vodka is so popular in Poland. Perhaps it’s the fact that the city is stunningly beautiful, maybe the most beautiful city in the whole country, the medieval core having survived the centuries with only little scratches. Perhaps it’s also a weird obsession we have with eastern countries, they’re close, they’re pretty, they’re full of beautiful women (men, not so much). Until we find out what it really is, we will keep on travelling east!
The legends around Cracow rank from dragons under the catacombs of Wawel to pidgeon knights defending the prestigious city until one day their king would return. Its history dates all the way back into the 4th century. In our 21st century adaption of the tale, it’s Henrik dwelling beneath the catacombs, armed with a glass of champagne and a perfectly fitting black suit, always on the lookout for trendy bars (or maybe just the way out) in the unlikeliest of places.
WW2 has been relatively kind to Cracow, as far as architecture is concerned. As one of the few Polish cities that didn’t look like a crushed lego set after the end of the war, Cracow holds invaluable treasures of history. However, not everything about Cracow is as beautiful as it might seem today. The city’s trendy jewish quarter, Kazimierz, suffered heavily under the invasion and vandalisation by the Germans in WW2. The mostly jewish habitants of Kazimierz were confined to a ghetto created in Podgórze, a suburb on the other side of the river. Of the 64000 habitants only 10% survived the slaughtering.
We spent several days in the city and fell in love with Kazimierz and the Old Town, which make up the city’s traditional center with the historic Royal Castle towering in between the two. Podgórze, located on the other side of the river, is where you’ll find the world famous Schindler’s Factory (yes, the one from the movie!). As many of the quarters in the two center districts were deserted during WW2 and partly decayed under the following Soviet rule, the habitants of Cracow were now given the chance to give new purpose to the abandoned buildings, reshaping the city’s heart in the best of ways – for the people. These past 20 years have seen the uprise of many bars, restaurants cafés and an extremely vivid nightlife. The city is living through a real renaissance and flourishes with life. Legend has it that Cracow now has the highest density of bars in the world and we were there to find out! Here’s our selections of the best bars, hotels, restaurants and museums the city has in store for you.