At first glance, Tbilisi can be overwhelming. The contrasting architectural styles, the congested and chaotic city streets and an alphabet that is more beautiful than decipherable can all boggle the mind. It is a complex city with an ancient history and a recently regained independence. The Georgian capital city dates to the 5th century AD, although there had been settlements on the land as early as the 4th century BC. Tbilisi is where Europe meets Asia and was on the historic route of the Silk Road. It has long been an important cultural and political center of the Caucasus. Our Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour is an introduction to the sights of the city – old and new. (Map and tips below.)
If Prishtina is the modern face of Kosovo, Prizren is a glimpse into the past. The preserved city center is made up of cobblestone streets, ancient mosques, centuries old churches and numerous bridges that for ages have straddled the Prizren Bistrica River. Overhead, a medieval fortress looms on the hilltop, keeping an eye on the city below.
While Prizren’s old historic center is easily navigated, there is limited (and sometimes confusing and/or conflicting) information provided for tourists. To assist fellow travelers visiting Prizren, we’ve detailed a self-guided walking tour (with map and turn-by-turn directions!) and have also included recommendations for food and drink and accommodations.
Belgrade is gritty and raw; a real city. After bouncing through fairytale Slovenia and down the stunning coastline of Croatia, the city of Belgrade was jarring. A stroll down the length of the main thoroughfare is a feast for the senses: honking horns, thought-provoking architecture and the scent of grilled meat mingled with cigarette smoke wafting through the air. We were in awe of the deeply-rooted traditions and how they meshed with quirky new trends. The history of the city both fascinated and perplexed us.
From the tip of the Piran Peninsula, the rocky Slovenian coastline trails east two and a half miles toward a protruding landmass of bulking cliffs covered in trees. The protected natural reserve, Strunjan Nature Park, is rich with diverse geological phenomena; the layers of rock that plummet into the sea formed by the crashing waves, wind and rain. Natural vegetation, as well as olive groves and vineyards, grow on Strunjan, which can be explored by foot on intertwining trails. A shoreline path connects the two peninsulas, providing a pleasant way to walk from Piran to Strunjan on Slovenia’s coast.
Before we arrived in Zadar, we felt sorry for it. After our three-week stay in idyllic Rovinj, we thought our next destination would surely disappoint. The fact that we were trading in one seaside town perched on a peninsula for another made us think we would easily draw comparisons and, in our minds, nothing could beat Rovinj. After staying in Zadar, experiencing the city and seeing the sights (which are included in our Zadar self-guided walking tour), we felt differently.
While there are some comparisons that can be made between Rovinj and Zadar, the two cities are drastically different. Even though Zadar may not be dripping with charm like Rovinj, it certainly has it. And, something it has that Rovinj doesn’t is a slew of sights – from Roman ruins to historic churches to a modern seaside promenade complete with new age art. Something else Zadar has: a university – and its students fill the streets and cafes, bringing a lively, youthful feel to the city.
Pula, Croatia is located near the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula and is more industrial than other places in Istria. The large cranes in the shipyard, which can be seen on the approach by bus from Rovinj, certify that Pula is a ‘real’ working town, but the preserved historical and architectural features are what prompted our visit to Pula. There are many sights that can be seen with one day in Pula, Croatia, but we were most looking forward to seeing the 1st century amphitheater. Since we were already making the 40-minute trip down, we also added 7 more sights to see on a walking tour through the city center.
London is massive on just about every definable scale: size, history, culture. We broke up our sightseeing by neighborhood, starting in the most iconic area: The City of Westminster. With Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Parliament, we had a full day of Westminster sights to see.
Westminster Sights: The Wellington Arch
Completed in 1830 to celebrate the British victories during the Napoleonic Wars, it has been moved and statues have been switched out, but it still stands as a triumphant arch.
Westminster Sights: Buckingham Palace
Built in 1705, the Royal Family has resided in Buckingham Palace since 1837, when Queen Victoria moved there from James’s Palace. The grand size – 355 feet by 393 feet with 775 rooms, including 78 bathrooms – is more impressive than the architectural design.
We could have easily spent our three days in Dublin seeing nothing more than the inside of pubs, but there’s a lot more to the city than just downing pints of Guinness goodness. Many of the historic sights are condensed within the city center, which makes for an easy Dublin, Ireland self-guided walking tour – and helped keep us out of the bars, if only for a few hours. (Map below.)
Dublin, Ireland Self-Guided Walking Tour to 11 Sights
#1 St. Patrick’s Cathedral
It was on this site that in 450 AD St. Patrick baptized the first Irish converts. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was completed in 1191 and is the largest church in Ireland. The spire reaches 140 feet.
Our two-day detour to Zurich, Switzerland was more about meeting up with longtime friends for the US vs Switzerland soccer match than it was about visiting the city itself. However, we devised a Zurich self-guided walking tour that would take us through the pristine city, down the shopping lanes, to a few churches and viewpoints, with enough time for lunch, chocolates and beers. Come along with us to see the sights of the city on our Zurich Self-Guided Walking Tour (map below).
Zurich Self-Guided Walking Tour
We started our Zurich Self-Guided Walking Tour at the Paradeplatz tram station in the city center. Heading north on Bahnhofstrasse, we gawked at the expensive watches glittering in the window displays. The street is flooded with fashionable high-end retailers, boutiques and banks.
Although we’ve appreciated the scenic viewpoints from the top of Mount Srd, we’ve also been captivated by the historic charms within the old walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Exploring the steep alleys is like
walking climbing stairs back in time (if you can ignore all the wires, satellites and air conditioners). However, a stroll down the Stradun from the Pile Gate to the bell tower is done on level ground, passing some of the best Dubrovnik sights along the way.
The city of Dubrovnik evolved from a maritime past, with different theories as to when the area was first inhabited. It is certain, however, that it thrived in the 14th and 15th centuries due to its merchant trade and natural resources. In 1667, a massive earthquake, followed by fires, damaged much of the city, but it was reconstructed in the architectural style we see today.