10 Must-Do Walks in Europe

We all agree the best way to explore a city is to pound out the miles, street by street. Some cities however take on an almost magical experience when walking around them. If you are planning a big European trip, we suggest adding these experiences to your bucket list.

1: Rome: Baroque and Ancient Rome


You never know what you may stumble across in Central Rome, maybe a 2,o00 year old temple like the Pantheon

The only way to truly appreciate the Eternal City is on foot. Around every corner is an amazing church, great coffee place or a remnant of the glory days of the Roman Empire. With iconic locations like the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, Central Rome would have to rank as the number one city to explore on foot in Europe. However hidden near by many of the famous landmarks are some incredible less frequented gems. Our tip; walk behind the Pantheon and visit the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Among some of the cool things here is a statue by Michelangelo, and it is free to visit!

2: Rome: Roman Forum & Colosseum:

Picture 065

Walk where Emperors have walked in the Roman Forum

Where else in Europe can you walk in the footsteps of the likes of Julius Caeser and Marc Antony? Probably nowhere. Let your imagination run wild as you stroll through the crumbling columns and decaying temples of Europe’s greatest Empire.

3: Dubrovnik: Walking the City Walls

Croatia 143

Peering over the rooftops of the historic centre of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s city walls are some of the best preserved in Europe. With a mediterranean setting and overlooking the compact streetscape below, this would have to be the best city walls walk in Europe. Oh, and don’t forget Dubrovnik is a Game of Thrones location so you can pretend you are manning the defences against a fierce attack!

4: Prague: Castle District over Charles Bridge


Follow in the footsteps of Mozart or perhaps Tom Cruise as you walk over the Charles Bridge

Wandering around the streets of Prague is truly like walking through a fairytale. Follow the paths from the Castle to the magical Charles Bridge and finish in the Old Town Square. Our tip; Do the walk a second time at night for the best views of the Castle District from the Charles Bridge.

5: Venice: All of it


It is easy to discover hidden alleys and secluded canals even in the centre of Venice

Venice is unlike any other city in the world and it is not hard to get off the beaten track and stumble across dead end streets or secluded canals with a lone gondolier rowing by. Our tip; Take that map, screw it up and throw it in the bin (if you can find one). Getting lost in Venice is part of the charm and hey if you hit water just turn back!

6: Berlin: Brandenburg Gate to Checkpoint Charlie


Stumble across an old East German Trabant as you slink in the shadows around the Brandenburg Gate

Follow in the footsteps of World War II villains or Cold War super spies as you trace the path of the Berlin Wall. An eclectic mix of memorials, modern and communist architecture, no other city in Europe has been so shaped by 20th century history as Berlin.

7: Barcelona: La Rambla and the Gothic Quarter


Plenty of little squares of La Rambla to enjoy a sangria in

La Rambla is without doubt the beating heart of Barcelona. An intense mixture of street performers, tapas bars, tourists and locals you can easily get caught up in the party like atmosphere. After walking the 1.2 kilometres duck into the adjacent Gothic Quarter and explore narrow cobble stoned streets quaint local eateries and the amazing Cathedral.

8: Ljubljana: Old Town


The hidden treasure that is Ljubljana

We think you would be hard pressed to find a more charming capital city than Slovenia’s capital. Colourful architecture, a beautiful and unique styled main square and one of the most colourful and photogenic fresh food markets, Ljubljana has it all. Probably our most underrated entrant in this list, but anyone who has visited Slovenia quickly falls in love with it.

9: Paris: The Louvre to Notre Dame


Notre Dame is a great spot to start or finish your walk along the Seine

Nothing is more quintessentially Parisian than strolling along the Seine. This walk takes in some of Paris’ most iconic buildings and vantage points as well as delving into some of the city’s amazing history. Pop up market and antique stalls, incredible architecture and bookended by two of Paris’ most important sites this walk definitely beats taking the metro.

10: London: East End

London’s East End has an ever changing street art scene

Realistically we could write an entire top 10 purely on walks in London. However the East End takes the cake. From cool speak easy pubs and bars to an incredible street art scene, the East End has something for everyone.

Now its your turn. Do you love exploring new cities but get disheartened when you don’t know what you are looking at or where you are going? Thanks to our friends at GPSmyCity we are giving away 20 promotional codes to download a city tour of your choice for any IOS device (only) from over 400 cities world wide, and it is for free! All you have to do is share a photo or leave a comment below and tell us your favourite European city to explore on foot or even better, the European city you have always dreamt about exploring.

You have until January 8th to enter and winners will be announced on the 9th of January. We will announce the winners here on the blog as well as on our Facebook page (so make sure you give it a like if you have not sone so already) and we will be in contact shortly after to help you claim your prize. Good luck!



Essential Guide to German Christmas Market Food

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and nobody does Christmas in Europe like the Germanic countries.

While the German and Austrian Christmas markets are famed for their wooden decorations and glass baubles, the Christmas markets are also time to overindulge in seasonal Christmas food and drink. If you are visiting the Christmas Markets this December, make sure you don’t leave without trying these…


A German Christmas markets visit is not complete until you have huddled under a gas burner, nestled in close with friends, nursing a steaming hot mug of Glühwein (mulled wine). A mixture of wine, fruits and spices, Glühwein is supposed to help cut through the effects of the cold and give you a nice glow on the inside. Most markets have specialised and specific mugs for their Glühwein for which you pay a deposit (between 2.50/3.00€). When you have finished your wine you can either return your mug and receive your deposit back, or you can keep the mug as a cheap souvenir. Our tip; take your used mug back and get a clean one if you are going to keep it! You can also upgrade or turbo boost your Glühwein by adding a shot of schnapps, brandy, amaretto or a multitude of other liqueurs into it. Prost!


Enjoying a mug with my Dad in Cologne


Ok, so you can try bratwurst anytime you visit Germany and Austria, however if one hand is occupied with Glühwein then your spare hand can easy handle a sausage! You will find all different varieties, from your stock standard bratwurst, to smoked sausage and our personal favourite found in Austria, käsekrainer. A pork sausage with melted cheese running through the middle. This bad boy is a heart attack in a hot dog roll, but be warned, it will repeat on you all day. What better way to explore the Christmas Markets than with a meal that keeps on giving.


And this is a small one!


Grated potato made into a pancake which is fried and covered in apple sauce. Only Germany could make something relatively healthy unhealthy!


Deep fried potato cakes, yum!

Chocolate Coated Fruit sticks.

Another Christmas treat, skewers of various fruits such as cherries, strawberries, banana and mandarins dipped in chocolate. We even managed to find fruit dipped in chocolate and covers in crushed Oreo biscuits – however for copyright purposes they were not called Oreo!


Does Christmas food get any better than chocolate covered fruit?


Traditional gingerbread comes in all shapes and sizes at Christmas time from heart shapes, blocks and even Santa inspired designs. For those with alergies it is also possible to hunt down gluten free lebkuchen.


Traditional Lebkuchen stall in the Vienna Christmas Markets

Kaiser Schmarrn

A form of rather heavy and gluggy pieces of pancake, sometimes mixed with raisens and accompanied by fruit sauce, sugar or our favourite, vanilla sauce!


Kaiserschmarren will stick to your insides and insulate you against the cold

Oh and did we mention Glühwein?!

Merry Christmas everyone


Ampelmann: East Berlin’s Cold War Hero

From the devastation of WWII to the post war division, wherever you stand in Berlin you are always reminded of the city’s tragic twentieth century history. During the peak of the Cold War there were an estimated 16 spy agencies working in the city and while James Bond and Jason Bourne have moved on ( as far as we know) one Cold War hero has lasted the test of time. That man is the East Berlin Ampelmann.

Ampelmann, like any good spy can be easily overlooked or passed by, and after the German reunification he began to meld back into the shadows. However the citizens needed a hero, they needed a man to rally around to preserve their culture and Ampelmann was that man.

So who is Ampelmann? Put simply he is the road crossing man.

Bernauer Strasse was one of the most important sites of the Berlin Wall, and Ampelmann still stands guard today

Bernauer Strasse was one of the most important sites of the Berlin Wall, and Ampelmann still stands guard today

It was easy to tell what part of Berlin you where in based purely upon the road crossing signals. In West Berlin you had the boring capitalist slightly depressing looking stick figure we know around the world. Not in East Berlin! East Berlin (and East Germany as a whole) had Ampelmann, a slightly paunchy communist crossing man that oozed charisma. When stopped he stood defiantly, arms out stressed ( as opposed to the almost anaemic looking western version). When green he strode confidently, head held high, back arched as he marched off to work like all happy communists were expected to do!

Ampelmann & Ampelfrau (found in Dresden), so much more appealing than the boring Western crossing signal

Ampelmann & Ampelfrau (found in Dresden), so much more appealing than the boring Western crossing signal

After the fall of the wall his life was threatened, like many a good spy he was being hunted and was slowly being replaced by the western crossing man, the Cold War was over, and it appeared his time was quickly running out too.

However the people of East Berlin rallied around Ampelmann and he is now one of the symbols of the city. In the 1990’s a committee for the preservation of ampelmann was set up. The media jumped on board, the campaign grew and eventually politicians had to take note, the people had spoken! Nowadays whole souvenir stores dedicated to him can be found throughout Berlin selling everything from Ampelmann ice cube trays and cookie cutters to wine stops, bags, hats even Ampelmann Gummi Bears!

One of the many Ampelmann stores throughout Berlin. Do you really need those ice cube trays, well yes!

One of the many Ampelmann stores throughout Berlin. Do you really need those ice cube trays, well yes!

In fact he has become so popular that when new crossing signals are now installed across Berlin regardless of East or West it is Ampelmann who stands stops you victoriously across the city.

The face of Berlin has changed dramatically since the reunification in 1991.  History will say the West won the Cold War, but in Berlin one Cold War icon has endured. In Berlin the East had at least one victory and it takes the form of the Ampelmann…

Striding confidently off into the future...

Striding confidently off into the future…

– Dean

Our Pre Oktoberfest Checklist

It is that time of the year again, time to join thousands of travellers from around the world as you descend upon Southern Germany. So you are planning to hit the world’s largest beer festival? The Oktoberfest is almost a rite of passage for many backpackers travelling around Europe. However for many it can also be their downfall. By following our Pre-Oktoberfest checklist you can avoid some of the pitfalls of Munich’s craziest two weeks and ensure you have an awesome time!

The Hofbrau tent main entrance

The Hofbrau tent main entrance

1. Book Your Accommodation Early!

To be totally honest, if you are reading this and still haven’t got a place to stay you are pretty much too late! Accommodation is at a premium during the ‘Fest’ and even dorm rooms are ridiculously expensive. Camping is an option and Camping Thalkirchen is probably your best bet, but be prepared for masses of organised groups packing out the campsite. If you do camp make sure you are first ones into the shower block after they have been cleaned, you have been warned!

With some tents holding over 5000 people you better book accommodation early

With some tents holding over 5000 people you better book accommodation early

Remember, if all else fails do as the locals do and pass out under a tree in the grounds, dozens of locals can’t be wrong can they, oh and don’t forget to pack the beer blanket.

2. Start Drinking Now!

The Bräuhaus’ of Munich brew extra strong beer for Oktoberfest , somewhere between the five and eight percent alcohol mark! Combine that with the fact a stein is one litre, many an unsuspecting traveller have found their day or night coming to an early end because of a lack of ‘beer stamina’. On the bright side Munich brewers abide by the 1516 Beer Purity Laws meaning there are no additives or preservatives added to their beers. According to the Bräu Meisters it is the additives and preservatives that give you a hangover! So technically regardless of your beer drinking capacity you should be able to knock back steins all night and wake up fine in the morning!

Start building your drinking fitness before Oktoberfest!

Start building your drinking fitness before Oktoberfest!

Now The Smart Way Round have laid their bodies on the line all in the name of research and we can attest that after downing 10 steins in a night the next morning you don’t feel hungover! Well, you still don’t feel great but your body is expecting to feel worse than you actually do so perhaps the Bräu Meisters are correct. More research must be done on this one we think, but in the mean time start improving you drinking skills.

For some the experience can be all too much

For some the experience can be all too much

3. Bring Loads of Money.

For the first time ever a stein of beer is hitting and in some tents breaking the 10 euro barrier. So a decent session in one of the Oktoberfest beer tents is going to set you back a small fortune (or the price of a dorm bed for a night).

With steins costing around 10 Euro this year it could be an expensive shout

With steins costing around 10 Euro this year it could be an expensive shout

At some stage you are going to have to eat. Once the beer goggles are put on every girl in a dirndl selling giant pretzels is going to look like the most beautiful girl you have ever laid eyes on. The likelihood of numerous pretzel purchases is virtually guaranteed.

Beware the charms of the pretzel girls!

Beware the charms of the pretzel girls!

There is also a good chance you are going to walk out of there with an overpriced souviner but by the end of the night you REALLY are going to need that felt hat with a stuffed Bavarian Lion attached to it.

So our suggestion is call home for emergency funds, raise the credit card limit and just accept you literally are going to flush your cash down the loo at Oktoberfest!

Did I really buy that last night?!

Did I really buy that last night?!

4. Buy Lederhosen or a Dirndl.

Hey you are in Bavaria! All the locals will be sporting their traditional costumes so why not you?

I promise you from experience there is nothing more fun than drinking beer wearing leather shorts that are way too tight but strangely comfortable.

Everyone at Oktoberfest will be wearing it

Everyone at Oktoberfest will be wearing it

However be warned, when that emergency bathroom dash happens or when you get caught at the back of the inevitable enormous line to the gents, for the first time wearer lederhosen can be a nightmare to get undone!

Our tip, practice that emergency dash in your hotel or hostel so when the time comes you are a lederhosen undoing pro!

5. Make a copy of your Passport.

Over 1000 passports get lost annually at the Oktoberfest with the majority of them being Australian! In fact things are so bad the Australian Embassy opens a temporary passport replacement service in the British Consulate in Munich.

Of course it will never happen to all of us will it, but just in case have a few photocopies of your passport and a couple of spare passport photos ready, oh and don’t keep them with your passport!

Finally have a great time, you are partaking in a tradition dating back over 200 years, eat, drink (too much) and try and remember for many this is a once in a lifetime opportunity! Do you have any hints and tips for the Oktoberfest First Timer? Let’s us know and leave a comment below


Most of all enjoy!

Most of all enjoy!

– Dean

Going Our Separate Ways

Wow what an amazing year we have had! It feels like only yesterday we arrived back home after our pic overland adventure from London to Melbourne. So in honour of being backa year we have reposted our blog from our arrival back into London in 2014!


What an amazing journey the last five months have been. From London to Beijing then back to Delhi all overland by train, then some incredible memories through Myanmar, Australia and the Philippines. Sadly however all good things must come to an end.

For ‘The Smart Way Round’ that means it is now time for Natalie and I to go our separate ways.

Wait a minute, didn’t we just celebrate our first wedding anniversary living it large around London? We certainly did, going our separate ways simply refers to heading back to work. For Natalie that means back down to Somerset to start work again in the office for Oasis Overland, while for me, I fly out to Munich to take my first group of Guests around Central Europe for Trafalgar Travel.

Now I know what you are thinking, both working for travel companies and Dean running around Europe having an awesome time, that doesn’t really sound like work does it?! After five months together 24/7 it will certainly not be easy and getting back into a structured routine will take some time.

With us back in Europe The Smart Way Round is also going to change a little. We will be dropping back to one blog a week now, we still have some great stories to share about the London to Melbourne adventure, and Natalie will be posting a summary of all the statistics relating to our journey, but work kind of gets in the way right? We will also be sharing stories from Europe and introducing a new category of our blog called ‘Hometown Tourist’ sniffing out all the cool, quirky and different things to do around London. So really this is not the end of The Smart Way Round but only the beginning!

Exploring new places in London

Exploring new places in London

Thanks again for everyone’s support, comments and love over the last five months, because of you The Smart Way Round has grown bigger than we could have possibly imagined.

– Dean

3 Highlights of Christmas in Vienna

No one quite does Christmas like Germanic Europe. The beautifully illuminated buildings covered in fairy lights, the smell of Glühwein wafting across the still night air and of course the Christmas Markets. After spending a few days working in Vienna this week and enjoying the festive atmosphere I have come to realise one thing.

Vienna is quickly becoming my favourite city in Europe!

Vienna has everything, amazing museums, great restaurants and the Imperial architecture is nothing short of breathtaking. Adding to that, Vienna is rarely seen on travel shows, or celebrity endorsed documentaries and you don’t very often see publications about it featuring in the top ten lists. That means people arrive with no preconception of what to expect. So most visitors are pleasantly shocked by the grandeur of city.  With a relatively small population of 1.7 million, it is a city that once ruled most of Europe.

Vienna in summer is a lovely place to waltz away a few days, but at Christmas the city really comes alive. Christmas markets scattered throughout the historic centre entice visitors with arts, crafts and traditional foods. The Imperial boulevards are covered in decorative lights and the streets are filled with a festive energy. So if Vienna is not on your festive season European travel list, it may be time to change that. Here are our three highlights of a Christmas in Vienna.

1. The Christmas Markets

Dating back to the 1200’s the oldest and largest Christmas Markets are found in front of the Vienna Rathaus or Town Hall. Brimming with well over 100 stalls, the Rathaus Markets are a throng of festive humantity. Christmas baubles of all shapes and sizes, wooden decorations and nativity sets, plus stalls selling sizzling bratwurst and langos (a Hungarian deep fried bread) abound. Glühwein stalls are packed and celebrities read Christmas stories from a stage in the evenings.

The entrance to the Rathaus Christmas Markets

The entrance to the Rathaus Christmas Markets

The Maria Theresa Platz also has Markets now and have been running for the last few years.  Not as large as the Rathaus but still all the same goodies, it is a nice break from the crowds. However there is easy parking for coaches so expect loads of tour groups.

Some of the beautiful decorations on offer in Maria Theresa Platz

Some of the beautiful decorations on offer in Maria Theresa Platz

Surrounding the St Stephen’s Cathedral there are a small number of markets but the setting is lovely. With the Gothic Cathedral towering above, food stalls and more traditional Christmas gifts can be found here, and the lighting is amazing.

The markets of Maria Theresa Platz are surrounded by stunning architecture

The markets of Maria Theresa Platz are surrounded by stunning architecture

However for a real local Markets experience head to the ‘Alt Wiener Christkindlmarkt’. Nestled behind the Burg Theatre situated on Freyung, these are by far our favourites. Fewer crowds and virtually no tourists this is a much more local experience. Prices seem a little cheaper and the stalls have a higher quality of product. Carol singers grace the stage in the evenings, the locals from the surrounding offices stop by for a wine and it is a totally different experience than the chaos of the Rathaus.

Our favourite Christmas Markets in Vienna

2. Stroll along Kornmarkt and Graben

The two streets are the two most elegant streets in the historic Am Hof centre of the city. Enormous fairy light chandeliers decorate the Graben as Christmas tree vendors sell there wares in the last two weeks of advent (Austrian tradition dictates that the Christmas tree is not decorated until Christmas Eve). Kornmarkt is also lit with thousands of fairly lights and add that to the sparkly of jewels, designers and Imperial Antique dealers, it is hard not to be impressed.

The enormous chandilliers of the Graben in the center of town.

The enormous chandilliers of the Graben in the center of town.

3. Enjoy a Mozart and Strauss Recital

Mozart and Strauss recitals are about as common as schnitzel and strudel in Vienna and are performed almost nightly year round. While these concerts are aimed squarely at the visitors and tour groups, Vienna is the home of classical music and their music an important part in the history, culture and identity of the city. We enjoyed a concert by the Wiener Residence Orchestra inside the Vienna Military Museum. As we sat under the ornate golden dome we were amazed at the incredible acoustics and lavish interior of the museum. The Sound of Vienna concert at the Kursalon is also highly recommended.

The Vienna Military Museum was the setting for our incredible Mozart recital

The Vienna Military Museum was the setting for our incredible Mozart recital


I never thought Vienna could be any more beautiful, but that was before I visited in December. It truly is a magical time of the year, and Vienna adds a touch of class to Christmas festivities.

Merry Christmas everyone.

– Dean


6 Amazing Destinations for Christmas this Year

December 1st is officially the start of the Christmas festive period. For many it is a great time to catch up with friends or spend quality time with family. For some, it is time to travel. The weeks around Christmas provide a chance to get away, explore and have a break from normal life.

This year we are doing something a little different, we are spending Christmas at home! Normally around this time of year we have been either on opposite sides of the world, separated by work, or travelling through some far flung land. So this week we are looking at some of our favourite locations where we have spent Christmas.

1. The Holy Lands, Israel and The Palestinian Authority

Why not visit where the stories of the Bible actually took place? Wandering through the ancient cobblestoned alleyways of Jerusalem is an experience you will not forget in a long time. Watching the daily life of three of the world’s biggest religions intermingling also gives you hope that perhaps one day conflict based on different faiths may eventually be a thing of the past.

Looking down over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Visiting the Holy Lands gives you a different perspective at Christmas

Looking down over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Visiting the Holy Lands gives you a different perspective at Christmas

Of course that hope is almost dashed when you take a trip out to Bethlehem to where the Christmas story all took place. Situated in the Palestinian Authority, the journey is one of armed guards, tensions and large barbed wire fences. However, standing in the Church of the Nativity is, much like a visit to Jerusalem, an amazing experience.  Thousands of Christian pilgrims make the journey every year, and even if you are not religious you cannot help but be moved.

The Church of the Nativity in the Palestinian Authority

The Church of the Nativity in the Palestinian Authority

2.Rome and Vatican City, Italy

Thousands of people crowd into St Peters Square in Vatican City every year to celebrate Christmas Mass. The Vatican is an incredible mix of art, religion and politics but should be high on everyone’s travel bucket list. So much of the city of Rome was crafted by the Church over the centuries so a visit to the eternal city is the perfect destination over the festive season.

Looking down towards St Peters and Vatican City from the Bridge of Angels in Rome

Looking down towards St Peters and Vatican City from the Bridge of Angels in Rome

You can walk in the footsteps of the early Christians, former Popes and incredible artists all culminating in a tour through the Vatican Museums. The whole Roman Catholic world turns to St Peters over Christmas, and you can be a part of the celebrations.

The incredibly ornate interior of St Peters Basilica

The incredibly ornate interior of St Peters Basilica

3. In Search of Santa, Lapland Finland

One of Natalie’s favourite Christmas’ abroad was up into Lapland. A trip north of the Arctic Circle puts you deep into Reindeer territory and the perfect place to search for Santa. In fact the “Official” home of the big guy in the red suit is the town of Rovaniemi right on the Arctic Circle in Finland. The Santa Claus Village sells everything from local handicrafts and toys to the finest leather ware made from reindeer (you now know what happens to them if Santa is late!).

When in Lapland, reindeer boots are the height of Christmas fashion!

When in Lapland, reindeer boots are the height of Christmas fashion!

A trip to Lapland also gives you the chance to husky dog sledge or perhaps go in search of the magical northern lights! A true winter wonderland.

4. Somewhere Warm

Growing up in Australia meant for me that Christmas was normally at least warm if not hot. A summer  Christmas is a totally different experience than a winter one and could be the perfect change you are looking for. A walk along the beach, BBQ action and a celebratory drink in shorts and flip flops is about as foreign an experience as you could get for many people from the northern hemisphere, but it sure beats shovelling snow right?

Surf is up for Santa, it could be for you too!

Surf is up for Santa, it could be for you too!

5. In a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas

Why not immerse yourself in a culture where Christmas is not celebrated? Last year we spent the festive period travelling through China, and while many of the markets surprisingly sold Christmas lights, tinsel and inflatable Santa Claus’, Christmas is not really the done thing. In fact the majority of our Christmas Day was spent sitting around a rather isolated train station in Yichang waiting for our evening train.

Some of the markets in China trying to get festive

Some of the markets in China trying to get festive

Natalie spent Christmas in Egypt a few years ago (sadly for work not for fun) and again is a totally different experience than being back home. Imagine staring out over the pyramids which were already considered ancient 2000 years ago when the Christmas story took place!

Natalie at the step pyramid a few Christmas' ago

Natalie at the step pyramid a few Christmas’ ago

6. Home

For many travellers your home city is their exotic destination for Christmas. So instead of getting bogged down with the mad rush of Christmas shopping or the stress of trying to catch up with everyone you have ever possibly known, get out there and enjoy your hometown. From Christmas Markets to local Christmas Carols events, there is bound to be something amazing in your local area to help get you into the Christmas Spirit! Even for experienced travellers there is no place like home…

Where is the most random or exotic place you have spent Christmas? Drop us a line and share your Christmas travel stories.

– Merry Christmas, Dean