06 Jan My 2018 To-Visit List: Cheap & Cheerful
Unless a money tree sprouts inside my flat pretty soon (a girl can dream) there’s no way I can afford a big long-haul trip this year. Instead, my 2018 travel mantra is “cheap and cheerful”, and I’ve decided to master the art of the budget mini-break, and to see some of the less famous parts of Europe too.
My 2018 holiday wishlist consists of places where life is low-cost, people are friendly, and there’s plenty to see and do without spending a fortune.
This year, I’m also determined to take my first ever truly solo trip, i.e. not to visit a friend who lives in another city, but to properly go it alone. I’m scared, but I’m pretty sure that I’m ready.
There’s no way I’ll make it through the whole list in 12 months – unless that money tree gets a move on, anyway – but here are the top destinations I’ll be choosing from when deciding where to go in 2018:
Georgia was never on my radar. And then I read all these posts on my fave travel blog and decided I must go there. Friendly people, beautiful scenery, mountainous hiking trails, wine regions, and hardly any other tourists – what’s not to love? Since this initial burst of love-at-first-read, I’ve also found out that the national food is a kind of pizza-crust-encased cheese lake, which has obviously only egged me on.
I have heard wonderful things about this little Baltic gem. Apart from the fact that it is delightfully cheap, this place also offers some of the most stunning natural sights in Europe, with mountains, canyons and crystal clear waters. Mix that with the lovely architecture, and it’s basically an off-the-beaten-track alternative to Croatia. Sweet.
Am I the last person on earth to visit Lisbon? Possibly. Does that put me off? Not on your custard tarts it doesn’t. I have a sneaking suspicion that I might fall deeply in love with the hilly, picturesque Portuguese capital (not only for the Pasteis de Belem, but they certainly won’t hurt), and feel like this might be the year to have that confirmation.
Ljubljana may be impossible to pronounce, but it sure looks nice. Supposedly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, it’s tiny and safe and also looks like a great base from which to explore Slovenia’s tons of national parks, which all look so fresh and green and beautiful.
Transylvania was on my 2016 wishlist too, but when I only managed to get holidays from work in October, rather than September as I’d originally hoped, we decided to go to Jordan instead (Transylvania would’ve been a bit chilly by then, and Jordan was also in the MUST category). But this region of Romania just. looks. amazing. As you can tell from the rest of my list, I’m keen on hills and walking at the moment, and this is the place for that, plus some amazing Dracula-esque castles are thrown in the mix, just for fun.
And so, we continue the theme of lush green places with lots of lovely hills to stroll across. But I also have another reason for visiting Ireland which is: my citizenship. A happy little loophole meant that an Irish passport saved the day after Brexit, meaning I’m safe to stay living in Italy, regardless of whatever Mrs May is doing in Brussels. But I’ve actually not been to Ireland. Ever. And it’s a bit embarrassing, so think it’s high time I go “back” to my… ahem… roots. Plus, it looks flipping lovely.
Is it me, or do Polish cities seem to all look like cute little gingerbread biscuit boxes? I love the look of all the little colourful squares, every Polish person I’ve ever met has been absolutely lovely, pierogis look yummy, and there’s a ton of history to take in too. The only small problem might be picking where to go first, as I’m still quite undecided between a few towns and cities…
Speaking of picturesque little places… Estonia looks fun, doesn’t it? The photos I’ve seen of Tallinn, with its little coney towers and perfect gingerbread roofs topped with snow make it look like a backdrop to a cute little Disney movie, and I want to see this real-life Disneyland with my own eyes. Also – fun fact – there’s a ferry to Helsinki, meaning hello, affordable Finnish day-trip!
… and a surprise location, which I’ll tell you about soon!
As a Christmas present for S, I’ve booked a weekend away next month, but the destination is still top secret (not for any good reason – it’s just too much fun keeping shtum as he tries to trick me into telling him). All he knows so far is that it’s going to be quite cold, and that it’s not Paris. So… not a whole lot, really. What I will say is that it does fit the cheap and cheerful brief, and I have high hopes for a fun weekend exploring. Watch this space for more news soon..!