Top 10 places to unwind this Spring!

TakeMeAway is the card-swiping travel inspiration app. Available to download for Android and iOS.

The last month has proven one thing - predicting the weather in the UK is a futile exercise. One weekend it’s 20 degrees and the next we’re back to gusting winds and cold temperatures. But never fear, Spring is here! With the new season officially beginning on March 20th and the clocks going forward on March 31st, it is time to get ready for better weather. Except let’s be honest, ‘better’ is a relative term in the UK, meaning the only way to guarantee some sun is to jet overseas.

Sunshine, warmth and escaping the crowds are very much the themes for our latest blog and our Spring break selections are on hand to inspire! The TakeMeAway app now includes the latest temperature for destinations - so you have up to date information for your last minute break and ensuring you grab a tan!  

So without further ado we present our Top 10 Spring Breaks!

The Ibiza season begins on May 1st with some of the world’s most iconic clubs hosting unforgettable opening parties - for electronic and music lovers, this is one event not to be missed! If the party scene doesn’t appeal or if you simply want a quieter break, then take a trip in April. Off peak season is still a great time to fall in love with the island - with a minimum of 20 degrees providing the backdrop to some gorgeous beaches.

 

Nicknamed the ‘Kingdom of Sun’, leaving out Palermo from our list would be totally negligent. The Sicilian capital is noted for its cultural mismatch, but there are several quieter spots within close proximity - so rent a car for maximum flexibility. Mondello, a former fishing village is a must, especially in April as you’re still outside of tourist season. Lined with fabulous cafes and restaurants it is a perfect place to unwind. Also check out Capo Gallo, a nature reserve and Addaura.

 

TripAdvisor ranks Limassol third in their up and coming destinations around the world, and we have to agree - there is a lot to do in the south of Cyprus. You have ruins such as Kourion, Molos promenade full of entertainment and Akti Olympion beach just to name a few things in close proximity of the city. Driving out into the Troodos mountain range rewards you with some pretty villages for you to explore. Finally food - get to grips with the cuisine in the local tavernas and taste juicy olives, freshly made hummus and succulent seafood. What more do you want from a Spring Break?

 

One of our newly added destinations, Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands. Frankly we have to apologise for not adding the island into our app sooner! But we’ve rectified our mistake just in time for Spring where things start heating up! As a relatively mountainous island, it is an ideal place to do some hiking. You absolutely must do the Samaria Gorge hike as you pass through an incredible gorge - an early start is required for the 18km hike which ends at the Agia Roumeli beach, but you will not regret it!

 

We selected Valletta in our Carnival list - primarily because the weather is never that terrible on Malta. And as the months roll on, it gets better and better. Like our other choices, we’re recommending avoiding the city - hire a car and head to one of the many beaches outside of town. Golden Bay is our pick of the bunch, with lots of amenities. If it’s a bit too busy, a short drive to Għajn Tuffieħa will give you a more secluded spot to lounge and relax!

 

Another new destination, Faro lies in the south of Portugal and is your gateway to the Algarve. With a picture perfect coastline full of little caves and grottos this is a great spot for some hiking, lounging on impressive beaches or try some surfing. We suggest hiring a car from Faro and base yourself in one of the towns littered along the coast such as Portimao and Lagos. Go explore!

 

Did you know that Madeira is actually built on top of a massive volcano? The volcano rises nearly 6km from the Atlantic Ocean floor with the highest point, Ruivo peaking at 1862m above sea level. All this means is that Madeira is a great place for nature lovers. When you’re tired from all the hiking, treat yourself to a glass of the famous wines and sampling some of the freshest tuna. Delicious!

 

If you’re willing to fly slightly further East, head to Turkey and you start getting proper warm weather! We’re picking Antalya from our Turkish destinations because of the gorgeous setting on the Anatolian coast. Though it can get busy in tourist season, visiting off-peak (like some of our other picks) can be extremely rewarding. There are many resorts available if you want some beach time or head to the Lycian Trail for hiking. Olympos, an old Lycian city is not too far from Antalya and you can see the famous ‘fire rocks’ - natural gas vents that are constantly burning….

 

When you mention Morocco, Marrakech gets all the attention. The souks, hustle and bustle are an experience in itself, but we need a more chilled out place for our Spring Break list. Sitting on the coast, Essaouira - which means ‘little picture’ in Arabic, is the perfect laid back alternative to Marrakech. The city is actually a great place for windsurfing due to a strong the coastal wind. Don’t let that put you off however, you will still have a fab time meandering the souks and boutiques. Essaouira has also become a bit of a creative and artistic hub, so go and check out one of the many art galleries in town!

 

If you need more sand than mountains, then the Spanish archipelago 400km south of Madeira has some of the best natural beaches for you to stretch, unwind and relax. The Maspalomas area on Gran Canaria is where most of the resorts are located. We recommend visiting the lovely dunes but there is a lot to do in Las Palmas (as pictured) - a great town to hang out in!

Fancy being in one of the above destinations? Then head over to the app stores and download TakeMeAway today to discover over 100 places to be for the weekend. Available for Android and iOS! And finally - we'd love to hear your Spring break stories - share them with us on Instagram and we'll feature them

Happy travelling!

 


Fancy a street party? Carnival is here!

TakeMeAway is the card-swiping travel inspiration app – available to download for Android and iOS.

I remember first visiting the Notting Hill Carnival some years ago and being simply blown away by the vibrancy and celebration of Black and West Indian Culture. It is one of the largest street festivals in the world with over a million attendees and I came away with the thought that we really do like a good street party!

The roots of Carnival run much older than Notting Hill (which first started in 1966) and we at TakeMeAway discovered that it remains a bit of an unknown quantity in the UK. So here we are doing are duty and giving give you the lowdown with our 5 easy pointers. The bottom line? There are some awesome parties out there….

The elaborate floats as seen at Mardi Gras

1. What is it all about?

Carnival is the festival season within Christian tradition that takes place before Lent. We’re basically talking about street parties! Expect lots of entertainments, parades and circuses. Most involve costumes and masks and being the precursor to Lent, people tend to indulge in food and drink. Any excuse is welcome!

2. When does it take place…..now!

If you’re not brushed up with your Christian calendar, Lent officially begins on 6th March in 2019. A lot of cities around the world are gearing up for some epic parties that will take place over the coming weeks!

The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is the world's biggest.

3. Some fun facts!

Though Carnival is associated with Christianity, it likely has evolved from Medieval local traditions that the Church merged with religious customs. The first Carnival parade in the world took place in Cologne, Germany in 1823. However the biggest Carnival takes place in Rio de Janeiro with 2 million visitors per day over the week. The Rio traditions date back to 1723. 

4. It is extremely popular in Europe

All the big parties coincide with 5th March (Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day). However expect a lot of events to happen on the weekend just preceding - especially in Europe where Carnival is super popular. So there is no need to travel to Rio or New Orleans for Mardi Gras - a quick hop to mainland Europe for a weekend break will give you the full flavour of Carnival!

5. We pick out our favourites!

Dance the night away in Cologne beneath this beautiful backdrop

Cologne - Germany’s tradition dates back to the 1200s and Carnival is celebrated up and down the country with each region having their own uniqueness. Cologne is the biggest and we think the most accessible as well. You have all the street parties and parades that make Carnival what it is so there is no risk on missing any exciting stuff. The Carnival kicks off properly on the Thursday before Shrove Tuesday (28th February) with 'Altweiber' where women cut the ties of men before the revelry start and continues until Monday night. The 'Rosenmontag' parade takes place on the Monday which is also a holiday for the city. The timings are perfect for a weekend away!  

The Patra bridge is not exactly the worst backdrop for Carnival....

Patras - Greece’s primary event is also one of the biggest Carnival’s in Europe. The parties hit their peak on the weekend before Shrove Tuesday with epic floats taking centre stage during the parades. The weekend ends with the burning of the ‘Carnival King’ by the harbour which extends throughout the night on Sunday with some amazing fireworks. Prepared to be dazzled!

Make sure your mask is as cool as this!

Venice - Italy’s most famous is iconic due to the Venetian Masks which are donned through the festive period. If you decide to go, getting an elaborate mask is a must. Ensure it is decorated with gold leaf, feathers and gemstones to stand out from the crowd!

You can thank us later for our Valletta recommendation...

Valletta - fancy some nicer weather for the festivities? Then Malta is your answer! It helps that the country has a Carnival tradition that dates back to the 16th Century, so expect to dress up, wear your masks and partake in street parties and balls. A great weekend away awaits!

Hopefully this guide has given you a few inspirations for a getaway this February. Best get booking that weekend break with our app! 

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7 Last Minute Valentine Breaks!

TakeMeAway is the card-swiping travel inspiration app – available to download for Android and iOS.

Pssst, I need to remind you about something. It is Valentine's Day next week(!).

Now I’m not insinuating that you may have forgotten about it, but you know, it’s always worth giving a nudge ‘just in case’ it has slipped your memory or if you still haven’t got anything sorted! This year is an excellent year for it too - it falls on a Thursday, meaning perfect for a trip away. So take this opportunity to create a memorable long weekend break with your loved one!

Now I know this is all last minute, but hey this is how we at TakeMeAway operate - offering great last minute destinations within your set budget. There are plenty of great destinations to discover in our app too, ensuring you can plan and book flights and hotels effortlessly. 

Yesterday, we punched in a weekend for two in our app with a combined maximum budget of £500 (travelling from London) and got the following cities you could visit. So download TakeMeAway for Android and iOS and get swiping!

The Eiffel Tower - the definition of a romantic place to be?

Paris for under £400 - is there really a better place for Valentines? We still have one available hotel in our app, maybe it could be you….

The prettiness of this city cannot be denied!

Stockholm for under £350 - it may get a bit cold this time of year, but I secretly love the cold. I enjoy wearing lots of warm clothes as I walk and discover the city before ending the day with a cup of tea in front of a fireplace. Lovely!

A cosy horse-drawn trip around the city anyone?

Krakow for under £350 - we’ve never featured Krakow before and finally rectifying that. A beautiful city and a very reasonable priced city to visit.

The view of yours truly last weekend....

Barcelona and Madrid for under £500 - There is sun in Spain. You remember what that looks like? That yellow blob in the sky? With temperatures hitting 15 degrees you can easily sit, chill, eat and drink on a terrace. It really is bliss. Trust me I did it a few weeks ago!

Getting artsy on Charles Bridge.

Prague for under £500 - now this may seem expensive but our options in app includes some amazing hotels to treat yourself with. And in such a pretty city as Prague you can be guaranteed a romantic weekend!

Zurich still has plenty to offer if you do not want to ski.

Zurich for £500 - we featured Zurich in our last blog about winter sports because there is some epic snow falling in the Alps at the moment. For the more adventure orientated couples, Zurich is a great place to base yourself and get a few days of excellent powder. Snow like this is not always guaranteed so why not catch it while you can!

These cities are available in app right now for getting away next weekend over Valentine’s Day! It is also worth remembering, upping your budget will get you even more luxurious hotel and apartment options plus more destination choices. Download the app today for Android and iOS.

Let us know your Valentine travel plans on IG as well - we’ll try and feature as many as possible!

Have a beautiful Valentine's Day!


The top 10 ski breaks for 2019!

TakeMeAway is the card-swiping travel inspiration app - available to download for Android and iOS.

Hello and welcome to our first blog post of 2019. On behalf of the TakeMeAway team, we wish you a happy new year and hope all your travel adventures are fulfilled this year!

The first such adventure on my wishlist is an epic winter sport holiday. Living in the big city, I cherish the fleeting moments when I can venture out to the mountains. The idea of waking up to a bright sunny morning after a nightfall of fresh snow is one of those delightful moments I yearn for whenever I go skiing (or snowboarding!). I am however not always the most organised individual and more importantly on a spending budget (a 2019 New Years resolution….), so I have to scramble and hunt down a last minute deal for my mountain escape!

Thankfully Europe has such a diverse amount of destinations for winter sports, that there are most certainly deals to be had. To showcase the breadth of opportunities, our huge list covers 10 cities linking to 15 ski areas! Most resorts are within a couple of hours drive from the airport - to ensure you maximise your time on the slopes.

We hope you enjoy chasing the freshest powder in Europe this season. All the destinations are available in the TakeMeAway app (forAndroid and iOS) - simply set your budget and swipe to see which of the following destinations fit your budget. You will be surprised!

 

The Alps loom in the background...

The newest destination in our app, Grenoble is the gateway to some fantastic skiing in the French Alps. Many resorts are accessible within a couple of hours of the airport ensuring you do not waste precious time travelling. Our pick is Alpe d’Huez (1.5 hr drive from Grenoble airport) which includes possibly the longest black run in the world 'La Sarenne'; at 16km long it is not for the faint hearted….

 

Enjoy the views of Mont Blanc as you ski!

Geneva is one of our favourite weekend break destinations because there is so much to do in and around the city. But we’re going to recommend leaving the city (and country!) immediately after landing and head straight to France and Chamonix. If you do not want to hire a car, there are many transfers available when you land at the airport.

What makes Chamonix so great is it has the feel of a proper town but with the idyllic setting of a ski resort (including views of Mont Blanc). With a cluster of ski areas (and excellent buses to get you to them) there is something for all level of skiers!

 

The Swiss Alps are simply breathtaking!

French ski resorts are undoubtedly popular and provide amazing skiing options, but they can be a bit crowded. Switzerland will offer you something different and Zurich has over 10 ski areas within 90 minutes of the city. Set a base in Zurich, hire a car (or even use public transport) and go explore! Flumserberg is only an hour away and even has a night slope for those wanting to try some night time skiing!

 

One of the many ski areas close to Salzburg

Austrian ski resorts tend to be cheaper than their French counterparts while still  offering classic Alpine skiing. Salzburg is also a great base to explore the various ski areas around the city - most are accessible within a few hours. Depending on how long you are going for, it maybe worth checking out Salzburg Superski Card which also gives you flexibility and access to the resorts in the province including the more famous resorts such as Zell am See, Saalbach and Obertauern.

 

Mayrhofen - for the skiers who need some apres to go along with their skiing

No list is complete without a few resorts where the focus is just as much on the ‘après’ as it is on skiing! Whether it is a piste side cafe or winding down with a few drinks after a hard day on the slopes, the Austrians definitely know how to party! There are two excellent examples close to Innsbruck - Mayrhofen and St Anton. Really we can’t pick them apart - with party options for everyone. If you do visit St Anton, be sure to stop by the legendary Krazy Kangaruh and Mooserwirt to enjoy some dancing on tables in ski boots!

 

The iconic Matterhorn in all its glory!

Turin is another new destination in the TakeMeAway app! Nearby Cervinia is the highest pisted ski area in Europe meaning you are pretty much guaranteed snow. Sharing the Matterhorn massif with Zermatt (on the Swiss side), you have some of the best scenery in Europe. In addition you have great pistes for all levels as well as the famous Italian ski hospitality when you need to unwind. If the weather holds it is possible to link to Zermatt and Valtournenche.

 

Can someone take me there?

We cannot mention Italy and not feature The Dolomites! The resort we recommend is Cortina d'Ampezzo (2 hours from the airports near Venice) - also known as the ‘Queen of the Dolomites’. I enjoy my landscapes, and skiing on the slopes around Cortina is simply jaw dropping. Drink in nature at its finest! If you fancy something a bit different, try some bobsleigh on the old Olympic track in town….

 

Try skiing in Eastern Europe for something a bit different!

Bulgaria might not be the first place you think of for skiing, but the resort of Bansko is quietly building a reputation due to the combination of great snow and being quite a bit cheaper than the Alps. The top of the ski area may only be 2600m, but the cold conditions mean you get some thick, lush snow Situated only 90 minutes from Sofia, getting to Bansko is dead easy too. Our only advice - wrap up warm!

 

Make sure you take a detour and visit the home of Dracula!

Romania is home to some amazing mountains. Yours truly was fortunate to do some hiking and exploring over the summer. Whilst there I discovered that the country also has a vibrant skiing scene during the winter months. Brasov is the most popular resort being only 2 hours from Bucharest. There are a few smaller resorts close by including Predeal. Don’t forget to visit Bran’s Castle (the home of Dracula) as well!  

 

Go cross country touring through the idyllic forests near Oslo for the weekend.

Not everyone is a fan of downhill skiing and we’ve been guilty of neglecting the cross country skiers amongst you with this list. So our last feature is the king of cross country destinations, Oslo! Why not give it a go this winter and learn why our Scandinavian cousins are totally made for it! With more than 2,600 km (1,600 miles) of prepared cross-country ski trails in the forests of Oslo alone you won’t get bored exploring. Totally crazy and you can easily go on a weekend touring adventure while stopping off at cabins along the way. Epic!

We hope you have enjoyed this feature. Let us know in the Facebook comments how many of the ski areas you've visited as well as your other favourite snow adventures! Stay up to date with all our latest developments through our Instagram!

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7 Christmas traditions from around the world

TakeMeAway is available to download for Android and iOS.

I love eating. There I said it. I’m not ashamed to admit that Christmas is the perfect excuse to indulge in all those festive treats. And turkey. With lots of gravy. Delicious!

However the British spread is just one possibility for Christmas. Different cultures around Europe do things rather differently and we decided to explore this idea. Here’s our top 7 eating traditions that will get your juices flowing over the holidays! If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could even take a last minute weekend break to these awesome places for that authentic taste. Our 7th pick may not be European, but it does illustrate the diversity point rather well. Besides we found it rather bizarre!

Before we dive in, a quick shoutout to our app - TakeMeAway. TakeMeAway inspires your next weekend break, all within your budget. All the destinations (well apart from number 7….) are available in-app. It's available to download for both iOS and Android.

1. Smörgåsbords, Stockholm

Picturesque Stockholm is beautiful all year round

Smörgåsbords are quite the Scandinavian tradition. Christmas allows the Swedes to ramp up their Smörgåsbord game with a special table called julbord (Christmas buffet). First thing to note is the meal is normally eaten on Christmas Eve and it’s a big meal - it’s about maximising the number of items on the table as possible. Therefore you’ll need all your family and friends to help you devour the meal!

Seafood is just one part of this Swedish feast

The food itself comprises of pickled herring, cured and smoked seafood and fish, cold meats - especially the julskinka (Christmas ham), maybe some reindeer, pate and terrine. And that is only the ‘cold’ course! The hot stuff includes meatballs, ribs, sausages and spiced cabbage. Finally desserts, with the pick of the bunch being the risgrynsgröt (rice porridge). Your Christmas Day hangover cure is also taken care of with the leftovers….

Flights from London to Stockholm are available from £60 return in December.

2. Pepernoten/kruidnoten, Amsterdam

Addictive goodness!

Yours truly has spent many years living in the Netherlands and so fond memories very much exist with the country. The Dutch do most of their gift giving on the 5th December to celebrate Sinterklaas (pub quiz fact - Santa Claus is actually derived from the Dutch….) and there are a few confectionary items that are eaten around the time.

Giving chocolate letters to friends and family is another popular sweet treat

One of these items is pepernoten (or kruidnoten, depending on how pedantic you are….). These small rounded biscuits of absolute joy are insanely addictive and I’ve spent afternoons and evening devouring these spiced delights. The biscuits date back to the 1600-1700s but recent innovations include covering them in chocolate and as well as an entire concept around pimping up pepernoten - making them even more addictive. What’s made it worse is that supermarkets are beginning to sell them as early as end September, so factor in putting on a few extra pounds….

I know it’s after 5th Dec, but don’t worry you can still get your pepernoten fix throughout December. Flights from London are available from £80 return.

3. Marzipan, Madrid

Anyone else a fan of these almond sweets?

Sticking with the sweet theme, we go to Spain where Marzipan is another popular Christmas sweet. I love almonds and this sugary treat is made from ground almonds and formed into various shapes. The best best marzipan is arguably made in Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a small historic town which has been influenced by many cultures and is only an hour away from Madrid. Having visited Toledo myself, it’s quite a picturesque place.

Flights to Madrid can be had from £100 return from London.

4. Reibekuchen, Bonn

The perfect accompaniment while browsing Christmas markets!

These literally translate into English as potato fritters/cakes. Our last blog post covered Christmas markets (links) and these are a staple at the German markets in particular. Potato cakes are so tasty because of their versatility. You can do them as a savoury dish served up with sour cream or cottage cheese; or as is traditionally done on the markets, with applesauce and rye bread. Moorish it maybe, but a great warm comfort food for a cold December when shopping for gifts.

Reibekuchen is more traditional to Rhineland in West Germany, so we think Bonn is a great break this month. You can fly there via Cologne from £130 return.

5. Natale feast, Rome

All feasts have to begin somewhere.....

It probably doesn’t come as a great surprise that the Italian way of eating at Christmas is an absolute epic. Let’s first start with Christmas Eve dinner - a lighter meal with no meat but a lot of seafood. The Italian-Americans turbo charge this idea with the ‘Feast of Seven Fishes’ with even more seafood and fish.

Having slept off and digested the night before, we get to the Natale feast proper for Christmas Day. Prepare to eat for hours. And hours. It’s a hard life really eating antipasto, pastas and tons of meat. The key must haves include pasta (of course), which are prepared differently depending on the region. Pasta is normally baked in central and southern Italy and filled in the north such as the ‘Tortellini in Brodo’ stuffed with Bolognese. The latter in particular is a favourite of Team TakeMeAway with a meaty filling with lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a velvety broth for the little goodnesses to sit in. It remind me, I need to find an Italian family to adopt me….

Bologna where the Tortellini in Brodo are popular has an airport which can be a bit expensive. We suggest flying to Florence (flights from £120 return) and taking the short train ride up.

6. The Christmas Carp, Bratislava

Did you know this cute Japanese carp isn't actually that tasty compared to its 'regular' cousin?

One thing I’ve noticed is fish being more popular than I realised at Christmas time. Slovakia is a great example though the tradition there is slightly eclectic. Let’s start with a week before Christmas. Tubs with cold water start popping up all over the country filled with carp. The carp is a bottom feeder, so there is a rationale behind putting them in the cold water - it helps to flush the fish’s digestive system.

A couple of days before Christmas, you select a live carp, take it home and put it in your bathtub until Christmas Eve, when you gut the fish and prepare it for Christmas Lunch. The whole family normally gets involved, kids may go as far as naming their carp! Nowadays most buy their carp dead from the fishmonger (boo!). To prepare, the fish is sliced, breaded and fried served with a cabbage soup and a potato salad. The Slovaks had me sold at deep fried fish!

If you fancy seeing the quirky tubs, you can get to Bratislava from £105 return from London

7. KFC ‘Christmas Chicken’, Tokyo

Fried chicken or turkey? Tough life choices....

This is not a joke. You read that right. KFC for your Christmas lunch! This may seem bizarre but it is the product of genius marketing from Kentucky Fried Chicken. In the early 70s KFC discovered that expats were going to their fast food chains on Christmas as they were unable to source a turkey in Tokyo. Not being a Christian country, Japan never really got into the Christmas spirit. Seizing on this opportunity, KFC launched the ‘Christmas Chicken’ marketing campaign in 1974.

It has become so popular in modern Japan, that families across all parts of society see KFC as a Christmas must. One has to place their orders weeks before the 25th December to ensure they have a spot saved in their local KFC. Getting into the Christmas spirit can truly span different cultures!

Sadly there are no cheap flights to Tokyo, with the cheapest starting from £515 return. If deep frying that turkey goes horribly wrong (if someone does try this, please let me know how it goes), you probably could pop into your local KFC to rescue the day. Preorders not required!

I hope you enjoyed this article! Our mission is to give you inspiration for you next weekend break. And please let us know your Christmas tradition on Facebook and Instagram. We hope you enjoy eating your way through December. Merry Christmas!

TakeMeAway is available to download for Android and iOS.


Europe's top 10 Christmas markets

TakeMeAway is available to download for Android and iOS.

The run up to Christmas should get everyone brimming with excitement. It is a chance to brighten up those gloomy winter nights as the end of the year approaches. One could easily argue that it’s never too early to get the party started - though admittedly playing your festive favourites from September may be a bit much for some! However we are in November now and with Christmas lights being turned on up and down the country, we can officially get into the festive spirit!

So what are the options for getting into the festive mood? One could begin ticking off shopping lists before the chaos and mad panic begins a week before the holidays. Another option is to go see some fireworks (anyone else notice they don’t seem to stop after the 5th November?). However the firm favourite has to be enjoying Christmas markets.

If you are not familiar with Christmas markets, you are in for a treat! A German tradition dating back to the 14th or 15th Century, it was the centre of a city, a chance to visit a ‘Nativity Scene’ as well as eating seasonal treats and keeping warm by sipping mulled wine.

As you have probably deduced, we’re big fans at TakeMeAway and love the atmosphere around Christmas markets. Over the years the concept has spread further than the Germanic speaking countries and now various countries have put their own cultural spin on the experience. Visiting a market is also a great way to discover a new city and is a perfect weekend break.

We’re going to cover 10 of the best markets in Europe; most are beginning on the 26-28th November and run all the way up to Christmas. So now is the perfect time to set your budget, swipe through TakeMeAway and see which of the following cities you could be in throughout the festive season (a shameless plug for our app which can be downloaded for Android and iOS).

Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg

Our list begins with one of the most traditional markets, the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg. The old town is taken over in a thematic gold colour and must do’s include eating the famous gingerbread biscuits as well as a great place to find those stocking filler gift from all around the world.

Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom, Cologne

Cologne’s biggest and glitziest market is set under the famous Cathedral. Along with a massive tree and various handmade gifts, the local food is exceptional and of course do not forget filling up on gluhwein!

Vienna

Vienna was one of our top autumn destinations and it is no surprise that it features again. Street markets take over the city covering all the main squares. The smell of baking and mulled wine keeps your senses alive as you explore and search for trinkets. The market  backdrops on City Hall Square (featured in our picture) is a beautiful introduction to what Vienna offers.

Innsbruck

Innsbruck is the newest addition to the TakeMeAway app. Set against the backdrop of the Alps, it is a rather pretty sight, especially in Christmas market season. From the old town to the market square, wine and hot punch keep you going as you search for gifts. Our tip - visit Maria-Theresien-Straße, illuminated by modern light including the large mountain crystal towers over the boulevard  You must also take a Funicular up into the Alps and gaze over this gorgeous city!

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Tivoli was this author’s first encounter with a non German Christmas market and in many ways the Danish have managed to outdo the traditionalists. Set in a theme park (with over 20 rides no less), come say hello to Santa and wander through some stunningly decorated gardens. The market is open from now all the way to Christmas so you have maximum flexibility to visit.

Trondheim

Taking place between the 7-19 December, one of our favourite winter breaks also plays hosts to a very traditional market. What makes it even more interesting is the 100+ shows ranging from concerts to theatre performances. And if the weather is cooperating, hire a sleigh and enjoy the snow…..

Bruges

Picture perfect all year round, Bruges’ town square contains a huge ice skating rink in the middle. When in Belgium we do like to eat - with plenty of stalls making fresh waffles and indulgent hot chocolate to stave off the cold. Yum!

Natal e na Fil market, Lisbon

Our list takes us to slightly warmer climates beginning with Lisbon. Not necessarily the biggest market on our list, Lisbon compensates with enthusiasm and bringing a southern flair to proceedings. Note the dates for the market which are between 5-9 Dec.

Mercados Navideño, Sevilla

Sevilla has four Christmas markets. Four! So running out of things to do on a weekend break is highly unlikely. We recommend starting at the Metropol Parasol and walking through to Alameda de Hércules, one of the hip districts in Sevilla. Oh don’t forget to visit the Gran Mercado de Navidad Nervión too, which is one of the best shopping areas in the city.

Fiera di Natale, Bologna

Italy has also embraced the Christmas markets spirit and we’ve selected Bologna out of the many options the country has to offer. Set next to the San Pietro Cathedral the market is teeming with gift ideas and handicrafts. Bologna itself should be explored on foot as you wander the medieval centre. It is also a university city with a young vibrant scene, so the cafe and bar scene is quite excellent.

Hopefully this list has given you some inspiration to make a Christmas market the focal point for your next weekend break. And if you fancy exploring a market outside of Germany, we’ve got that covered too!

TakeMeAway has a destination for you whatever your budget. Download our app, choose your weekend and how much you want to spend and swipe to find a weekend break this winter.

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Lets go to Basel!

To kick off Autumn we shared out top destinations to getaway to. If you want to read the full list, have a look here - Autumn is in the air! So download TakeMeAway (download for iOS and Android) set your budget and get swiping!

Today we're discovering Basel - Switzerland’s third biggest city. Built between and on top of two hills with springs filling 314 fountains across the city, Basel ensures your thirst is quenched anytime with fresh mountain water. The city of art, culture, music and life will offer you more delight than you could discover in just a weekend, but here are our top tips for this autumn.

Getting started

To get to know Basel, we recommend reading Dannielle’s blog While I’m Young (https://www.whileimyoung.com/basel-switzerland-things-to-do/) - it is a fantastic starting point to get acquainted with the city! You can follow her adventures on her excellent Instagram too - https://www.instagram.com/danniellelily/?hl=en

Exploring the rolling hills

Autumn is the season to see the beauty of nature, and there’s hardly a better country in Europe to see foliage than Switzerland. Explore the 'Basler' countryside easily just a quick ride out of the city!

Take the Tram 10 towards Rodersdorf and get off at Leyman station to see the glories of the trees changing colours this autumn.

Souvenirs worth buying

Want to take some inspiration of your trip back home? Check out Interior Butik (https://www.instagram.com/interior_butik/), a cute little shop that will take your Scandanavian spirit away. Hidden all the way at the top of the Old Town on Nadelberg, this cute little shop is the the ultimate spot to find all the wonderful Nordic things you dream of bringing into your home.

I got the jailhouse blues

Finally, end your trip to Basel in the secret Styx Bar (https://www.instagram.com/styx_bar/?hl=enwhere you can sip away some lovely cocktails while listening to the Blues being played by Swiss musicians.  We reckon this gives you the final touch to an unforgettable weekend!

Basel is one of TakeMeAway's featured cities - set your budget, swipe and select your weekend package. Available for iOS and Android


Autumn is in the air!

We hope you've had an amazing summer! We'll be sharing some of summer stories over the coming weeks - the first part in our series can be found via this link - https://blog.takemeaway.io/discovering-hungary-part-1-budapest/; but for now we want to look ahead to the amazing places you could be this Autumn.

September marks 'back to work' and at the same time the leaves begin to turn and the hours of  sunlight starts dwindling. It all adds up to making us all feel a little glum. We think Autumn is a great time to discover new places and brighten up your mood! We've chosen 6 destinations we think will fit your budget. So download TakeMeAway (download for iOS and Android) and get swiping!

Bordeaux

Bordeaux has one million inhabitants in its metropolitan area. After years of neglect, the former wet docks are the country's new hot spot, with a number of cafés, gardens, and museums springing up all the time. Apparently the wine is alright too....

Brussels

The capital of Europe may not be so popular, politically but that's no excuse not to visit!  It is an ever-changing city which grows to accept and enjoy every culture that settles there, turning it from a city into a home away from home.

Geneva

The gateway to the Alps is also a rather pretty city in its own right. People may think the city of diplomacy is a bit boring but the gorgeous lake, fantastic food and bohemian neighbourhoods make this a must visit city!

Bonn

Did you know that Beethoven was from Bonn? Yours truly certainly didn't and it is now firmly on my 'go to' list. One of Germany's oldest cities is full of history as well as being rather hip with a lively cafe and bar culture. And if that isn't enough, it's a great base to explore the Rhine and Eifel regions.

Vienna

Vienna is top of my list for this Autumn and I reckon it should be yours too! It's got all the Imperialistic grandeur from a bygone era and is still a leading city for arts and culture. What more could you ask for in a weekend getaway?

Basel

The city could be described as a bit eccentric, eclectic with a potential identity crisis. That's understandable when you border both Germany and France! We think it gives rise to a culture that is just asking to be explored. The Museum of Fine Arts is just one of the standout places to visit in this fine city.

Manchester

Manchester is our wildcard destination and we reckon under appreciated. The city's may be best known for its association with football, but there is a lively underbelly just waiting to be discovered. The city has had a particular influence on music with acts such as Oasis, The Smiths, Simply Red, The 1975 and The Charlatans all hailing from the 'Capital in the North'. So why not spend a weekend discovering the UK's second most populous city?

So download TakeMeAway, start swiping and book your next getaway, today.

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Discovering Hungary - Lake Balaton

Hi everyone! It has been some time since I last posted, unfortunately internet quality was a bit unstable in the countries I was travelling in, meaning uploading pictures proved to be problematic.  I am finally back home and over the coming weeks I’ll be blogging my journey. Suffice to say I have had an amazing summer travelling from Hungary all the way to Azerbaijan and I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you! For those new and wanting some background on this series of posts, have a read of my previous post - https://blog.takemeaway.io/discovering-hungary-part-1-budapest/

This post is about  Lake Balaton. A few facts about Lake Balaton- it sits a few hours south of Budapest and is a popular tourist destination with beaches, resorts and nearby hiking opportunities. The lake is the largest freshwater lake within Central Europe with a shoreline of 197km.

I decided to visit Keszthely, which is town on the southern part of the lake. The town is close to some hot springs that supposedly have great therapeutic properties. I wasn’t so convinced by the smell - the rotten egg smell from the sulphur wasn’t quite for me; nor willing to pay the exuberant prices to access the ‘spas’. So unfortunately no pictures of the springs. This short series gives you an impression of the lake. I hope you enjoy, Budapest is also an available destination within the TakeMeAway app - who knows maybe your budget will take you there.

About TakeMeAway, the travel app where you set the rules

Planning a weekend getaway can be frustrating. It’s especially annoying going through the whole booking process only to find out the price is much higher than expected. So you either book the more expensive trip or have to rethink your entire plan.TakeMeAway gives you inspiration for your next getaway. And the best part? It’s all within your budget.

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Discovering Hungary - part 1, Budapest

It may not surprise you to know that we enjoy travelling at TakeMeAway - heck it was the travel bug that gave us the inspiration to create the app in the first place! But sometimes travel takes a back seat as we focus on our own job and lives - in this case working on TakeMeAway. We recently relocated the startup to London from Amsterdam (goodbye Netherlands, you will be missed!) but we have to admit, the hustle and bustle is taking some getting used to.

View over the Danube

So for the summer, one of our co-founders, Junaid has decided to escape city life and go exploring parts of Eastern Europe and beyond. Don’t worry - updating and improving TakeMeAway is an ongoing business which we’ll be continuing! Over the summer he’ll be sharing his adventures in various blog posts, which we hope you’ll enjoy!Hi everyone this is Junaid and I’m super excited to share with you my travel stories this summer. When planning this trip, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do nor where exactly I wanted to travel - I did however want to explore the outdoors and do some hiking along the way.

I settled on beginning my journey in Budapest, Hungary. Budapest is bit of a crossroads city, fellow travellers seem to not venture much further east than Budapest when backpacking through Europe - they either turn back west or go south towards the Balkans. I thought it was the perfect starting point for going further east.

A strong Jewish community exists in Budapest

Budapest may have a bit of a notorious association (think stag-dos….) but there is a breadth of sightseeing opportunities and exploration available. Budapest is actually a city of two sides, Buda and Pest divided by the Danube river. You have a lot of the historical sights in Buda while the lively heart of the city sits in Pest. Here I share my photos from Budapest and hope you enjoy them. Next time I’ll post about Lake Balaton, such a breathtaking place!

Chilling on the steps
Not sure anyone gets tired of the views?
Parliament
Some rather important football matches were happening as well....
The new and the old....
The market building was an impressive setting
And the impressive architecture continued throughout the city

About TakeMeAway, the travel app where you set the rules

Planning a weekend getaway can be frustrating. It’s especially annoying going through the whole booking process only to find out the price is much higher than expected. So you either book the more expensive trip or have to rethink your entire plan.

TakeMeAway gives you inspiration for your next getaway. And the best part? It’s all within your budget.

Download for iOS

Download for Android