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48 Hours in Milan

Before travelling to Milan I had heard both negative and positive things about the city. All of these turned out to be true. Milan is a beautiful place, but it is also easy to get overwhelmed by the city and the many tourists.
I am here to help and have put together a review of the biggest sights in Milan and some travel tips, so you will know how to spend your first 48 hours in Milan.

Transport tip: Download the ATM Milano Official App before going. It lets you quickly look up how to get from one point to another and buy tickets for all public transport in Milan. 
If you are flying into Malpensa Airport, check out Trenord. They run an express train 146 times a day, so you can get quickly to and from the city.

Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo is the big square in front of the famous cathedral and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. With an area of 17,000 m2 (183,000 sqft), you would think there would be plenty of space. But as the centre of the city and home to the two most famous landmarks, this is a popular spot. So make sure to get here early to beat the crowds.
Alternatively, stop by on your way home at night. There are still many people, but instead of street salesmen and tourists fighting for the best place to take a picture, the square is calmer and you will have time to really enjoy its beauty.

When I first arrived in Milan, we took the metro straight to the Piazza del Duomo because I was told that this was the best place to start exploring the city.
We walked up the stairs from the underground and came up literally in the middle of the square. To be honest. my first impression wasn't great. The cathedral and the surrounding buildings are very beautiful, but even visiting in January, this place was too crowded! (I can't even imagine how it must be in the summer)

You could barely make it up the stairs past people taking pictures or feeding the many pigeons. And it was filled with more or less creepy men trying to "give" you flowers or food for the pigeons. I took a few pictures but quickly left the square, as it was simply not a fun place to be.

The following day, I decided to give this place a second chance. I came back earlier in the day and gave myself time to really walk around and look at the many buildings. But the best decision I made in Milan was buying the ticket to the cathedral and walking up to the rooftop.
The square looks so beautiful from the top and since you are away from all the stress on the ground, you have time to really enjoy this beautiful place.

Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral)

The Duomo di Milano was completed in 1965. It took nearly six centuries to complete and is currently the largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world.
It is by far the most beautiful cathedral I have ever seen and it is definitely a must when in Milan. 
Do yourself a favour and buy the Duomo Pass (16 Euro with lift or 12 Euro with stairs) which gives you access to the inside of the cathedral, a museum, an archaeological area, the San Gottardo Church, and the rooftop. 

Walking to the rooftop of this beautiful building was one of my favourite things I have done in a while. 
When the sun hits the white marble bricks the most amazing lighting is cast, so definitely make time to see the rooftop and the city from above.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is one of the most stunning buildings I have ever been in. It looks like a fancy museum or a government building, but it is actually the world's oldest active shopping mall. It was built between 1865 and 1877, and make sure to look up when you enter the building, as the roof is made of glass!

It is located right next to the cathedral, so it is equally crowded at most times. Make sure to get here early, too, if you want to really be able to enjoy the architecture. 

Porta Sempione (Sempione Gate)

The Porta Sempione is the city gate of Milan. The names refer both to the gate and to the surrounding district. The arch is also referred to as Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace).
At first sight, it kinda looks like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but they are also built around the same time period. 

Being the gate to the city, it also marks the end of the more touristy area. If you walk towards the city centre, there is a beautiful park and the Sforza Castle, and if you walk the opposite way it quickly turns into big roads and residential areas. 

Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle)

The Castello Sforzesco was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification.
You can buy a ticket for €5.00 to enter the castle and museum, or you can just walk around it. 

To be honest, I was very underwhelmed when visiting, but I also grew up in a country filled with castles, so it does take a lot to impress me.
I didn't go inside, so that might be cool, but if you aren't interested in the museum, I would just make this a quick stop and move on to some of the other things Milan has to offer.

Naviglio Grande

A place I would much rather have spent more time in is the Naviglio neighbourhood. It is an up-and-coming neighbourhood named after the Naviglio Grande canal where you can find small shops and excellent restaurants serving authentic Italian food.
I visited early in the morning while people were still setting up their shops and restaurants and the vibe was just so different from the very touristy Piazza del Duomo I had visited the day before.
If I'd had more time in the city, I could have walked around these colourful streets all day long!

During the summer months, you can even take an hour-long boat tour along the famous canal with boats departing every hour from Alzaia Naviglio Grande.

Basilica di San Lorenzo and Colonne di San Lorenzo

The Basilica of San Lorenzo is located very close to the canals, so while you are walking around Naviglio Grande, swing by this old church which is definitely worth a visit. It was completed in the 18th century and is one of the oldest churches in Milan.

Right in front of the church is a group of ancient Roman ruins called Colonne di San Lorenzo. The church, the columns, and the surrounding colourful buildings all-in-all make a really cool little area, where you can sit down and relax before continuing your walk around the city. 

These were some of the biggest sights and areas I had time to visit while I was in Milan. I definitely ended up having a great time, and being really font of the city even though my first impression wasn't great. 
If I'd had more time to explore I would have visited these 3 places too:

  • Teatro alla Scala: Milan's opera house La Scala looks absolutely stunning inside, so if you can make time definitely see if you can get in there. 
  • Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest): The two residential buildings are located a little outside of the city centre, but the view of these green buildings must be amazing in the summer. 
  • Torre Branca: A fellow travel blogger that lived in Milan suggested that I should go to the Torre Branca. From the top of the tower is a panoramic view of the entire city and even the Alpes on a clear day. Unfortunately, it was closed the day I decided to go, so check the opening times, and hopefully you will get to experience the view.

I really hope you enjoyed these reviews and tips from Milan. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if I missed something. 🙂 
Thank you for reading!

GemGem

Camera equipment used: FujiX100T, Canon PowerShot G7 Mark, iPhone 7

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Milan is a beautiful place, but it is also easy to get overwhelmed by the city and the many tourists. I am here to help and have put together a review of the biggest sights in Milan and some travel tips, so you will know how to spend your first 48 hours in Milan.   Milan is a beautiful place, but it is also easy to get overwhelmed by the city and the many tourists. I am here to help and have put together a review of the biggest sights in Milan and some travel tips, so you will know how to spend your first 48 hours in Milan.

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What to Pack in Your Carry-On Bag

Over the years, I've spent more than 250 hours on planes, and along the way I've picked up a thing or two about what to pack in your carry-on bag.
When I go on shorter trips, I always try to stick to only a carry-on to minimise the stuff I have to carry around and to quickly get in and out of the airport. But on longer trips, where it's necessary to bring a checked bag, make sure to check out the list below so you don't forget the essentials and can travel like a pro.

Be aware that the rules for weight, liquids, electronics, etc., in carry-on bags varies from airline to airline, so make sure to always double-check with the company you are flying with before departure. 

ID, Wallet, and Important Papers

This might seem obvious, but I often hear of people packing their ID, keys, or wallets in their checked bag, as they don't need them during the flight. Losing your luggage is never fun, but it does happen once in a while, and when it does, make sure you have all the important stuff with you on the plane.
Most airlines, hotels, and transport companies nowadays give you the option to use an electronic boarding pass or ticket. But if your phone is unreliable, be sure you also bring a printed copy.

Checklist:

  • ID
  • Wallet
  • Passport
  • Keys
  • Copy of flight itinerary, hotel reservations, visas, etc.

Fragile Items and Electronics

If you have ever seen how the staff handles your luggage at airports, you will know to pack fragile items and electronics in the carry-on. This gives you control over how your stuff is being handled and the ability to keep it safe for the entire trip.

A good rule is to always to pack your luggage like you won't see it again.

Checklist:

  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • Camera

Clothes

Once you have lost your luggage once, you become very aware of how you pack your stuff.
The first time I lost a bag was when I moved home from Australia. I had packed all of my stuff in two big suitcases, one of them with all my clothes and the other with souvenirs, gifts, and toiletries.
The bag with all my clothes got lost somewhere in Switzerland and I didn't get it until almost a month later, which of course resulted in a few very annoying weeks where I had to buy an almost entirely new wardrobe (which sounds better than it was!).

Now, I always make sure to pack at least a few pairs of socks, some underwear, and a t-shirt or two, so I at least have something to wear while I shop for new clothes!

When I pack, I bring the basic stuff, so that I'm sure they can be used in whatever situation I end up in. 
If you are in doubt about what to get, go check out Organicbasics (sneak peek below).
Their products are a great choice for traveling because they go with everything, are soft and comfortable, and they take up very little space (perfect for your carry-on).
And the best part is, that all their products are sustainable and 100% eco-friendly, without compromising quality or look!

Another great tip is to check out the Silvertech line, which is produced in a way that kills 99.9% of the bacteria. When travelling on long flights or walking around cities all day, it is important to wear clothes that are comfortable and allows your skin to breath.
The silver is literally spun into these products, which makes them heat-regulating and able to stay fresh longer (another great quality for traveling).

WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON BAG, Organic Basics  WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON BAG, Organic Basics   WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON BAG, Organic Basics   WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON BAG, Organic Basics

Checklist:

  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • T-shirts

Toiletries and Medicine

I always try to pack as many of my toiletries in my carry-on bag as possible. These are both nice to have onboard the flight so that you can freshen up, but they are also really annoying to replace if you end up losing your luggage. Just make sure you only bring small bottles and check the airport's rules for bringing liquids through security.
If you need any kind of medication, be sure to have enough for 3 days or so, just in case something happens.

Checklist:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Chapstick
  • Hand lotion
  • Contact solution (if you need that)
  • Tissues
  • Wet wipes
  • Light makeup

Entertainment and Comfort

Flights can be both boring and uncomfortable, especially if you are flying long routes. So make sure to bring a good selection of movies, music, books, or podcasts to keep yourself entertained.

I always download everything to my iPad to save some space in the bag. This allows me to prioritise packing a warm hoodie or jumper and a neck pillow to make sure that I am comfortable. 

We all know that the food on planes is rarely amazing, so I always bring a light snack and water bottle, just in case they don't serve anything on the plane or I get hungry between meals. Just make sure that you check the airport's rules for bringing in food and don't fill up the water bottle until you've made it through security.

Checklist:

  • Download movies, music, audiobooks, or podcasts to your phone, tablet, or laptop
  • Neck pillow and a warm hoodie/jumper
  • Phone/laptop charger
  • Snacks and a water bottle 

Carry-on bags

Finding the right carry-on bag takes time and very much depends on your style and preference. I like hard cases because I feel like my stuff is better protected, but you might prefer soft cases instead.
I've listed a few nice ones below. Feel free to leave a comment if you know a good one I should add to the list!

Now that you are a packing pro, head over to my resource page to find the best websites and tools to make travel booking and planning a breeze.

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WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON BAG. Over the years, I've spent more than 250 hours on planes, and along the way I've picked up a thing or two about what to pack in your carry-on bag. Make sure to check out the list below so you don't forget the essentials and can travel like a pro.    WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON BAG. Over the years, I've spent more than 250 hours on planes, and along the way I've picked up a thing or two about what to pack in your carry-on bag. Make sure to check out the list below so you don't forget the essentials and can travel like a pro.   

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Winter Season at the Tivoli Gardens

The Tivoli Gardens is one of my favourite places in Copenhagen, and I have had a season pass as long as I've lived in the city.
In the summer you can spend the warm nights walking around the lake or trying the rides, and during winter they put up beautiful decorations across the entire park. It is the first place I go when I want to get into the Christmas spirit and with the new winter season in February, you can light up those cold winter days too.

The Tivoli Gardens is the second oldest amusement park in the world. It opened in 1843 at the same spot it is located today in central Copenhagen.
The park has more than 25 rides but is mostly known for its many lights. Approximately 115000 lightbulbs light up the park at night, which makes it the perfect place for a romantic walk or some great pictures.

I've put together some of my favourite pictures from the winter season below, along with a few tips, to inspire you to visit Tivoli. 

The entrance to the park is so iconic and one of my favourite things about Tivoli. The lines can get long on certain days or when the Friday concerts are on, but if you buy your tickets in advance or have a season pass you can pretty much walk right in. (Buy here

If you do get cold after walking around the park, look for one of the spots where you can warm up next to the hot coals. 

During the Christmas season, a bunch of small shops - selling everything from food to christmas decorations - are built along the routes in the park. You can walk inside to heat up and do a little bit of shopping.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have or leave a comment below.

GemGem

Camera equipment used: FujiX100TCanon PowerShot G7

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Tivoli Winter Season, Snow, Christmas Tree, Carrousel    Tivoli Winter Season, Snow, Christmas Tree,   

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Top 10 Best Things to Do in and Around Geneva, Switzerland

I went to Geneva the first time to visit some friends that live close by, and to be honest, my expectations weren't high. However, it didn't take me long to fall in love with the city and the beautiful surrounding areas. And now I can easily say, that this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and definitely the one that surprised me the most.

I have put together a list of the 10 best things to do in and around Geneva so that you can get the most out of your stay.

Bonus info: All hotels in Geneva offer a free public transport pass for your entire stay, so getting around is cheap and convenient.

1. Lake Geneva: Jet d’Eau and the Pâquis Baths

Most cities have that one main tourist attraction which you will see in all the postcards. For Geneva, that attraction is the Jet d’Eau. It is basically a massive fountain shooting water up in the air, located in Lake Geneva. 
It is visible from most parts of the city as it shoots the water to an altitude of 140 metres (460 ft). 

It is possible to walk almost all the way out to the jet, but watch out, you will get wet! 🙂

At the other side of the lake is the Pâquis Baths. It is a man-made "beach" were locals and tourists cool down and go for a swim.
The first time I went to Geneva, we got to the city around 11 at night and people were still swimming in the lake and enjoying some food or drinks on the pier. 
It has a lovely atmosphere, and even when it's too cold to swim, it is still a great place to enjoy the view of the Jet and the city. 

2. The Old Town and the St. Pierre Cathedral

The Old Town is characterised by its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, sidewalk cafes and many restaurants. But it is also home to the beautiful St. Pierre Cathedral.

The Cathedral is free and open to the public every day, but if you want to climb the towers you will have to buy a ticket (CHF 5). From the top, you get an amazing 360° view of the city and the lake.
Warning: The stairs are very steep and narrow, so if you're not good with tight spaces, maybe skip this one. 

3. The Flower Clock

The Swiss are very famous for their watches, so it should come as no surprise that they even built them out of flowers. The L'horloge Fleurie, also known as the flower clock, is located on the western side of Jardin Anglais, next to Lake Geneva. 

The clock always looks different, as it is made of various flowers which bloom at different times of the year, and the watch actually works! 

Best Things to Do in and Around Geneva, Switzerland

4. Eat fondue

When it comes to food there are two things you can't visit Switzerland without trying. Their chocolate and their cheese!
The first time I went, my Swiss friend made me homemade raclette and the second time he took me out for fondue. Fondue isn't foreign to me, as it was very big in Denmark in the 90's (mostly the oil version), but I had definitely never had it the Swiss way before. 
You basically break out pieces of bread or potatoes and dip them in the hot melted cheese. The cheese then comes with a ton of different flavours, but I kept it traditional and ordered the plain one.
I don't think fondue is something I would ever eat outside of Switzerland, but you should definitely give it a try if you are visiting. 

5. The United Nations and The International Red Cross

Before visiting Geneva, I had mostly heard about the city when people were talking about the United Nations. Because of its central location in Europe, the city is home to many international organisations. Two of these are the United Nations and the International Red Cross (they are located right across from each other).

If you are interested, you can visit the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum for CHF 15 or take a guided tour of the Palace of Nations for CHF 12. 

6. Mont Saléve

When you are tired of walking around the city or just need another perspective, take the bus to Veyrier and ride the cable car to the top of Mont Saléve (CHP 13.6).
From there you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Geneva and the lake, go for a hike, paraglide over the lake, bird-spot, or just grab a bite to eat at the café.

Best Things to Do in and Around Geneva, Switzerland

Day Trips

If you have more than just a couple of days I definitely recommend renting a car and driving around the lake. Geneva is beautiful, but my favourite part about visiting has been the day trips exploring the small towns and amazing nature. 

7. Yvoire

Yvoire is a small French medieval town located on the French shore of the lake, between Geneva and Evian. If you are driving on the Swiss side, take the boat from Nyon and enjoy seeing this beautiful town from the water.

Yvoire was built in the early 14th century and some of the original buildings still stand today. In the summer months, the town is filled with flowers and just walking around the narrow streets will keep you entertained for hours.

8. Château de Chillon

Château de Chillon or the Chillon Castle is a medieval castle located south of Veytaux on a little island in Lake Geneva. 
The castle is open to the public every day of the year and a ticket cost CHF 12.50.
If you don't care to go inside, you can simply enjoy the view from the outside.

9. Lavaux vineyards

Continue your drive along the shore of Lake Geneva and arrive at the beautiful Lavaux vineyards. The vineyards stretch for about 30 km (18.6 mi) and cover 830 hectares.  
In 2007, the steep hills were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. The view of the vineyards, mountains, and Lake Geneva is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. 

GemGem

10. Montreux

The city of Montreux is located at the foot of the Alps at the far east side of Lake Geneva. 
It is home to a 3.5 km (2.2 mi) colourful lakeside promenade where hundreds of different flowers create the perfect contrast to the mountains.

Fun fact: The city is mostly famous for the Montreux Jazz Festival, where a burning building in 1971 was the inspiration for Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”.

Best Things to Do in and Around Geneva, Switzerland

Camera equipment used: FujiX100T, Canon PowerShot G7 Mark, iPhone 7

"This post contains affiliate links which goes toward supporting the blog. The links add no extra cost to you, I just earn a small commission if you make a purchase. Win-win! 

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Staying at the Hotel Jade Manotel in Geneva

On my most recent visit to Geneva, Switzerland, I got to stay at the beautiful 3-star Hotel Jade Manotel
Geneva is definitely the place I've been to recently that surprised me in the most positive way. The city is surrounded by amazing nature and there's a ton of stuff to do. Read my guide to the top 10 things to do.

The Hotel Jade Manotel is the perfect base to start exploring the Geneva area and I've put together everything you need to know below.
When you are ready to book, click here to find the best deal.

Getting there

The Hotel Jade Manotel is very conveniently located in Geneva.
If you are arriving by plane, simply take a 10-minute train to the central station (app. 3 CHF) and walk from there.

The hotel is only a 5-10 minute walk away and even though it was pouring when I arrived in Geneva, I was able to stay dry, as the most of the shops along the way have a little roof over the sidewalk.

The Hotel

The Hotel Jade Manotel is a part of the Manotel group which operates six hotels in the Geneva area. 
It is designed and decorated according to the rules of Feng Shui, which creates a relaxing atmosphere throughout the entire hotel.
There is free wifi in all rooms and common areas, and if you are travelling by car, private parking facilities.

The staff at the reception were both kind and helpful during my entire stay, and if you are visiting during the summer months, you can enjoy your breakfast in the private garden.

The Rooms

The rooms at Hotel Jade Manotel are spacious and clean. All rooms have a minibar, air condition, a good selection of toiletries, and offer room service.
The bed is comfortable, the bathroom is very modern, and it is a joy to use the shower!

I definitely recommend jumping in the tub after a long day of exploring Geneva.

Location

The hotel is located in the heart of Geneva, just a few minutes walk from Lake Geneva and the Jet d'Eau.
If you want to explore the surrounding areas, the central train station is just a short walk away, which makes it a great base for getting around and exploring both the city and the beautiful nature around it.

All hotels in Geneva offer a pass for free public transport during your stay, so make sure to pick it up at the reception.

The Food

You can start your day off in a good way by enjoying the hotel's breakfast buffet. They offer a wide selection of bread, meat, fruit, cereal, and eggs, along with multiple juices, tea, coffee, and milk. 

For lunch or dinner, you can visit one of the Manotel group's restaurants and get a discount. Be sure to pick up your discount voucher at the reception.

Thank you to Hotel Jade Manotel for hosting me during my stay. As always, thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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