Things to Do

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira

You’ve probably noticed that the title of this post is ‘Things to do in Funchal, Madeira’, as opposed to ’10/15/etc Things to do in Funchal, Madeira’.  This is because, as I mentioned in my last post, I live here now, and so this list will probably be regularly updated as I find more and more things to do.

1. Cathedral

This cathedral is so cute and small and really opulent inside.  Definitely worth a look.

2. CR7 hotel and museum

This is for those of you who like football.  Since Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira, he has his own hotel named after him.  Shake hands with the statue of Ronaldo outside that looks nothing like him – imagination goes a long way!

3. Cable car to Monte

This is a really nice ride above Funchal.  It takes around 15 minutes, so plenty of opportunity to take photos!

4. Tropical Gardens

If there’s one garden that you see in Madeira, make it the tropical gardens.  They’re consistently named as some of the most beautiful gardens in the world and they’re stunning.  My particular favourite (which has nothing to do with plants) is the geode room.  I’ve never seen so many in one place before – or ones that are so big!

5. Toboggan

Imagine a sledge but without the snow.  That’s pretty much what this is – but so much faster.  You go down 2 km in around 5 minutes.  I loved it, it was so much fun! (The one in the picture looks pretty battered – the ones you go down in are much better condition!)

6. Casino

As well as being a casino (obviously), you can have dinner with a show here.  The singers have incredible voices!

7. Presidential Gardens

Only 1 euro and when I visited, there were parrots!  (I don’t know if the parrots are always there or not…)

8. Santa Maria Street

The street of painted doors.  I have spent many a night wandering around the bars here 😉

9. Municipal Gardens

Slap-bang in the middle of town, these gardens are a nice place to go to relax and pretend you’re not in the middle of a city.

10. Santa Catarina Park

My favourite park (after the tropical gardens).  I love just sitting and looking down at the marina, or at the pond, where there are usually lots of swans!

15 Things You Must Do In Florence

15 Things you must do in Florence

Florence has to be one of the most beautiful cities that I’ve visited.  So much art everywhere, it’s incredible!  Check out my Top 15 must-do things in Florence.

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15. Palazzo Pitti

You can’t miss this impressive building – it’s huge!  Head across the Ponte Vecchio, turn a corner, and, wham! there it is.  The inside is beautiful – but everything in Florence is beautiful so, unfortunately, this is number 15 and not higher on the list.

DSC_021314. Santa Reparata

love archaeology and the site of the original cathedral beneath the new Cathedral is amazing!  Make sure to visit the bones of Saint Zenobius – the first bishop of Florence.

DSC_008213. Palazzo Vecchio

The town hall of Florence.  Admittedly, the outside is more impressive than the inside, but it’s definitely worth having a look.

Gates of Paradise 412. Museo Dell’Opera del Duomo

An amazing museum with original artwork from the Cathedral, the Baptistry, and the Campanile.  The original Gates of Paradise are kept here and are incredible!

Piazza della Signoria 311. Piazza della Signora

One of the main squares in Florence, this is central to a lot of things, including the Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, the Logia dei Lanzi, and is just around the corner to the Cathedral.  Make sure to check out the Fountain of Neptune, and the copy of Michelangelo’s David.

Logia dei Lanzi 210. Logia dei Lanzi

Essentially an open-air museum, with beautiful statues on display for anyone to see, the most famous of which is Perseus with the head of Medusa.

Baptistry 19. Baptistry

Unfortunately, when I visited, the entire Baptistry was covered in scaffolding(!), so I didn’t get to see how amazing it can be (which gives me an excuse to go back – not that I need one!).  The inside was gorgeous, though.  So much gold mosaic!  My favourite was the demon eating a bunch of people (morbid but amusing).

Florence Belltower 38. Florence Campanile

The main belltower in Florence, this is beautiful.  And unfortunately (again!), I didn’t get to climb it, as it was so busy, and I was only in Florence for a few days, and wanted to explore.

DSC_01517. Ponte Vecchio

The main bridge in Florence, I love all of the shops hanging over the water.  Make sure to have a nosy in the jewellery shops (although, they’re crazy expensive!).  And, if you have the money (which, unfortunately, I did not), you can maybe visit the Vasari Corridor that runs above it and connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti.

Grotto 16. Buontalenti Grotto

I’ve never seen anything like this before.  It’s situated in the Boboli Gardens and looks like a natural cave that should be next to the sea – but is in the middle of a city.  All of the stalactites and stalagmites are amazing (I love caves), and are mixed through with statues that look like they are slowly being reclaimed by the rocks.

DSC_01305. Uffizi Gallery

One of the most famous art galleries in the world, there is so much to see here!  I’d make sure to give yourself at least a couple of hours to fully explore it (and see The Birth of Venus).

Florence Cathedral 14. Florence Cathedral

This is another one of those cathedrals that, personally, I think is more amazing outside than inside (not to say that the inside isn’t amazing – it is!).  The outside of this Cathedral is so unique and extremely beautiful (and is, thankfully, easy to find, so you can’t miss it!).

Florence 133. Wander and get lost

I know!  This should probably be number one on this list, but my first and second must-do things in Florence are even more spectacular!

David 22. Accademia

This is mainly to see Michelangelo’s David.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more impressive statue in my life (apart from the Winged Victory in the Louvre, which is my favourite statue ever!).

Boboli Gardens 231. Boboli Gardens

I could have easily spent an entire day here – I loved it!  It’s basically a garden on a bunch of hills and it’s beautiful.  The view from the top of the gardens is almost like you’ve left Florence and are in the middle of the Tuscan countryside!

Top 20 Things to do in Venice

Venice is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world.  It’s unlike any city I have ever visited and I need to go back (sooner rather than later!).  I still have so much left to explore – including the Lido – but I have compiled a list of my 20 favourite things to do in Venice (so far!)

Rialto (4)20. Wander along the Grand Canal

Every visitor to Venice needs to do this.  It’s not the quietest of areas but it’s stunning!

DSC_014719. Visit the Giudecca

This has to be the quietest area of Venice.  It’s the bit at the south of Venice, and there’s a super short boat ride required to reach there.  Admittedly, there’s not really anything to do here (it’s mainly residential and hotels – there’s a hideous Hilton hotel here.  Seriously, it does not fit in with Venice at all) but it’s a nice area to relax and get away from the crowds.

Gondola Ride (5) Edited18. Gondola Ride

This is sort of a ‘must-do’ thing in Venice.  Everyone knows about gondolas.  My recommendation would be to find as many people as the gondola will allow, as it is 80 Euro per gondola, not per person.  I went on a gondola with my Mum and we found an American family to share with – it saved us heaps!

IMG_113417. Bovolo Staircase

I wish this had been open when I went to visit but, alas, I had to make do with looking through the gates.  This staircase is gorgeous and surprisingly difficult to find (I think I wandered around the area for a good half hour before I found it – I was determined!)

Rialto (12)16. Ponte di Rialto

I’m glad I saw this the first time I visited Venice, as it was covered in scaffolding the second time I went!  Fortunately, this meant it wasn’t so busy, so I got a proper look at all of the little shops on the bridge – all the super expensive little shops!

San Barnaba15. San Barnaba

I know this as the Indiana Jones church.  It was featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (which made me happy) and now is home to a da Vinci museum (which made me even happier!)

San Marco (8)14. St Mark’s Square

Everyone who visits Venice has to visit St Mark’s Square at some point – even though it’s packed.  And, true to what I’d heard, there are a lot of pigeons (tourists in Venice seem to love pigeons – and seagulls – which baffles me.  Pigeons are so common in Scotland and seagulls are the spawn of Satan – I’m not even kidding…).

Ca d'oro (3)13. Ca D’oro

This is a stunning palace in Venice.  It got its name, as it used to have a lot of gilt all over its walls.  It’s a bit more subdued nowadays but the mosaic flooring at the entrance took my breath away.

DSC_089312. Have a Spritz

My favourite drink ever.  I fell in love with this drink the first time I visited Venice.  I have tried (and failed) to make it at home – I’ve tried all sorts of recipes (I even succumbed and bought one in Verona) but no Spritz can hold a candle to those in Venice.  Personally, I prefer Aperol to Campari, as it has a sweeter taste, but I wouldn’t say no to either!

DSC_061611. Isola di San Michele

This whole island is a cemetery and it’s completely unique to any cemetery that I’ve ever visited before.  There are graves in the walls, as well as tombs.  I think the thing that surprised me the most was that they even had ground burials, which I wouldn’t have thought they’d do, with the frequency that Venice floods.  Igor Stravinsky (the famous violinist) is buried here, too!

DSC_041510. St Mark’s Basilica

I didn’t go inside St Mark’s Basilica the first time around but I’m glad I went back and went in the second time.  The mosaics are super detailed!  I paid to to upstairs and around the outside, which was lovely as well – people had taken books up with them and were just chilling on the roof!  I wish I’d thought to take a book up with me but I wanted to explore Venice more!

DSC_03369. St Mark’s Campanile

This gives you an amazing view of Venice and the gorgeous orange rooftops – try and aim to be up there for the bells!  That was an amazing experience!

Palazzo Ducale (3)8. Doge’s Palace

I would definitely recommend splurging on the tour where you can visit everything – the palace is pretty and all, but I enjoyed seeing the prisons – and Casanova’s cell(s) – and going over the Bridge of Sighs more!

Venetian Masks7. Buy a Venetian Mask in Venice, some Murano glass in Murano, and some lace in Burano

Because I said so 🙂

IMG_11646. Visit Libreria Acqua Alta

The best bookshop in Venice, there are books everywhere.  I mean everywhere – they are in bathtubs, in gondolas, even staircases have been made out of books.  I love the fire escape as well.  It’s basically an arrow pointing out into the canal – I hope you can swim!

IMG_10865. Visit Paolo Olbi’s shop next to the Ca Foscari university

One of the true masters left in Venice, Paolo Olbi makes all of his work by hand.  Watch him make a notebook and definitely buy at least one (I may have bought three…) – the price is definitely worth it!

Venice4. Visit San Giorgio Maggiore and go up the belltower

I personally think that this is the best view of Venice.  You can pretty much see all of Venice from here – and it’s so quiet that you’re allowed to operate the lift to the top by yourself!

Murano Glass Museum3. Murano

Murano is similar to Venice but there are glass shops everywhere.  And not tacky glass shops – the work is beautiful!  I watched someone make a glass flower and I loved it so much that I got 20 Euro off the price, as the man was really pleased that I liked his work.  I’d also recommend visiting the glass museum and also gawk at the amazingly over-the-top chandeliers that are in pretty much every shop.

Leaning Campanile Burano2. Burano

Burano is my favourite of the islands.  It’s pretty small but the colours are amazing!  The lace museum and the leaning belltower are must-see’s (although you can’t actually go inside the tower).

DSC_03111. Get lost

What better way is there to see Venice?