My year of solo travel in 2018 – the highlights

What a year 2018 has been! I wanted to take some time to reflect and think about the cool places I’ve been to and some of my favourite experiences. Where am I off to next? Who knows, but for now here’s my year of solo travel in 2018 – the highlights.

This year I made a few solo travel plans. I was lucky enough to visit Rome, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Portugal and Florence.

The highlight

I’d have to say the highlight of my travels this year was finally visiting Duomo in Florence!  I’ve always wanted to go back since staying in this beautiful city in 2016 as part of my 5 cities, 5 nights Italian adventure.

Duomo Florence from Tower Palazzo Vecchio Dec 2018
Duomo Florence from Tower Palazzo Vecchio
Duomo Florence 2018
Duomo - Florence, Italy

On that trip I didn’t get to see as much as I’d have liked including Florence’s cathedral – although I did see it peaking from almost everywhere I went!  It was my desire to get up close and personal with this amazing building, that led me to visit Florence once again.  I’m so glad I did and this time I really absorbed Duomo in all its glory!

Florence is such as beautiful city. I always felt at ease wandering around taking in my surroundings – even late at night.

Florence Santa Croce Christmas Market
Florence Santa Croce Christmas Market - Florence, Italy

Going in December meant I was also able to visit the Santa Croce Christmas Market.

Gifts at Florence Santa Croce Christmas Market, Dec 2018
Gifts at Florence Santa Croce Christmas Market

Piazza Santa Croce was transformed into a festive forecourt, with fresh food and other treats like pretty Christmas decor to purchase.

It was nearly two years since my first visit and it was worth the wait! That’s why I crown Florence as my highlight of 2018.

Most memorable trip

Portugal was definitely my most memorable holiday this year. I kept putting it back for one reason or another but I made the commitment and booked. It was an amazing experience – so much so that I want to go back again next year!

Ascensor di Glória Lisbon tram
Ascensor di Glória - Lisbon
Dom Luis Bridge - Porto, Portugal
Dom Luis Bridge - Porto, Portugal
Estoril beach - Portugal
Estoril beach - Portugal
Pena Palace
Pena Palace

During my trip, I stayed in Lisbon and Porto, and even spent a couple of days in Estoril by the beach.

I loved every moment of it!  I was able to see and do so many things on my Portugal list like visiting Sintra while in Estoril, riding a tram and tasting those beautiful tarts of Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon, to walking across the Dom Luís Bridge in Porto.

Bacalhau com arroz de tomate
Pastéis de bacalhau com arroz de tomate - TimeOut Lisbon
Villa Nova Gaia - Porto, Portugal
Villa Nova Gaia - Porto, Portugal

It enjoyed tasting new foods, seeing the sights and meeting new people along the way.  I was also able to spend some time relaxing and soaking up my surroundings.  Portugal – my most memorable holiday!

An ancient adventure

Streets with historical monuments scattered around is what welcomes you when you visit Rome. The eternal city is definitely full of some amazing architecture, art and ancient ruins!

Did you know that Italy has the most World Heritage Sites?

Colosseum Rome - Italy_RiA Vistas
Colosseum Rome - Italy
Trevi Fountain Italy
St Peter's Square - Rome, Italy
St Peter's Square_Rome, Italy

I loved my time in Rome and actually spent my birthday there – being pampered while in Hotel De Russie’s spa to finding cool places to take photos, like at the Knights of Malta Keyhole.

I enjoyed seeing the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Arch of Constantine, and wandering through the city coming across the likes of Palatine Hill, the Trevi Fountain or Pantheon.

My favourite (and most tiring) part of visiting Rome, was definitely climbing to the cupola of St Peter’s Basilica. I was in awe of this beautiful building, everything from its interior to its exterior.  Absolutely amazing!

St Peters Basilica Rome - Italy_RiA Vistas
St Peters Basilica Rome - Italy

Amsterdam good break

My two-night trip to Amsterdam involved a canal cruise, chocolate and cheese, windmills, hidden homes and early morning shoots, a little snow, and topped with a little flower power!

Taking to the canals at night is a must! You see the city lit up and get the opportunity to learn about the history of the canals from your guide. I booked my night canal cruise with Blue Boat Company and certainly learnt about the canals, bridges and homes that line them on either side.

Did you know that the narrowest house in Amsterdam is known to be a little over 2 metres wide? Due to a building tax, which was based on the width of a property (no matter how many floors) you’ll notice homes in Amsterdam are on the slim side!

Amsterdam - 7 bridges
Amsterdam - 7 bridges
Begijnhof hidden homes, Amsterdam
Begijnhof hidden homes, Amsterdam

Finding out what was behind a large wooden door off a street in Amsterdam, was a nice surprise. I found Begijnhof, a private Hofje (courtyard) made up of historical buildings. It was a former women’s religious community with its own church.

Spending time in beautiful Zaanse Schans made for a cool day trip. I ventured out of the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam’s city centre, and into the serene place of chocolate and windmills.

Zaanse Schans Amsterdam
Zaanse Schans Amsterdam

An unexpected journey

Copenhagen was definitely my unexpected journey of 2018. It wasn’t on my initial travel list for the year, but after coming back from Amsterdam I had the urge to go away again. To be honest, I feel it was meant to be as I ended up finding a great deal on a flight – £29.99 return!

Copenhagen also ended up being a challenge trip. After booking, people kept telling me how expensive the city was, so I decided to set a budget to see if I could visit one of the most expensive cities in the world for under £200. That’s right, £200 or less for everything! Find out if I made it under budget in my Copenhagen challenge post.

Nyhavn lights - Copenhagen
Nyhavn lights - Copenhagen
City views from The Round Tower
City views from The Round Tower - Copenhagen
Frederiksborg Castle - Copenhagen, Denmark
Frederiksborg Castle - Copenhagen, Denmark

My favourite place in Copenhagen has to be Nyhavn. It was always buzzing no matter the time. It has such a great atmosphere and I found myself visiting this popular hangout three or four times during my trip.

I liked watching people pass me by and also used the time to get some cool pictures of the waterfront.

A trip to Fredericksborg Castle was also a great experience during my trip. The lavish castle, home to King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway, was absolutely amazing to see. Its surroundings are breathtakingly beautiful.

The Tårnet and the Rundetårn towers were great lookout points over the city. With views as far as the eye could see it’s well worth visiting one of these landmarks while in the city. The Tårnet  is free to enter, but because of that, expect long queues at busy times.

Not only did I wander around Copenhagen, I also made it to Malmö in Sweden for a day, crossing Øresund – The Bridge.

Copenhagen’s a beautiful city and you should definitely add it to your travel planning list if you’re looking for somewhere with chilled vibes to visit any time soon!

Approaching Oresund
Approaching Oresund

...And the longest journey

As you’ve read, my travels took me to European destinations so you’d be surprised to know that it took me a total of 11 and a half hours to get to Paris!  Yes, that’s really long isn’t it but only because I decided to take the coach.  Visiting during the August Bank Holiday meant it would be more expensive to fly. Even the Eurostar was more costly than I expected!

I saved quite a few pounds taking the “scenic route”.

Arc de Triomphe - Paris_RiA Vistas
Arc de Triomphe - Paris
Sacre Coeur from Temple de la Sibylle
Sacre Coeur from Temple de la Sibylle

I’ve been to Paris a few times in the past, but still saw many of the attractions again and even found a secret place along the way…..  Keep an eye out for another Paris post on that one!  I also found a few cool spots to see the city from above!!

RiA at the Eiffel Tower - Paris_RiA Vistas
Me at the Eiffel Tower - Paris
Notre Dame Paris_RiA Vistas
Notre Dame - Paris, France

Paris was a great little break and I really enjoyed myself. I had a few early mornings to get some of my shots, but it was well worth it!

2018 has been great! Full of travel, new friends and plenty of experiences! I couldn’t have wished for a better year of travel memories!

What does my travel schedule look like for next year…?  Yes, of course I’ve already thought about it!  What will 2019’s solo travel trips look like?

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