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STA Travel Blog

5 of Europe’s most enchanting Christmas markets

Foliage covered wooden huts, the scent of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and allll the melted Nutella. Yep you’ve got it, Christmas markets are on their way and boy does Europe know how to put on a show! So grab a scarf, mittens and a bag to fill up with  decorations and get exploring some of Europe’s most enchanting offerings. We’ll meet you in the beer tent…

1. Vilnius, Lithuania

With its medieval layout, baroque cityscape, and cobblestone streets, the heart of Lithuania’s capital city, Vilnius, charms in any season of the year. But with a dusting of snow across the medieval castles, Vilnius is all the more stunning, especially when viewed from the 22nd floor from the town’s coveted Skybar. We can’t explain the locals love for Frank Zappa, but during the winter months – this laid back city is a truly enchanting wonderland.

magical christmas lithuania
Image: Delfi

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Slovenian slap hunting

Okay, first things first. A slap in Slovenia means waterfall, but how often have you read the term ‘waterfall chasing ’ within blog titles – I wanted but I had to grab your attention somehow right? So whack on those trainers, grab your swim gear and let’s get slap searching!

Before we get there, let me fill you in on me. My name’s Lauren Barratt and I started The Adventure Diary back in 2016 after taking a break from teacher life and travelling in a van through Europe. I lived the ‘van life’ for 4 months, visiting a number of countries such as Norway, Sweden, Croatia and most importantly Slovenia.

But now back to the important stuff….

Slap Kozjak:

One of Slovenia’s hidden beauties! Located within a cave the water pours down through a crack which opens up right above your head. To get to the waterfall you’ll need to make your way across a risky walk way attached to the wall. But it is well worth it!

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ASOS Insider: Shope Delano in Croatia

Last summer we followed ASOS insider Shope Delano on her Croatia sailing trip and omg did she have the most sun-filled, blue-skied, blissful time EVER! Shope spent 8 days on a yacht sailing the Adriatic coast from Split to Dubrovnik, stopping off at hidden beaches, party islands and cultural cities. Does life really get much better than that?

Here’s a little rundown of her time spent sailing one of the most picturesque coastlines in the world…

Time for take off

“Should count my lucky stars as i’m leaving this dreary weather behind and am off to sail around Croatia with STA Travel” – Shope Delano
Time to take off
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Top 4 quirkiest festivals in Europe

Travelling through Europe is often considered a rite of passage; where else could you discover jaw-dropping historical sights, stumble happily from gigantic beer halls, fall madly in love with the world’s most romantic cities or yodel yourself hoarse on green pastured mountain peaks. With festival season just around the corner, there is no better excuse to start planning your European summer trip!

1. LA BATALLA DEL VINO


Image: www.hoy.es

Where? Haro, La Rioja, Spain
When? 28-30 June
Why? We’ve always been told wine is too precious to waste, and if you are going to waste it – do it wisely. However, in the small town of Haro – a battle to end all battles takes place to celebrate the Spanish wine festival. This is not the kind of wine festival where people stand around swirling glasses, scoffing camembert whilst discussing bouquets and undertones. This is rioja-soaked carnage involving the entire town throwing over 50,000 litres of red wine all over each other. Rest assured, the wine is no Gran Reserva – so grab a jug and get stuck in. With no rules, teams, winners or losers – why not celebrate St. Peter’s Feast Day with the locals, get a bit drunk and turn a beautiful shade of purple.

2. LA TOMATINA

Where? Bunol, Spain (close to Valencia)
When? 31 August
Why? There is something strangely enticing about a festival dedicated to throwing squashed tomatoes! That’s why thousands flood in to Valencia each year with the specific intent of taking part in the world’s biggest food fight. The fight begins at 11am when a loud firework will go off, and then participants are left to stand their own over the next chaotic hour as the streets and the people turn into a sea of red, until the second firework goes off to indicate the end. The fun doesn’t stop there, the palo-jambon event will see people climbing a soap-covered pole to reach the prosciutto on the top, with the first person to grab it claiming victory and the ham! So if you are a bit of a foodie, be sure to get a ticket to this event.

3. HALLOWEEN


Where? Translyvania, Romania
When? 29 Oct – 4 Nov
Why? We know Halloween is worldwide, but there’s something about Transylvania that sends an icy chill down the most fearless adventurer – would you be willing to spend the one of the most haunted days in the year in Dracula’s castle? You can attend a Halloween party in an authentic, gothic castle and rave the night away to the monster mash. While you’re there explore Romania’s haunted castles, Gothic architecture and enchanting forests. You might even meet some lovely locals.

Fact: Dracula was based upon the Transylvanian villain known as ‘Vlad the Impaler’.

4. OKTOBERFEST

Where? Munich, Germany
When? 19 Sep – 4 Oct
Why? Oktoberfest is the German beer folk festival held once a year in Munich. It celebrates the anniversary of the wedding between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and his wife. Oktoberfest takes place in giant beer tents, serving the best German beer and food you’ll enjoy for a long time! But it’s not just about the beer, each tent has a brass band playing everything from chart hits to traditional classics. All you have to do is grab your mates, don the lederhosen, pick up a pint glass and party German style…worry about the hangover tomorrow.
Fact: Bavaria does not run out of lederhosen. For cheap outfits try C&A in Neuhauserstrasse at Marienplatz. A one litre Stein costs about £8.

Europe has got some wicked festivals, let’s just say it’s going to be a great summer!

Why You Should Take a Trans-Mongolian Adventure

Let’s get one thing straight from the start, you’ve got to at least be able to tolerate trains. Preferably, you’ll have a kind of quiet delight for the idea of being gently rocked to sleep while travelling at (slow) speed through the Mongolian steppe. At the thought of having up to 5 days in front of you with nothing to do but read, watch half the world go by out of the window, walk to the dining car, walk back, and repeat.

But, aside from the time on the train, you should also be ready to experience travelling in a whole new way. To take the slow route and have a better trip because of it. Here are just a few reasons we think you should hop on board the Trans-Mongolian railway.

Just one of the routes available for the Trans-Mongolian

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