The most beautiful castles in Scotland you have to see

If you have visited Scotland but have not been to the Highlands - you are missing out. If you haven't visited Scotland at all - you are missing out even more!

I've met so many people living in the UK for years and never venturing out to Scotland. Yes, it can be very wet but if you are dressed for any weather you'll surely have a great trip.

Autumn is my favourite time to visit Scotland - the leaves and the grass turn the most amazing golden colour. This time we only stayed for 3 days but I'd like to show you how much you can see in this limited time.

Scotland in autumn

Stirling Castle

After arriving to Glasgow and picking up our car we first made our way to Stirling. The Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland but I wouldn't call it the most beautiful (=instagrammable). It was one of the two castles we managed to see from the inside so it was still interesting, plus the view from the castle's walls is just great.

Stirling

Blair Castle

Without wasting too much time we headed to Perthshire to visit the Blair Castle. Sadly, the castle was closed to a private event but we had a lovely walk in the area and tried to make friends with the hairy Highland cows. To our disappointment, the cows decided that the grass was too irresistibly tasty to pay any attention to us.

Ballintaggart Farm

In the evening we stopped for the dinner at Ballintaggart Farm (booking required) where we were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the owners - Rachel and Chris. It was dark, so pictures don't do justice but this kind of food and attention to detail can't be found anywhere else in the Scottish Highlands. We did not stay overnight but the farm has two rooms for the guests, they also run cookery masterclasses that you can book in advance online.

Ballintaggart farm

Dunnotar Castle

Next day we drove to yet another castle, the Dunnotar - a ruined cliff top fortress. As you can see all the castles we visited are very different so it doesn't get boring. We got really lucky with the weather in terms of rain but unfortunately, it was too windy for the castle to stay open for visitors.

Dunnotar Castle

Craigievar Castle

You won't be surprised to hear that our most anticipated visit was to Craigievar Castle. Does it even look real? As you approach it from the distance you can't miss this pink fairytale building peeping between the trees. It is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle and you can see why. The castle was already closed for the season (even when it's open you can only visit as part of a guided tour) but we were lucky to have it for ourselves to photograph from the outside for almost half an hour.

Craigievar castle
near Craigievar castle in Scotland

We had dinner and spent our last night in the Pierhouse Hotel in the quiet village of Port Appin which is located in Argyll, on the shores of Loch Linnhe. In the morning we admired the picturesque location of the hotel followed by a quick walk to the lighthouse where we were greeted by those furry locals.

Port Appin
Scotland

Castle Stalker

The Castle Stalker is surrounded by water making it look very special. It is privately owned but a tour can be booked in advance (we didn't do it).

Castle Stalker

Oban

Back to civilisation for a quick lunch in Oban, it was almost time to head back to Glasgow airport for our flight back to London.

Oban Scotland
Oban

Inveraray Castle

On the way to the airport, we managed to squeeze in another stop at Inveraray Castle and even had a quick look inside (finally, a castle that wasn't closed or needed prebooking). The castle is surrounded by a beautiful garden that must look wonderful in spring and summer as well.

Scotland Inveraray Castle
Inveraray castle

That was the end of our trip but I hope to be back to Scotland again soon as there are more castles to explore and more places to visit.

Scotland highlands

More information on Scotland can be found here.

New Year's Eve in Dublin

I was postponing a trip to Ireland for a long time, and then a perfect opportunity came not just to visit Ireland but to spend New Year's Eve in Dublin! Pretty exciting, isn't it?

As usual, I started with a research on the most instagrammable spots. What can be better than combining New year celebrations with snapping a few nice shots?

Temple Bar is the area you can't miss in Dublin.  It gets very busy in the afternoon so if you are after taking photos it's better to go in the morning, and of course to return later in the day to visit one of the pubs. We didn't get a chance to check it out but were recommended a hidden spot called Vintage Cocktail Club or VCC.

Going for a traditional music and dance performance is a lot of fun - we loved the experience at the Merry Ploughboy Pub, it's not in the centre but seemed to be popular as all the tables were full. 

Trinity College Library is another must-visit place. The highlight is the Long Room which houses 200,000 of the Library’s oldest book. The library gets very busy and the best is to book tickets online.

Trinity College Dublin

I loved seeing Dublin embracing festive spirit with all its Christmas decorations. Pictured below is the Powerscort shopping centre.

Powerscort Townhouse Centre Dublin

We couldn't miss popping into Guinness Storehouse too. I won't lie, I wanted to go mostly because of the view from the top but the whole experience was actually really nice. The storehouse covers 7 floors where you can learn about Guinness history and production process, give a go at pouring a perfect pint, dine, buy souvenirs and a lot more.

Guinness Storehouse
Dublin view from Guinness Storehouse

Stephen's Green is another beautiful shopping centre worth popping into.

Stephen's Green Centre Dublin

Check out Drury Street for independent shops and cafes.

For a day out of Dublin take a 30-minute fast train service DART from Dublin city centre to a fishing village of Howth. If the weather is nice, take a cliff walk which offers great views of the Bailey Lighthouse. Wear comfortable shoes, hiking shoes would be best as it was quite muddy when we visited.

Howth Ireland

Last but not least, the main reason for our visit - Dublin New Year's festival. It lasted for 2 days - Kodeline concert followed by a countdown and a special performance on the evening of the 31-st December and then the continuation of the performance on the 1st January.

New Year Festival Dublin

Special thanks to Failte Ireland and Visit Dublin for our wonderful stay.

Food discoveries in Puente Romano resort in Marbella, Spain

Even though I don't consider myself a foodie I do love and appreciate food so when back in October I was invited to spend a few days in Puente Romano resort in Marbella to try out their famous restaurants I couldn't say no. An idea of spending a few days in the autumn sun, which felt more like summer in the UK, seemed very appealing too.

I was even more excited as I knew my Instagram friends Giulia, Jacintha and Millie are coming as well.

Marbella beach
Puente Romano hotel Marbella

After checking in the hotel our first stop was El Chiringuito, located at the beginning of the beach area. I loved the sea views and the relaxed vibe of this restaurant.

The resort's most famous restaurant is probably Nobu. If you have ever been to any other Nobu locations, you know what I'm talking about. The restaurant is well-known for its classic Japanese dishes cooked with Peruvian flavours, and it didn't disappoint - wagyu beef and black cod with miso were excellent. Nobu is opening their own hotel within the resort too - expected to offer 81 rooms by 2019.

nobu restaurant marbella

Next day we finally had time to see a bit of Marbella that seemed like a lovely Spanish town, during the day there were no traces of it being a party place.

Marbella old town

In Marbella we popped into Doliva for olive oil tasting. We tried a few different olive oils and were surprised to find out that 55% of world's olive oil is produced in Spain. After learning this and trying out the best olive oil, we couldn't leave the shop without buying some oil to take home.

Back to Puente Romano just in time for paella making masterclass. Both rabbit and seafood options were absolutely delicious!

Monkey bar marbella

if you are looking for lighter and healthier options - the resort has them too. Try Rachel's Organic cafe by the pool (pictured below) or gluten-free cafe Celicioso.

I don't usually stay at huge resorts like this one but I was surprised by how many things you can do (it even has a tennis court) and how diverse all the dining options are. Thanks, Puente Romano for a wonderful stay!

marbella beach

Yorkshire in 2 days

Yorkshire might easily become my favourite part of England - with its heritage sites, beautiful landscapes and booming food scene - it has everything to become the next go-to destination. The only downside - it's a little far away for a weekend trip from London, same being an advantage as otherwise most of the London folk would be found there!

After a long drive from London and a cosy night at one of the Northstar Club woodland suites (more on it later), we ventured out to explore the picturesque Whitby.

Whitby view
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Whitby is a seaside town, also famous for its association with Captain Cook who learned seamanship there, and the horror novel Dracula by Bram Stoker making it the destination for the goth weekend twice a year. We didn't visit on a goth weekend but still saw some interestingly dressed people which made our visit even more interesting. Also, I have to note that it seemed like almost everyone in Whitby owns a dog or two.

Whitby
Whitby harbour

One of the most popular sights of Whitby is the characterful abbey ruins at the top of the fishing harbour. The first monastery was founded in the 7th century, although the remains we see today are of the later built 13th-century Benedictine abbey.

Whitby overview
Whitby Abbey

Later in the day we headed to Yorkshire's most wonderful hidden gem - Staithes.  Did you know that Captain Cook, Staithes's most famous resident, worked in Staithes as a grocer's apprentice where he first gained his interest in the sea?

Staithes street view

This view of the quaint fishing village was more I could dream of! 

Overlooking Staithes
Staithes house

On the way back to our charming cottage we made a quick stop in Robin Hood Bay, and in this place, with the most romantic name, I caught this most romantic moment of a couple's wedding photoshoot.

Robin Hood Bay

Our trip wouldn't be so perfect without a stay with the Blue Chip holidays in one of the North Star Club woodland suites. For someone like us, coming from a big city, it was a perfect weekend retreat in the woods. The rooms are equipped with everything you need, and even though it's on a self-catering basis, there's barbeque equipment next to each suite and a communal space with tea and brownies. I really liked all the cosy details in our room, especially the real fireplace. I'd love to come back in summer with a group of friends for a more relaxing weekend in the area.

Those cows were the only neighbours we encountered!

Cows in Yorkshire

Next day York greeted us with rain, compensated by all sorts of colourful bunting and an opportunity to see the Shambles, the best preserved medieval street in the world, less crowded than usual.

York the Shambles
York

To be fair, York deserves a separate blog post as it has so much offer. With this said, I think I need to plan another trip to Yorkshire very soon!

York bunting
York cathedral