38 things to do in St Petersburg, Russia

Things to do in St Petersburg, Russia | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here are 38 of my favourite things to do in St Petersburg, Russia. I fell in love with the city and spent a decent amount of time there exploring and getting underneath the surface. It’s a good place to start if it’s your first time in Russia as it’s much more tourist-friendly than the other major cities, and therefore less overwhelming for your first stop before heading on to Moscow or Kazan.

I’ve avoided including anything I didn’t fancy myself and I’ve only focused on the city of St Petersburg itself and a couple of day trips… If I go any further afield, this would turn into a million things to do and no one will have the patience to read it. I’ll be impressed if anyone actually reads all 38 things. But I hope it’s helpful, even if you just pick a few out for a shorter trip. Also note that I went to Moscow just before I came to St Petersburg, if you also want to find out about that (and I slightly preferred it, too – although I loved both).

Anyway, crack open the vodka and read on if you want some tips on things to do in this fairytale Russian city…

Continue Reading

How to do a Siena day trip from Florence, Italy: a perfect one-day itinerary

Siena day trip from Florence: one day itinerary | PACK THE SUITCASES

If you’re planning a Siena day trip from Florence, here’s how I recommend making the most of your time there. Only one day in Siena isn’t really enough, but in reality if you’re doing a trip around Tuscany, you’re probably going to have to limit your time in some places. There’s a lot to see in this charming medieval city, but if you plan ahead you can cram quite a bit in. 

Hop on a train from Florence bound south for Siena, and an hour and a half later (via lovely views) you’ll be there. Siena is the largest of the hill towns that are scattered among the region here, but it’s got its own distinct charm. As well as being famous for the huge Piazza del Campo, its main square, it’s also home to some stunning Gothic architecture, winding medieval streets, and a ridiculous quantity of delicious food and drink.

If you’re exploring the best of Tuscany, a Siena day trip is not to be missed. This is how I recommend doing it…

Continue Reading

2 days in Santorini, Greece: a dreamy itinerary

2 days in Santorini, Greece: the perfect itinerary | PACK THE SUITCASES

If you’re visiting the Greek islands, you may well be planning to spend 1 or 2 days in Santorini. It’s one of the most popular of the islands in the Cyclades, known for its white buildings, blue rooftops and lush pink flowers. Even if it’s not on your bucket list, you’ll instantly recognise it from about eleventy million Instagram photos! It’s one of the most well-known and touristy places I’ve ever visited, which isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I actually really enjoyed it. I mean, just look at it.

There’s plenty to see, do and eat if you’ve got 2 days in Santorini, but if you’re just visiting for 1 day from a neighbouring island while doing some island hopping, you can cram quite a bit into a short visit too. My only word of warning is that it isn’t cheap, so brace yourself and your bank balance. I managed to do it without bankrupting myself, but I planned ahead a lot to do that. If you just wander around and hope for the best, your purse is going to take a hit. Consider yourself warned.

Here’s my lowdown on the island, and an itinerary for how best to spend 2 days in Santorini…

Continue Reading

A guide to Kōchi, Japan: things to do, see and eat

Things to do in Kochi, Japan | PACK THE SUITCASES

Before I get stuck into this blog post, I should point out that this is a guide to things to do in Kochi, Japan, and not the other place called Kochi that isn’t in Japan at all but in India. When I was researching Kochi before visiting it, I kept landing on pages not even about the right country, so I thought I’d better get that cleared up first off.

ANYWAY, as a total Japan addict who has been lots of times and visited lots of cities, I definitely recommend Kochi as a more off-the-beaten path city in Japan, maybe for a second or third trip. You don’t normally think of palm trees, laid-back attitudes and citrus fruits when you think of Japanese cities, but Kochi is here to turn that on its head.

Kochi (or Kōchi to be 100% correct, but there’s no way I’m copy-and-pasting that all the way through) is the capital of Kochi Prefecture on the southern coast of Shikoku. The city is relatively small by Japan’s usual standards. And it’s incredibly friendly, with a distinct lack of the normal Japanese reservedness (this may be down to Kochi’s love of drinking…). More on that later though.

I spent a few days exploring Kochi, so I feel I can give some decent tips on how best to spend your time there. Here’s my guide to the city, featuring some of the best things to do in Kochi, Japan. Yes, definitely Japan. Move along if we’re in the wrong country…

Continue Reading

20 things to do in Naxos, Greece

Things to do in Naxos, Greece

Here are some of my favourite things to do in Naxos, Greece. I fell in love with the island this year and had a good four days there, eating and exploring. I’ve put this together to give you some decent tips on how best to spend your time on this beautiful island in the Cyclades.

Naxos is often overshadowed by its more well-known and well-Instagrammed neighbours, Santorini and Mykonos. But having been to all three, it wasn’t hard to pick a favourite – that being Naxos, of course. Santorini and Mykonos are both thoroughly on the tourist trail. Both (especially Mykonos) are also eye-wateringly expensive. Naxos was much more unspoilt, peaceful and affordable but pretty much exactly the same scenery-wise. The only difference was you could actually get a good photograph of the classic Greek white, winding streets without it being ruined by crowds of tourists. Naxos is also the greenest of the Cyclades islands, so as well as all the beautiful towns, you’ve got lush mountainous backdrops. Lovely stuff. I’ve not even mentioned the incredible food yet either, but don’t worry. It never takes long on this blog to get back to the important topic of eating.

Anyway, imagine the sunshine and the cheese waiting for you, and read on for the best things to do in Naxos…

Continue Reading

How to visit Russia: 20 travel tips, from visas to vodka

20 Russia travel tips: from visas to vodka | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here’s a list of my top 20 Russia travel tips to get you started with planning a trip. Lots of people have asked me exactly how to visit Russia since I got back and where to start with planning a trip, so I’ve been working on this massive Russia travel blog post over the last few months. It covers everything from how to get a Russian visa, to cultural ‘must knows’, to safety and more. 

After falling in love with both Moscow and St Petersburg when I visited, I realised that although I’d blogged a lot about both cities, I’d not written more generic stuff about visiting Russia overall. It’s not somewhere most people have been to in my experience, certainly not here in the UK anyway. I’ve also not been able to find many UK-based Russia travel blog posts out there. So hopefully these Russia travel tips will help anyone planning on visiting this incredible country.

Anyway, pour yourself a vodka and get reading…

Continue Reading