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Archive for The Wowcher Team

Wowcherching’s perfect SS15 look from ASOS for under £100!

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Shop SS15 style for the ultimate lift!

In the midst of AW15 London Fashion Week, we just couldn’t turn our backs on an excuse to shop style on a budget! With sunny optimism and a slight rewind of fashion-forward time, we’ve put together a trendy spring look on a £100 budget, from none other than ASOS!

You can find links to all the pieces mentioned at www.wowcher.co.uk/cashback/asos . Best of all, every purchase from ASOS will earn you 3% cashback; and in the name of fashion, we’ll give you 25% cashback bonus for the rest of London Fashion Week (until 1st March)!

If you’re not yet familiar with how Wowcherching cashback works, click here. In a nut shell, you simply have to click from our website to a retailer’s, i.e. ASOS, and shop as normal. We then track your purchase, and before long you’ll have 3% cashback plus 25% cashback bonus in your Wowcher Wallet, all of which you can spend on Wowcher daily deals; alternatively you can transfer the 3% cashback to your bank or PayPal account!

Caption: Jeans £32 | Jacket £13.50 (reduced from £38) | Top £12

Caption: Jeans £32 | Jacket £13.50 (reduced from £38) | Top £12

With a nod to spring’s explosion of denim, we’ve gone for slim leg, high waist jeans, in a 70’s throwback blue; and paired these with a must-have duster jacket, over a high neck, silky black cami – a touch of the ‘90s never goes amiss (see above)!

To accessorise, we’ve gone for black slider sandals, a black mesh shopper and feminine, cat-eye sunnies!

Caption: Sandals £10 | Bag £18 | Sunglasses £12

Caption: Sandals £10 | Bag £18 | Sunglasses £12

Is it all in budget? Of course it is! The grand total of our on-trend outfit came in at just £98!

Perfect your spring wardrobe with ASOS and Wowcherching, and earn 3% cashback plus 25% cashback bonus!

Happy shopping!
Love,
Wowcherching x

P.S. if you decide to purchase a mesh bag, please exercise caution where valuables are concerned!

Wowcher Takes a Dip in the City of Bath

SKYLINEOnce a playground for the rich during the glamour of the Georgian era, Bath’s natural hot springs and architectural marvels have paved its way to World Heritage status. Though small in size, Bath is immensely picturesque and holds many cobbled pockets of charm. Elegant crescents and terraces curve over and around the petite city’s hills, while steeples and spires rise above the steam from the ancient Roman baths. For a slice of continental charm, forget far-flung foreign destinations – take a dip in the spa city of Bath…

Take to the Water
Bath was built upon hot springs and is the only place in the UK where you can immerse yourself in the thermal waters that have bubbled deep underneath the city for over 2,000 years. To recreate the Roman experience (unwieldy armour and bloodshed excluded), visit the original ancient bathing house, The Roman Baths. Besides exploring the very changing rooms where our Roman conquerors got in their birthday suits before bathing, you’ll even be able to dip a finger in the naturally warm water of the thermal pools where the Romans would wash. Afterwards, if you’re craving a modern-day spa experience, head to the Thermae Bath Spa around the corner, where you can bathe above Bath in the rooftop swimming pool with unrivalled city views.

Tip: Book yourself in for a twilight spa package at the Thermae Bath Spa to see the sun set over the city as you soak up the mineral waters.

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When in Bath, do as the Romans did…

Building Bridges
Bath’s enchanting cityscape is carved from creamy golden stone and boasts over 5,000 listed buildings and perfectly-preserved Georgian houses. To see the best of the city’s honey-hued architecture and heritage, start at Bath Abbey and weave your way up the hill to Victoria Park. You’ll pass the spherical Royal Circus, followed by the Royal Crescent, a curved sweep of palatial façades in perfect symmetry. Back in the centre, stroll to where the River Avon crosses Pulteney Bridge (modelled on Florence’s famed Ponte Vecchio) and browse the chic boutiques and cosy coffee shops that line the bridge – you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled to Firenze itself.

Tip: From Pulteney Bridge, continue along Great Pulteney Street to Sydney Gardens (the only remaining 18th century ‘Pleasure Gardens’ in the UK) behind the Holburne Museum (free admission).

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Pulteney Bridge

Costume Culture
If following in the footsteps of Jane Austen (who lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806) has left you with a thirst for more of her romantic fiction, you can learn about the novelist’s life and work at Bath’s Jane Austen Centre. While you’re there, create your own Austen ambience by dressing up in the coats, bonnets, shawls and parasols provided, or treat yourself to a ‘Mr Darcy’ champagne afternoon tea at the Regency Tea room within the centre.

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To see the best of the city’s honey-hued architecture and heritage, start at Bath Abbey and weave your way up the hill to Victoria Park

City Skyline
Along with Rome, San Francisco and Prague, the city of Bath was built into enfolds of seven hills. Encircling the city, the six-mile Bath skyline walk takes eager amblers through grassy pastures and beech woodlands to reach Richens orchard and an Iron Age fort, offering many glimpses of the golden city – not to mention rare wildlife – along the way. Once you’re back in the cobbled streets, rest your feet and refuel at one of Bath’s many Michelin-starred restaurants or gastro pubs, such as Georgian townhouse-turned-culinary kitchen, The Porter.

Tip: On the skyline walk, head slightly off route at Bathwick Hill to admire the arches and turrets of Sham Castle, an 18th-century folly.

Fancy hitting the heritage hotspot yourself? Check out our luxury overnight stay in Bath on Wow Go!

Please note – all deals featured may not be live!

Come Dine with Wowcher!

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Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only day of the year you treat that special someone to a fancy meal out!

You may think that Cupid is simply the face of Valentine’s Day – just your run of the mill, curly-haired flying baby, sporting a nappy and armed with a bow and arrow. But in classical mythology, he is the god of love, desire and eroticism. Such a passionate being would be absolutely appalled to find out that many of us use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to limit organising romantic meals out with our partners to once a year! Where’s the passion in that?! Here at Wowcher, we strongly believe that you should be dining with your loved ones regularly lest the spark blow out. Therefore, we’ve created a handy guide to the best restaurants where you two can eat your hearts out, all year round.

Casa Italia, Southport
There’s nowhere more romantic than Italy, so bring your partner to Casa Italia and re-enact that famous scene from Lady and the Tramp with their delicious spaghetti carbonara. With a fantastic atmosphere and a plethora of scrumptious Italian cuisine to choose from, this restaurant is the perfect place for the two of you to convene and unwind after a stressful day at work. No one does food better than the Italians, right? Well Casa Italia proves it. Bravo!

Rated 4* on Trip Advisor, Manchester's very own Lola Lo makes for the perfect place to to chow down on delicious food and enjoy some seriously scrumptious cocktails!

Rated 4* on Trip Advisor, Manchester’s very own Lola Lo makes for the perfect place to to chow down on delicious food and enjoy some seriously scrumptious cocktails!

Lola Lo, Manchester
Aloha! If you and your partner are after a trip to a tropical paradise, but feel unsure about the hefty price tag and stress that comes with travelling half way around the world, Lola Lo’s should be your first port of call. You and your special someone can devour the most delectable hotdogs or burgers with more topping choices than you could possibly ever need. Accompany your meal with an island-themed cocktail and you may just forget you’re still in Manchester! Although, don’t get too carried away; you may get some strange looks if you whip out your bikini and start applying sun lotion…

Chamberlain’s, Leadenhall Market
Grab your top hat and pearls, this will be the fanciest Sunday lunch you’ve ever demolished. Forget about watery gravy and over-cooked veggies, Chamberlain’s is a 5* restaurant that is out to make you question everything you once knew about Sunday roasts. Enjoy two courses, choosing from a rump of beef, corn fed chicken or a whole baked salmon sole, to name but a few of Chamberlain’s tasty dishes. Need waking up from a heavy Saturday night? Enjoy a cup of their steaming hot coffee, or if ‘hair of the dog’ is more your style, have a glass of Prosecco too!

Fusing traditional Lebanese décor with the sleek furniture typically found in trendy London restaurants, one step into Yamal Alsham and you know it’s more than just your taste buds that are in for a treat!

Fusing traditional Lebanese décor with the sleek furniture typically found in trendy London restaurants, one step into Yamal Alsham and you know it’s more than just your taste buds that are in for a treat!

Yamal Alsham, Knightsbridge
Do you struggle deciding what to order at a restaurant? Food envy is all too real – seeing your orders arrive at your table and wishing you had opted for the same as your partner is enough to put a downer on any evening out. Yamal Alsham has managed to combat this problem by giving you a ten-course (yes, TEN course!) tasting menu filled with authentic Lebanese and Syrian cuisine. Not only does the food taste great, but the ultra-trendy restaurant looks great too. So long, food envy.

A trendy Shoreditch bar and restaurant inspired by the late ‘king of cool’ Steve McQueen, not to mention winner of ‘Best DJ Bar’ at the London Club and Bar Awards 2014, McQueen is our pick for a night out to remember.

A trendy Shoreditch bar and restaurant inspired by the late ‘king of cool’ Steve McQueen, not to mention winner of ‘Best DJ Bar’ at the London Club and Bar Awards 2014, McQueen is our pick for a night out to remember.

McQueen, Shoreditch
Trying to add a touch of style and sophistication to your relationship? Then we suggest the two of you start hanging out at the award-winning McQueen bar and restaurant in Shoreditch. Inspired by the ‘King of Cool’ Steve McQueen, this restaurant is about as chic as it gets. Enjoy a three-course meal and while away the hours discussing how trendy you now are over a bottle of wine. A word to the wise, don’t forget to sample one or two (or five…) of their cocktails. You won’t be disappointed.

And so there you have it, you now have absolutely no excuse to limit having romantic meals to once a year. Please note – all deals featured may not be live. But with fab new deals added daily, make sure you keep checking Wowcher.co.uk!

The Wowcher Guide to Roaming in Rome

romeSaturated with fine art, architectural genius and delectable food, it’s easy to see why millions of tourists flock to Rome every year. Based on the banks of the River Tiber, the city was founded in 753 BC according to Roman tradition, with thousands of years of ancient history providing a rich backdrop to the Italian capital. There’s so much to discover in just a short mini break that unlocking the secrets of the city can feel like a challenge. Luckily, Wowcher has the key!

Architecture and Art
Tourists always congregate at the Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world and home to some seriously impressive architectural and artistic feats (plus Pope Francis, of course). Whilst marvelling at Michelangelo’s ceiling is a must, there’s much more to see than just the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museums showcase tapestries, ceramics, mosaics, Renaissance masterpieces and much more, including the famous frescoes of the Raphael Rooms and a striking tapestry of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. You can also scale the heights of St Peter’s Basilica for views inside the Cupola and out across Rome.

If you fancy heading off the beaten track instead, take a trip to San Clemente. Tucked away on Via Labicana, the 12th century Basilica sits over a 2nd century pagan temple, with its initial foundations dating as far back as the Roman Republic. Visit the lower levels to peel back the layers of Roman history and you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of an ancient aqueduct filtering water from the Tiber, with a fountain of spring water bursting out of the wall. Forget the Trevi Fountain – throw a coin in here and make a wish!

Tip: If you want to beat the queues at the Vatican City, make sure you book tickets online before you go. There are lots of tour guides offering their services outside the gates, but be aware that some of the tours can be quite lengthy if you’re short on time.

The Heart of Rome
A trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Colosseum. Constructed in approximately 70 AD and used for gladiatorial competitions, dramatic public spectacles and grisly executions, the extraordinary arena emanates a sense of grandiose history and forgotten glory. To the east lies the ruins of the Roman Forum, the heart of ancient Roman life and home to the remains of the Temple of Saturn, Temple of Vesta, Arch of Septimius Severus and much more. The Palantine Hill offers a great vantage point for panoramic views of the site – a combined ticket to see it all costs just €12, so buy yourself a selfie stick and get snapping!

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Tip: Nip into the Altare della Patria (the big white building on Piazza Venezia) and take the elevator to the very top. For just €7 each you’ll get 360° views across the entire city, including an amazing view of the Colosseum and beyond.

Escaping the Crowds
If you fancy a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre, take a leisurely walk up the Spanish Steps to visit the landscaped gardens of Villa Borghese. The parkland features a beautiful lake, surrounded by willow trees and presided over by the majestic 18th century Temple of Aesculapius. It’s the perfect spot for an Italian-style picnic (think antipasti and wine) or a romantic boat ride for two. If you’re an art fan, finish your afternoon in the Galleria Borghese and explore the stunning selection of sculptures, paintings and antiquities from the 1st-3rd centuries AD.

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Tip: Segways, bikes and pedal karts are available to hire if you want to explore the park during the summer months. You can also rent roller blades if you’re feeling really flash.

Dining and Nightlife
For a truly magical dining experience with one of the best views in Rome, the rooftop restaurant of Aroma is located directly opposite the Colosseum and boasts a gorgeous vista of the historic monument at night. The restaurant serves a delicious (if slightly pricey) menu of classic Italian dishes with a gourmet twist. If you fancy something a bit more down to earth (literally), there are hundreds of options elsewhere in the city – cross the Tiber to get lost in the maze of cobbled streets and charming piazzas in Trastevere, renowned for its vibrant array of bars, cafés and boutique shops, or wander the backstreets around the Pantheon to find a tucked away trattoria. If you’re hoping to fulfil your lifelong quest for the perfect pizza, you can have a good go at Li Rioni, a classic pizzeria that serves up its dough the traditional way – thin, crispy and topped with plenty of fresh tomato and mozzarella. Delizioso!

Tip: You can’t leave Rome without gobbling down at least one gelato (yes, they will probably stop you at the airport if you don’t). We recommend the creamy treats from Il Gelato Di San Crispino, a local legend that you can find just behind the Trevi Fountain.

Outside Rome
If you’re planning an extended holiday, hop on a train from the central Termini Station in Rome to any number of hidden destinations on the Amalfi Coast. A 2-hour trip will get you as far as Naples, where you can take a scenic boat ride to the beautiful island of Capri. Sip on a glass of wine in La Piazzetta, the bustling square at the heart of island, or ascend the Belvedere Cannone for breath-taking views of the famous faraglioni rock formation. Naples is also an ideal gateway for trips to Sorrento, Positano or Pompeii, the ancient Roman town near the base of Mount Vesuvius. The possibilities are endless!

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Tip: Termini Station also runs international train services to destinations such as Paris, Munich, Geneva, Basel and Vienna if you fancy going even further afield!

However you choose to spend your time in Rome, make sure you take some time to wander the old streets, soak up the relaxed atmosphere and experience the unique character that makes the city so special. After all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do…

Fancy making your way to Rome for a magical escape? Click here to check out the perfect deal for you!

Remember, when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, keep it trained on Wowcher.co.uk for more great deals to Rome and beyond! Please note – all deals featured may not be live! 

The Perfect Pancake

pan3Pancake Day, loved by kids and adults alike, is not only a great excuse to fling batter around the house on a school night but it saves on washing up and doesn’t break the bank when it comes to buying ingredients! Here at Wowcher, we’re all about saving you money, so we’ve prepared a short guide to help you make the perfect pancake.

The Pan is mightier than the wok
Shrove Tuesday falls on February 17th this year and if the Scouts taught us anything, it’s ‘be prepared: don’t try to make a pancake in a wok’. You could be the most prolific pancake-flipping professional but without a good pan, you might as well not bother. Your pancake will look crêpe. You’ll need a shallow, non-stick, medium sized pan like this. Once you have the pan, you’re ready.

Flour power
Creating the pancake mixture is pretty simple, but it would be against a batter judgment to let you tackle it without any of our flipping great tips. Sieve the flour with a pinch of salt to get all the lumps out. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them with a dash of dark rum (optional) and vanilla paste. Make a well in the flour and add the egg mixture. Then, gradually add milk and water until the batter is smooth. Lumps in one’s throat is never a good thing so get the batter smoother than George Clooney in a butter bath. We’re talking really smooooth.

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Whisky Business
Having let the batter settle, melt a knob of butter in your frying pan and whisk it in to the batter before it starts to brown. Now you’re ready to pour the batter into the frying pan. With a ladle bit of luck, two scoops should be enough to thinly cover the pan. Do it carefully though, not like Oliver Twist’s soup chef, more like a Masterchef finalist carefully adding deconstructed jus to a chicken bone. After a few seconds cooking, it’s ShowTime…

Can you flip it?
Can you flip it? Yes you can. Can you flip it? YES YOU CAN! The key is confidence. Believe in your pancake and your pancake will believe in you. Flip the wrist sharply with the perfect amount of up-thrust and your cake will move in the air like Tom Daley doing a backward somersault pike. If you fail on the first flip then DON’T PANIC! Everyone fails first time. Tom Daley probably belly flopped onto a front-crawler the first time he jumped into a pool. Keep practicing, don’t flip your wig if one lands on the cat. Once you’ve nailed the first one, the rest will be a breeze – like tying your shoes or disarming a bomb.
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Top Bananas
Although your pancakes may be singing ‘don’t top me now, I’m having such a good time’, you have to stop flipping at some point. Carefully slide your creation away from the warm, greasy clutches of the pan and onto the plate. Now you’re ready for the toppings! Here at Wowcher we have selected some of our favourite sweet pancakes:

  • Classic lemon and sugar
  • Banana, cinnamon and raspberry jam
  • Maple syrup
  • Blueberries and vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate spread

If sweet is not your thing (really?) then try some savoury recipes like ham and cheese or creamy mushroom. Failing that, experiment and have some fun! Pancake Day is often a good excuse to use up forgotten ingredients and half-eaten spreads. There you have it, the guide to the perfect pancake. Make sure you keep an eye on Wowcher.co.uk for more pantastic offers!

Please note deals featured may not be live. 

The Wowcher Guide to Britain’s Romantic Hotspots

 

holi3“Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels”
– T.S. Eliot (from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

Even the poet T.S. Eliot saw the romantic possibilities in an inexpensive couple’s getaway and that chap knew a thing or two about romance. He understood that passion can blossom in the cheap hotels, the muttering retreats and the half-deserted streets. The thing is, where can you find a brilliant lovers’ haven that is both passionate and affordable? Well, Wowcher is here to guide you through the sensual and passionate landscape of some of Britain’s best romantic break destinations…

Cornwall
The rugged coastlines, picturesque seaside villages and the vast array of golden sandy beaches make Cornwall a popular destination in the UK all year round. If romantic poignancy is your thing, then why not head to Lizard Point, the most southerly place in the UK. Here you can gaze wistfully together out over the ocean, to where the English Channel meets the Atlantic Ocean. Also, for the wilder at heart, Cornwall is home to Penwith Heritage Coast, with plenty of walks, hikes and climbs on offer to suit any level of wanderer. The mild climate of Cornwall also lends the county a Mediterranean air and if you fancy yourself as a champion surfer, head to the warm waters and golden beaches of Porthleven or Constantine.

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The rugged coastlines, picturesque seaside villages and the vast array of golden sandy beaches make Cornwall a must for a romantic break

If you can’t make it to Cornwall, then the coast of Pembrokeshire in South Wales offers equally splendid romantic break potential, with Broad Haven and West Dale amongst the best golden sand beaches in the UK.

The Lake District
Stunningly beautiful views? Check. Rugged landscape and fresh air? Check. Friendly local residents and a quiet, relaxed way of life? Check. The Lake District is one of Britain’s most popular rural tourist destinations for good reason. From Kirkby Lonsdale in the south to Carlisle in the north, by way of Lake Windermere, Penrith and Keswick, the Lake District offers adventurous couples a romantic escape from the pressure cooker of urban life and a chance to spend time together alone in the great outdoors. For those who prefer modern comforts above the adventurous thrill of camping, there are an abundance of friendly family-run B&Bs throughout the Lake District where couples can relax and enjoy the famous warm hospitality of rural North West England.

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Stunningly beautiful views? Check. Rugged landscape and fresh air? Check…

Brighton
Brighton’s own tourist board proudly boasts that it is the UK’s flirtiest city and, whether you are in a relationship or looking for love, there can be no doubt that Brighton is one the UK’s most romantic destinations. Known as the location of many a summer romance and also as one of the world’s most LGBT-friendly places, Brighton offers the chance for a sensual weekend away where loved up couples can go for a romantic stroll along the sea-front or love-seeking singles can enjoy the pulsating experience of one of the City’s many renowned nightclubs.

Stratford-upon-Avon
On the romance front, the beautiful town of Stratford upon Avon has a lot going for it. Not only is it stunningly picturesque and a charming example of provincial English life, it is also the home town of the man from whose imagination the greatest love story in history sprang. William Shakespeare is of course Stratford’s most famous son and so beautiful and romantic is the town that it’s unsurprising it inspired him to create the story of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. What’s more, in honour of the great Bard himself, the town is now home to the Royal Shakespeare Company, who run a year-round programme of plays in their recently refurbished theatre, which makes a great venue for a special romantic date. Combine this with a stay in a cosy cottage and indulge in the rustic lifestyle Stratford-upon-Avon has to offer.

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And finally…
If you’re looking for something seriously different for a romantic getaway, beyond the usual couple’s retreat-style weekend, then you can always find somewhere to satisfy your deepest curiosities and urges in the form of a swingers’ hotel break. Back in 2013, we ran a special deal for a break at a swingers’ hotel called The Vanilla Alternative and the ensuing interest almost crashed the site with half a million people logging on to view the unusual and…erm…’adventurous’ offer. It just goes to show that the demand is there!

So if you’re looking for a memorable couple’s retreat, or perhaps even something a little different to your traditional countryside break for 2, then keep on opening those emails from Wowcher.co.uk…

Wowcherching’s Valentine’s Gift Ideas

Love is all around us…

Valentine’s Day… the perfect opportunity to treat your boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, wife, fiancé, partner or, let’s just say, special someone who’s yet to make an official title. Play your cards right and buy a gift through Wowcherching, and we guarantee you’ll receive a very happy return – cashback, of course!

For all the remaining singletons, we’d like to dispel the idea that Valentine’s celebrations require an essential other half – you are complete as you are, and deserve to rejoice in love and reap the cashback rewards too! Plus, as Wet Wet Wet (among others) soothingly sang, ‘love is all around you’. In other words, no wallowing, no grumping around, and you have two options: 1) share the love, be it with your lover, friends, family, pet or indeed self, and get cashback; or 2) find the love (of your life), and get up to £60 cashback with eHarmony or up to £45 with match.com!

How does cashback work? You click through to a retailer via our website and shop as normal. We do all the rest for you – any purchases you then make from said retailer will be tracked and before you know it you’ll receive cashback in your Wowcher Wallet plus 10% bonus, all of which can be spent on Wowcher Daily Deals! As a Valentine’s treat, we’ve compiled a list of Valentine’s retailers which will get you 25% cashback bonus – all the retailers mentioned in this post included!  Read more

Wowcher Discovers the Best of Buda and Pest…

buda1Set astride the Danube River, the city of Budapest is home to history, culture and an abundance of Camembert. Rich with opportunity, the city (and the Camembert!) ooze potential for new experience. From the stunning panoramic views visible from Buda Castle hill to the colourful bars and natural hot spas that bubble down below, visitors from all walks of life will find something to tickle their fancy in the Hungarian capital. Wowcher never settles for anything less than the best, which is why we’re bringing you the top spots of brilliant Budapest…

A little history…
Relatively short-lived as the city we now know, Budapest was born in 1873 from the unification of its older and wiser parents, Buda and Pest. Both dating back over 2000 years and host to battle, siege and recovery, the districts are separated by the Danube and each celebrate their own customs and history. Nowadays, travelling across the river by tram, metro or bus couldn’t be easier for tourists looking to take in attractions from all areas of the city. Whether it’s the lively bars and restaurants of Southern Pest or the grand Parliament buildings and rolling hills of Buda that competes for your attention, we reckon the only real winner is the lucky visitor to fascinating Budapest…

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Offering the best views in the Budapest, the grand castle makes for a must-visit

Top spots…
For a view to rival all others, it’s all about the Buda Castle. Set atop the hillside and easily accessible by cable car or foot (we chose the first option), the historic Palace looks out over the city, river and bridges. Offering a panoramic view that certainly paints a pretty picture, you’ll need no filters to capture the sprawling cityscape and impress any number of Instagram followers. Whilst onsite, don’t pass up the chance to embrace Budapest’s rich history at the National Hungarian Museum, based within Buda Castle. Other notable city attractions include the triumphant Heroes’ Square, the Jewish Quarter and Dohany Street Synagogue, not to mention St Stephen’s Basilica where the breath-taking interior is only rivalled by the views from the top tower…

Boasting both indoor and outdoor spas, the city’s many baths offer a unique place to relax and unwind.

Boasting both indoor and outdoor spas, the city’s many baths offer a unique place to relax and unwind

Something different…
Thanks to the natural hot springs which bubble under Budapest, the city is the proud owner of more medicinal and thermal spas than any other city in the world. How’s that for a fun fact? Boasting both indoor and outdoor spas, the city’s many baths offer a unique place to relax and unwind. We took a trip to the famous Szechenyi Baths where we braved the 3 degree temperatures and hurried to the delightful waters of the huge 38 degree outdoor pool. Including both a whirlpool and natural Jacuzzi function, the sensation of sitting back and admiring the unique ‘wedding-cake’ structure of the spa building through the rising steam was one that was truly unlike any other. Our tub at home certainly can’t top that!

Budapest offers a plethora of dining experiences to suit every palette

Filling the void…
A long day exploring the city will certainly work up your appetite – which isn’t a problem as Budapest offers a plethora of dining experiences to suit every palette. Whether it’s traditional Hungarian cuisine (think hearty meats and stews) served in authentic eateries, or the world cuisine now readily available in cafes and restaurants throughout the city, there’s plenty to fill you up. After enjoying savoury pancakes and traditionally prepared meat on the first night of our stay, we became distracted by the tasty Turkish and Thai restaurants near our apartment for the remainder of the trip – not to mention the tasty breaded camembert served with blackcurrant dip served in all Hungarian McDonalds. With a glass of wine and pint of beer totalling the equivalent of £1 in many local bars, the merriment in Budapest is second-to-none. Want to feel it for yourself? Click here to get booking your trip…

Wowcher Does Krakow

krakow
Evelyn spent a weekend in Krakow to offer us culture buffs some of the city’s quirkiest hotspots. Spoiler alert, these include scaling 1000ft underground to meet dwarves, as well as tales of a rather brutish dragon…

Krakow, admittedly, is somewhat overshadowed as a first choice mini-break destination by its neighbouring European cities, and is perhaps more famous for its close proximity to Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau than its seductive nightlife and culture. Winner of European Capital of Culture in 2000 and host of World Youth Day in 2016, however, make Krakow much more than a memorial site, as I discovered last month.

An intoxicating mix of traditional heritage sites and contemporary coffee-houses come edgy wine bars turn nightfall make it a hit with modern flaneurs; and everywhere from the cobbled streets extending towards enchanting Wawel Castle, overlooking Old Town and beyond, is worth exploring. Capital of Lesser Poland, home to Europe’s second oldest university, keeper of Wawel Dragon and built on aristocratic soil: Krakow glitters on any traveller’s bucket list.

Christmas Markets on the main square dazzle visitors with hearty dishes during winter months

Eat
Traditional Polish grub abounds in Krakow, but you’ll need to look further afield to strike gold. Tourist-driven food stalls on Market Square fail to deliver on taste compared with the city’s ex-Socialist milk bars serving home-cooked stews for less than £3 a dish, but don’t hold it against them. During November through January the square turns into a Christmas Market, offering a fantastic backdrop for scarf and hat-clad romantic evenings – and mulled wine is a bargain at £1.20. Take touristy snaps amongst sellers in Polish dress, admire the arts and crafts or simply soak up the festivities before sampling homemade Pierogi (a type of savoury dumpling) at Bar Gornik. For world cuisine, you’ll spot Italian-Polish, Indian to American-style restaurants off the main square, but for something extra special head to Manzana. If you enjoy freshly made nachos followed by sizzling chicken fajitas, this place offers the best Mexican dishes you’ll find outside the Americas, promise.


Bed Rest
Whether you feel comfortable in five, four or three star hotels, Krakow has it covered. I stayed at Hotel Petrus on the outskirts of Krakow in a package including breakfast, which didn’t disappoint – thanks again to the waitress for her recommendation of Weitliczka salt mine, but more on that later. Elsewhere, hostels can be found smack bang in the city centre, Flamingo Hostel being one which cropped up in conversation with fellow travellers for its cheery service and cheap prices for gap year folk.

Massolit Books houses some of Poland’s best works of Jewish studies and canonised works

Massolit Books houses some of Poland’s best works of Jewish studies and canonised works

Hangout
Temperatures drop below zero come winter so finding a place to chill, or rather, warm up, is seriously important. I recommend getting acquainted with Charlotte, a French-inspired eatery decked out in Scandinavian design (think low hanging industrial lights, open pipe work, walnut benches), as well as Krakow’s best-loved secret, Massolit Books. The latter, a maze of English-language bookshelves specialising in Polish literature, Jewish studies and Humanities is a favourite bibliophile hideaway: alcoves are covered with paperbacks, antique chandeliers give off an atmospheric hue and the sweet aroma of baked goods from the adjacent café can’t help but seduce. Fancy something a bit more upbeat? Swap coffee for cocktails at U Muniaka, a legendary jazz den hidden inside a 14th century cellar, a stone’s throw from St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Jagiellonian University, one of Europe’s first universities, is on the map for any culture loving travel buff

Jagiellonian University, one of Europe’s first universities, is on the map for any culture loving travel buff

Attractions
Wieliczka salt mine is hands-down Krakow’s quirkiest attraction: an underground metropolis of spiralling tunnels, salt lakes and chapels that attract over one million visitors each year – and it’s even listed on UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. During my trip, I snapped up a two-hour English-speaking tour in a group of around twenty, journeying over one thousand feet below ground. You visit three levels, crossing passageways deep-set with statues before arriving at Chapel of St Kinga, a grandiose-style church ornamented with hanging chandeliers and walls displaying various religious scenes, which are, of course, made from hand-carved transparent salt crystals. And the best bit? It’s got to be speeding up a miner’s lift at one-metre per second to the reach the surface!

Elsewhere, you can visit the Collegium Maius, commonly known as Jagiellonian University, one of the world’s earliest universities and a testament to both European architecture and Polish intelligentsia. Home to mathematician and astrologer Copernicus, it holds many priceless artefacts including an original 15th century globe and various astronomic equipment, as well as the famous Gothic courtyard (worthy of an Instagram shot, I can assure you) when you need time to relax.

So there you have it! Isn’t it time you explored the beautiful city yourself? Simply check our great travel deals here.

Please note – deals featured may not be live. 

Wowcher’s Ways to Win Hearts in Paris


Some sceptics have questioned whether Paris is the City of Love, but when in 2014 part of the Pont des Arts bridge collapsed under the weight of thousands of ‘love-locks’ left by smitten sightseers, the city’s reputation as a love nest was only cemented. From hand-in-hand strolls along the Seine to admiring the city skyline from Sacré-Cœur, Paris exudes amour – and who are we to deny its romance? To ensure your trip isn’t ruined by a fatal bridge flop, we suggest you twitterpated tourists steer clear of weighing down the Pont des Arts any further with your tokens of everlasting affection. Instead, follow our step-by-step guide to charming your chéri or chérie.

(The) LO(u)V(r)E
Take away the U and the R and Louvre spells love – coincidence? We think not. Since the château opened its doors as a museum in 1793, it’s been full of loved-up couples fighting to impress each other with their grasp of the art within. From Greek sculptures to Egyptian antiquities, the Louvre’s collection spans from about 7000 BC until 1848. No trip to the Louvre would be complete without laying eyes on the enigmatic Mona Lisa, so usher your lover to the museum’s most visited masterpiece and astonish them with a few facts you’ve practised in advance (for example, the Leonardo da Vinci painting was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 by an Italian criminal, returned only in 1913. FACT). Our top tip of all? Regardless of their gender, tell your treasure their smile is more mysterious than lady Lisa’s could ever be, while you peruse the painting.


Smothering Heights
Paris is teeming with sweeping ooh la la-worthy views, and there’s no better way to smother your sweetheart than to tell them they’re The One atop one of the city’s many viewpoints. Why not express your torrent of affection over a ride in the Funiculaire du Montmartre, or if you prefer the panting, sporadic approach, as you ascend the 1665 steps of the Eiffel Tower? Our favourite spot from which to contemplate the city with a loved one is alongside the grotesque gargoyles of Notre-Dame Cathedral. You’ll look utterly ravishing stood next to the surly sculptures as you gaze 115 feet down at Jean-Paul-II square, with beautiful views of the rippling River Seine.

Satisfying l’estomac
For a city frequented by canoodling, kissing couples, a fair amount of onion goes into the haute cuisine for which Paris is celebrated. Could this sweet pungency be traced to that certain je ne sais quoi that makes the French so irresistible? We’re not entirely convinced, but you mustn’t leave without trying classic French starter soupe à l’oignon, a buttery broth of silky onions topped with bubbling cheese. If that doesn’t get your senses stirred, slurp up another French favourite instead: oysters. The delicious aphrodisiacal dish is rich in zinc, thought to trigger sexual potency. Casanova allegedly ate 50 oysters a day to fuel his seduction of a trail of virgin nuns. Need we say more?


Literary Love
If the real love of your life is literature, then grab your unsuspecting sweetie and follow in the wining and dining footsteps of writers that once graced the streets of Paris. Head to the Left Bank (southern bank of the Seine) to see the literary haunts of expat writers Hemmingway and Fitzgerald, along with remnants of the explosive jazz age. The Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood lines the Left Bank and was the core of the existentialist movement during the 1940s and 1950s, ruled by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Seated in the legendary Le Café de Flore from breakfast until dinner, the philosophers would draw crowds of intellectuals. Today the café is a tourist trap, where a croissant will cost you nearly the price of a checked-in bag on a Ryanair flight. But if your literary love is strong enough, you’ll shell out to soak up the artistic atmosphere of Le Café de Flore, leaving your luggage’s fate to the lobby boy you’ve affectionately named Pierre.

However you spend your stay in the City of Love, the most romantic gesture of all is to book a surprise trip to Paris for your lucky beloved. Make sure you look out for deals on Wow Go!

Fancy heading there yourself? You could win a 4* Valentine’s weekend in Paris for two including return flights by just clicking here!