Bled, Bratislava, Strasbourg, Tbilisi and The Hague
This is a part of a series of ‘A guide for one day in (City)’. This post series includes an informative guide, shared by well-traveled and experienced travelers, about their favorite popular European cities and the ways to explore it in one day. If you are short on time or want to make use the quick city stop, this is the perfect place to know where to go and what to see. Keep reading to know how to spend one day in Bled, Bratislava, Strasbourg, Tbilisi and The Hague in this part.
Bled in Slovenia is one of the most charming towns in all of Europe. Located just 45 minutes by car from Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, it’s the perfect getaway for those who don’t want to stray too far. Whether you like nature, history, or food, there are so many activities in Lake Bled to try during a day in the town.
While in Bled, you can tour the stunning lake beside the town and ride a boat to the iconic church on the island in the middle. At the church, you can ring the bell three times and make a wish, according to legend. If you’re looking for fairytale castles, head to the Bled Castle to learn more about the history of the area, which sits atop a striking cliff on the lakeside. Wandering and exploring the town is easy, as bike and boat rentals are available all over the place.
If hiking is more of your thing, hike up to Ojstrica viewpoint at sunset to soak in the panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, or explore the surrounding parts of Triglav National Park. When you’re ready for some downtime, be sure to sample some of the famous Bled Cream Cake, the area’s dessert specialty. No matter what kind of traveler you are, there’s something for you to enjoy in the magical town of Bled, Slovenia.
Bratislava is one of Europe’s small capitals. That means it is easy to explore Bratislava in just one day. It’s advisable to wear comfortable walking shoes because, while there are public buses in Bratislava, it’s so small that it’s easier to just walk! If you only have one day in Bratislava, start your day taking it all in from the top of Bratislava’s UFO. It’s best to visit the UFO in the morning because it can get incredibly crowded later in the day. There is a café inside, but it is a bit overpriced, so grab coffee and breakfast in town beforehand!
Once you’ve visited the UFO, take in another viewpoint by hiking up to Bratislava Castle, where you can also visit the Slovak National Museum. Wander back down into town after visiting Bratislava Castle and explore Bratislava’s heart, the Old Town. There are a ton of local shops and restaurants in the Old Town, so try to have cash on you. Many places accept a card, but it’s always safest to have Euros in case somewhere does not.
Stop for lunch at one of the many authentic restaurants before heading over to Bratislava’s famed Blue Church. Once you admire the stunning color of the church, circle around to Grassalkovich Palace and explore the gardens. Finish your day at a microbrewery, where you can pair traditional Slovakian food with incredible Slovakian beer!
Strasbourg, France is most known for its idyllic Christmas market and fairytale streets lined with sweet old buildings. While the city itself is not actually that big, after a day of walking around it will feel like it is. The main reason for this is because you won’t pass by a single street that you won’t want to walk down. There are so many little nooks and crannies with romantic storefronts and windows. When you add all those steps up it feels like you’ve walked the perimeter of New York City! A boat ride down the river gives a great perspective of the city with less walking. If you do choose to walk, be sure to go down to the path next to the river to get the best perspective of the buildings. The number one thing not to miss in Strasbourg is also hard to miss. The Cathedral of Strasbourg, also known as the Cathedral of Notre Dame (not to be confused with the one in Paris) was once the tallest building in the world. Climbing the stairwell to the top will give you a spectacular bird’s eye view of the city. Enjoy Flambée in almost any restaurant. A thin crust with a white sauce sprinkled with onions and bacon is a recipe originating in France but quite popular in most parts of Europe and for good reason. The coffee lover won’t be disappointed in Strasbourg‘s coffee scene. There are several cozy shops which serve a great cup of Joy. Strasbourg is a perfect place to get away for a day.
Tbilisi is built on the Mktvari River in close proximity to hot sulphur springs and is on the infamous ancient Silk Road, the trading route that runs between Europe and Asia. It’s a fabulous mix of the cultures of the East and West and much to see here is a combination of each culture that’s passed through over the centuries.
Tbilisi, especially the Old Town is easy to explore on foot in a day. If you have longer here, say a long weekend in Tbilisi, it’s a great location for explorations further into Georgia, so for your day here, head first of all to the pretty but new Peace Bridge across the River Mktari. Explore the sculptures of Rike Park and then take the aerial cableway high up over the city to the 5th-century Narikala fortress. Spot the Presidents Palace, the stunning Orthodox Cathedral and the incredible rooftop views of the old town.
Walk down from the fortress, past the Botanical Gardens to Fig Gorge (great to escape the heat if you’re here in summer), check out the public baths of the Abanotubani area (come back later for a massage and a scrub for US$20. Then head to the Anchiskhati Basilica, Georgia’s oldest church for amazing frescoes, its close to the cartoon-like Gabriadze clock tower, who’s 12-noon puppet show will delight everyone in the family.
The National Museum will give you a sense of the history of this place and a walk around Freedom Square will help you understand her struggles for freedom in the Rose Revolution following Communism.
Then you’ll just have time to check out the great selection of Georgian food and drink from the birthplace of wine and make your way back through the narrow alleyways of this beautiful city to your hotel.
If you have never been to The Hague, you’re in for a pleasant surprise! The Hague (Den Haag) is simply packed with things to do. Museums, bars, patios, coffee shops (the real kind) and restaurants dot the streets. Here’s how to spend a day and do it reasonably cheaply!
First, get up early and grab a coffee and a quick bite to eat at La Place in Central Station. For €3-4 gets you a delicious breakfast sandwich, a croissant, and a coffee. Catch the tram to Binnehof, the Parliament buildings. It’s a fantastic area to just walk around and people watch. If you’re adventurous, try a raw herring at the stall next to the canal!
At 10 am, head over to the Mauritshuis Museum to view the works of the Dutch masters, including Rembrandt, Steen, and Vermeer – The Girl With The Pearl Earring is here! It’s worth the €15.50 (for adults) ticket price. You can easily spend two hours here. Grab a cheap lunch – less than €6 at a Doner or falafel shop. Best meal deal in town! And they’re all good!
Finally, if it’s a nice day, take the tram up to Scheveningen to see the famous lighthouse on the North Sea. It’s free and, when you’re done, you can spend the rest of the day at the adjacent beach! It’s huge and popular. Plus, the restaurants up here are considerably cheaper than they are in the city. There’s so much to do here.
In the evening, The Hague comes alive with restaurants and bars teeming with locals on the outdoor patios. Near Binnehof, I’d recommend Berger. The staff is very friendly, the beer is great, and the Lasagna Funghi – €12 – is delicious!
In The Hague, a single tram ride is €3.50, so I recommend the day pass for €6.50. Trams are everywhere and run constantly.
The Hague is also an excellent jumping off point for several day trips:
Rotterdam is just 25 minutes and 10 euros away by train!
Historic Delft – just 15 minutes on the train.
Leiden is stunning. It’s just about 10-minute train ride that’ll cost €8.
Other things to do: International Criminal Court, Escher Museum, The Palace Noordeinde, Westbroekpark, The Hague market/Haagsemarkt, The Hague Art and Antiques Market