There is nothing like cycling to discover the hidden corners of a new city. It is a pleasant, fun, inexpensive, healthy and environmentally friendly way, and often also the fastest to get around in a congested city. On the one hand, you progress faster than pedestrians, and on the other hand – you are not locked in a car and can enjoy the sights along the way, and if you want to stop, there is no need to worry about parking. Getting active definitely makes us feel good and many of us are sports fans, after all we can even read about the top 10 craziest fans pranks in the world. We love being active. So here are some European cities that are particularly friendly to cyclists:


Amsterdam, and in fact the whole of the Netherlands, is the perfect place for cycling. Bicycles are an integral part of the local culture, so much so that Amsterdam has more pairs of bicycles than residents. The locals take the kids on the bikes to kindergarten, go out with the bikes for an evening out and also ride their bikes (in a suit!) to work. 

The amount of bike paths in the city is endless and you can ride almost anywhere. For the benefit of travelers and tourists, there are many bicycle rental shops scattered throughout the city, along with an urban bicycle sharing system, and in many hotels in the city you can rent bicycles. 

If you are an inexperienced rider, it is advisable to start riding on the shady paths of the huge city park, Wendell Park, and then move on to riding along the city canals. Once you have gained enough experience and skill, the whole of Amsterdam is open to you, and you can also go by bike to the countryside outside the city. 



Berlin is considered one of the greenest cities in Europe, which is reflected, among other things, in the developed bicycle infrastructure and the growing number of residents who ride bicycles on a daily basis and do not let the cold winters deter them. The city is networked with about 620 km of bike paths that pass through all the neighborhoods, central tourist areas, parks and natural areas near the city. 

One of the popular tourist routes runs along the Berlin Wall. The wide boulevards that characterize Berlin make cycling especially comfortable, as well as across Most of the plain terrain. You can also join guided riding tours. 


It is a pleasure to discover Vienna by bike. True, bicycle culture in Vienna is not yet as developed as in Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Berlin, but Vienna is moving in that direction by leaps and bounds. You should start by cycling along the Ringstraße, the wide boulevard that surrounds the city center and includes some of Vienna’s most prominent points of interest. 

And after enjoying a ride in the city center, the forests of Vienna are a perfect place for those who want to enjoy a pleasant walk in nature, rather than necessarily to get to a particular place. The city bike sharing system, City Bike, includes more than 120 stations throughout the city, mostly near subway stations, and the first rental hour is free. In addition, you will find many cyclist – friendly hotels and boarding houses in Vienna, with storage spaces, maps and help for cyclists. 



Many French cities, such as Paris and Bordeaux, are proud of their highly developed bicycle infrastructure, but the city that paved the way was Strasbourg, in eastern France, which led the country’s bicycle revolution. Strasbourg has more than 500 km of cycle paths, and it’s bicycle sharing system is one of the leading in the world. Many points in the city have bicycle moorings (for adults and children) that can be rented for a nominal fee. 



Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is biting into Amsterdam’s status as the European bicycle capital. The city has more bicycles than vehicles and surveys show that more than 60% of residents make their way to work or school by bicycle on a daily basis. The flat, compact and pleasant city is networked with wide bike paths, with elevated paths that allow you to ride safely even in the busy areas of the city center. 

In recent years, about $150 million has been invested in the bicycle infrastructure in Copenhagen, and it seems that they have thought of everything here to encourage residents to prefer bicycles over cars. The traffic lights are timed with the pace of cycling, there are lots of special bicycle parking lots, 16 new bridges for bicycles and pedestrians have been built and more. You can rent the bikes at stores scattered around the city or through the cooperative bike system.

Matt and Deborah Preston from Travel with a mateWe want to help your company engage with people addicted to travel and adventure!

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If you’ve ever been to the USA for tourism or work you’ll know that border control is extremely tight. The United States has some of the strictest rules when it comes to entry in to the country and the joys of visas will no doubt be something you’ll have to contend with if you’re planning extended travel or work there. So here’s a little guide to help you get your head around the fun that is US visas.

What is a visa?

USA travel visa guideFirstly a little background on what visas are. A visa entitles the holder to travel to the United States and apply for admission to enter the country. The visa is issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and technically does not guarantee they will grant you entry in to the country. When you arrive at the airport the staff at border control will check your visa to make sure its genuine and valid. You need a visa even if you’re a tourist although for some countries this is easy to obtain. There are many other types of visas depending on how long you’re staying, who you’re visiting and if you’re working in the country.

I’m going for a week or two, do I need a visa?

This depends on what country you are a citizen of. The USA now has a system called the “Visa Waiver Program” which allows people from certain countries easy entry as long as your passport is valid. You can obtain this online via an application ESTA form. Here’s a list of countries that are eligible. Is yours on the list?

You may be able to get a US entry waiver if you think a past record might hold you back at the border.  Just expect a bit of a grilling when you’re at border control as the staff there like to be thorough.

US Visa Waiver Program

Long term travel visa

B2 extended visaWith such a vast and varied country to explore you may want to to travel around the USA for longer than a standard tourist visa will allow (90 days). You can get a extended travel visa called a B2 Tourist visa which allows up to 6 months of travel within the USA. It is also possible to extend the B2 visa up to 1 year too so that epic road trip you were thinking of is entirely possible. The B2 visa does not allow you to work or conduct any business and you can expect a lot of questions when you arrive about your plans during your extended stay. You may also be asked to prove you have enough funds to for the duration of your trip so I advise printing out some savings  account statements and making sure you have at least theoretically enough money to stay for a few months and afford a journey home. You’re not expected to have enough money to last the full visa length but a clear plan of how you will be funding your travels is always a smart thing to travel with.

Visiting the US Embassy

US EmbassyIts worth noting that if you entered the USA under the Visa Waiver program you can’t apply to extend your stay while you’re in the country. You must return to your country of origin in order to extend. You’ll need to visit the US Embassy in your country and apply for the B2 visa there. As the USA is very strict on immigration you will likely have to make an appointment to be interviewed at the embassy about your travel plans. Expect to spend the day waiting at the Embassy, usually around 3 hours.

If you’ve ever travelled through Europe you’ll probably know what an expensive place it can be for tourists. As a citizen of the European Union I also am lucky enough to be able to live and work in any other country in the EU.

Having travelled extensively on the continent I’ve visited some fantastic places and met some great people, always comparing life back home with their local life. The subject of living expenses often comes up and its always an interesting comparing the differences.

We recently discovered this interactive map showing the cost of living in Europe and thought we’d delve a little deeper in to the data to find out just what living in Europe is like.


Copenhagen cost of livingThe capital of Denmark is a fantastic place to visit whether you’re a tourist or a local. We had the pleasure of visiting in 2010 and instantly fell in love with the place. As Northern European cities go Copenhagen is definitely not a cheap place but its also much more affordable compared to the cities of Norway and Finland.

The cost of food and drink is fairly comparable to the likes of London, England but the cost of renting accommodation in Copenhagen is actually one of the 5th most expensive places on the planet. On the flip side Copenhagen has a fantastic public transport system that is easily affordable and makes the entire city very accessible.

There’s an interesting array of things to see and do in Copenhagen so the higher cost of living is rewarded with a wealth of culture and activities.

Why live Copenhagen?


Budapest cost of livingWhile Budapest is one of the largest cities in Europe its also one of the most affordable too. Situated much further south it enjoys warm weather and is a popular place for tourists especially in the summer months.

With the Danube running through the heart of the city its a very picturesque place too. Renting an apartment here is much much cheaper than Copenhagen, costing just a quarter of the price for a similarly sized apartment in the city.

Having said that, utilities are quite similar to its Danish cousin and thanks to an increase in tourism over the past decade a lot of dining out and popular city activities like the famous baths are now much more expensive than they used to be.

You’ll still find that the average cost of groceries is much cheaper than most European cities so the pennies you save on eating in you can then treat yourself with the occasional night out. Read our party guide to Budapest here.

Why live in Budapest


London cost of livingBeing British I have a fair amount of experience (and friends with experience) in the major metropolis of London, so its interesting to compare directly with its European neighbours.

Safe to say London has some of the highest accommodation costs in Europe, rent is expensive even out in the suburbs, in fact the catchment area for London is now considered to be some 70 miles away, driving prices up all across the South East of England. Expect to pay nearly double that of Copenhagen, around 8 times more expensive than Budapest.

With a fairly antiquated yet expansive transport network, getting around is fairly expensive too.

Around 4 times the cost of a ticket in Copenhagen. With a high population there’s a lot of competition in the retail industry so the cost of groceries and clothing are actually lower than many European cities.

You’ll also find technology is often cheaper in London too, with smartphones costing nearly €100 less than most European cities. Read some handy survival tips for London here.

Why live in London?


Istanbul cost of livingSituated in both Europe and Asia, the Turkish capital of Istanbul is teeming with culture and history down every street and alley. I had the pleasure of visiting in 2010 and love the mixture of European and Middle Eastern cultures.

Tourism is booming here and this is driving prices up across the city. While this may be the case its actually still one of the more affordable cities in Europe.

The cost of groceries is relatively low and while rental costs are creeping up they are still much more affordable than the likes of London. More expensive than Budapest in Hungary but utility bills are cheaper, offsetting the extra cost.

If you steer clear of the main tourist traps you’ll actually find that eating out and local nightlife is very affordable too. With a culture rich in nightlife and entertainment you’ll find a lot of the locals out on the streets in the evenings so prices remain competitive.


Athens cost of livingA city very close to my heart and one that has lead to some confusion over costs in recent years. A country struggling to keep its economy afloat, some believe this would have driven prices sky high.

Having visited numerous times in the past few years I can report that life is much as it always was in Athens. Locals can only afford so much for groceries, utilities and rent so a major fluctuation would have devastating consequences.

Because of this you’ll actually discover that Athens is one of the most affordable cities in Europe and with its Southern location it enjoys mild winters and blisteringly hot summers. With a wonderful outdoor living culture you’ll definitely enjoy.

Accommodation here rivals the cheap prices of Budapest although the landscape here means apartments are fairly cosy and on top of each other. Most come with a balcony and some have fantastic views too.

The outdoor culture here means locals eat out a lot and again, escaping the tourist traps will reward you with fantastic local food at decent prices.

With grocery costs exceedingly cheap, I recommend finding a local street market and getting your produce fresh from the grocer. Athens has a great subway system that’s affordable and takes you to all the major sights and districts. Find out more about Athens here.


When talking about things to do in Australia, destinations like the Great Barrier Reef, Ayres Rock and the Sydney Opera House are always mentioned and definitely worth a visit.


What if all you want is to find those hidden gems and experience what are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful holiday spots in Australia?

Below is a list of my top 10 unusual things to do in Australia that you should definitely visit.

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Where to go in South AustraliaIf your holiday checklist demands wildlife, mesmerising beaches, adventurous activities, gourmet food, as well as spas and retreats to relax, then you can’t look past than Kangaroo Island.

Australia’s third-largest island is also known for being a pristine wilderness – a place that has offered protection to some of Australia’s native animals, a place of magnificence and a place of escape. You won’t be disappointed. 

Kangaroo island is one of the most visited tiny islands in western Australia, especially for people from Melbourne or Adelaide. Arguably, the best way to reach and explore the island is by booking one of the daily Melbourne cruises that stop on the island and give you the chance to experience Aussie’s trademark animals. There are many cruise companies with daily departs from Adelaide and Melbourne including P&O, Princess Cruises, and Cunard.

Exmouth, Western Australia

Exmouth is situated between the Cape Range National Park and the world-heritage listed Ningaloo Marine Park. Ningaloo ranks seventh on the world’s list of coral reef biodiversity ‘hotspots’ and second in terms of the number of species found within a limited range. Feel like a swim? Why not jump in for a swim amongst unique and colourful fish, vibrant corals, playful dolphins, turtles and at the right time of year, alongside the majestic whale sharks as they migrate past the coast.

Merimbula, New South Wales

things to do in MerimbulaMerimbula is the jewel of the Sapphire Coast. With its great climate, pristine beaches and abundant natural beauty, a holiday in Merimbula will be like no other.

Merimbula is also known for Magic Mountain which was recently awarded in Trip Advisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2013 Top Ten Water Parks and Amusement Parks in the South Pacific.

Stanley, Tasmania

Stanley is a historic town on the far north-west coast of Tasmania. The major attraction of Stanley is ‘The Nut’ – a solidified lava lake from a long extinct volcano. Visit this picturesque town, hop on the chairlift and head to the top of The Nut and enjoy what is quite simply a stunning 360 degree view of the edge of the world!

William Bay National Park, Western Australia

best national park in western australiaAustralia is blessed with plenty of national parks and one such extraordinary park is the William Bay National Park in Denmark, Western Australia.

The centrepiece of the park is Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks where rounded granite boulders create a reef stretching a hundred metres out to sea.

Port Fairy, Victoria

This charming fishing village can be found at the end of the Great Ocean Road. Port Fairy is filled with wide streets lined with 19th century cottages, countless Norfolk pines and timeworn stone churches. If you’re going to visit the area, the Port Fairy Folk Festival is held during Victoria’s Labour Day long weekend in March each year.

Coconut (Poruma) Island, Queensland

Where to go in QueenslandThe island, also known as Poruma Island, is located north-east of Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. From the moment you arrive, you instantly feel like you’ve arrived to an untouched and unbelievably beautiful place.

As well as white sand beaches, it has some of the clearest waters, enormous palm trees and a sea turtle hatchery. This place is a must and definitely deserves to be on my unusual things to do in Australia list!

Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

Enjoy the crystal waters, wildlife and mountain peaks of World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island in the Pacific. To put it simply, this is a natural paradise. With a simple, relaxed and uncrowded island lifestyle, its appeal is that it feels thousands of kilometres away from the rest of the world. 

Bay of Fires, Tasmania

What to see in TasmaniaThe Bay of Fires is a region of a magical landscape filled with stunning contrasting features such as the pure white beaches, bright orange granite boulders and a band of sapphire and emerald seas, all fringed with gorgeous forests.  

This is the secret of Tasmania. Another destination most definitely worth of this “Unusual things to do in Australia” checklist. Don’t miss out.

Hyams Beach, New South Wales

Hyams Beach is renowned as having the whitest sand in the world.Located about three hours from Sydney, this beach is situated in Jervis Bay and offers beautiful beaches, sea kayaking, snorkelling and rock pools to explore. You can even see whales and dolphins at certain times of the year.

Depending on where you live in the world you may or may not have heard of e-cigarettes. Touted as the future of smoking, these smoke free and largely chemical free devices offer people a healthier option than puffing away on cancerous cigarettes.

Their launch has been somewhat controversial though, due to the fact they circumvent smoking laws in many countries and have brought the act of smoking back indoors when countries were actively banning the habit entirely.

So are they cigarettes or not? Where can you smoke them? Where can you buy them and the tobacco refills they require? Can you travel with them legally? I decided to do some in-depth research to find out the facts about e-cigarettes and travel.

E-cigarette facts and figures

Can I travel with ecigarettes?Firstly a few facts to find out just how popular e-cigarettes are these days. If you didn’t already know, an e-cigarette is a device that simulates smoking through cartridges containing nicotine and flavourings in liquid form. The device looks exactly like a cigarette and with each suck it vaporises the liquid and heats it as you inhale.

A pretty simple concept and one that has become big business since they first appeared in 2003. They often come with a blue LED at the tip such as the e-cigarettes from Vype and can be reused with refill cartridges.

The sales statistics for the last few years are impressive to say the least. US figures show a 4,900{bec4beb4183ddc16376e6eff89836f2abe3407e857522bf84005ba0ad48d654d} sales increase between 2008 and 2013 and the industry is now considered to be worth over $1 billion. In the UK their popularity is growing at a slower rate but the consumer analyst Mintel estimated the UK e-cigarette industry at £193 million ($324 million). Their popularity in the UK jumped from 50,000 sold in 2008 to 3.5 million in 2012, a jump of 6900{bec4beb4183ddc16376e6eff89836f2abe3407e857522bf84005ba0ad48d654d}. A survey conducted in 2013 showed a greater proportion of smokers agreed that e-cigarettes were the best way to cut down rather than quitting smoking. Whether this is true however remains to be seen as there is currently no regulatory body for e-cigarettes, nationally or internationally.

Loved in some countries, banned in others

e-cigarette travel adviceIf you’re an e-cigarette user, a smoker looking to cut down or you want a better solution to your smoking addiction then its worth noting that the sale and even use of these devices are banned in some countries. In others its unclear exactly what laws govern them, while in others they are readily available. I’ve put together a list of countries that currently allow the sale and use of them, although the status in some countries is unknown.

The European Union is included in this list as its international laws supersede local laws making the sale and use of e-cigarettes allowed in most EU countries. Below is a list of countries that have a total ban on e-cigarette sales including refill sales. Some of these have been known to confiscate e-cigarettes at airport customs.

There are many other countries that now operate a confusing “two tier” system relating to “nicotine and non-nicotine products”. The e-cigarette device itself without the refills are allowed, as they are not a nicotine product. Refills that don’t contain any nicotine are also allowed. Refills that contain nicotine or e-cigarettes sold with refills are banned. This strange setup is designed to allow the manufacture of the product but ban the sale of any useful e-cigarette. The items are however allowed into these countries but don’t expect to be able to purchase refills.

There is a 4th group of countries where there are no specific laws relating to e-cigarettes. This is partly due to them being a relative new product on the market and partly because existing laws don’t fully cover their sale or use.

The law in Mauritius is particularly interesting stating “No person shall sell, offer to sell or distribute sweets, snacks, toys or any other object in the form of, or which are likely to create an association with, cigarettes or cigars.” Something that is hard to police when you can argue the components that make up the e-cigarette are used in other every day products like humidifiers.


Smoking on planesBecause of the murky nature of the laws around e-cigarettes airlines have been unsure what to do about them for some time. The act of exhaling after an e-cigarette is known as “vaping” when a small amount of liquid vapour is expelled. As you’re not technically smoking the ban airlines have in place does not automatically apply. This doesn’t mean you can start vaping whenever you please though. There’s no definitive list of who has banned their use during flights but I was able to contact a number of airlines to ask them for confirmation. Here’s a list of airlines that could confirm they are banned. If you do decide to travel with them rest assured you’re not breaking any law, although the airline staff may ask to look after them for you or deny you access to the plane.

Reasons for bans range from airline to airline. Some had specific rules in place regarding e-cigarettes, allowing you to carry them on board but not be used. Others had a list of “permissible electronic devices” which does not include e-cigarettes, meaning you’re not allowed to even carry them on board. Some airlines banned them on public nuisance grounds while others claimed health reasons, usually citing government directives. The one strange airline to stand out from the crowd is Ryanair who said “We do not permit the use of electronic cigarettes on board any of its flights, however smokeless cigarettes can be purchased and used on board.” These are not e-cigarettes, just simply low nicotine cigarette substitutes that do not need to be lit. This is more likely to be a marketing ploy and a chance to sell overpriced alternatives rather than any health or safety reasons.


travelling with e-cigarettesE-cigarettes have created an unusual situation where modern laws banning smoking do not apply. There’s currently no decent government studies to suggest that they are any better or worse for you. These two factors coupled together have created an unusual stalemate where their sale and use is entirely permissible in some countries and banned outright in others. Although it’s clear that e-cigarettes will cause you less harm than traditional cigarettes and cause less bother to non-smokers.

If you are an e-cigarette user and plan to travel with them its important you know the law in the country you’re travelling to. It’s also important you check with your airline to see whether you are allowed to take them on board their aircraft and whether you can use them too. Until there is a regulatory body for e-cigarettes, their use abroad remains your responsibility. It’s best to check before you leave so you’re not caught out.