Tag Archives: guidebook

Top 5 must-see historical places in the city of contrasts: Valencia, Spain

2018-10-27

Our travel guidebook author has explored the ins and outs of the city of Valencia in Spain, and this is his conclusion: Valencia is a city of contrasts, an exciting destination even for travelers who think they have seen it all. The ancient city center with majestic buildings and ancient shops and bars is simply remarkable. A fifteen minute walk away from the old town, the ultra-modern City of Arts and Sciences drops the jaw of any globetrotter. These are the five top sights in the historical city center of Valencia in Spain.

The top 5 sights have been extracted from the travel guidebook Valencia, Spain – The Key Sights, Places and Events (published in Klaava Travel Guide book series). The text has been edited for this blog post.

Plaza de la Virgen

Plaza de la Virgen in the old town of Valencia, Spain, Europe
Plaza de la Virgen is a home for a number of key buildings in the city. It is not a coincidence, because the plaza is the former center of the city. The town hall used to stand at the west side of the plaza. During the Roman era, the square was a Roman Forum, a central place in the city.

The key historical buildings around the square are:

Basilica Virgen de los Desamparados
Cathedral
Palau de la Generalitat
The fountain at the square is a new work of art, revealed in 1976.

Plaza de la Virgen is a meeting place for Valencians, a central place for many fiestas and one of the sights that attracts plenty of tourists who like to snap selfies in front of the fountain.

La Lonja

La Lonja, Valencia, Spain
The original purpose of La Lonja building (opened in 1533) was trading. It may not sound like an exciting, soul-stirring experience, but judge after you have seen it yourself. Nevertheless, La Lonja was built for merchants who arrived in Valencia to negotiate about silk produced in the region. The city wanted to impress merchants, and invested in the architecture of the building.

Pere Compte and Joan Ibarra were the architects who conducted the work for 50 years. Today, La Lonja is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Barrio del Carmen neighborhood

Barrio del Carme, Valencia in South Europe, Spain
Barrio del Carmen is the oldest district of Valencia where many buildings are so old that they can’t stand straight anymore. This part of the city used to stand on an island in Turia River. As the city expanded south, the south side of the island was connected to the mainland. The entire river was diverted away from the city center in 1956.

The Carmen neighborhood shows its age in many ways. Houses are small, many of them are worn down, and alleys are more narrow than in other parts of the city. Near Plaza del Tossal, a number of restaurants and bars keep the nearby streets busy all day and night.

Plaza de Ayuntamiento

Plaza de Ayuntamiento in Valencia on the Mediterranean coast
The buildings around the Town Hall Square are big, tall and decorated around the largest square in central Valencia.

It wasn’t always like that. Until late 19th century, Convento de San Francisco, a monastery, covered the space that is today the Town Hall Square. The city wanted to move the town hall to a more spacious place away from Plaza de la Virgen, and when the monastery couldn’t maintain its property anymore, it was demolished. The new central square of Valencia was established, and the Town Hall moved to a large school building overlooking the plaza.

Facades of many other beautiful buildings line the square, like

Correos (Post Office),
Ateneo Mercantil and
Teatro Rialto.

Plaza de Ayuntamiento is also a central place of many big fiesta events, such as Fallas.

Torres de Serranos: medieval towers and gate to the city

Torres de Serranos during Fallas fiesta party event
Valencia has had fortified walls around it three times during its long history. Only two gates have survived the third wall: Torres de Serranos and Torres de Quart. In addition to being watchtowers, they are also gates where entrance to the city was controlled.

For tourists, Torres de Serranos is the primary destination because it is located near Plaza de la Virgen and the Cathedral.
The massive towers were built in 1392-1398. It is possible to ascend to the tower to see the city from a bird’s view, but even taller towers that let you see over the roofs of the city are, for instance, in Santa Catalina Church and in the Ateneo building.

More about the travel guide Valencia, Spain here download ebook travel guide to Valencia, Spain

Get our most downloaded travel guide for free

2018-07-08

It looks like the ebook Traveling in Scandinavia has quickly risen to the most downloaded travel guide we have published. We would like to think it is only because the book includes sample chapters from our best guidebooks that cover the Nordic countries. Perhaps true, but we can’t forget the fact it is a free download as well. Anyhow, here is how to get your copy.
cafe at Esplanade park in Helsinki
Scandinavian countries are known for their high-quality education systems, honest people, large wilderness areas, lakes, fjords, and a few successful brands, like Abba or Nokia. A Scandinavian country, Finland, and its capital Helsinki will be in the spotlight of the world on July 16th 2018 when the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the President of the United States Donald Trump meet in the city.

President Putin has visited Finland and Helsinki so many times that he doesn’t need a guidebook anymore, but perhaps someone from President Trump’s entourage could find The Best of Helsinki guidebook useful, or a guide where Helsinki tells honestly about her secrets.

Putin and Trump probably won’t have time to explore other parts of Scandinavia after the meeting, but if you have, we can recommend Lapland in the Arctic region, or Gothenburg on the prestigious West Coast of Sweden.

Traveling in Scandinavia is available as a free download right here Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia.

Top 5 places to visit in Gothenburg and Sweden’s West Coast

2018-05-14

Gothenburg is a lively city on Sweden’s West Coast that has a long and colorful history from the Middle Ages. Today, it is one of the major cities of Scandinavia where business and multiple cultures meet. The location of the city on the west coast (the second most popular vacation destination of Swedes) makes Gothenburg a wonderful holiday destination for all travelers.

The travel guide Gothenburg and Sweden’s West Coast covers all the essential destinations, sights, attractions, activities and places in the region. Here is an edited extraction from the guidebook: the top 5 places to visit.

Old Town, Gothenburg

Gothenburg, Sweden. A canal in the old town, city center.
The old city center of Gothenburg is known as Inom Vallgraven among local people (literally, Inside the Moat). The region is also known as Innerstaden (Inner City). The old town is surrounded by man-made canals. Gothenburg is not far from the North Sea, but the principal source of water for the canals is the Göta river, which flows from the north through the city to the sea.

In 1621, Gothenburg was granted city rights. The city center was fortified in order to protect the community from outside attacks. The canals were built, as well as protective walls (that don’t exist anymore).

Inom Vallgraven is best explored by foot. It is not a huge area. The maximum dimensions are about 1 kilometer / 0.6 miles and 500 meters / 0.3 miles. Walking along the narrow streets of this lively and busy place (especially during the weekends) is something that both locals and visitors love to do.

Haga, Gothenburg

Haga, Gothenburg, Sweden. A major city in Scandinavia.
Haga is a pretty neighborhood in Gothenburg that looks like a place for artists and hipsters, but in fact, ordinary families live in the area. It is located south of the city center.

From a tourist perspective, the main street of Haga is Nygatan. A stroll along Nygatan is like walking on the main street of a small town a few hundred years ago. Wooden buildings, streets made of stone, workspaces of craftsmen, bakeries, cafes and small shops create an idyllic atmosphere.

In the 17th century, Gothenburg expanded outside the city walls. One of the first suburbs was Haga. It was a neighborhood where the working class (such as people working in the harbor) used to live.

Slottsskogen, Gothenburg

A semi-wild deer in Slottskogen, Gothenburg, Sweden. One of Europe's best parks.
Slottsskogen (Castle Forest) is a large green recreation area about 2.5 kilometers / 1.5 miles away from the city center. It is a park, but there is also plenty of forest, a small zoo, a playground for children, a popular picnic destination and a place to see wildlife.

Slottsskogen was established in the middle ages, when the land belonged to the Älvsborg castle. The land was used for deer hunting and grazing. In 1874, the county governor opened Slottsskogen to the public. From the beginning, lawns, ponds, and paths through the woods and the zoo were the key elements of the park.

The trees and the plants in the park are mostly of local origins, but some additional species have also been planted. For example, Azaleadalen (Azalea Valley) is a beautiful display of different types of azaleas. There is a forest of linden, beech, oak and maple trees where it is possible to spot a wild deer or two.

It may sound funny, but the park is so large that it is quite easy to get lost in Slottsskogen. There are signs at crossroads, but first time visitors may want to take a map along or use a GPS navigator on the phone just in case.

Marstrand and Carlstens Fästning

Marstrand and Carlsten Fortress on the West Coast archipelago in Sweden.
Marstrand is a tidy and lovely village about a 40-minute drive northwest of Gothenburg. Carlstens Fästning (Carlsten’s Fortress) is an ancient fortress that has provided protection for the Swedish fleet and for villagers.

The construction of Carlstens fortress began in the mid-17th century. The fortress protected the Swedish fleet that was stationed in Marstrand, and also the village’s busy commercial activities. The fortress has had its current structure since 1860, which means it was under construction for 200 years. In addition to soldiers, prisoners have lived in the fortress.

It is possible to drive to Marstrand village, but the island where the fortress stands is only accessible by ferry. Part of the village, hotels and restaurants are located on the island.

The fortress web page provides information on the hours when it is open.

Bohus Fästning, Kungälv

Bohus Fortress, Gothenburg, Kungälv, Sweden.
Bohus Fästning is a fortress where many battles have been won and lost during its 700-year existence. It is located on a hill in the Göta river valley at a point where the river splits into two separate streams. Bohus is 20 kilometers / 12 miles north from Gothenburg.

Visitors have to walk up to the top of the hill to explore the fortress, but the exercise is worth every step. The views to the valley where the river flows are magnificent.

During the Medieval times, Swedes, Norwegians and Danes used to fight over the region, and the fortress changed hands (from Norway to Sweden to Denmark and back again) many times during a period of 500 years.

The fortress web page has information on hours when it is open.

The travel guide to Gothenburg and the west coast region of Sweden is available, for instance, at these bookstores:
Apple iBooks – layout designed for the iPad.
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.de
Barnes&Noble
Google Play Books
Kobo

Get your free copy of Scandinavia travel guidebook

2017-06-22

What is the one thing you know about Scandinavia? Long winters, midnight sun in summer, design, education system, welfare, Abba, HIM, or A-ha? Well, the best way to find out more is to travel in Nordic countries and see how the region is yourself. A good starting point is the book we have put together from travel guidebooks and cultural guides that talk about Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that you download for free here.
Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia
The book is a selection of travel tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries. A little bit of information on food and history is included as well.

Here is a taste of Scandinavia for you to explore at the comfort of your reading nook – perhaps before heading out to the North yourself. As the selection of writings show, there are plenty of destinations to see and things to do: city life, mountain biking, fishing in pristine rivers, camping, island hopping, road touring, Arctic adventures, or hiking in the wilderness. If something is missing, Finns will invent it (e.g. wife carrying competition), Swedes will sell it to the world (e.g. entire country available on Airbnb), and Norwegians will win the cross-country skiing world championship (again).

Planning a trip to the northernmost region of Europe, Lapland? This is what you need to know

2017-02-23

The northernmost region of Continental Europe, Lapland, is a vast wilderness area where the great outdoors invite people to hike, ski, fish, ride a mountainbike or simply just admire the scenery. Located north of the Arctic Circle, Lapland is also the home of Sami people and their reindeer.

Since Lapland is quite far away from large centers of civilization and distances in the region can be long, it is important to plan ahead and prepare for a trip to the region. The best way to explore the region is to drive, and it shows during the summer when the roads of Lapland see the number of motorhomes, cars and motorbikes considerably increase.
Lapland travel guidebook, book cover image
Some road travelers have a mission to reach Europe’s northernmost place Nordkapp (North Cape), whereas others explore fells, fjords, hiking paths, Sami culture and small towns of Lapland. There is something for everyone, except for those who require big-city sights.

Now, you can plan your Nordic journey with a Klaava Travel Guide titled Lapland – North of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia. The book features the sights, destinations, activities, events, wildlife, and everything needed for a successful trip to the north. Special sections for road travelers highlight the best routes and tips for driving in varying conditions.

Information on the book’s availability and prices can be viewed at this page.

Below a few sample pages from the book.

hiking destinations in Lapland (Klaava Travel Guide)
Scenic drives in Lapland (north Finland, Norway, Sweden)
City of Tromsö, Norway in travel guidebook Lapland
Abisko national park in Sweden, Lapland (Klaava Travel Guide)

Travel photography gallery for 2013: France, Germany

2014-01-28

Year 2013 and late 2012 was wonderful time in France, primarily in southern parts of the country. Traveling in the region took me to neighbour countries as well. That is why there are a few images from Germany (in addition to France) in the 2013 Travel Photo Gallery.

The result of all the travel in Provence and in Alpes Maritimes, and exploring villages, beaches, mountains, cities and towns was published in late 2013: travel guidebook The Gems of Nice and the French Riviera.

I have been asked a few times which is more fun or more work: writing or photographing? Both are a lot of work. A fraction of all the photos are selected for a final book. Also a fraction of the original text ends up in the final book, because text is edited, re-edited and finetuned many times during the process.

Here you can view the 2013 travel photo gallery:

Nice, Cap d'Antibes and Mediterranean

Riviera (Cote d’Azur), France.

Planning a trip to France? Check out this multimedia guidebook

2013-09-28

There are many fabulous destinations in France. Probably the most sunny and glamorous is the French Riviera in Provence. Practically everyone has some kind of image of Cannes, Monaco or Nice in their mind, but the region is much more than beaches, bikinis or casinos. The Riviera is actually very much about mountains, medieval villages, sea, art, food, cafes and marvelous scenery.

The Gems of Nice and the French Riviera: Vence

The Gems of Nice and the French Riviera is a guidebook for visitors who can take a tour in the top destinations of the region before leaving home. The multimedia ebook is packed with photographs, information about sights, tips, and videos that highlight unique activities or happenings.

From the Klaava Travel Guide multimedia ebook: Nice old town

The multimedia guidebook is available for the Apple iPad. You can view or download sample pages, and find out more about the book here.
Download multimedia ebook: visitor guide to Provence, Riviera in France

Love opera? Love remote destinations? The Savonlinna travel guidebook shows you how to enjoy both

2013-06-07

If you think Savonlinna is a remote town today, think how remote it was in the middle ages when the King of Sweden decided to build a castle in the easternmost corner of his kingdom. Today, Savonlinna is part of Finland, and Olavinlinna castle is a popular tourist destination and above all, an annual destination for opera lovers.

Multimedia travel guide ebook: A Weekend at the Opera in Savonlinna Finland

A Weekend at the Opera in Savonlinna, Finland book takes you to a visual tour in Savonlinna and the surrounding region. The multimedia ebook consists of photos, videos and practical information what to see and what to do at the destination.

download multimedia ebook for Apple iPad: A Weekend at the Opera in Savonlinna, Finland

The book introduces the top must-see sights at the destination, activities available in the region, museums, art centers, nature attractions and many more things to do while not enjoying opera.