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Our 10 best cities in 2015

Isn’t it a great feeling to come somewhere for the first time, explore the new city and get surprised? This is why every year we try to visit as many new cities as possible.

When starting summarising 2015, it seemed that we had not explored new cities and countries as much as before. Although we’ve already been this year to Switzerland, Portugal, Turkey, Russia, Romania, Denmark, UK, Isle of Man, Hungary, Italy and Spain, there are still much more places to be explored. Nevertheless, after few minutes of concentration (thanks to the morning coffee & relaxing trip in the ICE Hamburg to Berlin), I put together a list of the top 10 new cities we had visited in 2015.

10. Castletown (Isle of Man)

Castletown Station at the Isle of Man
Castletown Station

The smallest city on the list is located actually in the smallest country I visited in 2015. Although to get to Castletown is not so easy – first, you need to get to Douglas, the capital of Isle of Man, by a ferry from Liverpool (3.5 hours), after that you need to take a historic steam train (approx. 30 minutes) in order to arrive to Castletown – I really liked the authenticity and spirit of this town.

Castletown is a harbour town in the South of Isle of Man with a castle (aha!), having a beautiful Victorian style architecture and, most important, many local drinking establishments. Despite a very authentic castle, my personal highlight was the train station: it seemed like it was built as a decoration for a movie about Britain of the XIX Century with its red brick buildings, colorful handwritten station signs and lots of flowers. Another important fact about the station – there is a great pub located only 3 minutes away.

Drink of the Day

Terrace with a view
Terrace with a view

Start with Okell’s which is a local ale from Isle of Man. It is amber, it has a nice smooth structure and tastes like heaven. We recommend having a first pint right at the railway station at The Sidings Inn and a second one (this time go for Wainwright Ale) on the terrace of the Garrison Bar close to the Castle Rushen enjoying the sea view.

9. Aarhus (Denmark)

Aboulevarden canal in Aarhus city center
Aboulevarden canal in Aarhus city center

The second biggest city of Denmark is also the student capital of the country: it is young, busy and inspirational. What we liked most about Aarhus is that it brilliantly combines a busy city life (restaurants, nightlife and shopping are highly recommended), modern architecture (think about Isbjerget) and traditional Danish culture (think about Den Gamle By).

Read more about our trip to Aarhus.

Drink of the Day

Newcastle Brown Ale at Mackie's
Newcastle Brown Ale at Mackie’s

Some locals in Aarhus prefer locally brewed beers, but I couldn’t resist Newcastle Brown Ale once I’ve seen it available at Mackie’s Pizzeria. It is one of my favourite beers from the US and I use any chance to enjoy it wherever I see this beer available.

8. Liverpool (UK)

Liverpool City
Liverpool City

I spent in Liverpool probably 4-5 hours in total. It was just taking a ferry to the Isle of Man and back, but this time was enough for me to place this city in my Top 10 list. Some people say, the city is ugly, but then I think about the unforgettable tall buildings close to the Liverpool harbour. Some people say, it’s boring, but then I recommend you to visit its downtown on Friday evening. Most important to me was the fact that Liverpool gives you an unforgettable feeling that this city is alive. And it is real, authentic, with no roles or masks. What else do you need?

Drink of the Day

Gosh, I wish I could remember. The only thing I can remember is that if you follow the way between the bus station and the ferry station, you’ll definitely find a dozen great pubs with a few dozen of authentic drinks worth to be ordered.

7. Cluj (Romania)

Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania
Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania

Cluj-Napoca is the biggest city in Transylvania, Central Romania, where you not only can enjoy walking during daylight, but where you can also have pretty much fun at night. Plenty of modern styled bars and restaurants, beautiful old town architecture and Eastern European hospitality make this city worth visiting. Additionally, you can get to Cluj-Napoca pretty cheap as the city can be reached by some low cost airlines like Wizz Air or Ryanair.

Drink of the Day

Charlie's Pub in Cluj-Napoca
Charlie’s Pub in Cluj-Napoca

Visit Charlie’s Pub and ask the waiter to make you a cocktail based on your taste. My whiskey-based cocktail was amazing, so I can claim this bar as the one where you get the best cocktails in Romania.

6. Odense (Denmark)

Calm streets of Odense & a bicycle
Calm streets of Odense

I like such type of cities: you enjoy it while visiting it, but probably won’t come again. This is why I recommend you to visit Odense at least once: this is what you need to see if you want to experience a true Danish city. Narrow streets with colorful little houses, local market squares with few vendors selling locally berries and vegetables, calm and relaxed atmosphere in the downtown. If you read the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, you need to visit Odense and you’ll have a feeling that you are back to medieval Denmark, you are back in the time of craftsmen and merchants… those time you know from those fairy tales.

Drink of the Day

Odense has its great local brewery called… Odense. I recommend to try the red one with the red label and “1859” written on the bottle – it has light notes of honey, but the sweetness is not too strong, right the way it should be.

5. Lisbon (Portugal)

Lisbon Old Town
Lisbon Old Town

Who doesn’t know yet that Lisbon is an amazing city?!? It is, and we liked it a lot. It has authentic fresh food (we ate fresh fish every day), beautiful sceneries, unforgettable old town atmosphere, small outdated tramways passing through narrow streets and a lot of nightlife. Being a big city, it is so laid back that you cannot do anything else but chilling the whole time you spend in the Portuguese capital. And once you leave, you’ll definitely decide to come back again.

Drink of the Day

Enjoying Lisbon with Somersby
Enjoying Lisbon

I am not a big fan of Portuguese wines, but if you want to try it, go for Vinho Verde – a fresh white wine, slightly sparkling and to my taste, slightly sour. Otherwise, I can recommend you visiting Noobai Cafe where you can get some Somersby and enjoy the view of Lisbon from a great-located terrace.

4. Cascais (Portugal)

Cascais Promenade
Cascais Promenade

This tiny town close to Atlantic I liked even more than Lisbon. Cascais is famous for being a destination for weekend travelers from Lisbon and other countries. The town is located close to the Ocean from one side and close to the historic ruins of Sintra and Capo de Roca from the another side. I liked Cascais not only because of its location: although the city is a top tourist destination, it maintained its authentic atmosphere. Just visit a local food and fish market, get some fish, cheese and wine there and go to the beach to enjoy the sunset – this is what means to be “like a local” in Cascais.

Drink of the Day

If you stay in Cascais overnight, definitely book a table at Gin & Moules. They serve amazing gin drinks (I tried the apple one) and delicious fresh moules, i.e. mussels. But only gin and mussels, nothing more. The food was as delicious as the concept was interesting – highly recommended.

3. Manchester (UK)

Viaducts of Manchester
Viaducts of Manchester

I already liked this city as I was a kid – how can the city where the Mighty Reds (or Manchester United) come from be bad? Once I visited Manchester last summer, I was fully convinced: this is exactly the type of cities I like the most. There are many amazing things in Manchester: the city used to be the industrial capital of Great Britain, but now most of XIX Century red bricks buildings had been remodeled to living or working areas.

Long story short: If you like world-class football and modern architecture, history of industrial revolution and museum exhibitions, if you enjoy going out and like beer and ale – Manchester is an absolute must visit!

Drink of the Day

…or drinks, as you don’t really think you can limit yourself with the only one. I really think that Manchester was initially designed to make perfect pub-crawls. Therefore, rule number one says: get only one drink at each pub you visit. Rule number two: visit as many pubs a night as you can. Rule number three is optional: the best anti-hangover breakfast is at XXX Delicatessen.

Track of the Day

Manchester et Liverpool – put it on repeat and keep singing after the phone battery dies.

2. Porto (Portugal)

The Douro River in Porto
The Douro River in Porto

When you least expect something great, the chance that it will happened can be very high. Exactly this happened when we visited Porto: initially we’d picked this city only as an entry hub to our Portugal trip, but luckily it was one of the best new cities we explored in 2015.

Porto has everything what you need for a perfect city trip. It has a beautiful river with plenty of cafes and bars at the riverside and magnificent medieval architecture showing the power of Portugal of XVI-XVII Centuries. It has a great cuisine with lots of fresh fish and a world-famous football club (FC Porto won a Champions League back in 2004). It offers world-famous drinks (don’t you know Porto?) and it even has an airport with Ryanair flights to dozens of European destinations. All this, but not only, make Porto score pretty high in our list, which only means that we’ll definitely come back again.

Drink of the Day

It’s porto or port wine. This strong wine-based drink has a long history and originates from Porto and the valley of the Douro River. British merchants went down along the River to get the delicious drink and brought it to Porto, where it was kept in several storages waiting to be exported to Great Britain. These storages located along the southern bank of the Douro are open to visit until our days: you can make a tour through cellars where port wine was stored, but don’t forget to enjoy a glass of port wine once you finished – there are plenty of bars along the riverside serving this drink for only few euros.

1. Hamburg (Germany)

Elbstrand - the beach at the Elbe in Hamburg
Elbstrand – the beach at the Elbe

Ehmmm… Not really a new city to us (I’ve been to Hamburg twice before), but it became our new home, therefore we explored the city from a totally new standpoint. We fell in love with this city, we like Elbe and Alster, Övelgönne and Elbstrand, Schanze and St. Pauli, Eimsbüttel and Winterhude, we like to live 1 hour away from the sea and 5 minutes away from the Alster. We even like both HSV and FC St.Pauli, they are so different, but we like them both. We like open-minded people living here and like Northern German culture. And we promise to write much more about Hamburg on Drinks&Trips in 2016 :)

Drinks of the Day

Ratsherrn IPA at Altes Maedchen Hamburg
Ratsherrn IPA at Altes Mädchen

Hamburg has dozens of local drinks, but it’s mostly famous because of its beer. Apart from world-known brands like Holsten and Astra, there are some local ones: Duckstein (amber craft beer produced by Carlsberg Brewery) or Ratsherrn are highly recommended. The best spot for enjoying local (and international) authentic beers is Altes Mädchen located only few meters away from the Ratsherrn Brewery.

Track of the Day

Hamburg Meine Perle performed live by Lotto King Karl in Volkspark Stadium before the HSV game.

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