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10 Beautiful Cities That Every Backpacker Should Visit

10 Beautiful Cities That Every Backpacker Should Visit

For each of these destinations, backpackers can find cheap flights and get to where they want to go quickly and easily.

When finding a place to sleep, focus on hostels and guesthouses, as they are cheaper. Also, at hostels and guesthouses you are more likely to meet other travelers with whom you can share your experiences. Most importantly, by staying at these kinds of places, you will be able to experience the local culture firsthand. One thing is for certain: each of these cities tells its own story, and offers a unique traveling experience.

1. Bruges, Belgium

bruges

    This fairytale city is located in the Flemish region, and is rich in magnificent medieval and Gothic architecture. Dreamy canals and cobbled streets create a romantic atmosphere, which evokes the spirit of medieval times. Rent a bike and ride it through the narrow streets, which can only be accessed by foot or on a bike. Moreover, don’t miss taking a boat tour, because such tours will take you to magnificent places- places that can’t be reached by other modes of transportation. Bruges offers a romantic journey through Gothic and Renaissance architecture that every backpacker will remember.

    2. Kraków, Poland

    krakow

      This Polish city offers wonderful historical sites of great cultural significance. The first thing every backpacker should visit for its historical significance is the concentration camp, Auschwitz. Then head to the Wawel Castle which was built in the Gothic style. Also, try the local cuisine and alcoholic beverages, such as tatanka, which is made of vodka zubrowka and apple juice.

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      3. Florence, Italy

      florenceitaly

        Florence, the city where the Renaissance was born, should be on the top of the list of every backpacker. When you arrive in this city, you will feel as if you are in another world. Visit the art museum Galleria degli Uffizi, which hosts famous works, including “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera” by Sandro Botticelli. Also, all art lovers need to visit another art museum called The Bargello, where you can see sculptures by Michelangelo, Donatello, Sansovino, and others. Fashion addicts will enjoy the Gucci Museum, whereas geeks will be blown away by the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, where you can see all the instruments Galileo Galilei used.

        This city might not be cheap, but you won’t regret visiting it, so make sure that you see everything that it has to offer, including the breathtaking countryside.

        4. Istanbul, Turkey

        istanbul

          This city on two continents is of great cultural and historical value. As every backpacker wants to experience something different than what they are used to, this city is a perfect destination – it will provide you with a culture that is vastly different from anything you’ll see in the Western world.

          Go shopping through their local markets and don’t forget to bargain, as bargaining is a part of their culture. Visit the Church of the Divine Wisdom, which is also known as Ayasofya- and don’t miss Topkapi Palace, the residence of Ottoman sultans.

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          5. Kyoto, Japan

          kyoto

            There are a lot of stories about Kyoto being expensive, however, you can be rest assured that Kyoto is actually a fairly affordable city. You only need to be careful with where you sleep and eat, because like in every city, there are places with really high prices. The outer areas of many temples are free to visit, but for some visits you’ll have to pay an entry fee, which is a must if you want to get the most out of exploring such a wonderful and magical city. Don’t try to save money on the tickets, because it is a once in a lifetime experience.

            6. Paris, France

            paris

              The city of romance and love, with truly beautiful architecture, will take your breath away. You’ll need a couple of days to visit everything you want, because every corner hides a historical secret. From the Louvre to visiting the Eiffel tower, you’ll be impressed by all the beauties this city offers. If you are already in Europe, go by train because the tickets are very cheap, and you can get there in no time. If you have never been to Disneyland, or you want to feel like a child again, visit Disneyland Paris and you’ll feel like you are in a fairytale. Just make sure you plan the trip in advance, so you don’t miss out on the wildest roller coaster rides.

              7. Niš, Serbia

              nissrbija

                This city in the south of Serbia is usually neglected by backpackers, because they focus on visiting the capital Belgrade or Novi Sad, famous for the Exit Music Festival. Niš is the birthplace of Constantine the Great and it offers a lot of important historical monuments, such as The Skull Tower, Niš Fortress, Crveni Krst concentration camp, and Mediana, an Ancient Roman archaeological site. If you are visiting in August, you’ll be able to go to the Nišville Jazz Festival which hosts the world’s best jazz musicians every year.

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                Aside from visiting all the famous historical sites, people from Niš advise tourists to visit their local taverns and try the best traditional meals. For breakfast or dinner you should try burek, available from local bakeries. You can also spend the end of the day drinking some beer at the Nišava river bank.

                8. Dublin, Ireland

                dublinbridge

                  Guinness definitely tastes better when you drink it in Dublin, so if you are beer lover, this should certainly be on your bucket list. Backpackers will be happy to hear that all national museums are free to visit, so you will be able to see some priceless works at no cost. Dublin differs from most European cities in the fact that you have to pay to visit a church, but the things you see in Dublin are worth every penny.

                  Dublin is an expensive city, so don’t accept the initial offer at the first hostel you visit- do some research on cheap guesthouses and hostels beforehand. Once you meet the locals and other travelers, they will definitely be able to inform you about cheap, but good local restaurants to visit.

                  9. London, UK

                  london

                    London is an expensive city, similar to Dublin, but it is also a city well worth seeing. You can save some money on accommodation and food if you come prepared. Visit Buckingham Palace, and while you’re there go see the nearby Green Park. There are a lot of beautiful natural sites, which will make you forget that you are in a busy city. Visiting museums is mostly free, but you’ll have to pay to see some exhibitions.

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                    Whatever you like and you’re interested in, you will definitely find it in London. Whether you are a comic addict or an architecture lover, you will find your place there.

                    10. Dresden, Germany

                    dresden

                      Somehow this city rarely ends up on a backpacker’s to-do list, but the mixture of old and new is magnificent. Take your time to explore this unusual and wonderful city, and you’ll make some wonderful memories. Visit the Zwinger Palace, a complex of museums, which was built in Rococo style in the 18th century. Other idyllic sites to visit include the picturesque Elbe river banks. I recommend this city to every backpacker, because you’ll not only get to drink excellent beer and see beautiful architecture, but also have the chance to relax away from the ruckus of the busier cities.

                      Each of these cities differs in price, with the cheapest one probably being Niš in Serbia. However, you are more than able to plan out a great trip in any of these locations without going over budget. Near every city there are outstanding countryside sites, so, if you are an adventurous type, rent a bike and see all the natural beauty these places have to offer.

                      Featured photo credit: Bunyamin Ozadali via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on November 15, 2019

                      Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

                      Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

                      Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

                      How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

                      Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

                      The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

                      Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

                      Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

                      When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

                      Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

                      Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

                      The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

                      Shocked? Well, I was too.

                      The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

                      When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

                      On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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                      Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

                      Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

                      Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

                      Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

                      Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

                      It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

                      Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

                      As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

                      In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

                      A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

                      Your metabolism is like your bank account.

                      To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

                      Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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                      What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

                      That’s exactly how your body reasons:

                      More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

                      Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

                      Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

                      For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

                      Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

                      Foods That Increase Metabolism

                      Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

                      Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

                      Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

                      • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
                        When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
                      • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
                      • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
                      • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

                      Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

                      To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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                      1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
                      2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
                      3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

                      Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

                      Sugars and Carbs

                      Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

                      Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

                      Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

                      Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
                      • Dried fruit
                      • Commercial and packaged corn
                      • High fructose corn syrup
                      • All sorts of candies and lookalike
                      • Packaged fruit juices and purees
                      • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
                      Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
                      • Bread and flour-based products
                      • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
                      • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
                      • Potatoes and potato starch products
                      • Oatmeals and other grains
                      Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
                      • All berries except strawberries
                      • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
                      • Sweet potatoes
                      • White rice
                      • All green vegetables

                      Fats

                      Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

                      Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
                      • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
                      • Lard
                      • Gmo oils
                      • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
                      Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
                      • Nuts
                      • Meat fat
                      • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
                      • Seeds
                      Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
                      • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
                      • Avocado
                      • Coconut oil
                      • Butter (organic)
                      • Egg yolks (free-range)
                      • Bone marrow

                      The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

                      Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

                      Proteins

                      Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

                      Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

                      Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

                      Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

                      For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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                      Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
                      • Cheap whey proteins
                      • Soy proteins
                      • GMO meat
                      • GMO eggs
                      • Packaged meat
                      Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
                      • Canned tuna
                      • Canned fish
                      • Canned meat
                      • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
                      • Farmed fish
                      Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
                      • Free-range meat
                      • Free-range eggs
                      • Wild meat and fish
                      • Whey protein isolate
                      • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

                      Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

                      Other Foods and Supplements

                      Cold water

                      Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

                      This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

                      MCT Oils or Powders

                      Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

                      You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

                      Caffeine

                      Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

                      Green Tea

                      Green tea

                      is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

                      Bottom Line

                      In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

                      For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

                      Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

                      And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

                      Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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