A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
As autumn creeps in and deadlines get closer, sometimes you need a weekend away to recharge and relax. Leiden’s proximity to Amsterdam Schiphol airport mean that you’re well situated to take a weekend away and soak up some sunshine.
Barcelona (Spain) and Faro (Portugal) represent excellent, relatively close, and good value for money locations, with a beer coming in at under 2 euro in a bar. Check out Nadya’s article on Budget Travel Tips , and read on for some excellent starting points for your weekend away.
Barcelona’s beaches are famous, however I would recommend visiting here for the food and the culture more, as the crowded city beaches can be a little hectic.
Key things to see include:
The Sagrada Familia: While the outside is not to everyone’s taste, the inside is beautiful, especially with the morning or afternoon light. Book ahead on their website to ensure a spot, and bring your camera!
Picasso Museum: With your LU Card this museum is free and provides an amazing opportunity to see a variety of Picassos works in a city he loved.
El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria: This beautiful building surrounds a large excavation dating to before the Spanish Siege of 1714 and is free to enter. I highly recommend coming to sit with a coffee (or the famous hot chocolate and churros) here, the atmosphere is wonderful.
Free walking tours also run from the front of the Cathedral and provide an excellent way to see the city on a budget- it’s a pay as you want situation though, so do bring cash!
Capital of the Algarve, gorgeous old town, and off the beaten track, what more do you need?
Praia de Faro Beach: Accessible by a cheap and quick bus from the city centre, this beautiful beach is white sand and blue water as far as you can see. The water is very clean and the sand is wonderful for lounging on. Be aware that the water gets deep very quickly, but is a wonderful temperature to cool off in the heat of the sun
Museu Municipal de Faro: An excellent place to cool down during the afternoon, the collection is housed in an old convent and shows the complex and rich history of Faro in a beautiful setting.
Capela dos Ossos: A slightly unusual tourist attraction, this chapel holds over 1000 skeletons, arranged into intricate patterns and structures. Even spookier, these bones belonged to the monks who served the city! A visit costs 2 euro and is limited by service times as the church is still functioning.
These destinations provide an excellent and reasonably priced escape for those of us who need an escape from Autumn, and a dose of culture, sun, and delicious food. Both Faro Airport and Barcelona El Prat Airport are serviced regularly enough by Schiphol to allow for a weekend away, and I hope you find them a lovely break from the rigours of student life!