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5 alternatives to Venice


Tucked away in the French Alps, Annecy, often called the 'Venice of the Alps', is a cozy and less touristy substitute for Venice. Laced with beautiful canals, the town is oozing all things medieval, right from its stunning castles to cobblestone streets. Do make a point of visiting the Palais de l'Isle, a castle built right smack in the centre of a canal. Yeah, that's right. A castle in a canal! As for foodies, get ready for some top tier crepes and Raclette. Pro tip: wear your comfiest shoes 'cause this cute town is best explored on foot.

Also, you know what's cool about Annecy? It's got a lake. A lake, you guys. Lake Annecy, it's called - original, right? But oh-so relaxing, with beaches where you can chill out or have a picnic. Or try out different watersports. Stand-up paddleboarding and sailing, I'm just sayin'. Get a little adventurous, will ya?

Ask Layla about Annecy


Hold up, you haven't heard about Ghent? It's like Belgium's best kept secret. Like Annecy, Ghent's got a certain time-warp charm going on with its mystique medieval architecture. Imagine being surrounded by a skyline of gothic churches, abbeys and townhouses, oh-so-romantic! The Gravensteen Castle amps up the history vibes big time - this huge stone castle's right out of a story book and will make you feel like you're living a real life fairy tale. Ghent's also a super cool place to be if you're vegan, just sayin'. The city's kinda made it their thing to promote sustainable living, so there's a whole world of eco-friendly eats to explore.

Cool fact here: Ghent is teeming with students. Yeah, it's a university town, so it's got that vibrant, young energy that makes everything a bit more fun. If you visit in summer, you can't miss the Ghent Festivities - ten days of street performances, concerts and fireworks. Seriously, TEN DAYS. Who wouldn't be down for that?

Ask Layla about Ghent


I know what you're thinking. Bangkok for Venice? Isn't that a bit of a leap? Just hear me out. Bangkok is oftentimes referred to as the 'Venice of the East' and for good reason. Its web of canals - known as 'khlongs' - is unlike anything you'll see anywhere else. You can find these long-tail boats that take you around, and it's honestly like a scene out of movie. And what's supremely cool is that you can visit floating markets where you can buy stuff while you float! Imagine buying fruits, flowers, or even cooked food from a boat. Mind-blowing, right?

As for food, the street food scene is just - wow. I mean, imagine devouring the most mouth-watering Pad Thai, tossed and served right in front of you in a buzzing open market. Trust me, you'll never see street food the same way again. Pro tip: don't forget to try mango sticky rice. Your taste buds will thank me later.

Ask Layla about Bangkok


Bruges. Man, where do I even start? It's another Belgian city that's given Venice a run for its money. But Bruges is unique in its own cozy little way. It's got a network of canals that crisscross through the city (see why it's on this list?), and exploring these on boats is a whole vibe. Now, the architecture, right. It's all medieval with an overdose of charm and romantic feels. Honestly, every corner you turn, you'll wish you could live there.

When it comes to food, like, seriously, you've gotta check out the Belgian fries. They're double fried, and it's basically comfort food turned gourmet. Besides, Bruges is literally the hometown of some of the best chocolate makers in the world. Trust me, it's like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory came to life, no kidding. Anyway, enough of my endless raving. See it for yourself. Bruges is pretty lit.

Ask Layla about Bruges


Say hello to the 'Venice of Portugal'. Aveiro is replete with colour and charm, with its canals and the traditional, vividly painted boats known as 'moliceiros'. They're kinda like the gondolas of Portugal. Yet, here's a cool fact: these funky boats were actually used for seaweed harvesting. Yeah, that's right. Seaweed. Talk about a glow up!. The town itself is super picturesque with art nouveau architecture lining its streets and eye-catching azulejo tiles decking the facades of its building, giving you plenty of Insta-worthy backdrops.

When you're there, don't even think about missing out on ovos moles, a local delicacy made from egg yolks and sugar, ingeniously shaped like barrels or fishes and wrapped in a communion wafer. What's not to love about eating something cute as well as delicious?

Ask Layla about Aveiro
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