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sep 01 2015

How to do Florence on a Budget

Pointe Vecchia in Florence, Italy

Visit Ponte Vecchio, the city's famous medieval arched bridge, now home to an assortment of shops and restaurants, and a regular spot for free musical entertainment.

(Courtesy mcmillent/myBudgetTravel)

Florence is an Italian city best known for its art. Home to the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Galleria dell'Accademia (where Michelangelo's David masterpiece resides), visitors from around the world flock to see famous statues and paintings by Raphael, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci among others. The good news is you don't have to break the bank to get some world-class culture. You can view sculptures, paintings, and other works of art for less—or for free—if you know where to look.

aug 21 2015

7 Things to Do in Vernazza (Besides Hiking)

This article was written by Jessica Spiegel on behalf of Viator.com.

Most of the people who have been flocking to the pretty town of Vernazza in the Cinque Terre for decades do so because of the famous hike that connects Vernazza with other towns along the coast. Hiking remains the top thing to do in the Cinque Terre, but it’s by no means the only thing to do. Here are 7 other things worth checking out.

aug 18 2015

3 Flash Sales You Won't Want To Miss!

Italy - milan duomo

Score 2-for-1 round-trip airfares from NYC to Milan with this amazing flash sale from Emirates when you book by Thursday, Aug. 20th.

(Courtesy amichka/myBudgetTravel)

We've just discovered three flash sales happening this week that you won't want to miss. Here's what you need to know.

For ski lovers who are planning ahead

Vail Resorts and RockResorts in Colorado, Lake Tahoe, Grand Teton National Park, Utah, and Jamaica are having a 96-hour flash sale starting Tuesday, Aug. 18th until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21st where you can save up to 50 percent on stays at luxury-style campgrounds, boutique hotels, and resorts. Sample prices include rates at The Lodge at Vail from $129 per night, rates at The Pines Lodge at Beaver Creek from $117 per night, and even a 60 percent discount at Half Moon, A RockResort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with rates from $229 per night. If you currently have the Epic Pass, you're eligible for even more discounts—purchase the 2015-2016 season Epic Pass by Sept. 7th for $769 per person for access to unlimited skiing and snowboarding at 10 U.S. ski areas and select ski resorts in Australia and Switzerland.

For a last-minute beach getaway

aug 17 2015

City Passes in Italy: Worth It or Not?

Tracking down amazing Real Deals is a big part of my job here at Budget Travel, and involves breaking down the details to make sure travelers are really getting the most for their money. I decided to apply the same logic when planning out my family’s first vacation to Italy—especially when we kept running into deals that sounded too good to be true. Take the city cards and passes for Florence, Venice, and Rome. The basic idea behind them: pay a lump sum and get access to museums, historic sites, and galleries—and sometimes city buses or metro—for a discounted price rather than buying all those tickets separately. Discounts and the ability to skip enormous lines? Sounds good to me. But are they really a good deal? I looked into it and here is what I found:

Firenze Card (The Florence Card)

jul 15 2015

10 Tourist-Free Adventure Destinations


Discover the beauty and magic of the Azores—before huge crowds of tourists get there!

(Courtesy hcoffee/myBudgetTravel)

This article was written by Mary Mazzoni and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.

Sick of overcrowded streets, congested bus rides and suffocating travel groups? You’re not alone. One of the top trends in travel this decade is the quest for the untouched—those pristine, less-traveled destinations you can explore without bumping into selfie-takers at every turn.

Luckily for us, the folks at the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) know a thing or two about traveling off the beaten path. To bring you the tourist-free experience you crave, we asked experts at the recent AdventureElevate conference in Colorado to share some of their favorite secret spots. Read on to get the skinny on these exotic locales before the crowds show up.

For untouched culture: Tolar, Argentina

This small town of less than 300 people is a favorite of Veronica Lampon of Say Hueque. Although her firm is the No. 1 tour operator in Argentina, it only sells around one trip a year to this unexplored location—so you’re sure to get a pristine adventure experience.

Located in the deserts of Northern Argentina, Tolar boasts beautiful mountains, rendered in technicolor thanks to mineral deposits, and a unique cultural experience that can’t be beat. The remote location was heavily influenced by the Incas, and it remains untainted by waves of tourists. “You can still get a lot of that culture from 200 years ago,” Lampon told us. “It’s an amazing experience.”

For watersport: Rio Cangrejal, Honduras

Situated in Northern Honduras, the Rio Cangrejal is “one of the great whitewater rafting and kayaking rivers in Central America,” said Mark Willuhn of the Mesoamerican Ecotourism Alliance.

Using a coastal town like La Ceiba as your base, you can easily explore the Rio Cangrejal region and all it has to offer. After you give kayaking and rafting a try, head to the nearby Pico Bonito National Park to check out untouched rain forests without bumping elbows with other travelers. Or, peep exotic sea life on a snorkeling adventure on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef along the Honduran Bay Islands.

Related: Secret American Beaches You’ve Never Heard of

In your backyard: Point Reyes National Seahore, California

Although it’s only an hour from San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore remains “very much a hidden secret,” said Christina Tunnah of travel insurance operator World Nomads. “It’s a jewel in that part of California that is still thankfully very pristine and still very rugged at the same time.”

At Point Reyes, around 240 miles of trail beckons hikers, bikers and horseback riders to explore the protected countryside. On your travels, be sure to check out the historic lighthouse and the many wildlife viewing areas, such as the tule elk range or the Elephant Seal Overlook. Visit from January through April, and you may also catch a glimpse of the annual gray whale migration from one of the park beaches or headlands.

Adventure made easy: Town-hopping in Alaska

Visiting Alaska is a surefire way to get off the beaten path, but it can seem daunting to pick a locale amidst its 660,000 square miles of terrain. We caught up with Jack Bonney of Visit Anchorage for a local’s perspective.

His tips: Start and finish your trip in Anchorage for seamless airport access, then use the railroad system to explore Alaska’s backcountry. Kick off your adventure in Seward, a small fishing town that’s about a three-hour train ride from Anchorage. Explore the untouched seaside village, and take a quick boat trip to Kenai Fjords National Park which is home to 38 stunning glaciers and some of the most breathtaking views in Alaska.

For an even more off-grid experience, hop back on the Alaska Railroad to Spencer Glacier. “When the train pulls away, the people who got off the train with you are the only ones who are going to be out there,” Bonney said with a smile. Enjoy float tours, hiking and camping at one of the most spectacular glaciers in Alaska before the easy train trip back to Anchorage. Adventure and convenience? Sign us up!

Soft adventure paradise: Amalfi Coast, Italy

Looking for an offbeat trip but aren’t quite ready for sub-zero camping or remote hiking tours? Don’t worry. You can have the best of both worlds on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, said Tom De Napoli of Diamante Eco Adventure Park in Costa Rica.

A less-traveled destination that’s far from rugged, the Amalfi Coast is home to pristine beaches and stunning hillside towns. Take a relaxing bike or scooter ride, or simply enjoy the scenery in this quirky destination that’s perfect for families and low-impact travelers.

For unmatched diversity: Azores

Although it’s a perennial editor’s favorite for top 10 lists, this autonomous region of Portugal remains a relatively unknown destination for North American travelers.

A mere four-hour flight from Boston, the nine islands of the Azores each offer their own distinct landscape—ensuring something for everyone and banishing boredom for good. Explore the red deserts of Santa Maria, the lush mountain peaks of Sao Jorge, or the semi-submersed caves and stunning seaside vistas of Pico and Faial. Seriously, there’s so much more than we could ever list here. Check out their website to learn more.

For ancient history: Sierra de San Francisco, Baja California

This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to “the most significant collection of prehistoric rock art in North America,” said Peter Grubb, founder of Row Adventures.

It’s truly a trip of a lifetime, but expect a bit of a trek to get there: Visitors hike in on foot, using mules to carry their belongings, and are unlikely to run into anyone outside of their small tour group. Visited by only around 300 travelers a year, the site features remarkably well-preserved rock paintings from as far back as 100 B.C.  

Spot some wildlife: Pantanal, Brazil

“Honestly, the Pantanal is the most underrated destination,” said George Duffy of Adventure Engine. Or, as Lonely Planet puts it, “The Amazon gets the press coverage, but the Pantanal is a better place to see wildlife.”

Tour the lush rain forests of the region, and you’re sure to see exotic native creatures maxin’ and relaxin’ without fear of tourist crowds. For sea life, head to Bonito for stunning freshwater snorkeling in warm, crystal-blue waters.

Related: Secret Islands in France That No One Knows About

Boozy adventure: Isle of Harris, Scotland

The mostly untouched Isle of Harris is home to some of the best beaches in Scotland—not to mention the most remote whiskey distillery in the world, set to open later this year. Tour the distillery and even reserve one of its first barrels, which you can pick up in 10 years after it’s finished aging.

On your visit, take in the island’s lush landscapes and stunning beaches on a cycling and hiking tour courtesy of Wilderness Scotland.

The offbeat Eurotrip: Macedonia

This landlocked Balkan nation, bordered by Albania and Greece, is the perfect place to “see authentic Europe that really hasn’t been disrupted by tourism,” advised Kathy Kramer of Firefly Journeys.

In Macedonia, check out rolling countrysides, stunning mountain vistas and picturesque villages—without a tour bus in sight. Link up with Macedonia Experience for hiking and biking tours with expert guides to make sure you don’t miss a beat.

WATCH: Go Now: The New Seventh Wonder of the World—That’s Empty

jul 13 2015

Want a Free Home in Sicily?

Gangi, Sicily (pictured here, with Mount Etna in the background), has too many empty houses on its hands. So it's giving them away to people who'll commit to fixing them up.

(Juergen Schonnop/Dreamstime)

In the market for a new vacation home? How about an Italian vacation home? Well, the town of Gangi, Sicily, is offering a price that's right: Free. Does free work for you?

There are, of course, a few quid pro quos and provisos. Namely, you've got to have the funds and/or the home-improvement skills to turn an empty, likely rundown Sicilian house into a thriving home, vacation rental, or hotel. You have four years to do so.

jun 18 2015

How to Visit the World's Endangered Destinations

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of Budget Travel's picks for Where to Go in 2015. But this ecosystem is threatened by carbon emissions and farm runoff, raising the possibility that within a century the world's biggest and most beautiful coral reef system will be gone forever.

(Tanya Puntti/Dreamstime)

Some of the world's most beautiful travel spots are under attack by climate change and booming human populations. Here's how you can visit some of these endangered destinations responsibly before they're gone forever.


The world's biggest, most beautiful, and most diverse reef system (1,400 miles) could be gone in 100 years due to global carbon dioxide emissions and runoff from farms into the ocean. As the ocean temperatures rise, the coral, fish, and marine mammals all suffer. But if you visit this Australian must-see respectfully, you can snorkel, scuba, or even just watch the Technicolor show in a glass-bottomed boat or kayak.

jun 09 2015

10 Best Budget Eats in Milan, Italy

Detail of Duomo Cathedral in Milan Italy

If you can tear yourself away from Milan's magnificent Duomo, here are the best places to enjoy an Italian treat for less.

(Lonely Planet)

For some, the highlight of a trip to Milan is viewing Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. But for the food-obsessed, a visit here revolves around eating supper (and breakfast and lunch, too). In a country revered for gastronomic treasures, Milan's culinary abundance stands tall. Best known for fashion and finance, this chic, sleek, and efficient Northern Italian city will tantalize your taste buds at every turn. History and geography are on its side. Milan is located in the Po Valley, surrounded by fertile pastures and prolific rice fields, which translates to your plate with luxuriously rich cheese and butter, plus the risotto of your dreams. Centuries of foreign conquerors have left their mark with an open-minded food scene and authentic ethnic cuisine.

jun 04 2015

New 'Mini Fashion Bar' Lets You Buy High-Style Clothes in Your Hotel Room—Affordably!

Hotel Fashion Bar

Need a jacket for sightseeing? A new European service offers clothing and accessories for purchase right from your hotel room's closet.

(Courtesy Pimkie)

The very concept of a hotel room closet filled with new, fashionable clothing you can buy on the spot—just like you would a can of soda from the mini bar—sounds like something only the one percent could afford, right? Wrong!

The Mini Fashion Bar, just launched at the Banks Boutique Hotel in Antwerp, Belgium (rates from about $112 per night), by French fashion brand Pimkie, stocks boutique hotel rooms with stylish women's duds like bomber jackets, statement necklaces, cool jeans, and little black dresses, all hand-picked by fashion bloggers and stylists—and tailored to the weather and your location. The best part: Prices start at less than $6, with clothing averaging about $28 per piece.

may 27 2015

Awesome Summer Food Festivals

The Gilroy Garlic Festival

The Gilroy Garlic Festival, in Northern California, is known not just for serving tons of the aromatic harvest all weekend, but also for culinary pyrotechnics.

(Courtesy Bill Strange)

Ready to get an early start on your summer travel? Some of the world's tastiest food festivals are happening over the next few weeks in some of the world's most beautiful spots. Pack a bag, and an appetite.


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