Book Europe Like a Local: 3 Super Sites for Reservations

By Budget Travel
October 3, 2012

For the best search results (and deals), swap your favorite U.S.-based booking site for a European counterpart.

For Hotel Rooms

While sites like Kayak and Hotwire do cover Europe, taps into a broader range of properties across nine European countries—with room rates up to half off. The site also features discounted day trips, spa packages, event tickets, and more.

For Dining Out

Making a dinner reservation in another language (and another time zone) can be tricky. Not so with Toptable: The site books seats in thousands of restaurants across 15 European countries, and you can sort by cuisine, price, ratings, and special offers.

For Rental Cars

As the largest rental-car consolidator on the Continent—with stations at 229 European airports alone—Europcar can afford to let vehicles go for as little as $32 per day. Bonus: Its no-fee membership program, called Privilege, earns drivers up to 30% off the leisure rate.


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Fresh-Air Fun in Europe: 3 New Outdoor Sights

Lately, European destinations have found novel ways to make the great outdoors more accessible for their citizens—and, by extension, for visitors. Here are three recent examples of outdoorsy ingenuity. Great Western Greenway, Ireland It’s called the Emerald Isle, so why not tour it in the greenest way possible? The first 11 miles of Ireland’s longest off-road cycling and walking trail opened last year, linking the coastal towns of Newport and Mulranny; a 15-mile extension added in June runs past Rockfleet Castle, the 16th-century home of pirate queen Grace O’Malley. Bike rentals are available through Newport Bicycle., $17 a day. Tempelhof Park, Berlin, Germany When Tempelhof Airport closed in 2008, Berlin was left with 950 weedy acres, a 3-million-square-foot terminal, and a jumbo-jet-size question: What to do with all this space? The city chose the most surreal option: Leave it as is, and call it a park. Catch this postapocalyptic expanse of abandoned runways and planes while it’s still untouched—a beautification plan begins in 2013. Madrid Rio Project, Spain Sure, Madrid has the Prado and the King, but it’s always been a bit jealous of one piece of Barcelona real estate: the Mediterranean. At last, the capital has found a way to go coastal. Opened in April, the Madrid Rio Project is a 6.2-mile green belt along the Manzanares River, formerly cut off from the city by a highway. It’s now home to sleek footbridges, bike paths—and the city’s first beaches. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: In Through the Outdoors How a Camp-Shy Family Came to Love the Great Outdoors 10 Best Affordable Beachfront Hotels


Your take: The most important historic places of the new millennium

TIME’s upcoming Great Places of History—Civilization’s 100 Most Important Sites (pre-order on, released October 11, $18.59) is the kind of coffee table book that will have you polishing up your bucket list and booking flights to far-flung locales. From the Great Wall of China and Easter Island to Auschwitz and Pearl Harbor, these 100 locations represent the highlights (and sometimes very lowlights) of the human experience—architectural wonders, battlefields, cathedrals, castles, universities, skyscrapers, and ancient mysteries. if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('2b3157b6-29af-4c24-8e53-15f5fb1ea107');Get the Poll Creator Pro widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info)What makes this list particularly interesting is its inclusion of a few newer spots (some built within the last decade) among the widely accepted classics. It may be too soon to tell if they’ll stand the test of the time, but it’s interesting to imagine that our new endeavors may eventually become the stuff of history. Here are some of the new additions that caught my eye: #74. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Spitsbergen, Norway: A repository for seed varieties built inside a mountain in Arctic Norway in 2008, or as TIME calls it: “a Noah’s Ark for the world’s plants” #89. The City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia, Spain: A futuristic cultural complex designed by famed architect Santiago Calatrava #90. CCTV Headquarters, Beijing, China: The Rem Koolhaas–designed headquarters of China Central Television, built as a giant, cube-like loop of towers #91. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The tallest building in the world, at 2,716.5 feet #100. Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada: An annual gathering of countercultural artsy types in the Nevada desert that concludes with the burning of a 40-foot sculpture To these, I would add the following, which didn’t make it onto the list:Ground Zero/One World Trade Center, New York City: A symbol of America’s resilience Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans: The worst-hit neighborhood during the Hurricane Katrina fiasco Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt: The site of massive revolutionary protests leading to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, potentially changing the course of Middle Eastern history Spaceport America, Sierra County, New Mexico: Okay, so this one won’t technically be completed until next year, but the world’s first commercial spaceport (that means sending average Joes—with above average bank accounts—to space!) will undoubtedly represent a giant leap toward making sci-fi a reality Now it’s your turn: which sites from recent history would you add to the list? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 10 New Global Wonders in 2011 10 Natural Wonders to See Before They Disappear 15 Places Your Kids Should See Before 15


Has your trip ever been saved by a stranger?

As all seasoned travelers know, it's the people just as much as the place that makes a trip exceptional. Whether it's a cabbie divulging the best hole-in-the-wall dim-sum joint in town or, simply, a hotel receptionist who's particularly kind after you arrive four hours later than scheduled because of flight delays, more often than not, locals are the key element that can make a good vacation fantastic. And sometimes, the people you meet don't just enhance your trip—they make it possible, a point that was proven in a recent news story. A 24-year-old woman named Catherine Li has spent the last seven months traveling by herself across America—on foot!—with little more than the clothes on her back, a direction guide printed off of Google maps, and a tent. She hauls her belongings in a shopping cart that was given to her by a sympathetic mall security guard at a Sears store in Flagstaff, Ariz. Already Li has trekked some 3,000 miles on her way to New York City—a real-life Forrest Gump!—but what makes her story really interesting, I think, is how much other people have aided her on her journey. From the concerned cop who checks in on her weekly by phone to the guy who let her crash on his couch and the mall security guard who let her take that shopping cart, countless strangers she met along the way have helped make her dream trip a reality. Watch an interview clip with Li, during her short stay in Philadelphia: All of this got us thinking: How have your trips benefited from the help of locals? We'd love to hear your stories! MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: What Is the Most Memorable Place You've Ever Visited? Sightsee with Locals—for Free! 5 Surefire Ways to Offend the Locals


5 last-minute leaf-peeping deals

All across North America, shades of red, orange, yellow, and brown herald autumn's arrival. While many big, multicity fall foliage tours sold out months ago, there are still small-scale deals to be had that make for great weekend getaways. Here are five ways to peep your local leaves while they're still alight. Boston, Bike/2 Nights, From $315 Stay for two nights at the Midtown Hotel, located in the center of Boston's Back Bay, and use it as your home base for exploring the city on two wheels during a classic New England autumn. Includes free parking, daily breakfast, and 24-hour bike access, with helmets, maps, and locks. When: Through October 2011 Contact: Midtown Hotel, 800/343-1177, Mackinac Island, Mich., From $159 a Night Mission Point Resort's "Ghost Hunter" package includes accommodations for two in a standard garden room; a ghost-themed tour of the rumored-to-be-haunted hotel grounds, featured earlier this year on Syfy's Ghost Hunters; round-trip ferry tickets on Arnold Transit Co., which travels through the Straits of Mackinac; dinner for two at the resort's restaurant, Chianti; and daily breakfast; from $159 a night for a minimum two-night stay, plus taxes of 18 percent. When: Through Oct. 23, 2011 Contact: Mission Point Resort, 800/833-7711, Mammoth, Calif., 2 Nights, From $49 a Night Experience autumn in California's Lakes Basin with a cabin rental, complimentary bottle of wine, daily breakfast, complimentary two-hour boat rental, fishing-rod rental, and access to Tamarack Adventures' guided activities (like hikes, bike tours, and fishing clinics), from $49 per person per night (two-night minimum stay), plus taxes and fees. When:Through November 7. Contact: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, 800/626-6684, Seattle, Wash., and Victoria, British Colombia, Ferry/Hotel, From $99 a Night Enjoy a round-trip Victoria Clipper cruise from Seattle to Victoria, Canada, and one night at the Harbor Towers hotel in Victoria, from $99 per person per night. Plus, "like" Clipper Vacations on Facebook and get a promo code good for an additional 10% off. Extend your stay to 2 nights for a discounted $123 per person per night. When: October 1, 2011- January 2, 2012 Contact: Clipper Vacations, 800/888-2535, Virginia, Resort/Horseback Ride, From $99 a Night Includes one night in your choice of tree house, yurt, cabin, chalet, or hotel room at the Shenandoah Crossing resort, plus one 45-minute trail ride for two people. Extend your stay from $63 per night for up to three additional nights; extra horseback rides for other members of your party can be added for a discounted rate of $18 per person. When: Through November 18, 2011 Contact: Shenandoah Crossing, 888/760-8188, MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 5 Fall Foliage Drives North America's Most Charming Fall Islands 8 Fall Foliage Cruises