adventure

How to see Portofino on a budget

Ever since I started seeing all of these beautiful pictures of Portofino floating all over Pinterest and Instagram, showing off the luxurious lifestyles and the picturesque port with its colorful homes lining the seaside, it had become a dream of mine to visit there. Now I have never lived such a lifestyle but the colors seaside photos were always so breathtaking, I thought, I have to see this just once. But, Portofino has also been known to attract its fair share of celebrities over the years so I always assumed, as a budget traveler, I would never be able to afford a visit. However, after doing a bit of research and then deciding to just go for it, we found quite a few ways to enjoy Portofino while still keeping our pocketbooks happy 🙂
I planned out an entire road trip through Italy for us which our main goal of was to see Tuscany. But seeing as Portofino happened to be right on our way, we made it our first stop and let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

Here are my best tips for how to enjoy Portofino on a budget:

Stay for only 1 Day:

If you are like me and just want the enjoyment of seeing Portofino, the beautiful colors and explore a bit of the city, you can do all this in just one day. Portofino is not a big city.  In fact, it is a very small fisherman’s village of only about 400 people who actually live there. But, this is also why I believe it is so charming and has so much character. We were able to walk to all of the hot spots in less than ten minutes from the main port. Therefore, if you start in the morning, you will have more than enough time to soak in all sights and colors before the end of the day. My favorites to see were Chiesa San Giorgio and Castello Brown. From both of them you’ll find pretty breathtaking views.

Don’t stay at a Hotel:

The hotels right in Portofino will run you about $400 minimum per night. When I travel, thats normally over a weeks worth of nights somewhere. But, there are other options! Just outside of the village are a few bed and breakfasts just waiting for wonderful travelers like yourself. B&B Tre Mari Portofino has beautiful views of the coast and is only a 15 minute walk away from the town center all for only $150 per night. Still a bit pricy for true budget travelers but much better than those only ten minutes closer to the water.

Stay in Rapallo:

Personally, my best suggestion is to not stay in Portofino at all but, rather in Rapallo, a neighboring town. This is a great solution for a number of reasons.

  1. Rapallo is also a beautiful city worth seeing! It’s also much larger than Portofino with quite a bit to see. They have a beautiful beach, large swaying palms, and plenty of affordable shopping options and cafes.
    Rapallo ItalyRapallo beach italy2. If you like the water, getting to Portofino from Rapallo is incredibly easy!! The ferry leaves right from the harbor, takes only 25 minutes, and only costs €13 roundtrip! Compared to any sort of taxi or parking, that’s a steal. Plus, the best part is the view! Casually cruising along the coast line you will get to see Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure, and Portofino all from the water. portofino view3. Hotels are significantly cheaper in Rapallo. I was able to find plenty of options on Booking.com of hotels under €100 per night there.

Camping!

While this may not be everyones first choice, it can be the most economical. Plus, if you happen to be road tripping it like we did, why not stay at a camp site? This is what we decided to do in the end. It only cost us €30 per night. We found one with a great little pizza restaurant and a pool. This option could also mean staying a bit longer. One night in a hotel in Portofino will cost you the same as an entire week in a cabin at one of these campsites. Heres a few of my favorites to check out:
Camping Rapallo
Camping miralfores
Parco Vacanze Lo Scoglio

Have any other tips to share? Leave a comment below! I love to hear other people’s experiences 🙂

Later this week I’ll be sharing my top picks for European spring vacation destinations. It’s never to early to start planning for next years escape! 🙂

And if you missed last weeks article on Snorkeling destinations in Italy, check it out here!

Top 4 places to Snorkel in Italy + GoPro Video!

Buongiorno!! Good morning from Italy! The weather has been so hot here lately that when on vacation, the best escape is hitting the beach and jumping straight into the water. So today I’m sharing my top four places in Italy to find some of the best snorkeling and swimming spots plus our newest GoPro video!
Let’s dive right in! 😉

1.Sirolo

Sirolo is a small town on the Adriatic Coast side. The amazing thing about this place are the beaches and better yet, what you’ll find underwater. My favorite beach is San Michele because of how clear the water is and the rocks that create a mini reef to snorkel around. Italy beachJellyfish snorkel

2.Manarola

Along the Cinque Terre, the beautiful town of Manarola is not just an amazing photoshoot location full of colorful houses. The cove is perfect for taking a dip and if you are feeling adventurous, you can even climb to the top of a 10 meter rock and jump off! Underneath the surface you’ll find some fun sea urchins and schools of little fish swimming around.Italy Swimming

3.Capri

Capri has a medium sized beach at Marina Piccolo where you can find a spot to catch some of those warm Italian sundays. Once you’ve warmed up, the clear turquoise water is perfect for taking a swim. My favorite part is the rock arch you can swim under. And while we were swimming around, we even came across a baby octopus 🙂

Capri SnorkelingCapri SnorkelingOctopus Snorkeling capri

4.Portofino

While Portofino’s beach is rather small and rocky, the water there is my number one pick for snorkeling. Crystal clear and sheltered from the waves between two cliffs make it ideal to throw on your snorkel gear and just paddle around. Plus its hard to beat the view in Portofino!
Portofino SnorkelingFor some serious wanderlust, check out my new GoPro video of all the swimming and snorkeling from each of these locations!

If you missed our first GoPro video from Canyoning in Riva del Garda, check it out here!

Adventure Canyoning in Riva del Garda

Hey! Just a quick article for you today but its also an awesome one! For those of you who love adventure sports, I am so excited to officially share our canyoning adventure with you! It was my first time ever and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It turned out to be really thrilling and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
What is canyoning??? It’s basically following a river down into a canyon by swimming, walking, jumping, sliding, and abseiling over all the cliffs and rocks. I am a water sport person so I knew I would most likely love this.
We booked our tour through Mmove into Nature and were picked up in Riva del Garda, the northern most city of Lake Garda in Italy. We were shuttled up the mountain to the starting point where we drove past multiple gorgeous, crystal clear lakes nestled back in the trees on the mountain. So much I had no idea existed in Italy!
After getting geared up in our neoprene suits and helmets, we jumped in the river and began our trek. It just so happened that it was also 100 degrees in Italy this week and jumping in the cold water was the perfect escape from the heat. Our guides were so much fun too!
Check out our new YouTube channel here to see the whole adventure with all the crazy slides, jumps, and even a 50 meter abseil at the end! Mmove into Nature is awesome because they have over six different courses so there is something for everyone no matter what level of difficulty you want to try. Now that I’ve got the feel of it, I’m thinking next time I’ll have to step it up and go for an even more extreme course 🙂

Next week I’ll be sharing our sea snorkeling we did while in Italy with another new video!

Italian Summer Vacation Series: Amalfi Coast & Hike of the Gods

pinterest amalfi coast
And we’re back! After a short pause from posting I am back to share even more about my favorite summer destination, Italy. Heading down the coast from Positano, we headed to Amalfi for the best views and a bit of adventure. Amalfi not only has beautiful churches and architecture (and sometimes adorable puppies!), but is also known for its Hike of the God’s path.

After taking the winding narrow road bus ride up to the very top of the mountain high above the city, you’ll start to see why the path is named this. The clouds seem closer than the turquoise sea below! And the views are unlike anything I have ever seen. The coastline is miles and miles of mountainside meeting right up to the waters edge. 

So, here is what you should know if you want to do the Hike of the God’s Path yourself:

  1. The SITA bus will leave from the bus terminal down in Amalfi and will take you 30 minutes to drive you up to the starting point. It will take you about 4 hours to get from Amalfi back down to Positano (where we were staying)
  2. Pack water and wear good walking shoes, you’ll be climbing over stones and large rocks at points (even though I did see one woman doing the hike in platform shoes with two little kids, no idea how she did it)
  3. It will take you about 4 hours to get from Amalfi back down to Positano (where we were staying) so if its at all sunny, you’ll want a good amount of sunscreen on and maybe even a hat. Not much shade up at the top of the mountain. We chose to do the hike on a cloudier day and it was well worth it.

Next were heading onto the city in Italy that you can never go to just once……..ROME!

If you missed out on what to do on a day trip to Capri, check it out here!

Italian Summer Vacation Series: A Day in Capri

Happy Friday!! I’m starting your weekend off with my all time favorite vacation spot to get you saying yes to a summer vacation in Europe. I can’t believe its already part way through July! No need to sit around at home when the weather is perfect for a suntan and the view looks like this…Capri is seriously the most incredible place! I always knew it was somewhere I wanted to one day visit so when we started planning our trip through Italy, I made sure it included a day trip to the island of the Sirens and turquoise blue water.  Keep in mind we are budget travelers and even though many tend to think Capri is only for the high rollers with a private yacht, it is not at all out for reach for the rest of us. So how you get there? What is there to do and see and eat??? We’ve got you fully covered 🙂

HOW TO GET THERE:

Capri is easily accessible from either Sorrento or Portofino. We were in Portofino and there everywhere on the beach were stands offering various Capri tours. Ours cost $60 per person for a half day (5 hour) trip. All we had to do was meet at the pier in the morning where our boat was waiting to jet us over to the island.  The first and last hour are taking a boat ride there and back, which also include seeing quite a few beautiful grottos, and if you are lucky and the weather is nice, you’ll even get the chance to hop onto a smaller boat and go inside the famous blue grotto. We then had 3 hours of free time on the island in-between.

WHAT TO SEE:

Once on the island, most likely Marina Piccola is where you’ll be dropped off, take one of the orange buses up to the top of the island where the actual city of Capri is. There you’ll find everyone enjoying shopping, restaurants, and the famous Piazzetta clock tower. From there you can get one of the best views of the whole island below.
From there, you can take a walk over to the other side of the island where you’ll find the most beautiful gardens. The best part about the gardens is the view you’ll get of the Faraglioni rock formations down below. 

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK:

The restaurants in Capri tend to be quite crowded and also rather pricey. We decided to steer clear of these and find something a little off the beaten path. There are a few nice corner supermarkets with traditional Italian snacks and fresh food. We found one making fresh paninis for only a few Euros.
The best thing we found was this lemonade stand along the way serving fresh pressed limoncello slushies!! If you don’t try limoncello at some point while in southern Italy, you are missing out!!

WHAT TO DO:

If you get a bit tired and decide you want to beat the heat, why not take a dip in the water! The beach at marina piccola is perfect for just laying out and relaxing or if you are like us and brought your snorkel gear, go for a swim! We even found a baby octopus on our snorkeling adventures :). Next week we’re going from the sea to the sky! We’re heading up the highest route along the Amalfi coast. Check it out then!

If you missed last week’s Positano article, find it here!

Italian Summer Vacation Series: Positano Travel Guide

This week on our Italian vacation, we’re taking you down to the Amalfi Coast where the dreamy city of Positano lies nestled into the mountains. If you’ve ever watched the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” then you’ve gotten a glimpse of this colorful coastal city. I have never seen anything else that comes close to the beauty this city has.

There a few ways to get to Positano. For budget travelers, after taking the train into Sorrento, you can either take the SITA bus, which is a coach bus, or the ferry. We chose the SITA bus which turned out to be more nerve wracking than I anticipated. The hour long ride that hugs the coastline 400 meters up above the sea might not be a favorite for those with a fear of heights. If this is you, I just suggest occupying yourself on your phone rather than looking out the window.  While that view is one of the most amazing I have ever seen, I also have never felt so dizzy in my life looking down at the water so far below. That being said, it might be stressful for about 45 minutes, but once you arrive, the immediate view will take your breath away in a whole new way. positano hostel

Caught your breath yet? 🙂 Good. It’s time to dive into the city and find out what there is to do and see besides this amazing view.

BEACHES

Spaggia GrandeDown at the foot of the mountains in the city center, next to the sparkling turquoise Tyrrhenian sea waters, is Spaggia Grande, the larger of the two beaches in Positano. You can rent a beach chair or go the free route (of which I’m always a fan) and bring a towel to lay on the pebble beach. The best part is all of the waterfront restaurants and bars here. Plus, you’ll find plenty of places to indulge in delicious gelato 🙂
And if you are feeling really adventurous, bring some snorkel gear along and check out what lies beneath the crystal clear water.positano snorkeling

Spaggia FornelloSpaggia Fornello is the smaller beach of Positano. What I liked more about this beach though compared to the other, was relaxed atmosphere. If you want upscale, head to Spaggia Grande and if you want chill beach vibes, head to Fornello. The bartender was so friendly and told us the whole story of the bar and even showed us a ton of old photos. Here, I didn’t feel like they were just looking for tourist’s money, but rather actually wanted to hear our story and to share theirs. It was the most relaxed evening we had in Positano 🙂positano beach

BOAT TRIPS

All along Spaggia Grande you can find stands offering various boat trips. Its one thing to see Positano walking through the streets but, its a whole other perspective from the water. Jetting around on a sunny day in our 10 person boat was the highlight of our time here. Our half day trip took us out along the colorful coastline all the way to the island of Capri and back (which I’ll be sharing more about next week!)
positano coastline

FOOD

My favorite restaurant while in Positano was its namesake restaurant, Cafe Positano. We came across it on our climb back up from the beach through all of the winding and narrow streets. It looked like the perfect place to catch an amazing view of the city below and take a break from our half hour hike back up to the hostel. And then, once I tasted the food, I was in love! The best lobster and seafood pastas I have ever tasted!! Just writing about it is making me want to go back 🙂italian seafoodpositano at nightWe’ll be back next week to share our entire trip to the island where the mythological Sirens once used to lure sailors into its jagged rocks. We’re headed to Capri!

Ciao!

Italian Summer Vacation Series: A day at Pompeii

Pompeii is one of the world’s most unique historical sites to visit. Most of us learned in grade school about the devastating volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius in 79A.D. that left this village completely buried for over 1,500 years before its rediscovery and initial excavation began. But seeing this uncovered village is an unforgettable experience and an incredible view into the past.
Pompeii is now a UNESCO World heritage site and open to the public for an entrance fee of 11 euros. It is a perfect day trip from the Amalfi coast or Naples and the train will drop you right off at the entrance.

Here are a few helpful tips for when visiting Pompeii:

  • Bring lots of sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses, a hat, and SPF chapstick (there is not much shade to be found here and it gets extremely warm in spring and summer) A thing of cooling wipes or mist is also not a bad idea
  • Bring a small backpack or drawstring bag to carry all this in
  • A refillable water bottle is also a must to have with considering the warm temperatures; there are spots along the way to refill with drinking water

Wear good walking shoes. You will be trekking along gravel paths on foot for about 4 to 6 hours to see everything
Sculptures Pompeii Italyruins pompeiiBy the end we were pretty exhausted and ready to head down to the Amalfi coast to take a refreshing dip in the ocean. What we learned there in one day was unbelievable! Seeing all the ruins, artifacts, sculptures, and even bodies preserved so perfectly from for thousands of years is something that must be experienced on a trip to Italy.

If you missed Monday’s Milan article, check it out here!

Next week we’ll be sharing the beautiful coastal cities of Positano and Amalfi!

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