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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!

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: 1 Day Itinerary for Milan

pinmilan1

After a little break, today we are moving eastward through Italy and giving you an amazing and jam packed one day itinerary for sight seeing in Milan. Milan is a beautiful metropolitan city full of beautiful architecture, delicious espresso, and amazing shopping. The major sights can easily be seen in a one day walking route but, there are also city buses that can easily get you around from place to place.

MORNING:
Getting an early start for Milan sight seeing has its advantages. The place that all the tourists want to see is Piazza del duomo where the Milan Cathedral is. This means as of noon, this place is packed!

Cathedral duomo MilanDSCN3575 2Near the Cathedral is the Victor Emanuel Gallery (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II) which is a beautiful sight to walk through and is lined with luxury shopping the whole way through. DSCN3582Victor Emanuel Gallery MilanGiorgio Armani MilanDSCN3589Once out on the other side, you’ll come to the monument of Leonardo da Vinci which is an amazing sight in itself to see. Leonardo da Vinci sculpture milanAFTERNOON:
After taking a lunch break, the best place to walk to is the Sforza Castle. You can take a leisurely walk through the whole grounds and also see some classic artworks and sculptures. Once through, you’ll be in the Parco Sempione, the largest city park in Milan. We had a beautiful sunny day so spending time here was the perfect way to use the afternoon. At the other end, you’ll come to the famous arch, Arco della Place which is a perfect spot for a few nice photos.Sforza Castle MilanArco della Place MilanDSCN3634EVENING:
Before heading off to dinner, take a stroll through the shopping district and indulge a bit or just browse the windows. The best part is walking through all the narrow side streets in awe of how beautiful they can be. There are also some larger architectural sights to be seen in this area as well. Narrow street MilanGenerali BuildingJust to give you a map view of where this full day route takes you, starting from the Cathedral(duomo) walking through the park and then back through the shopping district, you will only have to walk a total of one hour. Wednesday we’ll be heading south and making a stop at the historical ruins of Pompeii! Check back to find out all about spending a day exploring this amazing site.

If you missed the latest articles about the islands of Venice, find them here!
Italian Summer Vacation Series: Island of Murano
Italian Summer Vacation Series: Island of Burano

 

Italian Summer Vacation Series: Intro

Buongiorno!! I am so excited to share this next series with you as traveling through Italy was my favorite summer trip last year. It was so amazing, that we are going back this year for double the time and road tripping through all new cities! But to start off, over the next eight weeks I’m going to get you all ready for your own Italian vacation. From planning and prepping, to destinations, delicious dishes, sightseeing and adventure activities, we’ve got it all! Italy is perfect for a summer destination, a place to show off a bit of your beach bikini style as well as fashion city style! It is also a very relaxed country in general which makes travel easy to enjoy.

Here is a preview of whats to come in the next weeks:

Venice
veniceBurano, Murano
burano italianMilan
Milan Italian adventureAmalfi Coast
Amalfi coast italian adventurePositano
Positano italian adventureCapri
Capri Italian adventuresPompeii
pompeii italian adventureRome
Rome italian adventure

So get excited! We’ll also be sharing favorite summer travel accessories, must have items for your Italian trip, plus amazing photos to inspire some serious wanderlust 🙂 And as a bonus we have created a Perfect Packing List specifically for Italy for you to download and use. Look for it in the travel prep article coming out Wednesday. But the best part, at the end of the series, we’ll be doing a GIVEAWAY that will include the Italian Summer Vacation Series: Part 1 Ebook! Then later this summer we’ll be jetting off (or rather driving the German Autobahn) towards that next Italian Roadtrip to create Italian Vacation Series Part 2 just for you!!

Stay tuned on Mondays and Wednesdays! The adventure is about to begin 🙂

And don’t forget to share this article to get your girls or man in on a summer vacay to Italy!

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Best of Germany

Welcome to the first Wanderlust Wednesday! The first Wednesday of every month, I am going to be posting a Wanderlust Wednesday article to inspire you to travel somewhere new and as a way for us all to grow our travel bucket lists. 🙂
This week, I’m starting off with an easy one for me. I have been living in Germany for the past year and a half now, and have discovered so many wonderful places! While I still feel like I have so many more to visit, here are the “best of” photos from each city or event in Germany that you won’t want to miss when planning that next Euro Trip!

Idar-Oberstein

Idar Oberstein Germany

In the very west of Germany is Idar Oberstein, a lesser known and smaller German  town but, with so much charm and character. It is not very touristy which makes a visit there quite relaxing. The best sight of all, the church built into the rocks.  The legend goes that there were once two brothers who lived in the castle above the rock. They both fell for the same girl but she only loved one of them. The other learned of this and threw his brother out the window where he plummeted to his death on the rocks below. Immediately filled with remorse, he confessed what he had done, and to have this forgiven, he was to build a church at the site of where his brother had died.
Today, you can still visit the church and the castle above. The castle is well worth it if you want to get the best view over the city.
Idar Oberstein is also known for its gemstones. If you are looking for something to take back with you, a gemstone souvenir would be just the thing. Idar Oberstein Germany

Heidelberg

HeidelbergHeidelberg lies in the southwest side of Germany and is known for its unique and very large Renaissance era castle that stands up on the hilltop and looks down over the colorful buildings within the city.
Heidelberg GermanyHeidelberg Germany

Bremen
Bremen germany

Towards the north is the city of Bremen. Last year we visited for a fall festival. In Germany, that means lots of grilled meat, sweets and treats, and festival rides galore!
Bremen germany

Hamburg
Hamburg Germany

Right on the North Sea coast is Hamburg, a thriving and large city full of tourism. The Town Hall (Rathaus) is the most spectacular looking building in my opinion and the best thing to do on a sunny day is take a boat tour to see the whole city from the water!

Hamburg

Lübeck
Lubeck Germany

Also in the north but over on the East Sea coast, is the beautiful city of Lübeck. This is the perfect summer vacation spot. White sand beaches spread far and wide with the iconic wicker beach chairs all along the way only 15 minutes from the city center. Even in August the water tends to be a bit chilly but, if the weather is warm enough, its perfect for a quick dip and then relaxing on shore. The biggest and best sight in the city is the Holstentor which is a large gate that marked the city border after it was built in 1464.
Lubeck Germany

Berlin
Berlin Germany

To the east we have Berlin, the largest and capital city of Germany. Berlin has some amazing sights such as the world clock (above) and the Brandenburg Gate (below). It is also the best place to learn about the history of Germany with so many museums, monuments, and memorials throughout the city.

See my full Berlin Itinerary here: Berlin Complete Travel Guide
Berlin GermanyBerlin Germany

Christmas Markets
Braunschweig Christmas Markets

The Christmas markets are found all throughout Germany from the end of November until Christmas. It is worth booking your trip during this time just to see them! Drink some hot chocolate with amaretto or hot mulled wine and walk through all of the pretty lights and stands!

See more sparkly photos here: Germany’s Christmas Markets

Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Germany

The Neuschwanstein castle is about an hour outside of Munich and makes for a great day trip. This is the real castle that the Disney castle was designed after!! So its like being a real disney princess when visiting ;).

Read more here: Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle

Munich
Munich Germany

In the heart of Bavaria is Munich. Good beer, meat, and tradition is everywhere here. The best sight is in Marienplatz in the city center. At 11am, as well as 12pm and 5pm in summer, the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, or Town Hall Clock performance, occurs while the bells ring and the puppets come out to perform. This is one of the top tourist attractions in all of Munich.

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest Germany

The very top attraction in Munich in September and October however, is Oktoberfest. Three weeks of drinking liters of beer, consuming a lifetimes worth of soft pretzels, and dancing around in Lederhosen or a Dirndl is what Oktoberfest is all about.

Read more about Oktoberfest in my other article here: Cheers to Oktoberfest!
Oktoberfest pretzel OktoberfestOktoberfest GermanyOktoberfest Germany

Already been to Germany?? Where was your favorite place? Share below!

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