sightseeing

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: 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: 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!

Italian Summer Vacation Series: A Gondola Ride in Venice

Venice has made its way to the top of my list for most romantic city in Europe. Its not hard to see why. Getting lost for an evening walking along the canals with Chris was the most romantic time we’ve ever had. When most people think of Venice, the iconic and most romantic thing to do there is to hop on a gondola and be chauffeured through the narrow canals while you sit back and relax.
However, gondola rides have now become one of the most popular tourist activity to do there and therefore have become quite costly. So the question a lot of people ask is, “is it worth it?” Is it really that memorable or is it just a hype and now a way to get tourist’s money?
A thirty minute ride will cost you 80 euros. So yes, that can seem like a pretty penny for only a half hour especially for everyone trying to travel on a budget. However, many people are only lucky enough to go to Venice once or maaaaaybe twice in a lifetime. That being said, maybe just a stroll along the canals are memorable enough but, for us, a gondola ride was a once in a lifetime experience and totally worth every cent!Venice Canal
Venice GondolaVenice gondolaIt poured rain for about an hour before we wanted to go and just as we saw the sun peeking out, we saw our perfect gondola waiting right in front of us.
My best suggestion for the full experience, grab a bottle of peach bellini (or whatever sparkling drink you prefer) at a corner store and take it with for the ride. 🙂 Most of the rides start in the narrower canals and go through the quiet areas first, then move out onto the grand canal for a bigger and better view. Venice Grand Canal
venice gondolaVenice canalI was so relaxed by the end of the ride and the coolest part is we had seen Venice from a whole new perspective.
So if you have been wondering if you should hop aboard a gondola on your trip to Venice, I say do it! It When in Venice, right?

Share your gondola ride story below!

Check back Monday to find out how to spend an afternoon on Venice’s islands Murano and Burano!

 

Italian Summer Vacation Series: Top Sights to see in Venice

Last summer, I fell in love with Venice. Its not hard to while getting lost in the beautiful narrow streets and being awed by the old buildings built right up to the waters edge. Plus, the over indulgence in gelato and bellini’s didn’t hurt :). This romantic city has so much to offer any traveler and started off our trip through Italy with one of the most memorable weekends ever!
One way to go about getting the most out of your trip is to ditch the map and just go! Take a day or evening to forget about making a schedule and just wander along the canals. Follow your nose for somewhere to eat, take the perfect photo, and give yourself permission to slow down and take it all in.
But after all that, there still are a few amazing sights you’ll want to make sure you see. I’ve listed my top 9 sights that are worth seeing at least once in a lifetime when in Venice.

1. Grand Canal

The grand canal will be your first encounter with Venice after coming over the bridge either with a train or bus from the airport. The Vaporettos (public transport boats) are easy to find and buy tickets for at Piazzale Roma or Ferrovia stop and will take you all the way along the grand canal.
In the first moments already, I felt like I was in a painting, everything felt so surreal. The turquoise blue water splashed around the other boats cruising along next to us, and the red rooftops covered the horizon. My favorites were the shiny wooden boats and of course, the intricate gondolas that lined the edges all along the canal. Vencice Grand CanalVenice Canal

2. Rialto Bridge
Rialto bridge venice

Halfway along your grand canal Vaporetto ride, you’ll come to the famous Rialto bridge. Unfortunately while we were there it was a bit under construction so large billboards covered it up but, it is still a beautiful sight to see.

3. St. Marks Square

To end your first Vaporetto ride, you can get off at St. Marks square and start to explore from there. This is where most of the major sights are located and its a beautiful place to take a few photos.

4. Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower)

Right inside the square, the first major sight we came to was the clock tower. Talk about your stunning Italian architecture. 🙂

5. St. Marks BasilicaVenice BasilicaSt Marks Cathedral Venice

Anywhere in St. Marks Square is the perfect place to take a Venice selfie but, my favorite sight there is St. Mark’s Basilica. This gorgeous building has so much detail and history. It is also worth it to take a walk through the inside and really experience this amazing sight.

6. Doge’s PalaceDoges Palace Venice

While we didn’t have time to go inside, Doge’s Palace makes for some amazing photos, especially at sunrise!

7. Campanile Bell TowerVenice square

To get the best view, make your way to the Campanile tower across from St. Marks Basillica. You can take an elevator up to the top and have a 360 degree view over Venice.
Venice ViewVenice Viewvenice cathedral

8. Santa Maria della Salute Basilica

This beautiful building was the setting for many Venice street painters sitting across the canal, sketching the incredible shape. I loved this building and tried to take as many photos of it as I could 🙂

9.The Church of San MoisèVenice Church

When strolling through the narrow alleys, tucked away you may come across this astonishing church. Just another example of how amazing the Italian architecture is.

Share your favorite Venice sight below!

Stay tuned Wednesday for a look into a gondola ride!

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

LĂĽbeck
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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