travel guide

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 ­čÖé
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. ┬áIn 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 ÔéČ13 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 ÔéČ100 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 ÔéČ30 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 ­čÖé

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! ­čÖé

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! ­čśë

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.┬áItaly 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 ­čÖé

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!

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. ┬áKeep 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 ­čÖé

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. ┬áThe 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.┬á

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 :).┬áNext 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: 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 ­čÖé 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 ­čÖé

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. ­čÖé
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

L├╝beck
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!

Don’t forget to pin this post for later and follow along on Pinterest!

First Time European Hostel Guide

Ever since I moved to Europe, I have found the best way to budget travel is to take advantage of all the amazing hostels every city has to offer. There are so┬ámany reasons why I now love hostels! Of course there are always a few minuses but overall, if you have been putting off European travel because you think it is too expensive or aren’t sure about staying at a hostel by yourself, let me tell you they are completely worth it! The best place to find a plethora of Hostel options is hostelworld.com.┬áThe reviews are awesome for helping to choose the right one. It’s easy to get a good idea of what people liked and didn’t like about each place. Here is a list of all the hostels we’ve already tried out in Europe and the pros and cons for each!
Plus BONUS!!! Download our Perfect Packing Checklist at the end of this article so you can be perfectly prepped for your first hostel stay ­čÖé

Hostel Brikette, Positanoitaly hostel

PROS:┬áThat view. Its amazing. It is truly one of those moments that you look down and feel your breath being taken away. The hosts are also super helpful and will even book tours for you. But the best thing was┬áthey┬ásent me a 60 page pdf before our trip with of all sorts of things to do in Positano including hiking tours, restaurants, and beaches! Talk about service. The homemade breakfast is also something to brag about. It only costed a few euros for a delicious cappuccino and the owner’s famous pancakes and jam.
CONS: The only downside, which was relatively small, is the 10 person room is right off the lobby so it was hard to get to sleep when lots of people were still awake socializing in there. Just pick a different smaller room if you want to get to bed a bit earlier. If you plan to go out all night to the clubs, this room will do just fine ­čÖé

Downtown Hostel Copenhagencopenhagen hostel

PROS: This hostel has one of the most fun atmospheres with a bar which makes it perfect for meeting other travelers. They also have bike rentals, free city walking tours, and pub crawls!
CON: The bathrooms were a bit dirty but thats why I have flip flops on the packing list!!

Check out more on what to do and see in this article: A Weekend in Copenhagen

Adam & Eva Hostel Pragueprague hostelprague hostelprague hostel

PROS: Adam & Eva hostel is so relaxed! It looked just like our living room and bedroom at home (they even had the same IKEA bedding as we have!) A private room was the perfect choice for quiet evenings. It is also in a nice location by two great brunch restaurants and only a 15 min walk to the city center.

I truly don’t have a con for this hostel!! ­čÖé They don’t offer breakfast but, they do have a kitchen and like I said the best brunch restaurants in all of Prague (in my opinion) are right around the corner.

Read more on The Best Sights in Prague and The best Eats in Prague (Those brunch spots)

Hostel Alessandro Palace & Bar Hostel, RomeRome Hostel

PROS: To be honest we didn’t spend much time here because well, we were in Rome. Just there long enough to sleep and shower. But, even in an 8 person room the atmosphere was very easy going. They did offer social events such as cocktail night on the rooftop bar as a way to meet other travelers which if traveling alone or in a small group that can be a great way to meet some friendly people. There is also a nice restaurant right next door if you are hungry when you get back from all that sight seeing.
CONS: The beds are a bit small in the 8 person rooms. If you want a bit more space between you and the person above you, I’d choose a private or 4 person room here.

St. Christophers Inn Gare Du Nord Hostel, ParisParis Hostelparis hostel

PROS: This hostel is great for solo travelers! I met a great friend here and traveled the whole week with her! The beds are also great for a bit of privacy and have their own light and power outlet ­čÖé The best part was the amazing restaurant where we ate every night after traveling and also watched a bit of karaoke. Plus the┬á20% all meals because we were hostel guests made eating there totally worth it. It was also great to wind down with a drink at the bar before heading to bed. The free breakfasts made it easy to get a bit of energy too before going out to explore Paris!
CONS: This is more of a general hostel con when staying in an 8 person room, but was experienced here. There is always the chance that others will come back later at night and will be loud or will turn the light on while you are trying to sleep. I tried to ignore it for a while but just quickly and nicely asking to turn the light off again worked out just fine. This is why the ear plugs and sleep mask are on the packing list! ­čÖé

Check out my 3 Day Paris Itinerary and 10 Beautiful Photos of Paris at Night.

Astor Victoria, Londonhostel london

PROS: LONDON LONDON! It is an easy walk from here to Buckingham Palace and pretty much all of the main sights. The breakfast for only 1 euro donation to charity is a delicious start to your day of exploring and the rooms were clean and comfortable.
CONS: There was a shortage of outlets in the rooms so a portable charger will come in handy here. I had also forgotten that in England the outlets are not the same as the rest of western Europe but luckily you could rent one for a 5 pound deposit.

Read more about The 10 Best Experiences to have in London.

Shelter City, AmsterdamAmsterdam Hostel

PROS: This hostel has a great little outdoor area to relax in on a bit of down time or to enjoy your breakfast alfresco. Speaking of which, the breakfast here was also quite delicious :). I stayed here as a solo traveler and felt so comfortable there! It turned out to be a great hostel to meet other female travelers and to check out the city with them.
CONS: The location is actually quite great for getting everywhere by foot, however if you have never been to Amsterdam and you show up at 11pm alone as I did, finding out that your hostel is in the middle of the Red Light District can be a bit overwhelming. However, now that you know that and are aware, its really not too bad and is actually quite a fun area (just maybe not so much when you are lost for five minutes).

Read more about Enjoying Solo Travel in Amsterdam.

As promised here is your Perfect Packing checklist for first time Hostel stay! You can download and print it out to use for later.

What were your favorite European hostels and why? Share below!

Next week we’ll have our first ever Wanderlust Wednesday! Check back then for more ­čÖé

Summer Vacation on the East Coast of Germany

Summer is almost here!! You are probably starting to get anxious for those poolside vibes and sitting on the beach with a drink in your hand. I am already starting to stock up on new summer accessories which I can’t wait to share ­čÖé But where to go this year for that sunny getaway? When you are thinking beach vacation your first thoughts may not be to head to Germany but, I bet you also would have never guessed this view is one of the beautiful white sand beaches along the East Sea coast in Germany.Lubeck GermanyNear the coast in northern Germany are the cities of┬áL├╝beck, Travem├╝nde, Niendorf, and Timmendorfer Strand which are all┬áperfect for a relaxed beach summer getaway! If you are traveling through Europe this summer and need a break from all the hustle and bustle of the big cities, this is where to go. The best time to go is late July through August when the weather is at its best and the water has warmed up just enough to take a refreshing dip. Here are all the awesome things to do and where to stay when visiting this awesome coastline!

BEACHESLubeck Germany

Travem├╝nde Beachbeach chairs L├╝beck germany

Take a walk along the promenade right along the coast of Travem├╝nde Beach (about 20 min from L├╝beck city center) for awesome views of the sea and beach with its iconic wicker beach chairs. Rent your own for only a few Euros and chill in the shade of its canopy with your toes in the sand.

L├╝beck Pier

Timmendorfer BeachTimmendorfer beach

Timmendorfer Beach has spectacular turquoise waters with lots of sandy space to lay out and work on your tan. This one is the most popular among the tourists who want to relax and live the resort lifestyle with everything right on the beach. Beach volleyball and paddle boating are two of the top activities to try out here. A lot of the paddle boats even had slides on them!!paddle boating timmendorfer strandbeaches germany

Niendorf Beach

Niendorf beach is a bit smaller than the others but has the option for kitesurfing and a great pier to enjoy the view from.

kitesurfing germany

BIKINGBiking Germany

Our favorite activity was biking the coastal path that goes through all the beach towns. It will take about 45 min or a bit longer if you stop to take photos of the beautiful views :).

coastline L├╝beck Germany

L├ťBECKcity center L├╝beck

You will find the larger city of Lübeck about 20 minutes from the coast full of amazing sights and things to do in summer. The top attraction is the Holstentor which, when built in 1464, was a large city gate marking the western boundary of the city. The city hall is also a sight to see with its candy colored details and multiple spires.
Holstentor city gate L├╝beckrathaus l├╝beckIf you happen to be a marzipan fan, this is what L├╝beck is famous for. The Niederegger Marzipan flagship store is in L├╝beck and is always full of tourists stocking up on fun chocolate marzipan treats! If you are in need of some delicious and unique souvenirs, this would be where to head.Niederegger Marzipan GermanySummer time is also quite festive here and there is a good chance you’ll find an outdoor concert to enjoy andconcerts L├╝beck Germany

SEAFOOD AND CAFES

Cafe Bar

We made an afternoon coffee break at Cafe Bar in Lübeck which was a chic and relaxed little cafe with delicious drinks. It was a great place to regain a bit of energy before continuing our tour through the city. Cafe Lübeck Germany

Fish

You can be sure along the coast that the seafood is exceptional. There are multiple fish fry restaurants but the best ones we found are between Timmendorfer Strand and Niendorf on our bike ride. The delicious fried fish above is from Kl├╝vers Fish. This restaurant is nautically decorated, has a great area to sit outside, and is right next to the marina for a great view. Amazing!

WHERE TO STAYHotel Arosa L├╝beck

Here you can find everything from 5-star resort living to cozy beach AirBnb to budget camping options. Hotel A-rosa (above) is right on Travem├╝nde’s Beach and comes with the works. Spa, restaurants, and live entertainment daily are just a few of the perks you’ll find here.
For something a little more budget friendly, check out AirBnb for great options and many of which have the beach right out the front door!
Camping can also be a great option and is the perfect budget saver option. Try Ivendorf Campsites with an Italian restaurant right on site. It was seriously delicious! And it is also only a 20 minute bike ride from the beach or 10 with a car!AirBnb L├╝beck Germany

Have you visited any other beaches in Germany? Share below!!

And pin this article to come back to when planning that European summer vacation ­čÖé

 

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