Travel

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: 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: 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: 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!

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