Portugal travel guide

Visiting Portugal in Summer

portugalPortugal doesn’t see as many tourists as it’s neighbor on the Iberian peninsula, Spain. And therein lies part of its charm. Portugal has lots to offer a tourist – the cosmopolitan city of Lisbon with it’s iconic streetcars, the charming colonial town of Sintra, lovely beaches, fresh seafood and fine port – but with fewer crowds.

During the World Cup, Portugal may be an even better place to visit, especially if you’re a fan of the team. Pack your Portugal kits or your Ronaldo World Cup jersey and you’ll blend right in with the local fans (…or at least, not stand out so much).

In between soaking up all the culture, beautiful sights, delicious food and port wine, head to the nearest bar or pub and cheer alongside the locals when their team takes to the field. Plus, if the team wins, it’ll be an unforgettable experience to celebrate in the team’s homeland.

If you plan on rooting for the team in person while they play in South Africa, check out our guide to World Cup South Africa for all the planning information and resources you need, no matter which team you’re cheering for.

Photo by Up Your Ego

travel guide

Let’s Meet in South Africa to Watch the World Cup Matches

rooney-home-300x300Football fans everywhere rejoice at the idea of heading to South Africa this summer to watch the matches. Especially for you, the World Cup 2010 travel guide comprises enough details about the host cities, venues and travel arrangements so that you can plan everything on your own and don’t risk running into trouble.

Aside from being a good excuse to travel, planning a vacation in South Africa during the World Cup is also an excellent opportunity to meet fellow football fans from all over the world. And with a bit of planning you can add some sightseeing to your itinerary as well. You can add a 3-day safari to your vacation, for example. It’s not very expensive and you get to chance to see the animals in their natural environment.

A true fan won’t leave home without the England World Cup kit . You can choose among several jerseys to show your love for the favorite team. And yes, you can buy your girl one as well.

If for any reason you aren’t able to travel to South Africa in June, then you can always follow England at the World Cup and head to your local pub to watch the matches. Your new jersey will suit you well, don’t you think? Surely, it won’t come close to watch the matches live on the stadium, but there is a certain magic feel to watching the matches together with other fans, guys and girls.

Whatever you do, just remember to stay safe and don’t get drunk. A pint or two of beer is a good way to unwind but more can send you directly into trouble. Always be aware of your surroundings and know where your belongings are.

Argentina travel guide

Buenos Aires: Romance on a Budget

baromanceLong known as the “Paris of South America”, Buenos Aires just oozes sex appeal. The city itself is gorgeous, home to sprawling parks and gardens, European architecture and of course, the sizzling, sultry tango. While it’s not often thought of as such, it’s actually one of the best cheap romantic honeymoon destinations.

Imagine spending your days strolling arm and arm beneath the ornate facades of buildings like the Teatro Colon or wandering through the largest Japanese Garden outside of Japan. Shop for sexy tango shoes in the Palermo neighborhood, or browse antiques at the San Temlo Sunday market. At night, feast on heaping platters of tender beef and glasses of Argentine wine, all for a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere, and then spend your nights tango dancing at a local milonga.

Thanks to a very favorable exchange rate, Argentina is a cheap destination for travelers from North America and Europe. Airfare to Buenos Aires can be on the expensive side (about $800-$1000 from most places in the US) but the savings you’ll experience once you arrive will offset the extra cost of airfare. You’ll find no shortage of cheap hotels in Buenos Aires as well, with even the most lavish, luxurios properties charging less than what you would pay in other parts of the world.

And once you’ve seen the city, there are plenty of places to get away to – taste wine in Mendoza, take a short boat ride to the charming small town of Colonial de Sacremento in Urugauy or head up to Rio de Janeiro to relax on the beach.

Photo by Natalia Romay

travel guide

Explore the Culture of Istanbul, a 2010 European Capital of Culture

hagiaEvery year, one or more “European capitals of culture” are chosen to highlight some of the amazing culture and history that can be found throughout Europe. In 2010, one of those European Capitals of Culture is Istanbul.

Straddling two continents (Asia and Europe) Istanbul is a mish-mash of cultures, religions, and cuisines. The city was the seat of three successive empires – Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman – and traces of each stage in its development are still evident everywhere you look – from the sparkling cerulean tiles of the Blue Mosque to the lavish rooms of the Topkapi Palace.

You can literally walk through different stages of history here, take a boat ride from one continent to another, and examine the juxtaposition of old versus new.

There are dozens of activities lined of to celebrate the city’s inclusion as a Capital of Culture; the events take place all year round so the ideal time to go depends more on your budget. Your best chance to find cheap flights to Istanbul is during the spring and fall. More cheap hotels in Istanbul are available during this time as well.

As elsewhere in Europe, the most popular times (and therefore the most expensive) to visit Istanbul tend to be during the summer months and over the holidays. Shoulder season (late spring and early fall) are a good compromise. Prices may be lower, tourist crowds will be fewer, and you’ll still be able to enjoy all the sights and culture of Istanbul, but without the sweltering heat that accompanies the height of summer.

Photo by David Spender

Los Angeles

Plan Your Next Weekend Getaway From Los Angeles

cancun-sunsetMany of us grab any opportunity to spend the weekends away from home. Whether you want to plan a different Easter vacation this year or just want to surprise your loved one with a short romantic getaway, the deals from Los Angeles will give you some ideas to choose from and help save some money.

How about a shopping spree in New York? You really don’t need a special reason to shop in New York, do you? While your lady checks out the stores (and empties your credit card) you can check out the bars. Packages – including the round trip flight and 2-nights accommodation – start at $747 per person and you’ll be staying at Hilton New York.

Or maybe you want to visit Walt Disney World and unleash that inner child? Packages in Orlando which include the round trip flight and 2-nights accommodation start at $453 per person. You’ll be staying just 1 mile from Walt Disney World. The inn offers an outdoor pool, a gym and you can even play golf near-by.

How about a romantic weekend in Cancun? Packages including the round trip flight in 3-nights accommodation start at $864 per person. The 4-star resort is the only resort in Cancun surrounded on three sides by the beach. You can relax in the private whirlpools and enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the luxurious restaurants.

Has she hinted that Hawaii would be a lovely place to spend a romantic vacation? Then grab one of the packages and please her. The prices start at $645 per person and include the round trip flight and 2-nights accommodation at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. It is located just steps from the world-famous Waikiki Beach and offers excellent spa facilities, swimming pools and a fitness center.

Now that you’ve got the weekend getaway planned, all you need to do is book the LAX airport parking so that you can leave your car at the airport until you come back from vacation.

travel guide

Merida, Spain : An Excellent Side Trip from Lisbon

merida-puente-romanoNow that winter is behind us, planning to visit some the Roman ruins not in Rome is a great idea for a spring vacation. You can find them in many European cities, as well as in places close to Europe.

Merida, Spain is the former capital of the Roman province of Lusitania. There are several interesting places to visit here, including: the Puente Romano – spanning over Guadiana River, still used by pedestrians, and is the longest of all existing Roman bridges -, the remains of the Forum, the Amphitheatre and the remains of the Circus Maximus.

You can start your vacation in Libson, of course. Cheap flights to Lisbon are not hard to find, regardless of what European city you fly from. There are many low-cost carriers serving the Portuguese capital and often you’ll be able to find various deals. For example, a one-way flight from London into Lisbon starts at €68.52 per person (in mid-April, on EasyJet).

Do plan to spend several days in Lisbon, as there are quite a lot of things to do and see here. Hotels in Lisbon range from cheap to very expensive but you can easily find something to suit your budget. Typically, in large capitals, the prices don’t vary much from season to season, but many hotels have special offers for the low periods (spring and fall). If you plan stay for 3 nights in Lisbon, you can pay as little as €75 for the entire stay in a 2-star hotel located at the top of Bairro Alto with panoramic views of Lisbon.

Now that you’ve explored Lisbon, it’s time to head to Merida. You can travel directly to the city or you can stop in Madrid and spend several days there as well. Then, either take the train or bus to Merida.

The train from Madrid to Merida takes about 5 hours and costs around €30. It departs from the Atocha train station.

The bus from Madrid to Merida also takes 4 to 5 hours and costs around €20-30. There are several connections per day. Tickets and schedules can be found on this site (the main Spanish bus network site).

Photo credit

Honduras travel guide

Honduras is Still “Up & Coming”

beachThere’s always some destination in the world that can be called “up and coming,” and one of the places on that list this year is Honduras. The country is working overtime in the PR department and has been bringing in travel writers from all corners to see what’s available for travelers in Honduras. Every person I’ve talked to who has gone on one of those trips has come back with nothing but incredible things to say about the country, both to me and to anyone who’ll listen. So obviously Honduras is doing something right!

One of the things that you can take advantage of in Honduras is agritourism – there are working farms all over the country which you can visit and engage in a varying degree of agricultural work. If you just want to go for a horseback ride through the farm’s property and learn about what they grow, that’s fine – and if you’re looking for something a bit more hands-on there are places you can get in on the fruit picking, for instance. It’s a great way to support local farmers while digging a little deeper than you might on an ordinary vacation.

Luckily, although places on “up and coming” lists don’t tend to stay under the radar for long, airfare to Honduras is still pretty cheap right now. This is especially true if you’re looking at a trip to Honduras as opposed to a trip to – for instance – somewhere in Europe. World airfare prices are on their way back up for any destination that’s big in the months of June-August, but they’re still relatively inexpensive. And if you can travel in the next couple of months, you could get a great deal on a flight.

And just think, whatever money you save on your airline ticket to Honduras, you’ll have more to spend on food in Honduras and Honduras souvenirs!

photo by BlogMama


Amsterdam: The Next Stop On Your European Vacation This Spring

amsterdamAmsterdam is a beautiful city, very popular among party-goers and those who love the café culture. Of course there’s much more to explore in Amsterdam and a hop over to Holland during your European vacation is an excellent idea.

Spring is a lovely time to travel because the crowds haven’t “invaded” the cities yet and the prices are relatively low compared to the summer. The bad news is that you should plan for some rainy days no matter what city you plan to visit; weather can be either sunny and warm or gloomy and rainy.

Once you are in Europe, it’s easy and cheap to plan your next stop. The United Kingdom in particular is an excellent start point for your vacation because there are countless cheap flights to large European cities. Flights to Amsterdam are incredibly cheap especially if you like to search for the low-cost airlines’ deals. There’s always something to grab your attention but make sure to keep your eyes open and act fast.

When it comes to accommodation, hostel beds are the cheapest choice but you can always look for cheap hotels in Amsterdam . It’s true that you get what you pay for but sometimes it’s possible to find some great deals offered by 3 or 4-star hotels.

Other expenses to consider while visiting Amsterdam are those linked to the entertainment and food. Happy hours will save you quite a lot of Euros if you like to enjoy a few drinks now and then. And it’s quite easy to find cheap food (especially if you are not into healthy eating).

By the way, you can burn off some of those calories by checking out the many trendy stores. You may never know when you find a good bargain and it’s surely better to come home with a cute new tank top rather than a tacky souvenir.

>>If you are like me and want to find the cheapest possible airfare, accommodation and don’t plan to spend too much on food and sightseeing either, then you’ll surely appreciate reading this cheap Amsterdam guide .

England travel guide

Travel to England this Spring and Summer

londonspringSpring and summer are the most popular times to visit England, and with good reason. Days are warm but not hot and the grey, drizzly days of winter are long forgotten.

Sights like the London Bridge and London Eye seem ever more beautiful and the countryside blooms with wildflowers. Stroll the stylish streets of London, wander through the Cotswolds or trace the early history of the Beatles in Liverpool.

Traveling to England during peak season can make this already expensive destination even more pricey. Higher demand equals even higher prices, and the poor dollar to pound exchange rate doesn’t help matters.

You can still find cheap flights to the United Kingdom, but to get the best prices you’ll need to book in advance (or conversely, snag a good deal at the last minute) or be flexible with your travel dates. You can also look at flying into another European capital and looking for cheap flights to Heathrow on a budget carrier like Ryanair. Play around with different dates and routes to find the best deal.

If you’re travels take you to England during the World Cup this summer, be sure to pack your England World Cup jersey. We think the team’s got a pretty good chance of making it to the final, if not walking away with the whole thing.

Even if you aren’t a big fan, you’ll want to be among the crowds cheering on the team on game days. Head to a local pub, order up a few pints and you’ll be sure to make some new friends.

Photo by haemengine

travel guide

Family Travel Can Include Hostels

familytravelAnyone who’s into backpacking and budget travel knows that staying in hostels is one of the best ways to save money on the road. And if you’re a young traveler you probably aren’t thinking about anything beyond your next trip – or even tomorrow – so it may not have even occurred to you yet that someday you’ll grow up.

Yes, it’s true.

You’ll grow up, and – if you’re within the usual bell curve of humanity – you’ll start a family. So does that kind of thing mean your hosteling days are over? Well, let’s put it this way – it doesn’t have to.

A recent article on BootsnAll, Hosteling With Kids, encouraged traveling families to not rule out hostels as a good option. With a big enough family, it can be a real money-saver – but even if it’s not a huge savings over a hotel, the author argues that staying in a hostel with your kids can be an education for mini-travelers. The opportunity to spend time around people from other cultures gives kids a chance to learn tidbits of other languages and just generally get comfortable with people who aren’t exactly like them.

Now, long-time hostelers know that hostels aren’t unsafe places to stay, but when you’re staying in a hostel with your kids you may want to do more pre-trip research to make sure you’re choosing truly great hostels rather than just going with the cheapest option. If a hostel isn’t in a good neighborhood, for instance, that could really put a crimp in your style when you’ve got more than just yourself to worry about.

But even staying in nicer hostels won’t keep you or your kids from getting sick on the road – so before you leave home, don’t forget to get family travel insurance. You may not need it, but you’ll feel better if you have it.

photo by TheDreamSky