Europe

Guide to the beautiful island of Santorini

Where To Stay:

Greece

  • Fira – in the action. restaurants, shops, nightlife.
  • Oia – is your spot if your are seeking breath taking views and nice dinners overlooking the sunset. It is filled with many places to shop and tiny restaurants overlooking the water. Oia can get VERY crowded during high season. (*Remember most of Oia is accessible only by foot. If you have mobility issues, or pack 5 suitcases, this might be a challenge for you).
  • Imerovigli – quiet and romantic area. Less crowded the Oia, but with great views!
  • Perissa & Kamari Beach – Nice area for a beach getaway. Only about a 20 minute drive to both Fira and Oia. Lots of authentic family owned Greek hotels and restaurants.
  • My Choice: Depending on what you are going to Santorini for, I would highly recommend staying on the beach somewhere. The people and atmosphere are amazing, and there is always something to do. Rent a vehicle and head up to Thira or Oia for dinner. (Best of both worlds!!) Hotels on the beach are a little bit more cost effective, and who doesn’t like jumping out of bed onto a beautiful beach into the Mediterranean.

Views:

   Imerovigli

  • Known to have beautiful views of both the sunset and caldera (the volcano island across from Santorini)

  Fira

  • Firas views of the sunset are obstructed by smaller islands,however it has great views of the caldera and ocean. The sunset still glistens along the water, and it is a lively place to visit in the evenings.

  Oia

  • The views from Oia are generally the most sought after. If you head to the northwest side of Oia, here you will get the best view of an unobstructed sunset, however it is important to arrive about an hour early as the maze of walk ways get VERY crowded. You could opt for dinner here, however be aware this WILL cost you a more than average.

What to do in Santorini

  1. Go on a boat tour of the volcano and nearby islands..
  2. Do the hike from Fira to Oia along the caldera. (Bring good walking shoes)
  3. Visit the beach!
  4. Watch the sunset from Oia.

Beaches in Santorini 

Red Beach

The red beach is a beautiful beach that is made up of red and black pebbles. It is a little bit of a  hike from the parking lot, so I definitely recommend walking shoes.  It’s not accessible by bus only your own transportation or  by a water taxi from Kamari Beach.

Kamari Beach

Kamari Beach is the famous beach resort area of Santorini. Tons of small family owned hotels, restaurants, night clubs, and shops. It’s a black sand beach and has beach rentals for approx 6-20Euro (depending on low/high season). Because its such a busy beach, you’ll find all of your water sports, and diving shops here as well. You can also take a water taxi from Kamari Beach over to the red beach!

Perissa Beach

Perissa Beach is a busy beach in the high summer season with its beautiful black sand. It is well organized with restaurants and hotels lining the beach. Beach rentals are similar to Kamari (6-20Euro).

Agios Georgios Beach

Agios Georgios is a Tourist friendly and famous black sand beach that attracts large crowds in the summer. The beach is lined with restaurants and taverns and there are a ton of hotels in this area as well. (You can usually use the restaurant beach chairs if you eat lunch/dinner there!). There are also a ton of activities to do around here both in and out of the water. Shop, jet ski, scuba, book excursions. Great place to visit with the family.

Other tips for Santorini

  • Book early – hotels are small and therefor they fill up fast! Make sure to book well in advance.
  • Book excursions there.There are so many, and doing a little shopping will let you find the exact one you want at a good price.
  • Rent an ATV moped or car! The island is so small that almost everyone rents either an ATV or car.To get around from one side of the island to the other is only about 30 minutes, however Santorini has many hills/mountains. I saw a ton of moped and ATV accidents as people aren’t used to driving these types of vehicles.  If you are not comfortable on an ATV I would opt for a car. ATV’s run at about 30-40Euro a day(+gas), and cars are about 60Euro. (Much lower prices if you book consecutive days).
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The Ultimate Guide to Tax Free Shopping in Europe

 The Ultimate Guide to Tax Free Shopping in Europe! 

milano

Every day tourists visiting Europe leave behind millions of dollars of refundable sales tax. Some are unaware, some forget in the heat of those brand new shoes sitting on the register, and some find the headache of filing the forms to much for the return they’re getting.  In all those cases, the government is laughing as you’ve paid the upwards of 15-27% tax in a country where you don’t even reside in!! You wont get the full VAT back, but the majority will be returned to you if you take a little extra time to fill out a form.

What is VAT (Value Added tax) or also GST (General Sales Tax): 

In it’s simplest form, VAT or GST is a sales tax collected by the government that is applied to goods and/or services bought by a consumer.  The standard European-Union value added taxes range from 17-27%. Here are the exact %’s per country. (*Center for Retail research )

27% – Hungary

25% – Denmark/Sweden/Norway

24% – Finland

23% – Greece, Ireland, Poland, Portugal

22% – Italy

21% – Belgium, Czech Republic, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands

20% – Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Austria, UK

19% – Germany

17% – Luxembourg

Bring along your passport – You will likely be asked to present your passport to indicate that you live in a foreign country outside of the EU.

Check for minimums – Each country has a minimum amount that needs to be spent before retailers are able to issue you a tax free form. These vary between countries and it’s best to ask at the store. They usually range from a minimum of 25-75 Euro spent.

What stores can you shop in..

In store windows and on cash registers you will be able to find signs for “tax free shopping” or the Global Blue label. Most larger retailers take part in the VAT refund program as it draws in tourists dollars.  When paying for your purchase, ask the staff for a Tax Free form. They will print out the necessary receipt, possibly ask for your passport, and fill out the needed information on the form. Hold onto this form until you leave the country.

Redeem: At the Airport 

Before you check in for your flight, go to the customs desk and present your completed Tax Free Form, passport, receipts and purchases. These are often little offices that are tucked away. They sometimes need a little extra time to find, so account this into your pre-arrival timing. The customs agent there will ensure your forms are completed properly and will then put a stamp on your form. Please ensure all forms are filled out correctly BEFORE seeing the agent… they aren’t the happiest when you pull out 20 receipts and they are all done incorrectly. Forms from multiple countries are accepted.  Make sure the goods you purchased are unused and don’t pack them away in your check-in luggage as you may be asked to show the Customs Officers some of your purchases.

Once you have your forms stamped, check in for your flight, head through security, and find the tax free booth, or global Blue kiosk. There you will hand in your forms and they will issue you your refund right there in either cash (you can choose the currency), or back onto your visa.

Redeem: At the city Refund Point 

Present all forms, receipts, ID and Visa to agent. They will issue your refund here. *this is the best option if travelling between countries by driving or train.

Redeem: From Home 

If you’re in a rush you can send in the receipts once you get back to your home country, however forms will still need to be stamped by a customs agent in the country where you purchased them. This is a good option if once you get through airport security the refund line is to long and you might miss you flight. If it’s already all stamped, you can simply mail everything in once you’re home. (You will have to wait for the refund via mail if doing so this way). Photocopy the forms and receipts before mailing so you have a backup in case anything happens to them.

Seems like a bit of a hassle, but as someone who shops almost exclusively while overseas (why shop at home when you can find unique pieces at great prices worldwide!), I’ve never had any issues or felt like it took to much time to organize. An extra 2 minutes at the register saving you 15% of your purchase… YES PLEASE!

Need more resources?

– Premier Tax Free – http://premiertaxfree.com/ 

– Global Blue – http://www.globalblue.com/ 

Budget Travel in Europe – Food

 

image (6) image (7) image (3) image (8) IMG_0317

You’re in a beautiful new country full of exciting culture and you’re surrounded by delicious looking food at every corner.  European countries have some of the worlds most spectacular cuisine. Everything from French, Italian, Spanish, Swiss, German, etc. You can’t go wrong no matter where you go to eat! Here are a few tips to keep your wallet heavy, and your stomach full.

1. In most tourist zones, restaurants often have a meal deal which includes service, a drink, and usually a combination of  an appetizer, entree and dessert. They are usually fairly limited menus, however can be awesome if you are on a tight budget!

 I remember doing this often in Ibiza. A glass of wine, salad to start,  pasta or chicken dish, and ice cream for  dessert all for 6Euro…YESS PLEASE!

2. So you’re standing on the main street in Barcelona, La Rambla, and are looking for a place to eat… here’s where you NEED to go… Off a side road adjacent to La Rambla walk about 1 block down, and turn the corner. Always walk one block down off the main street and look for restaurants there, no matter where you are! There food will be equally as good, if not better than the main places on the strip, and the prices will be half of what you’re paying elsewhere.

3. Stop thinking that you need to eat out for every meal. Guess what, there are real people, in these real cities that you are visiting, and they need to buy groceries too! Head to a grocery store and load up on sandwich supplies for lunch, and granola bars and fruit to keep you going through the day. This is also a great option for do it yourself dinner picnics. There’s nothing like putting together your own charcuterie board, and grabbing a cheap bottle of wine and having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower, or SacréCoeur. Food in general in Europe is fairly inexpensive (this depends on where you are…) however in mainland Europe – Germany, France, Spain, Italy etc. you’ll be surprised at the prices compared to North America! Also note that food is priced by the Kilo (that’s 2.2 pounds). 

4. Grocery stores are also the BEST place to buy water... in small convenience stores they’ll run you up to a Euro per bottled water… In grocery stores you’ll get 2l of water for 20-60 Cents. Share it with a friend and you’re good to go.

5. One of the best things in Europe are the markets. Depending on your location ask around for when and where the best markets are being held. They are often on Saturday or Sunday mornings, and in the main squares, or a busy street of the city. You’ll find everything here from cheese, meets, cultural delicatessen, cultural snacks. They are usually priced extremely well and are a great way to see some local culture!

6. Hostels frown upon this… but we all do it… Grab an extra apple or something small at your free breakfast in the hostel. It’s always nice to have a snack in your bag when you’ve been walking for 8 hours in blistering heat.  I’m not saying make yourself 3 sandwiches and cut yourself a fruit salad and more for dessert… but grab a little something just to keep you going… and be discreet about it.

7. Hit up a University Cafeteria. Most large cities have university campuses that are accessible to the public. Take a walk around and visit the university, and stop in for a meal. Since they are catering to students, prices are low, and there are usually pretty decent portions.  I had a giant, delicious, make your own salad in Germany for 1.89€. 

8. Try some local Street Food. Get out and try some local food. There is street food everywhere, and it’s much cheaper than sitting down at a restaurant.

9. Going to a restaurant – remember the following: 

  • Depending on where you are, that “Complementary bread” that they place on the table for you they actually charge for.. Ask if its complementary if you’re not sure. If you don’t touch it, you won’t be charged for it.
  • In Europe they don’t tip the standard 15-20%. Depending on the type of restaurant round up to the nearest $5 or $10. For exceptional service everyone loves a little extra, however know that it’s not expected of you.

10.  I get it, you’re on a budget, but visiting somewhere so rich in culture with amazing cuisines, try to treat yourself here or there. I can’t stress enough that part of experiencing a new culture, includes experiencing their food. Have a night out where you can enjoy a great meal at a great restaurant.

I totally cheaped out in Oslo when I was there and because I was couchsurfing it was easy to make our own meals, it was fantastic!  But  on our last night there there’s was nothing better than going to a traditional Scandinavian Michelin star restaurant and enjoying a night out of fantastic local cuisine.  A lasting memory and experience is worth that extra $50 that you can easily make up for next month at work. 🙂  

Guten Appetit! Bon appétit! ¡Buen provecho! Buon appetito! Smaklig måltid! Приятного аппетита! 食福,   いただきます, 

Budget Travel in Europe – Activities

 

 photo 1   photo 3  

Museums, tours, excursions, historical sites, it all gets expensive… BUT there is a ton of different ways to save on activities! Here are some ways to save money and have a great time!

  • Some museums have a certain day or night of the week or month when admission is free. Sometimes this even includes a free tour!
  • There are a ton of free things to do everywhere you go!  You don’t need any money to go for a walk and get lost through the canals of Venice. Don’t like walking? Rent a bike for a day! You’ll randomly run into some of the most beautiful interesting places. *Take a map so you can find your way out again, or be prepared to ask for help. That’s part of the fun though 😉
  • City Pass – Consider getting a city pass that gives you access to transportation within the city and entrance into museums). I would recommend only getting a 1 or 2 day city pass and doing a heavy 2 day museum trek. They are pretty expensive if you only use them for 1 museum a day. If you can get out a visit a bunch of things in one day, you will definitely save some cash doing this route!
  • Look up free city tours in the city you are visiting. In every single major European city, there are people that provide tours by donation. They are awesome and will show you the ins and outs of the city core.  They often have a recommended donation of 5-10 euro, however this is still much cheaper that 20 – 50€ that you would be paying for major tour companies.  They often meet in many areas such as in Berlin they congregate in front of the Brandenburger tor (with a large sign saying free tour). This is also a great way of meeting people from around the world, and meeting someone local. They are often students just looking for a little extra cash.
  • Discount Websites –  For example in London, I always use the Days out guide for 2for1 discounts anywhere I go. For activities, restaurants, transportation, everything! I got to see musical Billy Elliot in London for 20£!!  Check out the site for more info, it’s great! Many cities have very similar discount sights, just Google away.
  • Discount Vacations – If you are already in Europe or the UK, take a look at Holiday Pirates. They have some of the most amazing sales I have ever seen on transportation and accommodations.  They specialize from travel originating in Europe. But if you are already there and want a nice relaxing week in Turkey, or a romantic weekend in Paris. Some of their deals are so so amazing. For example) as I am writing this you can travel from Leeds to Malta and stay for a long 4 day weekend in a 4 star hotel for 83£/per person. You can’t really beat that if you trained/boated/hosteled that trip…. Definitely worth a look!
  • Groupon – Sure you might use them in your home country, but why not using them somewhere else! Just search up the city and Groupon in Google. Most major European cities now offer various Groupons on activities and dining. 
  • Coupon Books – these are often at travel information desks, and in hotels or hostels. Check with the front desk of wherever you are staying and they should be able to help you get your hands on one.
  • Student discounts – bring that student ID card with you! Most major museum or historical site will have student discounts.
  • Get an ISIC Card – this card identifies you as a student, and gives you access to a ton of deals!
  • Do small independent tours of things such as wineries: See pic above – had a great time wine tasting along the Rhine river in Germany!

Budget Travel in Europe – Accommodations

      IMG_0266  Amsterdam  IMG_0783  IMG_0945 (1)

European cities are full of amazing opportunities to save on your accommodations.

I’ll break down some of the best options for you to save money while having an enjoyable stay.

Couchsurfing

  •  Couchsurfing is an online community where members can request to stay at others homes, or accept to host a fellow traveler.
  • Accommodations can very from a spot on the couch, mattress on the floor of a living room, or a spare bedroom.
  • Couchsurfing is not just a free place to stay. Most hosts enjoy guests who are interested in the cultural aspect of travelling, and will make an effort to get to know the host and the cultural community in that city/country.  If you are willing to get to know someone on your trip (I promise it will make your trip much more interesting), this is a great opportunity for you.
  • Be prepared to spend some serious time building a profile and contacting hosts.  Just as you would want to see what the person is like who may be staying in your own house, they want to see the same. Get verified, and have friends endorse you positively.
  • You may want to attend monthly meet ups in your city before you embark on a couchsurfing trip. It will give you a feel for it, and others will surely give you hints on how to make your travels more enjoyable.
  • ALWAYS have a backup accommodation in mind in case plans change or you do not feel comfortable in the hosts home.
  • Try to thank the host with a small gift. Most will kindly decline if you offer it in advance (since it isn’t for a monetary gain, instead the experience of getting to know people from around the world), however even making dinner for them, or a nice bottle of wine is a nice gesture.
  • I traveled throughout Europe Couchsurfing and LOVED it. It took a little extra organization and planning before, however we met amazing people and I only have great things to say.

Hostels (Hostels.com , Hostelworld, HostelBookers)

  • Check out the above sites for the most popular used hostel search and booking sites.
  • Hostels can vary depending on location, however they usually range from 2 person rooms – 20 person rooms and cooed, female only or male only dorms.
  • Hostels are a great choice if you are travelling alone or looking to meet people. ***Keep contact with them.  Make plans to stay with them when you are in their area!!!***
  • Prices range anywhere from 10Euro/night-100Euro depending on the location and date, however on average are MUCH more cost effective than a hotel.
  • Be aware that hostels have varying services. Some include bed linens, some not. Some include breakfast, some not. Some require a membership for all hostels in that organization – if you don’t have this membership which is usually a one time fee, they will charge you an extra charge per night. Please make sure to look at the small print when booking on hostel sites as they last minute charges are added on once you arrive.
  • I highly suggest bringing a long or renting a locker for your stay in hostels. Not everyone is as always honest as we would hope they would be… 😦

AirBnB

  • Online community that helps people rent out their homes to people looking for accommodations.  Nightly-long term.
  • Rentals of both private rooms, and entire houses/apartments.
  • Often same price or a little more expensive than hostels. However I did have an experience where I was in Amsterdam for Queensday long weekend, and hostels were hitting 50+Euro a night for 20 person mixed dorms -> I was able to share an Airbnb apartment with a friends for a total of 70Euro/night (so 35Euro each and we had our very own place!!)
  • If renting a private room, hopefully you can meet some awesome people!
  • Fairly safe – peer reviewed, insurable.
  • Very nice to be able to keep your stuff there and have it safe.

Bed & Breakfast (https://www.bedandbreakfast.eu/,     http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/)

  • Bed and Breakfasts offer you a great way to visit a location and have a feeling of “home”.
  • Varying in price, however on average more expensive than hostels, and cheaper than hotels.
  • Great option for couples!
  • Prices are usually all inclusive. No hidden fees for  linens, food, etc.

Hotels (BookingVenere,  Eurobooking. or any major hotel booking site). 

  • On average, hotels are your most expensive bet when it comes to accommodation options.
  • This being said, their are some great budget hotels that offer beautiful accommodations for very good prices.
  • This is a great option if you are travelling with a couple and prefer more privacy.
  • Many hotels in Europe offer breakfast included!

 

My recommendations:

  • Couchsurf – Best experience of my life, saved a ton of money, learnt a ton about the culture and lifestyles of various countries than any other possible alternative. It was also great on the budget!!!!
  • Have a backup hostel just in case.
  • Want a relaxing stay somewhere, Airbnb or a cheap beach hotel should the trick.
  • When our travelling, talk to everyone! You never know where they live, and they might even offer to host you when you’re around there next!
  • Unless you plan on spending a ton of time in your room, choose places based on cleanliness, safety, and location. When you are out travelling everyday the time you spend in your actual room is very minimal.  As long as you have somewhere where you can head back to at night which is clean, safe, and easy to get to, you’ll be rested for the next day of adventure.

 

Budget Travel in Europe – Transportation

icetrain    trainice   Ryanair flight    ryanair2

Europe: One of the easiest places to get around, with so many diverse things to see around every corner.

I know, I know: flights can get expensive, and trains and buses are time consuming, BUT here are a few things to consider when planning your trip that will cut these costs in half!

Your initial flight:  

  • Book at least 6 months in advance.
  • Shop around… along with your national airlines try www.skyscanner.com , www.hipmunk.com , or www.flighthub.com. They compare all airlines and find you the best deals.
  • Fly into major hubs. Where? Heathrow (London, England), Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (Paris, France), Frankfurt Airport (Frankfurt, Germany), Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Istanbul Atatürk Airport (Istanbul, Turkey), Barajas Airport (Madrid, Spain), Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (Rome, Italy).
  • Do try to fly mid-week.
  • Do fly in low season (Spring or Autumn).
  • Do fly early in the morning or late at night.
  • Do book on a sale.
  • Don’t book your ticket less than two weeks in advance.
  • Don’t fly on public holidays.
  • Opt for return tickets for your initial flight, but keep in mind, in most cases airlines will charge extra fees for changes of date or time so dont book unless you are sure

Flights within Europe:

  • Positives with air travel in Europe:
    • MUCH quicker than train/bus.
    • MUCH MUCH quicker than train/bus.
    • Fairly cheap
  • Negatives with air travel in Europe:
    • The airports that the budget airlines use are often secondary airports built outside of the main cities.  You will require an additional bus/train ticket once you are there into the city from the airport. They sell these on the flights as well as in the airport. They arent expensive (anywhere from 5-20Euro), however it does sometimes take up to an hour to get into the city after your flight.
    • Very strict on deadlines, and baggage regulations.
    • You need to check in online (It is an additional 70Euro at the airport…)
    • Try to sell you add ons, priority boarding, infant fee, child equipment fee, baggage fee.
  • They aren’t comfy. They aren’t fancy. But they get you where you need to go… cheap.
  • Flights typically range from $30-$250 depending on the stretch.
  • Try skyscanner to search all sights however individually the most popular ones are: RyanAir, EasyJet, AirBerlin, Vueling.
  • Remember: These flights are often non-refundable, non-transferable (if yours happens to be, it will probably cost more to change it then to just buy a new one),  deadlines are strictly enforced, luggage is extra  and usually a minimum of 15Euro, however this rises in peak season and only includes  up to 20Kilo, after this is it an additional 10-30Euro PER KILO! So pack lightly. They are also very strict with carry on baggage (weight and size) and will often charge people for a second piece of checked luggage if they go over the weight or size allowances.

Trains within Europe

  • Good news, the train system within Europe is remarkable. You can go almost anywhere by train, however it will cost you.
  • Think about a EuroRail Pass. Check out the link to find out more information. If you want to do Europe by train, getting a EuroRailPass is your BEST and cheapest bet. Tickets range from $56-$700.
    • Pros: Will take you right into a city, flexible.
    • Cons: Takes a long time to get from place to place, fairly expensive, restrictive (times of travel, types of trains – no use of high speed trains. Only regional trains – these take 1.5-2x longer than a high speed train).
  • Trains can get very expensive. Look for discount tickets such as in Germany they have a “Schones wochenende ticket” which will cost you 44Euro for use of up to 5 people for an unlimited travel in one day across Germany in 2nd class on all regional trains. Different countries have variuos offers like this. If ever in doubt, ask someone in information at a train station for the cheapest way to get to “……….” They are very helpful!
  • Always print out your tickets ahead of time if buying online. It’s impossible to find printers in or around train stations when you’re in a hurry.

Driving across Europe

  • Cars can be expensive to rent, HOWEVER depending on where you are I highly recommend it!
  • I spent a week in Corfu (Greece), and a week in Ibiza (Spain) and on both occassions we had access to a car for the week.  We were able to head to local beaches, events, and activities that would have taken us hours to get to via bus. On these occasions they were also cheaper as for example in Corfu we were staying in a smaller beach village – a bus to the main city was 5Euro and a 1 hour bus ride, from there we had to find our next bus which took us another hour and another 5Euro to get to the beach where we wanted to go. Instead the 3 of us pitched in 20Euro a day to rent a car, and it took us a 40min round trip instead of 2+hours. HIGHLY worth it!
  • Highly recommend opting for a navigation system. It’s really hard to read signs in other languages…eek!
  • There is a large carpooling community across Europe called Carpooling.co.uk or Mitfahrgelegenheit in Germany. In both cases, people post where they are travelling to, how many people they can take, and the cost to take you. This cost is usually fairly cheap and just covers the drivers gas costs. Drivers are rated so that you can see who you are travelling with and that safety is important to the company and that person. It’s a good option if you just want to head to a neighboring city in the same country.

This all  seems like a hassle right? Here’s my two cents. 

  • Plan ahead of time. (Write down the countries/cities you MUST see, write a secondary list of WANT to see’s.)
  • Decide on a starting location. See where the cheapest flights are to one of your Must see locations, doesn’t matter if its the farthest or nearest place, start with that. Make a basic itinerary going from cheapest location to the next. Your schedule might look a little crazy going from North to south to west to east and back again multiple times, but you’re flying so the max flight length will be 4 hours (much much better than on a train), and you’ll be saving a ton of money.
  • I literally sat down with my best friend, opened up the Ryan air website, and said “where can we go from Frankfurt that’s awesome and cheap – great Paris”. “Now where can we go from Paris that’s awesome and cheap – great Barcelona!” and so on. It was a ton of fun to plan.
  • Not a planner? Go on the website a few days before, book, print out your boarding pass and fly.
  • Take day trips out of main hubs with trains to get to outlining areas. Return to that or another larger hub to fly out of again. (Can still use a smaller euro rail for this portion!).

Budget Travel in Europe – How to save time and money

watercolour

I’ve talked to a ton of travelers and they always mention how expensive Europe is. I hear about these four main money grabs:

Good news, I am going to break them down for you. The most cost AND time effective ways to get around Europe.

I have done a 6 week trip in Europe (twice) flying between country and country spending around $47/day including all travel, accommodation, food and my return flights to and from Canada. How you might ask?!

Check back to see the budget series I’m launching this week!  See you back soon!

Make sure to follow TheBlondeBeyond to get these and other posts sent directly to your email! 

Top 10 in and around Munich

Hofbrauhaus        Marienplatz        Dachau

  1. Marienplatz (main square in Munich housing the Rathaus/City hall, and a giant glockenspiel clock. Pedestrian area around with a ton of shops and restaurants).
  2. The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl – A beer hall in Munich, Germany, originally built in 1589.  Try some Bratwurst, or Schweinshaxe.
  3. Watch Bayern Munich play at the Allianz Arena – For an awakening experience ask to stand in the fan section at the end. These tickets are often hard to find because of the fan clubs, but are well well worth the experience.
  4. Bayerische Staatsoper. –  Opera House
  5. Olympiapark – Home of the 1972 Olympics. Go swimming, skating, watch a local soccergame. There are also often small festivals set up in this area).
  6. Gardens (Englisher Garten & Munich Botanical Garden).
  7. Museums (The Pinkathek – art museum, BMW Museum, Deutsches Museum – Science Museum).
  8. Neuschwanstein Castle. Owned by Disney now, but it one of the iconic castles of Bavaria. Really nice and worth seeing if you like castle types of things!
  9. The Dachau Concentration Camp – more of a heavy/emotional visit. If you have never been to a concentration camp before I highly recommend going to visit Dachau. Very interesting and culturally relevant to see! I have seen visitors of all ages here. I actually visited Dachau for the first time on an exchange trip in grade 8, it was an emotional visit but I will always remember it.  It’s on the outskirts of the city approx 40min away.

Daytrips

10. Rothenburg ob der tauber (small town about 2 hour train ride away from Munich. Very beautiful and traditional. Has a beautiful Christmas Market leading up to Christmas).

11. Salzburg (in Austria) is only 2 hours away by train. Beautiful old city, and I highly recommend going into an old salt mine. Check out Bad Dürrnberg.

Top 10 Cities to Visit in Germany

Marienplatz Munich         Reichstag Berlin       Kölner Dom

  1. Berlin
  2. Munich (Oktoberfest – September/October)
  3. Cologne (Carnival – mid February)
  4. Hamburg
  5. Düsseldorf
  6. Rothenburg
  7. Freiburg
  8. Hannover
  9.  Heidelberg
  10. Dresden

Germany is such a beautiful and diverse country.  Each city offers it unique qualities in pre and post war architecture, food, festivals (Oktoberfest and Carnival being the 2 largest), and culture. I will post individual posts on some of the larger cities in this list.