Geneva On A Budget

The challenge with travel is that there are always some areas that you have to spend extra on, whether that’s flights, accommodation or living expenses. There are ways of saving, of course, but some countries are still quite expensive to visit unless you’re visiting or staying with a community such as wheelersangel.com, or something similar. Today, we’ll explore one such city which while incredibly popular to visit, has a reputation of being very pricey. Take a look at the top budgeting tips while you visit Geneva in Switzerland.

Use Trams for Transportation

A yak in Switzerland (Courtesy: Naomi Wirth)

The impressive tram system is by far the best way to get to know the city, and if you’re staying longer than a week, it’s worth getting a weekly pass. Some hotels will arrange this for you or let you have the free weekend travel passes. Snap this offer up. While this is not expensive, you’ll find yourself wanting to save as much money as possible. Trams and buses are incredibly efficient in the city of Geneva, and will take you all the way from one side of the city to the other and right up to several border crossings into France.

Shop for Groceries in France

Groceries (Courtesy: Erik Scheel)

If you’re self-catering and have a car, then the very best way of saving money is to head to France to do your grocery shopping. There are supermarkets just across most sides of the borders and no more than a 20-minute drive from each border post. There, you’ll find cheaper cheese, veggies and things to drink. Just be aware that there are limits on how much you can take back into Switzerland, and carry your passport with you, just in case you are stopped by the border guards.

Explore Paquis on the Outskirts

Bains des Pâquis (Courtesy: Guilhem Vellut)

While there’s no getting away from the fact that eating out in Geneva is expensive, there are areas that make it a little more affordable. Head down to Paquis and especially the Bains Des Paquis for an evening out. The area is a little rough around the edges but like most other major cities, houses the best bars and eateries. The Bains Des Paquis is a popular destination for people looking to enjoy a dip in the lake, a relaxing session in a steam room or sauna and massage followed by a drink and some snacks in the evening. It’s located on a jetty structure and is open all year round. Popular with locals and visitors alike, it’s fun, busy and a great place for people watching.

Head to the High Street

Geneva (Courtesy: Luisfpizarro)

If you’re looking for souvenirs or to do a little shopping on a budget, avoid the main shopping area in the city. This road or two of shops is littered with designer brands and high-end names. Explore Geneva to find pockets of commercial areas that are far less expensive, such as the many markets to be found in Plainpalais and Carouge.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Cost

Saleve (Courtesy: Guilhem Vellut)

Expensive? Yes, but also beautiful, vibrant and fun. Explore Geneva by tram, shop in France and check out some of the sightseer destinations and the beautiful lake that make Geneva such a popular city all year round. Just an hour from the Alps and even closer to the Saleve Mountain Range, Geneva is a fascinating mix of countryside and urban landscape.

Ever explored Geneva on a budget?

Think you have more tips for us?

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3 Of The Best Luxury European Cruise Destinations

Taking a cruise is such an amazing way to travel. You don’t have to worry about waiting in line at the airport for ages or organizing transport to your hotel on the other side. You can just sit back and enjoy the beautiful views of the water while you make your way to your destination. Most cruises are quite cheap and you get to see a few different places along the way as well. Places like the Caribbean are very popular cruise destinations, but there are plenty of other countries around the world where you can have a great cruise experience, especially in Europe. If you want a unique travel experience, you should consider one of these great European cruise destinations.

Spain

Barcelona Port (Courtesy: Bastien Deceuninck)

Spain is a hugely popular destination for travellers who are looking for sun, sea, and sand. Regions like Costa Del Sol attract many visitors who want to enjoy the beautiful weather and the laid back atmosphere. But if you’re looking for a more cultural Spanish travel experience, you might prefer to head to Barcelona instead. This amazing city, known for its impressive architecture, luxury shopping options, and incredible food, has something for everybody. Taking a cruise is one of the best ways to see the gorgeous beaches and impressive skyline of Barcelona, and it’s usually cheaper than flying as well. You can stop off in Barcelona for a day or two and do some sightseeing before you continue your trip around the coast to see some of the other great Spanish coastal resorts.

Croatia

Dubrovnik from the Adriatic Sea in Croatia

Croatia has become an incredibly popular travel destination in the last decade. The coastal city of Dubrovnik, in particular, attracts a lot of sightseers every year. This unbelievable medieval town is filled with quaint cobbled streets and a rich cultural and historical heritage. There are also some beautiful beaches nearby. Even though Croatia is becoming more popular, you can still find some great discount cruises in the area, so it’s ideal if you’re looking to travel on a budget. There are some great guided tours of the old town where you can learn about the history of the place or if you’re looking for something a bit more exciting, there are plenty of adventure activities like sea kayaking that you can do on the beach.

Greece

The Acropolis as viewed from the Mouseion Hill in Greece (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Athens is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Europe because it has a great mixture of luxury beaches and cultural sights to see. You can delve into the history of Greece when you visit the Acropolis or Delphi or you can just sit back and relax on the beaches. Athens has one of the most amazing coastlines in the entire world, so there’s no better way to see it than from the water. There are some great cruises that will take you on a tour around lots of different Greek islands, so you can pack plenty into your trip.

If you thought that cruises were just for the Caribbean, think again. These European countries are some of the best places in the world to take a cruise.

Have you ever been on a cruise?

Know more European cruise destinations?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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Tuscany Time: Choosing The Cities You’d Like To See

Visiting a country as old as Italy can often present some challenges when you are hard pressed for time and need to pick a few places at the cost of missing out on the rest. While most of these destinations have a rich history filled with interesting stories, the time which they have had to grow has made them explode into sprawling masses of human activity. In the Italian region of Tuscany, for example, there are more than ten cities and large towns that call it their home, making it hard for travellers to decide what they’d like to see. To give you a bit of a helping hand, this post will be exploring Tuscany, giving you an idea of what you should see when you arrive.

Florence

Florence (Courtesy: Jonathan Körner)
Florence (Courtesy: Jonathan Körner)

Start your exploration with the capital city of the Tuscany region – Florence. First finding its foothold during the Medieval times, this area has always been an important one, with people travelling from all over the world to trade, enjoy the sights, and even show off their passion for fashion. In more recent times, a huge amount of work has gone into preserving and restoring the ancient monuments which make this city much sought after. Florence is a great place to go if you’d like to get a good mix of the old and the new.

Siena

Basilica of San Domenico in Siena (Courtesy: Pexels)
Basilica of San Domenico in Siena (Courtesy: Pexels)

Boasting one of the highest traveller footfalls throughout the whole of Italy, Siena is another great place to vacation when you’re trying to soak up Tuscany. Like Florence, Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has this status as a result of the ancient buildings which have been standing here for hundreds of years. A horse race known as Palio is held in this city twice a year, giving you the chance to watch some real local rivalries unfurl.

Chianti

A vineyard estate in Chianti (Courtesy: Rowan Heuvel)
A vineyard estate in Chianti (Courtesy: Rowan Heuvel)

If you like wine, you’ve probably heard of Chianti before. Home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world, this region has a very strong legacy in making wines. There are few places in Italy which can better the quality of Chianti wines. You can visit this area with most Tuscany tour companies, making it nice and easy to get the chance to try some wine tasting. However, you will have to be careful if you plan to drive after your visit.

Pisa

White Cathedral with the Leaning Tower of Pisa at a distance (Courtesy: Pexels)
White Cathedral with the Leaning Tower of Pisa at a distance (Courtesy: Pexels)

Last but not the least, consider Pisa. Famous for the leaning tower which is a crowd magnet, this city has spent much of its history as a maritime capital. Like many cities with this sort of past, you will find loads of ancient affluence on display, with many of the oldest buildings remaining largely intact. It’s almost a shame that the tower gets so much attention as there are plenty of other unique and interesting buildings in Pisa for you to explore. With all of this in mind, you should be ready to start exploring Tuscany!

Have you been to Tuscany?

Got any recommendations for my readers?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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Discover Central & Eastern Europe With Travel Tips From Locals + Top Bloggers

Most of you have told me how much you love reading about Europe on my blog. This is the last piece in the series, and this one is especially for my readers on a budget. Today’s list is a handpicked collection of extremely affordable destinations. If you are a solo female traveller on your maiden visit to Central or Eastern Europe, we urge you to look beyond the popular cities of Budapest (read – A Quick Guide To Budapest – The Capital Of Hungary) and Warsaw (read – What Warsaw Whispers – A Photoessay), and give these lesser explored places a chance to mesmerise you:

Česky Krumlov – Czech Republic

Česky Krumlov (Courtesy: Parampara)

Česky Krumlov (Courtesy: Parampara)

Recommendation by Parampara – Awara Diaries

“On the offbeat path as a solo female traveller, Česky Krumlov was one of the best adventures that I’d signed up for. With the aim of exploring Czechia beyond the party scenes of Prague, I took a trip south of the capital to the town of Česky Krumlov. To begin with, the Czech transport system is in great shape and connects the country with much ease. I took a 2 and a half hours’ bus journey to this Czech town.

Česky Krumlov was no less than a wonderland for me. Medieval mythical vibes with castles, towers, rivers, and bridges. Walking around this quaint town was the obvious choice, but unlike other Czech towns, there was life even post sunset. Making new friends at the hostel, walking around the town, looking at the lit castle and most importantly, eating around, trying some of the best ever grilled trout and apple strudel, Česky Krumlov had my heart. And for once, I could believe that I was living a fairytale with a possibility of getting lost in the woods and stumbling upon a dragon or just watching over the town quietly from the top of the tower! Indeed, one of the best and safest destinations for solo travel and making new friends.”

Viscri – Romania

Viscri (Courtesy: Andra Padureanu)

Viscri (Courtesy: Andra Padureanu)

Recommendation by Andra Padureanu – Our World to Wander

“The village of Viscri used to be one of Romania’s hidden gems. But now, thanks to Prince Charles, it has become a popular destination for people who want to taste the rural life in Transylvania. It’s a small and charming village where you can take a glimpse of the traditional way of life. Viscri is also famous for its fortified church which has put it on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

It is a very safe destination for women travellers and highly recommended if you want to try a Romanian homestay. You will stay with a family in one of the small houses, and everybody will want you to taste the numerous delicious dishes of the region. It is a picturesque place where you can lose track of time while wandering through the narrow cobblestoned streets.”

Ljubljana – Slovenia

Ljubljana (Courtesy: Jessica)

Ljubljana (Courtesy: Jessica)

Recommendation by Jessica – Travel Solo Anyway

“Slovenia’s capital of Ljubljana is one of my favourite destinations in all of Europe. It’s perfect for solo female travellers because it’s extremely clean and safe, the people are among the friendliest I’ve ever met and English speakers will find it’s incredibly easy to get around using English. I especially adore the café and market culture in Ljubljana. There are so many opportunities to take in the city’s relaxed atmosphere while dining and shopping outdoors.

Many eateries have outdoor and riverside seating, and on certain days of the week, you can also check out flea and farmer’s markets for cool finds and fresh produce. Sweet lovers must also try a piece of the city’s famed Ljubljana cake. The legend goes that a cook delighted the daughter of the Lord of Ljubljana Castle so much with this creation that he was offered her hand in marriage!”

Eger – Hungary

Eger (Courtesy: Sharon Gourlay)

Eger (Courtesy: Sharon Gourlay)

Recommendation by Sharon Gourlay – Simpler & Smarter

“Eger is a city in northern Hungary, just a couple of hours from Budapest. It is the perfect place to visit on your solo adventure if you love wine and baroque architecture. Or if you just love discovering smaller European destinations which aren’t flooded with tourists. Eger is an easy place to visit. All the main attractions are within walking distance and the city centre is pretty and easy to walk around.

There is a hilltop castle with great views, a big basilica and many other attractions. My favourite is the wine cellars in the Valley of Beautiful Women. These cellars are all in a row surrounded by nature with many indoor and outdoor tables. The wine is cheap and good and it’s fun trying out the wines.”

Istria – Croatia

Istrian Pasta (Courtesy: Kaila Yu)

Istrian Pasta (Courtesy: Kaila Yu)

Recommendation by Kaila Yu – NomList

“Istria, Croatia is an ideal destination for solo women travellers. Not only is it so safe that you could walk the streets at any time of the night and feel perfectly comfortable, but it’s also the ultimate foodie locale! If you love olive oil, truffles and wine, you must visit this magical area of Croatia. Many of the dishes of Istria have Mediterranean and Italian influence and the fresh seafood in the region is spectacular.

Istria is considered to be part of Croatia but it actually encompasses Italy and Slovenia too. The peninsula juts out into the Adriatic Sea, so it also has beautiful oceans views. One popular activity in this region is boating and exploring the many small islands in the vicinity. It’s definitely an off the beaten path location that is dreamy and a can’t miss for solo female travellers!”

Chisinau – Moldova

Chisinau (Courtesy: Gabriela Muller)

Chisinau (Courtesy: Gabriela Muller)

Recommendation by Gabriela Muller – Gabriela Here and There

“I recently travelled to Moldova as a solo female traveller and was positively surprised by how nice it was. Moldova is one of the least visited countries in Europe but this little nation has so much to offer from wine tours to beautiful countryside. Most of the travellers will visit Chisinau, the capital city, and it’s a great place to base yourself in Moldova. Chisinau might not have the Eiffel Tower or other famous sights but it’s a charming city with its own little spots. The best way to explore Chisinau is on foot and because of its small size, everything is within a walking distance. I never had any problems with street harassment or catcalling, and always felt very safe walking alone (even at night).”

Skopje – Macedonia

Skopje (Courtesy: Kamila Napora)

Skopje (Courtesy: Kamila Napora)

Recommendation by Kamila Napora – Kami and the Rest of the World

“Skopje is one of the weirdest cities you will ever see. It’s like the Disneyland of the Balkans with quirky, brand new but old-looking architecture all over the centre and the largest old bazaar in the Balkans. It’s also a safe and interesting city to visit for solo female travellers. I’ve been solo to Skopje 5 times by now and never encountered any issues. Local people are super friendly, the food is to die for and everything is really affordable. You should most likely stick to the centre and Debar Maalo areas. Like everywhere else, if you stick to your common sense you will be more than fine. There are many things to do in Skopje that will keep you occupied for at least 2 days. Just visit the city with an open mind and enjoy it!”

Belgrade – Serbia

Belgrade (Courtesy: Karen Turner)

Belgrade (Courtesy: Karen Turner)

Recommendation by Karen Turner – Wanderlustingk

“Belgrade was one of the easiest places that I’ve travelled solo in. People were so incredibly warm that I ended up getting drinks almost every single night with Serbians that I’d meet who would just invite me out with their group of friends. In Belgrade, I also found a female-run hostel with staff that just made my trip magical as they sent me on a food scavenger hunt. The walkable city centre and good public transit with the high level of English made it a breeze to travel in Serbia and I’d recommend it to any woman trying out solo travel!”

Kharkiv – Ukraine

Kharkiv (Courtesy: Megan Starr)

Kharkiv (Courtesy: Megan Starr)

Recommendation by Megan Starr – Megan Starr

“Kharkiv, Ukraine is a destination off the beaten path in Eastern Europe that doesn’t garner the tourism traction that it should. The city, often overshadowed by Kyiv and Lviv, sits in the east of Ukraine but is completely in the safe zone. It is one of the loveliest places I have ever had a chance to visit. Females shouldn’t feel unsafe in Kharkiv, even if travelling alone. There are top notch cafes, restaurants, and some stately architecture from various areas that make this Ukrainian city extremely compelling and a must-visit spot for travellers. Kharkiv has become more connected via daily flights and there is even a fast train connecting it with Kyiv these days.”

Olomouc – Czech Republic

Olomouc (Courtesy: Veronika Primm)

Olomouc (Courtesy: Veronika Primm)

Recommendation by Veronika Primm – Travel Geekery

Olomouc is a hidden gem lying in the east of the Czech Republic, right in the heart of the Moravia region. The city features a beautifully preserved Old Town with Baroque structures such as fountains and churches. You’ll even find an Astronomical Clock on the local Town Hall! Just strolling around feels fulfilling enough. There’s also no shortage of cosy cafés and large parks encircling the city centre.

Students rule Olomouc. If you go out in the evening by yourself, it’s easy to strike a conversation with local students. The town is lively and there’s often a lot going on – from events organized by the local Palacký University to markets/gatherings on the main square (Upper Square).”

Are you a fan of Eastern & Central Europe now? 🙂

Got more suggestions for solo travellers to these parts of Europe?

Let us know through your comments below. 🙂

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A New Look At Spain & Greece: Beaches, Forests & Hideouts For Solo Travellers

Southern Europe was one of my first solo travel destinations as an adult, long before I began to blog (read – How I Started a New Life in Catalonia). The region has a bunch of slow-paced countries that make you fall in love with life. The Mediterranean coastline works like a charm on every traveller. It doesn’t matter whether you are in Greece or Portugal or Italy (read – Italy Beyond The Usual) or Spain. If you are craving some sun without running into hordes of tourists, follow this list of recommendations (from experienced travellers) on offbeat locations in Spain and Greece-

Asturias – Spain

Asturias (Courtesy: Campbell & Alya)

Asturias (Courtesy: Campbell & Alya)

Recommendation by Campbell & Alya – Stingy Nomads

“Not many know of an area in Spain with lush green forest, cool temperatures even in the summers and breathtaking mountain scenery. For those who like going off the beaten track, a small region of Asturias in northern Spain is the perfect destination. Asturias is one of the least populated regions of Spain with its main treasure being natural beauty. There are mostly small towns and villages with very friendly and helpful locals here. It’s a real paradise for hikers – there are several short and long distance hiking trails including Camino Primitivo – the first Camino de Santiago walked by the Spanish king, Alfonso II in the 9th century. The famous mountain range – Picos de Europa with some peaks over 2600m is located here.

Both hiking and cycling trails are well marked, safe and easy to follow – definitely the kind of place where a solo female traveller can hike on her own without worrying about safety. The region is great for a beach holiday as well as there are several nice coastal towns like Gijón, Llanes where you can enjoy sandy beaches, clean water and delicious local food. Asturias also has some interesting cities whose foundation dates back to the 8th century. Oviedo – the beautiful capital city founded in 761AD has a charming historical centre with typical narrow cobblestone streets, a gothic cathedral, old houses and street cafes.”

Kalymnos Island – Greece

Kalymnos Island (Courtesy: Maureen)

Kalymnos Island (Courtesy: Maureen)

Recommendation by Maureen – Life On The Mediterranean

“Kalymnos is a small Greek island in the Dodecanese between Kos and Leros, near Turkey. It’s overlooked for other easier-to-reach islands like Rhodes or Kos, and more difficult and more expensive to reach. But once you do, you’ll find an extremely tranquil island whose economy is based on sponge fishing, rock climbing and a bit of tourism.

It’s a great place for solo female travellers as it’s extremely safe and people look out for one another. You’ll be alone, but you won’t. It’s a great place to chill, write, enjoy life on a quaint island, enjoy fresh seafood and get to know the locals if you want. Hotels and food are affordable. It’s a lovely Greek island where time has stood still. You could stay for a month on the weekly budget you need in some other pricier islands. Give it a try.”

Galicia – Spain

Galicia Cathedrals beach at sunrise (Courtesy: Inma Gregorio)

Galicia Cathedrals beach at sunrise (Courtesy: Inma Gregorio)

Recommendation by Inma Gregorio – A World To Travel

“The reasons why I can’t stop recommending Galicia as a friendly destination for visitors – and in this case, for women who travel alone – is as varied as the region. Still, I’ll try to give you some clues, girls: Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, is a semi-unknown region because it does not belong to the busiest tourist circuits, but it is equally beautiful due to the exuberant Galician nature and cities full of history.

The tradition of this land in receiving visitors who travel alone comes from the Middle Ages when the road to Santiago began to be ‘crowded’ by pilgrims who came from nearby and distant lands. That is why the Galician people are accustomed to receiving and treating well whoever comes here. An affordable living, world-acclaimed cuisine, many celebrations all-year round and funny weather, are awaiting you.”

Athens – Greece

Athens (Courtesy: Iulia - Alexandra Falcutescu)

Athens (Courtesy: Iulia – Alexandra Falcutescu)

Recommendation by Iulia – Alexandra Falcutescu – The Traveling Tulip

“While visiting Athens, I have discovered a wonderful blend of culture, history and contemporary air. I was simply enchanted to walk the streets of Athens and having to stop at every step, because there was always something to see, always a street vendor that wanted to show me their merchandise or an ancient building that “demanded” to be admired.

As a woman travelling solo to Athens, I have never felt unsafe. The people are so friendly, especially when they discover that you are a foreigner. They try to do their best to welcome you and make you feel comfortable. As with every other country I visited, I did my best to avoid dangerous situations or locations by staying informed on those prior to the actual visit. If you want to find out more of my time in Athens, check out my post about how to spend a weekend in Athens.”

Cercedilla – Spain

Cercedilla (Courtesy: Jamie Graffman)

Cercedilla (Courtesy: Jamie Graffman)

Recommendation by Jamie Graffman – Crashed Culture

“Cercedilla, Spain is a quaint but beautiful pueblo on the northern outskirts of Madrid, Spain. This town is full of many Spaniards’ former second homes before the country faced economic issues. This recent history makes for an interesting trip because while the area is clean and beautiful, it’s also completely empty and full of opportunities. Cercedilla is a popular stop for hikers and other nature lovers but is also fun just to walk around and see the beautiful buildings.

Cercedilla is a great destination for women travelling solo because it’s so open! For those concerned about strangers they’re likely to meet on the road, this isn’t a concern in such a desolate area. It’s a great place to just walk around and enjoy the scenery, which means travellers need not be concerned about finding things to do.”

Naxos – Greece

Pyrgaki, Naxos (Courtesy: Steph Edwards)

Pyrgaki, Naxos (Courtesy: Steph Edwards)

Recommendation by Steph Edwards – The Mediterranean Traveller

“The whole of Greece is ideal for easy-going solo female travel, but my favourite place is the island of Naxos in the Cyclades. From the moment you set foot there, you instantly feel relaxed. Plus, the people are super friendly. Despite its amazing beaches and fantastic food, Naxos is not overly commercial or busy like some of the more popular islands, and you’re bound to bump into other independent travellers there too (probably congregating in one of the laid-back beach cafes).

You can see the main sites by bus which is great for those who don’t want the expense of hiring a car. But – best of all – you can find cheap rooms a street or two back from the main town beach Agios Georgios, meaning you don’t have to worry about your stuff whilst you’re swimming. No wonder Naxos has devotees who return year after year!”

Do you also love islands and sandy shorelines?

Would you like to recommend some more places?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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