Monthly Archives: April 2016

Hipmunk Hotels: Wonderful Holiday Destinations in Elmhurst, Allentown, Newport and more

The Northeastern region is rich with 72 National Wildlife Refuges, which is a home to 92 different rare and endangered species, but at the same time it is the second most urban area.  The northeast is one of the most fascinating destinations for vacation that will satisfy most adventurous and demanding travelers.


Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Enjoy Museums in Elmhurst, NY

Elmhurst, NY is a culturally diversified part of the New York City in the northwest region. So many amazing historic districts, houses and museums, such as Louis Armstrong House Museum, makes this city special. While you are visiting Elmhurst, you can always stop by NY, which is only 10 miles away. The place has many economical hotels and accommodations that will save you money. For example, the Clarion Hotel La Guardia Airport or Laguardia Plaza Hotel are convenient and affordable. Also, for less than $130 a night you can stay at the New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott.


Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Have a Great Time in the “City of Action” Allentown, PA

Allentown, PA was established in 1762 on the Lehigh River. This dynamic and bustling city offers superb entertainment in assorted nightlife, exquisite restaurants, outdoor recreation, and golfing. For art and history lovers, there are many places to visit. In terms of hotels, there is something for everyone. For the most modest options in Allentown there is Quality Inn, where the rates range from $53 per night. More fancy hotels like Holiday Inn Express & Suites Allentown starts at $103 per night and Holiday Inn Allentown Center Cityat  $88 per night.


Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Break Away in Newport, RI

Newport, founded in 1639, is a worldwide known seaside escape in New England. The city is famous for Gilded Age mansions, the America’s Cup yacht race, Cliff Walk, and Newport jazz. The folk festivals attract many tourists each year. Newport used to be a summer resort for rich and famous, but now a vacation in Newport is more accessible to everyone. Local hotels offer good prices on accommodation.  Just to mention a couple of our favorites: The Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina, and The Forty 1 North. You may have a harder time finding available economical accommodations in Newport during summer, so a good option are hotels North of the city, near Miantonomi Memorial Park, such as The Best Western The Mainstay Inn, and The Carriage Inn.


Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Enjoy the Scenery in Burlington, VT

The small but very much alive and welcoming city of Burlington, VT sits on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain. This nationally awarded city booms in art and culture scene, and it is fantastic for shopping and festivals that are held all year long. Picturesque beauty of its waterfront-lakeside parks, boat excursions, and walking or biking down the Lake Champlain Islands are memorable. When booking a hotel in Burlington, you will find better rates in the off-season. One of the recommended hotels in the downtown region is the Hilton Burlington. For business people, a hotel that offers beneficial amenities is the Courtyard Marriott Burlington Harbor.


Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Discover the Hudson River while in Jersey City, NJ

There are eight districts in Jersey City, NJ. Those are the Historic Downtown, Waterfront, Journal Square, The Heights, Liberty State Park, Bergen/LafayetteAs, and West Side and Greenville. As New Jersey’s second largest city, Jersey City has plenty  to offer to tourists. Must do things while in JC are ‘Walking along the Hudson River waterfront’ and ‘Taking a ferry to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island’. It is not always easy to find good deals and affordable hotel arrangements in this area. If you plan your trip ahead of time, and avoid major holidays you will get the best for less, such as Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson.

10 Less Well Known International Holidays

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on April 5, 2016.

London and Prague? They’ve so been visited before.

If you’re searching for a vacation destination that’s a little off the beaten path, then look no further than these 10 less well known (but totally awesome) international locales.

1. Agadir, Morocco

It may be one of the best-kept travel secrets: The coastal town of Agadir boasts gorgeous sandy beaches, clear water, and summer temperatures in the 90s or even 100s—making it the perfect place to spend your whole vacation in the ocean. (If those high temps scare you off, simply visit in November or December, when the weather is a bit more temperate.) The prices are just as great as the setting—luxury accommodations start at as low as $100 per night, while more budget-friendly hotels offer rates starting at $18 per night.

cartagena-1247674_640

2. Cartagena, Colombia

Much like Agadir, Cartagena may be one of the most underappreciated beach towns around. The colonial city boasts historic architecture—including monasteries, palaces, and centuries-old walls—in addition to a rich culture and gorgeous beaches. Enjoy the view from a hotel balcony, a horse-drawn carriage, or the sand itself. Accommodations range from high-end luxury to budget-friendly hostels, meaning a relaxing vacation awaits any kind of traveler.

3. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Looking to get away from it all? Then head to Kota Kinabalu, which is located in what is arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth. The city is surrounded by blue mountains, rich forests, and some of the best sunset viewing opportunities around. Stay in one of the area’s resort spas if you’re in need of some serious pampering, or take advantage of more utilitarian hotel offerings if you’re sticking to a tight budget. In either case, relaxation and gorgeous views await.

4. Marieta Islands, Mexico

You’ll need a permit to visit these protected fishing and hunting grounds, but the hassle will be well worth it. Formed in the past by volcanic activity, the small islands are now home to a stunning population of marine life, from humpback whales to manta rays, sea turtles, and dolphins. If you book a hotel in vibrant Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find yourself just an hour’s boat ride away from the pristine ecosystem.

rambla-613113_640

5. Montevideo, Uruguay

Think of Uruguay’s capital as Buenos Aires’ lesser known—but still wonderfully interesting—cousin. Montevideo boasts beachfront access, vibrant nightlife, art and museums, great food, and unique festivals (including Carnival, which lasts from January through March). Summer weather arrives in December and stays through February, so plan accordingly—if you’d prefer to avoid large beach crowds, plan a trip before Christmas or sometime in March or April. (Bonus: That’s when the ocean is warmest.)

6. Pasay City, Philippines

Here’s one for the city lovers. Densely populated Pasay City offers great shopping, high culture, a blend of Philippine and western customs, and the lovely weather and sunny disposition so common among island cities. Visitors to the city can book a coastal hotel or stay in the heart of downtown—it all comes down to whether you’d rather stare at gorgeous beaches or vibrant city life.

7. Postojna, Slovenia

Slovenia’s tourism trade has grown significantly in the past year or so, but it’s still making a name for itself as a well-known destination. Visitors to the country can experience a fusion of Italian, Croatian, Hungarian, and Austrian cultures—and one of the best places to do so is Postojna. In addition to its cultural offerings, the town boasts the historic Predjama Castle, one of the country’s longest caves, and some truly delicious food and wine.

latvia-162338_640

8. Riga, Latvia

Riga has earned tourist attention since being named a European Capital of Culture in 2014, but the city has hardly become a household name—which might explain why it also ranks high on the list of Europe’s cheapest destinations for budget-conscious backpackers. The weather is lovely in the summer, but you’ll be able to enjoy historic architecture, arts and culture (including the national opera), and great food and sightseeing opportunities all year round.

9. Singapore, Singapore

Singapore may be one of the more well-known names on this list, but odds are good most people still don’t know someone who’s vacationed there. Start the trend with a trip to the city-state of Singapore, Singapore. Colonial history, great food, a photo-worthy skyline, a thriving arts scene, a Formula One race track, gorgeous botanical gardens, and colorful neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Little India, and the hip Tiong Bahru all make Singapore stand out from the crowd.

10. Sintra, Portugal

Not far from Lisbon, Portugal’s popular capital city, lies the historic town of Sintra. Because of its 19th century Roman architectural monuments—which include prehistoric structures such as the Castle of the Moors and the National Palace of Pena—the town has earned the esteemed designation of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also don’t miss Quinta de Regaleira just outside of town. The estate includes a large park, historic chapels, and a network of underground tunnels (dubbed Initiation Wells) used for Tarot initiation rites.

The Best Global Cities to Blend Business and Pleasure

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on April 14, 2016.

Business or leisure? Why not both? For those lucky enough to travel for business, we suggests turning business trips into mini vacations, or what some call “bleisure” trips. The cities below are known for their economic prowess as well as their entertainment dexterity, making them perfect for bleisure. With stunning skylines, rich cultural sites, wilderness centers and upbeat night scenes, these cities are the ideal places to blend business with more than just a dash of pleasure.

sao-paulo-980972_640

1. Sao Paulo, Brazil

As the financial capital of Brazil, this concrete jungle of skyscrapers knows how to cater to business travelers with luxury hotels and fine restaurants. Sao Paulo also offers great antique markets and cultural institutes making it a great city to extend a business trip into a short vacation. The InterContinental Sao Paulo on Avenida Paulista makes it easy to get to meetings as well as the Sao Paulo Museum of Art, which has a fine collection of national and European art. On Sundays, an antique fair operates underneath the suspended museum’s open space. Leave the bustle behind and stay at George V Also De Pinheiros in Villa Magdalena, the bohemian area of Sao Paulo. Benedito Calixo square is sprawling with vendors of art, and handmade and antique treasures on Saturdays.

2. London, U.K.

With six international airports and the Eurostar high-speed rail service connecting London to the rest of Europe, the city is a must-stop for international business travelers. Stay a few days longer to partake in London’s rich history. It’s oldest financial district, often referred to as The City or The Square Mile, conveniently houses many of the must-see sights. St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, the Museum of London, the Barbican Center, and 30 St. Mary Axe (better known as The Gherkin) are within walking distance. The modern Apex Temple Court Hotel is between the City and Covent Garden in the Theatre District. The Grange Tower Bridge resides near Jack the Ripper’s old haunts in the East End, which is now a trendy area filled with markets, bars and restaurants.

urban-landscape-617590_640

3. New York City, New York

There’s no need to travel the world on business, when the business world congregates in New York. Forget the stereotypical Wall Street bankers, New York draws people for more than just work. The City has something for everyone: museums, on and off-Broadway shows, secret speakeasies, green spaces, fashion, and sports teams galore. The food selection is as diverse as its people with mini communities throughout the five boroughs representing much of the world’s cuisine. Stay at the W New York Times Square in the heart of all the action and spectacular views of the city and only a couple of stops from Central Park. Avoid the touristy scene altogether by staying at the Sixty on the border of East Village and the Lower East Side neighborhoods for an eclectic glimpse of New York.

4. Singapore

Singapore’s geographic location, top-tier AAA credit ratings, low taxes, and zero-tolerance for corruption make it a highly desirable place to do business. The 13.6 percent of public green spaces that occupy Singapore’s land mass makes it a great place to relax and escape the madness of city life. In 2015 the 202 acres that make up the Singapore Botanic Gardens, were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Just as impressive are Gardens by the Bay with 250 acres filled 500,000 species of plants, fountains and promenades. For more nature action visit the Singapore Zoo or go on a night safari to see animals in their natural habitat and experience a rainforest ecosystem. Stay at the lovely Sheraton Towers Singapore, which offers rooms with balconies opening directly to the pool.

urban-landscape-617590_640

5. Tokyo, Japan

Trade and tourism make up Tokyo’s largest industry output with 18%, according to the Brooking’s Institute 2015 Global Metro Monitor Map. This city was made for business and pleasure. The Grand Hyatt Tokyo is in the center of Roppongi, known its night scene, which attracts both locals and foreigners. Karaoke is a favorite outing for locals and Tokyo knows how to do it right. The Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo offers four private karaoke rooms with incredible views of the city. Fashion is Tokyo’s forte so take time to explore the city’s array of eclectic styles. Head to the ward of Shibuya to check out the Harajuku district made famous by singer Gwen Stefani in her hit song Harajuku Girls where youths dress in mixed colorful styles of traditional dress, cosplay, Goth and more. Locals also strut their Harajuku Sunday best at the nearby Yoyogi Park near the Meiji Shrine, a forest spanning 170 acres.

Hipmunk Hotels: Visit Georgia with amaizing deals in Dunwoody, Norcross, Augusta, and College Park

Do you search for unbelievable outdoor adventures? Do amusement theme parks excite you? Are you into fantastic food and superb shopping? Everything you can think of Georgia has. Good deals and wonderful places is waiting for you in Georgia.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2760/4231676589_07cc370ebd.jpg

Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Be Part of Unique Events in Dunwoody, GA

Dunwoody, GA is known for its convenient hotels as well as great restaurants and distinguished shopping malls. Downtown Atlanta attractions are a short ride away from this place, or hoping on a train is also a comfortable way to go. Dunwoody is host to many unique entertaining events like Lemonade Days, the Butterfly Festival and Dunwoody Restaurant Week. Sounds fun? Diversified offer that adorns this city welcomes all kinds of travelers. Whether you visit for business, shopping, attractions or recreation, you will always find available hotels. Take advantage of fantastic deals on 3-star hotels, like the Sheraton Atlanta Perimeter North Hotel or the Marriott Atlanta Perimeter Center for under $100 per night. 4-star hotels can be found for less than $150 per night, such as 4-star Hyatt Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/231/515401057_0004a95387.jpgImage via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Enjoy the Antiquity in Norcross, GA

Norcross is a restored city with many places listed National Register of Historic Places. Old buildings, antique and gift shops, excellent restaurants, as well as music and theatrical happenings are possible to enjoy year round. Norcross is popular for the free outdoor summer concert series in Thrasher Park, the annual Art Fest (held in October), the BluesBerry Festival and the Holiday Tour of Homes (held in December).This city is less than 30 minutes from Atlanta, so while visiting you can also take a tour of Atlanta’s main attractions. For the best savings stay at Americas Best Inn Norcross or Days Inn & Suites Atlanta NE/Technology Park.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/1/124754396_08be20f73a.jpgImage via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Experience the Southern Charm in Augusta, GA

What is the best place to experience an authentic Southern charm than Augusta, GA? Augusta is also popular for the Master’s Golf Tournament, which is held the first week of April. Augusta can be also proud of its art galleries, charming locally owned boutiques and shops, delightful dishes, a gorgeous Riverwalk, and endless outdoor possibilities. There are inexpensive hotels in Augusta, especially if you are looking for lodging options like Sheraton Augusta Hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Augusta East, and the Baymont Inn & Suites/ Augusta West. For a more lavish preference in terms of stay,  the Baymont Inn & Suites / Augusta Riverwatch stands out for its top reviews. The average room price for this hotel is $280 per  night.

https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7245/7299414244_ba7d829d16.jpgImage via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Discover the Fun in College Park, GA

One the busiest airports in the world, which is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is located in College Park. Downtown Atlanta, with its main entertainment and attractions, is only ten minutes away. Atlanta’s newest and second largest convention center, the Georgia International Convention Center sits in College Park as well. This city accommodates in plenty of great hotels for those who decide to visit this southern town. If you’re looking for a convenient place to stay, stay at the Microtel Inn. The Super 8 is available for those looking for affordable lodging. If you’re looking for a more upscale hotel, try the four-star Hilton Atlanta Airport and the Westin Atlanta Airport.

Hipmunk Hotels: Discover Fantastic Vacation Opportunities in Lansing, Cincinnati, Detroit, and more

The Midwest, also known as “America’s Heartland,” is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, business trip, or family vacation because of its many attractions and natural treasures.  If you’re looking to experience this region in the best way possible, book your stay at one of the various hotels and accommodations.

Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Enjoy Natural Surroundings in Lansing, MI

River tours, kayaking, and canoeing are some of the great ways to experience Lansing. As Michigan’s Capital City, Lansing is also home to many festivals and University events throughout the year to truly make your stay enjoyable.  Plan your trip ahead of time and you are sure to get the best hotel deals, like staying at the Comfort Inn for just $79 per night or The Fairfield Inn West for $99 per night.

Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Discover the Fun in Lincoln, NE

Lincoln, named after President Abraham Lincoln, is rich in history and provides many opportunities to have some fun during your stay. Adults and children alike will love visiting the Folsom Children’s Zoo & Botanical Gardens or hiking, biking, and horse back riding in Wilderness Park. Hotels in Lincoln start from just $30 per night, but you can find accomodations for every budget with different options, such as Luxury Inn & Suites, the Travelodge Lincoln, and the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites Lincoln.

Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Enjoy Arts and Culture in Cincinnati, OH

Founded in 1788, Cincinnati shows off its European and Southern influences in its culture and everyday living. The spirit of the city is reflected in its artsy scene and cultural ambience, which are rich in history, but many people are also familiar with the spectacular music, theatrics, and sports events held in Downtown Cincinnati. To visit this lively city, book your stay in late spring or early fall during low season for favorable rates. The Hyatt Regency Cincinnati is a very affordable downtown hotel, for less than a $100 per night. For business travelers, the Westin Cincinnati Hotel is the most favorable choice.

Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Splash Around in Wisconsin Dells, WI

One of the most popular travel destinations in the Midwest is Wisconsin Dells. This city was named after the Dells of the Wisconsin River, and because of its exceptional beauty, it’s the perfect place for a relaxing getaway with its fascinating water tours, water parks, and theme parks. Book your stay in May or June to receive special promotions on resorts, lodges, and hotels in Wisconsin Dells. For example, The Econo Lodge has rooms for only $44 per night.  More pricey accommodations range from $149 and $189.

Image via Flickr by Montenegro.com

Relive the Motown Era in Detroit, MI

If you like cars, history, culture, music, and sports, Detroit has you covered with sensational events surrounding these interests for every season.  If you’re looking for the best place to stay, find hotels in Detroit that are close to the Motown Museum where you can find out more about the history of this music label that churned out artists like Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson. There are not many low-cost hotels in the downtown Detroit area, but the national chains are the most satisfying options, like Holiday Inn Express or Crown Plaza Downtown Detroit Riverfront.

Kissfromtheworld’s: Tropical Island for Less: 5 Budget Friendly Experiences in Costa Rica

This post originally appeared on Kissfromtheworld’s :“Tropical Island for Less: 5 Budget Friendly Experiences in Costa Rica” written by kissfromtheworld.

001_Costa_Rica__Tropical_Island_for_Less__5_Budget_Friendly_Experiences_in_Costa_Rica_Kiss_From_The_World_travel_and_people_magazine

With many airlines offering direct flights and with the influx of expats, Costa Rica is quickly becoming an accessible and very affordable destination. Stretch out those vacation funds even further by opting for these five budget-conscious options within the island.

Playa Ocotal

Take a respite from all the island thrill with an adventure of a different sort in Playa Ocotal. This small beach, roughly a third of a mile long, is home to one of the quietest and most secluded stretches of shoreline in Costa Rica. Green hills provide a lush backdrop while the Catalina Islands float magically in the distance. The clear waters are ideal for a variety of activities. Try snorkeling or scuba diving where you can spot Manta Rays, turtles, sharks, and tropical fish. The beach also offers the ultimate setting for sailing, fishing, horseback riding, and good old-fashioned R&R. Start this relaxing adventure at one of these budget-friendly lodgings3.

Tamarindo

Over the years, Tamarindo has progressed from a fishing village into an affluent and accessible neighborhood. Tourists flock to these shores for a variety of reasons including its lavish resorts, fine dining, and eclectic shopping. But most significant of all, Tamarindo is known for its surfing. The area accommodates surfers of all levels, making it an ideal destination for beginners and experts alike. Experience the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica on a surfboard. Many companies offer surf trips for various rates, but boards are available to rent for as low as $10 a day. Avoid paying luxury prices for hotels by booking these alternatives.

Manuel Antonio

Although often congested with crowds, there is enough inspiring coastline to go around in Manuel Antonio. Turquoise waters, soft sands, and jungle surroundings draw attention to this area. A National Park of the same name sits within the boundaries and is home to many species of plants and wildlife. Among these are four types of monkeys: spider, howler, white-faced, and squirrel. Keep cameras close by for that priceless moment you see one or an army join you on the shores. Consider taking the drive to Manuel Antonio via Coastal Highway 34 to view the sheer cliffs plunging into the deep Pacific. And stay at one these budget-friendly lodgings.

Papagayo

The natural beauty of Costa Rica is at its peak in Papagayo. Think postcard pictures of unspoiled shores, aquamarine waters, and palm trees swaying in the breeze, and you’ll have some idea of this area’s treasures. Papagayo is also surrounded by lush tropical forests teeming with waterfalls and wildlife. But picturesque beaches is what this area is famous for. Its shores are home to most of Costa Rica’s resorts all varying from ultra-exclusive to very affordable.

La Fortuna

La Fortuna hides a breath of fresh air behind its small-town charm. Just beyond the boundaries, you’ll find a playground in the rich green landscape. There’s whitewater rafting, ziplining, and hiking to start. Find trails of all levels in the Arenal Volcano National Park. A short trek to La Fortuna Waterfall is a must. Expect to see wildlife along the way. You might even be tempted to swim in the refreshing waters. Cap off your La Fortuna experience with a dip in the area’s hot springs and a stay at these inexpensive options.

Cover photo via Flickr by Steve Jurvetson

Tamarindo photo via Flickr by Christian Haugen

Manuel Antonio photo via Flickr by Martin Garrido

La Fortuna waterfall photo via Flickr by Dave Lonsdale

Kissfromtheworld’s : 5 Stunning Springtime Destinations in Germany

This post originally appeared on Kissfromtheworld’s :“5 Stunning Springtime Destinations in Germany” written by kissfromtheworld.

001_Germany__5_Stunning_Springtime_Destinations_in_Germany_Kiss_From_The_World_travel_and_people_magazine

Germany is a land of vastness and variety. Between its great metropolitan cities and its majestic mountain ranges, there are experiences to entice every kind of traveler. Consider visiting in the spring when the weather is more pleasant and the landscapes are greener. You might even find a festival or two that’ll pique your interests.

Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf is a city of contrasts. Centuries-old architecture juxtaposed against present day wonders allude to its evolving narrative. Likewise, you’ll find a variety of lodgings to suit either taste. Bear in mind that in the spring, trees begin to sprout anew and cover the city streets and its parks in an alluring green. There’s no better time of the year to experience Düsseldorf, the capital of German state North Rhine-Westphalia. Temperate weather, interesting architecture, shopping, and an abundance of good food await you.

Cologne

Gothic architecture in the form of Cologne Cathedral’s twin spires punctuates this city’s skyline. Other landmarks of antiquity rise alongside it, but don’t be fooled. Despite this declaration of architectural heritage, Cologne is surprisingly modern. Beneath the surface, find a plethora of present-day features like the Hotel Im Wasserturm. This historic water tower hides a sleek, modern interior. Other points of interest include Cologne’s trove of museums like Museum Ludwig with its large collection of post-modern art. Or take to the Botanical Gardens Flora for a stroll through its well-manicured gardens best seen in the spring.

Stuttgart

Nicknamed for its proximity to historical Swabia, Stuttgart has developed a definitive culture of its own. The city is known for its greenery that is more plentiful than urban development. Find accommodations near one of these inviting outdoor spaces. The annual Spring Festival attracts nearly 2 million visitors to its 106-acre Cannstatter Wasen. Additionally, the “Swabia Metropolis” boasts headquarters and museums for Mercedes-Benz and Porche— an ideal destination for any car enthusiast. Also, consider that Stuttgart is adjacent to some of Germany’s largest wine-growing regions. Road trip and wine tasting, anyone?

Nuremberg

A visit to this Bavarian city might just leave you feeling like you’ve stepped into a medieval storybook. Cobbled streets, rows of colorful Tudor houses, and even castles create a fairytale-like atmosphere in Nuremberg. As its architecture suggests, this city is steeped in history. Find museums and landmarks representative of various time periods including those significant to WWII. A visit to Nuremberg is living history. Complete your travels with a stay at one of the area’s enticing hotels, Le Méridien Grand Hotel. If you vacation in the spring, make time for the Nürnberger Volksfest, a large festival featuring amusement rides, performances, beer, and food.

Bremen

Old and new meet harmoniously in this North Germany town. It’s evident everywhere you look. Take the Universum Science Center, designed like a steely clam shell. It’s refreshingly modern against the classic architecture of the Bremen Cathedral. The ports in Bremen are still in use today and are key contributors to the global industry. In addition to this, Bremen is home to dozens of historical museums, galleries, landmarks, and a great selection of hotels. Take advantage of the fine spring weather when Bremen becomes host to several events like the Wine Exhibition Rhineland-Palatinate.

Cover photo via Flickr by John Morgan

Düsseldorf photo via Flickr by Thomas Brenac

Cologne photo via Flickr by Michael Rastetter

Nuremberg photo via Flickr by Julie Corsi

Thecrowdedplanet’s : Weird Things to do in Mexico

This post originally appeared on Thecrowdedplanet’s :“Weird Things to do in Mexico” written by thecrowdedplanet and posted on 28 February, 2016.

cenote-280252_1280-750x400

Let’s play a game. I say ‘Mexico’. What comes to mind? Beaches, mariachi, tacos and Maya ruins? All-inclusive resort holidays, backpacking through Chiapas and Yucatan, cooking classes in Oaxaca? How about weird things to do in Mexico?

Mexico is a huge country, with many faces and even more secrets. In this post, we want to share with you five weird things to do in five of Mexico’s tourist hotspots – some crazy, some creepy, all most definitely unusual. Of course, you can still have tacos for dinner and then head to a mariachi concert. If you follow these tips, you’ll have some interesting stories to tell when you return!


Isla de la Munecas near Mexico City

This one definitely falls into the ‘creepy sight’ category. A boat ride on the canals of Mexico City’s suburb Xochimilco is a favourite activity of tourists visiting the Mexican capital. Next time, ask one of the boatmen to take you to Isla de la Munecas, a two-hour ride south, where creepy dismembered dolls hung from the trees. They were placed there by a Mexican artist about fifteen years ago, to appease the ghost of a young girl that had drowned in the canal. Since then, the artist has also met an untimely death – and the island remains, definitely the spookiest place for miles.

The ‘Hidden Beach’ near Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most famous tourist towns – and only 20 miles away from it, in the Marietas Islands, you can find the mysterious Hidden Beach. This beach is located under a gaping hole in a rock, that some say is the result of secret bombings. You can only access the beach by helicopter or swimming/scuba diving through a narrow canal.

Estero San Jose near San Jose del Cabo

If you’re into birdwatching, this area few by an underground river should definitely be on your San Jose del Cabo list. Egrets, herons, frigate birds, coots and ospreys are some of the species that can often be seen in the area, which was also believed to be a pirate hideaway in the 18th century. Some say that the treasure from a Spanish galleon is hidden nearby.

Whale shark cruises near Playa Mujeres

Swimming with these giants of the seas is a thrilling activity, and luckily the government of Mexico has put stringent guidelines in place to limit damage to these beautiful animals. Playa Mujeres is a great place to pick up a whale shark cruise – just be sure to choose a reputable, eco-conscious operator and pack some seasickness pills, as there’s often a lot of sailing to be done before spotting the sharks.

Cenote Diving near Puerto Morelos

A cenote dive is another favourite activity of many travellers, and Puerto Morelos is the perfect base for that. Puerto Morelos is a lot quieter compared to Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and it’s very close to the Cenote Trail, or Ruta de los Cenotes. Diving in one of these natural sinkholes is a spooky but stunning experience, as you often get to see different underwater life compared to diving in the ocean.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Hipmunk

Thecrowdedplanet’s : Unusual Places to visit in Italy

This post originally appeared on Thecrowdedplanet’s :“Unusual Places to visit in Italy” written by thecrowdedplanet and posted on 28 February, 2016.

italy-801565_1280-750x400

So, what’s your Italy bucket list? I’m pretty sure it includes Rome, Venice and Florence – and perhaps Cinque Terre, maybe Milan and a couple of Tuscan villages. Well, Italy is amazing anywhere you go – but if you stay on the beaten track, you’ll probably meet more American than Italians. So, how about some unusual places to visit in Italy?

Rome, Venice and Florence are must-sees, but unless you visit off-season, be ready for queues, crowds and a general ‘tourist theme park’ feel. If you want to experience the ‘real’ Italy, you need to get off the beaten track. Here we’ve included our favourite five unusual places to visit in Italy, with tips on what to see and when to visit.

Pisa

Did you know that Pisa has a lot more to offer than the tower? The whole square where the tower is located is just amazing, with a stunning church and baptistery, and grass instead of paving stones. Get away from the tourist centre and you’ll find a vibrant yet unpretentious town, with lots of young people (it’s one of the main university cities in Italy), a beautiful river and picturesque historic centre. Kind of like Florence, fifty years ago.

Capri

Sure, Capri is no secret – but visit outside the summer months and you’ll have the place to yourself. Take a seaside walk to view the famous Faraglioni, giant rocks just off the coast, enjoy an alfresco lunch if you’re visiting in spring or autumn, and tour the Blue Grotto by boat, without having to wait for hours in line. If you want to feel immersed in Capri life, stay in Anacapri, a village located on the highest point of the island with a magnificent view all around.

Turin

Turin is often dismissed as a grey, cold, industrial city – in fact, it’s one of Italy’s creative hotspots, it’s located around the corner from the Alps and have plenty of understated historic sites. It was the first capital of the newborn Italian kingdom, after all! If you’re visiting Turin for the weekend don’t miss the Gran Balon market, one of the biggest flea markets in Italy, and have lunch at a family-run restaurant offering Piedmontese cuisine.

Positano

Not many people visit Southern Italy, and even fewer do so outside summer. The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s favorite photogenic locations, with houses clinging to the rock and turquoise sea all around – and Positano is one of the best places to experience it all. In summer it becomes the abode of the rich and famous; prices soar and crowds become unbearable, but the rest of the year the place is perfectly affordable and it’s a lot more pleasant to move around.

Bologna

I don’t get why don’t more people visit Bologna. It ticks all the boxes – it’s a busy university town so fun is guaranteed, there are historical monuments, beautiful hills all around and one of the best cuisines in Italy. It’s also a centre of underground culture, with beautiful street art all over town, great music and shows. To get the most of Bologna’s atmosphere, visit during the academic year as it’s very quiet in summer and you might miss out on the fun.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Hipmunk

How to See the Rainforest on a Budget

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on March 31, 2016.

Most people hear the word “rainforest” and immediately picture the Brazilian Amazon or the lush jungles of Costa Rica. Not surprisingly, trips to these rainforest destinations are priced accordingly: Everybody knows about them, so trips are in high demand—and that means they can drive high prices.

If “visit a rainforest” is on your bucket list but you’re operating on a small budget, don’t despair. There are plenty of rainforests to see, and many of them reside outside the confines of the most popular (and pricey) tourist destinations. Here are five great options for anyone looking to visit the rainforest on a budget.

tree-fern-320078_640

Bolivia

While Brazil gets much of the attention for its Amazonian rainforests, the Amazon basin actually extends across several South American countries, many of which offer cheaper (and less crowded) rainforest tours. Bolivia falls into this category, and it offers two different types of tours: the pampas tours, which wind through a wetland savannah on the edge of the Amazon jungle and offer ample wildlife sightseeing opportunities, and jungle tours, which are a bit pricier but take travelers deeper into the rainforest. Whenever you’re ready for a shower, head out of the rainforest and into vibrant Santa Cruz.

British Columbia

US citizens can cut down on travel time and fees by taking a quick trip to our neighbor to the north. Canada’s British Columbia is home to the 25,000-square-mile Great Bear Rainforest, which is renowned for its wildlife (including, not surprisingly, its large population of bears) and stunning outdoor recreation opportunities. The rainforest isn’t too far from popular Vancouver and Whistler, BC, so you can balance urban and rainforest exploration in the course of the same trip.

tree-959853_640

Peru

Peru is gradually building a reputation for itself as an eco-tourism destination, and for good reason: The country is home to the Manu Wilderness, which boasts a larger population of plants and animals than almost anywhere else on the planet. Jaguar, parrot, and giant otter sightings are common, so do not forget the camera. The rainforest isn’t far from Cusco; if you have the time, it’s also worth making the trek to lively and historic Lima.
Puerto Rico

Travelers from the US can save money on passport application or renewal fees by visiting El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. You’ll also save vacation time: It takes just under four hours and approximately $200 to fly from NYC to San Juan, which is only 30 miles from the rainforest. Once you arrive, walking tours of the tropical rainforest cost just $3 to $5. When you’ve had your fill of the jungle, soak up some rays on any of San Juan’s white sandy beaches.

low-1031055_640

Seattle, Washington

Don’t feel like paying for an international flight? Then head to Seattle, which serves as a great jumping-off point to Olympic National Park. Spanning nearly a million acres, the park features unparalleled ecological diversity in the form of glacier-capped mountains, Pacific coastline, 3,500 miles of rivers and streams, and old-growth temperate rainforest. These ecosystems provide homes for over 70 species of mammals, 300 bird species, and 1,100 native plant species. The park is also distinguished as a World Heritage Site and an International Biosophere Reserve.