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Iran doesn’t have the best reputation for welcoming foreign tourists, yet signs point to that changing – slowly. From 2004 to 2010 tourism to the country grew by 12.7 percent, and while most of these visits were for reasons of religious pilgrimage, a good number made the trip to see Iran’s ancient sites, to hike and ski in the Alborz mountains, and to paraglide (like these unlucky Slovak tourists who have just been released after charges of spying).
The case of the Slovak paragliders suggests that Iran still has a way to go if it wants to shake off foreign travelers’ negative perceptions of its touristic potential, but a brand new private train service may help. Read more
We were just as surprised as you are when we heard that a recent poll by YouGov found that according to public opinion, Britain is the best European shopping destination, beating both Italy and France by more than 10 percent. We were initially puzzled that any place could provide retail therapy like the Champs-Élysées in Paris, but we’ve dug a bit deeper and discovered what Britain really has to offer. From elegant and posh designers to a wide selection of vintage and antique finds, these five British cities boast some of the best shops and markets in Europe. No matter what your taste, there’s bound to be a place that’ll make you want to take out a few more British pounds. Read more
Upon arrival at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, you may be tempted to while away your four-hour layover at the airport. It is, after all, the Best Airport in Northern Europe and offers amenities ranging from free Wi-Fi to a book swap, art and design galleries, and a spa. With the city so close, though, it’d be a shame not to get out for a few hours. Here are a few ideas for what to do on a four-hour layover in Helsinki. Read more
Iceland has long been a typical stopover for passengers making the trip between North America and Europe, and Icelandair has now capitalized on Reykjavík’s perfect mid-North Atlantic location by offering passengers on flights from the U.S.A. or Canada free stopovers of up to seven days. If, however, you are on a tight schedule and find yourself with just a few hours’ layover in Iceland’s capital, you still have time to get out of the airport and soak up some of the country’s highlights. Read more
You’ve strolled Paris’s cobblestone streets; soaked up the sun (and imbibed your fair share of rosé) in Provence, but France – the world’s most visited destination, welcoming more than 79.5 million international travelers in 2011 – isn’t limited to just these popular destinations. As a resident of Paris, I’ve been lucky to explore hidden corners of the hexagon. I’ve found an incredible diversity of landscapes, culture, and even cuisine. Here are four of my favorite off-the-path places.
Cap d’Ail: Cannes and Saint Tropez get most of the action on the Côte d’Azur with sun-worshipers crowding the beaches during the day, and trading couture swimsuits for designer threads to hit the nightclubs by night. But if you travel east along the French Riviera, you’ll find a series of villages that have retained an air of authenticity because they’re not on the main highway heading to Italy. Abutting Monaco, Cap d’Ail is one of these treasures. It’s still glam (there’s a Philippe Starck-designed restaurant on the water) – but it’s not overrun. Read more
Travel disruptions are, sadly, a fact of life. Veteran travelers will confess that the only certainty in getting from one point to another is that nothing is certain – even the best laid plans can fall apart in an instant. Weather and mechanical failures happen regularly, but strikes tend to be the most disruptive of all. A workforce strike can cripple an airline, an airport, and connections far and wide. With French air traffic control employees planning to strike over the next few days, we wanted to offer up suggestions on how to best deal with such a thing, should it impact you.
Just a few months ago, Iberia (the flag carrier of Spain) decided to strike, causing massive headaches at airports across Europe. Bags were lost, connections were missed, and consumers far and wide were unsure of whether to rebook for a later date or simply take their travel dollars to another airline. Now, an air traffic control dispute in France has airlines across the globe scrambling. Historically, a great deal of strikes have originated in Europe. Read more
Don’t let the Carnival Cruise Line’s recent newsworthy items deter you from hitting the high seas. There are millions of cruises that sail each year without making the news. They have great customer service, activities for families, couples, and seniors, onboard entertainment, and unique ports around the world. Today we’ve rounded up the best of the best, from exotic international cruises to the always-popular beach destinations. Read more
Rather than trying to escape the chilly weather this season, why not embrace it? Even in high season, many ski resorts offer lodging deals now, especially for travel on weekdays or toward the end of the season (late March and early April). Winter is also the cheapest time to travel to many cooler-weather metropolitan cities, both in the U.S. and abroad, so, if you can brave the lower temperatures, you’ll also enjoy reduced airfare and hotel rates.
Ski on fresh powder out West at major Colorado ski resorts like Breckenridge and Keystone, where individual condos through ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals start from just $119 per night. Most of Fairmont Hotels‘ 4-star properties throughout Canada offer rooms for 20 percent off this season, including the Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, which sits at the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Not only can you ski at the nearby Marmot Basin, you can also enjoy ice skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. Read more
There are many wonderful things about Europe (e.g., the history, the architecture, the casual acceptance of Nutella as an all-purpose condiment), but one of its greatest attributes is the size of its countries. Unlike the Americas or Africa, Europe’s countries allow for quick and easy boundary crossings over the course of a relatively short trip. Rather than seeing one place on a vacation, you can enjoy a Guinness in Ireland, tapas in Madrid, and boiled foods in London (we kid because we love). Planning your country hopping trip doesn’t have to be full of headaches. First things first, of course, you need to get from place to place. Depending on your planning personality, you have two options when it comes to flying: scheduling a stopover or booking regional flights. There are benefits and downsides to both. Read more
Peruse any third party discount booking site for hotel rooms in Europe this fall, and you’ll see the bruised and battered remains of a perfect storm. Due to a one-two-three economic and seasonal punch, hotel prices in many European cities have dropped significantly over the same period last year. It’s really too bad for Europe, but for those looking to squeeze one last trip in this year, this slowdown is a giant incentive.
Discount booking site Hotwire.com recently released a report detailing some steep dips in hotel prices on its site for September through November. Hotels in 20 cities have dropped in price anywhere from seven to 37% over the same period last year. That translates to an average Hotwire rate of $77 per night in Prague (down 37%); $61 per night in Budapest (30% drop); and $108 per night in Milan (13% drop). According to Hotwire, drops in cities like Berlin, Paris and Rome are their biggest since the company started doing major business in Europe five years ago. Read more
Get an early start on your winter vacation plans with airberlin‘s rock-bottom rates on flights to Europe. Ski in the Alps or spend the holidays in Berlin with round-trip airfare to Austria, Switzerland, and Germany for as low as $627 from the U.S.
Sample round-trip fares from New York City include:
- Dusseldorf: $597
- Berlin: $627
- Zurich: $636
- Hamburg: $679
- Dresden: $679
- Vienna: $721
- Munich: $727
- Salzburg: $782
Low fares are also available to the same cities from Miami (from $687), Fort Meyers (from $712), and Los Angeles (from $796).
Travel is valid on select dates from November 1, 2012 through February 28, 2013, though we found the lowest rates from mid-January through late February. Visit airberlin.com and enter your cities and dates using the booking engine on the left-hand side. This sale ends August 31, so lock in your flights while these low rates last.
For more trip-planning information, see our Europe destination guide.
Immerse yourself in Roman luxury this fall for $155 to $210 per night. This offer from the Artemide Hotel – ranked by TripAdvsiror.com readers as one of the top 10 best hotels (out of 1,279) in Rome – reduces current rates by 40%, a savings of $190 per night.
Stay at this rate on select dates in November and December in a Double Room with a double bed, a flat-screen satellite TV, a mini-bar stocked with complimentary beverages and refreshments, and soundproofed walls.
The hotel’s central location in the lively Via Nazionale neighborhood makes it an ideal launching pad for visiting the many famous sites that Rome has to offer. The iconic Colosseum, the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum, the Termini Train Station, and many other popular attractions are within a ten minute walk from the hotel lobby.
While the hotel’s facade blends right in to the nearby historic architecture, inside you’ll find a slew of modern amenities that many hotels in Italy lack. Enjoy complimentary access to a fitness center and sauna, an onsite coffee bar and restaurant, and a spacious roof terrace bar with sweeping views of the nearby Vatican. The hotel staff will also provide you with welcome beverages upon arrival.
To book this offer, visit the Artemide Hotel’s website for online reservations and inquiries.
I was confident that we had closed the book on Europe’s need to work more and vacation less in “An Open Letter to Europe.” The only strong point that I missed (and that blogger Christine Cantera pointed out in the comments) is the need for our friends on the other side of the Atlantic to also cool it with the three-hour lunches so that some business can be conducted while the sun is still shining. I was ready to move on to more pressing travel matters, like the threat of Ryanair flights touching down on U.S. soil and why Egyptair kept serving me three rolls with every meal on a recent trip. Now, however, comes news that a court has ruled that Europeans who get sick on vacation are entitled to go on another holiday…that their employer must allow them to take. Europe, you’re killing me.
Author’s Note: In light of the recent financial crisis in Europe, it seems like the appropriate time to air some grievances regarding traditional practices in the region and how they affect tourism. By no means am I an economist, but I do have a checking account and a fair amount of common cents sense.
Hola. Bonjour. Γεια σας. While I hope that this note finds you well, I know that things have been a little rough on your side of the pond lately. With unemployment in Spain close to 25 percent, at least I know nearly six million people will have time to read this letter. Sorry, that was harsh. I’m not writing this to antagonize you or make light of your economic collapse. On the contrary, I’m here to help. Europe has long relied on tourism to fill its coffers, and summer is prime time for Americans to flock to your ruins, relics, and monuments (your stuff sure is old).
You need Americans to visit you. We need a strong Europe to bolster the global economy. So, how can we get things straightened out over there and encourage Americans to head your way? Here, in no particular order, are a few simple suggestions that you can have for free (which, I imagine, is a pretty good price for you these days). Read more
Don’t tell my scale. A little over two weeks ago, I was enthusiastically taste testing my way through the 10 restaurants onboard Oceania Riviera (one of our Top 10 Cruises in 2012), the brand new 1,250-passenger upper premium ship that was christened in Barcelona, a foodie-friendly city if ever there was one! Also a perfect match: the ship’s fit and elegant godmother, Iron Chef Cat Cora (shown at left), who took time from promoting her new Bravo series Around the World in 80 Plates to help break a bottle of bubbly against Riviera’s sparkling white hull just before we set sail for molto magnifico Venice. As I sipped and savored my way around the ship, sampling everything from foie gras with artichoke puree to lobster pad Thai – not to mention whipping up my own flaky scones and fluffy zucchini-and-mint frittata in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center – I began to question whether I love cruising more for the alluring and ever changing ports of call or for the indulgent, food-centric focus of many new ships. Read on to find out whether culture or cuisine won out.
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