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Sydney

Flickr Steve Montgomery National Gallery London 2

As tourism destinations, many major cities across the globe — New York and Paris, Stockholm and Sydney — are certainly monumental or historical or beautiful or all of the above. What they often aren’t, however, is cheap. The good news is that if you’ve got your mind set on visiting any of these metropolises, you can often find free activities to enjoy when you’re there. We’ve built a list of museums, cultural events, and even transportation that won’t cost you a thing in 10 notoriously pricey locales.

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iStock/SydneyYou may have dreams of visiting Sydney, the Australian city that’s home to the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but if you’ve done even a little bit of research, you know that this is one of the most expensive places to visit in the world for U.S. travelers. Factor in flights (think $1500-$2500) and the costs can be prohibitively high. But you can keep to a budget if you know where to go, and where to cut costs. For example, don’t be afraid to splurge on once-in-a-lifetime experiences like the Bridge Climb, but save on eating out and other activities. Here are some more suggestions…

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hong kong light show

If you thought that light shows were reserved for children at theme parks or at techno shows for young adults, think again. Each year, each day, cities around the world ignite their skies with colorful arrangements of phosphorescent lights. From decorative cranes at an old Croatian navy yard to entire harborscapes like those in Hong Kong and Singapore, there’s a delightful journey in some of the world’s finest light shows. See our favorites here.

LadoniaNimisWhether established as a joke, to make a political point, or purely by accident, these 10 micronations across the world show that, if you don’t like your own country, you can just go ahead and start your own. Of course, like all of the ones we’ve listed, yours might never be recognized as a real nation, but you may not mind.

Visit our slideshow to learn about the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, The Empire of Atlantium, a dictatorial banana-republic in Nevada, and more.

Cruise Ship in Sydney HarborWelcome to wave season! At the very end and beginning of every year, cruise lines roll out promotions for sailings through the next year – sometimes even two – in hopes of booking passengers early. The deals can take the form of steep discounts over 50 percent, 2-for-1 fares, onboard credits, free airfare, and other special packages. For you, this means that there’s no better time to go big – or at least dream about it. Here, we offer eight unbelievable cruises for the ultimate nautical adventure… Read more

Flickr/rjshadeAs the count down to the New Year approaches, so does the party-planning pressure. Most major cities throw vast, crowded spectacles for the occasion, but if you’re not so keen on ringing in the New Year elbow-to-elbow with thousands of strangers, consider planning something a little offbeat this year… Read more

Accor Hotels Super SaleThis summer, take the international vacation you’ve always dreamed of with Accor Hotels’ Super Sale. Enjoy a romantic vacation to Paris, explore the sights of Hong Kong, soak up the arts and culture of Sydney, and many more international destinations. With this sale, you’ll save up to 50 percent on seasonal rates at the same hotels. Valid for stays from July 6 through September 1, select properties include: Read more

Sydneysiders are spoiled when it comes to leisure options. When they tire of the beach, culture, and nightlife that brims within their city limits, a world-class mountain escape is nearby. The breathtaking Blue Mountains – harboring a series of national parks and conservation areas that have earned a UNESCO World Heritage designation – are set within easy striking distance of Sydney. They’re close enough to taste in a scratch-the-surface day trip, but are best enjoyed over a couple of active days. Just back from my own budget-friendly Blue Mountains escape, here are some tips for this sensational Sydney trip. Read more

Sojourn in sun-kissed Sydney for its stunning yacht-pocked harbor, surfer-magnet and cliff-fringed beaches, hip eateries and buzzing nightspots, and iconic bucket-list landmarks like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. But be prepared: For budget-conscious visitors, Sydney’s lures don’t come cheap. Freshly back from a week on the ground there, I’ve scooped some well-worth-your-dollar picks for great value and smart splurge hotels, tours, and perches primed for taking it all in. Read more

Hawaii beach palm tree Perhaps the worst thing about a trip to the beach is sharing that trip with hundreds (if not thousands) of other people. A day at the beach should be a serene, relaxing experience. Hearing other people’s radios and conversations, dodging their frisbees, and avoiding the sand that they kick up turns a pleasant day by the shore into a nightmare. That’s why it’s best to avoid the popular, mainstream, famous beaches for lesser-known plots of sand that provide more privacy with just as much sun and fun. Finding those underrated beach destinations isn’t always easy. If you’re visiting a new city, you might only know the popular beach spots listed in guidebooks or made famous on television.

That’s why we want your help. ShermansTravel readers are spread out across the world and have traveled the globe. We want to know your favorite underrated, unknown, and better beaches. Where should we go in Sydney if we want to avoid the hordes at Bondi? Where can we go in Miami to relax on a blanket rather than be part of the scene on South Beach? What’s a peaceful alternative in Los Angeles to the wacky world that is Venice Beach?

Tell us about your favorite lesser-known but totally awesome beaches in the comments below. Share them on Twitter with the hashtag #betterbeaches (and include @ShermansTravel in your tweets). Post them on our Facebook page. No matter where they are in the world, we want to know! We’ll compile the best suggestions and include them in a future blog post.

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights, hotels, vacation packages, and more.

Sydney Gay Lesbian Mardi Gras StreamNot one of the 20,000 international travelers that are flying in for Oz’s greatest, gayest event of the year, Sydney Mardi Gras (née Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)? Well, dry those eyes with your yet-to-be-used boa: You can still shake your booty with the best of ‘em and join in the fun of Australia’s most iconic public parade as Optus streams it to a worldwide audience for the first-time ever at MardisGrasTV.org.au — in high-def so you can be sure to catch every shimmering sequin.

Always a hoot, the festivities are shaping up for a banner year, expecting to top the $30 million it pumped into the local New South Wales economy last year. One reason: pop star Kylie Minogue, who returns after 25 years to be queen of the parade, in addition to a sure-to-be-show-stopping performance at the signature main event Mardigrasland. (See below for a video from the diminuative diva.)

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Australia

Travel round-trip to Sydney for only $1599 with its world-famous Opera House and Harbor Bridge, Ayers Rock (Uluru) in the heart of Australian Outback , and Cairns (gateway to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef) with the option to also stop in Brisbane and perhaps visit Australian Zoo. The Aussie Icons Airpass offers a fantastic mixture of city, outback and coastal experiences in some of the most stunning parts of Australia. With this deal you are flying to four different Australian cities for the price of one!

THE VALUE: Save up to 40% on this flight compared to other flights during this travel period.

THE CATCH:
This deal must be booked by October 31 and travel must be from May 1-June 8, 2012.

THE DETAILS: Visit Travelscene to learn more about the Airpass or call Travelscene 866-538-7280.

WE’VE GOT MORE: See our Australia Travel Guide to figure out what to do when you get there.

Qantas: The Australian airline debuted in the Dallas/Fort Worth market on May 16 with flights to Sydney (includes stopover in Brisbane); return flights are nonstop (one-way fares from $499, based on round-trip purchase; www.qantas.com).

Lufthansa: The German airline will launch Airbus A380 service between Miami and Frankfurt on June 10, marking the first opportunity for Miami-area travelers to experience the world’s largest passenger plane (one-way fares from $614; www.lufthansa.com).

JetBlue: Starting on June 17, JetBlue (www.jetblue.com) will expand service from Boston to the Dominican Republic with the launch of that market’s only nonstop route to Santiago (one-way fares from $114).

Porter Airlines: Toronto-based budget carrier Porter Airlines (www.flyporter.com) kicks off its first fall service to Myrtle Beach (following two successful winter/spring seasons) on September 8, offering the only nonstop service between the beach resort and Canada (one-way fares from $179).

From the spring/summer issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine by ShermansTravel.com.

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.

Sydney Opera HouseYesterday (January 18), Oprah Winfrey began airing her four-part taped telecast from Australia, where in December she took 300 lucky audience members (some of whom had never even flown before) on the trip of a lifetime. Their visit included celebrity-studded tapings at the Sydney Opera House (shown above at left; courtesy of Tourism New South Wales) and visits to Australia’s top tourist destinations. While the Land Down Under may be best known for its rugged Outback and Great Barrier Reef adventures, not to mention its only-in-Oz wildlife like kangaroos and koalas, I have visited the country twice and can vouch that it is also dreamily romantic.

Yes, Australia is far away (a 14-hour flight from Los Angeles), but it’s summer there now and all the Oprah hoopla means there are some good deals to be had. Here’s the scoop:

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A winding commute across the North-Pacific, Sydney, Australia, is a hotbed of trendsetting gastronomy, fashion, and eco-tourism, and a must-see city for travel enthusiasts of all walks of life. Follow your wanderlust with this eight-day Sydney vacation from Gate 1 Travel, clocking in at just $1,259 per person, including round-trip airfare (a steady $992 when booked separately in April and May). This Aussie steal includes a five-night stay at the 3-star Ibis World Square hotel (proximal to Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay), daily breakfast, and airline fuel surcharges.

THE VALUE: The advertised rate offers departures during Australia’s peak travel times and most comfortable climates in April, May, and June.

THE CATCH: You’ll have to spend at least 26 hours in air transit to visit this far-flung continent.

THE BOOKING: Visit Gate 1 Travel to book.

WE’VE GOT MORE: For trip-planning tips and information, visit our Sydney Travel Guide.

Check out our Adventure Travel blog for more exotic getaways.

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