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Barcelona has its Sagrada Familia. Sydney has its white-hooded Opera House. And other places? Well, they’ve got steps – lots and lots of them. As the examples illustrate below, epic staircases aren’t just a way to reach higher ground. They can be major attractions unto themselves. From the fabled Ha’iku Ladder in Hawaii, to Norway’s never-ending Flørli Steps, these jaw-dropping ascents aren’t for the faint of heart. But once you get to the top, we think you’ll agree the views more than make up for the effort. Read more
British Airways has just launched its discounted “daytripper fares” for travelers flying from London to a handful of European cities. The catch? (Or, perhaps the benefit?) You have to return to London in the same day. Round-trip tickets, including all taxes and fees, will cost £79 (about $130) to Dublin and Geneva, £89 (about $149) for Edinburgh and Rome and £99 (about $165) for Vienna and Munich. You can only travel with carry-on luggage from London’s Heathrow airport, and only on Saturdays or Sundays.
These fares are tailor-made for travelers who want to cram in a second destination with their London trip — a fairly common strategy, especially considering how easy it is to get to Paris, Scotland, or other parts of England by rail. Flying expands your options even more.
Of course, taking into account check-in, transfers, and flight time, this doesn’t leave you much time to enjoy that second destination. But if you really have the urge to pop across the Channel (or Irish Sea) for a few hours, here are some suggestions for quick, interesting itineraries you can accomplish in a day.
The great thing about traveling to Europe is that you can experience some of the world’s greatest art for an entirely reasonable price. With an abundance of free and low-cost museums, the world’s masterpieces are yours to savor. But which do you see first? Upon arrival in Europe’s capitals, most travelers head straight to the big, famous collections at the Louvre, the Prado, or the Rijksmuseum, just to name a few. But if you venture further afield, you can take a deeper dive into the world’s great artists and their work in single-artist museums. Here are some of our favorites, all of which can be visited for less than $20 USD.
There’s not long to go now, but if you are thinking about taking a last-minute getaway for the holidays, here are a few hotels offering deals and special activities. Read more
The pass costs $399 for a limited time and allows six days of first class train travel in the two countries over a period of one month. You can travel on both the French and Swiss rail networks, as well as the high-speed TGV Lyria train that connects the two. So, is it worth it?
As the principal hub of Swiss International, Zurich Airport is a place you may find yourself changing planes on an intercontinental flight sometime in the future. If you feel the urge to see more of this cultural European capital than just its (very nice) airport, you’re in luck: six trains leave from the railway terminal underneath the airport each hour and transport passengers to Zürich Hauptbahnhof (the city’s main train station); it only takes about 10–15 minutes. Once you’re in the center, most attractions are within a few minutes’ walking distance of each other. Read more
Eurostar recently tested service between London and Aix-en-Provence. Later this year, the TGV will begin running a direct service between Paris and Barcelona, and, starting in 2016, a new Deutsche Bahn route through the Channel Tunnel will link London to Amsterdam, Cologne, and Frankfurt. Ditching Europe’s budget airlines in favor of its railways is beginning to look more attractive. Not only is rail travel throughout Europe often as quick as, if not quicker than flying, it also has the bonus of spectacular scenery along the way.
Our favorite European rail journeys are not necessarily the fastest, but they are some of the most memorable.
The Bergen Line: Bergen to Oslo, Norway
Traveling along the 231-mile-long highest mainline railway line in Northern Europe offers you a front row seat for some of Norway’s most spectacular landscapes; think dramatic fjords, lush forests, and crystalline waterfalls. If you have the time, take the branch line that runs from Myrdal to Flåm, a village at the inner end of Aurlansfjord, an arm of Sognefjord, Norway’s biggest fjord. This 12-mile route takes around one hour and climbs more than 2,838 feet making it the steepest standard-gauge railway in Europe. Read more
Anthony Bourdain says that experiencing a country through its food is one of the best ways to get to its core. For us, it’s not only about how food tastes, but also where it comes from and how it’s made. We’ve picked a few of our favorite tours that will immerse you in the taste and culture of distinct regions around the world.
1. Villa Romana: Authentic Amalfi Coast, Italy, International Kitchen, (From $2100/person)
Italy’s Amalfi Coast is the stuff of dreams and travel bucket lists. Arrive in the scenic seaside town of Minori and jump into the laidback, food-obsessed culture with this tour. Stay six nights at the Hotel Villa Romana, named after the ancient ruins nearby, and participate in four cooking lessons. When you’re not in the kitchen, guides take you to visit a local fishmonger, watch mozzarella-making demonstrations, and see how limoncello is produced. Read more
If you’re the type to travel for golf (or just golf while you travel), check out our top ten list of the best golf resorts around the world. Get ready to tee off in some seriously amazing destinations.
1. PGA National Resort and Spa Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
It’s the stuff of legends. Home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, the PGA National Resort and Spa is steeped in golf history. Boasting signature courses like “The Palmer” and “The Squire” (designed and named after Arnold Palmer and Gene Sarazen, respectively), an on-site Golf Academy offering lessons from certified PGA pros, and a newly renovated golf complex, it’s easy to see why this resort is a favorite among golf buffs. Treat dad to the Gold Golf Package, which includes resort accommodation, daily breakfast at the Palm Terrace restaurant, one round of golf daily on selected courses, and unlimited balls and bag storage. Room rates start from $129 per room per night. 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.
The just-finished season of the ABC series The Bachelor, resulting in the on-again-off-again engagement of wine-maker Ben Flajnick and model Courtney Robertson, certainly had its share of controversy. But there’s no doubt about one particular aspect of the two-part finale: the incredible scenic beauty of Switzerland.
The country most associated with the majestic, snow-capped Alps hosted Ben and his final three Bachelorettes (Courtney, Lindzi, and Nicki) in two of its most famed mountain hamlets: Interlaken, which sits between two alpine lakes, and Zermatt, with its incomparable views of the Matterhorn. Here’s a look at the five-star hotels where they stayed and played (with a memorable rail journey in between) and at a special Bachelor-inspired package for travel to both destinations – plus a sweepstakes that you can enter to win a week-long stay.
Envelope, please. And the winner for “Best Zurich Hotel” goes to . . . The Dolder Grand. Perched on a hilltop with scene-stealing views Lake Zurich and the city below, this five-star grand dame, dating from 1899, reopened in 2008 after a major expansion by Sir Norman Foster married the historic main building with two curvaceous contemporary wings.
Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to stay in the hotel’s Spa Wing, home of SpaFinder’s “Best Spa in Switzerland” and the Masina Suite (pictured), where Rooney Mara filmed one of the final scenes for her Oscar-nominated role in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (click here for more locations from Oscar-nominated films). Inspired by Giulietta Masina, actress and wife of Federico Fellini, the 1,790-square-foot Masina Suite has two separate bedrooms, a sauna and steam shower, a billiard table, a Fendi sofa, and screens that play Fellini movies in a continuous loop (with the competing soundtracks turned off, thankfully). Read more
The Luxury: Set in the picturesque mountain town of Interlaken, Switzerland, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa – built in 1864 – features 212 rooms boasting views of the Alps and the Bernese Oberland. Tickle your taste buds at one of the three restaurants, highlighting French, Italian, and Asian cuisine, or relax in either of the two bars or the cigar bar. The main attraction is the nearly 60,000-square-foot spa, which includes an ESPA with 17 treatment rooms, the Sensai Select Spa specializing in Japanese treatments, a swimming pool, three whirlpools, a Turkish bath, and three saunas.
The Value: The hotel can’t actually slow time to give you longer vacation days, but with “Your 30-Hour Day” package you’ll receive six extra hours for your hotel stay each day. Check in at 5pm and stay for three nights, and you’ll get a fourth night free. Standard rates start at about $386 per person, per night, but drop to $289 per person, per night with the free night added in. Book for stays through December 23.
The Catch: Fall is technically off season in this part of Switzerland. Most ski resorts will open in late November.
The Details: 011-41-33-828-28-28; www.victoria-jungfrau.ch
For general trip-planning information, see our Switzerland Travel Guide.
Escape the cramped seats and “extra fees” of budget airlines and coast past the Swiss Alps in style on Rail Europe. For a limited time, receive a free round-trip ticket to Paris on the high-speed Lyria with the purchase of a Swiss Pass, which grants unlimited access on the Swiss Travel system (consisting of trains, buses, and boats). World-famous scenic routes like Glacier Express or William Tell Express Plus (voted one of our Top 10 Train Trips in Europe) are also part of this system. The Swiss Pass also includes free admission to over 400 museums, and up to 50 percent off on select mountaintop excursions. Four-day Swiss Passes start at $281 per adult. Book by October 12.
THE VALUE: Round-trip tickets from Zurich to Paris typically cost $150 or more.
THE CATCH: A limited number of tickets are available for this promotion.
THE DETAILS: Purchase the Swiss Pass at www.RailEurope.com. You’ll be asked if you’d like a free ticket to Paris. Say yes, and include your e-mail and phone number to receive the offer and a representative will contact you. Travel to Paris is valid through December 10.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find low rates on flights to Switzerland.
A little more than one year after its maiden voyage, the Solar Impulse has successfully crossed international borders, reports Reuters.
The exclusively solar-powered plane flew its first international route from Western Switzerland to Brussels on Friday, marking another milestone in the search for pollution-free air travel. The aircraft, which uses 12,000 solar panels to generate power, has taken off five times since its inaugural flight in April 2010, including one 26-hour journey in July.
The project, which began in 2003, is easily one of the most ambitious of its kind. This year, the team plans to release a plane capable of flying across the Atlantic; as early as 2013, a solar-powered machine could make a trip around the world.
Even so, don’t expect sunbeam-powered planes to taxi at your local airport anytime soon: Traveling at 44 miles per hour, the Solar Impluse’s flight from Western Switzerland to Brussels took more than half a day; a fossil fuel-fed jet speeds up to 440 miles per hour and soars from Geneva to Brussels in less than one hour.
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