Published on May 16th, 2014 | by Anuschka Ross0
How to make the most of your summer holidays
The ALN editorial team give their insider travel tips show you how to get the best ‘bang for your buck’ on your summer holiday this year.
Renowned as one of the most expensive cities in the world Venice is not usually associated with ‘on a budget’. However, it is possible. With Ryanair flights from across the UK to Venice for as little as £45.99 return it can be cheaper than a trip back home by train, although without the free food and utilities when you get there.
Go for a hostel -It’s more sociable and you meet fellow budget travellers swapping tips on cheap and cheerful activities. Hostels will generally offer you a meal for an additional €2 per night, provided your happy with a pasta dish (you’re in Venice so why wouldn’t you be) and another €2 will get you some sort of all you can drink margaritas or sangria concoction to wash it down with.
Forfeit the gondola ride – At around €100 a go, the gondola ride will cost you more than your flight, and you can take the same trip around the canals in the water taxi – a seven day pass is €50. Unless you are proposing to your long-time love, the taxi has the same fresh air and views as the romantic gondola without the hefty price tag.
Keep your water bottles –As well as saving the environment you can refill your bottle at one of the various fountains across the city for free, saving you around €1 a time, it’s not much but when it’s hot it adds up quickly. Also you can use the little coins you’ve saved in one of the many quaint wine shops. In most wineries in Venice you can take your own bottle and have them filled up for around €2 for a litre – prices vary according to the quality, but you can substitute it for your sangria back at the hostel later, or enjoy it with a picnic on the go.
Benicassim festival is fast becoming one of the most popular in Europe, last year it was headlined by Arctic Monkeys, The Killers and Queens of the Stone Age so it drew in a whole new crowd.
Buy tickets from the Spanish site – It’s a Spanish festival, so they have a Spanish website, and the conversion rate still makes their tickets cheaper than the UK site, they’re around £200 or €149 each so it’s well worth doing. Also it’s less popular with Spanish residents so tickets don’t sell out as fast.
Don’t mosh with strangers – They’re not usually avid music fans getting caught up in a rendition of Teddy Picker but actually pick-pockets. They push you and pull you around the crowd under the ruse of musical excitement, whilst they surreptitiously relieve you of your valuables. You won’t notice until you’re out of the crowd and it’s too late.
Classic ‘Gap Yah’ territory and set of The Hangover II – Bangkok is one of the most popular travel destinations for students in the world. Depending on your budget there are thousands of penny saving put-ups all over the city.
A night in the Shangri-La Hotel is the same price as a night in a UK Travel Lodge – So if you fancy a night of luxury at the end of your summer of full moon frolics in Koh Tao, you can set aside some Bahts (about £100 worth) for a blow out in Bangkok without breaking the bank.
Eat local –Don’t be afraid of the street food, embrace it. Cast aside your fears of food poisoning, they are unfounded and the only thing likely to give you a dodgy stomach is the level of spice. Also, don’t underestimate a ‘medium’ curry. If you can’t manage a Vindaloo from the local Indian, then always go for ‘mild’ as anything more than that has an instant Botox effect on your lips. The street food costs pennies and is delicious – there’s no excuse for paying a fiver for sushi or Starbucks.
Take an empty suitcase – Or better still don’t take one at all. You can buy everything you need for your travels when you get there from the market. Most items can be bartered down to £3 – £4 each, so you can afford to throw them away or give them as gift to your travel hosts before leaving to avoid massive luggage charges, or Bridget Jones-style jail sentences for accidentally carrying things you shouldn’t in your holdall.
Porto is one of Portugal’s hidden gems, about as far north from Faro and the Praia do’s on the Mediterranean coast as you can go before you’re in Spain, and the city’s former trade hub is fast becoming a hive for European travellers.
Validate your metro ticket – Don’t just buy it, an invalid ticket will result in a €100 fine; they have designed the system to catch you out and they will be waiting. The saving grace of the fine system is that they send the information to your residence; a hostel, usually who are not in the habit of keeping the post of their overnight residents. So providing you are not staying more than a few days in your accommodation, you will be gone before the fine gets into your hands.
Bric-a-brac souvenirs are your friends – The riverside market is full of second hand items that make adorable souvenirs and travel gifts for your relatives. Call it ‘vintage’ and you know they will love it. It’s also the perfect viewpoint for the Ponte D. Luis; it’s the best place to get your new Porto Ponte profile picture.
Book your Port house tours through your hotel – Porto is famous for it’s namesake liquor, so it would be rude not to do a Port tasting tour. No student has escaped the taste of a cheeky Vimto cocktail, so give the main ingredient a try as it’s pretty delicious in it’s own right. Most of the tours cost around €10 but if you’re savvy and book through your hotel you can get in for free. Bargain.
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with crowded, noisy London, it might be time to try out the Baltics as a holiday destination. Riga, recently recognized by many as a “new hipster capital of Europe”, is cheap and weirdly exotic in an Eastern European way. Riga can seem a bit deserted, so you kind of have to know places to go to not to end up doing boring tourist stuff. Lucky for you the euro is the official currency since this winter, so you won’t have to deal with local money and painful exchange rates.
Hostels are your cheapest choice-There are lots of cozy ones for £7-10 per night. Try Seagulls Garret, Tiger and Cinnamon Sally Backpackers.
Hire a bike! Riga has recently become very bicycle friendly. You can rent a beautiful cruiser for about 15 a day at Riga Bicycle Rental in the old city center. For a real post-Soviet experience go outside of the city center and ride around the local neighbourhoods.
Visit Adrejsala(Andre’s Island) – a half-deserted place located near the harbor filled with local artists. There is always something going on and there is a cute café set up in an old bus.
Visit Janis Lipke Museum – A very special crowd funded place created to honour a Latvian man who hid Jewish people in his basement during the war. It has free admission and a lovely lady who will tell you the whole story of this amazing local figure.
Go to the seaside! Hop on a train and in 30 minutes you’ll see a beautiful little resort city called Jurmala.
Stroll along Miera iela – A street where you can find pretty much anything: from live-music restaurants to a plant exchange shop.
“Berlin ist arm aber sexy” (Berlin is poor but sexy) said Berlin’s mayor Klaus Wowereit a decade ago. Although the German capital can still be one of the best-value cities in Europe, too many nights (and days) of clubbing followed the obligatory Currywurst can quickly leave you scraping up your last Euros in the unisex toilet cubicles of Beghain so here are some cheap or free things to do in Berlin.
The East Side Gallery-Sits along the Spree River and is the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. More than 100 artists from all over the world turned it into an open-air gallery and a colourful memorial to freedom.
Take your bicycle to Templehof– A former airport turned parkland, and grab a six-pack and a disposable BBQ to grill your bratwursts by the runway. Another good picnic and people watching spot is Görlitzer Park in gritty Kreuzberg, if you don’t mind slight ghetto-vibes, or go to the Volkspark in Friedrichshain on Sundays and you might find yourself in the midst of a raging rave.
Top museums and attractions are free of charge– Including the Berlin Wall Memorial and the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien for contemporary art lovers.
Who doesn’t love markets? Street Food Thursdays from 5pm at Markethall IX in Kreuzberg is the place to be. Quite a few flea markets set up around town on weekends, check out Mauerpark on Sundays for whatever vintage finds you’re after.
The Reichstag is free to enter – To avoid the crowds go on Sundays or mid-week evenings. You can also get lost in the maze of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe site.
By no means an insider tip, Rome is definitely worth a visit. As a couple or a group of friends, you are guaranteed to have a good time – enjoy the food, drink and of course an obligatory gelato.
Avoid the hot months- If you are not completely immune to heat (around 40 degrees) be sure not to plan your visit to Rome during July and August, when even the Romans leave their hometown for the beach. However, if you’re tough enough to bear the flip-flop-melting temperatures, there are good deals to be made in summer and the city is much less crowded.
Sleep locally– Instead of staying in another boring hotel, enjoy some local flair and book an apartment using Airbnb. It might take a little longer to actually find a nice place to stay but it’s worth it. It’s cheaper and offers space to cook at home and experience a relaxing evening drinking wine on your own terrace with stunning city vistas.
As Switzerland’s financial capital, Zurich is often perceived as a picturesque, high-society ski resort – but that is only partly true. While Zurich really is picturesque, it is by no means only for the winter. It has a surprising underground scene that springs to life during summer.
Take a swim in the Limmat- Instead of swarming to the lake, like all other tourists, join the young locals and go for a swim in Zurich’s glass-clear river at the “Letten”. Here you can enjoy a drink and a delicious tuna burger, try your luck swimming up-stream, or just let yourself be carried along by the current.
Get a bike for free– In a city like Zurich very few things come for free. One of the rare exceptions is the ZüriRollt bikes and you should definitely take that opportunity! Just put 20CHF and your ID as a deposit and you’re free to use the bike all day – completely free of charge!
Keep it underground– If you want a truly amazing night out, be sure to stick to the areas around Langstrasse and Hardbrücke. Once known for prostitution and drug-abuse, these areas now house some of the world’s best underground electro clubs like Hive and Zukunft and guarantee you a night out that doesn’t end until you’re done. As long as there are still people who want to party, these clubs will not close.
If you are a French actor, a Russian billionaire or Nicolas Sarkozy himself you will probably fancy all the five star hotels in Porto Vecchio, south Corsica; the beaches are as beautiful as in the Maldives, and the wine is much better. If you’re not, you can still go to Corsica, but you might prefer the charming north side of the island.
Only 25 miles long, the Cap Corse is the northern peninsula of Corsica –Probably the wildest part of the island, besides the mountains. There are no neon nightclubs and big hotels, just a handful of tourists; driving along the craggy road from Bastia-the second largest city and will make you feel like you’re in a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.
Continuing along the road you will reach the unbearably charming fishing village of Erbalunga – Many say this is the most beautiful place on the island. There is a magnificent ancient Genovese tower for sightseeing and Le Pirate, a fantastic restaurant for eating; experience your meal with a bird’s-eye view of the Mediterranean. Erbalunga, is also the last inhabited village of the Cap peninsula, the rest is deserted, like Sisco, where you can hike out into the wilderness and drink a bottle of rosé with nothing but the breeze to disturb you.