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No trip to the renowned musical city of Nashville is complete without a visit to the crown jewel of country music venues, the Grand Ole Opry. Being one of the top tourist attractions in Nashville, the Opry hosts hundreds of thousands of patrons every year, meaning that no matter what show you attend, you can expect a full, energy-filled, house.

While Nashville may be the country music capital, the stage at the Grand Ole Opry has seen acts ranging from country to pop to americana, gospel, and even comedy. So, whatever your taste, a visit to the “home of American music” is a must.

Visiting Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry: Things To Know Before You Go About The Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is a 4400 seat venue and broadcasting studio that is known for its spectacular history as well as its current musical offerings.

The history of the Grand Ole Opry dates back to 1925 when fiddle player Uncle Jimmy Thompson was announced as the first performer on a new radio show called WSM Barn Dance. A few years later, the phrase “Grand Ole Opry” was uttered on that show, and the name stuck. Ninety years on, the show is the longest running radio broadcast ever, and has hosted countless talented performers.

Since its beginnings, the Grand Ole Opry has seen a couple changes in location to accommodate its growing live audiences, most notably its move to the Ryman Auditorium in 1934, and later to its current home at Grand Ole Opry House as of 1974.

How To Visit The Grand Ole Opry

Experience a Live Show

Experience what The Grand Ole Opry House does best and purchase tickets to a live show. An array of talented musicians and other performers are always scheduled to play here, so whether you head to the Opry for your favorite act or purchase tickets on a whim, you can guarantee you’ll have a great experience.

Plus, with ticket prices varying widely, there is a seat here for every budget.

Take a Tour

In our opinion, no trip to the Grand Ole Opry is complete without a tour through its story-rich halls. The Opry provides passionate, knowledgeable guides who will tell you stories about country music greats and walk you through the history of the building.

The Grand Ole Opry provides many different tour packages depending on your schedule and interests, including daytime tours, post-show tours, and even an Acuff House Tour, which will take you through the house of country legend Roy Acuff.

Book a VIP Visit

Have you ever dreamed about watching a concert at the Opry from backstage? Well this is your chance! A “Behind The Opry Curtain VIP Tour” will take you behind the scenes and show you the inner workings of a show. You’ll even be able to be onstage when the big red curtain goes up and the show begins.

Read more: Packing Light: How To Pack For Carry-On Only

When To Book

When it comes to a venue as popular as the Grand Ole Opry House, booking your tour or purchasing your tickets in advance is a good idea. Regardless of the day of week, concerts and tours have been known to sell out at the Opry, so if taking a tour or seeing a show here is an unshakable item from your Nashville bucket list, or you don’t want to risk standing room-only tickets, then book as far in advance as you can.

To purchase tickets or book a tour, visit the Opry’s website, visit their box office, or give them a call.

How To Get There

The Grand Ole Opry is located roughly 13 miles from downtown Nashville, and while we personally recommend using Lyft if you want a personal ride to the venue, it should be noted that many hotels in the area, as well as the airport (to Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center), provide shuttle service.

Additionally, the public bus will drop you off at the venue from downtown, and the trip takes a little over an hour each way.

This post and our trip to Nashville was sponsored by Grand Ole Opry. As always, all opinions are 100% our own.

The post Visiting Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry: Things To Know Before You Go appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Deciding where to spend a weekend on a continent as vast and varied as Europe can be a difficult task. Are you interested in strolling around cobblestone streets with a gelato in hand, are you set on seeing all the museums, or are you simply ready to bask in the sun?

Thankfully, there is something in Europe for everyone and, for inspiration, we’ve compiled our favorite European weekend getaway cities; each equipped with an international airport!

15 Best Weekend Getaways in Europe Paris, France

While Paris may seem like an enormous city with endless sites and opportunities, it is indeed possible to experience its grandeur in a weekend. In order to hit all the sites important to you, our recommendation is to come prepared and route out your stops. Want to see Moulin Rouge, Champs Elysées, the Eiffel Tower, Musée D’Orsay, and Shakespeare and Company? Map it out! The metro is your friend.

Where to Stay in Paris

For a great Parisian mid-range option, check out Hotel du Nord et de l’Est. If you’re looking for more upscale digs, consider Fraser Suites Le Claridge Champs-Elysées.

Dublin, Ireland

While Dublin is Ireland’s capital city as well as its largest, given the walkability of the downtown and the easy-to-use transit system, hitting all the major sites in Dublin is absolutely achievable in a weekend. For the ultimate Dublin experience, check out the Guinness Storehouse, a traditional Irish music pub of your choice, Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and take a tour through Kilmainham Gaol.

Where to Stay in Dublin

For a great mid-range option, try out Blooms Hotel. For a more luxury experience, consider Dublin Skylon Hotel.

Read more: 5 Must-Do European Road Trips

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sitting on the shores of sunny Southern Croatia, Dubrovnik is a city known for its incomparable beauty. To capture the essence of it in a weekend, make sure you walk the city walls, take the cable car up Mount Srd, shop for some lavender, and eat tons of the local grub.

Where to Stay in Dubrovnik

For accommodations in Dubrovnik, we recommend either Scalini Palace or Sun Gardens Dubrovnik.

Venice, Italy

Constructed on more than 100 islands in northern Italy, Venice is a dream destination for casual tourists and honeymooners alike. During your weekend in Venice, be sure to spend time in St. Mark’s Square, people watch in Piazza San Marco, wander along the canals, and be sure to treat yourself to a Gondola ride.

Where to Stay in Venice

For a great mid-range option in Venice, consider Hotel Montecarlo, for something more luxurious, look into Hotel Danieli.

London, UK

Given London’s vast size and number of sites, in order to not burn yourself out we recommend choosing a neighborhood in London (or two) to focus on during your weekend trip. Whether your style is more Soho, Kensington, Greenwich, Camden, Shoreditch, Westminster, or any of dozens of others, pick out your must-sees and take in London at your own pace.

Where to Stay in London

For great accommodations in London, consider either Canary Riverside Plaza Hotel or Central Park Hotel

Brussels, Belgium

A city as regal as it is quirky, Brussels is the perfect weekend trip for those looking for a well-rounded experience. Spend your time eating a chocolate waffle while expressing confusion at Mannekin Pis, take a stroll around the Mini-Europe Park, discover the beauty of Grand Place, go on a beer tour, and learn the history of the Smurf’s.

Where to Stay in Brussels

For a great mid-range option, check out Hotel Saint Nicolas. For something more luxurious, consider Warwick Brussels.

Read more: Must-Visit Beer Pubs in Brussels

Cinque Terre, Italy

The villages that make up Cinque Terre are as picturesque as they come, and visiting this region makes an excellent weekend trip. However, while it is possible to fit all the villages into a weekend, if you are keen for a slower pace, pick your top two or three, and plan from there. Hiking, kayaking, noodle eating, and photography are all great Cinque Terre activities to enjoy.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

For great mid-range options in Cinque Terre, try out Hotel Villa Argentina in Riomaggiore or Affittacamere San Giorgio in Manarola.

Read more: Where to Stay in Cinque Terre (And Which Town is Best for You)

Bergen, Norway

If you’re looking for both urban and natural beauty for your weekend getaway, then Bergen is the way to go. In Bergen, enjoy the fresh seafood from the Old Market Square, visit the Bergenhus Fortress, discover Bergen’s history by visiting a museum, and get out in nature and kayak through the fjords.

Where to Stay in Bergen

For great mid-range options in Bergen, check out P-Hotels Bergen, or Magic Hotel Korskirken.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is an awesome city for a weekend getaway in that it’s extremely walkable and has tons of great sites. Check out Prague Castle, stroll across Charles Bridge, wander the Old Town, and, if you’re feeling adventurous, have a drink at an Absintherie.

Where to Stay in Prague

For a five-star option in Prague, check out Grandior Hotel Prague, or for something more modest, try Andante Hotel.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is a cool blend of artsy, sleek, historical, and contemporary all rolled into one brilliant package. What you plan to do in Berlin totally depends on your interests, as there is truly an activity here for all styles. For a historical weekend, check out either the Jewish Museum or New Museum, for an artsy weekend, visit the districts of Kreuzberg or Neukolln, or, if you like your experience more refined, head to Mitte.

Where to Stay in Berlin

For great central options in Berlin, check out Hotel Augusta Am Kurfürstendamm or H4 Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam is easily one of the most pedestrian and bike friendly cities in all of Europe, not to mention picturesque. When planning your stay in Amsterdam, opt to take in one of the many museums (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh, and Resistance museums are all great choices), visit the Anne Frank House, wander around the artsy district of Jordaan, take a canal cruise, and take a tour around the Old Town.

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

For great accommodation options in Amsterdam, check out mid-range Urban Lodge Hotel or luxury NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky.

Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg, Sweden’s largest port city, truly has it all; it’s home to some of Sweden’s most iconic art and design, Volvo’s manufacturing, and a great foodie scene. If you find yourself with a hankering for nature while in Gothenburg, head out to the Archipelago of Gothenburg, where you’ll find scenic, car-free islands waiting to be expored.

Where to Stay in Gothenburg

For great central accommodations in Gothenburg, try out Gothia Towers Hotel or STF Göteborg City Hotel.

Read more: How to Travel Expensive Countries Affordably

Edinburgh, Scotland

The gorgeous, elegant capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is an epicentre of history and culture. In Edinburgh, do some shopping on Princes Street, wander around the Old Town, hike up to Edinburgh Castle, and visit Holyrood Palace.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh

For a great budget place in Edinburgh, check out Haymarket Hub Hotel. For something more upscale, try The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Not only is the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik home to the iconic Blue Lagoon, it also boasts a fabulous arts scene, lots of historical attractions, wild nightlife, and drool-worthy cuisine. During your weekend in Reykjavik, plan on taking a food tour, hit up one of the renowned jazz café’s, sign up for a whale watching or puffin tour, and for awesome views, stop in at the Hallgrimskirkja Church.

Where to Stay in Reykjavik

For great central accommodations in Reykjavik, try out either Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura or Fosshotel Baron.

Istanbul, Turkey

A city straddling both Europe and Asia, Istanbul is both a major cultural and commercial hub. Over your weekend, make sure to visit the Blue Mosque (there are some excellent views from the top), do some shopping at Grand Bazaar, visit the Hagia Sophia Museum, visit a Turkish Bath, and don’t forget to try the coffee!

Where to Stay in Istanbul

For a great five-star option in Istanbul, check out Lazzoni Hotel. For something a little more budget-friendly, try Niconya Port Suite & Hotel.

The post 15 Best Weekend Getaways in Europe appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Nestled in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region at the foot of the Swiss Alps, Lake Como is known for its dramatic scenery, Renaissance architecture, and relaxing villas. While formerly synonymous as being an escape for the rich and famous, Lake Como has become a favorite for all types of travelers seeking sunshine, beautiful lakeside villages, and incredible views.

Lake Como, Italy Travel Guide + Packing Tips The Best Time to Visit Lake Como

Tourist high season in Lake Como falls over July and August, when the weather reaches 30 degrees celsius regularly. To still take advantage of sunshine-filled days but with fewer crowds, consider traveling there in the spring (April to May) or the fall (September to October).

How to Get to Lake Como

Just an hour from Milan, Lake Como is excellent as both a day trip and as a destination of its own. While the region is easily accessible by car, depending on the time of year (the summer months being the high season), the roads can get rather congested and parking can be limited.

Alternatively, consider taking the train to Lake Como. A train ride from Milan to Lake Como is roughly two and a half hours and prices are extremely affordable.

Climate

The climate in Lake Como is fairly pleasant year-round with temperatures rarely dropping below 0˚Celsius (32˚F). In the summer months, average daily temperatures range from 20-25 (68-77˚F) degrees, while in the winter months the average temperature usually hovers around 5 degrees (41˚F). Springtime in Lake Como is also fairly balmy, but the odd heavy downpour is to be expected.

Read more: 10 Places You Can’t Miss in Italy

Where to Stay in Lake Como

Varenna

For those of you looking for a good mid-range option in Varenna, consider the Hotel Montecodeno. This property is an easy three-minute walk from Lake Como, is just steps to the ferry dock, and offers a bike rental.

For a more upscale Varenna stay, consider the Hotel Royal Victoria. This hotel offers panoramic views of Varenna and features lush gardens, two restaurants, and a swimming pool.

Como

For a mid-range option in Como, check out Hotel Borgovico. Just 400m from the train station and a 15-minute walk from the historic center, this hotel provides modern interiors and a breakfast buffet.

For something a little classier in Como, consider Hotel Como. This property features a rooftop garden, swimming pool, bar, and is just 1 km from the city center.

Tremezzo

For those of you looking to stay in elegant Tremezzo, consider the Hotel Bazzoni. This property is in the town center and features gorgeous views of Lake Como as well as an outdoor pool.

The Best Way to Explore Lake Como

The easiest way to explore the different towns in Lake Como is to take advantage of the frequent ferries that service the area. Daily ferry schedules and tickets can be found at each of the terminals.

The towns in Lake Como are easily walkable, or consider renting a bike from one of the many hotels in the area offering the service.

Read more: Women’s Packing Guide For Italy

Top Things to Do in Lake Como

Explore From the Water

Ferry trips excluded, one of the best ways to truly experience Lake Como is to get out on the water. There are many options for activities and equipment hire, including kayaking, canoeing, motor boating, parasailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.

Visit the Enoteca Principessa Winery

Located in Bellagio right where the lake divides into its two Y-like branches, this winery will educate and guide you through the history of wine in the area. Enoteca Principessa is a must-see for any wine connoisseur making their way through Lombardy.

Hike Monte Crocione

If you’re a nature lover, consider making the 7-8 hour hike to the top of Monte Crocione out of Tremezzo. The hike offers amazing views of the alps, and it features a large historical cross at the peak.

Visit Forte Di Fuentes

For the history buffs out there, the Forte Di Fuentes ruins date back to the time the area was under Spanish control. Located in the Northern part of Lake Como by Colico, the 17th century fortress was once a military base used by the Spanish governor of Milan.

Take a Cooking Class

Is there a better way to experience the best of Italian cuisine than to learn how to make it? Dive right into Italian and regional traditions and culture, and indulge your taste buds all at the same time. Top-rated cooking classes are offered in Bellagio, Como, and Mandello del Lario.

Read more: 5 Towns to Visit on Lake Como

Lake Como Packing Essentials

Stylish Clothing: It’s no secret that Italians are very stylish people. Be sure to pack classy, yet breezy blouses, and plenty of sundresses. Jury’s out on whether or not shorts are an Italian fashion faux pas, but if you’re unsure then simply opt for maxi skirts.

Also, Italian women are heel wearers, so bring along a pair of comfortable block heels or wedges. If you prefer flatter shoes for exploring, a pair of flats or comfortable sandals will do the trick.

Accessories: Classic Italian accessories include pashminas (especially helpful as a cover-up inside churches), oversized hats, cross-body bags, and elegant jewelry.

Bug Repellent & Sun Gear: Protect yourself from the elements and pack along bug spray, sunscreen, and a pair of sunglasses. For a deet-free bug spray alternative, try out avon skin so soft.

Swim Gear: Whether you get out on the lake or spend time in your hotel’s swimming pool, always remember to pack a swimsuit!

Plan Your Trip to Lake Como

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights:

  • Skyscanner is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar (or “map”) feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel!

Accommodation:

  • Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance:

  • We never travel out of the country without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post Lake Como Travel Guide + Packing Tips appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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If you’re planning a trip to Utah, you’re likely headed there for the outdoors; Utah is known for its distinctive terrain — high peaks and deep valleys, mountain and desert. With such varied landscapes, it can be hard to narrow down exactly what to pack!

Before running off to immerse yourself in the raw, natural beauty of Utah’s national parks, check out our packing guide for a few pointers first.

Packing Guide for a Trip to Utah’s National Parks Water Shoes

Water shoes might seem like a thing of the 90’s with Tevas and Chacos recently trending, and while your favorite outdoor sandals might serve you well in certain activities, I’d highly suggest getting a pair of actual, durable water shoes to bring along too. Rafting the winding Colorado and Green rivers are huge draws to the state’s gorgeous national parks, and you’re going to want quick-drying, appropriate footwear.

Water shoes don’t have to be obnoxiously ambiguous either; I love these incognito water shoes that can stand in as walking shoes, or these cute pair resembling ballet flats. My go-tos are Vibrams, though any standard pair will do!

Sun Protection

Sunscreen is critical in Utah. For face, I find that Cetaphil’s 30 SPF face moisturizer is best in hot climates, as it doesn’t clog pores and is super light-weight in comparison to other facial sunscreens.

For your body, you’ll likely want at least 60 SPF protection — it resists 98% of UV rays, which you’ll be exposed to plenty of in the desert terrain. The tried-and-true Banana Boat 100 SPF is a safe bet and easy to reapply consistently.

You’ll also need to pack a UV-protected hat & sunglasses; I recommend cheap ones that you don’t mind getting scratched in your backpack, but still have 100% UV protection!

CamelBak

Your standard canteen or 22 oz CamelBak won’t cut it in Utah — you need some to have a serious amount of water on hand for hiking.

The 85 oz CamelBak is a great alternative to lugging around a large, bulky water jug, though it’ll do the job just as well. There are also affordable replicas on the market that hold the same amount of water in addition to extra storage space. Staying hydrated is key when exploring the great outdoors, and Utah’s rugged national parks are exemplary of the reason why!

Layers

Packing layers might be a given, but don’t forget long-sleeved ones! The different elevations of the parks require more or less layers, especially when it gets cold at night. A fleece jacket and quick-dry long sleeve shirts are a must.

Also consider a rain shell, even in summer months. You’ll need something that repels water, for those spontaneous showers that happen all too often!

Plastic Grocery Bags

Plastic bags might sound like a curious item to pack, but they prove to be useful and convenient when camping. Red dirt and dust is plentiful in every national park, and plastic bags can protect everything from food items to wet clothing and water shoes. I also use them to separate dirty clothes from clean ones, and for their more obvious purpose of a trash bag.

Eco-Friendly Hygiene Products

Camping in national parks requires careful consideration of the bathroom and hygiene products you bring, not only for yourself but for the site you’re visiting as well.

Both men and women should use soap/shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste and body wipes (your new best friend if showers are inadequate or nonexistent) that are environmentally-friendly and compostable. Note I don’t say “biodegradable,” as products labelled biodegradable often take much longer to break down and can contaminate the soil or water it comes in contact with.

Ladies, if that time of the month happens to fall on the week of your trip, use a Diva cup or even compostable pads that won’t be harmful to the earth if left behind.

Additional Items to Pack
  • Be sure to pack a swimsuit, microfiber camping towel, and dry bags for scattered hot springs and various rivers you’ll come across on your travels in and around Utah’s parks!
  • Bugs (e.g. mosquitos) aren’t a big concern for this region and shouldn’t warrant bug spray, though ticks are common;  bring tweezers to remove ticks if they happen to latch on, and keep an eye out for a circular ring around the bite that could indicate Lyme disease.

  • Small snacks should be eaten throughout the day and in between meals to help offset the large amount of water you’ll drink. Keep your blood sugar up with easily digestible foods like protein bars (these Larabars — made from 100% real ingredients — are my go-to bars for hiking trips), fresh or dried fruits, crackers, and nuts.

The post What to Pack for a Trip to Utah’s National Parks appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Without a doubt, Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful destinations in The United States. Covering almost 750,000 acres, 95% of which is designated “wilderness,” Yosemite is a nature-lover’s paradise. Between the glittering streams, the thousand-year-old trees, and the otherworldly rock formations and cliffs, Yosemite ‘s beauty will linger with you for long after your visit ends.

After hours of research and spending nearly a week at this park, we’ve put together this guide with our best tips for planning a trip to Yosemite National Park in California!

Yosemite National Park Travel Tips The Best Time to Visit Yosemite

While the park is open 24 hours a day all year round, what time of year you visit Yosemite completely depends on your expectations and in which activities you plan on partaking.

If you love the heat and envision yourself splashing in one of Yosemite’s many streams while licking an ice cream cone, then visit in July or August.

However, because Yosemite’s tourist high season lands in the summertime, if you want to escape the crowds while still enjoying the waterfalls and some hiking, consider May-June or September.

If winter activities are more your thing, then keep an eye on when Yosemite’s Badger Pass Ski Area opens in mid-December.

Book Far in Advance

Despite there being a tourist high season, no matter what time of year you plan on heading to Yosemite, it’s best to book your travel, accommodations, campsites, and/or tour far in advance. With over 4 million visitors a year, the park fills up fast!

How to Get to Yosemite

If you’re flying into the area, the closest airports are San Francisco, Fresno, Reno, Merced, Oakland, or Sacramento. From there, consider renting a car and some camping equipment, or do it like we did and rent a JUCY Campervan for your visit.

Alternatively, if you’re short on time, there are plenty of excellent day tours that will show you all the Yosemite hotspots while giving you plenty of time to relax and hike.

Read more: The Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking

Where to Stay in Yosemite Best Campgrounds in Yosemite Valley

If you want to camp right in Yosemite Valley, these are the best campgrounds to choose from. (Note: If you can’t snag a site ahead of time, try walk-in or even check online the night before for cancellations. This is how we got our reservations in Upper Pines!)

Upper Pines Campground

The park’s second-largest campground, this spot is situated at the east end of the valley. The campground is open year-round, but be warned that its 238 campsites tend to be reserved well in advance. Each site contains a fire ring, picnic table, a food locker, and is near a bathroom with drinking water and flushing toilets. No hookups.

Cost: $26/night

North Pines Campground

This 81-spot campground located across the Merced River from Lower Pines Campground is notably one of the best campgrounds in the valley. Again, each site contains a fire ring, picnic table, a food locker, and is near a bathroom with drinking water and flushing toilets. No hookups.

Cost: $26/night

Lower Pines Campground

Containing 60 campsites near the south of the Merced River, and located just west of Upper Pines, this campsite has spectacular views of Half Dome. All amenities, except hookups, are located at each campsite.

Cost: $26/night

Closest Campgrounds Outside of Yosemite Valley

Pine Mountain Lake Campground near Groveland

Pine Mountain Lake is a gated community just outside of Groveland, which is about an hour’s drive from Yosemite Valley. The 44 campsites here feature fire rings, picnic benches, and nearby restrooms with drinkable water and showers. There are 11 RV hook-up sites on the property.

Cost: 26/night

Yosemite Lakes Campground

A full-service campground located just an hour from Yosemite Valley and 5 minutes from the National Park’s west gate, Yosemite Lakes Campground offers RV parking, yurt-style tents, cabins, and regular tent sites. However, note that this campground does not allow campfires, but does provide 231 full hook-ups.

Cost: $50/night

Wawona Campground

Resting 50 minutes from Yosemite Valley just outside the southern edge of the park, Wawona Campground is one mile away from the town of Wawona, and is at an elevation of 4000 ft. The campground hosts 93 sites with fire rings, picnic tables, food lockers, and is near facilities with running water.

Cost: $26/night or $18/night from October through April. Group sites are available year round for $50.

Bridalveil Creek Campground

Resting along Glacier Point Road, Bridalveil Creek Campground is about a 45-minute drive from Yosemite Valley. There are 112 campsites at this location, and because of its views and the nearby Bridalveil Creek, is a very popular spot. Each campsite features a picnic table, fire ring, food storage locker. Flush toilets and drinking water are nearby.

Cost: $18/night

Read more: 10 Best Free Campgrounds in Northern California

Other Lodging Options Near Yosemite

Yosemite View Lodge

Just 8 miles from Yosemite National Park, Yosemite View Lodge is a good mid-range option that features a restaurant and bar, as well as a pool.

Craftsman Cottage

If you’re into something a little swankier for you and a group of friends, consider Craftsman Cottage. Just 3 miles from Badger, this chalet provides three bedrooms, a dining area and a kitchen.

Best Day Hikes in Yosemite

Vernal & Nevada Falls Trail

The Vernal and Nevada Waterfalls are two of Yosemite’s most spectacular sites, and both can be spotted from this trail. To do this hike, either head up the Mist Trail and down the John Muir Trail, or do the loop in reverse.

Half Dome

Let’s be honest, the jaw-dropping views of half dome are why many people come to Yosemite. So it’s a no-brainer that you’d want to include this hike on your agenda! While doing this hike in a day is going to require some serious gumption, the 360-degree views from the summit will make the trek worth it.

Note that in order to tackle this hike, you will need to acquire a permit in advance.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake is an easy 2 mile round-trip hike. The left side of the trail is paved and wheelchair accessible, but I prefer taking the trail to the right side of the lake as it’s extremely lush, with gorgeous views of the lake.

Sentinel Dome

Similar to the Half Dome experience, Sentinel Dome’s summit provides breathtaking views of El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite Falls, Mt. Starr King, and Clark Range.

Read more: The Ultimate Packing Checklist for Campers

Yosemite National Park Packing Essentials

Sun Gear: No matter what time of year you visit Yosemite, be sure to pack some sunglasses and sunscreen.

Day Hike Gear: Whenever we head out on a day hike, we always bring along some hiking shoes, hiking socks, a refillable water bottle, some bug spray, a light jacket, and a headlamp for when it gets dark.

First Aid Kit: Be prepared to stay in top-top condition with a first aid kit and a portable water filtration system.

Bear Box: Remember that Yosemite is bear country! If you’re camping in the area, be sure to pack a bear box, unless you will be camping at one of the designated campgrounds which already provide them.

Plan Your Trip to Yosemite National Park

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights:

  • Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The price calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation:

  • Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance:

The post The Ultimate Guide to Yosemite National Park appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Set on the dramatic Italian Riviera Coastline, the centuries-old villages that make up Cinque Terre are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare and, for a nearby must-see and excellent starting point into the Cinque Terre, Levanto.

Linked by a hiking trail, a ferry, as well as a train that runs between La Spezia and Levanto, the villages are together characterized by their pastel-colored buildings, nearby agriculture, and rugged coastal charm.

Through visiting Cinque Terre and doing extensive research on the area, we’ve not only compiled the benefits of staying in each village, but our top accommodation recommendations as well. If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Cinque Terre, here are our top picks for where to stay in each village!

The Best Hotels in Cinque Terre (And How to Choose) Riomaggiore

The most eastern of the Cinque Terre villages, Riomaggiore dates back to the 8th century and is home to the main park office of the region. Riomaggiore is perfect for travelers looking for more of a local vibe and who don’t mind carrying their luggage up several flights of stairs.

While staying in the village, head on up to Torre Guardiola (a lookout where you’ll find excellent views and birdwatching), spend time at pebbly, rugged Fossola Beach, visit Riomaggiore’s well-equipped diving centre, or visit Via Colombo, the main street where there are plenty of shops and restaurants.

Where to Stay in Riomaggiore

For a budget-friendly place to stay in Riomaggiore, check out Hotel Due Gemelli.

If you’re looking for a good mid-range option, consider Affittacamere Le Giare Guest House.

If luxury accommodations are more your thing, then Agave Bed and Breakfast is the place to stay.

Manarola

Less than ten kilometres from Riomaggiore lies the second smallest of the Cinque Terre villages, Manarola. This colorful village is home to an abundance of sweet grapevines, so sampling some of the village’s famous Sciacchetra wine is an activity not to be missed. Stay in Manarola if you want to be right in the heart of Cinque Terre and you don’t mind dodging a few tourists (as it’s one of the most popular of the 5 villages).

Also, if you’re looking to snap that iconic shot of Manarola, you know, the one with the brilliant blue water on the right, the colorful town in the middle, and the lush hills to the left? Simply follow the path around the port until you come to the lookout, and then take a look back.

Where to Stay in Manarola

For a great budget-friendly place to stay in Manarola, check out Arpaiu – Odeyo Sas Guest Houses.

For a mid-level option, try out The First – Manarola 5 Terre.

La Toretta Lodge is great luxury accommodation in Manarola.

Read more: Women’s Packing Guide For Italy

Corniglia

Corniglia is the only town of the Cinque Terre without a seaport and, because of this, it relies more on the agriculture industry than fishing. To make the land around Corniglia productive for farming, they carved the steep hillside creating rugged, yet farmable, terraces; resulting in a most unique landscape that is as unique as it is hikeable.

Keep in mind that because Corniglia is situated up atop the cliffs, there is a bit of a hike to get to the village — about 365 steps worth. The views from these steps are phenomenal, but if you have luggage or are in need of a more accessible way up, there is a bus that runs from the train station right into the centre of the village.

Where to Stay in Corniglia

For great budget accommodation in Corniglia, consider Casa Orietta Apartments.

For a mid-range option, consider Camere Nunzio Guest Houses.

For a more luxury stay, try out Affittacamere Le Terrazze.

Vernazza

Vernazza, a steep, car-free village covered with cobblestones, is home to quiet hiking trails among the vineyards, the only natural harbour of all the Cinque Terre, and two beaches. Vernazza is great for travelers looking to do some hiking and don’t mind staying up late (or remember to bring a good set of ear plugs!) because it can get noisy at night.

For added fun while in Vernazza, if you hear rumblings around town of Festa dei Pirati, definitely show up. While the festival has no exact date, every year Vernazza is invaded by a percussion group known as “Batebalengo”, the members of which are dressed like pirates. The festival is a reminder of when the Sacaren Pirates invaded Vernazza hundreds of years ago, but now it’s a fun festival with music and parties.

Where to Stay in Vernazza

For budget accommodation in Vernazza, consider Hotel Gianni Franzi.

For a good mid-range option, try out Cadè Ventu Guest Houses.

If luxury accommodation is more your thing, then look into MaDa Charm Apartment.

Read more: 10 Places You Can’t Miss in Italy

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso is characterized by its soft-sand beaches, hills brimming with vines, colorful reefs, and abundance of tourism options. The town is marked in two by the Tower of Aurora, which divides the old town of Monterosso from Fegina, which is full of quality hotels and restaurants.

In Monterosso, spend your time exploring the old town’s many ruins and medieval streets, get some sun by lounging on the beach, or hit up one of the village’s many festivals such as Sagra dei limoni (The Lemon Festival) in May, or Festival Bandistico in September, in which bands from all over Italy congregate to play.

As Monterosso is the flattest of the Cinque Terre, it is also a good option for those with reduced mobility.

Where to Stay in Monterosso al Mare

For budget accommodation in Monterosso al Mare, try out Fiordarancio.

For a good mid-range option, consider Zia Letizia Bed And Wine.

For luxury accommodations, look into Seaside Apartment.

Levanto

While not technically classified as part of the Cinque Terre, Levanto acts as a doorway of sorts into the other villages, being one of the towns where the train servicing the other villages originates. Only about four minutes from Monterosso al Mare by train, Levanto is home to some excellent hikes, scuba diving, beach walks, and historical districts.

We’ve spent several nights in Levanto and enjoyed having a quieter place to retire at night. During the busy season, this might be your best option for hotels!

Where to Stay in Levanto

For a budget option in Levanto, try out Cicale Di Mare.

For a good mid-range option, check out Hotel Abetaia.

For luxury accommodations, consider Resort Costa Morroni.

Read more: The Best Travel Cameras of 2018 (And How to Choose One)

Cinque Terre Packing Essentials

Hiking Gear: As hiking is a popular activity in Cinque Terre, proper hiking shoes or boots, hiking socks, and even a hiking pole for those steep slopes are recommended.

Sun Protection: Spending time out in the sun is pretty much a given in Cinque Terre, so make sure to pack some sunglasses and sunscreen.

Comfortable, Style-Forward Clothing: Italy is a very fashion-forward country, but in a place as outdoorsy as Cinque Terre, you’re also going to want to also be as comfortable as possible.

A pair of comfortable flats are perfect for walking around town, breezy summer dresses will be sure to keep you looking and feeling cool, a pashmina is great for covering up at religious sites, and a cross-body bag will keep your belongings safe.

Swim Gear: If you plan on spending any time on the beach, then a swimsuit, quick-drying towel, sarong, and pair of water-shoes should be on your packing list.

Plan Your Trip to Cinque Terre

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights:

  • Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The price calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation:

  • Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance:

  • We never travel out of the country without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post Where to Stay in Cinque Terre (And Which Town is Best for You) appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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When it comes to planning your long-awaited proposal, choosing the perfect destination is half the battle. Rather than settle for any generic setting, check out our list of most breathtaking places to pop the question across the globe!

15 Of The Most Romantic Places To Propose 1. Cinque Terre, Italy

You know those colorful cliffside villages facing the ocean you see in photos and travel websites everywhere? That’s Cinque Terre, a collection of small towns on Italy’s western coast. Cinque Terre is a coveted destination by old and young, adventurous and luxurious travelers alike — making it a universally perfect place to propose!

Take a row boat out on the water, plan a romantic dinner at an open-air restaurant, or get down on one knee right at the beach; no matter the venue, you can’t go wrong in one of the most picturesque locations in Italy.

Where to Stay: Park Hotel ArgentoRelais San RoccoGrand Hotel Dei Castelli

2. New York, New York

If you haven’t yet been, nothing calls for a trip to NYC like a surprise proposal. The beautifully lit skyline at sunset makes the backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge an obvious choice, while the Bow Bridge in Central Park — which makes an appearance in nearly every iconic New York movie — has a serene and magical feel.

You can even find a saxophonist playing atop the Empire State Building after 10pm (9pm in winter) if you’re really trying for a “go big or go home” moment!

Where to Stay: The Beekman, a Thompson HotelThe Marlton Hotel

3. Santorini, Greece

Santorini is perhaps one of the most unique island destinations in the world — perfect for a truly unique proposal. I’d highly recommend scouting wineries for the perfect spot (Santo Wines Winery and Venetsanos winery are two of my favorites), though private oceanfront villas and suites give you the perfect opportunity to cook a homemade meal and set the mood for an intimate and unforgettable moment.

Where to Stay: StrogiliDay Dream Luxury Suites

4. Venice, Italy

Venice might be a bit predictable, but for good reason. With its narrow canals, Venetian Gothic architecture and dreamy lampposts lighting up the streets at twilight, it’s no wonder we couldn’t leave it off our list!

While you may want to opt for the timeless gondola ride, you can also get creative and explore the ideas of St. Mark’s Square outside the Basilica, the entrance of the San Georgio Maggiore church, or a traditional Michelin star Venetian restaurant.

Where to Stay: Arcadia Boutique HotelCa’ della Corte

5. Mljet Island, Croatia

Pack a picnic and set sail from Dubrovnik to Croatia’s greenest island of Mljet — an isolated national park rich with opportunities to propose on walking trails and hidden beach coves. You can roam the island by bike (which I’d highly recommend!) and take a dip in one of the two saltwater lakes afterwards.

Any place on this lush, forested island is proposal-worthy, so it might be best not to plan an exact spot and let the perfect spot find you!

Where to Stay: Villa Evita ApartmentsHotel Dubrovnik Palace (Dubrovnik), Hotel More (Dubrovnik)

6. Geirangerfjord, Norway

Geirangerfjord is something of a fantasy, a place you never really thought could exist outside your dreams; nevertheless, this stunning spot in Norway is easily accessible by hike or kayak and is the ultimate nature-lovers destination.

Getting down on one knee surrounded by the fjord’s birds-eye views and cascading waterfalls would be nothing short of impressive, and so original they’ll never suspect it’s coming!

Where to Stay: Valldal Fjordhotell

7. Sunset Cliffs, California

California is an obvious contender in the competition for “Best Proposal Destinations,” though Sunset Cliffs just outside San Diego is one sight that just doesn’t compare to the rest.

Year-round perfect weather makes this a great spot for even winter proposals, and the magazine-worthy panoramic scene overlooking the deep blue Pacific Ocean is about as idyllic as it gets! Its central location also makes it easy to hire a hidden photographer to capture the moment.

Where to Stay: The Inn at Sunset Cliffs

8. Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

If you’re going to cross the pond to Ireland, there’s only one way to propose: at the Cliffs of Moher. Whether it’s at the very edge of the seaside cliffs themselves or at O’Brien’s Tower, there couldn’t be a more whimsical backdrop than Ireland’s quintessential coast!

Where to Stay: Cliffs of Moher HotelCappabhaile House

9. Anse Chastanet, Saint Lucia

There’s plenty of tropical islands that would suffice for the special day, but St. Lucia’s enchanting Anse Chastanet beach is the definition of paradise! Scuba or snorkel the reef, enjoy the black sands, and take in lush scenery only paralleled by the likes of Indonesia.

Better yet, book a couple of nights at the stunning Anse Chastanet Resort for a proposal the two of you will never forget!

Where to Stay: Anse Chastanet Resort, Fond Doux Plantation & Resort, Boucan by Hotel Chocolat

10. Paris, France

The City of Love got its nickname somehow, right? The language alone is enough to make you melt, but popping the question at a truly iconic location — like atop the Eiffel Tower or in front of the Louvre — is a story memorable enough to retell again and again over a lifetime.

Other equally-worthy ideas could include kneeling under the Arc de Triomphe or aside the storybook, tree-lined Medici Fountain!

Where to Stay: Hotel BrightonHôtel de Joséphine BONAPARTEHotel Rendez Vous Batignolles

11. Kauai, Hawaii

A sunset proposal beneath Hanakāpī‘ai Falls on the jaw-dropping Na Pali Coast? Unbeatable. In a versatile location like Kauai, you have your choice of hikes, swimming holes, or even helicopter rides to choose from for the perfect moment! On the opposite end of the island is Fern Grotto, one of Hawaii’s hidden gems and best-kept secrets — another stunning setting fit for only the best engagements.

Where to Stay: Hotel Coral Reef (Fern Grotto), The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas (Na Pali Coast)

12. Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon alone is impressive enough for a spectacular moment on one knee, though Havasu Falls gives you the best of both worlds — the beauty of bright blue waters and the astounding natural wonder of carved canyons.

Note: Getting a permit to camp in the park requires a reservation a full year in advance. Camping without a permit might be tempting, but it’s not worth the high likeliness of getting caught by rangers and facing hefty fines.

Where to Stay: Grand Canyon Western RanchThe Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

13. Barcelona, Spain

This European hub of vibrant culture, art, food and architecture gives you limitless proposal places to chose from; you can also find very affordable airfare to Barcelona from the States, making this an awesome budget-friendly international destination!

A few universally agreed-upon places deemed worthy of such an extraordinary event are Parc Guell — known for its mosaics — the mountaintop Tibidabo Basilica, Magic Fountain of Montjuïc at night, and, of course, Sagrada Familia.

Where to Stay: Iberostar Paseo de Gracia, Pulitzer Hotel

14. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Alberta has become a more popular travel destination in recent years, and understandably so; it only takes one photo to see that its own Banff National Park is truly heaven on earth. For a lover of the outdoors, the elegance of North America’s most scenic lake — Lake Louise, surrounded by snowcapped Canadian Rockies — could be perhaps the most serene place to begin a beautiful lifelong journey.

Whether it’s by aerial-view hiking path, canoe, or ice skating in its winter wonderland, Lake Louise is an all-around perfect locale.

Where to Stay: Baker Creek Mountain ResortFairmont Château Lake Louise

15. Queenstown, New Zealand

A hot air balloon engagement is one for the truly adventurous couple — one that can appreciate wrapping two once-in-a-lifetime experiences into one thrilling ride! There are only a few places in the world you can really pull this off, and Queenstown is arguably one of the best.

The varied landscapes of land, lake and mountain create a surreal atmosphere two thousand feet in crisp New Zealand air, especially in the early morning hours of sunrise!

Where to Stay: The Canyons B&BThe Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments

The post The Most Romantic Places To Propose All Over The World appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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The Lofoten Islands in Norway, comprised of Austvågøy, Flakstadøy Vestvågøy, Moskenesøy, Gimsøy, and many smaller islands, has been a dream travel destination of mine for as long as I can remember. From the moment I heard of Lofoten, this archipelago in the Norwegian Sea known for its dramatic scenery, incredibly cute fishing villages, pristine waters, Viking history, and friendly locals completely captured my heart.

Being on the tourist trail but still relatively untouched as far as its natural beauty goes, these islands are perfect for adventurous travelers and photography enthusiasts!

12 Reasons To Visit Norway’s Lofoten Islands Magical Scenery

It’s no secret that The Lofoten Islands are home to seriously incredible scenery. The fjords jutting up dramatically into the sky, the crystal clear turquoise waters, and the sheer expansiveness of the Nordic wilderness make these islands a sight to behold.

It’s Easy To Navigate

The best way to truly experience Lofoten is by car and, luckily, the road’s leading into and around The Lofoten Islands are very easy to navigate. For the most part, driving around Lofoten means driving on one stretch of highway — the ease of which means the destination is great for solo travelers!

Midnight Sun

Because the Lofoten Islands lie above the Arctic Circle, travelers to the area will be greeted by the midnight sun should they visit between the months of May and July. The midnight sun is like a gorgeous sunrise and sunset all at once, casting beautiful colors every which way.

Read more: How to Plan a Trip to Norway’s Fjord Region

Northern Lights

While summer is known for the midnight sun, winter in The Lofoten Islands brings with it a special sight, the Northern Lights. The best season in which to catch a glimpse of this spectacle is from September to March, although any good viewing relies on it being a clear night.

Amazing Sunrises and Sunsets

Along with the Northern Lights and midnight sun, The Lofoten Islands offer awesome light shows in the form of sunrises and sunsets. However, due to Lofoten’s locale above the Arctic Circle, sunrise and sunset times vary wildly depending on the time of year. Watching the sun rise and set with the mountains, fjords, and sea as a backdrop is not to be missed, so be sure to research the sunrise and sunset times during your visit.

Traditional Fishing Villages

A big draw of The Lofoten Islands is that they are home to the most colorful fishing villages, as cod is a big deal in this neck of the woods. The red and white huts that make up these villages are known as rorbuers, and can even be rented out as accommodation!

Read more: What to Pack for a Trip to Norway

Fjords

As mentioned earlier, The Lofoten Islands are home to numerous fjords; some of which jut up into the sky up as high as 3,300 feet! To see these fjords up close and personal, consider hiring a boat for an afternoon or jumping on a short cruise.

Stunning Hikes

The Lofoten Islands present many awesome hiking trails that are great for any level of difficulty and expectation. From beach walks, mountain treks, and backcountry jaunts, hiking in this area will guarantee you spectacular scenery every time.

White Sand Beaches & Turquoise Water

When you think of the Lofoten Islands, do pristine beaches and glassy turquoise waters spring to mind? Well they should, as Northern Norway is home to these attributes in spades.

Read more: The Best Travel Cameras of 2018 (And How to Choose One)

Arctic Surfing

While The Lofoten Islands may not invoke thoughts of catching a wave to the casual traveler, to the surfing enthusiast, this is a dream destination. Off the shores of Lofoten’s white sand beaches you’ll be able to find some world-class waves, especially off the coast of Unstad. While not an activity for the faint of heart, riding a wave with Lofoten’s epic scenery in the background is an unforgettable experience!

Free Camping

Like other parts of Norway, the Lofoten Islands are home to an idea known as “allemannsretten”, or “every man’s right”. This essentially means that almost all uninhabited pockets of land are available for dispersed camping. When doing so, always make sure that you have permission to be where you plan to camp and, as always with camping, follow a leave-no-trace rule of thumb.

Friendly Locals

The Lofoten Islands are home to some of the friendliest locals you will ever meet. Whether you take a tour of a farm or fishing village, or stop in at a local café, the people of Lofoten will treat you as a guest and will love to show you their way of life and culture.

Read more: How to Travel in Norway on a Budget

Lofoten Islands Packing Essentials

Layers
The key to a comfortable trip in Northern Norway is to layer up. Be sure to bring fleece-lined leggings, thermal tops, a light down jacket, and some hiking socks.

Winter Gear
If you plan on visiting Norway during Northern Light’s season, then be sure to pack appropriately with a beanie, scarf, and snow pants.

Rain Gear
Norway is a destination where the weather can change from a sunny day to a rainy one in an instant. Come prepared with rain boots or waterproof hiking shoes, a waterproof jacket, a backpack cover, a dry bag, and a travel umbrella.

Plan Your Trip to The Lofoten Islands

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights:

  • Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The price calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation:

  • Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance:

  • We never travel out of the country without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk — especially in a remote place like Lofoten. We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post Why The Lofoten Islands Should Be On Your Bucket List appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Between the dramatic scenery, historic cathedrals and castles, quaint villages, and cobblestoned streets, Europe is home to many destinations that seem to bring our favorite childhood fairytales to life. While there are many places to see whose grandeur will inspire feelings of awe, if pure magic is what you’re looking for, then check out these five of our favorites!

5 Fairytale Destinations to Visit in Europe Reine, Norway

This stunning fishing village set in the picturesque Lofoten Islands is characterized by red and white fisherman’s huts scattered along the shoreline, rocky islands jutting up from the still water, and roughly 300 locals waiting to give you a taste of their day-to-day life.

In Reine, outdoor activities rule, so plan to take part in some fishing, whale watching, biking, hiking, or kayaking. Also, because Reine rests within the Arctic Circle, you’ll probably be able to catch the always-magical Northern Lights on chilly, clear nights from roughly September through April.

Where to Stay in Reine, Norway

Accommodations in Reine will likely mean staying in a traditional fishing hut, also known as a Robuer. For a good mid-level Robuer option, check out Lofoten Bed & Breakfast Reine. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, try out Reine Robuer or nearby Eliassen Robuer.

Read more: What to Pack for a Trip to Norway

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

As far as fairytale-like destinations in Europe go, the whole of Switzerland is a strong contender. A country known for its dramatic mountains, gorgeous valleys, and rich food, it can be hard to single out just one magical winner destination. That said, Lauterbrunnen is home to everything just mentioned, and more, in spades.

Located in a trough valley in the Swiss Alps, Lauterbrunnen is nestled between spectacular mountain peaks and gorgeous rock faces. Nearby, you’ll find an abundance of roaring waterfalls, colorful meadows, and majestic wildlife.

Where to Stay in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

For excellent budget accommodations in Lauterbrunnen, check out Hotel Oberland, for something more mid-range, the Hotel Schützen Lauterbrunnen is a great option, and if upscale is more your style, then check out Swiss Alp Resort & Spa in nearby Grindelwald!

Read more: Women’s Packing Guide For Switzerland

Cinque Terre, Italy

A string of five romantic fishing villages set along the dramatic Italian Riviera coast, Cinque Terre isn’t exactly off the beaten trail, but what it lacks in seclusion it makes up for in charm, history, and grandeur.

Located within a national park, Cinque Terre is characterized by colorful buildings that seem to sprout up from the Mediterranean Sea, fields of terraced vineyards that have been shaped over millennia, and harbors filled to the brim with picturesque fishing boats.

While in Cinque Terre, consider taking advantage of one of the many hiking trails in the area that will guarantee you some spectacular views, indulge in the region’s specialty sauce, Pesto, and be sure to see the coast from the water.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre, Italy

For budget accommodations in Cinque Terre, consider Locanda La Lanterna in Corniglia, for a good mid-range option, check out in Hotel Villa Argentina in Riomaggiore, and for luxury accommodations try Grand Hotel Portovenere in nearby Portovenere.

Read more: Cinque Terre Travel Tips

Mljet National Park, Croatia

If you’re looking to explore Croatia by way of a pristine, nature-filled island home to friendly locals, breathtaking views, and fresh seafood, then look no further than Mljet.

Covering the entire northwest area of the island, Mljet National Park is a mostly-undeveloped oasis that borders two inland saltwater lakes – Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake). While visiting the park, be sure to visit Sveta Marija, a small island on the Large Lake that is home to a 12th century Benedictine Monastery, rent a bike to take you through the small villages that border the coast of the lakes, and hike up the hills to find some truly stunning scenery.

Where to Stay on Mljet Island, Croatia

For budget accommodations in Mljet, check out Guest House Kiko in Pomena, for a mid-range option consider Hotel Odisej in Govedari, and for a luxury option try Guesthouse Pomena in Pomena.

Conques, France

Resting on the edge of the River Dourdou gorge in the heart of the Lot Valley, Conques will journey you right back to the middle ages with its original town walls and gates, narrow (and sometimes cobbled) village streets, and the true-to-the-era houses that dot the hillside. Currently home to roughly 300 people, plan to spend most of your visit on foot, as the historic center of this quaint village is car-free.

While visiting this picture-perfect destination, be sure to visit the Abbey Church of Saint Foy, swoon over medieval relics at the Treasury of Goldsmith Art, check out the views from the water by canoeing or kayaking the Lot River, and relax at one of the many café’s in the village.

Where to Stay in Conques, France

For excellent budget accommodation try out Auberge Aux Portes de Conques, for a great mid-range option, check out Hôtel Sainte Foy, and for luxury accommodations consider Hôtel-Restaurant Hervé Busset.

The post 5 Fairytale Destinations to Visit in Europe appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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So much more than San Francisco’s city landscapes, NorCal is known for its sea-to-mountain naturally beautiful scenery and plentiful bucket list-worthy destinations. Whether you’re headed to Napa for the wine, Tahoe for the snow, Yosemite for the hiking or Santa Cruz for the ocean, there’s a handful of essentials you don’t want to be caught without!

Northern California Packing Guide for Women Cold Weather Outerwear

California may be known for its sunshine, but it can get chilly in the higher elevations! The beach cities are also notorious for fickle weather and frequent foggy bouts, even in summer months; coastal mornings in June and July often feel like December, so be sure to pack long pants and a jacket. Layering is recommended regardless of your destination, though I’d highly recommend keeping a light cardigan on hand — no matter the time of year.

Comfortable Clothing

With the occasional exception of SanFran, you won’t find many people sporting designer labels or flaunting the latest fashion trends. Northern California is known for its laid-back people with a high priority opting for comfort, so break out those leggings and Birkenstocks (no, Birks are not a stereotype)!

You’ll find that most peoples’ daily attire consists of a humble jeans/tee/flip-flop ensemble, while your Santa Cruz and Sonoma folks wear athletic attire more than anything else. You can’t really be underdressed in any NorCal venue, and — given there’s so many opportunities for nature-oriented activities — you’ll probably find yourself wearing your favorite pair of sneakers more often than not. Don’t waste precious luggage space with heels.

I will, however, note that wine tasting in Napa (and possibly a nice evening out in SF) is probably the only occasion for a nice dress. Although, my go-to outfit if I’m not in the mood for a t-shirt and jeans is a long maxi skirt with a jean jacket. I also wouldn’t pair dresses with anything but flat sandals; the hills and gravel driveways of most wineries in Napa aren’t well suited for wedges or stilettos.

Sunscreen

You may not be lounging on sunny beaches all day, but you will find that any amount of time outdoors will leave you a looking a little pink — if not as red as a tomato. The cool air of Tahoe often feels like sunscreen is unwarranted, but sun exposure in the high elevation will leave you with blistering sunburns within a couple hours if you forego it! Even if the sky is overcast or temperatures don’t surpass 70 degrees, apply sunscreen every day!

Water-Resistant Protective Gear for Electronics

With waterfalls, lakes, rivers and the ocean, you’re bound to end up in the water at some point in NorCal — even if it’s getting caught in the rain. There’s so many fun spots to take photos and break out your GoPro, or even snap pictures underwater with a durable waterproof phone case; no matter your device of choice, bring water-protective gear to keep your electronics safe.

Bug Repellent

While my beloved home state lush with greenery is a sight to behold in spring and summer months, pesky mosquitos also come with the territory.

While repellent containing deet has consistently been proven to be the most effective at keeping these guys away, I’ve also had some luck with Avon Skin So Soft products (the bubble bath smells amazing!). While they weren’t originally intended for the purposes of keeping bugs away, many people have found them to be a great, more natural-smelling alternative to harsh and sticky bug sprays!

Minimalist Clothing

When it comes to your actual articles of clothing, pack minimalist items that can be worn in a variety of settings — think plain or striped t-shirts, simple dark jeans or flowy pants, a comfortable pair of sandals or flats.

These are “convertible” items that can serve multiple purposes and can be worn to breakfast or dinner, shopping, around the park, or to the beach. Because the various regions of Northern California offer different attractions, the idea is to have multiple outfits that can be mixed and matched while also appropriate for anything you may end up doing on a given day — planned or not!

Towel

Getting to spend all your time outdoors is an obvious draw for this region, so whether you’re headed to the beach or the redwoods, bring along a compact towel or two. Impromptu picnics and quick dips in the lake occur often enough that I can guarantee a large (but thin) beach towel will come handy.

I’d recommend your towel be accompanied by a swimsuit, but to each his own!

Large Purse or Backpack

I’ve found I can’t carry anything smaller than a big hobo-style bag/purse, given my various daily necessities — including nothing short of sunscreen, moisturizer, lip balm, hair ties, wallet, phone, reading glasses, sunglasses and often a granola bar or water bottle.

If you’re visiting from out of the area, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to take home handcrafted goods from the many talented local artists too. Not a purse-person? You won’t be out of place wearing a backpack.

I also tie a scarf to the handle of my bag — for practical purposes that also serves as a fashionable accessory — which you could do with a backpack as well.

Additional Packing Tips for California Buy a AAA membership

If Northern California is your chosen travel destination, you’ll probably be exploring via car as public transportation is sparse and Uber/Lyft is only popular in actual cities. Not only is a AAA membership a great value if you run out of gas, pop a tire or lock the keys in the car, but it’ll also provide significant discounts on a ton of hotels and attractions too. The insurance alone is a great bang for your buck.

Consider where in the region you’ll be traveling

Packing for Yosemite or Lake Tahoe will obviously differ significantly from packing for the city or the coasts. The tips above are useful for any of these locations, though if you’re only visiting one particular spot you may want to consider adjusting your packing list.

Campsites can get crowded and noisy, especially during the summer; bring earplugs. Whale-watching is a popular day activity in Monterey and Santa Cruz, but it can get very cold so bring a heavy insulated and waterproof jacket!

The Bay Area, the foothills west of Tahoe, and waterfall region north of Redding and Chico are an awesome spots for gorgeous hikes, but can get exceptionally hot — and lack nearby places to get water, especially the latter. Be sure to carry a reusable water bottle!

This is not an exhaustive list, but the point here is that weather, altitude and activity type are varied and may require packing a few unique items!

The post Northern California Packing Guide for Women appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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