June 2020

A 7-Day Southern California Road Trip Itinerary

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An iconic Joshua Tree from Joshua Tree National Park in California, USA
Posted: 6/29/20 | June 29th, 2020

I’ve been on many road trips around the US over the years. It’s by far my favorite way to explore the country.

One state in particular is perfect for road-tripping: California.

Occupying much of the West Coast, California is home to almost 40 million people. Here you find high mountains, giant trees, deserts, valleys, stunning beaches, and vibrant cities. It’s its own little country in some ways.

Since California is so big, I’m going to do a series of posts that cover road trips in the state as it’s better to focus on smaller areas so you can really soak up and enjoy each destination. In travel, less is more.

To kick off the series, here is a one-week itinerary for Southern California:
 

Days 1–2: Los Angeles

Looking out over Los Angeles from behind the Hollywood sign
Start in Los Angeles, a city I’ve come to love. It’s not a city for tourists. Everything is spread out, you need a car, and the traffic makes getting around a pain. But, if you can enjoy its slow pace, diverse food and drink scene, and hikes, you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to live there. You visit LA like how you would spend your Saturday.

The city has a lot to do. Here are some of my personal favorite activities:

  • Stroll down Hollywood Boulevard – Don’t miss the Walk of Fame (where celebrities have their names engraved in the sidewalk) and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (featuring celebrities’ handprints and footprints).
  • Visit LACMA – With over 150,000 works, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the western USA. They have collections from pretty much every era throughout history and every region of the world. Admission is $25 USD.
  • Hike to the Hollywood Sign – While you can snap pictures of the sign from pretty much anywhere in the city, it’s also possible to hike up to the sign itself to take in the view. The three trails (from easiest to hardest) are the Mt. Hollywood Trail, the Brush Canyon Trail, and the Cahuenga Peak Trail.
  • Browse The Last Bookstore – This is one of my favorite bookstores in the world. It sells books and records, has art displays, and features a cool upstairs area too with cheap books. Browse the shelves, grab a coffee, and buy a book!
  • Hit the beach – There are a lot of awesome beaches in and around Los Angeles. Some of the best are: Venice Beach, Carbon Beach, Santa Monica State Beach, Huntington City Beach, and El Matador.
  • Visit the Getty Museum – Opened in 1997 as part of the massive Getty Center, this museum has a diverse collection of paintings, manuscripts, drawings, and other artwork from the eighth century to present day. Admission is free.
  • Go hiking – LA has a lot of hiking trails so it’s easy to connect with nature. Some worth checking out are the Charlie Turner Trail (90 minutes), Baldwin Hills (30 minutes), Runyon Canyon (45 minutes), Portuguese Bend Reserve (3 hours), and Echo Mountain (3–3.5 hours).
  • See the Le Brea Tar Pits – These natural asphalt pits are located in Hancock Park and have existed for upwards of 50,000 years. Tons of fossils, preserved for centuries, have been found in them. The museum has lots of interesting information about the pits and how they came to be.

For more things to see and do, here’s my complete guide to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles also has countless food options. Some places I love are Musso & Frank Grill, Dan Tana’s, Meals by Genet, The Butcher’s Daughter, Sugarfish, and Thai Pepper.

Where to Stay

  • Banana Bungalow Hollywood – A chill, laid-back hostel that’s super social and organizes lots of activities.
  • Freehand Los Angeles – This hostel/hotel features designer rooms with comfortable beds, a rooftop pool and bar with amazing views of the city, a lobby bar, a restaurant, and even a fitness center.

For more suggestions, here’s my complete list of favorite hostels in Los Angeles!
 

Days 2–3: San Diego

The skyline of San Diego as seen from over the bay
Two hours down the coast is San Diego. It’s a popular city for sure but not as popular as the others. Personally, after LA, it’s my second favorite spot in the state! It’s easier to navigate, cheaper, has amazing weather, awesome beaches, and plenty of great bars and restaurants. Spend two nights here.

Here are some things to do during your visit:

  • Visit the USS Midway Museum – This aircraft carrier was the largest ship in the world until 1955. It saw action in numerous conflicts before being decommissioned in 1992 and turned into a museum. You can explore the flight deck as well as many of the rooms below.
  • Have fun at Belmont Park – This kitschy amusement park is right next to the ocean and perfect for some cheesy fun. It has a few classic rides as well as games and lots of greasy (and delicious) food and snacks.
  • Go surfing – Whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, grab a board and hit the waves. There’s some awesome surfing here. You can usually rent a board for around $30 USD a day. 90-minute lessons cost around $70 USD.
  • Visit the San Diego Zoo – Located in Balboa Park and with over 3,500 animals and 700,000 plant species, the San Diego Zoo is a massive, 1,800-acre park where you could easily spend an entire day. It’s one of the best zoos in the country and a great choice for anyone traveling with kids.
  • Explore Balboa Park – This is one of the oldest recreational parks in the US. In addition to the zoo, there are dozens of museums, as well as gardens, walking paths, sports fields, stadiums, theatres, and more. It’s a massive cultural center and green space with a ton to see and do.
  • Enjoy Pacific Beach – Head to Pacific Beach if you want to soak up the sun, surf, or go for a swim. The area is also known for its nightlife and offers lots of bars, clubs, and restaurants too.
  • Go whale watching – Between December and April, California gray whales migrate from Alaska to Mexico. They can grow up to 49 feet long and are incredible to see up close. Tours usually cost around $35 USD.
  • Hike Point Loma – This peninsula is where Europeans first arrived in California. You can walk out to the tip and enjoy the sweeping views of the ocean, visit the old lighthouse (built in 1855), and watch locals climb the cliffs of Osprey Point.

Where to Stay

  • HI San Diego – This hostel organizes tons of events and tours, includes free breakfast, and has a big kitchen so you can cook your own food to save money.
  • ITH Adventure Hostel – This eco-hostel has a vegetable garden (and gives free veggies to guests), a recycling and compost program, and even backyard chickens. There is lots of outdoor common space to relax in too.

For more suggestions, here’s a list of my favorite hostels in San Diego!
 

Days 3–5: Joshua Tree National Park

The iconic Joshua trees growing in the aria California desert
Sandwiched between the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert, Joshua Tree National Park offers some of the most incredible landscapes in the country. Swaths of cacti and towering boulders dot the arid panorama, all peppered by the famous Joshua trees and their distinct twisting trunks and branches.

It’s an otherworldly place, a Martian landscape perfect for hiking, camping, and escaping the busy cities along California’s coast. There are countless trails to enjoy, ranging from short and easy to multiday challenges. Some suggestions:

  • Ryan Mountain – A steep 3-mile hike offering some incredible views.
  • Wall Street Mill – An easy 2.8-mile hike that leads to an old mill used to refine ore during from gold mining.
  • Split Rock Loop – A quiet 2-mile hike with lots of neat rock formations.
  • Barker Dam Trail – A 1.1-mile loop offering a chance to see rabbits, bighorn sheep, and all kinds of birds.

The visitor center has more information and trail maps. It’s only $30 USD for a seven-day vehicle pass, which is good for multiple entries in case you stay outside the park itself. The park is three hours from San Diego.

Where to Stay
Airbnb is the best option here if you don’t have your own camping gear, although there are also glamping and more rustic options around the area too.
 

Days 5–7: Sequoia National Park & Kings Canyon National Park

Massive redwood and sequoia trees in Sequoia National park in California, USA
Start early and head to Sequoia National Park. It’s a long drive from Joshua Tree (it takes about 4-6 hours to get there).

The park itself is comprised of towering redwood and Sequoia trees, some of the biggest trees in the world. I’m talking trees so thick you can drive a car though them and so tall that you can’t see their crown!

Start things off by visiting the Giant Forest Museum to learn about the geography, history, and importance of the park. Afterward, walk the Big Trees Trail, a short loop that will get you in and amongst the trees. It also has the largest single-stem tree in the world, General Sherman!

For a sweeping view of the forest, hike up Moro Rock. Standing 250 feet tall, it’s a massive granite dome that juts out of the surrounding hills and forest. Stairs and a viewpoint were built into the rock itself so you can climb to the top safely and enjoy the magnificent vista.

While you’re here, visit nearby Kings Canyon National Park, a mountainous park with beautiful lakes, valleys to hike, and spectacular views. It’s also where you can see “General Grant” (the third largest tree in the world). For a scenic drive, cruise the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, a narrow road along the side of a mountain that offers more picturesque views of the rugged landscape.

Where to Stay
There are lots of places to camp here, both inside and outside of the parks. However, if camping isn’t your thing (it’s not really mine), there are plenty of lodges and hotels in the area. You can find them via Booking.com.
 

Day 7: Head back to Los Angeles

After that, it’s back to LA. It’s only a 3.5-hour drive, so if you’re not in a hurry, enjoy the desert views and stop along the way if you see anything that piques your interest.

***

California is a huge state with unlimited road-tripping potential. And, while there are a million different routes you could take for a seven-day trip, I think this itinerary covers some of the best of SoCal.

Book Your Trip to the USA: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Want More Information on traveling the United States?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to the US for even more tips on how to plan your visit!

The post A 7-Day Southern California Road Trip Itinerary appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 18 Best Things to See and Do in Oslo

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Downtown Oslo, Norway in the summer near the water
Posted: 6/26/2020 | June 26th, 2020

Balancing natural beauty, historic architecture, and a modern flair, Oslo, Norway’s beautiful capital, is a city that punches well above its weight. It’s small but bursting with things to do: there are countless museums, spacious parks, and delicious restaurants to keep you busy. It’s close to numerous forests with hiking and biking trails, and there are lots of places to swim in the summer too.

However, since it’s expensive, a lot of travelers pass Oslo by.

While a visit will certainly eat into your budget, Oslo is definitely worth a couple of days. To help show precisely why you should add it to your itinerary, here are my favorite things to see and do in Oslo:
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

I always start my trips off with a free walking tour. They’re a budget-friendly way to see the main sights, learn a little history, meet other travelers, and get access to an expert local guide who can answer all my questions.

Free Tour Oslo organizes daily tours that last 90 minutes and is a solid introduction to the city. Make sure to tip them when the tour ends!
 

2. Explore the Vigeland Sculpture Park

A small baby statue in Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway
This unique collection of sculptures is located in Frogner Park. It’s the world’s largest display of sculptures created by a single artist. Gustav Vigeland (1869–1943) created over 200 bronze, iron, and granite statues that now stand in the open-air “gallery” (which covers a whopping 80 acres). The crying baby statue is the most famous! In the summer, there are often events held here as well.
 

3. Enjoy the View at the Opera House

The famous Oslo Opera House in Norway overlooking the city at sunset
This massive contemporary theatre sits on the water and is home to the national opera and ballet. Opened in 2007, the building itself is composed of multiple flat levels that essentially act as small plazas, allowing visitors to walk on the roof and enjoy the view of the harbor and city. It’s a popular spot to watch the sunset when the weather is nice. Check the website to see what performances are happening during your visit.

Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1, +47 21 42 21 21, operaen.no. Open weekdays 10am–7pm, Saturdays 11am–6pm, and Sundays 12pm–6pm. Admission to performances varies.

4. See the Viking Museum

Viking Museum, Oslo
Located on Bygdøy Island, this museum is home to some of the best-preserved Viking longships in the world. The ships, some of which date back to the 9th century, were found around Norway. There are Viking burial ships here, as well as carts and tools from the Middle Ages. The museum is relatively sparse (the highlight really is the ships), but there is also a short film and some interesting tidbits of information. Download the free audio guide to make the most of your visit.

Huk Aveny 35, +47 22 13 52 80, khm.uio.no/besok-oss/vikingskipshuset. Open daily 9am–6pm in the summer and 10am–4pm in the winter. Admission is 120 NOK ($12.40 USD) for adults and free for kids under 18.
 

5. Visit the Historical Museum

This museum has lots of artifacts and information about Norway’s past, including lots of Viking content. There are also exhibitions on Ancient Egypt (including mummies), Africa, and the country’s arctic expeditions. You can also use your ticket to get free entry to the Viking Museum (and vice versa) if done within 48 hours. It’s free on the last Saturday of each month as well.

Frederiks gate 2, +47 22 85 19 00, khm.uio.no/besok-oss/historisk-museum. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am–4pm. Admission is 120 NOK ($12.40 USD) for adults and free for kids under 18.
 

6. Wander Holmenkollen

A wintery view of Oslo, Norway and the old Olympic ski jump in Holmenkollen
The Holmenkollen Ski Jump can be seen from every corner of the city. If you want to see it up close, hop on the subway and get off at the Holmenkollen stop. You can walk up to the jump and visit the Ski Jump Museum (the oldest ski museum in the world) if you want to learn more about this seemingly insane sport. The jump at Holmenkollen is 60 meters high, and there’s room for some 70,000 spectators (Norwegians love their winter sports!).

From here you can also wander into Nordmarka for a hike. It’s a forested area north of the city with hiking, walking, and cycling trails.
 

7. Relax at Aker Brygge

Located near the pier, you’ll also find the largest concentration of restaurants in Oslo here, ranging from French cuisine to traditional Nordic dishes. There’s lots of window-shopping and architecture to admire as well. The wharf has something for everyone and is a great place to spend a couple of hours soaking up life in the city.
 

8. See the Royal Palace

The historic Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway in the summer
Completed in the 1840s, today it’s the official residence of the monarch. It’s surrounded by a huge park, and locals can usually be seen enjoying what little sun they get throughout the year. During the summer, parts of the palace are open to visitors. Tours last one hour and you’ll be able to see some of the lavish historical rooms and learn about the monarchs who ruled Norway over the centuries.

Slottsplassen 1, +47 22 04 87 00, kongehuset.no/seksjon.html. Summer hours vary. See the website for details. Admission is 140 NOK ($14.50 USD) and includes a tour.
 

9. Visit the Norwegian Folk Museum

The Norsk Folkemuseum (Norwegian Museum of Cultural History) is an open-air museum home to relocated traditional Norwegian buildings. It’s near the Viking Ship Museum (and several other museums) and showcases over 150 buildings from various periods throughout Norwegian history. The most stunning of its exhibitions is Gol Stave Church, an intricately carved wooden church that dates back to the 13th century. In the summer, you can also feed animals and take carriage rides around the area.

Museumsveien 10, +47 22 12 37 00, norskfolkemuseum.no. Open daily 11am–4pm. Admission is 160 NOK ($16.50 USD).
 

10. Go Swimming

Oslo is a city surrounded by water and nature. It’s a green capital, with many outdoor areas that are ideal for swimming in the summer. The water here is clean and safe too. Tjuvholmen City Beach, Sørenga Seawater Pool, and Huk are three places worth checking out if you’re looking to take a dip when the weather is nice.
 

11. Visit the Fram Museum

This unique museum focuses on polar exploration, a prevalent topic in Norwegian history and culture. The centerpiece is the Fram, the world’s first ice-breaking ship (and the last one made out of wood). In use between 1893 and 1912, the Fram made many trips to the North and South Poles and is said to have sailed farther north and farther south than any other wooden ship in history. The museum is very detailed and offers a lot of history, as well as photographs, tools, and artifacts.

Bygdøynesveien 39, +47 23 28 29 50, frammuseum.no. Open daily 10am–6pm. Admission is 120 NOK ($12.40 USD).
 

12. Learn about the Kon-Tiki Expedition

The famous Kon-Tiki balsa raft in Oslo, Norway
The Kon-Tiki Museum focuses on the works and expeditions of historian and explorer Thor Heyerdahl. Using a traditional balsa raft, Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific Ocean from South America to Polynesia, proving that the islands were populated from the Americas and not Asia, as had been previously thought. The journey took 101 days and was filmed, winning an Academy Award in 1951.

The original raft can be found in the museum, along with information on Heyerdahl’s other expeditions and archeological discoveries. The journey inspired the 2012 historical drama film Kon-Tiki (which is an excellent travel film).

Bygdøynesveien 36, +47 23 08 67 67, kon-tiki.no. Open daily 9:30am–6pm (shorter hours in the autumn and winter). Admission is 120 NOK ($12.40 USD).
 

13. Visit the Holocaust Center

The Holocaust Center focuses on the Norwegian experience of the Holocaust, highlighting the tragic fate of Norwegian Jews as well as the persecution of religious minorities around the world. Established in 2001, it moved from the university to the former residence of Vidkun Quisling, a fascist who headed the Norwegian government under Nazi occupation from 1942 to 1945 (he was executed for war crimes after the war ended). The center has all sorts of exhibitions, photos, films, artifacts, and interviews. It’s somber and sobering but worth a visit.

Huk Aveny 56, +47 23 10 62 00, hlsenteret.no. Open weekdays 9am–4pm. Admission is 70 NOK ($7.25 USD).
 

14. See City Hall

Oslo’s City Hall is open to the public and free to enter. While it might not sound like an interesting sight, tours of the hall are actually quite informative. There are about 20 murals and works of art inside the building, covering everything from traditional Norwegian life to the Nazi occupation. You’ll also learn about the history of the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded here annually (the other Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm).

15. Explore Akershus Castle

The exterior of Akershus Castle in Oslo, Norway in the summer
Originally built in 1290, Akershus Castle is a medieval fortress that later evolved into a Renaissance palace under Danish King Christian IV. It was built both for protection and as a royal residence (currently, it’s used as an office for the prime minister). The fortress has never successfully been besieged, though it did surrender to the Nazis during World War II.

Inside, you’ll find a military museum as well as a museum dedicated to the resistance during WWII. Guided tours are available in the summer and there are often concerts and events held here so check the website to see if anything is occurring during your visit.

+47 23 09 39 17, forsvarsbygg.no/no/festningene/finn-din-festning/akershus-festning. Open daily in the summers 10am–4pm (winter hours vary). Admission is free.
 

16. Go Tobogganing at Korketrekkeren

Tobogganing is a traditional Norwegian winter activity and one you shouldn’t miss if you’re here during the winter. Stretching over 2,000 meters long, the Korketrekkeren track is fun for adults and kids alike. Sleds and helmets are available for rent for 150 NOK ($15.50 USD) and you rent them by the day so you can enjoy as many rides as you like.
 

17. Explore the National Gallery

The National Gallery contains Edvard Munch’s famous painting “The Scream” (which was painted in 1893 and has been stolen twice). The gallery is small, but there are a lot of artists on display. You’ll find some Impressionist and Dutch works, as well as those by Picasso and El Greco. It’s not the most expansive collection, but it is still worth a visit, especially if you’re a fan of more classical art styles, like me.

The National Gallery is temporarily closed and will reopen in 2021. You can find some of its collection in the National Museum.
 

18. Get Off the Beaten Path

The She Lies sculpture in Oslo, Norway
If you’re looking for something more quirky, here are some of the more off-the-beaten path sights and museums the city has to offer:

  • Norwegian Museum of Magic – A small museum open only on Sundays, with lots of magic memorabilia and props. There’s also a small magic performance as well.
  • The Devil of Oslo – This statue is over 900 years old and depicts a man being attacked by a lion and a dragon. It’s a part of the Oslo Cathedral (though it’s much older than the cathedral itself).
  • The Mini Bottle Gallery – Home to over 50,000 bottles, this quirky museum is the only mini bottle museum in the world. The bottles are filled with everything from food to bones to worms (and much, much more!).
  • Edvard Munch’s grave – Munch painted the famous “The Scream.”
  • She Lies – This glass and stainless steel sculpture sits out in the harbor and evokes the power and beauty of an iceberg.

 

***

No matter what you’re interested in, Oslo will be able to keep you entertained. With its diverse collection of museums, an abundance of parks and hiking trails, and beautiful vistas and scenery, you’ll have a hard time getting bored here. And, while it is an expensive destination, I promise a trip to Oslo is worth every krone!

Book Your Trip to Oslo: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most comprehensive inventory. If you want to stay somewhere else, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. My favorite places to stay in Oslo are:

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all those I use to save money — and I think they will help you too!

Looking for more travel tips for Norway?
Check out my in-depth Norway travel guide for more ways to save money, tips on what to see and do, suggested itineraries, informational reading, packing lists, and much, much more!

Photo credits: 7 – Daderot, 8 – Claudine Lamothe, 9 – Nine LaMaitre

The post The 18 Best Things to See and Do in Oslo appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 17 Best Things to See and Do in Madrid

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The historic skyline of Madrid, Spain at sunset
Posted: 6/25/2020 | June 25th, 2020

Madrid is an energetic city known for its late nights, historic sites, and delicious cuisine. It’s a massive city bursting with beautiful architecture.

I’ve been to the city numerous times. It’s an incredible city where little alleys reveal hidden restaurants and bars and locals who like to start their nights late and go early into the morning. (It’s definitely a night owl city.)

As the capital of Spain, there’s a lot of history and art here. You could spend weeks here. There’s an endless amount of things to see and do in Madrid.

To help you make the most of your trip, here are my favorite things to do in Madrid, from museums to food tours to cultural experiences and more:
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

Travelers exploring a historic plaza in Madrid, Spain
I love taking free walking tours. They’re a budget-friendly way to see the main sights, learn some history, and get a feel for the city. You get access to a local guide who can answer all your questions and give you insider tips on where to go and what to do. Free Walking Tours Madrid and New Europe both offer comprehensive tours. Just make sure to tip your guide at the end!

For a more in-depth tour, Take Walks offers the best paid tours in the city. It’s my go-to walking tour company because its tours are super detailed and insightful.
 

2. Visit the Royal Palace

Construction began in 1735, and the palace was home to Spain’s monarchs until the 1930s. The palace is only used for official state functions now. You can visit and explore the historic buildings and grounds via both guided and self-guided tours. The palace has over 3,400 rooms and encompasses a massive 1.4 million square feet. The interior is lavishly decorated with massive vaulted ceilings, paintings, murals, and intricate wood carvings.

Oriente Square, +34 914 548 700, patrimonionacional.es. Open daily 10am–6pm (8pm in the summer). Admission is 14 EUR ($15.75 USD).
 

3. See the Cathedral of Madrid

The exterior of the Catedral de la Almudena in Madrid, Spain
The Catedral de la Almudena, which took over 100 years to complete, is the main cathedral in Madrid. It opened in 1993. Built in the Gothic Revival style, it offers some beautiful views overlooking the city.

Almudena Square, +34 915 422 200, catedraldelaalmudena.es. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Please dress respectfully, as this is a place of worship.
 

4. Relax in Plaza Mayor

Dating back to the 15th century, this square is the heart of Madrid. It’s a popular place for locals and tourists to gather, eat, and shop. It’s a bit overpriced these days but it offers some nice people-watching, and there are also usually events and concerts during the summer.
 

5. Take a Food Tour

Madrid is a foodie’s dream. If you aren’t sure where to start, I suggest taking a food tour. I took the Devour Madrid Food Tour run by fellow bloggers and ex-pats Lauren and James. It was informative, delicious, and absolutely filling. You can learn more in this video here:

For more on their tour, visit their website Devour Madrid.
 

6. Wander the Mercado de San Miguel

This covered market used to be a massive central market. Opened in 1916, it eventually fell into disrepair but was recently revitalized with amazing restaurants and food stalls. There are a lot of restaurants and stalls to find affordable tapas and drinks. It’s very popular with the after-work crowd.

Plaza de San Miguel, +34 915 424 936, mercadodesanmiguel.es. Open daily 10am–midnight.
 

7. See the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales

Built in the 16th century, the Convent of Las Descalzas Reales (which means “Monastery of the Royal Barefooted”) was the former palace of Emperor Charles V and Empress Isabel of Portugal. Single noblewomen were invited to reside here as nuns, bringing with them any wealth they had accumulated prior. Today, it is home to just a few nuns who look after the grounds and its relics, which include (alleged) pieces of Jesus’s cross as well as the bones of St. Sebastian.

Plaza de las Descalzas, +34 914 54 88 00, patrimonionacional.es/real-sitio/monasterio-de-las-descalzas-reales. Open Monday-Saturday 10am–2pm and 4pm–6:30pm as well as Sundays 10am–3pm. Admission is 8 EUR ($9 USD).

8. Visit the Naval Museum

The Museo Naval de Madrid highlights the history of Spain’s historic naval capabilities and accomplishments. It covers the 15th century to the present, with information on ships, wars, and colonies and how those all related to Spain as a world power. The museum has all kinds of maps and drawings as well as weapons and navigation equipment. It also houses the oldest map of the Americas, which was made in the year 1500. There’s a detailed section on the (failed) Spanish Armada that I found pretty insightful too.

Paseo Prado 5, +34 915 238 516. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am–7pm (3pm in August). Admission is 3 EUR ($3.40 USD).
 

9. Stroll Around the Royal Botanical Garden

The Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid, Spain
Founded in 1755, this park is home to lakes, labyrinths, squares, fountains, and lots of flowers. There are some 90,000 plants here and over 1,500 trees, as well as greenhouses, sculptures, and some immaculae gardens. It’s incredibly beautiful and serene.

Plaza de Murillo, +34 914 203 017, rjb.csic.es/jardinbotanico. Open daily at 10am; closes between 6pm and 9pm depending on the season. Admission is 4 EUR ($4.50 USD).
 

10. Explore the Reina Sofía Museum

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is home to the country’s national collection of art from the 20th century. It has many of Pablo Picasso’s works (including “Guérnica”), as well as art by Miró, Kandinsky, Dalí, and Bacon. Named after Queen Sofía, it is the ninth most-visited art museum in the entire world!!

Calle de Santa Isabel 52, +34 917 741 000, museoreinasofia.es. Open daily 10am–6pm (hours vary in the summer and winter). Admission is 10 EUR ($11.25 USD) but free from 7pm to 9pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
 

11. Relax in El Retiro Park

People in rowboats on the lake in El Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain
Covering over 350 acres, this is Madrid’s main park. It’s the perfect place to relax and lounge on a beautiful day. There’s even a small lake where you can rent a rowboat. There’s tons of green space for picnics, walking paths, and a monument to the victims of the Madrid terrorist bombings in 2004. The famous Crystal Palace (it’s made completely out of glass) features a rotating collection of art too.
 

12. Visit the Prado Museum

The Museo Nacional del Prado is the third most visited museum in the world. Opened in 1819, it has around 20,000 works by Spanish artists such as El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya; Flemish and Dutch artists, including Rubens, van Dyck, and Brueghel; Italian masters such as Botticelli, Tintoretto, Titian, Caravaggio, and Veronese; and German artists such as Dürer, Cranach, and Baldung Grien. You have to visit when you’re here.

Ruiz de Alarcon street, +34 913 302 800, museodelprado.es. Open Monday-Saturday 10am–8pm and Sundays 10am–7pm. Admission is 15 EUR ($16.90 USD); however, free entry is available Monday-Saturday 5pm–8pm and Sundays 5pm–7pm.
 

13. Learn Flamenco

Flamenco is a traditional style of dance that originated in Spain. It’s a lively, expressive style known for its intricate footwork and hand movements. If you’re looking to take a lesson, Madrid has a few affordable classes where you can learn the basics:

If you’d rather just take in a performance, some venues worth checking out are:

Tickets for performances usually start around 20 EUR ($22.50 USD), while classes will cost 15-30 EUR ($16.90 to $33.75 USD) per hour.
 

14. Watch a Soccer Match

Spaniards are crazy about soccer. Real Madrid, the capital’s home team, is one of the most famous soccer teams in the world. They play at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, which has a capacity of over 81,000 people. Games here are super popular, and fans take them quite seriously. If they’re playing during your visit, be sure to watch a game. It’s an amazing experience!

15. Explore the Museo de la Historia de Madrid

The Museum of History of Madrid covers the city’s evolution from the 16th century (when it became the capital) to World War I. Opened in 1929, it highlights daily life throughout the ages. There are lots of artifacts, maps, paintings, and sculptures to give you a much more nuanced understanding of Madrid.

Fuencarral street, +34 917 011 863, madrid.es/museodehistoria. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am–8pm. Admission is free.
 

16. Get Off the Beaten Path

The ancient Muslim Walls in Madrid, Spain
Madrid has tons of quirky and off-the-beaten-path sights to see. If you’re looking for some more unique experiences, here are a few worth checking out:

  • Reverte Coma Forensic Museum – A macabre museum full of deformed skeletons, torture devices, dissected fetuses, and much more. Insightful but unsettling!
  • The Muslim Walls – These walls date back to the ninth century when Madrid was under Moorish rule. They’re one of the oldest structures left in the city.
  • Rocker Grandma – Located in the Vallecas neighborhood, this statue commemorates Ángeles Rodríguez Hidalgo, who became a local heavy metal fan when she was 70.
  • Guanche Mummy of Madrid – This mummy is located in the National Archaeological Museum and was embalmed by the indigenous people of the Canary Islands between the 11th and 13th centuries.

 

17. Visit the Temple of Debod

The Temple of Debod is an Egyptian temple that dates back to the second century BCE. Originally located near Aswan in Upper Egypt, it was dismantled and given as a gift to Spain by the Egyptian government in 1968 as thanks for helping to relocate monuments from the Aswan Dam site. The temple can now be found in Madrid’s Cuartel de la Montaña Park. Although the inside of the temple is off-limits, you can still walk along the outside.

***

Whether you’re a foodie (like me), a history buff (also like me), someone looking for fun nightlife, or a traveler just hoping to soak in some incredible culture, Madrid is a city that won’t disappoint you. Madrid has energy and excitement and this list of things to do here can help you tap into that!

 

Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to EuropeMy detailed, 200+-page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guidebooks and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money while in Europe. You’ll find suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, on- and off-the-beaten-path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more! Click here to get a copy!
 

Book Your Trip to Spain: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld, as it has the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hotel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. I use them both all the time. My favorite hostels in Madrid are:

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use — and I think they will help you too!

Want a Guide?
Madrid has some really interesting tours. My favorite company is Take Walks, which has expert guides and can get you behind the scenes of the city’s best attractions. It’s my go-to walking tour company!

Looking for more information on visiting Madrid?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Madrid with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

Photo Credits: 4- Richard Mortel, 6 – Jose Luiz

The post The 17 Best Things to See and Do in Madrid appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Travel is Never Going to Be the Same Again

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A solo female traveler walking alone on a beach
Posted: 6/22/2020 | June 22nd, 2020

If you’re like me, you might be wondering what the future of travel holds now that more countries are easing lockdowns and opening borders. I wrote about the future of travel back in March but, like everything COVID related, a lot has changed since then.

Lately, days feel like years and months feel like decades.

Given how much has changed — and how fast things are still changing — I want to revisit this topic.

There have been a plethora of articles lately about how destinations and companies will change and what travel will look like once we head out on the road again.

I agree with many of the points my colleagues make.

Yes, local/domestic travel will be big over the next few months as people forgo international/cross-border travel for travel within their own country. Yes, many countries will require a COVID test at the border or, at the very least, proof of a recent negative COVID test to enter. Yes, most companies will tout their cleaning policies more as a way to attract customers.

And, yes, the travel industry’s recovery will be slow as people cautiously head out into the world again.

But I think too many have blinders and are underestimating just how bad it’s going to be for the industry. They simply don’t want to see the ugly truth:

The sky is falling – and this industry is about to see a massive shakeup.

Because people make travel happen.

Without people, travel doesn’t exist.

And the more I talk to readers, friends, and other travelers, the more I realize people will not travel again in large numbers until there’s either a vaccine, treatment, or a decline in cases after reopening.

Humans are hardwired to minimize risk and uncertainty. We didn’t leave the cave after dark because of the danger out there. The night brought terrors and risks. That risk-reduction psychology has stayed with us through the millennia. It’s why we always go with the devil we know and stay in jobs we don’t love but are stable.

Humans always reduce risk.

So, even as countries open their borders, most people are taking a wait-and-see approach.

And I can see that not just through my interactions with friends and readers but through Google too. Even as parts of the world have started to reopen, this website has seen no increase in our search traffic. We rank for such a wide variety of keywords and often in the top 1-3 results that I can use my site’s traffic as a good barometer for consumer sentiment. (But TripAdvisor and Kayak have shown similar research though.)

People walk before they run and they search for travel and begin to plan months in advance before actually booking it.

That means if people aren’t searching for travel now, they are unlikely to take a trip in the next few months.

That is not good news.

If companies talked to end consumers more, they would know this. Maybe they do. But their press statements suggest there is just a huge pent-up demand waiting for travel that will save the industry anytime now.

Yeah, people all want to travel. Just not anytime soon.

Twenty percent of people will go traveling the second they can and another twenty are so risk-averse they are probably going to wait for some vaccine.

Everyone else? They want to see what happens to the first 20%.

There are just so many unknowns.

Will you be quarantined? Will you pick COVID up and bring it home? What happens if you think you’re fine but end up sick, aren’t able to get home, and you’re now stuck somewhere for two weeks?

And what about the destination itself? will attractions be closed or restricted? Will some activities be canceled? Will transportation be limited? Will distancing regulations interfere with meals, transportation, tours, and other activities? Will you have to spend your vacation wearing a mask? What if others aren’t wearing a mask?

There are too many variables and people don’t want to spend their one big trip worrying all the time. Travel is supposed to be a relaxing escape.

It doesn’t matter what hygiene or social distancing measures countries, tour operators, or airlines take. In a recent poll, only 28% said open borders would make them feel safe. That’s the crowd that will travel. The rest are staying home.

Right now, most of the travel industry is relying on meager savings, government loans, and a lot of hope. The industry is in a severe depression right now with 60% of jobs lost. Things are bad. We’re all just hoping for some semblance of a summer travel season to get through the rest of the year and keep our businesses afloat.

But I think hope is going to smack into reality really soon when this travel season is a lot shorter than we imagined — and with a lot fewer people. While local travel will grow, there simply aren’t enough local tourists to make up for the missing international ones.

Plus, let’s not forget capacity restrictions.

How many hostels, hotels, or airlines can operate at 50% capacity? How big can Airbnb remain if no one wants to stay in other people’s homes? How many walking tour companies can be sustained by vastly fewer tourists?

I think this fall we’re going to see many tour operators, hostels, independent hotels, magazines, creators, and other businesses in this space go under. A bloodbath is coming. (And this site is not immune. We’re barely treading water. At our current spend, we’ll be bankrupt by Feb 2021 if something doesn’t change.)

But, while the job loss will be terrible, travel was in need of serious reform. It had simply grown too big. We were in a Gold Rush. From VC-backed startups to hostels to influencers to tour companies, there was just too much of everything. Overtourism was a huge problem. Destinations just weren’t built to handle so many people and the environmental impact from all this travel was staggering.

In my opinion, we were due for a realignment.

I want people to go explore the world but, if so many of us are going to do that, then we need to do so in a more sustainable and managed way.

We need to take a step back and say “Ok, how do we make this work for everyone involved?”

Many destinations will use this downtime to change their policies to ensure more sustainable numbers of visitors in the future. You can already see this happening in Venice, Amsterdam, Prague, and Barcelona.

Everyone can literally start from zero to create a more sustainable travel sector.

Will this mean it will be as easy to travel in the future as it was in the past? Maybe. Maybe not.

We should spread out our tourism more. Iceland is more than Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon. Spain is more than Madrid and Barcelona. Venice isn’t big enough to handle all our numbers. Indonesia has over seventeen thousand islands not just Bali.

That might raise prices for some destinations but long before this boom in travel, there was budget travel. There have always been ways to save money on the road. There will still be ways to save money on the road when this is all over.

I’m not worried about travel becoming too expensive. Even if some places become less accessible (and, honestly, to protect places like the Galapagos, Everest, or the Machu Picchu, we should greatly reduce the numbers who go there), there’s still plenty of places in the world on a budget!

But that is a problem for later because, as the crowds grow slower than destinations and companies hope, by the time we have a conversation about what “the future” looks like, most travel companies will be out of business anyway.

What is coming is a seismic shift as large as when the Internet transformed how we book travel and get information.

And I don’t think we’re prepared for that.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all those I use — and they’ll save you time and money too!

The post Travel is Never Going to Be the Same Again appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Coronavirus and Travel: What You Need to Know (Plus Resources)

Posted By : webmaster/ 135 0


A solo traveler standing on a log in Alberta, Canada
Posted: 6/18/20 | June 18th, 2020

Over the last six months, Coronavirus has devastated the world. Millions have gotten sick, hundreds of thousands have lost their lives, and entire economies have been shut down. In just a matter of weeks, entire countries completely locked themselves down and closed their borders to visitors.

For the first time since probably World War II, travel — an industry that relies on human movement and employs 10% of the global workforce — completely stopped.

Now, as COVID-19 recedes in some places, many countries are slowly starting to reopen to tourists.

While I personally think it’s still best to wait a little longer before taking an international trip, that doesn’t mean we can’t start looking at the current situation to get a sense of how we can best plan our future trips.

There are a lot of variables and everything is still changing.

And that creates a lot of questions.

How do you know which countries are open? How do we find out new visitation rules? Will travel insurance apply during the pandemic? What is flying going to be like? Are hotels and hostels safe? What attractions are open?

To help you figure out what to do and where to find information, I created this post to get the ball rolling. (Note: This post will be updated as more information becomes available.)
 

What Destinations are Open?

The list of countries that are opening in the coming weeks and months grows every day. Some are opening for all international visitors, while others are opening only for neighboring countries. Some countries, like the US and Indonesia and Australia, have bans on visitors from certain countries. Tahiti is making people show a negative test result within 72 hours of their flight. Same for Austria (or you can do a test on arrival). On the other hand, Cambodia wants a $3,000 deposit to cover any potential COVID expenses.

In short, there’s a lot of varying rules to sort through.

That means you’ll need to do specific research based on where you want to go if you want to travel this summer or fall. Luckily, there are a few websites that will make that research straightforward.

First, here is a helpful (but not user-friendly) map from the International Air Transport Association showing you which countries are allowing flights.

Second, The Points Guy and Travel Off Path have breakdowns on the current travel rules for virtually every country in the world.

Additionally, if you’re heading to Europe, this official map from the European Union will let you know which countries are open.

Third, check the official government’s Foreign Office or tourism board as they will have the most up-to-date information.

If you’re not sure how to find those websites, simply Google “(country name) foreign office” or “(country name) official tourism board.” Additionally, “(country name) COVID travel update” will get you a good list of official websites too. They’ll have the best information on potential quarantine rules, test requirements, and other restrictions.

 

Where Can I Find the Most Current Case Count Information?

If you want to see the current status of a destination’s number of active cases, this interactive map from Johns Hopkins University is kept up-to-date. However, I prefer Worldometers because it’s a bit more user friendly and you can parse down the data a bit more.
 

What are Airlines Doing?

Flying for the foreseeable future is going to be a lot different. Currently, most airlines are requiring passengers to wear masks, though enforcement is inconsistent. The boarding process has also changed to reduce interactions and support physical distancing.

Some airlines (such as Southwest) are not booking any middle seats to maintain a safer distance between passengers. Not every airline is doing that, though, and while most flights are still under-booked, I’ve seen images of some rather full flights.

Here’s a post with more information from The Points Guy if you want to read more.

As for cleaning, many airlines are majorly disinfecting planes in between every flight. For current policies, here’s a list of the major airlines and their current procedures:

If you are flying or otherwise traveling alongside other people, here’s some important hygiene advise:

  • Wash your hands frequently (or consider wearing latex gloves).
  • Wear a mask.
  • Refrain from touching your face.
  • Wipe down your seat or seating area with disinfectant wipes (because people are gross and so are planes).

On the plus side, many airlines have changed their cancelation policies, which means you can often change your flights without penalty now as well (check your specific airline to see if that’s an option before you book). I doubt that will last a long time but, as airlines try to get people in seats, they will make changing your flight easier as a way to do so!
 

What are Hotels, Hostels, and Airbnb Doing?

Accommodations in many cities have been closed or forced to operate at reduced capacity. Most of the major chains that are open (or reopening) have committed to enhanced cleaning routines. Some of the key changes hotels are embracing are:

  • Temperature/health checks of guests on arrival.
  • Enhanced disinfection and cleaning of the check-in counter and common areas (pools, fitness centers, etc.).
  • Adjustments to common areas to maintain social distancing.
  • Extra disinfection for the most-used items in hotel rooms (door handles, remotes, light switches, etc.).

Most hotels have also changed their cancelation policy to make bookings more flexible since the situation is so fluid. Here are statements and policies from the major hotel chains so you can review their changes and commitments for yourself:

And if you’re looking to learn more about Airbnb and how it is responding to the current situation, here is their Coronavirus policy and update page.

As for hostels, there’s so many that it’s hard to say what all the hostels in the world are doing. There’s no hostel association where members have to adhere to certain guidelines like in other industries. But here are a few policies from some of the larger hostel chains to give you a sense of the industry right now:

Be sure to reach out to the hostels directly as they will be best positioned to answer your questions.
 

What About Tour Companies?

Many tour companies are not even selling tours right now so you’ll need to check ahead to see what companies are still offering tours during your travel dates. Here are some travel updates and policy changes from my favorite tour companies:

Be sure to double-check the company’s cancelation and refund policies in case they start selling tours again but have to quickly shut down in case of another update. You don’t want to be stuck without money.

For everyday activities in a city, simply check the local tourism office. They will have up-to-date information on what attractions are doing as well as information on changes to public transportation.
 

Will Travel Insurance Cover Me?

Most travel insurance does not apply during a pandemic. This is especially true if your government has issued warnings not to visit specific regions or countries. In fact, some travel insurance companies are not even selling insurance right now in light of the situation. Eventually, as travel restarts, that will change. If you want to make sure you’re covered, here’s what I suggest:

  • Purchase “cancel for any reason” insurance policies or plans that include comprehensive trip interruption and cancelation coverage.
  • Make every purchase on a travel credit card that also has insurance as a backup.
  • Visit only destinations that do not have any government warnings.
  • Contact the insurance company before you book and speak to someone directly about their COVID exclusions.

 

What If I Can’t Quarantine for Two Weeks?

Many destinations are requiring visitors to quarantine on arrival. Contact the foreign office for more information to ensure you aren’t going to spend your entire vacation in lockdown (travelers are already finding out about quarantine rules too late).

The situation is changing and, if you end up on a flight with someone who tests positive, the country could force you to quarantine. It’s a real risk. I would say that if you are unable to quarantine for two weeks during or after your trip, don’t go international. Stay local.

***

It’s nice the world is starting to open up again but, personally, I think it’s best to focus on travel within your own borders right now until the international situation becomes a bit better organized, guidelines are clearer, and we see the clearer effects of reopening on destinations. I’m traveling domestically but internationally? I’m very much in the “wait and see” camp.

But, with guidelines coming out relating to COVID and travel, you can at least start to understand rules and what to expect for when you do start to travel!

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all those I use — and they’ll save you time and money too!

The post Coronavirus and Travel: What You Need to Know (Plus Resources) appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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My 12 Favorite Hostels in Barcelona

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The historic and towering cathedral in Barcelona, Spain
Posted: 6/11/2020 | June 11th, 2020

Few destinations in the world bring in the crowds like Barcelona. It’s one of the most incredible cities not just in Spain, but in the entire world, home to a buzzing nightlife, delectable food scene, and tons of stunning architecture.

No matter what your budget or reason for visiting, you’ll be able to enjoy this sprawling, picturesque city and its laid-back pace of life.

I’ve been visiting Barcelona for a decade and have stayed in dozens upon dozens of hostels over the years. There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The top four when picking the best hostel in Barcelona are:

  1. Location – Barcelona is huge and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites and nightlife you want to see. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
  2. Price – In Barcelona, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap one, you’re probably going to get a hostel that is small, cramped, and doesn’t offer great service.
  3. Amenities – Every hostel in the city offers free Wi-Fi, and most have a free breakfast, but if you want more than that, be sure to do your research to find the hostel that best meets your needs!
  4. Staff – All the hostels listed here have amazing staff! They are super friendly and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t end up staying at one of the places listed below, be sure to look up reviews to ensure you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly! They can make or break a hostel!

To help you plan your trip, here is my list of the hostels in Barcelona that I like the most. If you don’t want to read the longer list below, the following hostels are the best in each category:

Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: Hostel One Ramblas or Hostel One Paralelo
Best Hostel for Families: St. Christopher’s Inn
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: Sleep Green
Best Hostel for Partying: Kabul Party Hostel
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: Yeah Hostel
Best Overall Hostel: St. Christopher’s Inn

Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in Barcelona:

Price Legend (per night)

  • $ = Under 30 EUR
  • $$ = 30-40 EUR
  • $$$ = Over 40 EUR

 

1. St. Christopher’s Inn

The spacious private rooms of St. Christopher's hostel in Barcelona, Spain
This is one of my favorite hostels in Europe. Located right near La Rambla, it’s a social and lively hostel with a huge bar/outdoor right next door. They organize daily events and the beds are cozy pods with curtains so you can actually get a decent sleep. It’s clean, comfy, and one of the best hostels in the city.

St. Christopher’s at a glance:

  • $$
  • Huge bar/outdoor common area makes it easy to meet people
  • Privacy curtains so you can get a decent sleep
  • Female-only dorms for added privacy and security

Beds from 35 EUR a night, rooms from 170 EUR per night.

—> Book your stay at St. Christopher’s Inn!
 

2. Hostel One Paralelo

A dorm room full of travelers at Paralelo hostel in Barcelona, Spain
This is a fun party hostel that’s great for solo travelers. They organize nightly events and activities, host free dinners every night, and work hard to make sure everyone is having fun. While it is a lively hostel, they also have separate commons rooms for chilling out and working, as well as a movie room with Netflix in case you just want to relax. The dorms are also capped at 8 beds so you’re never crammed in with a ton of people either (which is a big plus in my book).

Hostel One Paralelo at a glance:

  • $
  • Free nightly dinners
  • Relaxed social atmosphere
  • Easy to meet other travelers

Beds from 20 EUR a night, rooms from 54 EUR per night.

—> Book your stay at Hostel One Paralelo!
 

3. Kabul Party Hostel

The dark interior of a dorm room at the Kabul Party Hostel in Barcelona, Spain
Kabul is my favorite hostel in the city (and is tied for my favorite hostel in all of Europe. It’s a full-on party hostel, so don’t come here looking for peace and quiet.

They organize nightly events and pub crawls. Surprisingly, the dorms are clean and the beds are comfy — which is rare for party hostels. What makes Kabul so great is the common area. It takes up a whole floor of the building and comprises a café, bar, internet kiosk, and a pool table. It’s super social and really easy to meet people here. Just don’ expect to get much sleep!

Kabul Party Hostel at a glance:

  • $$
  • Organizes lots of activities
  • Really easy to meet people
  • Lively party atmosphere

Beds from 32 EUR a night, rooms from 82 EUR per night.

—> Book your stay at Kabul Party Hostel!
 

4. HelloBCN

The common area of HelloBCN hostel in Barcelona, Spain
This is another social hostel with amazing staff that go above and beyond to make sure you have a memorable trip. The hostel serves free breakfast, has lots of common areas (with ping pong and board games), and they organize all kinds of events too. They can also get you discounts to some of the city’s nightclubs in case you’re looking to enjoy Barcelona’s famous nightlife. They also have a kichen in case you want to cook your own meals and guests get electronic wristbands so the hostel is safe and secure. They also have female-only dorms too.

HelloBCN at a glance:

  • $
  • Free breakfast
  • Organizes lots of events
  • Awesome and helpful staff

Beds from 28 EUR a night, rooms from 100 EUR per night.

—> Book your stay at HelloBCN!
 

5. Hostel One Ramblas

The clean dorm room of Hostel One Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain
Like the other Hostel One location on this list, Ramblas is social hostel where it’s easy to have fun. They organize daily walking tours and nights out so there is always something to do (which makes it easy to meet new people). Free dinners are held daily, breakfast is super cheap (3 EUR), and the beds are really comfortable. It’s also close to a metro stop so you can easily get around the city. The staff here are awesome and go above and beyond to make sure you have a great stay.

Hostel One Ramblas at a glance:

  • $
  • Free nightly dinners
  • Great place to meet other travelers
  • Organizes daily events and activities

Beds from 20 EUR a night.

—> Book your stay at Hostel One Ramblas!
 

6. 360 Hostel Barcelona Arts & Culture

The common area of 360 Hostel in Barcelona, Spain
Another fun and interactive hostel that organizes daily walking tours, cooking classes, and has free tapas every Thursday. It’s super social. They have a chill patio with lots of space to hang out and lounge and have free dinners every night as well. It’s a bustling, communal hostel that makes you feel like you’re at home with friends. They keep it super clean too!

360 Hostel Barcelona at a glance:

  • $$
  • Organizes lots of activities
  • Easy to meet people
  • Free dinner

Beds from 35 EUR a night.

—> Book your stay at 360 Hostel Barcelona Arts & Culture!
 

7. Fabrizzio’s Petit

The colorful dorm room of Fabrizzio's hostel in Barcelona, Spain
This hostel has a real family vibe to it. They offer free breakfast every morning and host communal dinners every night. They have a spacious outdoor terrace, a chill common area with video games, and they also organize a few walking tours of different parts of the city as well. They have free coffee and tea too. To top it all off, the showers have great water pressure — something I appreciate!

Fabrizzio’s Petit at a glance:

  • $$$
  • Free breakfast
  • Communal dinners and other daily events
  • Awesome showers

Beds from 46 EUR a night, rooms from 129 EUR per night.

—> Book your stay at Fabrizzio’s Petit!
 

8. Yeah Hostel Barcelona

The and spacious lobby of Yeah Hostel in Barcelona, Spain
This is an energetic hostel with a cool interior design (there is lots of art and murals on the walls). They organize daily walking tours and pub crawls and have a bar on-site so you can chill out and enjoy a drink with your fellow travelers (you also get a free drink with your stay). They have some quiter areas too for when you want to relax. Everything is clean and modern, which makes it feel almost like a hotel — but with the socializing and fun of a hostel. You can also attend thier daily communal dinners (10 EUR) which are super delicious and a great way to meet people.

Yeah Hostel at a glance:

  • $$$
  • Free drinks
  • Daily tours and pub crawls
  • Easy to meet other travelers

Beds from 42 EUR a night, rooms from 146 EUR per night.

—> Book your stay at Yeah Hostel!
 

9. Sant Jordi Hostels Sagrada Familia

The and spacious drom of Sant Jordi hostel in Barcelona, Spain
This is a really cool hostel. They have instruments and a stage for playing music, an indoor skate ramp, and the hostel is covered in cool murals and art. They organize nightly parties and pub crawls, have a huge spacious kitchen for cooking your own food, and a chill outdoor lounge for relaxing and hanging out. Located right near the city center (it’s just a few minutes from La Sagrada Familia), it’s definitely one of the coolest hostels in the city.

Sant Jordi Hostels Sagrada Familia at a glance:

  • $
  • Awesome interior
  • Nightly pub crawls
  • Fully equipped kitchen

Beds from 24 EUR a night, rooms from 39 EUR per night.

—> Book your stay at Sant Jordi Hostels Sagrada Familia!
 

10. Bed & Bike Barcelona

The common area of Beds and Bikes hostel in Barcelona, Spain
What separates this unique hostel from the rest is that it offers a free bike tour of the city every morning (you can also rent a bike for 7 EUR per day). They also have free dinners and sangria nights too, which keeps the atmosphere lively and energetic. It’s just 5 mintues from La Sagrada Familia and La Rambla too so it’s a super convenient location. Free coffee and tea are available all day, which is a nice little bonus if you just want to relax and chill (or do some work). And the beds are litle cubbies with curtains so you have some added privacy (which I appreciate).

Bed & Bike Barcelona at a glance:

  • $
  • Free daily bike tous
  • Great location
  • Hosts lots of activities

Beds from 25 EUR a night, rooms from 74 EUR per night.

—> Book your stay at Bed & Bike Barcelona!
 

11. Mediterranean Youth Hostel

The dorm room of the Mediterranean Youth Hostel in Barcelona, Spain
This laid-back youth hostel is a good choice for younger travelers (dorms are only available to travelers under 48). They host Mediterranean-themed dinners, plan nightly pub crawls, and offer daily free walking tours as well. There is always something fun going on to help you meet people and enjoy the city. They have an outdoor courtyard, movie room, and a chill common area with video games as well. It’s also one of the more budget-friendly hostels too!

Mediterranean Youth Hostel at a glance:

  • $
  • Organizes lots of events
  • Good location
  • Lots of common areas

Beds from 28 EUR a night.

—> Book your stay at Mediterranean Youth Hostel!
 

12. Sleep Green Eco Youth Hostel

The front desk of the Sleep Green hostel in Barcelona, Spain
This is the most sustainable and eco-friendly hostel in the city. It’s a quiet, laid-back hostel which is great for anyone looking for a less rowdy stay in Barcelona. They have a fully-equipped kitchen for cooking your own meals and lots of common areas for hanging out and meeting other travelers. It’s not the most social place, making it a good choice for digital nomads looking to get some work done or travelers looking to do their own thing.

Sleep Green Eco Hostel at a glance:

  • $$
  • Eco-friendly
  • Quiet
  • Fully equipped kitchen

Beds from 35 EUR.

—> Book your stay at Sleep Green!

***

Barcelona is an energetic, world-class city that draws millions and millions of visitors each and every year — and for good reason! Yet it can also be an expensive destination if you don’t plan ahead. Fortunately, if you do your research and stay in one of the hostels on this list you’ll be able to save money, have fun, and make the most of your time in this incredible city!

Book Your Trip to Barcelona: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
To find the best budget accommodation, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most comprehensive inventory.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Need a Guide?
Barcelona has some really great guided Gaudi tours. My favorite company to go with is Take Walks. Their “Complete Gaudí Tour” will give you the best in-depth and behind-the-scenes Gaudi tour out there.

Looking For More Information on Visiting Barcelona?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Barcelona with more tips on what to see, do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

Photo credit: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

The post My 12 Favorite Hostels in Barcelona appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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My 6 Favorite Hostels in San Diego

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The skyline of San Diego as seen from over the bay
Posted: 6/11/2020 | June 11th, 2020

San Diego is an underrated destination. While visitors flock to San Francisco and Los Angeles, more often than not San Diego gets skipped over.

With incredible weather, awesome beaches, and tons of things to see and do (both in the city and nearby), San Diego is a destination that shouldn’t be overlooked.

I’ve been visiting the city for years and have stayed in many of the city’s hostels. There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The top four when picking the best hostel in San Diego are:

  1. Location – San Diego is huge and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites and nightlife you want to see. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
  2. Price – In San Diego, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap one, you’re probably going to get a hostel that is small, cramped, and doesn’t offer great service.
  3. Amenities – Every hostel in the city offers free Wi-Fi, and many have a free breakfast, but if you want more than that, be sure to do your research to find the hostel that best meets your needs!
  4. Staff – All the hostels listed here have amazing staff! They are super friendly and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t end up staying at one of the places listed below, be sure to look up reviews to ensure you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly! They can make or break a hostel!

To help you plan your trip, here is my list of the hostels in San Diego that I like the most. If you don’t want to read the longer list below, the following hostels are the best in each category:

Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: HI San Diego – Downtown
Best Hostel for Families: HI San Diego – Point Loma or HI San Diego – Downtown
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: ITH Adventure Hostel
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: HI San Diego – Point Loma
Best Hostel for Partying: Lucky D’s
Best Overall Hostel: HI San Diego – Downtown

Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in San Diego:

Price Legend (per night)

  • $ = Under $30 USD
  • $$ = $30-40 USD
  • $$$ = Over $40 USD

 

1. HI San Diego – Downtown

The bunk beds in a dorm room in the HI Hostel in downtown San Diego, California
I’m a big fan of HI hostels. They’ve helped bring hosteling into the mainstream and their hostels are always top-notch. HI San Diego Downtown is no different. Not only is it one of the most affordable places to stay in town but it’s consistently ranked as the best hostel too. They have free breakfast, organize tons of events and tours, and have a big kitchen so you can cook your own food. There’s video games and a pool table in the common room too.

HI San Diego – Downtown at a glance:

  • $
  • Social atmosphere
  • Organizes lots of events
  • Free breakfast

Beds from $25 USD a night, rooms from $59 USD.

—> Book your stay at HI San Diego – Downtown!
 

2. ITH Adventure Hostel San Diego

The common area of the ITH Adventure Hostel in San Diego, California
What I really like about this hostel is its focus on sustainable travel. They have a vegetable garden (and give free veggies away to visitors), a recycling and compost program, and there are even backyard chickens. There is lots of outdoor common space to relax in and it’s a very friendly and social hostel too. It’s clean and the water pressure in the showers is pretty good. The beds are pretty comfy too. It’s my favorite hostel in the city.

ITH Adventure Hostel San Diego at a glance:

  • $$
  • Female-only rooms
  • Social atmosphere so it’s easy to meet people
  • Eco-friendly

Beds from $38 USD a night, rooms from $100 USD.

—> Book your stay at ITH Adventure Hostel San Diego!
 

3. HI San Diego – Point Loma

The exterior of the HI Point Loma hostel in in San Diego, California
Located right near Ocean Beach, this is another aweome HI Hostel. It’s a laid-back place with lots of common areas (including a courtyard with a BBQ and outdoor fire pit), includes free breakfast, and they offer free surfboards if you want to hit the waves (they also include free beach towels too). They organize all kinds of weekly events too so it’s easy to meet people. They also have bikes for rent if you want to explore.

HI San Diego – Point Loma at a glance:

  • $$
  • Organizes lots of events
  • Free perks (breakfast, surfboards)
  • Laid back and friendly atmosphere

Beds from $37 USD a night, rooms from $82 USD.

—> Book your stay at HI San Diego – Point Loma!
 

4. ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel

The common area of the ITH Surf Hostel in San Diego, California
If you’re planning to spend your days on the beach, this is the hostel for you. Located right on the beach, this place has a huge outdoor patio, surfboards and wetsuits for rent, and there’s lots of bars and restaurants nearby. They have a tasy free breakfast too (including pancakes). Plus, they also grow organic vegetables (which guests can eat), have recycling and composting programs, andupcycle furniture into art too!

ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel at a glance:

  • $$$
  • Amazing location
  • Free breakfast
  • Laid-back atmosphere

Beds from $55 USD a night, rooms from $179 USD.

—> Book your stay at ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel!
 

5. Lucky D’s

The colorful dorms of Lucky D's hostel in San Diego, California
This hostel hosts nightly events and pubcrawls so if you’re looking for a party, stay here. Located in the Gaslamp district, it’s in a central, convenient location. They have bikes for rent and laundry facilities as well as lockers in every room so you can keep your stuff secure. It’s one of the cheapest hostels in the city.

Lucky D’s at a glance:

  • $
  • Weekly events and activities
  • Affordable dorms
  • Good location

Beds from $28 USD a night, rooms from $86 USD.

—> Book your stay at Lucky D’s!
 

6. California Dreams Hostel

The colorful kitchen of the California Dreams hostel in San Diego, California
This is your classic backpacker hostel. They organize movie nights, have free yoga mats, and they even offer surf lessons (you can rent wetsuits and surfboards as well). They also organize lots of tours, include free breakfast, and are just 1 minute from the beach. Overall, it’s a solid backpacker hostel in a great location with lots of free perks.

California Dreams Hostel at a glance:

  • $$
  • Free perks (breakfast, yoga mats, frisbees/volleyballs)
  • Social atmosphere makes it easy to meet people
  • Organizes lots of events

Beds from $40 USD a night, rooms from $120 USD.

—> Book your stay at California Dreams Hostel!

***

San Diego is a fun, relaxing city with amazing food and even more amazing beaches. It’s like a smaller, better version of Los Angeles. Best of all, it’s also more affordable than both LA and San Francisco, which makes it a prime choice for road trippers and budget travelers looking to have some fun in the sun.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all those I use — and they’ll save you time and money too!

Photo credit: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

The post My 6 Favorite Hostels in San Diego appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 8 Best Hostels in San Francisco

Posted By : webmaster/ 97 0


Looking out over the Golden Gate Bridge on the coast of San Francisco, USA
Posted: 6/11/2020 | June 11th, 2020

San Francisco is a beautiful, eclectic city. Balancing its hippy roots with its modern, techie scene, San Francisco is a cool, lively, energetic city bursting with history and tons of amazing food. It’s some to hippies, students, artists, entrepreneurs, and sizeable immigrant communities. All of that combines to create one of the best cities in the country.

However, it’s also one of the most expensive in the country too!

Fortunately, the city has a growing hostel scene so you can find affordable accommodation during your visit. I’ve been visiting San Francisco for a decade and have stayed in dozens of hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs. Since the city is so expensive, hostels are your best bet here.

There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The top four when picking the best hostel in San Francisco are:

  1. Location – San Francisco is huge and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites and nightlife you want to see. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
  2. Price – In San Francisco, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap one, you’re probably going to get a hostel that is small, cramped, and doesn’t offer great service.
  3. Amenities – Every hostel in the city offers free Wi-Fi, and most have a free breakfast, but if you want more than that, be sure to do your research to find the hostel that best meets your needs!
  4. Staff – All the hostels listed here have amazing staff! They are super friendly and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t end up staying at one of the places listed below, be sure to look up reviews to ensure you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly! They can make or break a hostel!

To help you plan your trip, here is my list of the hostels in San Francisco that I like the most. If you don’t want to read the longer list below, the following hostels are the best in each category:

Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: Orange Village
Best Hostel for Families: Adelaide Hostel
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: HI Fisherman’s Wharf
Best Hostel for Partying: Green Tortoise Hostel
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: HI Downtown
Best Overall Hostel: Green Tortoise Hostel

Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in San Francisco:

Price Legend (per night)

  • $ = Under $40 USD
  • $$ = $40-50 USD
  • $$$ = Over $50 USD

 

1. HI San Francisco – Downtown

The interior of a spacious private room at HI San Francisco Downtown
HI Downtown has some standard perks like free breakfast and free towels but they also organize a lot of events — including pub crawls, trips to Muir Woods and Yosemite, and bike tours across the Golden Gate Bridge.

HI Downtown at a Glance:

  • $$$
  • Organizes lots of events?
  • Free breakfast and free towels
  • Lots of common areas

Beds from $54 USD a night, rooms from $159 USD.

—> Book your stay at HI Downtown!
 

2. Green Tortoise Hostel

The huge ballroom dining area at the Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco, USA
This hostel is an travel institution in San Francisco. It’s one of the oldest in the city. It’s my favorite hostel in the city (and one of my favorites in the entire country). They offer free breakfast, free dinners multiple times per week, and they even have a free sauna! They have a huge common room so it’s easy to meet people and it’s a very fun, social atmosphere. There’s a pool, tons of games (like giant jenga and foosball), and musical instruments in case you want to jam.

Green Tortoise at a glance:

  • $$
  • Lots of free perks (free breakfast, free dinners, free sauna)
  • Lively party atmosphere
  • Great for solo travelers

Beds from $47 USD a night.

—> Book your stay at Green Tortoise!
 

3. HI San Francisco – Fisherman’s Wharf

The front desk and lobby of the HI hostel at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, USA
This is another great HI hostel. They have lots of common areas (so it’s easy to relax and meet people), they organzie tons of events (like bike tours, museum tours, and pub crawls), and they even have a small theater for watching movies. They also have a cafe on-site (with reasonable prices) and keep the hostel clean and tidy.

HI Fisherman’s Wharf at a glance:

  • $$
  • Female-only dorms for extra security
  • Organizes lots of events
  • Huge kitchen

Beds from $41.50 USD a night.

—> Book your stay at HI Fisherman’s Wharf!
 

4. Found San Francisco – Union Square

Bunk beds in a dorm room at FOUND hostel in San Francisco, USA
Located right near Union Square in the heart of the city, Found has spacious private rooms as well as smaller dorm rooms. It’s a good choice for anyone looking for a bit more privacy and some peace and quiet. The kitchen isn’t huge but the beds are super comfy and the rooms are clean and a bit more stylish than most hostels.

Found Union Square at a glance:

  • $$
  • Convenient location
  • Modern ammenities

Beds from $40.50 USD a night, rooms from $269 USD.

—> Book your stay at Found!
 

5. HI San Francisco – City Center

A comfy bed in a spacious privae room at the HI Hostel City Center hostel in San Francisco, USA
This cozy hostel is located in a boutique hotel from the 1920s. It does an excellent job of balancing historic charm with a modern atmosphere. There are lots of beautiful paintings and murals and they even have a speakeasy-style cafe. But it’s the atmosphere here that makes your stay worthwhile. There are lots of common areas to chill out and meet people and they also have female-only dorms too. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the main shopping area there are lots of cheap reataurants nearby as well.

HI City Center at a glance:

  • $$
  • Easy to meet people
  • Free breakfast and free towels
  • Comfy beds

Beds from $49 USD a night, rooms from $125 USD.

—> Book your stay at HI City Center!
 

6. Adelaide Hostel

The lobby and common area of the Adelaide Hostel in San Francisco, USA
This is one of the quieter and more laid-back hostels in the city. The beds are comfy and there are privacy curtains so you can actually get a decent sleep (something I really appreciate). They offer free breakfast as well as free meals throughout the week so it’s easy to connect with other travelers. The hostel on a sidestreet just two blocks from downtown so you get the convenience of being centrally located without all the noise. The staff here are awesome too and can help you mkae the most of your trip.

Adelaide Hostel at a glance:

  • $$$
  • Comfy beds with privacy curtains
  • Quiet atmosphere
  • Helpful staff

Beds from $52 USD a night, rooms from $169 USD.

—> Book your stay at Adelaide!
 

7. Orange Village Hostel

Narrow bunk beds at the Orange Village Hostel in San Francisco, USA
This is the cheapest hostel in the city. They include free breakfast and organize weekly pizza nights and movie nights. The dorms are basic (you get what you pay for) but there is lots of common space to relax in and they have a big kitchen so you can cook your own meals (and save even more money). The bathrooms aren’t the most clean or modern, but again, for the price it’s to be expected.

Orange Village at a glance:

  • $
  • Super affordable
  • Easy to meet people
  • Free perks (breakfast, pizza nights)

Beds from $39.60 USD a night, rooms from $126 USD.

—> Book your stay at Orange Village!
 

8. Pacific Tradewinds

The dorm room of the Pacific Tradewinds hostel in San Francisco, USA
This independent hostel offers lots of free perks for budget travelers (like free ramen), and is community-focused. They organize events (like pub crawls and trivia nights) so its easy to meet people and the hostel is near the subway so it’s easy to get around. It’s a classic backpacker hostel and a great choice for solo travelers.

Pacific Tradewinds at a glance:

  • $$
  • Free sandwiches and ramen
  • Easy to meet people
  • Awesome staff

Beds from $42.50 USD per night.

—> Book your stay at Pacific Tradewinds!

***

By staying in one of the hostels above you’ll not only save money but you’ll meet other travelers, get insider tips and advice, and have an amazing visit to one of the counry’s best cities. Whether you’re a solo female traveler, a family, or someone backpacking on a tight budget, you’ll be able to find a hostel that suits your needs and travel style.

Book Your Trip to San Francisco: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Need a Guide?
San Francisco has some really great tours on offer. For an in-depth walking tour, check out <a href="Take Walks. They use expert local guides and have a super insightful (and fun) tour through Chinatown.

For something more hands-on like a segway tour, use Fat Tire Tours. They have a few different tours around the city and are a great alternative to a standard walking tour.

Looking for More Information on Visiting San Francisco?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to San Francisco with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

Photo credit: 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

The post The 8 Best Hostels in San Francisco appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to See Taiwan on a Budget

Posted By : webmaster/ 107 0


The busy downtown and tall buildings of Taipei, Taiwan
Posted: 6/8/20 | June 8th, 2020

With a million things to do, a huge variety of delicious food, warm-hearted people, lots of hiking opportunities, and beautiful buildings and temples, Taiwan has it all.

Yet, despite that, it remains one of the most underrated — and undervisted — countries in Asia.

On the one hand, I like that it’s still off the radar because it means fewer crowds. You’ll never see too many people traveling around Taiwan. It’s, to use the cliche, a hidden gem you have (mostly) to yourself. There are no hordes of people trying to take their IG selfies.

On the other hand, it’s a shame people don’t make Taiwan a bigger travel priority because it’s so wonderful and has so much going for it. This is a country that deserves way more attention than it is given.

And, what’s great for budget travelers like us, is that Taiwan is also super affordable.

It’s on a level of cheapness similar to parts of Southeast Asia, with many meals costing only a few dollars. Even when I “splurged” on a meal like a high-end sushi omakase, I spent less than 1,200 NT$ ($40 USD). A meal (and too many beers) at an English style pub aimed at expats? Less than 360 NT$ ($12 USD).

Taiwan is a dream destination for those looking to get a lot of value for their money.

Today, I’m going to break down some typical costs in Taiwan, my suggested budgets, and ways to save.
 

Typical Costs


Taiwan is pretty cheap so, as long as you don’t eat at high-end restaurants or stay at upscale hotels, you won’t be hard-pressed to spend a lot of money. Here’s a list of typical costs in new Taiwan dollars (NT$):

  • Noodle soup – 30-45 ($1-1.50 USD)
  • Noodles – 40 ($1.35 USD)
  • Rice – 85-100 ($2.85-3.35 USD)
  • Lunch boxes – 100 ($3.35 USD)
  • Sushi lunch – 300 – 450 ($10 – 15 USD)
  • MosBurger (best fast food burger joint) – 165 ($5.50 USD)
  • Museum entry – 30-100 ($1-3.35 USD)
  • Metro ride – 30-65 ($1-2.15 USD)
  • Taxi – 70 (plus 25 per kilometer) ($2.35 USD plus 0.84 per km)
  • Intercity train ride – 375-850 ($12.55-$28.40 USD)
  • High-speed rail (HSR) – 155-1,500 ($5.20-50.15 USD)
  • Hostel dorm – 240-600 per night ($8-20 USD)
  • Hostel private room – 1,050-1,350 per night ($35-45 USD)

 

How Much Did I Spend?


Over 13 days, I spent a total of 29,273 NT$ (2,252 NT$ per day). In USD, that’s $981 ($75 USD per day). Now, my notes were a bit less than fully detailed towards the end of my trips and I can’t find some receipts so I’m going to round this up to an even 2,375 NT$ ($80 USD) per day.

That’s actually a lot more than I thought I spent. I had to do the numbers twice but more on that in a second.Here’s how those costs broke down:

  • Food – 8,597 NT$ ($289.20 USD)
  • Accommodation – 13,351 NT$ ($449.12 USD)
  • Tours/Museums – 1,410 NT$ ($47.43 USD)
  • Transportation – 5,915 NT$ ($198.95 USD)

So why did I spend so much money in a country that I said just was “super cheap”? I mean $80 is way more than Southeast Asia levels. Well, it has more to do with me than travel in Taiwan:

First, I stayed in private rooms. At three to four times the cost of a dorm, that is going to add up really quickly. I don’t like dorms since I’m a light sleeper and, since I was traveling alone, I didn’t have anyone to split the cost of the room with.

Second, I took a lot of high-speed trains. Those tickets are 600-1,200 NT$ ($20-40 USD) a ride versus 150-300 NT$ ($5-10 USD) for the regular train. Since I had little time and a lot of ground to cover, that drove up my costs.

Third, I took a few private tours as I wanted a local guide for myself so I could ask a battery of questions about life in Taiwan. I enjoy doing that over group tours, especially when I am researching destinations for guides like I was during this visit.

And, finally, in an effort to eat as much as possible, I probably had 3-4 meals a day, including many high-end restaurants and Western food. That amount of food really shrank my wallet (but sadly not my waistline). I’m talking a Hobbit level of eating here:

Those four things drove up my daily average to levels your average traveler/backpacker wouldn’t hit in such a short time.

 

How Much Do YOU need?

So, with that said, how much do you need to travel around Taiwan? If you replicated my trip, I think 1,930-2,230 NT$ ($65-75 USD) would be enough. You wouldn’t want for anything on that budget and it would cover cheap private accommodation, high-speed trains, some tours, and a healthy amount of food and drinks. If you took a few slower trains or stuck to eating at food markets (avoiding high-end sushi restaurants like me), you could get by closer to 1,785 NT$ ($60 USD) per day.

If you’re on a backpacker budget, you need around 890-1,040 NT$ ($30-35 USD) a day. A dorm room will cost you around 300 NT$ ($10 USD), meals are only 90-150 NT$ ($3-5 USD) each, and beer is pretty cheap. Taking regular (slower) trains would save a few more dollars a day.

In short, whether you’re a backpacker or just a regular budget traveler, you’re never going to spend a huge amount here. Outside accommodation and high-end food, everything in the country is super cheap.
 

How to Save Money in Taiwan

The towering skyline of Taipei, featuring Taipei 101 in Taiwan
If you’re looking to spend even less money and get some good deals, here are things that can lower your costs even more:

1. Skip the High-Speed Rails (HSR)
The high-speed trains in Taiwan are super convenient (though they only go down the west side of the island): they depart every 15 minutes and the journey between Taipei and Kaohsiung (the most southern point) only takes 1 hour and 50 minutes.

However, they are also very expensive: a ticket from Taipei to Kaohsiung costs around 1,500 NT$ ($51 USD). On the other hand, the “local” trains are half the price at just 845 NT$ ($28 USD) (likewise, it’s just 539-739 NT$ ($18-25 USD) from Taipei to Tainan and around 375 NT$ ($12.50 USD) from Taipei to Taichung).

Plus, the HSR line doesn’t pass through city centers, so you’ll either need to take a bus or train from the HSR station, costing more time and money.

So, if you want to save money and aren’t in a rush, skip the HSR trains.

2. Stay in Hostels
In Taipei, hostel dorms can be found for 550-700 NT$ ($18.50-23.50 USD) per night for 6-10-bed rooms. Private rooms in hostels can be had for 1,600-2,200 NT$ ($54-74 USD) per night.

Also, skip hostel private rooms. A basic two-star hotel will cost 1,200-1,500 NT$ ($40-50 USD), making it a better budget choice if you want privacy.

3. Eat at the Food Markets
The food in Taiwan is world-class. I didn’t appreciate it much when I lived there back in 2010, but now I realize just how diverse, tasty, and healthy the food is. Every town is littered with day and night markets. If you want to save money on food (and it’s very easy to do that here), eating the local food at these markets is the best way to eat on a budget. You’ll find most meals cost around 30-80 NT$ ($1-2.75 USD).

And, even if you prefer a sit-down restaurant, you’re looking at 120-150 NT$ ($4-5 USD) for a meal at a place serving Taiwanese cuisine.

You never need to spend more than 400 NT$ ($15 USD) per day here.

Eat local = save big!

4. Avoid Western Food
I mean you didn’t come all this way to eat a bad version of the food you can get back home, right? You can find every Western dish your heart desires in Taiwan and most of these meals will cost about 300 NT$ ($10 USD). But, frankly, skip Western food. I never found anything that great and Taiwanese cuisine is way more delicious and filled with such variety that you’re not going to get tired of “eating the same thing” over and over again.

5. Take Free Walking Tours
One of the first things I do when I arrive in a new destination is take a free walking tour. They give you the lay of the land, show you the main highlights of the city, and provide you with a local guide who can answer your questions.

Like It Formosa is the best walking-tour company in Taiwan, offering tours in Taipei, Jiufen, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. Its tours have a cultural and historical focus, making them a great foundation for your visit.

And, if you’re in Taipei and want something more lively, Tour Me Away offers free tours as well as pub crawls and food tours starting at 600 NT$ ($20 USD) per person. They’re a good choice for backpackers looking to meet other travelers.

6. Take the Bus
Intercity coach buses are available to all major cities around Taiwan, including Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. They are comfortable, modern, safe, and have air conditioning (too much, usually, so bring a sweater).

A bus from Taipei to Kaohsiung takes around five hours and costs 300-500 NT$ ($10-17 USD) depending on what day and time you depart.

The two main intercity bus companies are Ubus and Kuo-Kuang Bus. For fares and timetable information, visit taiwanbus.tw.

7. Take in the Free Attractions
There are plenty of free temples, shrines, museums, and parks around the country. There’s more than enough to fill your days. I never had a problem wandering around the cities and finding things to do that didn’t cost a penny. Your local accommodation or guide book or Google can tell you what to do.

8. Go Hiking
Spend your days hiking Taiwan’s many mountains and trails. Taiwan is filled with national parks. The country is so small that you are never far from any park, they are well connected to public transportation, and they are all free.

***

Taiwan is an incredibly affordable destination . To me, it’s on par with some destinations in Southeast Asia since the food was cheap and so many activities were free. You get a lot of value here. So, if you’re looking for an uncrowded and affordable place to visit, Taiwan is it.

Book Your Trip to Taiwan: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

The post How to See Taiwan on a Budget appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 32 Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam

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The calm waters of a canal in beautiful Amsterdam, Netherlands
Posted: 6/4/2020 | June 4th, 2020

Amsterdam is known as a party city, full of wild nights and all kinds of questionable debauchery. It’s a fun, eclectic, and party-focused destination popular with young backpackers looking to let loose.

But it’s a city with a lot more to offer too.

I’ve visited Amsterdam more times than I can count (it’s one of my favorite cities in the world) and I’m never disappointed. There are tons of museums, lots of chill cafes, and more nightlife than you can handle.

It’s a city with something to offer everyone. Even if you’re not looking to party the nights away you’ll still enjoy your visit.

To help you make the most of your trip, here are the best 32 things to see and do in Amsterdam:
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

People relaxing along the canals of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Whenever I arrive in a new city I start off by taking a free walking tour. They help you get oriented and give you an overview of the city, culture, and the main sights worth seeing. You’ll learn some history and be able to ask a local guide all the questions you have, which is the best way to get insider tips.

Free Walking Tours Amsterdam and New Europe both offer daily free walking tours. They last 2-3 hours and give you the perfect introduction to the city. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end!

If you’re not on a tight budget and want an in-depth alternative tour, check out Black Heritage Tours. While their tours aren’t free, they are incredibly informative and eye-opening. They focus on the impact of slavery during the growth of the Dutch empire and highlight black culture and contributions to the country. Sobering but edutcational.
 

2. Visit the Van Gogh Museum

This museum is home to many of Van Gogh’s best works. It’s also the largest collection of Van Gogh’s works in the entire world. The museum does an excellent job of outlining his life, chronicling his works from beginning to end so you can better understand and appreciate his style and evolution (as well as his life beyond painting). Opened in in73, it’s one of the most popular (read: crowded) sites in the city, but don’t let that stop you from visiting. The museum also has paintings by other famous artists of the period, like Monet, Manet, and Matisse. If you want to beat the crowds, try visiting later in the afternoon.

Museumplein 6, +31 20 570 5200, vangoghmuseum.nl. Open Sunday–Thursday from 9am–7pm and Friday—Saturday from 9am–9pm. Admission is 19 EUR for adults. Students 18 and under enter free.
 

3. Explore Jordaan

Jordaan is a trendy residential area. While it’s become more popular in recent years, it’s still one of the most overlooked parts of the city. The area is full of cozy shops and boutiques, bars and pubs, and hip restaurants. It’s also the area of the city where Rembrandt lived during the final years of his life. It’s a quiet place to explore away from the crowds if you want to get a better feel for the city outside its main tourist areas.
 

4. Take a Canal Tour

A boat tour of the canals of Amsterdam on a sunny day
Amsterdam is a beautiful, picturesque city thanks to the scenic canals that break up the city’s sprawl. To see the city from a new perspective, take a canal tour. There are large tour boats that can take you up and down the waterways, but you can also rent your own boat for a self-guided tour (if you’re comfortable driving a boat). Self-guided rentals are for small, open-air boats that give you a more intimate, unique experience. They cost around 50 EUR, which makes it super affordable if you have a few friends to join you. For a standard guided tour on a larger boat, expect to pay around 16 EUR per person.
 

5. See Anne Frank House

This is one of the most popular tourist sites in the entire city. While it’s an important and somber place to visit, it’s also incredibly overcrowded. You just shuffle through the house and never really have time to digest what you’re seeing. Personally, I think the Jewish History Museum does a better job at highlighting her life. However, if you do want to visit then be sure to book your ticket in advance or arrive very early.

Prinsengracht 263–267, +31 20 556 7100, annefrank.org. Opening daily from 9am–10pm (shorter hours in the winter). Admission is 10.50 EUR.
 

6. Visit the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum
Established in 1798, The Rijksmuseum is an art and history museum located right next to the Van Gogh Museum. The museum, recently renovated, features an extensive Rembrandt collection including the famous painting “The Night Watch.” In addition to works by Rembrandt, the museum is also home to an a robust collection of other classic Dutch painters, like Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer. There are over 1 million items in the collection (it’s the largest museum in the country) with over 8,000 on display — so you can easily spend a few hours here.

Museumstraat 1, +31 20 674 7000, rijksmuseum.nl. Open daily from 9am–5pm. Admission is 19 EUR for adults. Students 18 and under are free.
 

8. Relax in Oosterpark

If you need to get away from the crowds, head to Oosterpark. It’s a relaxing green space east of the city center and is perfect for lounging and enjoying a sunny day. It’s much less busy than the city’s popular Vondelpark and will show you a different, more residential part of the city. There are sculptures (including the National Slavery Monument that commemorates the abolition of slavery in 1863), playgrounds, ponds, and plenty of space to picnic or lounge. It was the city’s first large park too, dating back to the 1890s
 

9. Try the Heineken Experience

Heineken is one of the most famous (and popular) beers in the world. You can take an interactive self-guided tour this former brewery and learn about how the beer was made and how the company evolved over the centuries (the beer dates back to the 1870s). Admission also includes two beers, so if you’re a fan be sure to book a tour. It’s a fun way to learn some history.

Stadhouderskade 78, +31 20 721 5300, heinekenexperience.com. Open Monday–Thursday from 10:30am–7:30pm and Friday–Sunday from 10:30am–9pm. Admission is 21 EUR at the door and 18 EUR when booked online.
 

7. Wander the Red Light District

the red light district in amsterdam
Unsurprisingly, Amsterdam’s Red Light District is one of the city’s main draws. Though much tamer than in previous years, the Red Light District manages to balance sex and seediness with being a major international tourist attraction. While it’s worth seeing, I’d keep your time here brief. While it’s quite calm and quiet during the day, at night the area is bursting with drunken revelers and gawking tourists that clog the sidewalks. Even if it’s not your scene, I’d still make sure to see the area with your own eyes. It’s certainly unique!
 

10. See the Erotic Museum and the Amsterdam Sex Museum

Tucked away in an old warehouse in the Red Light District and has an exhibition about eroticism in all its various forms throughout the ages. It has sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, and other artwork. And, of course, there is a gift shop if you want a more unique souvenir from the city.

The Amsterdam Sex Museum is the more serious museum and if much more informative than the Erotic Museum (but also a little less fun). It was the world’s first sex museum, having opened in 1985. It highlights the history of sexual views and norms, as well as the lives of some of the world’s most sexually famous individuals (like the Marquis de Sade).

Erotic Museum: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 54, +31 20 623 1834. Open Sunday–Thursday from 11am–1am and Friday–Saturday from 11am–2am. Admission is 7 EUR.

Amsterdam Sex Museum: Damrak 18, +31 20 622 8376, sexmuseumamsterdam.nl. Open daily from 9:30am-11:30pm. Admission is 5 EUR.
 

11. Visit the Tulip Museum

The small Tulip Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Netherlands is known for its stunning and Insta-worthy tulip fields. This tiny museum, located in a tulip shop, does a wonderful job of telling the history of tulips in country. It’s one of the best off-the-beaten-path attractions in Amsterdam. It’s never very busy and and it’s only 5 EUR (which makes it one of the cheapest museums in the city).

Prinsengracht 116, +31 20 421 0095, amsterdamtulipmuseum.com. Open daily from 10am-6pm. Admission is 5 EUR.
 

12. Take a Bike Tour

Bikes in Amsterdam chained up to one of the many bridges
Bikes are to Amsterdam like wine is to Bordeaux. The locals love to bike everywhere and there are supposedly more bikes than people in the city. Bike useage has shot up 40% in the past two decades and locals collectivly cycle over 2 million kilometers every day! If you want to explore the way the locals do, take a bike tour.

Mike’s Bike Tours is the best company to use, whether for a tour or to rent a bike on your own. Not only do they offer city tours but they also offer bike tours of the surrounding countryside as well. Tours start at 32 EUR and last around 3 hours.
 

13. Spend a Day in Haarlem

A windmill along the water in Haarlem, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Haarlem is a walled city that dates back to the Middle Ages, located just 35km from Amsterdam. The city is home to around 160,000 people and it’s quite quiet and calm. It has a beautiful central church, great outdoor market, and all the beauty of historic Amsterdam with fewer crowds. If you feel like getting out of the city, spend a few hours here just wandering about. You’ll get a much better feel for the country away from the busy and tourist-heavy streets of Amsterdam. Be sure to visit the Windmill too. It’s right on the water and offers tours as well as a nice view of the city.
 

14. Learn Something New at the Amsterdam History Museum

This is a huge museum that offers an in-depth and insightful look at Amsterdam’s past. There are a lot of artifacts, maps, paintings, and multi-media displays throughout that provide a comprehensive overview of the city and how it has evolved. museum. It’s one of the best history museums I’ve ever visited and you could easily spend 3-4 hours here. Even if you’re not a history buff like me it’s worth a visit. I can’t recommend it enough!

Kalverstraat 92, +31 20 523 1822, amsterdammuseum.nl. Open daily from 10am–5pm. Admission is 15 EUR.
 


 

15. Chill Out in Vondelpark

A small pond and an old building Vondelkpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands in the summer
Created in 1865, this is Amsterdam’s largest (and most popular) park. Spanning over 120 acres, it’s the perfect place to walk, bike, people-watch, or relax — especially after a visit to a local coffee shop. In the summer, the park is filled with people and there are often lots of events here too. Pack a lunch, bring a book, and enjoy a picnic on a sunny afternoon!
 

16. See the FOAM

Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam is a photography museum and home to a stunning collection of incredible pictures. Surprisingly it also sees few crowds even though it’s in the main part of the city. Opened in 2001, the museum is composed of four exhibitions that are constantly changing so you never know what you might see (check the website to see what is on display during your visit). They have a beautiful outdoor garden too. It’s a small museum and it doesn’t take long to see so don’t pass it by!

Keizersgracht 609, +31 20 551 6500, foam.org. Open daily from 10am–6pm (9pm on Thursdays and Fridays). Admission is 15.50 EUR.
 

17. Visit the Jewish Historical Museum

This is the only Jewish history museum in the country, though it’s often overlooked in favor of The Anne Frank House. Personally, I think the museum does a better job whe it comes to highlighting the history and struggles of Jews in the Netherlands. Specifically, they have an excellent exhibit on World War II that highlights the Dutch resistance, complacency, and guilt over the Holocaust. Established in 1932 (and reopened in 1955, after WWII), the museum houses over 11,000 items, artifacts, and works of art.

Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1, +31 20 531 0310, jhm.nl. Open daily from 11am–5pm. Admission is 17 EUR.
 

18. Browse the Waterlooplein Flea Market

Books and clothing for sale at the Waterlooplein Flea Market in Amsterdam, Netherlands
This is the oldest and biggest market in the city. With over 300 stalls, this open-air market is essentially a giant flea market. You can find anything and everything here if you’re willing to look. Secondhand clothing, hats and accessories, antiques, electronics, and much more can all be found here (both new and used). If there’s something you want, you’ll probably find it here so be sure to spend some time wandering and browsing. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s a fun place to explore and people watch.

Waterlooplein 2. Open Monday to Saturday from 9:30am-6pm.
 

19. Visit the Rembrandt House Museum

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is widely considered to be one of the greatest artists in human history (his famous painting, The Night Watch, is in the Rijksmuseum). This house, which he lived and worked in between 1639 and 1658 has been converted into a museum that highlights his life and work. You can see how he painted and how his house was decorated during his life. It’s a neat snapshot into history. If you’re an avid art/art history fan, this shouldn’t be missed.

Jodenbreestraat 4, +31 20 520 0400, rembrandthuis.nl. Open daily from 10am–6pm. Admission is 14 EUR.
 

20. See the Museum Amstelkring

Museum Amstelkring
Hidden inside a 17th-century canal house, this is one of the most interesting churches I’ve ever been to. Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (“Our Lord in the Attic”) is a clandestine Catholic church that was secretly built during Protestant rule on the 3rd floor of a regular house (it was never really a secret, but since it was out of sight the authorities didn’t crack down on them too harshly). Built in the 1660s, the chruch has a beautiful drawing room and the furnishings and artifacts make this one of the best 17th-century rooms still intact.

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, +31 20 624 6604, opsolder.nl. Open Monday–Saturday from 10am–6pm and Sun days from 1pm–6pm. Admissions is 11.50 EUR.
 

21. Learn About Drugs at the Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum

No trip to Amsterdam is complete without learning a little bit about drugs. This museum (which has a sister museum in Barcelona as well) is full of information about the historical and modern use of cannabis. It covers all the medicinal, religious, and cultural uses of the plant and focuses on how hemp can be used for all sorts of beneficial agricultural, consumer, and industrial products. It’s actually really educational!

Oudezijds Achterburgwal 148, +31 20 624 8926, hashmuseum.com. Open daily from 10am–10pm. Admission is 9 EUR.
 

22. Explore the Museum Van Loon

The historic antique interior of the Museum Van Loon in in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Built in 1672, this museum is located in a canal house on the Keizersgracht canal. Originally, the house was owned by the wealthy Van Loon merchant family. They collected beautiful works of art and their house is now a museum full of period furniture, the Van Loon art collection, and Van Loon family portraits. Albeit small, it’s another museum that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. There’s an immaculate garden here too.

Keizersgracht 672, +31 20 624 5255, museumvanloon.nl. Open daily from 10am–5pm. Admission is 10 EUR.
 

23. Indulge at Foodhallen

Foodhallen is an indoor food market offering all kinds of delicious food. Opened in 20014, it’s essentially like having a bunch of food trucks all in one indoor location. There are over 20 different stalls here, making it the best place in the city for foodies. Personal favorites include Viet View and Le Big Fish.

Bellamyplein 51 or Hannie Dankbaarpassage 47, foodhallen.nl. Open daily from 11am-midnight.
 

24. Visit Noord

A bar and restaurant in the trendy Noord district of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Noord has evolved into one of the cooler and trendier districts in recent years. It’s one of the cheaper areas in the city so a lot of new bars and restaurants have opened here. The old industrial areas have been reclaimed and there is lots of green space too. It’s a fun, vibrant area with much fewer crowds than the central part of the city. Rent a bike and explore — you won’t be disappointed!
 

25. Browse the Stedelijk Museum

I’ll be honest: I don’t like modern art. It’s just not my cup of tea. But if you do, this is the place in the city to see it. Opened in 1874, the museum is home to over 90,000 items including works by Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. The exhibitions cover paintings, drawings, graphic design, sculptures, sound, and installations. To be fair, there is a ton of variety here — it’s just not my favorite style. But definitely check it out if you’re an art fan!

Museumplein 10, +31 20 573 2911, stedelijk.nl. Open daily from 10am–6pm (10pm on Fridays). Admission ins 18.50.
 

26. Take an Alternative Art Tour

Some of the colorful street art of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is home to some incredible street art. You’ll see it all over while you explore, but if you really want to appreciate it and learn about the alternative art scene in Amsterdam then take a tour. Alltournative Amsterdam runs an amazing, insightful tour where you can learn all about the alternative arts while getting to see the best murals in the city. All the people I took on the tour loved it!
 

27. Visit Quirky and Offbeat Attractions

There are tons of offbeat attractions in Amsterdam. Here are a few more of the best if you’re looking for more unique, quirky experiences:

  • The Houseboat Museum – This decorated houseboat gives you a glimpse into what living on the canals is like. It’s cramped but interesting to see how people live on the canal.
  • Electric Ladyland – The world’s first museum dedicated to fluorescent light. It’s definitely not your typical art gallery/museum but it’s fun to wander and interact with the colors and the fluorescent space.
  • Micropia – A “zoo” home to all sorts of microbes and bacteria. It’s super educational as you can learn about all the invisible microbes that we interact with day to day (you can also scan yourself to see what actual bacteria and microbes are on you right then and there).
  • The Torture Museum – This museum showcases the punishments prisoners faced throughout the city’s history. There are all sorts of brutal tools as well as a hanging cage and Inquisition chair. Disturbing but insightful!
  • Museum Vrolik – This museum is home to one of the largest collections of human (and animal) deformities. It has some 150 different items, including creepy jars holding fetuses, human and animal skeletons, and even the remains of a pair of conjoined twins. Super weird!

 

28. Take a Food Tour

As a foodie, one of the best parts of any trip is getting to eat my way around a new city. Food is an important part of every culture, and it’s something I’m always happy to splash out on when given the chance. If you’re looking to learn more about Amsterdam’s food scene and sample some of the city’s best offerings then I suggest taking a food tour. Not only do you get to try amazing foods but you learn a ton about their history, how they’re made, and how the food culture here has evolved.

If you’re looking to try a food tour, some companies worth checking out are:

***

Amsterdam is more than just wild nights, drugs, and the Red Light District. It’s a hip, fun city with tons of museums and greenspace, as well as lots of history and delicious food. Plus, it’s incredibly scenic. It’s everything you want in a European capital!

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or planning a trip around Europe, make sure to spend a few days in Amsterdam. It won’t disappoint!

 

Want the real, most honest, straight to the point guide on Amsterdam?

Nomadic Matt's Guide to Amsterdam Want to plan the perfect trip to Amsterdam? Check out my comprehensive guide to Amsterdam written for budget travelers like yourself! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money in one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. You’ll find suggested itineraries tips budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, and my favorite non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more!! Click here to learn more and get started.

Book Your Trip to Amsterdam: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Get Your Guide
Check out my detailed guide to planning a visit to Amsterdam with suggested itineraries, places to stay, things to do, where to eat, and how to get around. Just click here to get the guide and continue planning today!

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You should book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. Some of my favorite places to stay in Amsterdam are:

If you’re looking for more place to stay, here is a complete list of my favorite hostels in Amsterdam!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Photo Credits: 4 – Jukka, 5 – Jason Riedy, 6 – Rain Rabbit, 8 – Patrick Müeller, 9 – martin_vmorris, 11 – Tine van Voorst, 12 – Kotomi_, 13 – Sharon VanderKaay , 14 – Guilhem Vellut

The post The 32 Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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