While European travel for leisure isn't an option right now, there are reports stating travel will begin to rebound in late summer or early fall 2021. If you're like me, you are waiting very patiently for the go-ahead to make a vacation purchase! Here are my top picks for travel destinations in 2021 and beyond.
1. Lisbon, Portugal
Not only are the hotels reasonably priced but the Portuguese food and wine is down right cheap.
We stayed at Memmo Alfama in the old town part of Lisbon called Alfama. The hotel has a terrace bar and restaurant and we ended every night there with a glass of local wine. The hotel is modern and so very chic. I would definitely stay here again.
Here are the restaurants we particularly loved and were near our hotel in Alfama.
· Prado - Farm to table, organic and a culinary adventure. Moderately priced at 15-20 Euros an entree.
· A Muralha Tasca Típica - Authentic Portuguese cuisine and quality wine bottles for 8-12 Euro. A glass of wine was 3 Euro. The average meal was about 8 Euro and the portions were large. Allergens are marked on the menu including gluten, dairy, soy and sulfites.
· Chapitô à Mesa - This restaurant is up the hill near the castle and is a hole in the wall spot with a spectacular view of Lisbon. Sit upstairs and order the fries because they are to die for. The prices are slightly higher here being that it is in a "touristy" area by the castle.
· Duetos da Sé - Before I get into food, the Fado show here was just beautiful. If you're unfamiliar, Fado is a traditional Portuguese musical performance that is melancholy in tone but mesmerizing to listen to. The food was great but definitely more expensive in the 15-20 Euro per plate. Don't forget you're getting a show for free so tip the performers. Also, make a reservation.
· Don't miss getting a pastel de nata. It's a custard filled pastry that will have you going back for seconds.
2. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a medieval city that feels like you're walking through a fairytale village. The architecture is ornate, colorful and simply beautiful while being very affordable. A pint of beer runs about 1.50 USD and wine is 2-3 USD a glass.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
For my honeymooners or couples looking for a romantic escape, I have a few breathtaking destinations where prices range from moderate to luxurious.
At the top of my list for romance and scenery,
3. Santorini, Greece
Santorini is pricey and finding an affordable hotel can be a challenge. When we booked our trip for early June, to be honest, we were shocked at just how expensive it could be. Think hotels in the $1500 a night price range. My advice is book for mid may or early October. You'll save TONS and still have great weather. We only went in June because we had some friends that invited us along and had already booked their dates. We ended up finding a gem of a hotel at a fraction of the price for the average hotel.
Armeni Village is a boutique hotel in Oia. Oia is the city on Santorini that is most iconic. While it is the most touristy, its most popular for a reason. Most photos you've seen of Santorini were photographed in Oia.
This affordable cave hotel is perched on a cliff with wonderful views of the Caldera. We booked the largest room, the Junior Suite, with its very own terrace pool. It was the most expensive room they offer but still so much cheaper than other hotels, especially for having a private pool. To this day, it is my most favorite hotel we've ever stayed at.
4. Positano, Italy
Scenic doesn't even describe the beauty of this cliffside city. The colorful buildings appear to hang on the cliff and narrow roads wind through the town. If you're heading to Positano, I would recommend hiring an airport transfer service from Naples and not renting a car. Because the roads are so narrow, it is difficult to navigate and parking is limited. Once you're in town, you can walk everywhere you want to go.
The more affordable hotels are about a 15 minute walk "into town" and 20 minutes down to the beach.
There are several beach clubs but our favorite was Bagni d'Arienzo. It opens at 10am and closes at 6:30pm. Beach access cost €12.50 per person and includes sun-loungers, umbrella, shower, changing room, toilet and shuttle boat service from/to Positano. We headed down to Spiaggia Grande for breakfast at 8:30am because we made reservations right at 10am when the club opens. You'll definitely want to make reservations if you want chairs on the front row and a table for lunch. While the beach is small, all the chairs will fill up. Even if you get there when they open, without reservations they'll still seat you on the second or third row and there is no guarantee you'll have a table for lunch. Not the end of the world but something to keep in mind.
The boat to the club arrives at the Spiaggia Grande dock every 30 minutes from 10am-1pm and 3:30pm-6:30pm. I recommend getting to the dock about 10 minutes early because we noticed the boat sometimes arrived early and left early.
5. Paris, France
You may have heard it all before, but Paris really lives up to the hype. There is so much to see and you can easily spend a week in the City of Light. While Paris is typically more expensive all around, you can often find affordable hotels and AirBnBs in centrally located arrondissements. Dining out is expensive, so be prepared.
I have a post for hotels in every budget. You can read that here.
Top things to do in Paris:
· Visit the museums
· See the gardens
· Picnic at the Eiffel Tower
· Visit Palais Royal
· Walk across Alexander III Bridge
· Take in the view of Paris from Sacre Coeur
· Rest at a café in Montmartre
· Climb to the top of Arc de Triomphe
· Do a dinner Seine River Cruise
· See a show at Crazy Horse Caberet. It's cheeky!
· Do a bike tour
· Day trip to Loire Valley or Champagne wine regions
· Day trip to Versailles
I hope you get to travel soon and have fun planning your next vacation!