Tag Archives: What to do

Five things to do in Valencia, Spain for Under €5

I have been to Valencia a few times, but never for more than a week. This city is beautiful, there is so much to see and so much to do. The beautiful beach, the graffiti all over the city centre, and the paella – oh, dang that paella.  My life is on the road, so I live on a super strict budget when I am being a tourist. Here are five things to do in Valencia, Spain, for under €5:

1. Do a free walking tour

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The best way to see a city is walk around it, but sometimes, it is more fun to have stories accompany the views. I am a huge advocate for free walking tours. The guide works on tips, so you decide how much they deserve at the end of the tour. I normally think €5 is good (because I am traveling for an extensive period of time and have a SUPER tight budget), but it’s up to the attendees what they pay. I like that. (Check their website here: https://freetourvalencia.com/en/)

Cost: €5 (or whatever you feel like!)

2. Drink Horchata at the Horchateria Fabian

Horchata is a delicious Spanish milk-like drink made from tiger nuts. No, not tiger’s nuts, tiger nuts. They are a delicious, naturally sweet nut and when pulverized into milk, make a delightfully light, super sweet drink. One of the best, sweetest hochatas we had was here, at Horchateria Fabian. It looked like Pop’s Chocolate Shop straight out of Archie Comics and the couple working was so lovely.

Cost: €2 for a cup of horchata, €1.50 for a farton pastry for dipping!

3. Climb St Michael’s tower

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If you’re like me, you like seeing cities, but LOVE seeing them from a tall place. St Michael’s tower offers a beautiful, panoramic view of the whole city. From here, you can see everything, the market, cathedrals, and even as far as the City of Arts and Science! It costs money to go into the cathedral underneath the tower, but the climb to the top is only €2 for an adult. The climb is hard, but fast. Prepare to sweat a little bit, but don’t let it scare you from doing it.

Cost: €2 for a climb to the top!

4. Wander around the City of Arts and Science

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The City of Arts and Science is an architectural marvel. I am not an architect, so I don’t actually know if it’s a ‘marvel,’ but as someone who knows nothing about buildings, this place is total magic. There are four different areas: a science museum, an arts theatre, an aquarium, and a IMAX theatre. It costs a heck of a lot to go into any of them, but if you are a cheapskate like me, you can wander around the grounds for free and check out all the stunning buildings from every angle.

Cost: FREE!  (Check their website https://freetourvalencia.com/en/ for pricing about entrance to events)

5. Rent a bicycle and cycle through the park!

Running just north of the city centre is an ancient river bed that dried up a long time ago. Instead of trying to make it a river again (can you even do that?), the city of Valencia turned the riverbed into a beautiful park. Now, it has playgrounds, fields for sport, and beautiful, uninterrupted bicycle paths. Renting bicycles for a whole day, or for multiple days can be kind of expensive, but for an afternoon activity, you can rent a bicycle and cruise around the park for an hour.

Cost: €5 for an hour from Valencia Bike Rentals (their website http://www.valenciabikes.com/en/bicycle-rental/)

 

Heading to Madrid? Check ten things to do in Madrid for under €10 here!

Heading up north? Check ten things to do in the north of Spain here!

Ten things to do in Florence for under €10

Before travelling to Italy, people often warned me about how expensive it is. They prepared me to be spending ludicrous amounts of money at every turn, that money would just flow from my bank account. These people are not wrong, but they aren’t entirely right either. No matter where you go in Italy, you can find inexpensive things to do. Take Florence for example, here are ten things to do in Florence for under €10:

1. Free walking tour!

One of the first things I like to do in a new city is a free walking tour. There are many tour companies that all host amazing tours (Sandeman’s is often the company I choose), but in Florence we went with Florence Free Tour (their website). The tour guide is often in love with the city— that’s why they became a tour guide— and know so many little details about the place. Wear good walking shoes and bring water. You’ll spend a few hours on your feet! It is called a free walking tour, but the guide works on a tip basis, so you pay what you think the tour was worth!

Cost: €5-€10

2. Bardini Giardini

The line to get to the top of the Duomo was enough to deter us, but when we caught wind it was €15 to climb to the top*, we lost interest entirely. So, we went to the Bardini Giardini instead. It lies on the south side of the river, and has only been open to the public for a few years. The gardens are beautiful, and what’s more, you will find a panoramic view of Florence, including the Duomo. Wander through the rose bushes, nap in the shade of a tree, and enjoy some grass— there isn’t much of it in the city centre.

Cost: €7.50.

*€15 gets you a ticket to the top of both the Duomo and the tower, but you can’t buy just one or the other, you have to buy the bundle.

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3. Eat some street food!

If you like people-watching and a cheap dinner, Via dei Neri in the city centre is the place to do it. Locals and tourists alike gather on this street to buy food and  then enjoy it, while sitting on the sidewalk. The people-watching is amazing, and this street is the home of La Fettunta, maker of the best sandwich I have ever eaten (so good, I wrote a whole story about it! You can read it here). So grab your libation of choice and have a seat on the street!

Cost: Free

Cost if you buy a sandwich at La Fettunta: €5

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4. Walk down the river and have a beer at Il Tempio

The river in Florence is lovely. With picturesque bridges and beautiful buildings lining the streets, it makes for a lovely walk. A little ways out of the city centre, 20 pleasant minutes walking east along the river, you will find Il Tempio. This little bar sits on the edge of the river, with tables and chairs set up under the trees. It’s pop-up feel gives this bar a hip vibe. Live music plays on the weekends (and maybe more often? I didn’t go on a weekday), people gather to have a beer and watch the street lights reflect off the river.

Cost: ~€3 for a 750ml beer.

5. Mercato Centrale

Another cheap place to eat is Mercato Centrale. The food prices here range, so keep your eye out for the cheap stuff. We had the most delicious pizza for €8! You can also bring your own €3 bottle of wine from the supermarket, and ask one of the vendors for wine glasses.

Cost: Ranges between €5-€20

6. Drink a beer on the steps of a friggin’ old building, and people watch!

I am from Canada where drinking in public is not as widely accepted as it is in Italy. I think people sometimes forget that— you can drink in public here! Now, you can’t get drunk in public here, be civil about it, but a glass of wine, or a cheeky beer is not a crime. Florence is chalk full of beautiful, old buildings. Find one with some steps, or a bench across the street, and crack open a cold one!

Cost: €3 for a beer from the supermarket!

7. Eat Gelato.

Duh. Gelato is the perfect snack for any time of day (there was a day in Italy in which gelato was the first thing I ate)! There are SO many Gelaterias sprinkled through the city centre, you won’t have a hard time finding a cone. Remember though, gelato is meant to be served ice cold, so if in the display case the gelato is mounded up in great big heaps it’s not going to be as good! (you can read more about why). Best gelato I had? A cone of dulce de leche and Straciatella at Venchi, mostly because of the chocolate melted into the bottom of the cone!

Cost: €2

Cost if you go to Venchi and have them put chocolate in the bottom of the cone: €3.50

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8. Visit the Duomo

While it costs €15 to go to the top of the Duomo, it costs nothing to go inside and check the ceiling. There may be a line, but it is only there to organize the people, and it is fairly fast moving. The inside of the building, while not nearly as ornate as the outside, is stunning. The frescoes on the ceiling are divine (literally) and the stained glass windows are gorgeous. Definitely worth a wander through.

Cost: Free!

9. Have an Aperol spritz somewhere, but don’t pay more than €4…

Before dinner, Italians partake in an apertivo. Apertivo is usually an alcoholic beverage of some sort, typically an Aperol spritz, and a snack. Aperol is a bitter liquor, but when mixed with Prosecco and splashed with orange, it’s a lovely, light fizzy drink, perfect for 5pm. In the city centre, we were shocked to find Aperol spritz for €9. When you see Aperol spritz for €9 keep walking. As you move away from the Duomo, the prices drop. We wandered closer to the Galleria Dell Academia and found a place just across the street from it pouring these orange lovelies for €4 each. That meant we could have four for almost the same price as two at the other place!

Cost: €4

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10. See David!

I’m just going to say it: Michelangelo was one crazy Italian. He was a genius, a jack of all  trades, and a master of all trades. He was a true Renaissance man. When in Florence, I implore you to see Michelangelo’s David. I am no art buff, but this thing is breathtaking and totally worth seeing. The line up to get inside can be overwhelming, but we went at about 5 and it was much shorter than earlier in the day. We stood in line for about 15 minutes. The last entrance into the museum is at 6, and they close at 6:30, so we had ample time to check the art.

Cost: €12. Ok, this one isn’t under €10, but for a little extra, you can see a little extra… if you know what I mean.

Enjoy Florence! For more travel tips about countries all over the world, head here!

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Italy: Five things to know before you go!

You’re going to Italy?! Buonissimo! Italy is the birthplace of some of the best things in the world: pizza, pasta, gelato, aqua-ducts! And, it is a country with something for everyone: beaches, mountains, old stuff, lots of wine… It’s an easy country to travel. That being said, there are some things I wish someone had told me before I arrived. Here are five things to know about Italy before you get there

1. Know some Italian!

There are a few places you may travel in Europe where English is commonly spoken. I have gotten by in many European countries knowing none of the native language. Italy is not one of those countries. The first thing we did when we landed in Rome was go for a piece of pizza and a beer, and neither of us knew how to order it. The woman working didn’t speak a lick of English, either, so it was an awkward exchange! Know some basic Italian before you arrive. Here are some key words and incredibly important phrases:

Ciao (chow): hello AND goodbye!

Grazie (grat-see-uh): thank you. people will respond by saying, “prego!”

Per Favore (pear fahv-or-ay): please

Uno (oo-no): one

Due (doo-way): two

Tre (tray): three

Possiamo avere due bichierri di Prosecco per favore: Can we have two glasses of Prosecco please?

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2. Carry Euros, credit/debit cards are not used universally

Italy is a place where you will want to bring cash. Supermarkets, most hotels, and most tourist places (museums, etc.), will accept credit card, but as you travel out of city centres, out of tourist areas, and into more local spots, cash is the name of the game.

3. It is expensive, but you can do it on a shoestring.

Italy is an expensive place, there is no doubt about it. In July and August, prices skyrocket! That being said, you can find cheap stuff. A few tips to save some Euros. Make your own lunch! Having a picnic is the best. Pack some prosciutto, pecorino, bakery fresh bread, and a small bottle of wine, and find a bench to sit on! Some of my favourite Italians were the ones we met working at the deli counter, they often give you free samples! Stay in an AirBnB with a kitchen. It will absolutely have a little coffee pot and you can make your own cup. Even when an espresso is only €2, if you plan to be in Italy for two weeks, it can really add up! And when looking for inexpensive restaurants and cheaper eats, go outside the city centre. Use apps like Foursquare, Tripadvisor, or Google to filter restaurants by top rating AND cheap eats.

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The perfect picnic! Read a story about it here

4. On that note, don’t eat at a place that has pictures of the food on the menu.

Chances are, you have stumbled into a tourist trap! These are the places that have stereotypical Italian food, but also serve things like “American breakfast” or “British fish and chips.” Unless you are really hankering for an egg and bacon breakfast (which you could cook up in your Airbnb kitchen for a third of the price), steer clear of these places. The experience you will have will probably not be authentic, and you will pay far more than it is worth. When you arrive at a restaurant, stick your head in and listen. Are the patrons speaking Italian? Grab a table and enjoy! (I wrote a story about the best meal I had in Florence! Read it here).

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5. Don’t eat mounded gelato!

This is probably the most important piece of information there is. I thank my mother for this tidbit of info. Don’t eat mounded gelato. In the display case of a Gelateria, you will see ice cream piled high, drizzled with syrup, adorned with fruits and chocolates. These mountains of gelato will be enticing— they look beautiful!— but that ice cream is not cold enough. Real gelato is meant to be served super duper cold, and when it is displayed in big mounds, the ice cream is not being kept as cold as it should be. When you see mounded gelato, keep walking and wait until you see the stuff that is flat in the container.

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