San Francisco On A Hostel Budget

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is one of America’s coolest destinations. With its rickety cable cars, boutique shops and hipster neighbourhoods, the Californian city is mecca for edgy bohemians. The gorgeous weather all-year-round puts everyone in a happy mood. First timers might be surprised to learn that San Francisco is a remarkably cheap place to explore on vacation.

With some hot tips you can dine on delicious street food and ethnic bites for cheap. The alternative nature of the city means there’s no shortage of art exhibits, festivals and parades, many of which are inexpensive or free. Book a cheap hostel in San Francisco today and start exploring California without breaking the bank.

Sights and Sounds of San Francisco

Fishermans Wharf San Francisco

Get up early and head over to Fisherman’s Wharf to watch the sea lions on Pier 39 and make sure you do it before the tourists arrive in their droves. Once you’re done then why not explore the 19th-century tall ships at the Maritime National Historic Park, before trying some Dungeness crab at a nearby restaurant.

If you prefer staying outdoors then bicycle rental shops are available all over the bay. From the Wharf you can cycle past major San Francisco attractions before arriving at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Afterwards you can explore the notorious Alcatraz Island and discover how the prisoners lived in Shutter Island conditions. Visitors can reach the island by ferry from Pier 33.

Alcatraz Island San Francisco

From whale-watching tours to crab restaurants, there are certainly no shortage of activities at Fisherman’s Wharf and it makes for essential viewing on any cable car tour of San Francisco. Remarkably cheap at $15 for a one-day travel pass you can climb the steep hills in a vintage fashion.

Downtown San Francisco

San Francisco Cable Car

With a cable-car pass you can hang out in San Fran’s coolest neighbourhoods such as Hayes Valley. The historic centre has a rustic boutique charm and is perfect for anyone wanting to go on a bike tour with Streets of San Francisco.

Likewise hipsters will love Mission District, which has a gritty Latin flavour and flowering bohemian coffee shops. Edgy, creative and decorated by street art murals, the district is full of galleries and taquerias.

Mission District Mural San Francisco

If you need to save money on vacation then San Francisco is brimming with food trucks and cheap eateries. From Mexican-Eritrean fusion to Indian burritos there is one thing you’ll never lack in California and that is street food.

Eating out in San Francisco

SoMa StrEat Food Park

If you’re on a tight budget then check out the SoMa StrEat Food Park on 11th Street. Operating as the city’s first permanent food truck pod you can choose from up to ten food trucks for lunch and dinner. Like all street food markets, it becomes an outdoor nightclub with regular DJ nights taking place throughout the year.

The G Food Lounge is popular with Facebook employees and is situated between Bryant and Harrison Street. Offering a multi-purpose street food service, you can eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the South of Market (SoMa) neighbourhood. Rotating their food trucks everyday you’ll never get bored of eating out in California.

Where to Stay in San Francisco

Orange Village Hostel San Francisco

  • Orange Village Hostel offers low cost accommodation to budget travellers throughout San Francisco. Wonderfully located in the city centre, it’s perfect for exploring nearby boutique shops and major tourist attractions. Dorms are available from €22.
  • Green Tortoise Backpackers is super friendly and provides all guests with clean rooms, dorms and free Wi-Fi. It’s a great place to discover San Francisco on vacation and lies within walking distance of Fisherman’s Wharf. Dorms are available from €26.
  • USA Hostels San Francisco is a charming boutique hostel offering guests an exclusive range of privacy pods, theatre and a yoga room. With free Wi-Fi and breakfast included in the price, its a popular choice with the travelling community. Dorms are available from €31.
  • AAE Amsterdam San Francisco is super cheap and perfect for travellers on a tight budget. Always clean and providing guests with well kept dorms and rooms, the hostel is only a few blocks away from Union Square. Dorms are available from €17.

Winter in Washington

Washington Winter

Spending a winter vacation in Washington D.C. is more than just history and politics. The American capital will always draw visitors wanting to see The White House and Pentagon. But if you look closer you’ll discover a cosmopolitan and energetic city full of culture, nightclubs and rooftop bars. Book a hostel in Washington D.C. this winter and see the big attractions, while shopping in boutique shops and drinking cocktails.

Strong Winter Storm Bears Down On Northeastern US

Washington D.C. makes for an ideal winter destination and you can save big money staying in a hostel. Combine American political history with nightclubs, gastro cuisine and stunning parks. Wrap up warm this winter and explore the US capital while staying in a hostel.

What to see and do in Washington D.C.

National Mall Winter Christmas

History and Culture

From the Lincoln Memorial to The National Mall. A trip to Washington D.C. wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the White House. Ten of the capital’s museums are located within walking distance of the tree-aisled park. The Smithsonian Museums has some of America’s greatest museums lying within one mile of The National Mall.

Frank Underwood House of Cards

Washington D.C. is perfect for fans of the Netflix series House of Cards. Follow in Frank Underwood’s footsteps this winter and climb up the corridors of power while on vacation. Just remember there is but one rule: hunt or be hunted…

Food and Drink

Adams Morgan Washington

Eating out in Washington D.C. is great for budget travellers with fifties style Bens Chilli Bowl proving to be a popular choice. They are famous across the city for their spicy chilli dogs. If that doesn’t do the trick then why not eat like a senator for intern prices at the Good Stuff Eatery, serving delicious home made burgers to all guests.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Washington DC Nightlife

With its buzzy night life and gastro restaurants, Washington D.C. defies its politically stuffy image. Perfect for anyone wanting to have a big out night after sightseeing on The National Mall, the Adams Morgan area is the place to go for bars and restaurants. Head over to U-Street for some steamy jazz clubs or visit the Verzion Center for live music and exhibition shows.

Where to stay in Washington D.C.

Downtown Washington Hostel

  • Downtown Washington Hostel is an iconic place for travellers arriving in the US capital. Super friendly and with an excellent Wi-Fi connection, the hostel has a clean range of dorms and private rooms for backpackers. Dorms are available from €19.
  • DC Lofty is a modern boutique hostel situated close to the DuPont Circle. Clean, friendly and undeniably stylish, it’s a cultivated way to spend a weekend in America’s capital. Dorms are available from €19.
  • Hostelling International DC is a modern, eco-friendly hostel set in the heart of downtown Washington and is only eight blocks away from The White House. Dorms are available from €23.
  • Loftstel is a funky designer hostel in the heart of Washington. It offers clean rooms and dorms to all guests. Dorms are available from  €31.

Hipster New Year in Denver

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Denver is the hipster capital of Midwest America and makes for a spectacular place to visit over New Year. The Colorado city loves making things and recycling them into something cool. From gourmet farm cooking, craft beer bars and heritage clothing, Denver is one of the leading hipster cities in the world. Come and hang out in a city where looking cool is easy. The Mile High City had once been a ‘boom-or-bust’ gold town and the frontier city has plenty of hostels in stay in over New Year.

Are you travelling to Denver for New Year? Taking your fixie bike and hipster beard? Here are some quality tips of stuff to look out for while in Denver for the festive season.

What To See and Do In Denver at New Year 

Colorado State Capitol

What: Colorado State Capitol
Where: 200 E Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado

Why: If you want to do one cultural thing in Denver before hitting the craft beers then check out the Colorado State Capitol. The neo-classical masterpiece is like the White House but with less tourists hovering around the gates. Looking out across Civic Center Park, visitors can join free tours of the building every 45 minutes. The Colorado State Capitol is open to the public Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Downtown Denver

What: Lodo Historic District
Where: 1616 17th St #478, Denver, Colorado

WhyLoDo is Denver’s former warehouse district and has been tastefully restored for the modern age. Loved by hipsters for its gritty sense of authenticity, LoDo is home to craft beer pubs, restaurants and vegan cafes. Perfect for an afternoon stroll, Downtown Denver is bustling with new life and a joy to discover on foot.

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What: New Year’s Eve Fireworks in Downtown Denver
Where: 16th Street Mall, Denver, Colorado

Why: If you’re a proper hipster then you probably won’t even look at the fireworks because you’ll be downstairs in some vegan coffee shop. But if you’re a little more relaxed and enjoy coming together for the bells then Denver always puts on a glitzy show. Expect clowns, drunk couples taking selfies and a glorious riot of colour.

Craft Beer Denver

What: Craft Beer New Year
Where: Various Bars, Denver, Colorado

Why: With a love of craft beer and an excellent reputation for microbreweries and cafés, hipster travellers looking for a craft beer will have a great time in Denver. Thousands of beer lovers from across the Midwest make a trip to the Mile High City to sample their finest brews. Some of the city’s best bars include the Our Mutual Friend Malt and Brew (OMF),  a vintage brewery, hop garden and taproom located in the River North neighbourhood of Denver.

Not to be outdone Stem Ciders serves vintage ciders and the Denver Bicycle Cafe combines locally made beers, coffee and fixie bikes.

Hipsters of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.

Where to Stay in Denver

  • AAE 11th Avenue Hostel offers newly renovated dorms and private rooms only a few blocks from the Colorado State Capitol and trendy craft beer pubs. Perfect for first-time arrivals in Denver, the Wi-Fi friendly hostel is a great place to hang out in Colorado. Dorms are available from €20.
  • AAE Denver Ramada offers a free Downtown shuttle serve and free Wi-fi to all guests. Exceptionally clean and offering great value for money,  this AAE Guesthouse provides private and dorm rooms for 1-4 people. Dorms are available from €22.

Winter Cycling Vacations In Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria Winter Cycling

Gran Canaria has some of the best cycling routes in Europe during the winter months. With its looping roads, low traffic, mild climate and great hostels, the Canary Islands is a perfect winter cycling destination. Situated off the west coast of Africa, Gran Canaria is consistently bright and sunny throughout the year. Warm and dry over the winter months, there is nowhere better to hire a bike and exercise your calf muscles on holiday.

Cycling in Gran Canaria Winter

If you’ve been to other winter cycling destinations, then you’ll need to adapt for the steep twisting hills in Gran Canaria. It’s an epic experiences for cyclists and whether you’re a beginner or advanced, there are cycling itineraries to suit everyone.

Also if you fancy a day off you can always go the beach and enjoy six hours of pure sunshine. With an average of six hours of sunshine-a-day and temperatures reaching up to 22 degrees, you can relax on the lush white beaches and avoid the summer crowds.

Gran Canaria Cycling

Floating on the blue honey of the Mediterranean, boating and fishing trips can also be arranged in Gran Canaria. Likewise there are no shortage of surfing and diving excursions available. The mild weather makes it a perfect place to explore not only the coastal areas, but also the snowy mountainous peaks in the rocky centre.

Bikes are available for hire at most hostels in Gran Canaria. There is also a sweeping network of rural footpaths that cover 300km, which is the perfect way to soak up the island’s warm weather and spectacular views.

Where To Stay In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Big Fish Hostel Las Palmas

  • HiTide Hostel is a bright and communal surf hostel with gorgeous ocean views. Hosting two shared six-bed dorms with private bathrooms, private rooms and a huge twelve-bed dormitory, the Wi-Fi friendly hostel is a superb place to start your cycling holiday in Gran Canaria. Dorms are available from €18.
  • Hostal 7 Soles is wonderfully located. Only 100 metres from the Playa de Las Canteras, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. It is also famous for its volcanic lava natural pools. Dorms are available from €14.
  • Big Fish Hostel Las Palmas is a modern backpacker hostel less than 20 metres away from the ocean. Offering travellers a trendy and stylish way to start their cycling vacation in Gran Canaria, the hostel offers affordable rental of mountain bikes, kayaks and surfboards. Dorms are available from €20.
  • Bora Bora is a stylish and upmarket hostel only a few minutes walk from the legendary Playa de Las Canteras beach. Perfect for water sport fans and cyclists on vacation. Dorms are available from €22.

Beautiful Christmas Food Markets in Italy

Bolzano Christmas Market

Italian Christmas markets are perfect for backpackers looking to experience the real Italy. With their strong family traditions and emphasis on nativity displays and beautifully sourced local food, mercatino di Natale’s capture the best of the festive season.

Come and explore the Alpine wonders of the Trentino Alto Adige region and witness what is surely the most beautiful festival of the year. Every Italian town and city will be hosting a Christmas market, from the romantic wonders of Verona to the passionate Christmas displays in fiery Naples.

Christmas is the perfect time to book a hostel in Italy and we’ve rounded up some of the best markets taking place this year.

Bolzano Christmas Market

Christmas Market Bolzano

What: Christkindlmarkt, Bolzano, Trento-Alto Adige (Italy)
When: 27 November 2014 to 6 January 2015

Why: Bolzano Christmas Market is situated in the north of Italy bordering Austria and Switzerland, and is best known for the beauty of its peaks. With the Dolomites providing a majestic backdrop, the food stalls will be in Piazza Walther surrounded by Christmas trees and fairy lights. Underneath the Christmas tree, a nativity play is accompanied by house shaped stalls selling mulled wine, dark chocolate and cinnamon walnut strudel.

Stay: Dorms are available at the nearby Ostello Di TRENTO (Hostel Trento) from €17.

Verona Christmas Market

VeroNatale Verona Christmas Market

What: VeroNatale, Verona, Veneto
When: 21 November 2014 to 28 December 2014

Why: Verona is one of the most beautiful towns in northern Italy and they host a German style market every year. It’s a festive meeting point for Italian culture and traditions, where the ancient entrance is illuminated with hundreds of lights extending across the town to the Roman Arena. Piazza dei Signori is the focal point of the “Christkindlmarkt” and there will be 60 stalls selling traditional nativity goods, gourmet treats and Christmas cakes.

Stay: Dorms are available at Sleep Easy Hostel Verona from €18.

Bologna Christmas Market

Bologna Christmas Market

What: Fiera di Natale, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna
When: 17 November 2014 to 31 December 2014

Why: Bologna’s Fiera di Natale is a glorious festive occasion in “La Rossa” and cloisters around the 12th-century San Pietro Cathedral. Situated in the medieval centre of Bologna, the Fiera di Natale has a mouthwatering reputation for cuisine. Sweet tooth travellers can enjoy Italian marzipan, chocolate and torrone, a local Christmas nougat made with nuts and honey.

Stay: Dorms are available at Centro Europa Uno from €17.

Rome Christmas Market

Piazza Navona Christmas Market

What: Piazza Navona Christmas Market, Rome, Lazio
When: December 1 2014 to January 6 2015

Why: Piazza Navona is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Italy and can found next to three fountains, Four Rivers, Fountains of Neptune and Fontana del Moro. A marvellous attraction for Romans and tourists alike; there is a gala atmosphere throughout the 100-year-old market and it’s a wonderful way to see Rome over Christmas.

Stay: Dorms are available at Star Rooms Hostel from €11.

Naples Christmas Market

Christmas Market Naples

What: Naples Christmas Market, Naples, Campania
When: Late November to Late December 2014

Why: Naples holds a traditional Christmas market close to Via San Gregorio Armeno, which is known locally as “Crib Street” (Via del Presepe) because of its wooden workshops. Over the Christmas period the street becomes a huge market selling thousands of nativity cribs, luxury chocolates and festive goodies.

Stay: Dorms are available at Hostel Mancini from €16.

Budget Places To Go Snowboarding In Europe

Snowboarding Alps

Snowboarding is never going to be a cheap vacation, but it needn’t cost a fortune. 2014/15 is shaping up to be an epic, snowy season and with more snow expected this winter, there has never been a better time to book a ski hostel. Snowboarding is amazing fun over winter.

This year should see plenty of fresh snow falling in the Alps and Eastern Europe and the weather conditions are predicted to be ‘fantastic’ by meteorologists.

Looking ahead we’ve rounded up some of the best budget snowboarding resorts in Europe, so even when funds are running low. There is now no excuse not to go!

1. Zakopane, Poland

Zakopane Poland

Why: Poland is fast becoming one of the top budget places to go snowboarding in Europe. Zakopane hugs the foot of the Tatra Mountains and stretches about 50 miles into Slovakia and has epic peaks reaching 8,200 feet. Great for beginners and intermediate snowboarders, the rural Polish town is a welcoming and accessible place and considerably cheaper than rival resorts in the Alps.

Where: South-West Poland – only a few hours by train from Krakow.

Stay: Dorms are available at Nowotarski from €17.

2. Krkonoše, Czech Republic

Krkonoše, Czech Republic

Why: The Krkonoše is the best known Czech mountain range and offers fantastic value for money. Situated on the border with Poland and Germany, the Czech snow resort is renowned for its cross-country skiing and ski tourism of all levels. One of its most popular slopes, Harrachov is also known for its ski-jumping competitions, including World Cups and World Championships. If you’re feeling adventurous and fancy a few beers you can always stay over in Prague en route.

Where: Northern Czech Republic  – only a few hours by train from Prague.

Stay: Dorms are available at Hotel Krakonoš from €20.

3. Bansko, Bulgaria

Bankso Bulgaria

Why: Situated at the foot of the Pirin mountain in south-west Bulgaria, Bansko is one of the most affordable snowboarding resorts in Europe. As the number one ski resort in Bulgaria, it offers excellent ski and snowboarding conditions and is the longest ski season of all Bulgarian ski resorts. The ski season in Bansko lasts from 15th December to 15 May.

Where: South-west Bulgaria, situated 6 km from nearby Razlog and 160 km from the capital Sofia.

Stay: Dorms are available at Balkan Jewel Resort from €7

4. Kopaonik, Serbia

Kopaonik, Serbia

WhyKopaonik, Serbia has everything for snowboarding fans on a budget. Super cheap with low cost beer and coffee is standard in this part of the world. The official ski area boasts of 23 lifts and a vertical drop of 821 metres, plus there’s also floodlit slopes for night skiing. Unknown to most European snowboarding fans, Kopaonik is a discerning choice for backpackers.

Where: Central Serbia mountain range, the nearest city is Brus.

Stay: Dorms are available at Montana from €11

Christmas in Buenos Aires on a Budget

Buenos Aires

Christmas marks the start of summer in Buenos Aires and it’s a glorious time to visit Argentina on your travels. Perfect for budget travellers and soaring with energy. There is no better way to see out the year than partying with local “porteños”. Buenos Aires—”fair winds” in Spanish is described as the Paris of South America, and thanks to a weak peso it attracts travellers from all over the world.

Situated on the Río de la Plata, one of the world’s largest estuaries, the Argentine capital is super hot over the holiday season with temperatures reaching up to 28 degrees. Summer in Argentina takes place from December to March, so you can spend Christmas wearing shorts and t-shirts instead of a winter jacket and mittens.

Christmas in Buenos Aires

Travellers wanting to escape the wintry chill of the northern hemisphere will find plenty of cheap places to stay in Buenos Aires on vacation. It’s a sophisticated and passionate place to celebrate Christmas and remarkably cheap too.

Christmas fireworks in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Christmas Fireworks

The main festive celebration in Argentina takes place on Christmas Eve and the night plays out like New Year’s Eve. Lighting up the urban landscape with a riot of colour and noise, everyone likes to toast and kiss when BA’s skies alight with the fireworks at Christmas. It’s a boisterous and exciting way to celebrate Christmas, and adventurous travellers like to make their way to the Obelisco or a nearby park to see out the evening.

Christmas tango shows in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Tango Christmas

Christmas Eve is the best time to experience a tango show in Buenos Aires. If you book a formal show in advance, you will receive a three course meal, tango display, wine and a DJ party lasting until the early hours. Most hostels in Buenos Aires will have a festive tango package in place for their guests. Otherwise depending on your neighbourhood you might get lucky and enjoy a spontaneous tango show in the street.

What to eat in Buenos Aires over Christmas

Nochebuena Buenos Aires

Christmas Eve in Buenos Aires is called “Nochebuena,” and for those not celebrating with a local family you can eat out in style instead. Most BA restaurants have live music, excellent wine pairings, and serve traditional European dishes that are only available one day of the year. Porteños dine on freshly cooked beef, red wine, salad, champagne (to be corked at midnight) and, of course, pan dulce. Navidad isn’t navidad without pan dulce, which is sweet bread coated with sugar.

Where to stay in Buenos Aires over Christmas

Art Factory Palermo Buenos Aires

  • Hostel Sol De Oro is a family run hostel located on Montserrat, which is a traditional old neighbourhood near San Telmo, La Boca, just two blocks from the metro station. Offering clean rooms and dorms with free Wi-Fi. The hostel is a welcoming experience for all first-travellers arriving in Buenos Aries. Dorms are available from €7.
  • Art Factory Palermo is a trendy youth hostel with a hipster sensibility. With its bohemian flair and Wi-Fi friendly rooms and dorms, the Palermo is a popular choice with international travellers. Dorms are available from €8.
  • La Taba Hostel is a charming old hostel in a refurbished house in central Buenos Aires, which has a beautiful terrace overlooking the city. Dorms are available from €9.
  • Garden House BA is a popular backpacker choice in San Telmo, La Boca and is a cultured way to visit the city. Exceptionally clean and with stylish rooms and dorms, its an excellent choice for travellers arriving Buenos Aires. Dorms are available from €8.

Looking Through the Tower Glass

Tower Bridge London Walkways Evening

Offering spectacular views from one of London’s most famous landmarks, the new West Walkway at Tower Bridge is made entirely out of glass. Brand new and extraordinarily gripping, especially if you have a fear of heights, the Walkways provide a heart pounding ride over the River Thames.

Tower Bridge London

Gasp and spy upon the famous red London buses and pedestrians striding over the Bridge while boats and ferries sail underneath it. Giving visitors panoramic views of the city, the Bridge’s glass walkways (the East Walkway will open at the start of December 2014) are a stunning feat of engineering.

New Glass Flooring Across Tower Bridge's High-Level Walkways

This is the most significant change to the Tower Bridge exhibition since it opened in 1982 and it makes for a spectacular thrill ride for anyone staying in London on vacation. See London like never before while staring through a glass walkway in Tower Bridge. Book your ticket now and stay close by in a stylish and affordable hostel.

Essential Facts

  • The glass floor measures 11m long and 1.8m wide.
  • Each panel weighs a massive 520kgs each and had to be supported by a carbon steel framework.
  • It took a team of 20 people, six weeks to complete the project.
  • You can now look straight down at the traffic, 42 feet below.

Where to stay near Tower Bridge

  • Wombat’s City Hostel London is only minutes away from Tower Bridge and is close to nearby Shoreditch and the Wilton Music Hall. Dorms are available from €27.
  • Safestay at Elephant and Castle is wonderfully located inside a renovated nineteenth century building in nearby Elephant and Castle and is only ten minutes away from Tower Bridge by tube. Dorms are available from €29.
  • FRESH @ The Steam Engine, Waterloo is a stylish, modern hostel situated close to Waterloo Station and is only a few minutes tube journey from Tower Bridge. Dorms are available from €29.

Best Christmas Markets in Belgium

Belgium Christmas Markets

Anyone taking a festive break to Belgium will experience some of the finest Christmas markets in Europe. Famous for its chocolate and beers, Belgium is one of Europe’s most popular winter destinations and the food on offer is absolutely gorgeous. As you’d expect from a gastronomic nation, top cities like Brussels and Bruge take their Christmas markets very seriously, with mussels, snails and croque dishes amongst the treats on offer – not to mention beers and chocolate.

Book a hostel in Belgium this winter and enjoy the beautiful Christmas markets the country has to offer.

Brussels Winter Wonders

Winter Wonders Brussels

Where: Brussels, Belgium
When: 28 November 2014 to 4 January 2015

Why: Every winter Brussels is transformed into a chocolate winter wonderland, and with its 240 wooden chalet stalls, many argue it’s Europe’s finest Christmas market and its call Winter Wonders. Inspiring visitors to buy traditional craft goods, the Brussels Christmas Market is famous for its Big Wheel and popular ice rink.

Stay: Dorms are available at Hostel Grand Place from €23 per night.

Bruge Christmas Market

Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt eröffnet

Where: Bruge, Belgium
When: 21 November 2014 to 2 January 2015

Why: Situated in the medieval Flemish town of Bruges, the historic Christmas market is always a romantic experience. Dominated by a huge ice rink, there are a number of smaller Christmas markets taking place across the city. The ice rink in the Market Square is the perfect way to build up an appetite for some warm waffles and rich hot chocolates, while the local beers will keep everyone happy.

Stay: Rooms are available at Hotel Jacobs Brugge from €44 per night.

Antwerp Christmas Market (Groenplaats)

Antwerp Christmas Market

Where: Antwerp, Belgium
When: 6 December 2014 to 4 January 2015

Why: Antwerp makes for a wonderful Belgian themed Christmas vacation and its open air market is situated in the heart of Belgium’s most stylish city. Filling the café-filled cobbled lanes with festive cheer, Groenplaats is overlooked by a huge medieval cathedral and has over 90 festival stalls offering delicious Belgium goodies, toys and nativity scenes.

Stay: Dorms are available at Antwerp Student Hostel from €24 per night.

Leuven Christmas Market

Leuven Christmas Market

Where: Leuven, Belgium
When: 11 December 2014 to 21 December 2014

Why: Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein and the Herbert Hooverplein provide the historic setting of the Leuven Christmas Market and visitors come in their droves to buy chocolate, flowers, candles and nativity lamps. Flanders is a wonderful region to experience Christmas and its fairytale town of Leuven is a joy to discover on foot.

Stay: Dorms are available at Cube Hostel from €23 per night.

Ghent Christmas Market

Ghent Christmas Market

Where: Ghent, Belgium
When: 5 December 2014 to 4 January 2015

Why: With its street entertainment and historic canals, the ‘Medieval Manhattan’ of Ghent is a superb place to explore over Christmas. Producing a gala atmosphere over the festive period. The Ghent Christmas Market has all the scenery of Bruges without nearly as many tourists.

Combining delightful boutique shops with 53 charming stalls selling pancakes, Gin, Gluhwein, candles and chocolate, the Ghent Christmas Market is just waiting to be discovered.

Stay: Dorms are available at Backstay Hostel Ghent from €19 per night

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City

Thanksgiving New York City

Thanksgiving is arguably bigger than Christmas for many Americans and marks the beginning of the holiday season in the United States. The harvest festival takes place on the last Thursday of November and is a wonderful opportunity to stuff yourself with turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. New York City goes absolutely crazy on Thanksgiving and it’s a brilliant experience for hostel dwellers on vacation in the Big Apple.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Winds Through New York City

One of the highlights for visitors to New York is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year, the Emmy Award winning tradition is seen by more than 2.5 million people in New York and 50 million worldwide. The city-wide celebration has been a tradition since 1924, making it one of the oldest Thanksgiving Day parades in the country.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Smurf

Famous for its giant cartoon floats and huge crowds, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a loud, colourful occasion full of marching brass bands playing Broadway themes and traditional medleys. More than 10,000 participants take place along a six-mile route from Central Park West to Herald Square, filling the streets of Manhattan with festive cheer.

Spiderman Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Are you planning on celebrating Turkey Day in New York City this November 27th?

Have you remembered to pack your camera?

If so, what should you prepare for?

  • Crowds – New York is always bustling with visitors and with an estimated 2.5 million in attendance it will be even more hectic than usual. If you you want a good spot at the parade, you’ll have to get up early and get into position around 7am.
  • Weather – November is a chilly month in NYC, but snow is unlikely. With temperatures ranging from 5 to 11 degrees, if you plan on standing around all day then you should definitely wrap up warm and bring a scarf, hat and a winter jacket.
  • Pick the best spot – Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade fans suggest picking a spot on the Upper West Side, since that’s where the parade begins and ends.

 Where to stay in New York?

  • Jazz On Amsterdam Avenue Hostel – Superbly located on Upper West Side Manhattan, this jazzy new hostel is perfect for travellers looking to explore the Big Apple on foot. Dorms available from €42.
  • Boutiques NYC – Situated between Central Park and Times Square. This funky NYC hostel is perfect for budget travellers looking to save a few bucks on their travels. Dorms available from €37.
  • NY Moore Hostel – Offering boutique dorms to stylish backpackers, this trendy Brooklyn hostel is situated in hipster friendly East Williamsburg. Dorms available from €40.
  • Hostelling International New York – With its comfy beds and rooms residing inside a historic castle style building on Amsterdam Avenue, the vibrant Manhattan hostel is a fine choice for backpackers in New York. Dorms available from €43.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night Bicycle Path

Van Gogh Starry Night Bicycle Path

Cycling in the Netherlands is more beautiful than ever before, thanks to Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde’s new cycle path. Illuminating with patterns based on Vincent van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night, the Nueuen surface is coated with special paint that uses energy gathered during the day to glow after dark.

Daan Roosegaarde Cycle Path

Glistening along a cycle path in Van Gogh’s local province of Noord Brabant, the kilometre-long trail illuminates in swirling patterns that reference his famous 1889 painting of a night-time scene. As a place where history and future meet, the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path provides cyclists with a beautiful route home through the Dutch countryside.

Starry Night Cycle Path Holland

Inspired by renewable energy, a nearby solar panel generates the power to illuminate the green surface and LEDs along the side of the path mean the path will remain partially lit in poor weather.

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path

Open to the public year-round for free, in Nuenen just east of Eindhoven, the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path is a tribute to the work of Studio Roosegaarde, a social design lab renowned for their explorations of art, public space, and technology. Their cycle path forms part of the Van Gogh cycle route that connects Vincent van Gogh heritage locations in his homeland of Noord Brabant.

Where to stay near Nuenen

  • Eindhoven is only a 25 minute cycle away from Nueuen and travellers can stay at the 3BE Backpackers Bed And Breakfast Eindhoven. Dorms are available from only €28 and the hostel is situated in the heart of Eindhoven and is perfect for exploring the city and wider region on foot, bike and public transport.