Get more bang for your Euro

Not often touted as a budget destination, there are a surprising number of cities in Europe that cost far less than you think to visit. To stretch your travel euros further, skip the traditional jaunts to Paris, Rome and London and visit one of these just as charming, slightly unchartered and equally breathtaking cities instead.

6851856425_27e93634b4_bLeón, Spain – A far cry from the prices of more popular Madrid or Barcelona, León has some of the least expensive food in the entire country. After visiting the city’s famed cathedral, stop for a drink and enjoy tapas and a glass of Rijoa wine for as little as one euro. Experience the culture of the city with a self-guided tour to the picturesque old quarter, known as the Barrio Humedo, or through the Palace of the Guzmanes, a 16th-century palace now home to the City Council.

Krakow, Poland – If you’re into drinking and nightlife, Krakow is your place – featuring more pubs per square kilometer than any other city in the world. For perspective, you can sip on Belvedere vodka in one of the city’s trendiest nightclubs for less than four euros. Beyond drinks, there’s plenty of free sights and architecture to see in the Medieval Old Town, like the Royal Castle of Wawel, and in the Jewish quarter of Kazimerz, home to some 150 synagogues and churches and over two million works of art.

Budapest, Hungary parliament at night

Budapest, Hungary parliament at night

Budapest, Hungary – Built on a natural thermal spring, Budapest has long been a place people flocked to for spa treatments and soothing mud baths. Despite many luxury spas, there are quite a few that have bath tickets with cabins or lockers for as little as 17 euros, like the famous Szechenyi Baths or 16th-century Csazar Baths. Beyond mud spas, you can take an affordable bus tour through the hilly, historic Buda side of town and a self-guided walking tour through the modern Pest side to see the fascinating contrasts between old and new.

Prague, Czech Republic – Despite being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, the prices in Prague have remained reasonable, with four-star hotels costing around $100 USD per night. Plus, the city boasts a vast array of free activities, including a visit to the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral built in 1344, a Jewish Quarter with a fascinating history, the Vysehrad 10th-century castle, Moser Glass Factory and more. For locals, their favorite low-cost activity is packing a picnic and gazing over the city from Perin Hill.

 

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Your Year of Travel

 

Bryce-Canyon-Sunrise-copy

Bryce Canyon Nation Park                   photo credit: Ruby’s Inn

It’s time to start planning your next epic adventure. Whether you choose to cruise through the sprawling pebble beaches of the French Riviera, scale the orange hued hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park or taste South Africa’s mouth-watering cuisine, you’ll find everything you need to inspire your wanderlust in this complimentary issue of Destination Vacation.

For added guidance and unique insight you can’t find anywhere else, call our agency. We’ll use our vast knowledge and expertise to create your perfect itinerary.

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History of World War II Comes Alive on European Tour

D-Day Paratrooper Memorial at Ste-Mere-Eglise, France Credit Heidi Jensen

D-Day Paratrooper Memorial at Ste-Mere-Eglise, France              Credit Heidi Jensen

2014 marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day. On the 16-day World War II Memorial Tour of Europe, Image Tours Inc. offers the chance to explore the historical events and monuments associated with D-Day, while remembering the many American men and women who fought for freedom on the shores of France and throughout Europe.

The tour explores the museums, battlefields, monuments, and culture of Western Europe. Start in the German town of Nuremberg, site of Hitler’s Parade Grounds. Dachau gives a heart-wrenching look inside one of the Nazi concentration camps. The tour also provides the option to visit the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s hill-top hideaway, and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where the young girl and her family hid during World War II. Visit the Diekirch National Museum of Military History and the American Cemetery where General George Patton is buried in Luxembourg. In Belgium, tour the monuments of Bastogne and the surrounding battlefield locations, which pay tribute to the soldiers who gave their lives during the Battle of the Bulge.

George Patton gravesite, Luxembourg American Cemetery Credit: Image Tours Inc.

George Patton gravesite, Luxembourg American Cemetery            Credit: Image Tours Inc.

The country of France holds a wealth of history along its Normandy coast. A visit to the Caen Peace Memorial and Museum, the Normandy Landing Beaches of Utah and Omaha, Ste-Mere-Eglise, Airborne Museum, the artillery battery at Longues-sur-Mer, Arromanches, and the German-built Atlantic Wall await your two-day exploration. Some of the visits are deeply personal for returning veterans and family members of veterans.

The tour also features many scenic and cultural highlights of Western Europe including a cruise past the castles along the Rhine River, the historical city of Munich in Germany, the beautiful French countryside and the glittering lights of Paris.

This fully-escorted tour can be arranged with air from Salt Lake City, and includes all land transportation in Europe, hotel accommodations, tour manager, several museum admissions, 23 meals, and airport transfers. The 16-day tour (14 nights in Europe) features four 1-night stays and five 2-night stays. Departures offered in 2014 include May 15, July 3, and September 11. Veterans will receive a $50 discount in addition to any other discounts available at time of booking.

Memorial at Dachau Concentration Camp Credit: Image Tours Inc.

Memorial at Dachau Concentration Camp                  Credit: Image Tours Inc.

Normandy American Cemetery Credit: Heidi Jensen

Normandy American Cemetery                    Credit: Heidi Jensen

After taking the trip, tour participant Gene Dorsey commented, “This was truly a trip of a lifetime. I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in WWII history.”

For more information on this exciting World War II Memorial Tour of Europe or any of Image Tours’ other 2014 Europe vacations, contact our travel consultants.

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Croatia’s Perfect Island, Hvar

photo: Hvar Tourist Board

photo: Hvar Tourist Board

HVAR: With its focus on the Venetian-era Hvar Town, Croatia’s most fashionable island warrants exploring beyond the capital’s 16th-century fortifications. Leave the design hotels and cocktail bars behind to hike or mountain bike through a rugged landscape of lavender fields and hillside vineyards. Or take a sea-kayaking trip to the Pakleni islets, perfect for those who want nothing more than to meet the beach and be kissed by the golden sun.
-ASTA, Worldwide Destination Guide 2013/14

So, what is Hvar all about anyway?

Picture a destination with such an ideal climate that it enticed even the earliest of Europe’s sun-seeking travelers; An island famous around the world for its pristine beaches and pellucid waters. Breathe in the fragrant fields of lavender, taste test some of the worlds best olive oil and sip wine from vineyards that are blessed by the most hours of sun in the Adriatic–all in one afternoon.

There is no shortage of entertainment in Hvar! Visit the oldest municipal theatre in Europe, let loose at the legendary Full Moon parties or get lost in nature with some of the best adventure sports around.

With just a skip and a hop to the Pakleni islands, you can slip into a secluded retreat with nothing more on the agenda than massage, gourmet dining and perfect sunsets.

Are you ready to go?! Check out our travel package to Croatia and the Balkans.
Call our travel consultants for more information.

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Europe’s Christmas Markets

Europe’s many Christmas markets are a fun and different way to enjoy the holidays with your family. Check out some of our favorites!

Bath Christmas Market is held in the UK from November 28 through December 15, 2013. The Abbey Churchyard is a magical setting and transformed into a Christmas shoppers’ haven.  Each of the 100+ stalls offer unique and handmade gifts, decorations and food items.

Brussels Winter Wonders, held annually from November 29, 2013 through January 5, 2014 and features a vast number of stalls in a true holiday atmosphere.  Additional attractions include an ice rink for skating, fairground attractions and a light show.

Lille Christmas Market in France, opening November 20 through December 30, 2013.  This month-long celebration is extremely popular and in addition to stalls selling arts, crafts and local cuisine, there are many events for children.

The city of Cologne, Germany hosts seven Christmas Markets from November 25 through December 23, 2013 attracting over two million visitors annually.

Christkindlmarkt  in Germany

Christkindelmarkt, held in Leeds, opens from November 8 through December 18, 2013 and is one of the largest and most established German Christmas Markets in the UK with over 40 chalet stalls from authentic German traders featuring handcrafted toys, jewelry and specialty German food and drink.

In Berlin, Germany, there are well over 50 Christmas Markets from November 25 through December 31, 2013.  Visit over 100 stalls featuring mulled wine, baked cinnamon stars, handicrafts, amusements and more.

Enjoy a beautiful German style Christmas Market from November 15 through December 24, 2013 at London Southbank Christmas Market held in London’s Southbank Centre / London Eye.  Wander about and find unusual Christmas presents such as amber and silver jewelry, hand crafted toys, glass ornaments and other unique handcrafts.

The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair held November 14 through December 22, 2013 in Birmingham, UK offers over 180 stalls to browse and shop.  Browse the array of handmade toys, jewelry, Christmas decorations and craft goods.

Canterbury Traditional Christmas Market in the UK has been tentatively scheduled from November 23 through December 23, 2013.   Enjoy the Yuletide festive atmosphere while wandering through the many stalls featuring traditional festive gifts like hand crafted toys, tin toys and Christmas ornaments.

Basel, renown as the Christmas City at the heart of Europe, celebrates their Christmas Market from November 28 through December 23, 2013.  This largest traditional market in Switzerland offers specialized Christmas shops such as the Johann Wanner Christmas House and features numerous concerts and guided Christmas tours.

Save on airfare, hotel and car rental when traveling to these holiday festivities! Call our travel specialists today!
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Scarves and Jewels and Spices, Oh My!

Whether or not you are the worlds most enthusiastic shopper, you’re bound to find Istanbul’s old Grand Bazaar (a living piece of Turkey’s mercantile history) an amalgamation of past, present, and future. With 4,000 shops selling everything from azure blue head beads to ruby red fabrics and sculpted mounds of fragrant spices, it’s a fantastically sensual experience you are sure to relive for years to come.

Istanbul is more than just an earthly pleasure. A city at the crossroads of Eastern and Western civilizations, it belongs to both Europe and Asia. It’s no wonder it has so often drawn mighty conquerors and such. Romans laid out the street plan, Byzantines built the churches and castles, Ottomans the palaces and mosques.

The vestiges of empires are yours to see, touch, explore: mosques, palaces, harems, museums. Hippodrome Square. The blue Mosque. Topkapi. The names alone quicken the pulse!

Step inside Justinian the Great’s sixth century Yerebatan Saray, a behemoth Byzantine cistern. Dig deep into Turkey’s past at the Archaeological Museum. Follow your nose to the Spice Bazaar.

Fly to Izmir to be wowed by Pergamum, the pre-Dewey Decimal System library, the Temple of Trajan.

On to Ephesus, among the best-preserved classical cities on the Mediterranean. Greek colonist settled here a millennium before Christ. Examine artifacts at the museum and then at the site. Stand where The Virgin Mary and St. John once stood and visit the Temple of Diana, called one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

A carpet-weaving demonstration, then fly to odd Cappadocia. The terrain here looks like a cross between Earth and Moon. It has survived volcanoes, wind, pounding rains, and centuries of habitation by man. Wander through Kaymakli, a fascinating underground town and see pottery-making as it’s been done for centuries.

Experience unique history of Europe and Asia all at once, visit Turkey! Call our travel consultants for more information!

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Cruising Disney Style!

Embark on incredible itineraries that travel to new ports of call in Europe, the Caribbean and Alaska. From the sun-kissed beaches of the Greek Isles to the arctic wonders of Sitka, Alaska to the tropical splendor of Caribbean islands like Barbados and Grenada, new destinations are yours to discover with Disney Cruise Line.

The following itineraries are available in 2014:

  • European itineraries that stop at new ports in Spain, Italy and Greece—including the Greek Isles
  • Southern Caribbean sailings, featuring stops at tropical islands like Antigua, Barbados, Grenada and St. Lucia—new ports in 2014
  • Western Caribbean cruises that showcase the splendor of the Riviera Maya
  • Alaskan sailings, including an itinerary that stops in the new port of Sitka, Alaska
  • 3-night and 4-night Bahamian sailings, ideal for a quick getaway
  • Transatlantic sailings that connect the Mediterranean region with Caribbean Islands
  • A Panama Canal crossing that departs from Miami, Florida

Whether you’re seeking a fun-filled extended weekend or a leisurely week at sea, Disney Cruise Line has an itinerary to suit your style in 2014. Call our travel consultants for more information!

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