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Be Prepared to Pay Up to €10 to Enter Venice

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As part of efforts to improve monitoring of tourist arrivals and assist in the funding of clean-up of litter, day-trippers to Venice will be charged up to to €10 to enter the famous lagoon city.

Millions of tourists set foot on Venice every year and the Italian parliament has approved the entry tax which ranges from €2.50 to €10 depending on the time of year. You may find this familiar as a similar system has been implemented for Elba island, part of the Tuscan archipelago as well as the Aeolian Islands off Sicily.

The mayor of Venice mentioned that the money collected will mainly be used to help fund the cleaning up of rubbish left behind by day-trippers.

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Although it is unclear when the tax will be introduced or how it will be implemented, reports in the Italian press suggest that it could be added to the cost of arriving into the city either via train, bus or cruise ship. The transport companies will then hand over the proceeds to Venice authorities.

The tax will not be affecting tourists who are already paying a tourist tax when spending at least one night in the city.

During the peak periods in 2019, gates were installed at the two entry points to the lagoon in an attempt to ease the throng headed towards St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. When numbers soar too high, gates will be closed and access is only permitted to those with prior hotel bookings or holding a Venezia Unica pass.

At the same time, authorities are looking to encourage people to visit other lesser-known areas of the Venetian lagoon, or visit the other islands such as Murano and Burano.

Spot a Polar Bear in Svalbard During Your Trip

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There’s no better place to go to than Svalbard if you would like to check out the breathtaking glaciers, explore the unspoilt wilderness and score on a chance encounter with a polar bear. Don’t be mistaken, embarking on these activities don’t necessarily mean that you’ll be on an extremely rugged trip.

You don’t have to give up your comfort and luxury while you go on an adventure in Svalbard this summer. Opt to stay in a luxury lodge at the base of an Arctic  glacier which makes it perfect for spotting a polar bear. Fulfilled by Off The Map Travel, this brand new experience on the Norwegian island of Svalbard invites you to stay in the exclusive Nordenskiold Lodge. Set off from your lodge and head out to spot some wildlife, including the famed polar bears that roam the lands of Svalbard.

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Begin your trip in the town of Longyearbyen followed by a summer dog sledding trip. You will also be joined by a guide for a boat expedition that brings you around the coast to spot some walruses, whales and polar bears as you make your way to the lodge. Plus, you’ll be able to sign up for a guided glacier climb or go kayaking to take in the scenery. When night falls, end your day with a sumptuous meal and a trip to the sauna.

If you’re lucky, you might be able to experience the ‘midnight sun’ in Svalbard during summer as well.

Tours are available from May to September and fares begin from £6,599 for two adult travellers. For more information, visit Off The Map Travel.

Go on a holiday getaway in these European cities

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas and the inevitable crowds of the holiday season is upon us. Before you start making the holiday roast and fruit cake, why not go on a pre-holiday getaway? Shop for last-minute gifts in Christmas markets and walk under romantic streets lit by fairy lights.

Malaga, Spain

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Walk through the Avenue of Lights to get into the holiday spirit and make your way to Atarazanas food market for a gastronomical holiday. With edible gifts for sale such as goat’s cheese and Andalucian cane honey for you and your food-loving friends and family.

Other than a food crawl, Malaga has several museums to feed anyone’s artistic soul. Jump from the Picasso Museum, Malaga Museum to the Russian Museum.

Ghent, Belgium

A Ferris wheel, an ice-skating rink and a fabulous Christmas market, Ghent is a breath of Christmas spirit. Just at the beginning of December, Ghent is already making a beeline for both Christmas and New Years. The streets of the historical city transform into a magical Christmas landscape, topped with winter festivities.

Stepping out of the winter wonderland, there are other places you can drop by to such as the Bij Sint-Jacobs flea market and the Holy Food Market, a food hall and cocktail bar situated in the 17th century, Baudelo Chapel.

Helsinki, Finland

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Probably the only city in the world to have a sauna part of a Christmas market, Helsinki is a lovely place to get you into the festive spirit. When the lights in Aleksanterinkatu, the official Christmas street, is finally switched on, it is a sure sign that the holiday season has arrived. With the rows of shops decorating their front windows with Christmas ornaments and decorations to attract the many passers-by and gift seekers.

Right in the heart of town sits the Helsinki Christmas Market. Consisting of Christmas decorations and handicraft to food and hot beverages, the market is a great place to purchase some unique gifts.

Aarhus, Denmark

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The city of Aarhus is overflowing with Christmas cheer, with its rich culture and history mixed together with the numerous festivities and markets, the holidays in Aarhus is definitely a full swing. The Tivoli Friheden transforms into an enchanting Christmas amusement park, with decorations and lights lining the park.

Catch the entire Christmas action on the Salling Rooftop. The terrace provides a wonderful panorama of the city and its twinkling lights. There is also a café on the roof of the Salling department store, so you can cozy up with a cup of hot chocolate and dine in some Danish christmas treats.

Familiarise Yourselves With These New Rules If You’re Travelling to Rome

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In order to help protect the quality of life in Rome, the city’s mayor has announced that new rules will be enforced. Some examples include the restriction of drinking on the streets, pub crawls and climbing historic fountains. Although some of these rules have been implemented temporarily, they will now become permanent and is in the final stages of approval.

Both the sale and consumption of alcohol is certain areas of the city will be restricted. Travellers who would like to join organised drinking tours will also be affected by the new prohibition placed upon pub crawls. Alcohol will no longer be sold from shops and vending machines between the hours of 10pm and 7am. You will no longer be able to drink out of glass containers on public streets, public transit and non-enclosed spaces after 10pm. Drinking out of any container after 11pm will be banned, and clubs will not be able to serve past 2am.

It’s also not an uncommon sight to see people dressed up as “centurions” for photography opportunities and also harassing visitors around the city. With the implementation of the new laws, they could be fined £400 should they receive money for photos or other activities such as selling of food or drinks while in the costume.

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Tourists often face trouble with touts who overcharge them for tours by assuring them that they will skip queues. The new laws will now ban the selling of any unauthorised tours moving forward.

When it comes to food and drinks, new rules will take after those that have been implemented in Venice, stopping people from eating and drinking at famous sites such as the Spanish Steps. Tourists will also be stopped from jumping into fountains, damaging them or climbing on them.

These rules have been designed and put in place to protect the rights of the city, its residents as well as its rich artistic and cultural heritage.

Stay in the Castle in the Sky

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Why stay in hotels when you can stay in a beautiful castle that sits perfectly on a cliff? Yes, fulfilling your dreams of fairy tales, and possibly nightmares, may sound like it would create a huge dent in your wallet. But in Roccascalegna, a village in the Abruzzo region in Italy, you can stay in a castle on a budget.

The village is open for people to stay in its recently renovated medieval fortress, the Castle in the Sky. A stay in the castle would only cost of €100 per night! Domenico Giangiordano, mayor of Roccascalegna, hopes that the new initiative would drive more tourism into the area and raise local economy.

The castle is a massive fortress of 7,500sq ft, complete with a chapel, tower, gardens, countless rooms and even a dungeon. The location of the castle is also rather interesting, sitting off a cliff looking as if it was hanging from the sky, hence earning the name Castle in the Sky. So if you want to feel like a medieval royal or Renaissance legend, this can be your chance.

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Despite it being a dreamy location oozing with royal feel and fairy tales, it is also a hot spot for ghost hunters. Legend has it that the castle is haunted by the headless ghost of Baron Corvo de Corvis. The man is said have had a habit of sleeping with newlywed women in the village up until he was murdered. After all, what’s a castle without their very own ghost haunting the premises?

If you do stay in this castle of dreams and nightmares, you can easily go to the picturesque town right below. A village full of fruit trees, restaurants, stone cottages and a few bed and breakfasts, perfect for a quiet getaway with a touch of enchantment.

Gear Up For an All-terrain Run Around Flores Island

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The first edition of the Azores Trail Runâ – Extreme West Atlantic Trail will be held on 24th November in Flores Island, in the Azores.

Azores Trail Runâ is responsible for organising three other trail running events held in the Azores and is bringing this event to the westernmost island of the Portuguese archipelago for the first time.

Every year, over a thousand athletes with different nationalities come together in Azores to take part in the trail runs. The events take place during the low season and there are only a limited number of spots available that athletes have to qualify for prior to the race.

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Azores Trail Runâ – Whalers Great Route was the first event organised by the brand in 2104. The race takes place on the last weekend of May annually. As the years went by, several other events have been added, namely the Triangle Adventure (this takes place for three days in the islands of Faial, Pico, and Sao Jorge), the Columbus Trail (scheduled for the first weekend of February 2019 on the island of Santa Maria) and also the Flores-based Extreme West Atlantic Trail.

Home to unique terrain conditions and having a high potential for tourism development, the Azores is a perfect destination for such sporting events.

Flores as well as neighbouring Corvo is considered to be one of the most remote islands of the Azores. The island’s population stands at approximately 3,800 people and is famous for its untouched natural beauty and canyoning. Tourists generally visit Flores during the high season from June to September each year.

Enjoy Freebies When You Visit Dubrovnik During Non-Peak Periods

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Dubrovnik has always been a destination of choice during summer months. In bid to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city under less crowd, more and more travellers are visiting Dubrovnik during the winter months instead.

Dubrovnik Tourist Board has been organising complimentary city tours and folklore performances for the fourth year in a row so as to express their appreciation to travellers who make the trip off-season.

From 3rd November 2018 to 30th March 2019, a free city tour with an English-speaking guide will depart from the Tourist Information Centre on Brsalje 5, near the Pile Gate on every Saturday. On the “Winter Saturday Mornings in the City” tour, pre-registered guests will be able to spend 90 minutes exploring and discovering what lies inside of Dubrovnik’s medieval walls, such as the Onofrio Fountain, Sponza and Rector’s palaces as well as Stradun. The tour concludes at the open-air Luza square, followed by a performance of the traditional dances and songs by the local Lindo Folklore ensemble.

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Come winter, Dubrovnik will be well connected to seven European destinations with direct flights to Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Rim, Barcelona, Warsaw and Istanbul in addition to the regular flights to Zagreb. The Tourist Board expects an increase in tourists from markets such as the USA, Japan and South Korea with the improvement in access. Tourists will also be in time for the Dubrovnik Winter Festival which offers a variety of music and entertainment programmes.

If you’re keen on the city tour, do remember to register with the Tourism Board a day in advance either through phone or e-mail. Visit the Tourist Board website for more information.

The Green Volcano Chain of France

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France is known for its cuisine and culture, as well as having a number of places that are worth the visit—the bright city of Paris, the lush lavender fields in Provence, the scenic cliffs of Etretat. But not a lot of people know about the country’s natural wonders, such as the Chaîne des Puys or volcano chain located in the Rhone-Alpes region of France.

Granted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site this past July, the string of ‘Green Volcanoes’ of central France has a different image than the typical dangerous and rocky formations of volcanoes. Due to the volcanoes being dormant for almost 6,000 years, Chaîne des Puys has grown into a lush patch of greenery.

The formation of the volcanic chain can be dated back 35 million years ago, as a result of the creation of the Alps, an emblematic segment of the Western European Rift. The last known eruption was in 4,040 B.C. The volcano chain has several cinder cones, explosion craters, and lava domes. According to UNESCO, Chaîne des Puys is an excellent example of continental break-up.

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There is much more to the volcanoes than its fascinating natural history. Visitors can view the spectacular panorama of Chaîne des Puys at Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park—one of France’s largest national parks. The park hosts several outdoor activities such as horseback riding, motorcycle rides, fishing and hiking.

Visitors can hike up the volcanic cones to crater lakes and view the natural spectacle or go for a more laid back hike up the to a beautiful view at the side of the Puy de Dôme, the tallest volcano amongst the chain.

If you wish to just relax without having to fulfil any sort of physical activity, the park also has a number of vineyards. There is the Loire Valley Wine, in which the section is known for its variations of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay. You can sample wines while enjoying the lush, green views of Chaîne des Puys.

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Impressed By Reunion Island

Of volcanic deserts, lunar landscapes, deep blue lagoons and black sandy beaches, Reunion is a jewel of the Indian Ocean. Although Reunion Island officially belongs to France, it is in fact located nowhere near Europe and instead lies East of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, basking in the southern hemisphere’s sun.

The island is mostly decked out in rugged, cloud-covered mountains, and most of the human habitation has been relegated towards the coastline. Perfect from outdoor enthusiasts, the mountains are great for hiking along steep trails, rappelling down waterfalls or even canyoning along its rivers.

With all that aside, here are several reasons why you should be impressed by this remarkable island:

The Island Holds the Record for the World’s Longest Domestic Flight Route

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Since Reunion Island is a part of France, entering Reunion also means that you’re officially entering France, despite it being over 9,000 km away from Paris. Taking a non-stop flight to Reunion from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris also means that you have never left France and can therefore enter Reunion as a domestic passenger. The total flight time adds up to more than 11 hours, hence making it the longest domestic flight route in the world.

Villages Can be Found Inside Craters

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As the volcanic island is covered in large craters, it is not surprising that entire villages can be found inside them. If you were to take a visit to Cirque de Cilaos caldera, you will be amazed by a completely different world that greets you, something that takes you far away from the beaches and cliffs of the coastline. Plus, the climate within the crater changes completely, with low temperatures and a change of landscape from rock formations to lush rainforests and magnificent waterfalls.

Tip: You can get the best views of the craters on a helicopter ride over the island

One of the World’s Most Active Volcanoes Resides in Reunion Island

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Located on the east side of the island, Piton de la Fournaise is a major tourist attraction and has over 150 recorded eruptions. Although it was a popular hiking spot previously, its last eruption in January 2017 has put a halt to this.

Rampant Shark Attacks

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We’ve all heard about the shark attacks in Australia and South Africa, but none of these compares to Reunion’s record. A fatal attack occurred in February 2017, making it the eighth one since 2011. Although scientists have been studying the phenomenon for years, it is still currently undetermined as to why Reunion has become a centre for attacks. The government has banned swimming and surfing at any of the island’s beaches except for those that have been protected by shark nets or lagoons.

Reunion Island Houses the Indian Ocean’s Highest Peak

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With the nearby Maldives and Mauritius not having extremely high peaks, Piton des Neiges in Reunion stands at 3,069 metres and you’ll be able to summit within a day. However, if you do prefer to go at a slower pace, you can always spend the night in a mountain hike and catch the sunrise from the peak the next day.

Go Glamping in a Treehouse in Croatia

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Where stunning nature meets modern luxury, glamping is your perfect way to experience the untamed nature without giving up comfortable accommodations. This is where glamour and camping fuse together, providing an authentic experience for a unique vacation.

Located just 8 km from Croatia’s famed Plitvice Lakes, Plitvice Holiday Resort has new treehouses equipped with Wi-Fi, making these five tree houses an idyllic nedt for glampers looking to explore the region.

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Image credit: Plitvice Holiday Resort

The treehouses are supported by steel columns, and can accommodate up to four guests in two bedrooms. The treehouses are also complete with two bathrooms, a kitchen, a terrace and various amenities such as Wi-Fi, air-conditioning and heating. These treehouses are designed by Abstracto Studio from Zagreb and executed by a Croatian contractor, guaranteeing the traveller an authentic Croatian experience.

The treehouses project came about because Plitvice Holiday Resort has aims to build a new experience of nature, fitting in houses into the crowns of trees along the lake, and at the same time seamlessly blending them with the surrounding nature. Most importantly, all of this is done without destroying nature’s beauty.

Plitvice Holiday Resort spans over 50,000 sq m and was originally established in 1968 as a campsite. With a makeover in recent years, the treehouses are the newest addition to the property and other facilities have been upgraded to better suit the needs of modern travellers. Travellers have the option of spending the night in cosy lakeside houses, mobile homes and even tipi tents, all of which are located throughout the green forests, complete with paths and planked promenades between them.

For more information, visit Plitvice Holiday Resort’s website here.