4 septembre 2020
(Last update : 9 january 2021)
Magical Destinations on a budget
If you, like me, spend most of your time day dreaming of ancient lands, magic kingdoms, heroes and queens, this is the travel guide for you!
I wanted to share the 5 most magical places I visited in the past and suggest options to visit them on a budget. Some will be more detailed than others because I have travelled there more often or lived there!
Check the bottom of the page for the maps of the routes I suggest here!
If you follow my newsletter I will make more lists like this about different magic content and also update the travel list with more magical places to visit!
Ready... Set.. Go
Destination number 1- Venice and the Italian Dolomites
Everyone knows that Venice is a beautiful city full of mystery, however lately people often tend to avoid it due to the insane amount of tourists that block every street of the floating city.
As you may know I live in the Dolomites close to Venice and I wanted to give you my personal advice on how to visit Venice and the mountains in 4 days without spending too much money!
There are cheap flights to Venice from pretty much every European Airport and you can also flight into Treviso which is about 50 min from the Marco Polo Venice Airport.
I suggest to flight on a Thursday afternoon in fall, take you time to arrive to Venice via bus (there are many busses leaving from each airport to the city) and arrive when most tourists have left or are going to dinner, get yourself a Panino somewhere and walk around the city at night, get lost, take the fairy (about 20 euros for the full ride) to watch the reflection of the lights on the canals.
You won't find as many people around, it will be easier to check the main views without the crowds and at night it's sooo much more magical!
Do not sleep in Venice! If you rented a car go directly towards the mountains at the end of the evening (it will be approximately 1 hour drive), if not take a taxi to Mestre and sleep at a hostel there, the next day take a Flixbus to Tai di Cadore (towards Cortina) to reach the Italian Dolomites.
Cortina d'Ampezzo is considered by Italians one of the most elegant and posh places to go to ski or to spend mountain-holidays in Italy. I have grown up only 20 Km away from Cortina, in a small mountain town called Pieve di Cadore.
I talk from experience when I say that the Cadore Valley, Cortina, Misurina and close by mountain areas are incredibly beautiful and if you are looking for magic woods and incredible views, please look no further!
Cortina can be expensive if you are looking to spend the night there directly in a fancy mountain resort!
What I suggest is to sleep in an Airbnb in Pieve or other close by towns and use a rented car or the public bus (5 euros to get pretty much everywhere with Dolomitibus) to reach the wonderful locations of Cortina, Misurina, Auronzo and so on.
If you are a hiker I suggest you ask the info-point at the Cortina bus station which tracks to take to reach the 5 Torri mountain lodge called Averau.
That view specifically is my favorite and one day I will get married there, it has the power to make you feel like in a Lord of the Rings setting.
If you don't hike there is a comfortable lift that can take you there and a bus that goes directly to the lift starting point!
Another amazing view is that from the Lagazzuoi, also reachable with a ski-lift. It is much more epic and you can get a view of almost every mountain top around. It is also one of the highest mountains in the Valley, reaching around 3000m.
Other wonderful locations are:
- Rifugio Faloria, on the other side of the valley and it has an incredible view of the town of Cortina
- Le Tre Cime di Lavaredo, another amazing view also loved by those who want to watch the stars at night!
- Montepiana, you can easily walk ( approximately a 2 hours walk mostly on a normal cement road) and it is an amazing historical war location. It feels so incredibly epic!
- Misurina. The Lake of Misurina is a pretty mountain lake, famous as it is now in a lot of Pinterest pictures. It is a lovely place to stroll around the lake and drink hot coco in winter.
The mountains have a way of making you feel small and part of something more. The woods almost speak to you, if you stop and listen.
The stars at night shine much brighter and the colors of the Dolomites at sunset are truly unbelievable, as they turn pink, just like the sky!
If you are planning a trip to Venice and the Dolomites don't feel shy and hit me up! I would love to be your guide if I am available!
Destination number 2- Scotland in the fall
Scotland is by far one of the most magical locations I ever visited.
I have been at least 4 times and each time is an opportunity to see it from a different light!
How can a land so dense of folklore and traditions NOT be magical?
The castles, the magical and historical movies locations, the green islands and brown wide open spaces, Edinburgh and its gloomy buildings.
Scotland is probably associated to magic by everyone reading this blog already.
However, for those of you who've never visited, I decided to make a little on a budget guide to my personal favorite parts of Scotland!
What I love to do when I go to Scotland is to take a couple of days in Edinburgh, the hometown of Harry Potter, and spend the night at some Airbnb.
It isn't difficult to find cheap Easyjet flight to Edinburgh and various rooms for 30 euros per night (60 per couple).
I usually rent a car with my boyfriend at the Edinburgh airport for 4 days (it usually is around 40£ a day) but you can also move around by bus as there are a lot of tourbusses and normal busses/trains taking you around in Scotland.
Afterwards I suggest you go visit the Highlands (set Glencoe as a point of reference on your GPS) and if you can you should stop for a night in a local lodge as the view of the misty mountains and the color shades of the scenery are incredibly unique.
A plus to this incredible magical place is that Highlander was obviously shot around here too!
If you are by car it will be easier to stop at the Glenfinnan Viaduc, which if you haven't guess yet is the railway where the iconic Harry Potter Hogwarts train scene was shot. You can walk up there over the Viaduct (there is a path) and watch the train pass through (the historical train only passes in spring and summer and you can also ride it!).
Afterwards I suggest you stop in the Eilean Donan Castle which is on your way to the Isle of Skye!
Stop for a quick car rest as you continue towards the Isle of Skye where I suggest you spend the night in Portree, eat somewhere in town, and continue your ride the following day!
When you wake up make sure to ride up the Island and, if you can, stop at the Old Man of Storr (it's a hike and it's a long one, better to
be done in summer as in winter it may be close). The car ride around the Island is incredibly epic with the cliffs and the incredible green fields on the ocean.
On the way back from the Isle of Skye go north and stop in at Lock Ness! Take a ferry ride on the lake and check if you see Ness, I'm sure she's out there!
Afterwards continue your ride through the highlands and go visit San Andrews to get a feel of an amazing Scottish Institutions, very elegant and yet sooo magical. I can't deny it makes you feel like you are going to a wizards' school!
Destination Number 3- Paris & Normandie
Just like for Venice, Paris is one of those clishé cities people find incredibly beautiful but also very talked about!
I've seen Paris in a very different way my entire life. One of my closest cousins is from Paris and when I was little my mom took me to visit her in their little but lovely apartment in the 16th arrondissement, a very pretty neighborhood of Paris, close to a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
We would walk around town, in the rain, and look at the lights. We would also go to Disneyland but that's another story!
My memories of Paris are about the lights, primarily. The lights, the brioches in the morning, the carousels with the horses and their music. How can Paris not be magical?
When I lived there as an adult I used to watch the reflection of the Eiffel Tower on the windows of old pretty buildings, especially from places where I could not even see the tower itself, only the sparkly reflection of its lights on the windows.
I got also fixated with finding La Rue de La Lune (the street of the moon), as I do in almost every city I visit, just to see what it looked like. And to be honest, it was a magical experience to walk around town looking for that street, hoping it was called that way only because it gave you an incredible front row to the sky!
I also loved finding roofs to walk on from friends' homes and imagining what it would be like to be a cat and live on the roofs of Paris.
I will not suggest places to visit in Paris because it would be way too overdone, but I do suggest your to look for the Rue de La Lune, in Paris and every other city you visit.
From Paris it takes you less than 3 hours by train to reach Normandie.
Just like Scotland, Normandie has epic cliffs and green fields, as well as gloomy villages with dark tones and old stone buildings. The ports are lovely and even if it can be colder than expected, it is for sure one of the most magical sea areas in Europe. The train ride from Paris Gare Saint-Lazare to Bayeux train station is around 80euros there and back. A day trip I fully suggest taking!
Destination number 4- Ireland
Ireland is by far the most Celtic place you can, logically, visit.
I've been to Dublin a billion times to visit friends when I was a student but sadly never with enough money to rent a car and travel around Ireland as I pleased. It is, however, on my bucket list!
What I did do, however, and I truly recommend doing as cheesy as it may sound, is a Game of Thrones tour of the Island. They have different ones, some are a day tour while others may take 3 days. I did the day tour of 30£ and it was short but intense.
The tour starts in Dublin and takes you to Northern Ireland and it shows you a couple locations from the show, such as the beautiful Dunluce Castel, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Larrybane Chalk Quarry and finally the Giant's Causeway, a beach with incredible natural stones!
Another thing you may do is to rent a car and visit the same location but also go to the Cliffs of Moher that, as you may know, are iconic for Ireland!
Destination number 5- Middle Earth in New Zealand
This is by far my favorite and yet the obviously most expensive trip in this list.
However, since the Lord of the Rings is very close to many of your hearts, I wanted to suggest a way to visit it on a budget!
When I lived in Australia I bought a ticket for New Zealand for my birthday and went alone to have a fully spiritual experience.
The ticket in November was around 300$ but honestly there were much cheaper ones too!
I flew to Christchurch in the southern Island and spent a night in the airport to save hotel money, it was probably not the best idea but I managed to survive!
Once it was the morning I took a bus to downtown Christchurch (which was much colder than expected in Southern Hemisphere spring) and took a day tour to.... ROHAN!!
Rohan was located on Mount Sunday, a beautiful park in the middle of the Southern Island.
The ride was about 3 hours and we stopped to food in places where the cast used to have lunch!
The ride was beautiful and full of interesting LOTR facts!
Once we arrived there we climbed a little hill where once used to be the construction for the castle and its is so epic and beautiful!
The next day I flew to Auckland (50$) and took a bus all the way to Hobbiton which is in Matamata.
The ride was about 3/4 hours there and I passed trough green hills and cottages, listening to the LOTR soundtrack on my Iphone, getting more and more emotional every mile.
Once we got there we switched to another bus that took you to the park and then started the tour.
I cannot even describe the beauty of The Shire, because it's exactly how you expect it to be!
Of course it would be lovely to spend the night there and enter the park alone, but the experience will fill you with so many emotions you won't be able to stop crying.
It is possible to have weddings or receptions there where the entire park is reserved for you alone, but I imagine it being very expensive!
Thank you for checking my itineraries for the 5 most magical locations to visit (for me)! I will be adding more in time and also make more magical lists!