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Guide to Train Travel in Europe

Europe rail

The fast track on Europe’s new train routes and what to know before you go.

The Fast Track

On Europe’s newest routes, speeds are higher and higher (and prices lower).

Paris to Barcelona: The final SNCF segment between Barcelona and the French border opened in December, cutting the 12-hour travel time between the French and Catalan capitals in half.

Marseilles to Paris: Ouigo, the Continent’s first budget high-speed service, costs a quarter of the average fare. The catch? Less-convenient stations, no catering, and online-only booking.

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How to Find the Best Fares on European Flights

Canary Islands

Booking a great fare to Europe has become increasingly difficult. Here’s how to bring down the cost of your next transatlantic flight.

First there is the question of timing. According to Kayak, the most-affordable airfares to Europe last year were booked eight to 10 weeks before departure—so you should start researching tickets at least three months out. You’ll find even better prices if your travel dates are flexible. As a general rule, European fares rise for travel beginning in the second week of May and don’t fall again until September. Expedia reports that the least expensive months to fly to Europe are February, March, and November. If you can, look for tickets that depart for Europe on either a Tuesday or Wednesday and return on a Tuesday; they tend to be lower, according to Kayak’s research. (See “Fare Finders,” below, for our favorite sites for finding European airfares.)

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The 25 Best Beaches in the World

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We can all agree that after months of polar vortexes and a Winter that refused to quit, the idea of hitting the beach sounds pretty terrific, right? Well, we're almost there. And to help get the ball rolling, we rounded up our favorite 25 beaches in the world.

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo by Nicolas Vollmer

The World's 6 Most Insane Ziplines

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Combining speed, height, and a totally flimsy harness that in no way looks like it can hold you up, ziplining is sheer excitement meets pure terror – an exhilarating ride atop some of the planet's most gorgeous landscapes. But which lines are worth the zip? From 165ft underground to 1,000ft in the air, here are six of the world's longest, fastest, and wildest.

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo by Zip2000

May Vacation Deals

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Germany: 44% off at the Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt

Bavarian Luxury package includes:

• 2 nights in a Deluxe room at the Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt, a 135-year-old resort on the banks of the Tegernsee, near Munich
• Round-trip transportation to the Tegernsee Forest Festival, a traditional summerlong Alpine celebration with beer, bratwurst, and live music, or to the Tegernseer Bräustüber, an ancient monastery that brewed the region’s first beer
• An hour-long carriage ride through the Bavarian Alpine landscape, with beer and pretzels
• A 3-course dinner at a choice of 3 on-site restaurants, including Egerner Bucht, a specialist in Alpine cuisine

Cost: $1,080 ($540 per night)

Book now for travel between June 20 and September 7.

For more information or to book, please visit Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt

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Sherpas Call Off Mount Everest Climbing Season

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Nepal’s Sherpa community has announced it's pulling the plug on Mount Everest's climbing season in the wake of an avalanche that claimed 16 lives. The news arrives just as Everest was about to enter its busiest season; an estimated 334 foreign climbers were expected to scale the world’s tallest peak in the coming months. Around 400 Sherpas would have guided them.

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The Duke and Duchess Make Fairytale Trip to Uluru

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This week, Catherine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, visited the breathtaking World Heritage landmark, Uluru, during the final leg of their three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand.

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Orbitz Launches New Credit Card To Rival Most Travel Cards

Orbitz credit card

The battle of the OTAs is heating up—first there was a wave of loyalty programs, and now, they’re each outdoing one another when it comes to credit cards. The latest move comes from Orbitz, whose fee-free Visa-backed card was announced earlier this week as a direct challenge to Expedia’s Citi cards. Our verdict? The Orbitz Rewards Visa is about a good a travel card as you can get. Read on for details.

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Daily Transporter: Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way

misty heaven

Winding 1,500 miles along Ireland’s western coast, the newly christened Wild Atlantic Way is now the world’s longest uninterrupted coastal road.

See the Cliffs of Moher in World’s Most Amazing Views

Editor’s Picks: Ireland
See Ireland’s Atlantic coast in World’s Coolest Surf Towns
World’s Eeriest Abandoned Places
World’s Most Romantic Hotels

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Daily Transporter: Dominican Republic

dominican republic sunset

A Canadian hypnotist who tried to sue the Dominican Republic because it rained during his vacation lost not only his lawsuit but also his right to sue anyone (or any place) in the future without the Quebec court’s okay.

See How to Have a Hurricane-Proof Vacation

Editor’s Picks: Dominican Republic
World’s Most Romantic All-Inclusive Resorts
North America’s Best Whale-Watching Spots
Best Affordable Island Resorts

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Daily Transporter: Pretzels

yummy pretzels

April 26 is National Pretzel Day. The EU recently added the soft Bavarian pretzel to its protected origins list (where it joins the likes of Stilton cheese and Parma ham). Now only pretzels produced in Bavaria can be sold as Bayerische breze, or Bavarian pretzel. Accept no substitutes, Damen und Herren.

See Bavarian pretzels in World’s Top Beer Gardens

Editor’s Picks: Food + Drink
Europe’s Best Places to Eat Like a Local
America’s Best Beer Gardens
America’s Best Beer Bars

Lyndsey Matthews is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo ©iStockphoto

Daily Transporter: Virginia Garden Week

Charlottesville beauty

In 1927, a Garden Club of Virginia flower show raised $7,000 to save some trees planted by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. That initiative inspired Virginia Garden Week—eight days and 250 house-and-garden tours across the state—which begins today.

See Virginia in America’s Best Spring Drives

Editor’s Picks: Virginia
Best Beaches on Earth
World’s Strangest Natural Wonders
America’s Coolest Summer Cottages

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Daily Transporter: Montana

Now that's a tent

Luxury guest ranch Resort at Paws Up and the National Cowgirl Museum co-host an annual spring weekend for Calamity Jane wannabes (with lots of banknotes in the saddlebags) that includes trading stories with a Women’s Pro Rodeo champ and a cattle drive on the 37,000-acre Montana property.

See America’s Best Dude Ranches

Editor’s Picks: Montana
America’s Most Scenic Roads
Coolest All-Inclusive Resorts
America’s Best Lake Vacations

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc.  Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of Resort at Paws Up.

Can’t Travel This Month? Bring the Destination to You

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Who says there’s not life after travel? Jim Sherman, founder and former CEO of ShermansTravel, is into a new business—a gift box of the month club called Hamptons Lane.

But Sherman (who’s still Chairman of ShermansTravel) hasn’t strayed too far—his new venture keeps alive the globetrotting spirit. Each month, his new company delivers a new box of authentic foods and kitchen products, centered on a theme and sourced from all over the globe.

The inaugural package—just in time for Cinco de Mayo—is Southwestern-themed and includes spices from James Beard-nominated Melissa Guerra; salsa from San Antonio, TX; a lime juicer; and chipotle-spiced margarita salt. Anchoring the box (literally) is a huge lava rock molcajete from Guanajuato, Mexico.

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Four Seasons to Launch Private Jet

Four Seasons jet

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a… flying hotel? Come February 2015, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will extend its hospitality into the skies and launch its very own branded private aircraft—the first of its kind in the industry. And we’re not talking about a tiny Learjet—this is a Boeing 757 with custom-designed interiors, 52 handcrafted leather flatbed seats, and Four Seasons-worthy onboard dining.

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T+L Travels to the 2014 Boston Marathon

T+L's Peter Schlesinger reports from Boylston Street, in Boston, along the route of the annual marathon. The Patriots' Day event had special meaning for the 36,000-plus athletes this year.

 

Top Facebook Check-Ins for Earth Day

Grand Canyon

Untamed mountains, green forests, pristine lakes, and wide-open spaces. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than at a U.S. national park? Facebook agreed and put together a list of the top 2013 check-ins from national parks around America.

Top US National Parks:

1.  Grand Canyon
2.  Yosemite
3.  Yellowstone
4.  Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
5.  Great Smoky Mountains
6.  Zion
7.  Rocky Mountain
8.  Everglades
9.  Acadia
10. Joshua Tree

Interestingly enough, 12 percent of those who checked into a park on Facebook in 2013, live in another country, with the United Kingdom in the lead.

The U.S. cities whose residents are the top visitors to U.S. National Parks are from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Denver.

Wherever you are in the world, Earth Day is the perfect excuse to get outside and enjoy, well, the earth!

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Michael Quinn / Courtesy of NPS

Eco-Luxe Vacation Ideas In Honor of Earth Day

Ion Luxury and Adventure Hotel

As an editor of Travel + Leisure’s Global Vision Awards, I’m always on the lookout for travel companies that can raise the bar for both sustainability and luxury. In honor of Earth Day, here are five new properties that are getting it right.  (If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to celebrate by booking a stay, stat.)

1. Pikaia Lodge, Galapagos: Think of the Galapagos as a cruising destination? Pikaia puts the traditional model on its head, with 14 stunning rooms (think floor to ceiling windows, private plunge pools, and enormous bathrooms) perched atop an extinct volcano crater. When it opens in September, it will have already spent four years rehabilitating the surrounding land—previously deteriorated from cattle farming—and trained locals in sustainable tourism practices to replace the debilitative trade of shark fishing.

2. The Brando, French Polynesia: Just 30 miles north of Tahiti is Tetiaroa, a pristine archipelago of a dozen islands surrounding an incredible lagoon. It’s also the site of The Brando, where 35 thatched-roof villas each get private pools and secluded beach access. Sound over the top? It’s impressively sustainable—the whole property was built with local materials, air conditioning comes via a unique seawater-powered system, and a blend of solar and coconut oil-based energy grids have brought the resort to near carbon neutrality.

3. Ion Hotel, Iceland: Set against the dramatic lava fields of Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, an hour north of Reykyavik, this ultra-minimalist, geothermal-powered resort is a dreamy backdrop for the Northern Lights. A sprawling list of nature-based activities await (hot spring and glacier tours; snorkeling; hiking)—but you’d find me at the ten-meter-long pool with views of the surrounding valleys.

4. Kittitian Hill, St. Kitts: Meet the Caribbean’s latest eco-resort: Its colonial-inspired guesthouses are spread among 400 acres of working farmland. The spa is set in an ancient mango forest. Original crops and fruit trees have been preserved as natural obstacles for the golf course—dubbed the world’s most edible. And with a quarter of the island doubling as protected national park, it’s a haven for tropical birds, flora, and fauna. It officially opens later this year (we hear December).

5. Kestrel Camp, Montana: This new lodge on the site of the American Prairie Reserve’s giant conservancy offers a clutch of high-design yurts (yes, yurts) with a decidedly Wild West feel. Expect geologist-led hikes, bison sightings, and exceptional sunsets over the prairie—best witnessed from your private wraparound deck.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

 

Photo courtesy of Ion Luxury and Adventure Hotel

Win a Suite Weekend in a Palace

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Champagne, chocolates, and the Jewel Suite—oh my! The New York Palace doesn’t skimp when it comes to luxury, which means when they offer a Facebook “Suitestakes” you jump, enter, and then pack your bags.

Now through June 16, fans can enter the hotel’s Suitestakes for a chance to win the ultimate VIP weekend, valued at over $60,000.

If you win, you can spend the weekend admiring the 20-foot “Waterfall of Diamonds” chandelier, the grand piano, the 10-seat dining room, wood burning fireplace, or the floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the Manhattan skyline, in your very own suite. Oh, did we mention that you would have access to the house car service in a dedicated Mercedes or Maybach?

This Suitestakes is nothing less than palatial. 

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of The New York Palace

Selfie Scavenger Hunt

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Ready, set, #selfie! Kimpton’s Muse Hotel in New York City is inviting guests to explore Manhattan on a Selfie Scavenger Hunt.

Guests are provided a list of ten must-see sites in New York, ranging from Katz’s Deli to the Empire State Building. Participants will need to document the sites on Twitter, tweeting each location to the @KimptoninNYC handle and using the hashtag #MuseSelfie. 

Prizes range from a round of cocktails to discounted room rates and upgrades.

The front desk at the hotel is offering a “Selfie Prop Kit” in case your selfies need a little dressing up.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of The Muse Hotel

A Poorly Printed Boarding Pass Might Make You Miss A Flight

boarding-passjpg

That’s a picture of my boarding pass for a recent flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York. I printed it out in the lobby of my beachfront hotel just before racing to the airport. I felt great that I was cleared for expedited screening in the TSA PreCheck lane, but not so great when the TSA agent frowned and said, “This boarding pass is no good.”

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Daily Transporter: Shakespeare's Birthday

rainy day

O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!
— William Shakespeare, born 450 years ago today.

See Stratford-on-Avon in World’s Coolest New Tourist Attractions

Editor’s Picks: Art + Culture Trips
America’s Best Comedy Clubs
London’s Coolest Attractions
25 Selfies You Have To Take This Year

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc.  Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo: Andreas Bleckmann

Disney's 'It's a Small World' is 50 Years Old Today

Disney's it's a small world

Meantime, while you’re warming up your vocal cords and focusing your laptop cam, here are 10 facts that you probably didn’t know about the most famous travel-related ride in the world.

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Stowaway Survived In Plane’s Wheel Well on Flight to Hawaii


Yesterday, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 carried an extra passenger in the plane’s wheel well. But it wasn’t until the flight landed in Maui that the 16-year-old boy was discovered relatively unharmed. Aviation experts are dumbfounded as to how he could have survived.

Affordable Europe Twitter Chat on Tuesday, April 22

From the beaches of Biarritz to Italian hotels and Istanbul’s Old City, our May Europe Issue will boost your desire to explore new corners. We’re discussing how to travel within Europe, secret stylish hotel brands, and insider tips for saving money in our Affordable Europe Twitter Chat this Tuesday, April 22nd from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Whether you want to know about cultural experiences for less, standout restaurants, or the best new European destinations to visit, join our chat and ask the experts for their advice!

The Host:

Associate Editor and Trip Doctor team member, Brooke Porter, @TLTripDoctor (via @brookeporter1)

The Panelists:

Fodor's Travel, @fodorstravel

Fathom, @FathomWaytoGo

Kayak, @KAYAK

Generator Hostels, @GeneratorHostel

Elizabeth Minchilli, author of the Eat Rome and Eat Florence apps and food-tour guide, @eminchilli

Jenny Dyson, Creative Director of Pencil Agency and Rubbish Magazine, @MRSRUBBISH

Alex Marshall, T+L Paris Correspondent, @AlexMRDM

Virginia Irurita, T+L A-List Agent, Spain, @spainspecialist

Sarah Miller, T+L European Editor, @SarahIMiller

Mr and Mrs Smith, @smithhotels

How does it work?

1. Log in to Twitter before the chat starts at 2pm ET and be sure to follow @TravlandLeisure.

2. Head over to http://twitter.com. Enter the hashtag #TL_Chat into the search bar and select the "All" search option to follow the chat in real time.

3. Remember to always add the hashtag #TL_Chat to your tweets.

4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own responses. Or ask questions of your own! 

All tweets are subject to our social media terms and conditions and may be used in any and all media including editorial. See full social media terms and conditions.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Soak up the "Sun" on the World's Biggest Indoor Beach

indoor beach

Outside of Miami and L.A., there are few places in the world where fake is better than real. Germany's Tropical Islands Resort, the planets's largest indoor water park in Krausnick, is definitely one of them.

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo courtesy of Thrillist

 

8 Hotels Where You're the Only Guest

hotel

Because the easiest way to score VIP treatment at a hotel is to either be rich or the ONLY guest, here are eight exclusive accommodations around the world that boast one single room – and your host's undivided attention.

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo courtesy of Thrillist

A Little Paris in NYC: "Madeline" Exhibit Opens Summer 2014 at New York Historical Society

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"In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines ..." I've never forgotten my introduction to Madeline. As a child, I'd binge on her stories. "One more, one more," I'd beg my mom at bedtime. While my boys are more into steroid-infused types wearing capes than the misadventures of a French school girl, I plan to drag them to the Madeline exhibit at New York Historical Society. On view will be more than 90 drawings, photographs, and paintings (including originals, such as Madeline at the Paris Flower Garden, 1955) by Austrian artist and creator Ludwig Bemelmans who started crafting his tales at Pete's Tavern, right here, in New York. The little girl from Paris is coming home.


Clara Sedlak is a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: "Madeline at the Paris Flower Market © 1955 by Ludwig Bemelmans. Oil, 34 1/2 x 45 1/8 inches. Collection of Barbara Bemelmans"

Wake Up with Al: Best Weather Destinations for Easter

Easter eggs

Travel + Leisure’s Sarah Spagnolo presents three destinations to celebrate spring and the holiday weekend.

New York City: New York City does it up for Easter; there’s the Easter Parade, the Great Faberge Big Egg Hunt display at Rockefeller Center, and the Tribeca Film Festival. Unpack at the W New York Downtown, and you’ll have easy access to it all, plus amazing views of the new One World Trade Center and the city’s glimmering skyline. Price: From $262 a night. Book now: wnewyorkdowntown.com.

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Map Your Way to the Best Cookbooks In America

Amazon cookbook map

America’s melting pot is boiling over with revived regional cuisine and distinctive flavor profiles.  Amazon Books’ Food Editor, Mari Malcolm, was inspired by a surge of localized cookbooks—and wanted to put the best of the year (and the all-American classics) on the map.

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