TBEX Welcome Kit Will Provide Airport Transportation & More for Attendees

metro (1)

UPDATE

The welcome kits are already at the airport and will be available for pick up through October 23rd.

 

With the help of our generous sponsors and partners in Athens, we are pleased to welcome you to Athens with a welcome kit full of helpful information and resources. These resources will help you navigate airport transportation, public transportation around the city,

The welcome bag can be picked up at the Athens International Airport at the City of Athens Infopoint at Gate A. The Infopoint is open from 8 am-8 pm daily, with extended hours of 8 am-10 pm on October 20-22. Although the Infopoint will have a list of attendees, if you have a hard or digital copy of your registration, it will help speed the process along. The welcome kit can be picked up at the airport Infopoint through October 23rd. If you won’t be arriving via the airport, see note below.

What’s in the welcome kit? A city map and guide, transportation passes, Athens Spotlighted Card, and a letter for free admission to a variety of venues. Here’s more detail on each to help you make your Athens plans.

Airport Transportation Pass

This pass will provide you with hard-copy tickets that are good for transportation to and from the airport, and is courtesy of Athens Urban Transport Organization (please note that not all pages of their website are offered in English). Ask the staff at the Infopoint for help getting pointed in the right direction to get transportation into town. This isn’t a card or pass, but is an actual hard ticket to use, and is good only for transportation to and from the airport. For your return to the airport, please check with the Athens representatives at TBEX for further information, or check with your hotel for pick up locations and times.

City Transportation Card

This card, also courtesy of Athens Urban Transport Organization, will give you 5 days of use on all public transportation – tram, metro, bus, trolley. This card will be good for getting around the city on your own time, with the 5 days starting after the first use, and will let you plan how to best maximize getting around Athens. That’s the metro map above.

Athens Spotlighted Card

The Athens Spotlighted Card provides a variety of discounts at restaurants, arts and cultural attractions, entertainment, shopping, and services around the area. Discounts range from 10-50%, with some restaurants offering a special menu, and some attractions offering a special admission fee. For a full list of participants, addresses, and discounts offered, go here.

Complimentary Archaeological Sites and Museums

The Ministry of Culture has granted official admission to the below archaeological sites and museums.  A special admission letter, written in Greek, will be in your welcome kit and will need to be presented upon entry to the sites/museums. Each attendee will need to have a letter in hand to present to at the site or museum. There welcome kit will also have an English translation of the letter, along with an explanation of what this letter is and which sites it includes admission to and the applicable dates. Please note this admission is strictly controlled and available on specified dates only.

To help you plan out your time, we’ve listed the sites and dates below:

  • The Temple of Aphaia; valid on October 21st and 26th only
  • The Marathon Archaeological Museum; valid on October 22nd
  • The National Archaeological Museum; valid on October 22nd
  • The Archaeological site of the Acropolis, Roman Agora, Dionysus Theater, Ancient Agora, and Adrianou Library; valid on October 22nd and 26th
  • The Temple of Olympian Zeus; valid on October 22nd and 26th
  • The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion; valid October 22nd

NOTE:  If you’re in Athens early, or are arriving by rail, bus, driving, walking, etc., you may pick up a welcome kit from the City of Athens Infopoint. That location is:  at the intersection of Amalias Avenue and Dionysiou Areopagitour Street, near Melina’s Statue (Acropolis Metro Station). This Infopoint will be open 9 am-9 pm, October 20-26.

Top Reasons Why a Cruise is an Ideal Vacation

pool on MSC Fantasia

Did you know more than 21.7 million passengers are expected to cruise in 2014? Will you be one of them?

Cruise lines continue to introduce new and exciting ships as they attempt to dazzle all types of travelers with different amenities and features. If you’ve been considering taking a cruise, but not sure it’s right for you, check out some of the top reasons why cruising makes an ideal vacation:

  1. Hassle-Free:  You only have to pack and unpack once while visiting multiple countries and cities. Go to bed in La Spezia, Italy and wake up the next morning in Cannes, France with no need to arrange flights, hotels, or shuttles in between.
  2. Fun for Family Members of All Ages: With everything from kids clubs to educational lectures, a cruise is the perfect venue for your next multi-generational vacation. Every family member has the chance to choose their own activities during the day and then get together in the evenings for a family dinner in a gourmet restaurant.
  3. Customized to Meet Your Needs: Every cruise line, from contemporary to luxury, offers a unique cruising experience that can be customized to make the most of your vacation. By offering specialty dining restaurants, captivating entertainment, luxurious spas, and other innovative features, cruise lines are able to exceed the expectations of travelers.
  4. Unique Destinations: Choose from visiting the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, South Africa, South America, and other exciting destinations. Each cruise port offers you the opportunity to explore the hottest sights and attractions of each unique city such as the Acropolis in Athens, Greece or the Mayan Ruins in Cozumel, Mexico. Just take your pick.
  5. Meet New People: Cruising is an international experience. Meet fellow travelers from around the world and learn about their culture while relaxing in the spa, the pools or at the restaurants and bars, enjoying sublime food served by our amazing chefs.

Still have questions about cruising? MSC Cruises is coming to TBEX Europe to meet you! Please stop by our table and introduce yourself.

Want to see what else MSC Cruises is up to at TBEX Europe and how you can win a FREE CRUISE? Make sure to connect with us on social and use #MSCTBEX. Find us on social media on Facebook, @MSCCruisesUSA on Twitter, Google+, @MSCCruisesOfficial on Instagram, and on YouTube.

 

Company Bio:  MSC Cruises is a privately-held, family-owned, Italian cruise line with a fleet of 12 ships. The fleet cruises year-round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in the CaribbeanNorthern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the French Antilles, South AmericaSouth Africa, The United Arab Emirates and the Red Sea. In March 2014, the line announced the construction of two new cruise ships by STX France due for delivery respectively in 2017 and 2019. Two months later, the line announced the construction of two additional new builds by Fincantieri due for delivery respectively in Nov. 2017 and May 2018.MSC Cruises believes that global leadership brings increased responsibility towards the physical and human environments in which it operates. As such, MSC entered in a long-term partnership with UNICEF in 2009 to support educational programmes for children in Brazil. The partnership was renewed early 2014, this time to support UNICEF’s efforts to tackle famine and malnutrition in developing countries and in emergency situations. Since the beginning of the partnership, MSC collected three million euros in MSC guests donations.

 

Why Photography Matters as a Travel Blogger

sunset athens

As travel bloggers, our primary role is that of content creators. We weave stories from our experiences to share with our readers.

We have a number of mediums to do that. The main four, in my mind, are Video, Audio, Text and Photography. None of these are easy, and like any skill they all take a significant amount of time and investment to properly master.

So where to focus your attention?

Personally, I believe that Photography is the easiest medium in terms of connecting with your audience quickly, and making a long lasting impact on a user.

Take this picture.

Eiffel Tower paris scaled

 

It’s a picture of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But you know that already, right? I don’t need text to tell you.

I shared this picture on my Facebook Page, and it reached 148,000 people, organically. Here are the numbers, if you like that sort of thing.

paris screenshot

Now, I could have done a wall of text instead, a status update perhaps on my trip to Paris. Or a video, that people would have to decide to click, find their headphones, and then get distracted by a notification. Or a podcast, describing my adventure.

Those are all great options too. But for instant impact, for something that can’t be unseen, for something that transports your reader right there and then to the moment, a photo can’t be beaten.

Once you have your readers attention, without having to resort to headline titles such as 26 Reasons Why You Wouldn’t Believe Paris Has Kittens In Every Window, you’re well over half way to having an audience.

Another real world example: I have almost 300,000 facebook fans. My secret to success? It’s pretty simple really. Share great, unique, photos. My fans are passionate, engaged, and I love interacting with them and sharing my adventures.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say that it’s simple. Photography is not simple. There’s a lot of technical jargon. There are a lot of different ways to approach a subject. There’s a whole side to optimising your images for your blog, and optimising your blog for your images.

If you want to know a little bit more, and get real first-hand, unfiltered advice, on all aspects of your photography as a travel blogger, from the practical aspects through to using it to grow your community (and yes, some more tips on using Facebook beyond “share great stuff!”), then come along to the workshop I’m running with Daniel before TBEX – there are still a few spots left.

It does cost money, and yes, there is a bunch of great free stuff you could be doing instead. Investing in your skills though is something you won’t regret. I look forward to seeing you there!

Author Bio: A photographer, writer and traveller, Laurence has spent much of the last five years on the road, documenting his journeys and adventures at his popular travel and photography blog: Finding the Universe, which he runs with his partner Vera. He is also a founding member of Lightmoves Creative, a photography firm which offers bespoke photography and learning opportunities to brands and individuals.

 

Last Minute TBEX Travel Tips Before You Cross the Pond/Border

 

amyjacksonI’m sitting here in Santorini looking out on the gorgeous, tranquil Aegean waters and jagged cliffs of the caldera. My pre-TBEX relaxation is in full effect, but the 30-hour journey was very humbling for this road warrior. Here are some to help your travels go smoothly, and get the most out of TBEX:

 

  1. Pack a change of clothes, contact lenses and prescriptions in your carry-on: The odds of luggage not arriving on time increases with each layover. All I can say is thank goodness for hotel robes!
  2. Sleep masks and noise canceling headphones are a must: These came in handy for me in a multitude of ways: sleeping on the plane, sleeping in the airport, and tricking your circadian rhythms into adjusting to the time zone.
  3. Stay in the loop on flight status: While I’m naturally partial to TripIt Pro, the bottom line is that early notification of flight delays, gate changes and access to alternate flights (to make it easier on you and the ticket agent to rebook you) can mean the difference between getting to Athens on time and having to spend the night in the airport. (And if you do find yourself in FRA or ATH, I can recommend a couple of comfy spots for cat naps.)
  4. Take out your liquids, laptop and tablets too, when passing through security: TSA approved sleeves aren’t really a thing here. But on the bright side, I didn’t have to take my shoes off.
  5. Rethink the last row: When I had to be rebooked due to a missed connection, having a seat in the last row initially felt like salt in the wound. But that’s when the silver lining appeared: a whole row to myself meant extra room for spreading out and catching up on ZZZs.
  6. Keep your eye on the prize: You’re about to arrive in a city with some of the most amazing history in the world, further enhanced by a 72+ hour period of inspirational ideas shared in sessions and keynotes, invaluable industry contacts and new friends.
  7. Get on Twitter and Instagram: This gives you the extra bonus of making connections online, simultaneously while participating in TBEX offline (no international data plan pun intended). For me, the pairing of TBEX photos and tweets with “in real life” relationship-building creates a group hug sensation, and it’s one of the reasons I come back to TBEX again and again.

Have tips to add to the list? Share in the comments section below.

Author Bio:  Amy leads brand strategy and consumer marketing for TripIt, the world’s highest-rated travel organizing app from Concur. For more than a decade, she generated national media coverage and pioneered social media programs for award-winning technology and consumer brands. Amy is a frequent traveler and a reward point geek. She’s especially passionate about mobile apps that make life easier, 5-star hotels and local cuisine.

Amy will be speaking with Angie Orth in the TBEX Business track, helping the industry learn about tools for press trips.

Reflections on TBEX 2014: Dublin, Ireland

 

Last year, TBEX came to Dublin.

It came, it saw, and it most definitely conquered. Hundreds of the world’s most influential travel bloggers brought their unique vision and vibe to Dublin in 2013, shared their love with every connected corner of the world, and left behind an amazing sense of possibility.

For one wonderful week, it seemed like anything could happen.

This year, we want you back. Before or after TBEX Europe in Athens, we want you to pick up where you left off, to sample the startling energy of this island of Ireland, to sense the craic and creativity in the air.

In short, we want you to come home.

Wild Atlanitc Way 2

Last year, Ireland was gearing up to launch a ground-breaking tourism proposition. Many of you experienced taster trips along the Wild Atlantic Way during your visit, but you’ll be blown away at the fully formed route.

This Wild Atlantic Way is now up and running as the longest defined coastal touring route on the planet. It’s a salt-in-your-face, spray-on-your-windscreen immersion tracing every nook and cranny of the coastline from Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula to the sizzling kitchens of Kinsale in Cork.

The Wild Atlantic Way isn’t just about the great outdoors, of course. It’s about the lifelong memories you’ll pick up along the way – in the midst of traditional music sessions, exploring coastal towns, or living it up during shindigs like the Fleadh Cheoil or Galway’s Arts and Oyster festivals.

Dublin is changing, too. The buzzing cafés, pubs and clubs you loved last year are blossoming into fully-fledged scenes. The food scene is going from strength to strength. You’ll not only find the best pint of Guinness here. You’ll find killer coffees and tunes, too.

Wanna party?

Time your Dublin visit to coincide with Dublin’s New Year’s Festival – a three-day party that’s going city-wide – or the mother of all get-togethers… the St Patrick’s Festival. It’s the perfect time to go green. Bloom in the Park, Ireland’s largest Gardening show is the social occasion of the year, with food also featuring prominently or Bram Stoker Fest, in October, when the City takes a look at its darker side and celebrates the Dublin-born horror novelist and his creation – Count Dracula.

Another city enjoying a new lease of life is Belfast. The Northern Ireland capital is the birthplace of Titanic, and the interactive Titanic Belfast is rapidly becoming one of Europe’s must-see attractions.

Belfast’s music and food scenes are making waves, too. The home of Van Morrison and Snow Patrol is crammed with cracking bands, venues and a new generation of restaurants is taking the hottest of local produce –and turning them into a very appetising prospect.

City doorsteps

When you’re done touring the city, head north to the Causeway Coast. Sights like the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, The Dark Hedges and Ballintoy Harbour may look familiar… they’ve all served as locations in HBO’s fantastical Game of Thrones, much of which is filmed in Northern Ireland.

giants_causeway

Meanwhile, history is hooking up with the here-and-now in Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford. Ireland’s ‘Sunny Southeast’ has long been known for its beaches (Steven Spielberg shot the opening scenes for Saving Private Ryan at Ballinesker), but more and more visitors are dipping into what’s emerging as one of the hottest heritage destinations around.

Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile is a magical strip running from Kilkenny Castle through the ancient city centre to St. Canice’s Cathedral. Waterford, the oldest city in Ireland, has been celebrating the 1,100th anniversary of its foundation by Vikings. The replica Dunbrody Famine Ship evokes journeys made by countless emigrants, including the ancestors of President John F Kennedy.

It’ll be a whirlwind visit – and an unforgettable one.

Enjoy TBEX Athens, and remember your motto for 2015:  Let’s make Ireland happen!

Author Bio:  Pól Ó Conghaile is a travel writer based in Ireland.

Cancun Highlight Reel

If you were at TBEX Cancun, see if you spot yourself in this highlight video.

If you weren’t, see what you missed.

There’s still time to register for TBEX Athens, where’s we’ll be announcing TBEX 2015 plans. Be there!

 

It’s a Free For All!

Seattle skyline

As a travel blogger, you understand that travel is more than, well, travel.  It’s about discovering a new way of life in a different part of the world, while discovering more about yourself. And the more you travel, the more you want to keep moving, because if there’s somewhere you haven’t been, that’s exactly where you want to be next.

There’s just one problem:  travelling can get expensive fast.

Except that it doesn’t haven’t to – not if you know how to sniff out the best free events and activities a city has to offer.  And what’s great about the freebies is that they’re usually local secrets, filled with culture, history, and a taste of the town’s true character.  Even in some of America’s most expensive cities, you don’t have to spend a dollar to be wowed, enriched, or inspired.  If you prefer to create your own guidebook rather than follow one, here’s how to scope out your free adventure:

  1. A great place to start is with museums.  Even the most acclaimed museums typically have select hours or days that offer free admittance. In New York City, for example,the Museum of Modern Art is typically $25, but you can get in for free on Fridays from 4-8:00p.m. So if you do research in advance, you can plan your stay accordingly and save good money.
  2. Another great resource is the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.   These government-run entities are all about getting the public engaged in outdoor activities, so there are frequently free programs and events offered no matter where you are.  If you’re visiting San Francisco, take advantage of the free fitness classes held in outdoor locations across the city.
  3. Live music is a great way to experience the heart and soul of the place you’re visiting. Just like the museums, many places waive cover charges during certain hours or on certain days.  In Chicago, home of the blues, you can avoid a $20 cover at the famous Buddy Guy Legend’s by heading to their Sunday night Jazz Party from 5-8pm.
  4. Check out local farmers market for insight as to what life is like in that area, and you can usually score some free samples while you’re there! Portland, Oregon, even has a whole site just about the different markets.
  5. In the summertime, outdoor movies are a staple for many cities, but they’re usually not advertised to visitors. In Washington D.C., for example, they are famous for movies on the National Mall, but there are also 10 other venues across town doing the same thing.

You probably know from your own experiences that the best memories are less about how much money you spent and more about the people you met, the hidden gems you discovered, or the trail you blazed.  And it’s a good thing, because travel should be accessible to everyone, regardless of budget.  Share these tips with your readers and help dispel the myth that travel has to be expensive.  Because the more people that travel, the more people are becoming global citizens with the wisdom and humanity to make the world a better place.  It’s not idealistic; it’s the power of travel.

Author Bio:  These tips are courtesy of Hostelling International USA (HI USA), a nonprofit, member organization founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places, and the world around.  As the nation’s leading hostel brand, HI USA hosts more than 1 million overnights annually, with guests from more than 100 countries.  For over 80 years, HI USA has provided a network of affordable hostels including converted mansions, reinvented lighthouses, and historic urban buildings all across the country, creating a sense of community among travelers. Visit www.hiusa.org for more information, or discover more free things to do across the U.S. at www.hiusa.org/FreeForAll.

Photo credit

 

Sign Up for FREE Video Workshop at TBEX Athens

TBEX Athens attendees who are interested in video have a few different ways to learn about their craft. Video is a big part of the storytelling process for Captain and Clark, something that they’ll be talking about in Saturday morning’s keynote. And on Friday we have a basic level breakout session on Easy Ways To Get Video Onto Your Blog.

peter_parkorr_travel_unmaskedFor those attendees who’d like to spend a little more time figuring out video blogging, we’re offering a FREE Video Workshop on Thursday, October 23rd, from 10 am-2 pm. The workshop will be led by Peter Parkorr. You must be registered for TBEX to attend.

What You Need To Know Now About Video For Blogging is a high-level overview of the video blogging marketplace, for intermediate bloggers who are new to video. From deciding if video is right for your blog, to creating, selling and getting the most out of your efforts, this workshop will broken into mini-sessions to help get you pointed in the right direction.

Topics covered will include:

  • Is video right for you and your blog?
  • Video essentials
  •     – Basic equipment checklist
  •     – Filming techniques to learn
  •     – Editing workflow and software
  • The case for Youtube versus other networks
  • Ways to monetise video;
  •     – How much should you charge?
  •     – What should you offer to sponsors and clients?
  • Learning more: Examples and resources

Sign up here, attendance is limited. 

There are lots of things to do in Athens before the official opening of TBEX, whether you prefer the indepth educational content of our two-day workshops, enjoying the pre-BEX activities, exploring on your own, or getting your feet wet in video with this 4-hour workshop. With this kind of programming diversity, we hope you’ll find just what you’re looking for to personalize your TBEX experience.

Have you registered yet?

Speaker Update for TBEX Athens

Marble stairs

We have another group of fabulous speakers for TBEX Athens to announce today, joining an already stellar line up of speakers. Go check out these great educational sessions, the opening night party at Technopolis, and stay tuned for plenty more announcements in these last weeks leading up to TBEX Athens.

There’s still time to register and get in on all the educational opportunities, networking and fun.

Becki Enright

Becki Enright is a British Press award winning travel blogger and writer and a Travel PR consultant at Borders of Adventure. Her writing focuses on adventures with a social conscience and journeys to change perceptions, with insight into social, historical, political and economic factors that shape a country. Becki regularly reports on misunderstood destinations, and if travelling to a well-established or popular destination, aims to find a different angle on it in order to entice readers to dig a little deeper. Her motto? Travel differently, adventurously, responsibly and with purpose.

Becki will be on a panel about travel blogging in Greece.

Danai Christopoulou

Danai Christopoulou started her career as an copywriter at BBDO, but soon realised her passion was in editorial. For eight years, she worked at Condé Nast as a Senior Editor and Managing Editor in international titles (such as House & Garden, Domino, Lucky and Glamour Magazine). Being the driving force behind the relaunch of Glamour’s website inspired her to transition to digital media. She’s been with Daily Secret since 2012 and is currently the Editorial Director, supervising a team of 24 editors and curators scattered across the globe, ensuring quality and helping the brand evolve.

Danai will be speaking in a community session about “This is My Athens”.

Dylan Lowe

Dylan is a travel and food writer, photographer, and storyteller. The earliest onset of his passion for crafting travel literature began in student journalism, at Imperial College London; since then, on his blog and canvas, The Travelling Editor, he has been documenting his discoveries and encounters around the world with a strong focus on narrative. He has also cofounded the Responsible Tourism Twitter Chat (#RTTC). Dylan is a veteran attendee of travel blogging conferences, travel trade shows and networking events. He lives in London, where he concocts over-ambitious ideas and spends too much time experimenting in the kitchen.

Dylan will be speaking on how to get the most out of TBEX (or any event).

Kash Bhattacharya

Kash Bhattacharya has been travelling on a budget for the last 4 years,blogging about his adventures at BudgetTraveller.org He has been featured in the NY Times, Guardian & CNN. Kash is the author and creator of the Luxury Hostels in Europe guide. He has developed a number of award-winning campaigns like #BlogVille for the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board and #Blogmanay for Unique Events. His current project is Must Love Festivals, a collaborative blogging project with 15 other international bloggers, developed in partnership with Expedia and 11 tourism boards & brands. The project aims to raise the profile of lesser known but interesting festivals across Europe.

Kash will be speaking in the industry track about how to build award winning blogger campaigns.

Katerina Karagianni

Katerina is the Business Unit Director of UXlab, the only agency in Greece focusing exclusively on Usability & UX. She is also co-founder of Linkwise, the leading affiliate Network in southeast Europe and of the company’s specialised travel brands, the “Linkwise Travel Network”. Katerina is also Secretary General at the Greek e-Commerce Association and a frequent public speaker on UX and e-commerce issues.

Katerina will be speaking in a community session about “This is My Athens”.

Marissa Tejada

Native New Yorker Marissa Tejada is an author, writer and journalist based in Athens, Greece. Living the expat life in Europe inspired her to write her debut novel, Chasing Athens. Besides working on her next book she freelances for numerous publications specializing in food and wine, technology and travel writing. Marissa also blogs for my Greece, my travels, her travel photography blog. As an award-winning journalist, Marissa has worked across the States as a television reporter/anchor in Florida, Washington and New York. She has also worked in newsrooms in Los Angeles and London and managed high-tech PR in San Francisco.

Marissa will be on a panel about travel blogging in Greece.

Rebecca Hall

A British travel writer and Rough Guide contributor, after extensive global travels Bex left her home in the UK and her job in Cairo to return to the country she fell in love with – Greece where she teaches English, writes and wryly observes that the slightly chaotic nature of her adopted country actually suits her personality very well. A jack of all trades: contributing author to the Rough Guide series of guidebooks, written for the Daily Telegraph Travel section, Ryanair & Cyprus Airways inflight magazines. Living in versatile cultures has helped to shape who she is today.

Rebecca will be on a panel about travel blogging in Greece.

Discover 9 of Europe’s Tinier Cities by Rail

 

Europe’s cosmopolitan capitals offer endless opportunities for discovery, but there’s equal joy to be gained in visiting some of its smaller destinations. Here are nine that we thing are pretty special, all easily reachable by train:

Cesky Krumlov

1. Českŷ Krumlov, Czech Republic

The Czech Republic was not blessed with just one fairy-tale city, but two! Českŷ Krumlov may be far smaller than Prague but it’s a huge hit with travellers and it’s easy to see why. The River Vltava weaves majestically through the tiny town, cutting it into two parts, each with its own distinct appeal. Adorning the town’s hillside is a remarkable medieval castle with a rococo garden. Českŷ Krumlov can be reached on a direct train from Prague in just under 2 and a half hours.

2. CíesIsland, Spain

Isla Cíes National Park, off the west coast of Galicia, is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets. Blessed with what the Guardian has called one of the world’s most stunning beaches, the island’s beauty can be attributed to its spectacular contrasts: The white sands and turquoise waters on the Spain-facing side of the island answer the rugged coastline and crashing waves of the Atlantic side. From Santiago de Compostela, it’s a one and a half hour train ride to the port town of Vigo. From Vigo, a 45-minute boat journey carries you on to the island.

3. Épernay, France

Épernay is looked upon as the capital of the Champagne-making region, and as the train rolls through the region, a patchwork of vineyards and rolling hills welcome you to this iconic stretch of France. In autumn look out the window to spot the farmers harvesting grapes by hand. Épernay’s main attraction is the handsome Avenue de Champagne, lined with prestigious champagne houses such as  Mercier, Moët & Chandon, and Pol Roger. From Paris Est station it’s just one hour and 15 minutes to Épernay on regional TER trains.

Figueres

4. Figueres, Spain

Figueres is a charming coastal town in Spain, close to the French border. This Catalan burgh is the birthplace of Salvador DalÍ and his final masterpiece, The DalÍ Theatre-Museum – which he built and then donated to his hometown. Combine your trip with a visit to one of the pretty beaches on the Costa Brava coastline. Together, these form the perfect day trip from the bustle of Barcelona. From Barcelona Sant station, it’s just under an hour to Figueres.

5. Haarlem, The Netherlands

Haarlem offers an easy escape from the bustle of Amsterdam – a 15-minute train ride from track one at Amsterdam Central, and yet a world away. The Grote Markt square, with its Sunday market, its lineup of restaurants and bars, and its towering whitewashed church cathedral, is the centre of the action. Vijfhoek, though, is Haarlem’s crown jewel. A tightly wound warren of tiny streets and creaky church steeples dripping over with ivy-covered charm, you’ll want to while away endless hours at one of Vijfhoek’s neighbourhood pubs.

6. Lecce, Italy

Lecce is the main city of Salento, a stunning sea-kissed area at the very southeastern corner of Italy. The city’s sandstone architectural wonders shine with an otherworldly brightness under the summer sun, then come alive at night with the city’s thriving nightlife. Check out the Santa Croce basilica, a masterpiece of baroque architecture. If you have time to go farther into Salento, hop a train to Otranto, a port city where time seems to have stopped somewhere in the 12th century. Lecce can be reached in one and a half hours from Bari on a direct regional train.

7. Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina

Mostar is the capital of the Herzegovina region of Bosnia Herzegovina. The city’s main focal point is Stari Most (Old Bridge) – the 16th century Ottoman bridge that arches over the sapphire waters of the river Neretva. Within the city are a number of mosques well worth visiting. Head just north of the bridge to visit the oldest and most sacred, Karadoz-Bey Mosque. Mostar can be reached by direct train from Sarajevo in two and a half hours – savour the picturesque views along the way.

Pula

8. Pula, Croatia

When you find yourself in Croatia, don’t miss a chance to visit Pula, the southern jewel of the Istrian Peninsula. Gracing the city’s centre is one of the largest surviving Roman amphitheatres – in summer months be sure to catch an open-air performance. The city’s pretty coastline is also a treasure, and ideal for a spot of relaxing after a long day of travelling. Pula can be reached by direct train from Ljubljana, Slovenia in about four and a half hours.

9. Sighișoara, Romania

Sighișoara is a tiny citadel buried deep within Romania’s historic region, Transylvania. Explore the Medieval features of this historic centre and delve into the town’s intriguing past. Sighișoara was the birthplace of Vlad Ţepeş also known as “Vlad the Impaler” – the man believed to have inspired Bram Stoker’s character, Count Dracula. The scenic train ride from Brașov to Sighișoara takes just under three hours.

Are you a travel writer/blogger and want to explore these cities yourself? If you’d like to travel with a complimentary Eurail pass and share your travel stories with your readers, you can apply for a Eurail pass as part of our special TBEX promotion. Read the details of what the passes cover and then apply for your complimentary Eurail pass here (you can apply for up to four passes, so you can take your family with you).

Author bio:  This post was written by Charlotte Del Signore for Eurail. Eurail was launched in 1959 with the goal of convincing travelers that using a rail pass is the best way to discover the continent. They offer a range of European rail passes based on the countries you want to visit and how many train travel days you need.