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15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada

If taking the train across Canada isn’t on your bucket list, it totally should be! Seeing the entire country, from Halifax to Vancouver, by train is an unforgettable experience like no other. You will go to sleep in one province and time zone and wake up in a completely different part of Canada. With this year being Canada’s 150th birthday as a country, there is no better time to book your train across Canada. We have put together some things you should know about a trans-Canadian journey so you are fully prepared for the epic you are about to experience!

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada

#1: Via Rail is the only company to offer cross-Canada train travel

Via Rail Canada is owned by the Canadian government and is the only company to offer train travel from one end of Canada to the other. If you are looking to travel between Halifax and Vancouver, you are going to have to book through Via Rail. Worried about only having one choice? Don’t be! Via Rail Canada has been operating for decades as the trusted name in train travel across Canada!

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#2: The entire journey will take between 5-6 days, with no stops

Depending on the time of year you decide to take the train across Canada, the whole trip will take between 5-6 days. This is because you have to be sure that the train schedules match up with your connecting train! If you are riding on “The Canadian” which runs between Toronto and Vancouver, the trip will be four straight days if you don’t get off. If you want the true transcontinental experience and start in Halifax, you will take “The Atlantic” to Montreal and then take a commuter train down to Toronto. If this sounds confusing, it really isn’t and Via Rail staff are just a phone call away to help with the planning.

#3: Winter is the best time to take the train across Canada

You may be thinking that Canada in winter is a frozen tundra, but you are overreacting! We saw temperatures that ranged from 30-35*F in the mountains and 38-55*F everywhere else. During the winter, you can book a trans-continental train journey for much cheaper than high season and will enjoy huge benefits including less people to compete with for views on the train. If you are planning to stopover at some cities like we did, the cities will be free from loads of tourists and much cheaper as well. Most importantly, traveling by train across Canada during the winter actually gives you the best views of any season! Since many trees have shed their leaves, you can see through them and out to the landscapes beyond! If you traveled during the summer, the trees would have their leaves and you would be stuck in a “tree corridor.”

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#4: Delays are a very real thing…plan accordingly

Because of our booking process [we booked over the phone and the HR representative was leaving for surgery and 5 weeks of recovery the day after we booked], we did not know that Via Rail would experience serious delays during our journey. If we had known in advance and planned accordingly, the delays would have been no big deal. Since we had not, the delays had a big impact on a large part of our trip. To be fair to Via Rail, they do have disclaimers on their website that you should not book onward travel or activities the day your train arrives into your station. Delays are unlikely to happen every trip and our experience was extreme, but it is never bad to be prepared!

Our train was from Toronto to Jasper left 5.5 hours late which resulted in us arriving in Jasper 3.5 hours late [considering time change]. Our train from Jasper to Vancouver [we did a stopover] was a whopping 9 hours late which cost us an entire day of sightseeing. The moral of the story? If we had known about the possibility of delays, we would have simply added an extra day to our itinerary at each destination and would have expected delays at each stop. Then, if we arrived at a reasonable time, it would have been unexpected. If you are planning to travel across Canada on Via Rail, simply build one extra day into your itinerary at each stop and do not book any flights the day you arrive. You can keep abreast of on-time performance on Via Rail’s website. Don’t let delays keep you from taking the train across Canada, simply be prepared!

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#5: Passenger trains share the track with freight and do not have priority

The main reason for all the delays? In Canada, freight trains bring in more money than passenger trains do so they get priority on the track. The freight company also owns the train tracks so Via Rail trains must often head over to a side rail to wait while freight trains pass. Each train that passes may take up to 20-40 minutes because some freight trains can be 3 miles long! Since passenger trains are a lot shorter, they must wait on a side track until freight passes. It is pretty neat to see the giant freight trains pass your train and count how many cars make up the train.

#6: Sleeping on a train is magically relaxing

We have slept in cars, on planes, and on cruise ships, but sleeping on a train was something special. The sound of the cars traveling over metal tracks coupled with the relaxing movement of the train rocked us to sleep in under five minutes each night. The motion was perfect enough to feel completely relaxed without feeling anxious about constant movement. Traveling by train across Canada made for some super restful nights!

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#7: Not stepping foot outside the train for days on end is not a problem

You can get off the train at pretty much every stop if you want so not getting off for three straight days is totally on us! We are homebodies and it was winter so we didn’t mind hanging out on the train for over 72 hours. We got plenty of exercise trekking between all the cars multiple times a day [these things can be long!] and loved being cozy inside at all the stops our train across Canada made!

#8: Only some trains have Wifi

“The Atlantic” and the corridor train that connects Montreal to Toronto both come equipped with Wifi in certain cars, but “The Canadian” [the longest train you will be on] does not. The connection on our trains from Halifax and Montreal were great and it was nice to have access to the outside world. It would have been nice to have the option for Wifi on “The Canadian” but you won’t die without it and it’s a great way to detox digitally. If you plan to take the train across Canada, pack or download some books in case you want to read them!

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#9: You will find plenty to do and will rarely be bored

In our entire 6 days of traveling by train across Canada, we can safely say that we were not bored one single time. The whole beauty of trans-Canadian train travel is getting to stare out the window and watch the world go by. We are an introvert/extrovert couple and the experience was delightful to both of us. Via Rail Canada has activities onboard such as wine and beer tasting, live music, discussions about what is going on outside and more. There are also magazines and books and a constant supply of coffee, tea, and snacks. We also downloaded movies and watched them at night while relaxing on our bed.

#10: Train food is actually very delicious

If you book a “sleeper plus” class ticket on “The Canadian” and “The Atlantic”, you will have access to three very yummy meals a day in the dining car. For each meal, you are offered a soup or salad starter, a choice between a variety of entrees, and a choice of dessert. We were thrilled that there was a vegetarian entree offered with each and every meal for Victoria.

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The food you will eat during your cross-country train trip is high quality and home cooked by Via Rail chefs in the kitchen. They have the ability to make minor substitutions since everything is cooked right in the dining car. During one of our delays, the only vegetarian food left on the train was a salad, so the chef cooked Victoria a delicious grilled cheese with soup and salad. We were really impressed by the flexibility and range of food offered on a train across Canada!

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#11: You can choose accommodations based on your budget

With a little saving, everyone should take the opportunity to take the train across Canada. Fortunately, Via Rail offers a bunch of options for each price point. If you are on an extreme budget, you can travel in economy class, but you will not receive meals and you have to sleep in your [comfy] seat. Looking for more room? You can book a “roomette” on the “Canadian” which is a cute semi-private bunk bed that lines the hallway in the sleeper car. The beds are huge and you have a curtain for privacy.

Alternatively, you can book a private cabin for one, two, or three, depending on your needs. Finally, if you are looking to go all-out, you can book the pricey Prestige Class which offers a full bed, unlimited liquor, a TV and more. Although it is expensive, prestige is already fully booked for the summer so it is quite a popular way to travel by train across Canada. We stayed in a cabin for two it was super roomy and comfortable for the journey! You can keep track of the lowest possible fares on this page! 

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A peek inside “Prestige” accommodations

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

A “room for one” in daytime configuration

#12: The “Dome Car” offers the best view on the train

The “Dome Car” was our favorite part of the train and one of the best parts about traveling by train across Canada. It is equipped with very comfortable seating that elevates you above all the other train cars, giving you a 360 view of your journey. This car is by far the most popular so we suggest getting there early if you want to a good space [but don’t leave items to “save” your seat]. This car is perfect for photographers [or smartphone photographers] because you can see the entire train, what is ahead, what is above, and what is behind.

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#13: You will meet a ton of new people

Even if you are very introverted like Terrence, you are most likely going to meet a bunch of new people when riding the train across Canada. We met people from different parts of Canada, America, Australia, England, and Korea. Simply by virtue of sitting together and admiring the scenery, you will start to connect with or chat with others. People were intrigued by our camera which opened us to a lot of conversations.

In addition, you may not always get to sit at a private table for meals. Since the cars are so small and there are a lot of people, you may be put with other groups to dine. Other diners can tell if you are open to talking or not but some will befriend you anyway. Out of all the meals we ate with others, there were only two where we didn’t chat with our meal partners very much. By the end of our train travel across Canada, we had given away every business card save one to all our new friends!

#14: You will travel through 5 time zones and getting used to a new one is super easy

If you choose the entire transcontinental train trip, you will pass through five time zones [Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific] from Halifax all the way to Vancouver. Some people online seem to think that traveling losing time while your train is going forward will mess with your mind. It actually won’t and this is truly the best way to cross time-zones that we have experienced. When traveling out west, we usually have a difficult time adjusting to the time zone. During our trans-Canadian train trip, we didn’t have a problem at all and our sleep was right on target the entire time! If this is something you are worrying about or considering, don’t fret! There is something about taking the train across Canada that makes time zones a lot easier to adjust to!

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#15: You won’t want to say goodbye to the train

You just rode a train across Canada which is something not many people get to do! When it comes time to pack up your belongings and say goodbye to the train and your journey, it is going to be really hard! The experience is so unique that you will instantly begin to miss the motion, the meals, the views, your accommodations, and more. We genuinely felt a little sad everytime we had to step off our train, but especially when we arrived in Vancouver and had to leave for good. Make sure to make the most of your travel so you can remember every detail!

Is a Canadian train trip on your bucket list? Make sure to let us know if you decide to see Canada by rail! Let’s chat in the comments.

Please note: We were hosted by Via Rail for the purpose of this review. Our views are all our own and do not reflect those of Via Rail Canada. We were not paid to write this post. 

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What To Do In Vancouver On Your First Visit

Although figuring out what to do in Vancouver isn’t hard, the range of fun options may be overwhelming when planning your first visit. The city is home to a ton of vibrant neighborhoods, cute places to walk, wonderful parks, delicious places to eat, public transport and more. If you are able to rent a car, you have even more options at every turn! Well, what are you waiting for? It is never too early to start planning what to do in Vancouver!

What To Do In Vancouver On Your First Visit

Walk, bike, or drive around Stanley Park

We love epic nature and we really underestimated the grandeur of Stanley Park! Located right in the heart of Vancouver [literally], this park is surrounded by water and full of old-growth trees, moss, an aquarium, traditional totem poles and more. The best way to see the park is to walk or bike and it is a great activity for all seasons! If you are looking for what to do in Vancouver on a budget, this park is perfect!

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Say hello to all the sea creatures at the Vancouver Aquarium 

Located in the heart of Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium is one of the premier aquariums in the world! Part of the aquarium is outside, so make sure to dress appropriately for the weather. The amount of animals and exhibits is beyond impressive and it is well worth the price! We had never seen more different species of jellyfish in our lives and spent a great deal of time watching these magical creatures!

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Walk across Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and skip Capilano Bridge

If you rent a car, drive about 20 minutes outside of Vancouver to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Unlike the overcrowded and very expensive [$40…eek!] Capilano Bridge, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is FREE and much less touristy. It hangs right over a waterfall and is very secluded so you feel like you are walking among the treetops! It is just a short walk from the parking lot and parking is free as well [a rarity in Vancouver].

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Experience the thrill of Fly Over Canada

Similar to “Soarin” at Disney’s Epcot, Fly Over Canada was an epic and memorable experience! Essentially, it is a ride where you “hang glide” into an Imax-size screen across Canada. You move slightly and smells and sea spray are everywhere around you. The movie itself lasted 8 minutes which is very long compared to Soarin at Disney which lasted just 3. The sights you fly over make Fly Over Canada a “must do” when figuring out what to do in Vancouver.

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Where To Stay In Vancouver

The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel

If you are looking for a luxury getaway in the city, the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel is the place for you! It is perfectly located next to public transportation, the waterfront, downtown, Fly Over Canada, and more. The views, like the one below taken from out guest room, offer sweeping vistas of the city. It is also just a short bike ride away from Stanley Park and you can even use the hotel bikes to get around. This four-star hotel offers ultimate luxury by way of design, location, views, and amenities. If you are looking for the best hotel in Vancouver, you found it in the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel!

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What To Eat In Vancouver

Try Global if you are looking for the best in North American Cuisine

Global is located in the heart of downtown Vancouver and the restaurant itself is a favorite for architecture lovers. Glowbal serves “stripped down North American cuisine” sourced from all over the continent as well as locally. When we arrived, we were immediately impressed by the large Robata grill and fire which created a warm and inviting environment.

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We loved that Glowbal’s menu had something for everyone. Glowbal is a meat-lovers heaven and they serve up steaks and seafood of the highest possible quality. Glowbal Vancouver is one of the only places in Canada to serve these top grade meats and quality makes all the difference. Glowbal’s Canadian Striploin was cooked to perfection and practically melts in your mouth. If you are visiting

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If you are visiting Glowbal as a vegetarian, their Wild Mushroom and Truffle Risotto is to die for. The dish we had was topped with truffles that had just arrived and were beyond fresh. We had never tried risotto before, but Glowbal totally changed our mind with their rich, creamy, and delicious dish.

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Whether you are looking to kick back and enjoy some unique cocktails [or mocktails..they have a large offering], dinner, or dessert, Glowbal is the perfect pick for a night out on the town if you are looking for what to do in Vancouver for dinner!

Try Miku Vancouver if you are looking for sushi and seafood

Miku Restaurant Vancouver is located just steps away from the Fairmont Waterfront and Canada Place and offers stunning views of the waterfront. The floor to ceiling windows allow you to dine on sustainable dishes while watching float planes land in Vancouver Harbor! The restaurant was bustling and full of diners even on a Monday night. Miku’s specialty is grilling and the chefs all work seamlessly together in the open-air kitchen. Just watching the chefs will make you hungry for the delicacies they are cooking up.

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Miku offers only the highest quality sushi in Vancouver and all fish is sustainably procured. Miku chefs grill many sushi dishes adding depth to flavors that may already be familiar to sushi lovers. Miku strives to provide enough flavor in each bite of sushi that you won’t have to dunk every piece in soy sauce. Each sushi roll we tried had a different sauce topping it allowing us to enjoy a range of unique flavors. If you are a sake lover, Miku’s options pair well with their sushi.

What To Do In Vancouver On Your First Visit | Where To Eat In Vancouver | Best Vancouver Restaurants | Top Restaurants in Vancouver

What To Do In Vancouver On Your First Visit | Where To Eat In Vancouver | Best Vancouver Restaurants | Top Restaurants in Vancouver

If you are looking for something extra to start your dinner, Miku’s seaweed salad is deliciously crisp and every bite lets you enjoy multiple types of seaweed all in one salad. Finish off the meal with their “Green Tea Opera” dish which expertly pairs green tea and matcha flavors into a sweet dessert. If you are looking for sushi and waterfront views of Vancouver, book your reservation at Miku!

Figuring out what to do in Vancouver is only hard because there are so many fantastic options! Have you had the chance to visit this beautiful Pacific Northwest city? Let us know in the comments!

Special thanks to Tourism Vancouver for providing us with an experience pass for the purpose of this post. 

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What To Do In Vancouver On Your First Visit | Best Things To Do In Vancouver | Best Vancouver Itinerary | Where To Eat In Vancouver | Vancouver Canada Travel Tips

What To Do In Vancouver On Your First Visit | Best Things To Do In Vancouver | Best Vancouver Itinerary | Where To Eat In Vancouver | Vancouver Canada Travel Tips

Toronto In A Day: 3 Things You Must Do

If you are are looking to experience Toronto in a day, there are a few things you can’t miss. Canada’s most diverse city is just waiting to be explored and it is totally doable to get a taste of Toronto in a day. Although you can spend an entire week in just downtown Toronto, we have narrowed down the top three things you must do if you only have a day to visit.

Toronto In A Day: 3 Things You Must Do

#1: Eat too much on a food tour of Toronto

The citizens of Toronto come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, making the city’s culinary scene one of the top in the world. Taking a food tour of one of Toronto’s most popular foodie areas is a popular way to see and taste all that the city has to offer. Toronto Food Tours usually take a few hours which is the perfect amount of time to experience culinary culture while still leaving time to explore other parts of the city. Your options for food tours are not limited, and some hotels even offer them as well! We went on a food tour through the Ritz-Carlton which took us through Toronto’s Chinatown and Kensington Market neighborhoods. Please note: you WILL get stuffed on a food tour so come hungry!

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Toronto In A Day: 3 Things You Must Do | Top Things to Do In Toronto | Toronto One Day Itinerary | What To Do In Toronto | Best Places To Eat In Toronto | Free Things To Do In Toronto | Follow Me Away Travel Blog

#2: Pretend to be royalty at Casa Loma

Yes, there really is a castle located right in the middle of midtown Toronto! The gothic revival style house was owned by financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt and is now open to the public. You can explore the grounds, both inside and out, walk through really long underground tunnels, and even get married at Casa Loma! A ton of famous movies, from X-Men to the Rocky Horror Picture Show were filmed at Casa Loma which makes touring the mansion even more fun.

Toronto In A Day: 3 Things You Must Do | Top Things to Do In Toronto | Toronto One Day Itinerary | What To Do In Toronto | Best Places To Eat In Toronto | Free Things To Do In Toronto | Follow Me Away Travel Blog

Toronto In A Day: 3 Things You Must Do | Top Things to Do In Toronto | Toronto One Day Itinerary | What To Do In Toronto | Best Places To Eat In Toronto | Free Things To Do In Toronto | Follow Me Away Travel Blog

#3: Face your fear of heights at the CN Tower

The CN Tower is the tallest freestanding structure in the world so gather up all your courage for a glass elevator ride to the top! Watching the sunset from the CN Tower is the perfect way to end seeing Toronto in a day. Once you pay your entry, you are pretty much free to spend as much time wandering around the CN Tower museum and hanging out in the actual tower itself as you want. You can enjoy the view from the inside but also have the option to brave the wind and head outdoors for a truly memorable experience.

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Have you ever visited Toronto in a day? What do you most want to do in the city? Let us know in the comments!

This post was created on behalf of Tourism Toronto who gifted us with a city pass. If you want to purchase your own city pass or are interested in planning your own trip to Toronto, visit the Toronto Tourism website!

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7 Reasons To Stay At The Ritz-Carlton Toronto For Your Next Getaway

During our time in Ontario, we decided to check out the Ritz-Carlton Toronto. The hotel has 263 elegant guest rooms spanning the first 20 floors of the property [the other floors are left for the Ritz-Carlton Residences] and is located in the heart of downtown Toronto. Although we had stayed at other luxury hotels in the past, none had garnered the prestigious 5-star rating that Ritz-Carlton properties carry. As a result, we went into the experience with an open [and excited] point of view. Between the opulent architecture, lavish guestrooms, and stunning view, The Ritz-Carlton Toronto did not disappoint!

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7 Reasons To Stay At The Ritz-Carlton Toronto For Your Next Getaway

#1: The Ritz-Carlton Toronto is perfectly located for exploring the city

The hotel is located on 181 Wellington Street West which is smack in the center of Toronto’s financial and performing arts district. It is just steps away from the CN Tower, Rogers Center [for baseball fans], the Air Canada Center, [for basketball and hockey fans], the Metro Toronto Convention Center, Lake Ontario, the Toronto Aquarium and much more. If you arrived at Union Station on Via Rail like we did, the Ritz-Carlton Toronto is only a few blocks away. The prime location and proximity to popular sites makes getting around town ultra easy and saves you time to enjoy your stay.

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#2: The staff and service are extraordinary

It shouldn’t be surprising that the staff and services offered at a 5-star luxury hotel are out-of-this-world, but if it is your first time staying at a Ritz-Carlton property, you will still be blown away. The staff at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto addressed us by name upon each and every encounter. This is to be expected when ringing up the front desk, but we were surprised to be called by name when we were randomly walking through the busy bar area in the hotel after a night out.

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#3: The Ritz Bar is the only restaurant in Canada that is actually endorsed by the Peruvian Government itself!

The Ritz Bar is situated right of the Ritz-Carlton Toronto. It serves up Peruvian Tapas, fusion appetizers, and Peruvian inspired drinks. The tapas and drinks served at the Ritz Bar are so authentic that the restaurant is actually the only one in Canada to be approved to use the Peruvian Logo by the Peruvian Government. We loved the Cancha [toasted Andean corn] and plantain chip starters and also dined on Ceviche and hanger steak. The chefs at the Ritz Bar were more than pleased to come up with multiple vegetarian offerings as well.

#4: The luxury rooms have the best view of the CN Tower in Toronto

Who wouldn’t want to fall asleep on 400 thread count Italian sheets with a view of Toronto’s most iconic monument? When you wake up, you can bathe in the luxurious soaking tub while watching the morning news from the television that is embedded in your bathroom mirror. Every room at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto that faces Lake Ontario comes complete with a stunning waterfront view and includes the memorable CN Tower. What’s not to love?

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#5: The hotel’s new private and small-group food tours will leave you stuffed

Before the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, we had never been on a food tour in our lives. Their brand new food tour was out of this world and took us into the cultural heart of Toronto! We were able to dine on everything from pie and cheese [not together], to authentic Chinese restaurants and gourmet popcorn. The food tour took us through Kensington Market and Chinatown and lasted about 3.5 hours. If you are looking for the perfect way to taste the city, make sure you book your food tour at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto!

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#6: The pool and spa will leave you feeling relaxed

The only thing better than a pool and spa is a pool and spa at a 5-star hotel with a view of the CN Tower. That’s right, the pool and hot tub at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto provide sweeping views of Lake Ontario and the CN Tower. Once you get your swim on, choose a service and relax at the 23,000 square foot spa. If you are feeling active, a state-of-the-art exercise room shares a floor with the pool and spa.

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#7: Rates cater to a range of budgets

Whether you are looking to go all out or this is your first time staying at a luxury resort, the Ritz-Carlton Toronto’s rates range from relatively affordable to ultra-luxe. Depending on when you book, basic room rates hover around $300 per night and go up from there. At the Ritz-Carlton, you truly get what you pay for, making the splurge totally worth it for a getaway in the city.

Have you ever stayed at a Ritz-Carlton property? Where was it and what did you think?

Special thanks to the Ritz-Carlton Toronto for hosting us for the purpose of this review. All thoughts are our own and we were not paid for this post. 

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What To Do In Halifax: See. Stay. Do.

Planning a trip to Nova Scotia and looking for what to do in Halifax? The capital of this maritime province is quaint, cute, affordable, scenic, and easy to get to! Our easy guide will help you figure out what to do in Halifax during your trip! Everything can be completed in one day or across multiple, it is all up to you!

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What To See In Halifax:

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Discover the stories of the people that first came to Halifax! This museum is the perfect rainy day activity as you learn about everything from small craft boatbuilding to the cities involvement in the World Wars. Find out more here!

Art Gallery Of Nova Scotia

If you love art like we do, this place is for you! The Art Gallery Of Nova Scotia is the largest art gallery in Atlantic Canada and the permanent collection houses over 17,000 works of art. The Art Gallery is also home to international traveling exhibitions and local art as well. If you are looking for what to do in Halifax, wandering the 90,000 square feet of art is wonderful!

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Where To Stay In Halifax:

The Westin Nova Scotian

The Westin Nova Scotian features a prime location with sweeping views of Halifax and Halifax Harbour. If you are traveling to Halifax by train, the hotel is actually connected to the Via Rail train station! The Westin is just steps away from the Halifax waterfront and downtown. The hotel is affordable despite its perfect location right on the water. Make sure you head down to breakfast during your stay because it can’t be beat!

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What To Do In Halifax:

Walk the Halifax Waterfront

Halifax’s waterfront has a simply magical maritime feel about it. Whether you want to go for a quick bite, duck into some shops, or take some stunning night photos of the city, the waterfront has enough to keep you busy for hours. No matter what time you visit, the Halifax Waterfront has something unique to offer. During the summer it is bustling with people enjoying the weather and in the winter it is humming with the sound of people enjoying their time under the twinkling lights.

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Learn about immigration history at Pier 21

Pier 21 is located on the Halifax Waterfront and is the site where the earliest immigrants to Nova Scotia passed through. Think of it as the Ellis Island to Atlantic Canada! Like America, Canada is a country of immigrants and each has a unique story just waiting to be discovered.

Enjoy the Halifax Farmers Market

Right next to the immigration museum, you will find the Halifax Farmers Market. It has been around since 1750 and one is the oldest operating markets in North America. We love fresh food and visiting this market gives you the best that Atlantic Canada hs to offer!

Visit Peggy’s Cove

If you are looking to escape the city for a bit, head to Peggy’s Cove! The lighthouse is easily one of the most photographed places in Atlantic Canada. Even if you aren’t a photographer, walking along with rocks and enjoying the spray of the sea is a great way to explore Maritime Canada.

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Are you looking for what to do in Halifax? Have you visited before? What are you favorite things to do? Let us know in the comments!

This post was created in conjunction with Destination Halifax. All opinions are our own and you just have to visit this beautiful Maritime city!

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6 Fairytale Villages In Europe You Must See

Do you dream of visiting one of the many fairytale villages in Europe? Most European countries are chock full of magical villages just waiting to be explored. Since there are so many storybook towns in Europe, we had to narrow it down to this mix of well-known places and off-the-beaten-path villages. These dreamy fairytale villages in Europe are just waiting to be visited! 

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6 Fairytale Villages In Europe You Must See

 

#1: Colmar, France

 The small town charm of Colmar in the Alsace region of France is the ultimate fairytale village! That is because it is one of the most beautiful places in Europe, and is said to be the inspiration for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” village. The quaint town blends german-inspired architecture with distinctively french decoration and cobblestoned streets. What a romantic place for a getaway, right?! 

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#2: Reine, Norway

We are obsessed with cold places [or so it seems] and Norway is home to many stunning villages in Europe. Reine, located to the North of the Arctic Circle, is a quaint and picturesque fishing village that offers a terrific view of the Norwegian Sea. This fishing village is hidden on the island of Moskenesøya in the Lofoten archipelago, which has been called the “soul of Norway.” Reine’s magnificent mountain backdrop and smattering of colorful wooden cabins characterize its rustic appeal. Since Norway can be expensive to visit, online companies such as Flighthub help you find the cheapest flights possible. Alternatively,  Can’t you just see Queen Elsa from Frozen visiting here? 

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#3: Albarracin, Spain

This village in Europe is widely touted as one of the most charming in all of Spain.  Albarracin is perched upon a hill overlooking the waters adding to its charming nature. Walking through this preserved town’s narrow streets and winding lanes will make you truly feel like you have stepped into a storybook! 

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#4: Bibury, England

Bibury, in England, is set in the hilly Cotswold region near the River Coln. The town is full of ancient stone cottages with steeply sloping roofs and adorable little meadows. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in a small village in England, Bibury is the perfect place to visit. 

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#5: Hallstatt, Austria

Although Hallstatt has become super touristy as of late, it is still one of the most charming villages in Europe! Hallstatt is pretty expensive to visit, but it is one of Austria’s most popular destinations. There is just something epic about this old mining town nestled between the alps and it is a bucket list destination for many. Since Hallstat can be expensive to visit, online agencies such as Flight Hub or well-executed searches on your own can help you find the best deals on affordable airfare. 

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#6: Bled, Slovenia

Unsurprisingly, Bled boasts Lake Bled as its biggest attraction. Located in northwestern Slovenia, Bled offers fairytale charm and an array of water activities on Lake Bled. When visiting Bled, make sure to walk the shores of the lake, visit the small Baroque church, and visit their medieval hilltop castle. Like Hallstatt, Bled has rocketed to the top of the list of must-see villages in Europe and it is easy to see why.

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What is your favorite fairy tale village in Europe? Are there any villages in Europe that are on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments!

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5 Beautiful Castles In Europe You Have To Explore According To Justfly

Visiting beautiful castles in Europe is something we love to do when traveling abroad. After all, Europe is the birthplace of the castle, a massive and beautiful structure with stunning architectural features. Since we have yet to visit all the beautiful castles in Europe, we reached out to the online travel company Justfly for help in creating this post. Justfly assured us that the below castles are indeed the most magical ones in Europe and also reminded us that Justfly Reviews will provide us with a peek into the different experiences of past Justfly users. 

5 Beautiful Castles In Europe You Have To Explore

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#1: Neuschwanstein Castle

Constructed on a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, Germany,  Neuschwanstein Castle truly holds its own as one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. When we visited last year we learned that the European castle was built in 1869 with a nod to medieval architecture, after the Romanesque Revival style. The towering spires and towers were the refuge for their reclusive king, but the castle was opened to the public after his death. First-time visitors may recognize that the structure served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. As Disney lovers, this was a particularly fun fact!

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#2: Brodick Castle5 Beautiful Castles In Europe You Have To Explore | Best Castles In Europe | Castles In Europe To Visit | European Castles | Castles In Europe Travel Tips | Follow Me Away Travel Blog

Brodick Castle had once been a fortress that protected the lands of the English Dukes of Hamilton. It traces its roots to the times of the Vikings, serving as a fortification from them. Its art collection, drawing room, walled garden, and rhododendron collection are legendary and a few of the many reasons Brodick Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Europe! 

 

#3: Pena Castle

Located on a hill among the Sintra Mountains, Pena Castle can be seen from any point in the Park, and from Lisbon and most of its metropolitan area. Considered as one of the best expression of 19th century Romanticism in Portugal, it derives a style after Manueline and Moorish architecture. We just love the yellow exterior and ornate architecture, don’t you? The site on which Pena Castle stood had been an object of fascination for members of the Portuguese royal family; Ferdinand and his Queen Maria II were actively involved in its construction and decoration, suggesting medieval and Islamic elements.

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#4: Alcázar of Segovia

Alcazar Castle looks like it hopped straight out of a Disney fairytale! It features spires, towering turrets, and a distinctive shape that looks like the bow of a ship. Like Neuschwanstein Castle of Germany, Alcázar of Segovia – literally, “Segovia Castle” –  was the inspiration for Cinderella’s castle. Aside from being an integral part in the Disney kingdom, iIt was a favorite residence of the monarchs of Castile and played important roles in Spain’s royal family and history. 

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#5 Bran Castle5 Beautiful Castles In Europe You Have To Explore | Best Castles In Europe | Castles In Europe To Visit | European Castles | Castles In Europe Travel Tips | Follow Me Away Travel Blog

Did you know that Bran Castle has close ties to Dracula’s Castle?  It was originally built by the Knights of the Teutonic Order in 1212. Its legend is steeped with mystery and intrigue, making it a haunt for Romanian nobility and an endless source of fascination for the fans and lovers of beautiful castles in Europe. Would you spend the night here?

A visit abroad wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of these beautiful castles in Europe! We love that these castles hail from different regions in Europe showcase different periods and architectural styles. We can’t wait to check more castles in Europe off of our bucket list!

 

 

Have you visited any castles in Europe? Which one has been your favorite? If you haven’t visited, which castle is on your bucket list? 

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7 Easy Ways To Find Cheap Flights To Anywhere

Finding cheap flights to anywhere is a valuable skill to have in your bag of tricks, especially if you travel a lot or need to fly somewhere last minute. One of the most popular questions we are asked over and over again  is “how can you possibly afford it” or “aren’t flights to <insert destination here> expensive?” The answer is a resounding YES!! Flights to Europe are SUPER expensive if you run a simple Travelocity/Expedia check and go no further.

If you were to head over to one of these sites right now, a round trip flight from the United States to Europe will cost roughly $1200, regardless of the time of year. For people who try to travel on a budget, you may expect our entire trip to cost $1200, not just the flight! Learning how to find cheap flights from you to anywhere is super useful and way easier than it seems.

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7 Easy Ways To Find Cheap Flights To Anywhere

#1: Do your research

You have probably heard this a bazillion times, but it is worth hearing again. Do. Your. Research. Perform searches like “cheap flights to anywhere” “budget <insert country name> airline,” or “cheap places to travel.” Search towns that are a short drive away from your hometown. It may cost $1200 to fly to round trip (RT) to Dublin from Tampa. However, it may cost $500 to fly RT to Dublin from New York City’s JFK Airport and $200 to fly RT from Tampa to NYC. Boom…now our total is $700, a $500 saving!

#2: Check one-way instead of round-trip

 We have experienced thousands of dollars in savings strictly by flying two one-way legs instead of purchasing a round-trip flight. By choosing two one-way flights, you have the flexibility to choose the cheapest price and best flight time for you, regardless of airline. If you fly round-trip, you are beholden to the schedule and price of just one airline. Going back to our first point, just do your research. Savings come to those who search hard for them!

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#3: Be flexible with your schedule

Does the cheapest flight takes off at 6am? 3 hour layover in a random city? You gotta do what it takes in order to save! Did we really want that 3 hour layover in Denver? No. Did it shave $250 off our total flight price? You bet. Building a bit of flexibility into your travel schedule will help you find cheap flights to anywhere!

 

#4: Book on a budget airline

Looking to fly abroad? Check out budget European airlines such as WOW air and Norwegian Airlines. We have found flights to Paris for $300-$400 round trip from various American airports on WOW air and flights to Iceland can be as little as $90 onAlternativelyatively, if you are looking to fly in America or to Central/South America on the cheap, airlines such as Spirit Airlines fly at a fraction of the cost of competitors. Simply search for budget airlines in your country or where you are looking to travel.

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#5: Use the monthly calendar/flexible dates feature

 When performing a search, always check the “flexible” date option, if available, and if your schedule permits. As you can see in the image below, if we flew on April 7, the cost for a one way flight to Paris would be $475. If we fly just 8 days earlier, our cost is now $245. Sometimes, even just one or two days before or after your date can save you hundreds of dollars! The “flexible dates” feature/calendar is useful for seeing everything in one area. This is one of the best tricks for finding cheap flights to anywhere at the best rate.

Wow Air

#6: Keep checking back

Go to book your flight and the price went up? Don’t fret. Keep checking back every day, or even multiple times a day. Airlines constantly readjust their pricing. Price still wont’ go down? Start searching for other carriers as a second option.

#7: Don’t book through aggregaters

Use sites such as Kayak and Expedia to find out which airlines fly to your destination, but continue research and make your actual booking from the Airline’s direct website for optimal savings, rewards, and customer service. If something goes wrong and you booked through a third party, many businesses aren’t as willing to help you figure it out. Our number one favorite place to search for cheap flights to anywhere is Google Flights. Google Flights does the best job of curating from the majority of airlines and has gotten better showcasing budget airlines in their prices.

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Pretty basic stuff, right? To recap, do tons of focused searches, discover and book on budget airlines, check one-way flights, have a flexible schedule, check up on different departure cities, and continue to search on a daily basis!

What are some of your favorite tricks for finding cheap flights to anywhere? Let us know in the comments!

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The Ultimate Guide To Exploring Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula in west Iceland is truly a hidden gem just waiting to be explored! Unlike the very popular south coast of Iceland, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a bit out of the way. The extra effort is worth it when you are rewarded with sparkling fjords, stunning glaciers, beautiful beaches, world-class landscapes, and more!

The Ultimate Guide To Exploring Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The Ultimate Guide To Exploring Iceland's Snæfellsnes Peninsula | Iceland Travel Tips | Iceland On A Budget | What To Do In Iceland | Tips For Traveling To Iceland | Budget Travel To Iceland | Cheap Travel To Iceland | The Best Of Iceland | Follow Me Away TravelHow to get to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula 

When leaving Reykjavik, take Highway 1 [The Ring Road] to the west. Your GPS may give you multiple route options, but buckling down and paying the $10 [each way] toll for a tunnel under the water is the fastest choice. Learn more about road tolls in Iceland here. Shortly after the tunnel, you will pass a town called Borgarnes. After the town, you will come across Highway 54 to your left. Once you are on Highway 54, you are on the road that circumnavigates Snæfellsnes Peninsula! Yes….it really is that easy!

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Where to stay on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Although there are a variety of hotels/hostels on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we always suggest staying in an Airbnb when traveling in Iceland in order to get the most bang for your buck. Book your stay in Grundarfjörður. This lovely town is nestled between the mountains and the fjords and is minutes away from Kirkjufell, is one of the most visited places in Iceland. We stayed at the

We stayed at the Lárperla / Ocean Pearl Airbnb and our hosts Greta and her husband were so kind. We had the entire lower level guest house to ourselves and the listing came complete with two bedrooms [we didn’t use one of them], a full kitchen, a hot tub, and best of all, a view of the famous Kirkjufell Mountain!

If you want to book your stay at Lárperla, don’t forget to use our coupon code to get $35 off your Airbnb stay on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

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What to do and see on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

You could spend weeks exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula because it is so magical and diverse. If you only have a couple of days or a few hours, be sure to hit the sites below!

Take epic pictures at Kirkjufell 

Kirkjufell is the most popular stop along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and is one of the most popular spots to visit in Iceland. Kirkjufell is unmistakable and a wonderful place to stop and take some memorable photos. Don’t forget to include the waterfalls in your shot and to get creative for a few photos!

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Walk on a land bridge in Arnarstapi 

Arnarstapi is a very small Icelandic town located on the south side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Tucked on the coast of the town is a land bridge that you can actually walk on. To get there, pull into the main parking lot in Arnarstapi which is on your right when you arrive at the town. Walk to the coast, and walk left along the coast as far as you can go. Enjoy the basalt columns and stunning sea views! As always, be very careful.

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Drive through Snæfellsnes National Park

Snæfellsnes National Park is the only park in Iceland that reaches from the mountains to the seashore. From beaches and lava fields to glaciers and caves, Snæfellsnes National Park makes for a wonderful mini-road trip, with a ton of fun stops along the way. Keep an eye out for signs and stop where you see fit.

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Marvel at the Snæfellsjökull Glacier

The Snæfellsjökull Glacier sits atop an active volcano and looks over the entire peninsula like a dedicated watchman. The glacier can best be seen from Snæfellsnes National Park or from inland roads on the peninsula. Fun fact: the glacier was actually the setting for the popular Jules Vern novel “Journey To The Center Of The Earth.”

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Do go chasing waterfalls

Like pretty much everywhere else in Iceland, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula has a ton of waterfalls to explore. Everywhere you look you will see lovely cascades making their way from the mountains above to meet with the sea below. There are plenty of pull-outs off the road to make exploring these waterfalls safe and easy. Make sure your camera is ready at all times!

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Two or three days is the perfect amount of time to spend exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. If you only have one day, don’t pass it up! Choose your top sites and make the most out of the time you have. This part of west Iceland is NOT to be missed!

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10 Reasons Why Row NYC Is The Best Hotel Near Times Square

The age-old question we are asked is “what is the best hotel near Times Square?” If you are looking for affordable luxury and a stellar location in Manhattan, you are going to love Row NYC! Row NYC expertly blends New York City’s signature grit with the glamor of a Time Square Hotel all while giving you a front row view to the best of what Manhattan has to offer. We stayed at Row NYC for four nights, and someone on Instagram booked their stay after seeing our Instagram stories. That is how much we loved our experience!

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10 Reasons Why Row NYC Is The Best Hotel Near Times Square

#1: Row NYC’s prices promote affordable luxury

Row NYC is the best hotel near Times Square because its prices are actually affordable yet the stay is luxurious. Depending on when you visit and what room you choose, prices range from $90-$150 per night. With these seemingly low prices for a hotel near Times Square, you are able to enjoy all the luxury, glitz, and glamor while giving your wallet a break.

#2: The hotel is one block from the heart of Times Square and in the Theatre District

Row NYC is smack dab in the center of Manhattan’s Theatre District and you are surrounded on all sides by famous musicals such as Phantom of the Opera, which Row NYC actually shares a street with. Located on 700 8TH AVE between 44th & 45th street, Row NYC is located just seconds away from 7th avenue [Times Square!] All you have to do is go out the front door, turn left or right, and walk down either 44th or 45th. BOOM. You are in Times Square.

10 Reasons Why Row NYC Is The Best Hotel Near Times Square | Best Hotels In Times Square | What To Do In Times Square | What To Do In New York City On A Budget | Follow Me Away Travel Blog | Where To Stay In New York City#3: The view from your room can’t be beat

We had a corner room on the 20th floor with a view down 8th Avenue as far as the eye can see and another vista overlooking the Theatre District. We could even see the Hudson River in the distance. When looking for the best hotel near Times Square, make sure you factor in what you will be seeing from your hotel window. When booking with Row NYC, make sure to choose “City View” if enjoying this view is up your alley.

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#4: You can enjoy NYC’s best foodie experiences without leaving the hotel

City Kitchen is Row NYC’s swanky food hall meets upscale food court. City Kitchen is a collection of the best foodie experiences from every neighborhood in New York, all in one place. City Kitchen was bustling each night we dined out and it is easy to see that many others came to this hotel near Times Square for a yummy bite to eat. We ate at almost all the vendors at City Kitchen, but we particularly loved the giant donuts from Dough. We could never choose a favorite, but we encourage you to visit and try!

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#5: The amenities are swell

What other hotel near Times Square offers a state-of-the-art photo booth? Get your photo taken and then projected in Row NYC’s lobby for all to see. Before you head out on the town, sweat it out at Row’s in-house cycling studio and then get your hair done at their blowout bar “Glam&Go.” Finally, top off your night on Times Square with a toast at District M, Row NYC’s swanky cocktail bar in the lobby. Check out a full list of amenities here!

#6: Getting around Manhattan from Row NYC is super easy

No matter where you want to go in New York City, finding a subway stop near Row NYC is super easy! Row is surrounded by subway stops less than two blocks away from their front door. Simply take a peek at your map and find out where you want to go. Then head straight out Row NYC’s revolving doors onto 8th Avenue and start your trip.

#7: You get collapsable water bottles to keep

Every room is given collapsible water bottles to use at the water filtration stations around Row NYC and to take with you when exploring the city. When full, they inflate to full-size bottles. When empty, they fold up tiny to fit inside a purse or pocket. This emphasis on eco-friendliness is a huge perk for any accommodation, but especially for a hotel near Times Square.

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#8: The beds are so comfy you might not want to get up

We hate when we check into what appears to be a swanky hotel and the beds turn out to be super uncomfortable. At Row NYC we enjoyed incredibly plush Euro Top platform beds with soft cotton linens and superb feather pillows. It felt wonderful to relax in such a soft bed after a long day exploring The City.

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#9: There is virtually no wait for the elevators

Instead of pushing your floor button inside of the elevator, you punch in the number and wait for your assigned letter outside of the elevators at Row NYC. At first, this seemed strange and a little futuristic, but it made sense that a modern hotel near Times Square would employ such technology. Instead of riding in an elevator that stopped at 8 floors before yours, Row NYC’s elevator’s are structured to minimize your ride time and only take you to floors near yours. How cool is that?

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#10: Row NYC staff are welcoming and helpful

Ever check into a hotel only to find out that the staff is rude and unkind? We were absolutely thrilled with the service we had from this modern hotel near Time Square. Even though the check-in process was a little lengthy [we arrived with a rush of people], the employee that assisted us was cheerful. When we needed our radiator in our room looked at, a kind maintenance man was on it in under 10 minutes. Concierge? Oh so helpful for suggesting great things to do in Times Square!

If you are looking for a hotel near Time Square that offers luxury, location, and amenities for an affordable price, Row NYC will meet and beat your expectations. We ended up visiting Times Square probably ten times in the four days we stayed because….why not?!! If you have stayed at Row NYC or are considering booking because of us, we would love to hear about it in the comments!

This post was done in collaboration with Row NYC. As always, all opinions are our own and Victoria’s sister is already looking into booking her stay at Row. Yeah, it’s that cool!

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10 Reasons Why Row NYC Is The Best Hotel Near Times Square | Best Hotels In Times Square | What To Do In Times Square | What To Do In New York City On A Budget | Follow Me Away Travel Blog | Where To Stay In New York City