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Beach Island

Secret Caribbean Islands: The 10 Least Visited

Caribbean tourism is hot right now, with tourist arrivals increasing by 12 percent in the first quarter of 2019. So if you’re looking for an island getaway without the crowds, you’ll want to consider these secret Caribbean islands.[st_content_ad]

Note: This story is based off data from the most recent UNWTO Tourism statistical annex, ternational tourism arrivals as a standard of measurement. The numbers included are from the most recent report.

Montserrat: 8,000 Visitors

Rendezvous bay in montserrat, west indies, caribbean.

Nicknamed the Emerald Isle for both its lush tropical forests and its ties to Ireland, Montserrat is one of the smallest islands in the Caribbean. On arrival, you’ll receive a shamrock-shaped passport stamp, and you’ll notice that the country’s flag and national costume are the same green, orange, and white as Ireland.

Montserrat measures about 10 miles long and 7 miles wide, and is home to about 5,000 inhabitants. Montserrat’s population and tourism industry was severely impacted by a major eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano in 1995, which displaced many residents and decimated parts of the island. Now, the active volcano draws in tourists looking to safely see a volcano from afar.

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Anguilla: 68,000 Visitors

Caribbean beach on anguilla island.

Anguilla has 33 white sand beaches, year-round water temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and world-class snorkeling. What it doesn’t have are crowds: the secret isn’t out yet about this stunning Caribbean island.

Anguilla is the northernmost of the Leeward Islands, and is located about 150 miles east of Puerto Rico, so it’s fairly easy to get a connecting flight from the U.S. through San Juan. You can also reach Anguilla by ferry from one of the nearby islands, or via air from St. Maarten and Antigua.

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St. Vincent and Grenadines: 76,000 Visitors

Petit st. vincent, vincent and grenadine.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ visitors are spread out over the 33 islands that comprise the country. St. Vincent is the largest island, while the Grenadines account for the remaining 32 islands, some of which are uninhabited. It’s easy to ferry hop here between white sand beaches, volcanoes, and rainforests.

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Dominica: 79,000 Visitors

Boats on soufriere bay, soufriere, dominica.

Known as the “nature island,” Dominica is the Caribbean destination for people who get bored sitting on the beach. (Although there are plenty of beautiful beaches here, too.) Dominica is one of the best islands in the Caribbean for hiking, and recently opened the 115-mile Waitukubuli National Trail, the first long-distance walking trail in the Caribbean.

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St. Kitts and Nevis: 114,000

Basseterre, st. kitts and nevis town skyline at the port.

Two unique islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, make up this country that was once known as the gateway to the Caribbean. St. Kitts is the larger of the two, and offers lively nightlife, plenty of lodging options, and local culture. Nevis is smaller and quieter, and has a distinctive volcanic mountain that dominates the landscape.

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Antigua and Barbuda: 247,000 Visitors

St. john's, antigua port at sunset.

Located in the West Indies between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the country of Antigua and Barbuda is made up of the two eponymous islands plus a number of smaller islands. Abundant coral reefs and shipwrecks make it a world-class diving and snorkeling destination.

Barbuda was hit particularly hard by two hurricanes in 2017, but is beginning to make a comeback.

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British Virgin Islands: 335,000

Virgin gorda in british virgin island.

With over 50 islands, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you in the British Virgin Islands, or BVI. Tortola is the main island and home to the capital city, Road Town. There are three other larger islands (Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke), plus a number of uninhabited islands that you can sneak away to. Although the BVI is a territory of Great Britain, these islands are definitely more Caribbean than European, with warm weather and a laid-back vibe.

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St. Lucia: 386,000

white beach in saint lucia, caribbean,

Mango-shaped St. Lucia is just 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, but the island’s slow and winding roads can make getting between the north and south a half-day journey. The north and south of St. Lucia offer two completely different experiences. In the north, Rodney Bay has Pigeon Island National park to explore, lively bars and nightlife, and the hopping Friday Night Fish Fry. In the south, you’ll find the iconic Pitons that have made St. Lucia famous, along with some of the country’s best beaches.

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Trinidad and Tobago: 395,000

trinidad and tobago palm trees ob the beach.

Trinidad and Tobago is the Caribbean’s southernmost country, but it’s worth the longer flight to get here. The two islands of Trinidad and Tobago are about 50 miles apart—you can easily take an inexpensive ferry or a quick flight between the two.

Trinidad’s Carnival is one of the biggest in the world. Held in the days before Ash Wednesday, this yearly festival starts at 4 am on Monday and doesn’t stop until Wednesday. Visitors can even join in the fun by buying a costume from one of the Carnival bands and joining in the parade for a true local experience.

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Curaçao: 399,000 Visitors

Willemstad, curacao.

Curaçao is one of the lucky Caribbean islands in the ABC group (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao), which are hit less often by hurricanes. So Curacao can be a great destination to consider if you’re traveling during hurricane season.

Curaçao stands out from the rest of the Caribbean in more ways than just weather—it’s been part of the Netherlands since it was colonized in the 1600s, and the European influence is strong today, showing up in everything from the cuisine to the architecture.

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What to Wear in the Caribbean

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Senior Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos from around the world.

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Editors' Choice LGBT Security

Best LGBTQI Destinations 2017

For LGBTQI travelers, deciding where to vacation to isn’t always as easy as spinning the globe. We searched for the best destinations that are not only LGBTQI-friendly, but also taking exceptional strides to help travelers make the most of every trip.

Best LGBTQI Destinations 2017: The Methodology

To select our Editors’ Choice finalists for best LGBTQI destination, we looked at destinations with a long history of LGBTQI communities, and then checked the current local political climate. We also considered destinations that have made a public effort to reach out to underrepresented factions of the community. We also took into account the difficulties and obstacles faced by LGBTQI travelers and whether the destination offered anything to overcome these particular challenges. Here is the winning destination.

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Editors' Choice Family Travel

10 Best Family Vacation Destinations for 2017

With so many places to visit in the world, it’s no wonder people often have trouble narrowing down the best spot for a family vacation. In this year’s Editors’ Choice Awards category for Best Family Vacation Destination, we arrived at 10 nominees that hit the sweet spot between affordability and family-friendly activities in 2017. And whether this list leads you to narrow your vacation picks or add a few more to the bucket list, we think you’ll come away with some great family vacation ideas.

Best Family Vacation Destination for 2017: The Methodology

We set out to find vacation destinations that make families happy. The options are infinite, and trying to choose the one vacation destination that’s best for everyone in the family is no easy task. What we can do, however, is point you to places that offer families the ideals that rank high in their list of priorities. Among them: safety, quality activities, good food, affordability, and opportunities for shared time together.

We determined our top 10 destinations in this category based upon these criteria. Here are the Editors’ Choice and the Readers’ Picks winners, and since each of these 10 family vacation destinations deserves your consideration, we’re sharing them with you now.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Arts & Culture Beach Food & Drink Island

10 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico

Whether you’re in the mood for sun and sand, old Spanish forts, or boatloads of succulent roast pork, you can always get your fix in Puerto Rico. A U.S. territory since 1898, Puerto Rico is proudly and exuberantly different than anywhere on the mainland. And that’s why so many people come to visit these Spanish-speaking islands where you don’t even need a passport to visit.

Puerto Rican culture is animated by a sort of hybrid vigor, a product of the intermixing of indigenous Taino Indians, Spanish settlers from Andalusia and the Canary Islands, and freed West African slaves. The result is a freewheeling kaleidoscope of Afro-Latin musical traditions and cocina criolla, or creole cooking.

It would be easy to spend an entire trip just on Puerto Rico’s main island, Borinquen. But its smaller sisters are worth a visit, too. The tourist-friendly islands of Culebra and Vieques lie to the east. And for the more adventurous traveler, the remote, essentially uninhabited islands of Mona, Desecheo, and Monito—which have been called the Galapagos of the Caribbean—lie to the west.

Whatever your speed, you’ll quickly discover that the islands of Puerto Rico are full of little things that will take your breath away. Here are the best things to do in Puerto Rico.

What to Do in Puerto Rico

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Booking Strategy Cities

Local Buses, Split – Transportation

Transportation in Split: Local Buses

When visiting Split, there are so many things to do. You will find it very helpful to be aware of the different types of transportation here, especially the local buses and how they operate.

Airport Bus

If you are coming into Split by plane, you will find it comforting to know that there are buses you can take to get to your hotel or lodging destination. If you are wanting to go on one of the Croatia Airline buses, you will need to check the timetable that these buses run on to ensure they meet your needs. You can go to the airline office to make sure the bus can get you to where you need to go according to the timetable you are traveling on. Another bus that runs from the airport is local bus no. 37. It will take you Trogir if that happens to be where you are needing to go.

Don’t get discouraged

Figuring out the bus schedule in Split may seem a bit frustrating at first, but it is always a good thing if you can travel by bus because this form of transportation tends to be the cheapest way to travel.

The buses go everywhere

One of the biggest benefits about traveling in Split by bus is that they go almost anywhere. No matter the attraction you are wanting to visit, there is a good chance that you can go by bus. And as mentioned before, traveling by bus will likely save you a lot of money because the bus tickets tend to be very cheap.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about transportation in Split: local buses.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Arts & Culture Booking Strategy Cities Entertainment

Shopping in Nesebar – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Nesebar Shopping

When traveling to Nesebar, you are sure to have a great time thanks to all the many attractions that are available for you to visit. From restaurants to shopping, there is so much to do.

Souvenir Shops

When you go walking downtown Nesebar, you are going to come across all kinds of souvenir shops. Whether you are looking for posters, bracelets, postcards, or any type of souvenir, you are sure to find it in one of the little shops. Most of the shops are reasonably priced and offer great deals.

Bed Linen Shops

A lot of the shops downtown also sell bed linens and table covers. You will find some extremely beautiful pieces here at great prices. Make sure when you buy any of these linens, curtains, or table covers that have been completely handmade; this makes them worth more money.

Bulgarian Leather

Are you wanting to shop around for Bulgarian leather? If so, Nesebar has several leather shops for you to go shopping at. From leather belts to hats, jackets, and even shoes, you are going to find good deals on all types of leather items.

Wooden Toys

There are also a lot of wooden toys sold in Nesebar. These toys make for great gifts for little ones, and most of them are small meaning you should have no problem adding them to your suitcase and taking them back through customs when you go back home. You’ll find all types of wooden toys, including wooden cars, puzzles, pull toys, and more.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Nesebar.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Booking Strategy Cities Entertainment

Transportation in Phuket – Taxi, Train, Bus & Airport Tips

Phuket Transportation

When traveling to Phuket, there are going to many restaurants and attractions for you to visit, as well as many small shopping stores. It is imperative that you know about your many transportation options as this will help ensure you have a safe and good time during your trip.

Motorbikes

If you want, you can always rent a motorbike to travel around Phuket. These motorbikes tend to be extremely beneficial because they are small and you can weave in and out of traffic, helping you to avoid long lines of traffic. Plus, renting motorbikes doesn’t usually cost a lot of money, making them one of the cheapest ways to travel.

Renting cars

Do you want to rent a car for traveling around Phuket? If so, you can take comfort in knowing there are several places to rent a car from. Even better is that you can rent a driver if you want. This means you can sit back and relax while you travel to and from your destinations. Renting a car here is cost-efficient and a great way to enhance your experience in Phuket.

Buses

There are several buses that run through Phuket, many of which have a great schedule timetable. No matter where you are going, there is a likely a bus that can get you there.

Boats

Traveling somewhere near the water? If so, you should definitely consider getting there by boat. Boat rides are fairly cheap and provide beautiful scenery for you to take in while going from one destination to the next.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about transportation in Phuket

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Beach Booking Strategy Cities Entertainment

Bangkok Travel Guide

Bangkok Travel Guide

Thailand is beloved for its food, scenery and people, and Bangkok is a great place to go to see it all. If you’re looking for a quick Bangkok travel guide, check out suggestions from past travelers.

Top Hotels in Bangkok

The best rated hotels in Bangkok are the Oriental, Peninsula, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, the Phranakorn-Nornlen, Grand Hyatt Erawn and the Okura Prestige. These hotels are definitely the fancier ones you’ll find in the city with prices to match. There are plenty of places to stay though that are much cheaper, just not quite as luxurious.

Top things to Do

In terms of things to do, visit the Grand Plance, Wat Pho, Temple of the Dawn and the Damnoen Saduak floating market for safe and fun excursions. Baiyoke Tower and the temple ruins of Ayutthaya are also delights for many visitors here. Get a massage at one of the many places around the city for a stimulating session that is sure to leave an impression too.

Warnings and Dangers in Bangkok

Violent crime is rare here, but you may run into scams from those in the transportation industry. Both tuk-tuks and taxis alike were both reported to be places to lose your money if you’re not careful. Theft was also listed as a potential concern, so keep your valuables safe or don’t travel with them at all. Bottled water is recommended over drinking tap by tourists too.

Final Tips

There are plenty of things to do here both in town and off the beaten path. Shop, eat out, and learn more about the locals by exploring the city and getting a feel for the different areas.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about travel guides in Bangkok.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Booking Strategy Cities Entertainment

Leh Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Leh Shopping

No visit to India could possibly be complete without a perfect souvenir to bring back home. If you find yourself in Leh, you have a fantastic shopping opportunity at the foot of the mighty Himalayan mountains.

Pearl Market

As the name suggests, Pearl Market is the best place in the city to look for pearls, gems, jewelry, and precious stones. It’s located near the Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBF) camp, just a few blocks from the Leh Palace. While you can buy beautiful stones, it’s not recommended you buy “traditional” artifacts here, as many are expensive forgeries.

Ladags Apricot Store

Produce that grows in the mountain soil, exposed to fresh air and rainshine, tastes far different than the food you may find in a big city. Ladags Apricot Store is perhaps the most famous grocery market in all of Leh. It’s located in the LBA Shopping Complex on the main road. Everything here is all-natural and organic, including fruits and dairy. Don’t ask for cuts of meat, however, as the Hindu-majority population is vegetarian.

Ladakh

If an open-air market is your idea of a great afternoon, look no further than Ladakh off Changspa Road. Just about anything you could ask for is on sale here: native clothing, turquoise, trinkets and memorabilia, and food. While most goods are native, the market also contains gems from major cities like Delhi and Jaipur. The market is only open during the summer months, however, so be certain not to show up once the snows start coming down.

Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Leh.

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Airport Booking Strategy Bus Travel Cities

Zipaquira Transportation – Taxi, Train, Bus & Airport Tips

Zipaquira Transportation

Like many Columbian cities in the mountainside, Zipaquira is easy enough to get to although it may not be quick. There are many options to get to the picturesque town with the salt cathedral, but most run through the capital city Bogota.

Taxi

The taxis running in Botgota are reliable but expensive when going further than the city limits. A passage from Bogota to Zipaquira will cost anywhere from ten to twenty dollars, much more than the cost of other transportation.

Bus

The BRT, or Bus Rapid Transit, is the easiest way to get from point A to point B in all of Columbia. While they aren’t particularly fast, they do run on time and prices can be as low as two dollars from one city to the next. Rush hour sees the buses fill up quickly, however, so plan your trip outside peak hours, and don’t carry your luggage on if you’re going during a busy time. The total transit time is usually about five hours from Bogota to Zipaquira. The city’s big bus terminal, the Portal del Norte, has the connections and departures for most buses heading up into the mountains beyond the capital.

Airport

El Dorado International Airport services Bogota and Columbia for travelers coming into the country. The airport is new, large, and the police presence is meant to make visitors feel safe in a country that’s not always well regarded for its safety. You can change money, hire a cab, get a hotel, or access the Internet from the airport as necessary.

Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about transportation in Zipaquira.

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Adventure Travel Airport Booking Strategy Cities

By Air, Skardu – Transportation

Transportation in Skardu: By Air

Skardu is a town in the Skardu Valley that is considered the gateway to the Karakoram Mountain range.   Air flight is the most common means of traveling there.

The Views

If you’re taking a flight, grab a window seat and enjoy the spectacular view of the mountains as you’re arriving in Skardu. With many of the mountains rising so high, they sometimes feel as if they’re just a short distance away. This flight passes over lofty mountain peak, such as K-2, Broad Peak, and Naga Parbat.

Connections

Pakistan International Airline is the sole airline conducting daily flights to Skardu from Islamabad. Typical flights are onboard a Boeing 737. These departures take off at 9:30 A.M. and arriving in Skardu an hour later. Flights return to Islamabad at 11:20 A.M.

There are various options for booking flights using the Pakistan International Airline website, their call center, or from their ticket offices at either the airport or in the city’s center. Booking early is recommended, so booking a flight between four and six weeks is advised. This is particularly the case during the busy summer season, when tickets for the flight can run out quickly.

Reconfirmation

There’s an interesting ‘reconfirmation’ requirement to booking flights to Skardu through Pakistan International Airline, and you’ll have to contact the ticket office 24 hours in advance to confirm. Keep this requirement in mind, or your boarding pass will be invalidated.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about transportation in Skardu.  

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Booking Strategy Cities Entertainment

Things To Do in Khasab, Oman

Khasab Things to Do

Located at the tip of Oman lies the city of Khasab, a small town built along a natural harbor. Visitors will find several things to do as the travel around this quaint region of the world.

Coastal Living

The area has an abundant supply of tropical fish, with a few unique to the Persian Gulf. There are limited reefs in the area, but you can find a few decent areas to park a boat and go snorkeling. If you’re not the type who likes to go diving beneath the waves, you can stay up on deck and watch the dolphins that make the area their home.

The best way to see the aquatic life is to take a local cruise. Many of the boat tours will pick you up from your hotel and take you to your ship. From there, you’ll be ferried around the region. Lunch is even provided while you’re aboard these small ships. Afterward, you can recline on Bassa Beach, a place that’s popular with picnickers and people looking to cool off.

On Land

Khasab Castle is a small museum that is definitely worth a look. In various rooms around the fort’s corner towers and walls, there are exhibits of traditional Musandam lifestyle and artifacts. If you’re a lover of the outdoors, you can take a tour that travels through the surrounding mountains and plains.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about things to do in Kimberley.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Booking Strategy Budget Travel Cities Travel Trends

Tuk-tuks in Bangkok and Other Warnings and Dangers

Warnings and Dangers in Bangkok: Tuk-tuks

Bangkok is both the capital and most heavily populated city in Thailand. A common means of getting around the city includes the use of a Tuk-tuk, but visitors should be aware of the dangers associated with these vehicles.

Tuk-tuks vs. Taxis

There’s a big debate on whether tuk-tuks are more affordable than taxis. Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get conflicting reports. In some cases, you’ll hear from people who say tuk-tuks are cheaper and make for a more affordable ride. In other cases, there are stories of drivers who charge up to four times as much as a taxi driver. The truth may be that how much your ride costs comes down to what tuk-tuk driver you talk to.

Service Complaints

One of the most common complains about tuk-tuk drivers is that they will make unannounced stops at various locations throughout the city. This isn’t by accident, and it’s not only to drive up the fare for your trip. The drivers make these stops at specific locations in the hopes that you’ll buy from the store. Tuk-tuk drivers get benefits, like gas vouchers, for doing this. Unfortunately for the passengers, this not only ends up costing more for the entire ride, but also ends up extending the total trip time. Visitors to the city may want to consider other means of getting around.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about tuk-tuks in Bangkok.

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Miscellany

Lucca Transportation – Taxi, Train, Bus & Airport Tips

Lucca Transportation

The picturesque city of Lucca sits upon the gorgeous plains that stretch across Central Italy. It’s a well-connected town whose transportation network includes buses and trains.

Traveling the City by Bus

VAI Bus is a local bus company that runs inside and outside the walled portions of Lucca. These are electric minibuses, which Italian call “naveta,” or shuttle. During a typical route, the bus travels inside the city walls and passes close to several of the most important sights of the city. These include San Martino, Piazza Napoleone, Ampteatro, and San Frediano.

The city buses are easily noticed, since they are orange in color. Each has about a dozen seats, but can carry many more due to standing room. The routes run at intervals between 10 and 20 minutes, and the buses are typically very precise. You should know, however, that they do stop running at about eight in the evening. If you’re still out and about, you’ll have to walk back or get a taxi.

Visiting Lucca by Train

The train station in the southern part of the city is known as Piazzale Ricasoli. Trains operate from nearby Montecatini to Lucca, and these comfortable rides take no more than 40 minutes at the cost of between 400 and 500 euros. Once you arrive in Lucca, you’ll immediately find paths stretching out to some of the local tourist sites.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about transportation in Lucca.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Booking Strategy Bus Travel Cities

Eze Transportation – Taxi, Train, Bus & Airport Tips

Eze Transportation

Located along the coast of France is the attractive commune of Eze. A popular destination for tourists, it is well connected by bus to the rest of the country.

General Tips for Traveling to the Commune

The primary access to Eze Village, which sits atop a hill hundreds of feet above sea level, is by Bus Route 82 from Nice. Cruiseboats around Villefranche operate dozens of trips to Nice. However, these trips can be rather pricey, and many people attempt to get to Eze on their own. This can be done on public transportation, which is far more affordable. The downside to getting to Eze by bus are the gaps in the bus timetables. Taxis are more affordable, but still pricey, alternative to both bus and boat travel. The advantage, though, is that taxis give you much more flexibility. Traveling in a group makes these taxis even more appealing, since the costs can be split.

Traveling by Bus

The most common way of reaching Eze from Nice is by Bus Route 100. Travelers can get off at the Cap Roux bus stop. From there, they have easy access to the local beaches that make Eze so popular. Another route that runs to Eze is Bus Route 112 from the Gare Routiere Bus Station in Nice. This route takes a scenic path that makes for lovely sightseeing.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about transportation in Eze.