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Are you looking for a perfect Colorado Springs experience? Worry not. You’ve landed on the right page. We have compiled the ultimate list of things to do, places to visit, and more when visiting Colorado Springs.
Located in the eastern part of the mighty Rocky Mountains in El Paso County, this beautiful Colorado city features fantastic mountain views, incredible rock formations and landscapes, scenic hiking trails, and plenty of historical sites and treasures.
Colorado Springs has an amazing downtown with unique coffee shops, award-winning restaurants, branded shops and boutiques, and numerous art galleries, as well as a connection to Old Colorado City. In brief, Colorado Springs is a microcosm of the state, where you can experience the essence of local food, art, and culture in one place.
But the main attraction in Colorado Springs is America’s mountain, Pikes Peak, and the famous Garden of the Gods—but we cover all of Colorado Springs’s main attractions and activities for all types of travelers.
Colorado Springs is one of the cheapest places to live in Colorado. Because of its popularity and affordability, it has become a hot destination for people looking to move to a new city or enjoy an exciting place to explore accessible by car, resulting in millions of people from all around the world eager to visit Colorado Springs each year.
This is more than a pre-established program. It’s a travel guide to explore the city most efficiently. Get ideas, get inspired, and check out more tips at the end of the post.
- Packing List for Colorado Springs
- Colorado Springs Travel Tips
- Best Time to Visit Colorado Springs
- How to Get to Colorado Springs
- How to Get Around Colorado Springs
- Colorado Springs Itinerary
- Things to do in Colorado Springs
- Pikes Peak
- Garden of the Gods
- Hike Manitou Incline
- Downtown Colorado Springs
- Seven Falls
- Olympic Training Center
- Paint Mines Interpretive Park
- Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings
- Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center
- North Cheyenne Cañon Park
- Day Trips from Colorado Springs
- The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
- Idaho Springs
- Mueller State Park
- Lake Pueblo
- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
- Accommodation in Colorado Springs
- Where to Eat in Colorado Springs
- The Rabbit Hole
- Josh & John’s
- Amy’s Donuts
- Phantom Canyon Brewing Company
- How many days should I spend in Colorado Springs?
- What is the best month to go to Colorado Springs?
- Is Colorado Springs better to visit than Denver?
- Is three days enough in Colorado?
Packing List for Colorado Springs
You must be prepared for an extensive outdoor travel adventure in Colorado Springs. The best time to visit Colorado Springs is in summer, specifically between April and May or September and October, when you can pack reasonably light and enjoy the ideal weather.
Summer is a popular time to visit Colorado Springs, but popular doesn’t always mean the best. Summer is when most people take time off and kids are out of school, but it is also thunderstorm season in the region, which can cut your outdoor time short.
Consider late spring or early fall if you don’t like crowds and want more time to spend outdoors. No matter when you visit, consider picking up a travel insurance policy from the TravelInsurance.com marketplace can protect your trip and your health.
For extra comfort, make sure to pack:
- Gregory Nano Hydration Pack: The pack is comfortable, easy to clean, and lightweight.
- Tifosi Polarized Sunglasses: Choose polarized sunglasses to protect yourself against UV rays at higher altitudes where the air, where less atmosphere means the UV rays aren’t filtered as much and therefore are stronger.
- Thinksport Clear SPF 50 Sunscreen: Just like choosing the right sunglasses, sunscreen is a must when visiting Colorado Springs, whether touring the visitor center, horseback riding, or touring the national parks. The sun is strong in summer and reflects off the snow in winter.
- Ultralight hiking first aid kit: If you plan on visiting any of the natural attractions in Colorado Springs, a first aid kit is good to have, even if it just means you always have sunscreen packed or a bandage for a blister.
- Black Diamond headlamp: Head out into the fresh air at night for a hike or to peak at the stars, and a headlamp will be invaluable.
- Clif Builder’s Bar: Packing protein or energy bars is not just for the active traveler visiting a national natural landmark; they are a great snack for when hunger strikes and can recharge your energy levels even on a simple walking tour.
- Fleki Trekking Poles: If you aren’t planning on taking to the trails and prefer the nature center, there’s no need to pack trekking poles, but they are great for those who want to experience Colorado Springs’ wilderness. Your knees will thank you.
- Coleman Tent: There are plenty of tents available for camping, but one that sets up easily gives you more time to explore your surroundings among the Rocky Mountain foothills, so you spend less time figuring out the tent’s frame.
Colorado Springs Travel Tips
- Book your hotel and flight for cheap deals 3-4 months before your journey. My favorite is the Hyatt Place Colorado Springs Downtown, but you can check out these other top hotels to book in Colorado Springs.
- Carry layers, no matter when you visit Colorado Springs, and always pack sunscreen, a hat, and an umbrella.
- Renting a car is the best way to get around Colorado Springs. Don’t forget to take a detailed video of your car before renting it. Grab these best rental car deals now.
- Carry a water bottle with you always, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Colorado Springs is at a high elevation, which increases your risk of dehydration.
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Best Time to Visit Colorado Springs
You can experience all four seasons in Colorado Springs. You will get a fair amount of sunshine whenever you visit as the city gets sun over 300 days of sun a year.
Winter in Colorado Springs is not that harsh. Actually, it’s pretty mild. The area gets medium snowfall periodically in winter, but don’t expect a winter wonderland in this city.
The winter temperature hovers between 20 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, with very little humidity. So, if you don’t mind a bit of chilly weather, a visit between December and mid-February may be the perfect time for you.
Summer in Colorado Springs is warm with low humidity. The evenings are cool and comfortable because of the high altitude. We recommend bringing a light jacket for cool nights.
Because of the elevation, the temperature can drop quickly, even in summer. But summer is the best time to visit for outdoor adventure lovers who want to enjoy the landscape day and night.
For a romantic getaway in Colorado Springs, fall and spring are the perfect seasons to visit. The temperature hovers between the 50s and 70s Fahrenheit from March to May and September to October.
Another advantage of visiting in the fall and spring seasons is the smaller crowds. You can get closer to nature and enjoy the scenic trails without fighting for the best view at a lookout or hitting the trailhead early to avoid an overcrowded parking lot. You can get some amazing deals when booking hotels and flights around these months.
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How to Get to Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs Municipal Airport is the nearest airport to the city. It takes around 20 minutes to get to the city center from the Colorado Springs airport. Denver International Airport, located 85 miles north of Colorado Springs, is another option to get to COS.
If you are traveling from another country, the Denver airport will be the best option, as the international airport is well connected with other US cities and the rest of the world. From both airports, bus, and taxi services to Colorado Springs are available.
Most travelers come from DIA because transportation is much more convenient. If you rent a car, take the popular I-25 and head south of Denver. The road is scenic, and it takes just over one and a half hours to reach downtown Colorado Springs.
Book a Bustang Service or Greyhound bus ticket for a more affordable transfer option between Denver and Colorado Springs. Both companies are reliable and cheap, but the bus will take more time and doesn’t provide the same sense of freedom as a rental car. The fare is approximately $17 one-way between Union Station to Colorado Springs.
Another option is a shuttle service available from DIA to Colorado Springs. It is more comfortable, frequent, and takes less time compared to buses. Groome Transportation shuttle service charges about $54 per person for a one-way ride.
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How to Get Around Colorado Springs
A car is the most convenient way to get around Colorado Springs. Whether your personal car or a rental, a car will give you the most flexibility and, in the long run, is much cheaper and more comfortable than buses, shuttles, or public transportation.
The only downside to a car in Colorado Springs is finding a parking lot near popular tourist attractions. It can be a daunting task to find a space, especially if you visit during weekends, public holidays, or during peak season.
Don’t want to drive? That’s fine too. If you are traveling on a budget or looking for a more affordable option, take the bus service from Mountain Metropolitan Service.
They serve more than 20 routes throughout the city. You must buy a day pass for $4 to get their full-day service.
Colorado Springs is a city of outdoor activities. Bike riding is very popular among locals and tourists.
You can rent a bike from the city’s popular bike-sharing program, PikeRide. Bike rent starts from $2 for the first 30 minutes.
Colorado Springs has around 200 miles of paved and unpaved trails. You will see many travelers explore the city’s surrounding region on a bike, whether when cycling to hiking trails or when visiting the free-ride bike park.
Downtown Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs can be explored on foot. Uber or Lyft are easy to catch between spots if you prefer to not rent a car. If it’s for budget reasons, ridesharing will end up costing more than a rental car in the long run.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Dillon, Colorado
Colorado Springs Itinerary
It’s not easy to squeeze all the wonderful attractions, activities, culture, food, and drinks into a single visit to Colorado Springs, though it is possible.
Colorado Springs is growing fast as a hot tourist destination. The reasons behind its popularity are the pleasant weather, spectacular landscapes, stunning hiking trails, and lots of outdoor activities.
This seven-day itinerary for adventure seekers focuses on all the best attractions, exciting activities, and more in Colorado Springs to give you the best sense of the area.
|1||Visit Pikes Peak, visit Downton Colorado Springs, see the art galleries in the area|
|2||Trek Garden of the Gods and spend the day horseback riding, rock climbing, or hiking|
|3||Hike the Manitou Incline in the morning and visit the Olympic Training Center to explore the interactive exhibitions|
|4||Enjoy the surreal landscape of Paint Minds Interpretive Park before visiting the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center|
|5||Explore the Pueblo Homes of the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings to see ancient Puebloan culture|
|6||Follow the scenic trails of North Cheyenne Cañon Park to reach Silver Facade Falls and Helen Hunt Falls|
|7||Enjoy the iconic Colorado experience of climbing to the top of Seven Falls and zipline down|
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Things to do in Colorado Springs
With Colorado Springs still growing rapidly, there’s no shortage of fun and adventurous things to do and see throughout the city.
If you have very limited time to explore a city, I recommend seeing fewer places so that you can enjoy your day and feel the essence of the place. Here are some of the best things to do in Colorado Springs that you shouldn’t miss.
Start your day in Colorado Springs with the most famous experience found in Pike National Forest. Pikes Peak, also known as America’s Mountain, is 14,115 feet above sea level and offers incredible views of rock formations, landscapes, and wildflowers. If you have a vehicle, take the scenic Pikes Peak Highway.
Another way to get to the top is by taking the historic Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway, one of the highest cog railways in the world. You can also hike or bike the trail to the top of Pikes Peak if you like a challenge and feel fit, even in the high altitude.
Hiking in the Pikes Peak area offers striking scenes of the mountains and wildflowers, but hiking the 13.5-mile trail that gains around 7,400 feet in elevation is not recommended.
It can be an interesting way to explore the greater Pikes Peak region; however, while the scenic drive is a gorgeous experience, it still takes at least two hours to enjoy. Once you reach the top, you can visit Pikes Peak Summit House for a memento of your visit.
See Related: Do You Need a Car in Denver?
Garden of the Gods
Your Colorado Springs trip is incomplete without visiting the Garden of the Gods Park. It is one of the most visited places in Colorado for good reason.
The stunning red rock formations display approximately 300 million years of history and highlight the changing colors of the sandstone amid the ancient cypress trees. This park is a great place for everybody, especially outdoor activity lovers.
You can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing, the latter of which requires registration. If you are with your family, enjoy the easy Palmer Trail that offers some of the best rock formations in this park. You can also visit in the early morning or just after sunset to experience how the light dances on the rock formations.
Venture into the Garden of the Gods on a Segway tour, in an open-air jeep, or on foot. You can also take time in the visitor center just outside the boundary to watch the film exploring the region’s geological history.
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Hike Manitou Incline
The Incline is one of the best hikes in Colorado Springs but is also considered the toughest hike in Colorado. The hike is just one mile long but gains 2,000 feet of elevation. The optional uphill trail is not recommended for beginners or those with mobility issues.
The perfect hike is perfectly safe and recommended if you are active, have been in the area to acclimate to the high elevation, and want to challenge your hiking skills. It has nearly 2,700 steps, and when you reach the top, the view of the surrounding region will be well worth the effort.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Breckenridge, Colorado
Downtown Colorado Springs
After some outdoor activities, have your lunch, then go for a leisurely stroll through the streets of downtown and discover the incredible public artwork on the streets. Or you can rent a bike from PikeRide and explore the downtown on two wheels.
The area is a great place to walk with your family. It has plenty of clothing shops, souvenir shops, museums, parks, and award-winning restaurants. You could enjoy popular food trucks, guided local tastes on Rocky Mountain food tours, or visit the many art galleries nearby.
You must check in My Colorado Store and The Candy Bar while you are in the downtown area to enjoy the fun of browsing a local store or two that are far more than just a gift shop. Taking time to visit the nearby Old Colorado City is worth the tangent.
The series of seven cascading waterfalls in Broadmoor can be described as an iconic Colorado experience. You can climb 224 steps to reach the top of the falls and watch the water tumble 180 feet before hitting the lowest pool.
The view is great and the one-mile trail is exciting, but you can take in the broader grandeur of the falls from the bottom. The jagged rocks, crystal clear streams, and wildflowers create a perfect canvas to take photos.
If you want to save time, you can skip the hiking trails. But if you hike to the top, you will get access to zipline tours and the restaurant.
Spring or summer is the best time to see the Seven Falls; this is when they have the most water, so the falls are at their most powerful. Make sure to wear proper hiking shoes with good traction.
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Olympic Training Center
Visiting the US Olympic Complex Training Center connects you to athletic legends and awe-inspiring stories. Whether or not you’re a sports enthusiast, the center is a glimpse into the world of elite athletes, their rigorous training routines, and the home of the Olympic Committee.
Visiting the Olympic training center is more than an exploration of state-of-the-art facilities. You walk in the footsteps of those completely dedicated to a passion that fuels their Olympic dreams.
From permanent exhibits featuring the hall of fame and high-tech training equipment to meticulously designed practice arenas, the interactive exhibits give you a better understanding of what it actually takes to be an athlete at that level. You may also have the chance to see live training sessions.
Paint Mines Interpretive Park
The Paint Mines Interpretive Park puts you in the middle of a surreal landscape painting, where the colors are stretched across the rocky foothills. The bands of bright colors can mesmerize under the sun, with a mixture of oxidized iron compounds and deeply carved gullies creating an exciting geological wonder resembling a canvas more than scenery.
Follow the hiking trails, and you’ll be captivated by the kaleidoscope of colors and unique rock formations, as well as the history of local Native American cultures.
The tranquil ambiance and breathtaking vistas span four miles of trails and offer great spots for snapping otherworldly photos. There are some great picnic areas but no designated place for a picnic.
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Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings
Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings immediately takes you back in time to ancient Puebloan culture. Nestled against the foothills of the Rockies, the unique architecture showcases authentically restored Ancestral Pueblo homes carved into the cliffside.
Exploring the intricately preserved structures gives you much more information on the daily lives of the Pueblo community, who thrived there centuries ago. Get inside the dwellings, touch the smooth walls, and also find interactive exhibits or talk to knowledgeable guides. The views of the surrounding landscape from the cliffs only add to the mystery and intrigue of the 40-room site.
Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center
The Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center in Colorado is a safe haven for wolves, foxes, and other wildlife often considered harmful to livestock. Instead of vilifying the predators, the center gives you a front-row look at their natural majesty within their natural habitat.
Tours are focused on education, letting you learn more about the intricate dynamics of wolf packs, the vital role they play in ecosystem balance, and why their presence is misunderstood. Listen to historical accounts of the fur industry and expert insights on ways we can help conservation without the standard distance required in a zoo.
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North Cheyenne Cañon Park
Nestled within Cheyenne Cañon and in view of Cheyenne Mountain, North Cheyenne Cañon Park is a haven for black bears, mountain lions, mule deer, and migratory birds. It acts as a dividing line between the mountain foothills and the plains, where you can explore the varying degrees of scenic trails or dip your toes in the refreshing waters fed by Silver Cascade Falls.
Starsmore Discovery Center can give you more information about the evolution of the local rock formations, but Helen Hunt Falls crowns every visit. The waterfall is 35 feet tall and is easily reached from the parking lot or along the more challenging four-mile Columbine Trail.
Day Trips from Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is a paradise for nature lovers, and the scenic beauty is not only limited to this city but also in the surrounding Alpine regions that offer mountain vistas, lush forests, gorges, and canyons.
If you have no time constraints while visiting Colorado Springs, you can go for a day trip to the below-mentioned places:
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Located around 58 miles southwest of Colorado Springs, The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest bridge in the United States, standing 955 feet above the Arkansas River. Royal Gorge is also home to the highest zip line in the country.
Enjoy the scenic hiking trails, stunning views of the gorge, aerial gondolas, and more!
See Related: Best Places To Stay In Aspen, Colorado
Idaho Springs is around 98 miles north of Colorado Springs. Driving through I-25 takes around one and a half hours to reach this small, quaint Colorado town. This mountain town is known for its historic buildings, mining traditions, and Beau Jo’s pizza.
Mueller State Park
Less than 33 miles from Colorado Springs, Mueller State Park is a retreat into Colorado’s untamed wilderness. With over 5,000 acres of diverse landscapes, you can explore alpine meadows and dense forests. It’s a perfect day trip for nature lovers to explore the myriad of trails, abundant wildlife, and great views.
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Rather than sticking to the trails, you can travel less than 50 miles to hit the water at Lake Pueblo. The reservoir sits beneath scenic vistas offering boating, fishing, and camping, as well as sandy beaches fading into the clear waters. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy some active water sports, or both.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a bit of a trek to reach at over 166 miles from Colorado Springs but is definitely worth it if you have the time.
Boasting the tallest sand dunes in North America, the park spans more than 30,000 acres. The park features a diverse landscape of dunes, grasslands, and rugged mountains. Visitors can hike, sandboard, or sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Accommodation in Colorado Springs
If you’re looking to spend a night in Colorado Springs, you will find plenty of accommodation options, from high-end resorts to budget-friendly hotels and hostels for all travelers. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Sonesta ES Suites Colorado Springs: This luxurious hotel is in a great location in Colorado Springs and is just a 20-minute drive from the Garden of the Gods and the Cave of the Winds. Guests are offered complimentary breakfast and amenities. The hotel also features barbeque facilities, a gym, and free WiFi. The rooms are clean and well decorated, and the staff are very polite and helpful. A variety of restaurants and bars are located in the nearby area.
- ColoRADo Adventure Hostel: This is your best bet if you want a particularly affordable hotel. It is clean, spacious, and has great reviews. Your room will have a private bathroom, and breakfast is offered with vegetarian or vegan options. Plus, they have karaoke! This is a fun spot to stay if you like the hostel-type environment.
- Comfort Inn North Colorado Springs: It is the perfect mid-range hotel for people looking for modern amenities at an affordable price. This hotel is just a few miles from the United States Air Force Academy college, its famous Cadet Chapel, and the Garden of the Gods. The amenities of the Comfort Inn North Colorado Springs has to offer include the exercise room, indoor heated pool, hot tub, free WiFi, and complimentary breakfast.
- The Cliff House at Pikes Peak: Situated at the base of America’s Mountain, the Cliff House at Pikes Peak is a blend of Victorian charm and lavishness. You stay as much for the comfort as for the 150 years of Manitou Springs history. Stately, alluring, and elegant, The Cliff House at Pikes Peak is not moderately priced considering its historical status and contemporary comfortables. It may not be for everyone, but it does offer an unforgettable experience.
- The Broadmoor: This uber-luxurious and legendary resort in Colorado Springs is a tourist attraction in and of itself and rightly deserves mention. The space has operated for over 100 years and features rooms with plush furnishings, private cabins, and ranch-style accommodations on the property, ideal for traveling with the whole family.
If “winging it” is your thing, get a free $25 credit by signing up for HotelTonight to book cheap hotel deals the night of your stay.
See Related: Best Ski Resorts in Colorado
Where to Eat in Colorado Springs
There’s too much delicious food to devour during your Colorado Springs trip. For breakfast, try Urban Egg for a lip-smacking omelet and mixed berry crunchy French toast.
The Rabbit Hole
Address: 101 N Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO
The Rabbit Hole is an excellent restaurant in Downtown Colorado Springs. They are popular for their cozy ambiance and unique food items.
They have won 40+ awards from the Independent and Gazette newspaper for the best upscale dining in Colorado and the best late-night menu. The restaurant is perfect for a romantic dinner date. Don’t miss their White Rabbit Drink and Colorado Lamb Rack.
Josh & John’s
Address: 329 N Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO
This divine ice cream shop is just a short walk from the Rabbit Hole. This place is outstanding when it comes to homemade ice cream and cones. They offer different types of flavors.
Dutch chocolate flavor is highly recommended if you are a chocolate lover. It is cool, creamy, and full of flavor. The salted peanut butter cup is also good. You will feel like you are eating real homemade ice cream.
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Address: 2704 E Fountain Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO
At first, a donut shop may not seem that impressive, but Amy’s Donuts is popular enough to schedule school field trips across its locations. Known for having over 100 unique flavor combinations and toppings, the donut shop is a revelation of what fresh donuts can be.
Phantom Canyon Brewing Company
Address: 2 E Pikes Peak Ave, Colorado Springs, CO
Phantom Canyon Brewing Company is the special and rare kind of place that effortlessly combines a casual atmosphere, award-winning food, and inspired beers while surrounded by great scenery.
The tap selection is expansive, with a number of flagship beers always available, in addition to rotating selections based on seasonality. The Box Car red ale, the Raspberry Beret sour, and even the coffee Vienna lager Gluten-free Tag demonstrate the brewery’s personality in name and taste.
How many days should I spend in Colorado Springs?
A typical Colorado Springs visit is best enjoyed for three to four days. This allows ample time to explore the city’s key attractions, such as the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and the US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.
However, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you might want to extend your stay to fully experience the hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing opportunities in the area. You could also tack on the US Air Force Academy or other Colorado Springs attractions with extra time.
What is the best month to go to Colorado Springs?
The best month to visit Colorado Springs is typically June. The weather is warm and pleasant during this time, ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing. However, the city’s high-altitude climate means it can be enjoyed year-round, with skiing and snowboarding options in the winter months.
Is Colorado Springs better to visit than Denver?
Whether Colorado Springs is better to visit than Denver depends on personal preferences. Colorado Springs offers stunning natural beauty, with attractions like Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods, and is ideal for nature lovers.
Conversely, Denver is a larger city with a vibrant arts scene, bustling nightlife, and professional sports teams. Both cities have their unique charms and attractions.
Is three days enough in Colorado?
A three-day trip to Colorado can provide a satisfying, albeit brief, taste of what the state offers. This timeframe allows for a visit to a major city like Denver or Colorado Springs and a day of outdoor activities in the Rocky Mountains. However, with its vast array of natural wonders, historic sites, and cultural attractions, Colorado has enough to keep visitors engaged for much longer if time allows.
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Trijt Mallick is a passionate travel blogger, budget traveler, biker, and photographer. With a deep love for exploration, Trijt has dedicated himself to providing the best budget travel guides and tips to help fellow adventurers embark on memorable journeys without breaking the bank. Armed with a camera and a sense of adventure, Trijt captures the essence of every destination, documenting breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cultures.