I am an unabashed travel geek. I go to book stores for the explicit purpose of browsing through Lonely Planet guidebooks for hours. I love finding new, interesting destinations that I would not have thought to go to before.
In that spirit, I have been on the look out for off-beat places to go with United miles.
Two of the most interesting and overlooked destinations that caught my eye were in the Mediterranean: the islands of Cyprus and Corsica.
Note: While the figures below use United miles, you can also book the same flights with US Air miles since both are members of Star Alliance.
Cyprus has always seemed like such a magical place to me. Just saying the name ‘Cyprus’ evokes images of Greek heroes and sun parched, rolling hills.
While I have visited many of the most famous historical sites in Western Europe, Cyprus looks like it has so much history around every corner. It is definitely high on my list of places to visit next time I am in Europe.
Besides its rich history, Cyprus also looks like it has a superbly beautiful coastline. It would also be interesting to visit the city of Nicosia, the only remaining divided capital in the world, with a Green Line dividing Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus.
Getting to Cyprus
It is very easy to get to Cyprus with United miles.
Larnaca, the main air transport hub, has incoming flights on 4 different Star Alliance members from 5 different European hubs.
|Lufthansa||Frankfurt||6x per week|
|Lufthansa||Munich||2x per week|
|LOT Polish Air||Warsaw||5x per week|
|Aegean Air||Athens||Daily (seasonal)|
Your easiest options to go to Cyprus from the United States are on Lufthansa via Frankfurt or Austrian Airlines via Vienna.
An interesting alternative option is to fly on the more obscure Aegean Air on the seasonal direct flight from Athens to Larnaca.
Starting from my home airport of San Diego, I can use my United miles to book a flight to Cyprus on United Airlines and Austrian Airlines, connecting through Washington DC and Vienna.
This flight would cost 60,000 United miles and $127 in taxes in Economy class.
The cheapest comparable paid flights from San Diego to Cyprus would cost $1,250. That means we are getting a respectable value of 1.9 cents per mile on this award booking.
Corsica is a French island in the upper Mediterranean that is known for the rugged mountains that comprise 2/3 of the island.
These high mountains are the setting for the legendary GR 20 trek, which Lonely Planet recently listed as one of the 10 best treks in the world.
After spending 17 days trekking in Nepal, I am looking for my next great trek. After doing some research, it looks like the GR 20 should be next on my list!
The GR20 has a reputation as being one of the toughest and most spectacular treks in Europe.
The trail runs for 100 miles along the spine of Corsica, passing through high mountains and beautiful lakes along the way. It takes a solid 15 days to complete, with a minimum of 6 hours of hiking per day. Accommodation is in bare bones wooden refuge huts along the trail with basic facilities.
However, the reward looks to be some of the most stunning mountain vistas outside of the Alps and Himalayas.
Getting to Corsica
It is easy to get to Corsica using United miles.
Lufthansa flies to Corsica from Frankfurt and Munich a few times per week on a seasonal basis (no flights during the winter).
|Lufthansa||Frankfurt||2x per week|
|Lufthansa||Munich||1x per week|
After landing in Bastia, you can catch a bus to the start of the GR 20 trail at Calenzana.
From the United States, flying to Corsica is easy since Frankfurt and Munich are large Lufthansa hub.
A flight from Washington DC to Corsica would cost 60,000 United miles and $154 in taxes.
A typical paid flight to Corsica would cost $1,290, so we are getting a decent 1.9 cents per mile value on this redemption.
More info about the GR 20
For those keen on attempting the GR 20 trek, you can find more information at:
Note: Cover photo of Bastia is courtesy of Wikipedia.
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