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Inside the Pope’s Vatican

For one week this September, Pope Francis will trade umbrella pines and St. Peter’s Basilica for New York skyscrapers and D.C.’s Capitol dome. But though Catholics look forward to his trip to the U.S., a Roman holiday to the Vatican remains the best way to get close to the pope.

Shaolin Summer: In Search of Confucius

Their home life under stress, a mother and daughter find redemption—at a Chinese school for warriors.

A Local’s Guide to Saratoga Springs

New York’s Spa City is no stranger to strangers. Saratoga Springs has welcomed visitors for three centuries, ever since the Algonquian people settled the area and the British erected a fort there at the end of the 17th century on the Hudson River’s western bank. Here’s how to make the most of your time in this stately summer stunner.

Peak Perfection: East Tyrol, Austria

Stressed with everyday life? Then follow the Austrian locals to the Virgental valley for some healthy, exhilarating, and relaxing hiking.

I Heart My Island: Curaçao

No matter where or how far he roams, Alfred Gutierrez can’t stay away from Curaçao for long. Nor would he want to. The Dutch Caribbean island’s biggest asset, the chef says, is its locals. “The people of Curaçao are multicultural, kind, and always find a reason to laugh.” Here are a few of the island native’s favorite things about the place he’s proud to call home.

The Scoop on L.A. Food Trucks

Before he kept the Traveler office on task, staffer Kevin Kunitake earned his chops on a Los Angeles, California, food truck. Here, he gives pro advice for these meals on wheels.

How to Get the Best Exchange Rates in Europe

National Geographic Traveler editor at large Christopher Elliott is the magazine’s consumer advocate and ombudsman. Over the past 15 years he has helped countless readers fix their trips. Here’s his latest advice.

Just Back: Barcelona

National Geographic Travel associate producer Megan Heltzel studied abroad in Barcelona when she was in college. She recently returned to the Catalonian capital on a trip with Monograms Travel and was happy to see that the city she once called home continues to steal her heart. Here are some of the highlights from Megan’s trip, in her own words.

I Heart My City: Kelli’s Whitefish

Social entrepreneur and photographer Kelli Trontel isn’t afraid to pack her bags and follow her dreams. After spending time in Arizona and Tennessee, the born-and-bred Californian and her husband, Reed, decided to relocate to the resort town of Whitefish, Montana, and open up the Red Caboose, a downtown shop selling coffee and frozen yogurt. Once resistant to the idea of moving to Montana, Kelli is now happily entrenched in Big Sky country. Here are a few of her favorite things about the place she calls home.

Rails-to-Trails America: 7 Urban Escapes

The economics and technology of transportation have changed dramatically since the golden age of train travel, leaving myriad railroad corridors derelict and overgrown with weeds. Fortunately, many of these vestiges of America’s past have been repurposed as bicycle and walking paths, a movement spearheaded by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. These seven scenic trails, all located in or near popular U.S. cities, offer quick, bucolic escapes and a glimpse at simpler times.

Adventure 101: Canoeing the Allagash

Take a page out of Henry David Thoreau’s book, and paddle on northern Maine’s remote Allagash River. “Here was traveling of the old heroic kind over the unaltered face of nature,” he wrote in “The Maine Woods,” his account of a series of mid-19th-century canoeing and hiking trips he took through the New England state’s largely uncharted woods.

7 Ways to Let London Surprise You

Stay away from the royal groupies with these offbeat London experiences.