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- The Best of Firenze: Top Things to do in Florence
Dreaming of strolling through a local Italian marketplace for artisan cheese and wine, luxury leather handbag shopping, renown renaissance attractions and museums, and some of the best plazas to enjoy people watching over a campari spritz? Located in the heart of Tuscany, Florence is truly one of the most well rounded destinations in all of Europe and a must visit on your next trip to Italy! If you're still asking yourself if Florence is a good fit on your next trip, we'll breakdown this glorious city and provide an action packed itinerary with all the best things to do in Florence. Find on the Blog: • Top Museums + Landmarks • Best Restaurants • Our Favorite Rooftop Bars • Top Gelaterie • 3 Day Itinerary Florence is renowned as the birthplace of the Renaissance, making it a treasure trove of art and architecture. The city is home to iconic masterpieces such as Michelangelo's David, Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, and Brunelleschi's Dome. The Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery house some of the world's most significant art collections. Looking for world class architecture? Florence showcases remarkable architectural wonders. The Florence Cathedral, with its magnificent dome, is an architectural masterpiece. The city's skyline is adorned with beautiful towers, including Giotto's Campanile and Palazzo Vecchio, a medieval fortress-palace that symbolizes the city's political power. During it's peak prominence in the Renaissance era, the opulence and intellectual prowess of Florence is clearly displayed. The historic center of Florence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a unique and charming atmosphere. Strolling through the narrow, picturesque streets, you'll encounter historic buildings, vibrant piazzas, and quaint shops. The city's layout itself reflects its rich history, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its medieval past. You can spend 3 days alone just meandering the medieval streets and never get bored! Of course Florence is steeped in culture and intellectual history. It was a hub for renowned thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Alighieri, and Niccolò Machiavelli. The city's libraries, universities, and museums continue to foster intellectual and artistic pursuits, creating a vibrant cultural scene. Everywhere you turn, the impressive history of this worldclass city is on display. You cannot ask for a better location than Florence's given that it's conveniently located in the center of Tuscany, it’s truly an ideal base for exploring the region. Within a short distance, you can visit picturesque Tuscan towns, such as Siena ( the famous Palio di Siena horse race) and San Gimignano (the famous towering plazas clusters together), renowned for their historical importance and captivating beauty. Consider a wine tasting tour from Florence of this region. Also, one of the lesser know but even more impressive is the town of Volterra, known for their ancient Etruscan ruins. Here is our list of the top things to do and places to eat during your trip: Top Museums + Landmarks in Florence: Florence Cathedral (Il Duomo): The iconic symbol of Florence, this stunning cathedral features a magnificent dome designed by Brunelleschi, offering breathtaking views of the city. Book a skip-the-line ticket or a ticket to climb to the top of the dome if you're adventurous! Uffizi Gallery: One of the world's most renowned art museums, the Uffizi Gallery houses a vast collection of Renaissance masterpieces, including works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. Consider this guided small group tour with skip-the-line. Galleria dell'Accademia: Home to Michelangelo's famous sculpture, David, the Accademia Gallery showcases a remarkable collection of Renaissance art, including other works by Michelangelo. Take a guided small group tour combining the Accademia Gallery and Duomo if you are short on time. Palazzo Vecchio: This medieval fortress-turned-town hall stands in the heart of Florence. Visit to admire its impressive architecture, beautiful frescoes, and explore the grand Salone dei Cinquecento. Ponte Vecchio: Florence's oldest and most famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio spans the Arno River. Lined with jewelry shops, it offers picturesque views and a romantic atmosphere. Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti): Originally the residence of the influential Medici family, the Pitti Palace now houses several museums and galleries, including the Palatine Gallery, showcasing Renaissance artworks. Skip-the-line with a guide on this small group tour. Boboli Gardens: Adjacent to the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens are a magnificent example of Italian Renaissance gardens, featuring lush greenery, beautiful sculptures, and stunning panoramic views. Basilica of Santa Maria Novella: This Gothic-style church is renowned for its exquisite frescoes and beautiful facade. Inside, you'll find impressive artworks, including Masaccio's famous Trinity. San Lorenzo Market: A bustling market near the Medici Chapels, San Lorenzo Market offers a vibrant atmosphere and a wide range of goods, including leather products, clothing, and local delicacies. Bargello Museum: Housed in a former prison and palace, the Bargello Museum showcases an exceptional collection of sculptures, including works by Donatello and Michelangelo. Basilica di Santa Croce: Known as the "Temple of Italian Glories," this Franciscan church is the final resting place of many notable figures, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. Medici Chapels: Located in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the Medici Chapels are mausoleums adorned with intricate marble work and sculptures, honoring the Medici family. Consider booking an expert guide for a tour of the chapels. Palazzo Strozzi: An impressive Renaissance palace, Palazzo Strozzi hosts temporary art exhibitions and cultural events, showcasing a diverse range of contemporary and historical works. San Miniato al Monte: Situated on a hill overlooking Florence, this Romanesque church offers stunning views of the city. Its intricate marble facade and beautiful mosaics are worth exploring. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo: Located near the Florence Cathedral, this museum displays original artworks and sculptures from the Duomo, including Ghiberti's famous Gates of Paradise. Palazzo Medici Riccardi: This palace, once home to the Medici family, showcases Renaissance architecture and houses the Medici Riccardi Chapel, featuring beautiful frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli. Museo Galileo: Dedicated to the history of science, the Museo Galileo houses an impressive collection of scientific instruments, including telescopes, astrolabes, and globes. San Marco Museum: Located in the former Dominican monastery, San Marco Museum houses the works of Fra Angelico, including stunning frescoes in each of the monk's cells. Piazzale Michelangelo: A panoramic square situated on a hill, Piazzale Michelangelo offers breathtaking views of Florence's skyline. It's a popular spot to enjoy stunning sunsets. Museo Marino Marini: Located in the deconsecrated church of San Pancrazio, this contemporary art museum displays the works of Marino Marini, an influential Italian sculptor. Our Favorite Restaurants: Enoteca Pinchiorri - A renowned Michelin three-star restaurant offering an exceptional dining experience with innovative cuisine, an extensive wine list, and elegant surroundings. Website Ora d'Aria - With a Michelin-starred chef at the helm, Ora d'Aria offers a contemporary gastronomic journey with artistic presentations, unique flavors, and a focus on local and seasonal ingredients. Website Il Palagio - Situated within the iconic Four Seasons Hotel, Il Palagio combines Tuscan flavors with modern interpretations, serving exquisite dishes crafted with the freshest ingredients. Website La Giostra - A charming family-owned restaurant with an intimate atmosphere, La Giostra serves Tuscan and international dishes, prepared with passion and served in a cozy setting. Website Trattoria Sostanza - A hidden gem loved by locals, Trattoria Sostanza offers traditional Tuscan cuisine in a rustic and lively setting. Website Borgo San Jacopo - Located along the Arno River, Borgo San Jacopo offers contemporary Italian cuisine with a creative touch. The restaurant boasts stunning views and a stylish ambiance. Website Cibrèo - Led by renowned chef Fabio Picchi, Cibrèo offers a sophisticated dining experience, showcasing Tuscan specialties made with high-quality ingredients and traditional techniques. Website Buca Lapi - Housed in a historic building, Buca Lapi is a traditional Tuscan trattoria serving classic dishes like bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine steak) and homemade pasta in a cozy, rustic atmosphere. Website Il Latini - A beloved institution in Florence, Il Latini offers a lively and convivial atmosphere along with generous portions of traditional Tuscan dishes, including hearty meat and pasta dishes. Website Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco - Nestled in the heart of Florence, this cozy osteria specializes in Tuscan cuisine, including wild boar (cinghiale) dishes, homemade pastas, and a selection of regional wines. Website La Ménagère - A unique and trendy restaurant located in the heart of Florence, Italy. Housed in a beautifully restored former houseware store, it combines a restaurant, café, flower shop, and home decor boutique all under one roof. Website These restaurants offer a range of culinary experiences, from Michelin-starred fine dining to cozy trattorias, all showcasing the rich flavors and traditions of Tuscan cuisine. Enjoy exploring these fantastic dining options in Florence! Tip: Sign up for "The Fork" to make reservations and find dining discounts! You will find many restaurants across Europe on here. Earn 2000 Yums (points) for your first reservation on TheFork, and you’ll get a £50 discount on your next meal for signing up! Looking for a rooftop? Check out these picturesque bars: SE·STO on Arno - Located on the rooftop of The Westin Excelsior Florence, SE·STO on Arno offers breathtaking panoramic views of Florence's skyline and the Arno River. Enjoy creative cocktails, a selection of fine wines, and a menu featuring Mediterranean flavors. Website La Terrazza Lounge Bar - Situated atop the Hotel Continentale, La Terrazza Lounge Bar provides a stunning view of the Ponte Vecchio. The bar offers an extensive list of cocktails and an elegant atmosphere, making it the perfect spot for a romantic evening. Website Rooftop Bar at Hotel Minerva - Perched on the top floor of Hotel Minerva, the Rooftop Bar offers panoramic views of Florence, including the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio. Sip on refreshing drinks, relax by the pool, and soak in the beauty of the city. Website Terrazza Brunelleschi - Situated on the top floor of Hotel Baglioni, Terrazza Brunelleschi provides breathtaking views of Florence's skyline, including the iconic Duomo. Indulge in creative cocktails, a selection of wines, and gourmet cuisine. Website SE·STO on the Roof - Located atop The St. Regis Florence, SE·STO on the Roof is a rooftop restaurant and bar offering stunning views and a sophisticated ambiance. Indulge in gourmet cuisine, creative cocktails, and a selection of fine wines. Website Empireo Rooftop Bar - Situated on the top floor of Hotel Continentale, Empireo Rooftop Bar boasts a stylish and contemporary atmosphere. Savor signature cocktails, unwind with chilled beats, and admire the panoramic views of the city. Website The Penthouse Rooftop Bar - Located on the top floor of Hotel Torre Guelfa, The Penthouse Rooftop Bar offers a cozy and intimate setting with stunning views of Florence's historic center. Enjoy a wide selection of cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere. Website These rooftop bars provide a wonderful opportunity to sip on refreshing drinks, soak up the beautiful views of Florence, and enjoy a memorable evening in a stylish setting. Best Gelaterie: Gelateria dei Neri - Known for its rich and creamy gelato, Gelateria dei Neri offers a wide variety of flavors made with high-quality ingredients. Website Perché No! - Since its opening in 1939, Perché No! has been serving artisanal gelato with a commitment to quality and tradition. The name "Perché No!" translates to "Why not!" in English, reflecting the spirit of joy and adventure that comes with enjoying their delicious gelato. Website Vivoli - A historic gelateria with a legacy dating back to 1932, Vivoli is famous for its traditional gelato recipes and top-notch flavors. Website La Carraia - Located near the Ponte alla Carraia, this gelateria is popular among locals and tourists alike. La Carraia offers a wide selection of gelato flavors and generous portions. Website Gelateria Santa Trinita - Situated near the Ponte Santa Trinita, this gelateria delights visitors with its artisanal gelato, made daily with fresh ingredients and traditional techniques. Website Gelateria della Passera - Tucked away in the charming neighborhood of Santo Spirito, Gelateria della Passera serves a range of flavors, including unique combinations and vegan options. Website Gelateria Edoardo - With a focus on organic ingredients and attention to detail, Gelateria Edoardo offers a delicious selection of gelato flavors, including classics and creative options. Website Gelateria La Carraia - Not to be confused with the aforementioned La Carraia, Gelateria La Carraia is another beloved spot for gelato enthusiasts, serving a variety of flavors in a vibrant setting. Website Gelateria dei Medici - Located near the Medici Chapels, Gelateria dei Medici offers artisanal gelato made with high-quality ingredients, including fresh fruit and fine chocolates. Website Gelateria dei Neri 2 - An extension of the original Gelateria dei Neri, Gelateria dei Neri 2 delights visitors with its array of flavors and exceptional gelato craftsmanship. Website Gelateria dei Custodi - Situated in the Oltrarno neighborhood, Gelateria dei Custodi is known for its quality gelato, made with natural ingredients and passion. Website These gelaterie in Florence offer a delectable array of flavors, ranging from classic favorites to innovative creations. Be sure to visit one or more of these establishments to experience the delight of authentic Italian gelato! So, what do you do if you’re a young and adventurous couple that wants to maximize their schedule in Florence but only have 3 days to explore? We’ve put together a jam-packed 3 day itinerary to make the most of your visit to Florence! Day 1: Morning: Start your day at the iconic Florence Cathedral (Duomo). Climb up to the top of Duomo's dome for breathtaking views of the city. This is probably our number one site for an unforgettable trip. Ascend up the narrow stairs, across the narrow boardwalk overhang and on top of the cathedral for the most amazing views! Note- this activity may not be the best if you are claustrophobic or scared of heights, but if you can get through that, it’s well worth it! Explore the nearby Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile. Afternoon: Visit the Uffizi Gallery, home to a vast collection of Renaissance masterpieces. Make sure to book tickets in advance to avoid long queues. Wander through the historic streets and take in the atmosphere of the city center. Definitely stop by a cafe to rest and soak in the people watching over a few aperol or campari spiritz! Evening: Enjoy a romantic dinner at Trattoria Sostanza, known for its delicious Florentine cuisine and cozy atmosphere. Day 2: Morning: Take a short train ride to the charming town of Fiesole, located in the hills above Florence. Visit the Roman amphitheater and enjoy panoramic views of Florence. Here you will find ancient ruins from the Etruscan period! Afternoon: Return to Florence and head to the Mercato Centrale, a bustling food market. Explore the stalls and indulge in some local specialties. You can’t go wrong so try to sample as much as possible! Sign up for a cooking or pasta making class (we enjoyed this one) where you can learn to prepare traditional Tuscan dishes paired with local Tuscan wines. Evening: Cruise the Ponte Vecchio and take in this original medieval stone bridge that is the only in the city to survive WWII. Consider this sunset wine and food tour to experience Florence's secrets and rich culinary heritage. Day 3: Morning: Explore the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens, a stunning Renaissance palace and garden complex. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and enjoy the beautiful views. Afternoon: Visit the Oltrarno neighborhood, known for its artisan workshops and boutiques. Explore the charming streets and shop for unique souvenirs. Stop and try gelato from renowned gelaterie like Gelateria dei Neri and Gelateria Santa Trinita. We made a point to have gelato between meals along with a campari spritz to cool down after an extensive day of walking, it’s the Italian way! Evening: Visit the Piazzale Michelangelo for the best sunset view of Florence on your final night. Conclude your trip with a delightful dinner at Il Santo Bevitore, a popular restaurant serving innovative Tuscan dishes with a modern twist. Don't Forget: Florence is a very popular and busy city, book tickets and make reservations in advance, especially for popular attractions and restaurants!
- Top 10 Small Towns to Visit in Europe
Our top 10 small towns to visit in Europe is by no means an easy list to compile. While the grand cities of Paris, London, Rome, Madrid and Vienna are amazing and offer everything, they are met with large crowds and often less value. If you can manage to rent a car, the opportunities to explore the lesser known villages are endless and rewarding beyond the typical European city. If you’re not sold, here are our top reasons why you need to experience the small villages of Europe. Then, we’ll break down our top 10 must visit small towns in Europe. Our list of small towns often have a unique charm and character that has been preserved over time, giving visitors an authentic taste of local life and culture, yet they're not too far off the beaten path so access is relatively easy. Some are more touristy and others you will encounter locals that are excited to see travelers and want to share their traditions! All of the small towns on our list are located in beautiful natural surroundings, remote mountains, pristine lakes, and gorgeous beaches, providing visitors with breathtaking views and outdoor activities. Ideal when you need a break from the museums and sites, the small towns provide the best escape for serenity! Given this is Europe, every small town has a rich history with well-preserved architecture, museums, and cultural sites that offer a glimpse into the past without the higher price admission sites of the larger cities. Slow pace? This is an obvious benefit after visiting Paris, Rome, Madrid. These small towns offer a slower pace of life than big cities, providing you with a chance to relax and unwind in a peaceful setting. If you live in the typical rat race, the benefits of slow travel cannot be overstated! While we’re picky eaters and admittedly not the most adventurous with cuisine, I did try (accidentally) pig intestine meatballs in Gordes, France. Small towns often have a distinct culinary scene, with traditional dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients, providing visitors with a unique and authentic gastronomic experience. You’ll find the most off-the beaten path meals that offer the most authentic ambience. Visiting small towns in Europe provides a unique and authentic travel experience, allowing visitors to connect with the local culture, history, and scenery in a more intimate and personal way. So what are our top 10 best towns to visit in Europe? This is in no particular order and offers just a glimpse into each town, but we provide a deeper dive into these small towns throughout our guides. Top 10 Small Towns to Visit in Europe Positano, Italy - Known for its colorful hilltop homes perched above the cliffs with incredible views of turquoise blue water, it's a true scenic seaside paradise. Pack your hiking shoes and wander through the nearby villages along the Garden of Gods Hike! Rovinj, Croatia - Rovinj is a charming fishing village with narrow streets and beautiful stone houses, surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea. Formerly ruled by the Venetians so you know they have great food and art! Gordes, France - Gordes is for art lovers and natural beauty. It is a beautiful town perched atop a dramatic ridge with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and luberon vineyards. Easy to access from one of our favorite cities, Aix-en Provence. Sintra, Portugal - Sintra is a fairy-tale town with a stunning royal palace, castles, and gardens, all set amidst the lush greenery of the Serra de Sintra hills. It’s touristy and hot during the summer but worth the drive. Hallstatt, Austria - Hallstatt is a picturesque village situated on the shores of Lake Hallstatt, surrounded by mountains and known for its stunning Alpine scenery. One of the most photogenic backdrops in all of Europe. Bled, Slovenia - You’ve seen the picture-perfect island church surrounded by the turquoise lake, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for nearby adventure! Colmar, France - Colmar is a beautiful town with well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture, including brightly-colored half-timbered houses. Come for the Christmas markets starting in late November! Biarritz, France - This is Basque Country, so make room for tapas. Small surfer village with elegance and royal history, the biscay bay produces large crashing waves against the epic limestone cliffs for the most beautiful sunsets. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Rothenburg is a medieval town with a well-preserved wall and gates, cobbled streets, and a beautiful town square. Another must visit for their Christmas markets! Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland - This is more of a cluster of small villages including Murren, Gimmewald, and Wengen perched in the moutains high above Lauterbrunnen Valley. These villages only accessible by train or cable cars and remain trapped in time with endless charm. We loved glamping in the Valley and having easy access to some of the best hikes in the world!
- Italian Dolomites vs French Alps: Which is better?
Considering the Alps or Dolomites? Here you’ll find the best hiking trails, alpine lakes, and places to stay in Italy's famous mountain region, the Dolomites. We’ll compare Europes most popular mountain destinations and provide an itinerary to maximize your time in the Dolomites. The two most popular basecamp areas to explore the Dolomites, Bolzano and Cortina d’Amprezzo, offer great options to stay and visit the heart of the Italian Alps. We’ll provide reasons to stay in both, as well as an itinerary is you choose to stay in Cortina, the more central location. If you're really tight on time and already staying in Venice or the Lake Regions, check out the links below for day trips to the Dolomites, they are a must visit! So the question remains, is the lesser know Dolomites actually a better outdoor destination than the more famous Alps? Are you considering the Alps versus the Dolomites? Both the Dolomites and the Alps offer stunning mountain landscapes and opportunities for outdoor activities. However, after spending time in both of Europe's most popular mountain destinations, there are a few factors we consider advantageous about the Dolomites: Unique Scenery: The Dolomites are renowned for their unique geological formations, characterized by dramatic limestone peaks, vertical rock walls, and stunning colors during sunrise and sunset. The distinct rock formations create a visually striking and picturesque landscape that is praised for its beauty. Simply put, the views in the Dolomites are unique to only this area, and are incredibly more visually stunning in person. Hiking and Via Ferrata: Admittedly, I don’t have the stomach for Via Ferrata, and it’s impressive to see the local kids braving these cliff routes perched in high elevations. The Dolomites offer an extensive network of hiking trails and via ferrata routes for young and old. Hiking enthusiasts and adventure seekers can enjoy a wide range of options, from easy walks to challenging climbs. The Dolomites are particularly known for their via ferrata routes, which allow climbers to traverse exposed sections of the mountains using fixed cables and ladders, definitely not for the faint of heart. Cultural Experience: The Dolomites are located in northeastern Italy and have a rich cultural heritage. The region is influenced by both Italian, German, and Austrian traditions, resulting in a unique blend of languages, architecture, and cuisine. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture, explore charming mountain villages, and indulge in delicious Alpine-Italian cuisine. Cost: Pizza and beer after a long day of hiking just tastes better in the Dolomites than the Alps, and it costs at least half the amount. The value of the Dolomites can’t be ignored, it’s significantly less expensive than the more glamorous French and Swiss Alp destinations. Slower Pace: The Swiss Alps tends to be more developed with well-established infrastructure, and more toursited resort towns. There are certainly famous Italian ski resorts in the Dolomites, but the countryside routes and villages provide a more rural and authentic feel with a slower pace that the busy resort towns in the Alps can’t match. Where to stay to explore the Dolomites? There are so many options it’s not easy. If you're staying for a longer term, Bolzano makes perfect sense since it combines more traditional city conveniences. If you only have 3 days we recommend booking accommodation in advance in Cortina to provide a more authentic mountain experience and central location. Bolzano, also known as Bozen, is a city located in the South Tyrol region of Italy, nestled in the heart of the Dolomites. It serves as an excellent base for exploring the Dolomites. Central Location: Bolzano is strategically situated at the crossroads of major valleys in the Dolomites, making it an ideal starting point for exploring the region. From Bolzano, you can easily access various stunning mountain landscapes, hiking trails, and iconic peaks within a relatively short distance. Kastelruth (Castelrotto) is a favorite old town within easy driving distance. So is the Alpe di Siusi, the largest high alpine meadow in Europe and truly a must visit. Cultural Hub: Bolzano is a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage that blends Italian and Austrian influences. It offers a unique experience where you can immerse yourself in both Italian and Alpine traditions. Explore the charming historic center with its medieval arcades, visit museums like the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, and savor the fusion of Alpine and Mediterranean cuisine in local restaurants. Transportation Connectivity: Bolzano is well-connected by public transportation, including trains and buses, making it convenient to reach other towns and villages in the Dolomites. This allows for flexibility in planning day trips and exploring the surrounding areas without the need for a car. Outdoor Activities: Bolzano offers a wide range of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. You can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and via ferrata routes in the nearby mountain ranges. The region also boasts stunning natural beauty, including picturesque alpine meadows, deep valleys, and impressive peaks, all easily accessible from Bolzano. Unique Attractions: Bolzano itself is home to unique attractions worth exploring. The Ötzi Museum showcases the famous Ötzi the Iceman, a well-preserved mummy discovered in the nearby Ötztal Alps. The Messner Mountain Museum, located in nearby Sigmundskron Castle, offers insights into mountaineering history and culture. Blend of Nature and Urban Comforts: Bolzano combines the beauty of the Dolomites with the comforts of an urban center. After a day of outdoor activities, you can relax in the city's parks, indulge in local culinary delights, and take advantage of the city's amenities and services. Stay in the city and use the local running trails and fitness parks on the river running through the city! Now, if you only have 3-4 days, we recommend staying in Cortina, here’s an adventurous 3-day itinerary to explore the Dolomites during the summer: Day 1: Morning: Arrive in the Dolomites and make your way to the town of Cortina d'Ampezzo, a popular base for exploring the region. . Afternoon: Take the cable car up to Rifugio Faloria and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. You can also go for a short hike in this area. Evening: Explore the charming town of Cortina d'Ampezzo, stroll through its streets, and enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants. Day 2: Morning: Head to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, one of the most iconic landmarks in the Dolomites. Hike the loop trail around the Three Peaks for breathtaking views of the towering peaks. Afternoon: Visit Lake Misurina, a stunning alpine lake surrounded by picturesque mountains. You can take a leisurely stroll around the lake or rent a boat to explore further. Evening: Drive or take a bus to the charming village of San Candido (Innichen) and spend the night there. Day 3: Morning: Explore the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park. Opt for a hike to Lake Braies (Lago di Braies), the largest and most famous lake in the Dolomites. You can rent a rowboat and enjoy the serene beauty of the lake. Afternoon: Go for a thrilling adventure by visiting the Adventure Park Colfosco. Enjoy high-rope courses, zip lines, and other exciting activities amidst the stunning natural surroundings. Evening: Return to Cortina d'Ampezzo or choose another central location in the Dolomites for your final night. Enjoy a relaxing evening and reflect on your adventurous journey. Best Hiking Options: Tre Cime di Lavaredo: Hike the loop trail around the Three Peaks for stunning views of the iconic rock formations. Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm): Take a hike in the largest high-altitude Alpine meadow in Europe, surrounded by magnificent peaks and breathtaking landscapes. Seceda: Enjoy a challenging hike to the top of Seceda and be rewarded with panoramic views of the Dolomites, including the iconic Odle peaks. Most Famous Lake to Visit: Lake Braies (Lago di Braies) is the most famous lake in the Dolomites. It's known for its emerald-green waters, picturesque mountain backdrop, and tranquil atmosphere. You’ve seen it all over the gram, and for good reason. It’s also an easy hike around the lake if you want to skip the boat rowing, we highly recommend this! Most Central Location to Stay: As we mentioned, Cortina d'Ampezzo is a great central location to stay in the Dolomites. It offers easy access to various hiking trails, beautiful scenery, and a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets. This central location and beauty comes at a price, but if you’re only here for 3 days it’s worth it!
- Discover Rome, The Eternal City
Is Rome the best destination in Europe? Ask anyone about Roma and it seems they have a polarizing view, especially if they stayed in the wrong neighborhood, booked the wrong tours, and visited during the peak time of year. Rome can be overwhelming city to tackle, it takes careful planning and some good timing. Fortunately, we've done the homework to help make the most of your time and highlight why Rome will always be a top destination in Europe. Everywhere you turn, there are ancient reminders that showcase the city's stunning beauty and grandeur from the last 2,000+ years. We'll review why you need to make Rome a priority on your next trip to Europe, the optimal time to visit, the best neighborhoods to stay in and rank the top 10 things to do in Rome to make for a memorable trip, whether it's your first trip or returning to uncover new hidden gems. Lastly, we put together an action-packed 3 day agenda to make the most of your time discovering the Eternal City! Rome is more spread out due to the vast ancient city center, but still retains a vibrant atmosphere, with a bustling street life, lively piazzas, and charming neighborhoods that offer a glimpse into local life. Rome is renowned for its cuisine, with a range of traditional dishes that reflect the city's history and diverse cultural influences. From classic Italian pasta dishes to the famous pizza margherita, there's something to suit everyone's tastes. Rome has a rich history and western cultural heritage, with ancient ruins such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon, as well as numerous museums and art galleries that showcase the masterpieces of Italy's Renaissance period. In terms of variety, it's really difficult to beat a city that offers the best combination of history, culture, cuisine, and architecture. Now that you want to visit Rome lets jump into the details of travel plans. The best time to visit Rome, Italy, is generally in the spring (April to June) or fall (September to October) when the weather is pleasantly warm and sunny, and the tourist crowds are relatively smaller compared to the peak summer season. However, Rome is a year-round destination, so you really can't go wrong even during the winter months. We've returned to Rome many times and used it as the gateway city and jump off point to explore central Italy. Having stayed in numerous areas, here are the top five places we'd recommend for your trip: Centro Storico (Historic Center): This area is home to major attractions like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon. It offers a vibrant atmosphere with narrow streets, charming squares, and numerous shops and restaurants. Trastevere: Located across the Tiber River, Trastevere is known for its bohemian vibe, winding streets, and lively nightlife. It offers a mix of traditional and trendy establishments and is a great place to experience local culture. If you're young and want to prioritize easy access to the cafes and clubs, this is your best location. Monti: This neighborhood is trendy and hip, with a mix of boutiques, art galleries, and trendy bars. It's also close to the Colosseum and other attractions. Testaccio: Known for its authentic Roman cuisine and vibrant food market, Testaccio offers a lively atmosphere and is a popular spot for food lovers. Prati: Located near Vatican City, Prati is a more residential area with elegant streets, excellent shopping options, and easy access to the Vatican Museums. This is a much slower pace and less lively, but the trade off is great if you want to experience a more local neighborhood feel. Now, here are the top 10 things to do in Rome for whether you're young and adventurous first time visitors or returning to explore hidden gems. 1. Explore the Colosseum and Roman Forum: Immerse yourself in ancient history by visiting these iconic landmarks. You can spend the entire day between the two if you want to take your time or book a small-group tour with a knowledgeable guide. Stick around for sunset photoshoot on the top terrace lawn overlooking Forum! Don't forget to book your tickets in advance! 2. Wander through the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica: Marvel at the world-renowned art collections and visit the stunning basilica in Vatican City. Book early as lines can be incredibly long (especially in peak season) and these tickets often sell out. 3. Discover the Pantheon: Admire the architectural marvel of this ancient temple-turned-church. Typically a busy area, but you can walk in for free. Go in the early morning to beat the crowds! 4. Explore the vibrant Trastevere neighborhood: Get lost in its narrow streets, visit local markets, and enjoy the buzzing nightlife. Check out Nannarella for dinner or consider a walking food tour of Trastevere (this one is great). 5. Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain: Follow the tradition and make a wish at this iconic Baroque fountain. Come early (really early) for a clear shot without the crowds! 6. Visit the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna: Climb the steps and enjoy the view from the top while savoring gelato. 7. Enjoy the beauty of Villa Borghese: Take a guided tour or visit the Borghese Gallery with its impressive art collection and explore the lush gardens at your own pace. 8. Experience the atmosphere of Piazza Navona: Admire the fountains, street performers, and outdoor cafes in this lively square. 9. Take a walk along the Tiber River: Enjoy the picturesque views and vibrant street art along the riverbanks. 10. Sample authentic Roman cuisine: Take a pasta making class with a local or a walking food tour and indulge in local specialties like pasta carbonara, supplì (fried rice balls), and gelato from reputable gelaterias. Our tip for finding the best gelato is to avoid the tall mounds of gelato with bright, artificial colors and look for spots that keep their gelato in stainless steal tubs with lids! We last stayed in Rome for over a week and loved taking our time since it is challenging to see everything in Rome in just three days. However, with careful planning and prioritizing, it is possible to see some of the main sights and landmarks in a shorter amount of time. Here's how we would spend 3 days/nights in the Eternal City: Day 1: Visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum Walk through the picturesque neighborhood of Trastevere Explore the Pantheon Stroll through Piazza Navona Day 2: Visit the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica Walk through the Vatican Gardens (optional) Explore the Castel Sant'Angelo Walk through the historic center, including Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps Take a pasta making class Day 3: Visit the Capitoline Museums and the Piazza del Campidoglio Walk through the Jewish Ghetto Explore the Catacombs Enjoy a farewell meal in one of the city's many trattorias Note: It is recommended to book tickets in advance for popular sights, such as the Colosseum and Vatican Museum, to avoid long lines. If you're really limited on time, consider booking this Rome-in-a-day tour! The Eternal City is home to some of the world's most famous landmarks and monuments and has some of the best bar scenes, with numerous festivals and events throughout the year that celebrate its rich history, art, and music. In our opinion, Rome's combination of history, culture, food, and entertainment make it a must visit and one of the best cities in Europe! Have you visited Rome? What are your thoughts on the Eternal City?
- Basque Country in Biarritz, France
While San Sebastian in Spain garners the attention of foodies clamoring for the most Michelin restaurants, Biarritz is also located in the heart of the Basque Country, a region that spans the border between France and Spain. When considering a trip to San Sebastian or Basque Country, don’t ignore the beautiful and often overlooked Biarritz. We'll break down why you need to visit Biarritz and provide a full 3-day guide on this Basque country beauty! Considered one of the best destinations in Europe, attracting surfers from around the world to its beautiful beaches, Biarritz has a long tradition of also attracting royalty to this culturally unique coastline of France. Biarritz has a strong history of surfing, dating back to the 1950s, and its waves are ideal for both beginners and experienced surfers, making it a popular destination for surfing enthusiasts seeking out the laid back vibe of this beach town. Those wanting the more upscale shopping experience, Biarritz also has a rich history as a fashionable seaside resort dating back to the 19th century. It was a favorite destination of European royalty and aristocrats, and many historic buildings and landmarks remain to this day. The Hotel du Palais, which was built for Empress Eugenie, is a prime example of this. Biarritz is located in the heart of the Basque Country, a region that spans the border between France and Spain. As such, it has a strong Basque culture, with traditional festivals, cuisine, and architecture. Visitors can enjoy Basque cuisine, including pintxos, a type of tapas, and explore the local markets for fresh produce and traditional crafts. While the prices are slightly higher than their Spanish neighbor, you’ll enjoy a much quieter and less touristed experience in Biarritz. Our first impression of Biarritz was it’s impressive natural beauty, the sunsets over the seaside cliffs surrounding Biarritz are breathtaking. The city is located on the rugged coastline of the Atlantic Ocean on the Biscay Bay, with stunning views of the sea and surrounding hills. Visitors can explore the nearby Pyrenees mountains or the Basque countryside, both of which offer stunning vistas and opportunities for outdoor activities. Biarritz, France is a unique and beautiful destination that offers something for everyone. From surfing to history and culture to natural beauty, Biarritz is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits. Here’s a quick 3 day itinerary to make the most of your time exploring Biarritz. Day 1: Morning: Start the day with a stroll along the Grande Plage, one of the most popular beaches in Biarritz. Take a swim in the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean, or simply relax and soak up the sun. Afternoon: For lunch, head to Les Halles de Biarritz, a covered market filled with local food stalls offering a variety of fresh and delicious food. Try some of the famous Basque cuisine, such as pintxos and seafood. Evening: Take a walk to the Rocher de la Vierge, a rock formation located at the end of a jetty that offers stunning views of the coast. Afterward, head to the Bar Basque for drinks and live music. Day 2: Morning: Start the day with a hike up to the Phare de Biarritz, a lighthouse located on a hill overlooking the city. Enjoy panoramic views of the coast and the surrounding countryside. Afternoon: For lunch, head to one of the many food trucks located along the coast. Try some delicious crepes or galettes, a savory pancake made with buckwheat flour and filled with cheese, ham, or vegetables. Evening: Spend the evening at the Cite de l'Ocean, an oceanographic museum that offers a range of interactive exhibits and activities. Watch a 4D movie, visit the aquarium, or try surfing in the wave pool. Day 3: Morning: Take a day trip to nearby Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a picturesque fishing village located just a short drive from Biarritz. Stroll through the narrow streets, visit the historic church, and enjoy lunch at one of the many seafood restaurants. Afternoon: Return to Biarritz in the afternoon and spend some time at the Plage de la Milady, a quieter beach located away from the city center. Rent a paddleboard or kayak and explore the waters, or simply relax on the sand. Evening: For the final evening, head to the Les Baigneuses de Biarritz, a beachfront bar that offers stunning views of the ocean. Enjoy cocktails and tapas as you watch the sunset over the water.
- Nîmes, the Roman Heart of Southern France
Nîmes, France was so nice we had to visit twice. Actually, the second time we visited Nimes was to attend a traditional Roman and Celtic festival inside the 2,000 year old perfectly preserved Amphitheater, and it was one of the most fun atmospheres (wine by the pitcher? Yes). Nimes is an easy to get to, well preserved historic city located in the Occitanie region of southern France. We recommend reading about why you should stay in one of the nearby hubs and take the easy fast train from your home base in Aix-en Provence or Avignon. There are many reasons that make Nîmes a worthy destination to add to your journey in the South of France, here we'll dive into why you need to visit along with a quick but details one-day itinerary to make the most of your time. As mentioned, Nîmes has a rich Roman history, which is reflected in its well-preserved ancient buildings such as the Arena of Nîmes and the Maison Carrée. It’s also one of the only places in France to you can still watch bullfighting. Nîmes is known for its bullfighting tradition, which dates back to Roman times. The city has a bullring, the Arena of Nîmes, where bullfighting events and concerts are held. Because of its location, Nimes enjoys a that great Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers, making it a pleasant place to visit throughout the year. If you’re into grabbing a bottle of rosé and cheeses, Nîmes is home to many beautiful gardens, including the Jardins de la Fontaine, which is one of the oldest public gardens in Europe. Pack your picnic basket and enjoy a leisurely day at one of the many beautiful parks and gardens and soak in the local people watching. The food and wine here is unique to France since Nîmes is located in the heart of the Languedoc wine region, known for its excellent wines. The city also has a strong culinary tradition with delicious local dishes such as brandade de morue (salt cod puree) and gardianne de taureau (bull stew). While you can certainly spend more time in Nimes, we recommend knocking out the sights in 1-2 days, depending if you can time one of the summer festivals. Here’s a jam-packed plan for one full day in Nimes, just take an easy fast train from your home base in Aix-en Provence or Avignon. Morning: Start your day with a visit to the Jardins de la Fontaine, a beautiful park and garden that dates back to Roman times. Take a stroll through the park, enjoy the fountains, and take in the views of the city. Next, head to the Maison Carrée, a well-preserved ancient Roman temple. You can watch a short film about the temple's history, and then explore the temple on your own. After visiting the temple, grab a quick breakfast or snack at a nearby café. Try a crepe, croissants or pain au chocolat with an espresso and get ready for the main event. Midday: Walk over to the Arena of Nîmes, one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. Take a guided tour of the arena to learn about its history and see some of the behind-the-scenes areas. If you only have a few hours in Nimes, we’ll explain later why this is a must visit destination. If you're feeling adventurous, consider trying your hand at bullfighting at the Nîmes Bullfighting School. You can take a one-hour class and learn some of the basic techniques. Afternoon: Head to Les Halles de Nîmes, a lively indoor food market. Browse the stalls and pick up some local cheese, bread, and wine for a picnic lunch. Take your picnic back to the Jardins de la Fontaine or one of the city's other parks, and enjoy a leisurely lunch in the sunshine. After lunch, visit the Musée de la Romanité, a new museum that showcases the history and culture of Nîmes and the Roman Empire. The museum has many interactive exhibits and a great collection of artifacts. Evening: Wrap up your day with dinner at one of Nîmes' many excellent and affordable restaurants. Try some local specialties like brandade de morue or gardianne de taureau, and enjoy a glass of Languedoc wine. Finish off the evening with a walk through the historic city center. The narrow streets and beautiful old buildings are especially charming at night. If you only have a few hours in Nimes? It’s still absolutely worth a visit solely based on the ampitheater. The Arena of Nîmes is a Roman amphitheater that was built in the first century AD, and is one of the best-preserved Roman arenas in the world. It was originally used for gladiator fights and other spectacles, and could hold up to 24,000 spectators. Today, the Arena of Nîmes is used for concerts, bullfights, and other events. Visitors can take a guided tour of the arena, which includes access to the underground chambers where the gladiators and animals were kept. Walking through the arena, you can imagine the excitement and drama that took place there nearly 2,000 years ago. It's a truly incredible experience, and one that you won't want to miss if you're in Nîmes. See for yourself on how we spent our time in Nimes, hopefully you’ll add this amazing city on your next stop in the South of France!
- Your Complete Guide to Cassis and Calanques National Park
We stumbled upon this oasis after many locals recommended the area as a must visit, primarily for the the Calanques national park that offers unrivaled cliff hikes and clear turquoise blue inlets for swimming. Cassis, France is often considered an underrated place to visit because it is overshadowed by other, more well-known destinations in the region such as Marseille, Nice, St. Tropez and Cannes. However, there are so many reasons why Cassis is a hidden gem that shouldn't be overlooked! Here is why you need to visit this seaside town along with a quick itinerary on your way through the French Riviera. Stunning natural beauty: Cassis is located on the Mediterranean coast, and is surrounded by gorgeous cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and lush green hills. The Calanques, a series of rocky inlets and fjords, are a must-visit attraction in the area. Authentic charm: Unlike some of the more touristy destinations in the region, Cassis has retained its authentic Provençal charm. The town is full of narrow streets, colorful houses, and quaint restaurants and cafes. Wine and food: Cassis is known for its excellent wine, particularly its white wine made from the local grape variety, Marsanne. The town is also home to a vibrant food scene, with many restaurants serving fresh seafood and other local specialties. Outdoor activities: Cassis is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with many opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and swimming. The Calanques are a popular spot for hiking and rock climbing, while the beaches are great for swimming and sunbathing. Pack your sunscreen and hiking shoes, its absolutely worth the hike! Cassis is such an underrated destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, authentic charm, and outdoor activities. It's a great place to visit if you're looking for a more off-the-beaten-path experience in the South of France. Here is our action-packed 2-day itinerary for Cassis and the Calanques in France: Day 1: Morning: Start your day with a hike in the Calanques. There are several hiking trails in the area, ranging from easy to challenging. The Calanque d'En Vau is one of the most popular and picturesque hikes. Arrive early, pack your sunscreen and swim attire! After your hike, head back to Cassis and grab some lunch at one of the local restaurants. Try some fresh seafood or a sandwich made with local ingredients. Afternoon: Take a kayaking tour of the Calanques. Kayaking is a great way to explore the rocky inlets and fjords up close. You can also go swimming and snorkeling in the clear blue waters. In the late afternoon, head back to Cassis and stroll through the town's charming streets. Visit the local market, check out the shops, and enjoy a coffee or an aperitif at a cafe. Evening: Enjoy dinner at one of Cassis' many excellent restaurants. Try some of the local specialties, like bouillabaisse or a dish made with fresh fish. Also, they local white wine is a must and one of the most popular crisp whites in South of France. After dinner, take a sunset cruise along the coast. You'll see the Calanques and Cassis from a different perspective, and the sunset over the Mediterranean is truly breathtaking. Day 2: Morning: Start your day with a hike in the hills above Cassis. The Route des Crêtes offers panoramic views of the coast and the Calanques. After your hike, head back to Cassis and have a quick breakfast at a local cafe. Midday: Take a boat tour of the Calanques. This is a great way to see more of the fjords and inlets, and you'll learn about the local flora and fauna from your guide. After your boat tour, have lunch on the beach or at one of the local restaurants. Relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun. Afternoon: Go rock climbing in the Calanques. This is a challenging but rewarding activity that will give you a unique perspective on the rocky landscape. We’re deathly afraid of heights so we watched from nearby, but if you have the stomach this looks amazing! In the late afternoon, head back to Cassis and visit one of the local wineries. Try some of the local white wines, and learn about the history and production of wine in this famous region. Evening: Enjoy a final dinner in Cassis at one of the town's many excellent restaurants. Try some of the local cheeses and desserts, and savor your last evening in this beautiful part of France. Don’t forget to grab gelato and look back at all the awesome memories you just made in Cassis! This action-packed 2-day itinerary will give you a true taste of the natural beauty, outdoor activities, and local culture that make Cassis and the Calanques such a special and must visit destination. Check out our guides on the French Riviera for your next stop!
- The City of Lights: When to go, Where to Stay and What to See on your First trip to Paris
Fresh baked baguettes, buttery croissants, creamy brie cheese, and a crisp rosé; you really don’t need much else to enjoy a Parisian picnic under the eiffel tower or any number of the pristine parks and meticulously manicured gardens in the City of Lights. You can easily spend a few weeks in Paris and never get bored of the charm, cafés, people watching, museums, and shopping. We also found Paris to be one of the most dog-friendly cities in Europe, surprisingly clean and incredibly safe, especially when compared to major coastal cities in the United States. And if you love the idea of Paris, don't forget to read our blog considering which city is better between Paris and Lyon. We’ll focus on our top 5 areas to stay, best times of the year to visit, things to do, and a quick itinerary if you only have 3 days to visit Paris. There are so many great areas to stay in Paris you can’t go wrong, but here are the top five neighborhoods we love that are popular among younger active couples, expecially if this is your first time visiting Paris. The Marais neighborhood is a trendy and historic area in the center of Paris. It's known for its picturesque streets, charming cafes, and fashionable boutiques. The area also has many art galleries and museums, such as the Picasso Museum and the Pompidou Center. Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a chic and bohemian neighborhood located on the left bank of the Seine. It's known for its intellectual and artistic heritage, with many famous writers and artists having lived here. The area has many cafes, restaurants, and bookstores, and is a great place for strolling along the narrow streets. Montmartre is a charming and historic neighborhood located on a hill in the northern part of Paris. It's known for its artistic heritage, with many famous artists, such as Picasso and Van Gogh, having lived and worked here. The area has many cafes, restaurants, and boutiques, and is home to the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The Latin Quarter is a lively and historic neighborhood located on the left bank of the Seine. It's known for its many universities and academic institutions, as well as its cafes and bars. The area also has many historic landmarks, such as the Panthéon and the Sorbonne. Le Marais/République: This area is a combination of the trendy Marais neighborhood and the up-and-coming République area. It's a great option for young couples who want to experience both the historic and modern sides of Paris. The area has many cafes, restaurants, and boutiques, as well as cultural landmarks such as the Place des Vosges and the Canal Saint-Martin. These top five neighborhoods are perfect places to stay, especially for young couples visiting Paris for the first time. They offer a great blend of easy access to all the culture, history, and entertainment Paris has to offer! So when is the best time to visit Paris? The short answer is anytime, but if you’re look for the best weather, festivals, avoiding crowds or budget conscience, we’ll highlight several options to make the most of your time. Weather: The most popular time to visit Paris is during the summer months (June to August), when the weather is warm and sunny. However, this also means that the city is more crowded and prices for accommodations and attractions are higher. The spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are also good times to visit, as the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner. Winter (December to February) is the least crowded and most affordable time to visit, but the weather can be chilly and damp. The upside of visiting in the winter is the city if truly alive with lights and decorated with Christmas markets. We tend to favor the late Spring or early fall to ensure great weather, but also far less crowds. Events and Festivals: Paris hosts many cultural events and festivals throughout the year. Some of the most popular events include the Paris Fashion Week in January and July, the French Open tennis tournament in May and June, and the Bastille Day celebrations on July 14th. Sightseeing: Some visitors may want to avoid peak tourist season and crowds to enjoy Paris's famous landmarks and museums. Visiting during the off-season or shoulder seasons can provide a more relaxed and enjoyable experience. Budget: Prices for accommodations and airfare tend to be higher during peak tourist season, so visiting during the off-season or shoulder seasons may be more affordable. Again, early Spring and late Fall tend to be a great trade off and not as expensive as the summer months. Hopefully you slept well on the red-eye because this itinerary packs a Parisian punch, there is just so much to cover in a short 3-day visit. We’ll guide you through what you need to see and do for your first or returning trip to the City of Lights. Day 1: Start the day by grabbing breakfast at Cafe Kitsuné, a trendy coffee shop located in the Marais neighborhood. Visit the Musée d'Orsay, a must-visit museum for art lovers, known for its extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works. Head to the Luxembourg Gardens for a picnic lunch. This beautiful park is perfect for relaxing, people-watching, and enjoying a picnic. In the afternoon, take a stroll through the Latin Quarter, known for its winding streets, bookstores, and historic landmarks such as the Pantheon. End the day with dinner at Les Deux Magots, a famous cafe and restaurant frequented by writers and intellectuals, located in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. Day 2: Start the day with a croissant and coffee at Du Pain et des Idées, a popular bakery in the Canal Saint-Martin area. Visit the Louvre Museum, one of the world's most famous museums, known for its collection of art and artifacts from around the world. For lunch, head to Marché des Enfants Rouges, a vibrant covered market in the Marais neighborhood with plenty of food stalls offering a variety of cuisines. In the afternoon, take a stroll along the Canal Saint-Martin, a trendy neighborhood with plenty of cafes, boutiques, and street art. End the day with dinner at Le Comptoir Général, a quirky restaurant and bar with a bohemian atmosphere and a variety of international cuisine. Day 3: Start the day with a visit to the Eiffel Tower, one of Paris's most iconic landmarks. Afterward, head to Jardin des Tuileries for a picnic lunch. This park is located near the Louvre and offers beautiful views of the city. In the afternoon, take a bike tour along the Seine River. This is a great way to see the city's sights while getting some exercise, or your tired from all the walking, just book a river cruise! End the day with dinner at Le Verre Volé, a wine bar and restaurant located in the Canal Saint-Martin area that is known for its excellent wine selection and relaxed atmosphere. Bonus: While you’ll likely need more time, the Palace of Versailles is absolutely worth adding an extra day! This is considered one of the most awe-inspiring architectural achievements of the 17th century. It was originally built as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII but was later expanded into an opulent palace by Louis XIV. The palace's Hall of Mirrors is one of the most impressive rooms in the world, featuring 357 mirrors and 17 windows that overlook the palace's gardens. Speaking of which, The Palace of Versailles is surrounded by over 800 hectares of stunning gardens and landscaping, featuring statues, fountains and the most pristine manicured lawns making it one the most instagram worthy visits. Looking to explore an equally as impressive city a quick train ride away, without the crowds and expensive high season hotel rates? Check out our blog on why we loved visiting Lyon.
- Avignon, Gateway to Provence. Your Full Guide to the City
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. With the modern TGV fast train station serving the area, Avignon is a beautiful centrally located city that provides easy access to unlimited Provence charm. If you’re considering where to stay in the South of France to explore the ancient Roman ruins and endless countryside villages of provence, definitely consider Avignon or Aix-en Provence. Avignon is known for its rich history (there was once a Pope here competing with the Vatican), culture, and art, as well as its beautiful Roman architecture, museums, and festivals. We'll talk about why Avignon is a great home base to explore the region, and what makes this region the perfect gateway to Provence: Palais des Papes: One of the main attractions in Avignon is the Palais des Papes, a massive Gothic palace that served as the seat of the Catholic Church during the 14th century. It is one of the largest and most impressive medieval palaces in Europe, and it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Festival d'Avignon: Every summer, Avignon hosts one of the world's most famous theatre festivals, the Festival d'Avignon. The festival attracts thousands of visitors from around the world and features hundreds of performances by international theatre companies. Avignon Bridge: The Pont d'Avignon (Avignon Bridge) is an iconic symbol of the city. Originally built in the 12th century, the bridge spans the Rhone River and is famous for its distinctive arches. Art and Culture: Avignon has a rich artistic and cultural heritage, with many museums, galleries, and cultural events throughout the year. The city is home to several art museums, including the Musée du Petit Palais and the Collection Lambert, as well as numerous theatres, music venues, and festivals. Food and Wine: Avignon is located in the heart of the Provence wine region, known for its delicious wines, including Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The city is also famous for its local cuisine, which features fresh, seasonal ingredients and traditional Provençal dishes like ratatouille, bouillabaisse, and tapenade. Check out the top 10 restaurants in Avignon! Why is this town such a great home base to explore Provence? We loved staying in Aix-en Provence and it's central location for exploring Provence with a car, but if you’re on a tighter timeline or budget, Avignon is nearly as impressive and provides the same great proximity to explore the Provence region. Here are our top reasons why you should use Avignon as a home base to explore Provence: Central Location: Avignon is located in the heart of Provence, making it an ideal base for exploring the region. From Avignon, you can easily reach many of Provence's most famous attractions, including the Pont du Gard, the lavender fields of the Luberon, and the picturesque hilltop villages of the Alpilles. Transportation: Avignon is well-connected to other parts of Provence and beyond. The city has a major train station with regular connections to Paris, Marseille, and other cities in France, as well as international connections to other European destinations. There are also several bus and shuttle services that run to popular destinations in Provence. The updated modern TGV station makes it even easier! Accommodation: Avignon has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. There are also many vacation rentals available in the city and surrounding areas, including villas, apartments, and farmhouses. We loved staying within the walled city of Avignon! Cultural Attractions: Avignon itself is a fascinating city with a rich cultural heritage. In addition to the Palais des Papes, the city is home to many museums, art galleries, and historic sites, as well as a vibrant restaurant and cafe scene. Festivals: Avignon hosts several major festivals throughout the year, including the Festival d'Avignon, the Avignon Jazz Festival, and the Les Hivernales dance festival. These events attract visitors from around the world and add to the city's vibrant cultural scene. Avignon is a convenient and culturally rich base for exploring Provence, with easy access to many of the region's most famous attractions and a wide range of accommodation options. If you want a similar central city to explore the region, Aix-en-Provence is also a great, less touristy option. Make either your home base for your trip and don’t miss our Provence village recommendations!
- Starry Nights, a Historic Guide to Arles
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We initially passed through Arles on the way to Nimes and made a point to return to spend more time in this romantic and quaint French Village that is a must see for any South of France vacation. Arles has a rich and unique history, dating back to ancient Roman times and is one of the most well preserved cities in France, even after intense fighting during WW2. Before we go into the sites and guide, here are few highlights that drew us to revisiting this beautiful village tucked along the Rhone river: Roman History: Arles was an important city in the Roman Empire, known as Arelate. It was a major port and center of trade, and its prosperity is reflected in the many well-preserved Roman monuments that still stand today. These include the Arles Amphitheater, the Roman Theatre, the Cryptoporticus (an underground gallery), and the Alyscamps, an ancient necropolis. Check out the UNESCO sites. Medieval History: After the fall of the Roman Empire, Arles became part of the Kingdom of the Franks. In the 12th century, it became an important center of the Provencal troubadour culture, which celebrated love, chivalry, and poetry. Religious History: Arles was also an important center of Christianity in the early Middle Ages. In the 4th century, it became the seat of a bishopric, and several important Christian figures lived and worked there, including St. Trophimus, who built the Arles Cathedral. During WW2, The German occupation of Arles was marked by repression and resistance. Many locals joined the French Resistance movement and carried out acts of sabotage against the occupiers. In retaliation, the Germans executed several resistance fighters and civilians. In August 1944, the Allies launched a major offensive against German forces in southern France, including Arles. The city was tragically bombed heavily by Allied planes, causing extensive damage to buildings, infrastructure and unfortunately loss of civilian life. Artistic History: Arles was the home of the famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, who lived and worked there in the late 19th century. He was inspired by the city's beauty and painted many of his most famous works there. Arles has a fascinating history that spans thousands of years and encompasses many different cultures and influences. It is a city that has played an important role in the development of art, religion, and society in France and Europe. Try a walking tour, we find these are the best way to learn and get a good overview of a city! You can see everything in Arles in one day, although we’d recommend more time of course if you’re staying on an extended trip in the South of France. Here are some things that make Arles a special place to visit: Ancient Roman monuments: Arles was once an important city in the Roman Empire, and it still has many well-preserved Roman monuments, including the Arles Amphitheater, which is one of the best-preserved Roman arenas in the world. Don't forget to visit the famous Bath of Constantine that dates back to the early 4th century! Vincent Van Gogh: The famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh lived and worked in Arles in 1888 and 1889, and he created many of his most famous paintings there, including "The Night Cafe" and "Starry Night Over the Rhone." You can visit several places in Arles that are associated with Van Gogh, such as the Yellow House and the hospital where he was treated after cutting off his ear. Beautiful architecture: Arles has a mix of architectural styles from different periods, including Roman, Gothic, and Renaissance. The historic center of Arles has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it's filled with narrow streets, picturesque squares, and charming buildings. Cultural events: Arles is known for hosting many cultural events throughout the year, including the famous Rencontres d'Arles photography festival, which attracts thousands of visitors each summer. Eat, drink, walk and repeat; check out the top 10 restaurant in Arles, France! Arles is a beautiful and culturally rich city that offers visitors a glimpse into France's fascinating history and artistic heritage. Take an easy quick train from Avignon and spend the day soaking in the historic beauty!
- What's in our bags? Here's what you should (and shouldn't) pack for your next European vacation!
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Getting ready for a trip to Europe and looking for ideas of what to pack? We put together this easy packing guide of our favorite (and most useful) Amazon finds- plus a few things to leave behind! Our number one most used item of the trip has been these vacuum travel bags. The set of bags comes with a perfect travel-sized pump that is small but mighty! Great if you're on a longer trip or just need to make some space in a smaller bag. (Also try these packing cubes if you're looking to avoid traveling with a pump!) These European plug adapters are a must have for all of your gadgets. This is my all-time favorite toiletry bag. It's fits soo much! It comes with a handy hook that is perfect for hanging on door allowing you to make the most of your space (keep in mind rooms are typically on the more compact side in most places around Europe). If you're planning on shopping or flying extra items back with you (or just to check your weight before you fly), you need this digital weight scale. From our experience, airlines in Europe have been much stricter with baggage weight than they typically are in the States, even for carry-on items. So save yourself the headache (and avoid extra fees) and make sure your bags meet the weight requirements before getting to the airport... we learned the hard way. Hiking on your trip? Skip packing a bulky backpack and opt for this lightweight, water resistant backpack instead. It rolls up to fit in your hand, but will surprise you with how much it can hold! I'm sure you've been warned about pick-pocketers. Theft can happen anywhere, but seems to be most common in the big city crowds. Our best advice is to avoid leaving items like wallets and phones in your pockets (especially back pockets!) and bring something like this front-facing fanny pack or a backpack to keep your belongings in. Comfortable walking shoes are a must! Unlike most cities in the United States, European cities are very walkable. We average about 5-6 miles a day. Come prepared with these heel liners in case you need them. You can expect uneven, cobblestone roads in most places. Many cities also have steep hills and lots of steps (looking at you Lisbon, Porto and Positano). So ditch the heels, bring your best walking shoes and be ready to get your steps in! Even if you're traveling during the summer, it's still a good idea to bring a light jacket or sweater as evening temps in most places can still get a bit chilly. This one is not really a necessity, but it is definitely nice to have if you happen to encounter rain during your trip. This umbrella has held up through heavy winds, rain and being shoved in the bottom of a backpack about 100 times so far. For my traveling pet parents: I plan to do a more detailed post on our experience traveling with our dogs, but for now I will just include these must-haves for those planning to travel abroad with their pets. This pet carrier- it is airline approved and great for trains/taxis or simply to wear as a backpack to keep hands free. It fit our 10 lb Yorkie mix nicely and has held up well through our travels. These collapsible bowls with lids are perfect to store an easily accessible meal while traveling if needed. The hooks make it convenient to attach to leashes. Finally, this is our favorite harness/leash combo. The harness has hooks on both the front of chest and top of harness back and the leash is thick with a nicely padded handle. Last but not least, we have loved these pet backpacks! What are some things you recommend or can't travel without that I have missing from my list?? Tip: It's important to note that you will want to pack light as you will likely have to carry your luggage up/down stairs and potentially long distances, especially if you're heading to a car-free city or town. Check out my Travel Checklist next for a printable packing list! We quickly learned after our first trip to Positano why everyone says to travel light in Europe.. so many regrets (and maybe a few tears) lugging heavy suitcases around!