Originally posted on The Girl Abroad
Whether you are a backpacker or a jet setter, seeing a city in its entirety is nearly impossible when you are crunched for time. Here are a few major European hot spots and the highlighted places to go and things to do while you take the fast route.
-The Eiffel Tower (if you don’t see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, did you really even go?)
*Not afraid of heights? Adventurous? Have time to plan? Call two weeks in advance to 58 Tour Eiffel. Located 58 meters off the ground, the restaurant sits in the most famous landmark in the City of Lights. Get your wallet out because it certainly isn’t cheap, but well worth the view.
* Macaron lovers rejoice! Any macaron you have ever had will immediately fade into oblivion after experiencing the real deal at this iconic Parisian destination. But beware: a macroon is a coconut cookie your grandmother makes, while a macaron is Parisian culinary masterpiece. Make sure to know the difference!
-Arch de Triomphe
*Just like the Eiffel Tower, if you go to Paris and don’t see the Arc de Triomphe did you really even go? Opt for a stroll by or pay a few euros to climb to the top of the symbol of Parisian victory and take in the view!
*With over a million works of art, rushing through the Louvre is impossible. Crunched for time? Do what I like to call the “Louvre Lite” tour and see the major highlights: Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, and of course the Mona Lisa.
-Jardin des Tuileries
*Many people all over the world visit these public gardens for the name thinking it has to do with the tulips that bloom there. Well, I hate to break it to you but the name does not translate into tulip garden… rather that tuileries translated into english means tiles! This once was a clay tile quarry until Catherine de Medici swooped in and turned it into a Florentinian style garden. A must see before your next destination.
-Il Duomo di Firenze
*More commonly known as just “the Duomo,” this is hard to miss. Located in the heart of Florence, you can see this massive Gothic-style cathedral from just about any part of the city. Get up close and personal to the dome and hike (yes, hike) to the top or take in the view from the other side of the river at Piazzale Michelangelo.
* The view is so beautiful, it has brought tears to my eyes before. Go during the day for limited tourist interaction or bring a bottle of wine an hour before sunset, sit on the famous steps, and watch the sun fall behind the tuscan hills. Breath taking.
*If there was a piece of artwork that makes Florence famous, it would be the David. Located in the Accademia dell’Arte, this is the main attraction. You must see this iconic masterpiece before leaving Florence.
*This is the Florence version of the Louvre and home to Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.” This museum is overflowing with Da Vincis, Botticellis, Raphaels, Titians, Caraviaggios, and so many other Italian masters.
*Walking into Santa Croce feels overwhelmingly inspiring and influential…probably has something to do with the fact that Italian legends such as Galileo, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo are all laid to rest here. If you plan on entering the church, make sure your knees and shoulders are covered!
-Scuola del Cuoio
* The leather market in Florence is great for cheaper finds, but head back to Santa Croce and see what the pros are doing. Located in the back of the famous basilica, is a world renowned leather school. Watch the masters make bracelets, books, wallets, leather jackets, shoes and so much more in every kind of leather from ostrich to white snake skin.
-Plaza de Espana
* This place truly looks like a fairy tale. With horse drawn carriages, a moat, and a giant fountain in the middle, this should be your very first spot in Seville. It definitely was mine! Make sure to take the time to walk all the way around the plaza and study the tiles. There are detailed pictures painted on every single one representing a different region of Spain.
*A truly remarkable testimony to architecture and design, this palace turned landmark spills Seville’s Moorish heritage. A wonderful mix of Islamic flare with an understated European glamour, the grounds are so easy to get lost on and I promise you won’t mind it. If you’re lucky, you will see the resident peacock roaming the grounds!
* I promised myself I wouldn’t post restaurants but this is the exception. I was abroad in Europe for two months, traveled to six different countries over that time and still to this day this is the best meal I had. Take a quick walk through the historic centre of Seville and find your way to the local street Calle Arfe and find this sweet restaurant. Not known for its decor, but for its paella, you will want to eat here every night! Go for the tapas, fall in love with the sol filet, stay for the sangria. Truly Sevilla at its core.
*This should be your last stop before heading on to your next destination. Relax and unwind in the different spas. There are many different places in Seville that offer Turkish bathes, but my personal favorite is Aire Banos Arabes. Ice baths, steam baths, salt baths, jacuzzi, massages, hot tea, and much more is offered. Best part? Surprisingly not a major tourist destination; locals and experienced travelers know about the destination and plan to keep it under wraps.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
-Anne Frank Haus
*Wondering what to do first? This should definitely be an option. Get in line before it opens to make sure you get uninterrupted time in the hauntingly beautiful memorial. Climb up the steep stairs and through the house, walk through Anne’s room, see the Frank family’s height marked on the wall, posters, and of course- Anne’s diary. Don’t miss the opportunity to read through and sign the guest book. There are some truly inspiring words in there.
-Take a bike tour
*A good traveler always says, “Do as the locals do.” Well in Amsterdam, you ride a bike! There are great tours available almost everyday but if group tours aren’t your thing, hire a private guide to show you the city on bike. Feeling adventurous? Rent a bike for yourself and take on the city solo.
– I AMsterdam sign
*If you don’t care about feeling touristy, take on the I AMsterdam sign. Climb to the top of one of the letters and have your friends take a picture.
*Whether or not you want to take part in what makes Amsterdam famous, visiting a coffee shop is interesting and eye opening.