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Featured, Lake Trip, Travel Hacks

Lake Day Essentials | What to Pack For a Lake Day

There’s something magical about spending a day at the lake. Between the serene waters, the gentle breeze, and all of the sunshine, there’s really nothing better in the summer!

That being said, a lake day can get a lot less fun when you forget these lake day essentials. Be prepared and don’t forget what you really need out on or by the water with this list – read on for our ultimate lake day essentials guide.

Sun Protection

  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30.
  • Hat: A wide-brimmed hat provides extra shade for your face and neck.
  • Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from glare and UV rays.

Shade Gear

  • Canopy, Umbrella or Tent: Sunbathing is great but make sure you have an option for shade so you and your group can stay cool and protected from the sun if you’re going to be out at the lake all day long.

Comfortable Seating

  • Beach Chairs: Lightweight, foldable beach chairs are perfect for relaxing by the water.
  • Blanket or Beach Towel: A large, soft towel or blanket is great for lounging on the shore.

 Swim Gear

  • Swimsuit: Bring your favorite swimsuit for a refreshing dip in the lake.
  • Towels: Extra towels for drying off after swimming.
  • Water Shoes: Protect your feet from rocky or slippery lake bottoms.

Fun and Games

  • Inflatable Floaties: Relax on the water with a comfortable floatie or inflatable raft.
  • Water Toys: Bring along water guns, paddleboards, or kayaks for some water-based fun.
  • Frisbee or Ball: Great for some fun on the shore.

Food and Drinks

  • Cooler: A sturdy cooler will keep your food and drinks cold all day.
  • Snacks: Pack easy-to-eat snacks like fruit, chips, and granola bars.
  • Water Bottles: Stay hydrated with plenty of water. Consider insulated bottles to keep your drinks cold.

Safety Gear

  • Life Jackets: Essential for everyone, especially if you’re planning on boating or paddleboarding.
  • First Aid Kit: Be prepared for minor injuries with a basic first aid kit.

Entertainment

  • Books or Magazines: Perfect for some peaceful reading by the water.
  • Bluetooth Speaker: Enjoy your favorite tunes with a portable, waterproof speaker.

Miscellaneous Essentials

  • Bug Spray: Keep pesky insects at bay with a good bug spray.
  • Dry Bag: Protect your valuables like phone, wallet, and keys from water damage.
  • Trash Bags: Help keep the environment clean by packing out all your trash.

Extra Clothing

  • Cover-Up or Extra Clothes: Bring a cover-up or change of clothes for after swimming.
  • Light Jacket: Even in summer, evenings by the lake can get chilly.

Navigation and Communication

  • Map or GPS: If you’re unfamiliar with the area, having a map or GPS can be very helpful. You can also screenshot a map of the area on your phone in case you don’t have service.
  • Phone Charger: A portable charger will ensure your phone stays powered throughout the day.

Featured, Lake Trip

Float Trip Food Ideas

Planning a fun float trip? Don’t forget the food! These float trip food ideas are perfect for keeping hunger at bay without requiring too much effort while you’re enjoying your day. 

Read on for our favorite float trip food ideas!

Jump to:

Snacks
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Float Trip Tips

Snacks

Trail Mix

This classic snack is the perfect float trip food! Mix nuts, seeds, dried fruits and chocolate for a delicious and satisfying snack combination that’s easy to grab by the handful. If you’re going to be out in the sun though, make sure to keep your trail mix in the cooler or leave the chocolate at home!

Fresh Fruit

Apples, oranges, and grapes are all great options for float trips. They’re hydrating, easy to pack, and don’t require refrigeration for a day or two.

Jerky

Whether it’s beef, turkey, or even a vegan alternative, jerky is a protein-packed snack that’s perfect for keeping your energy levels up as you paddle.

Individual Chip Bags

While a less healthy alternative, getting an assorted pack of individual chip bags is a great way to bring a snack where you and anyone you’re with have a few options to satisfy those crunchy cravings!

Breakfast

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are a perfect choice to start your day with an easy and filling breakfast since they are easy to prepare the night before. To make them, just combine rolled oats, milk (or a non-dairy alternative), yogurt, and your favorite toppings like berries, nuts, and honey in a mason jar. In the morning, just grab and go!

Breakfast Burritos

Prepare breakfast burritos filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, sausage, and veggies. Wrap them in foil and keep them in a cooler. They can be enjoyed cold or heated over a campfire or portable stove if you want a warm breakfast.

Fruit Bowl

Prep yourself a fruit bowl if you’re looking for a light and healthy breakfast idea to take on your trip. Chop and slice your favorite fruits and keep it in a container in the cooler – it doesn’t get easier than that!

Lunch

Wraps

Wraps are a versatile and mess-free lunch option. Fill tortillas with hummus, veggies, cheese, and deli meats for a hearty meal. Wrap them tightly in foil or plastic wrap to keep them fresh and easily accessible.

PB&J Sandwich

You can’t beat a classic PB&J on a float trip – or any kind of trip! Load up your bread with creamy or crunchy peanut butter and sweet jelly for a delicious and portable lunch on your float trip.

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad can be made ahead of time and kept in a cooler for a delicious and filling lunch idea. Combine cooked pasta with veggies, cheese, and a light vinaigrette for a refreshing and filling lunch. You can also add extras like cubed ham, bacon crumbles, olives, rotisserie chicken, salami, or anything else your little heart desires!

Dinner

Foil Packet Meals

Foil packet meals are perfect for float trips. Prepare packets with fish, chicken, or veggies, seasoned and wrapped tightly in foil. They can be cooked over a campfire or portable grill. This method makes for easy cleanup too!

Chili or Stew

Prepare a pot of chili or stew ahead of time and keep it in a cooler. Reheat it over a campfire for a hearty and warming dinner. Bring along some crusty bread or cornbread for a complete meal.

One-Pot Pasta

Make a big pot of pasta with the extra fixings of your choice: pre-cooked sausage, cherry tomatoes, spinach, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan. Cook everything in a single pot for easy prep and clean up.

Grilled Kabobs

Prep chunks of chicken, beef, or veggies, and marinate them in your favorite sauce ahead of time. Then add them to skewers when you reach your destination and grill them over a portable stove or campfire.

Float Trip Tips

Drinks

Don’t forget to stay hydrated! Bring plenty of beverage options so you have a few to choose from and don’t risk dehydration.

  • Water: Staying hydrated is crucial during a float trip. Bring plenty of water bottles or a hydration pack. Consider adding electrolyte tablets to your water for an extra boost.
  • Iced Tea or Lemonade: Prepare a big batch of iced tea or lemonade and keep it in a cooler. These refreshing drinks are perfect for a hot day on the river.
  • Canned Beverages: If you’re planning to enjoy a beer or soda, opt for cans instead of bottles for safety and ease of packing. Remember to drink responsibly and adhere to local regulations regarding alcohol on/near the water.

Pack Smart

Use waterproof bags and coolers to keep your food dry and fresh. Don’t forget bungee cords and rope to keep everything tied down and secure!

Plan Portions

Pre-portion your meals and snacks to avoid overpacking and ensure you have enough for everyone.

Keep it Simple

Choose foods that are easy to prepare and eat. The less fuss, the more you can enjoy your trip.

Leave No Trace

Pack out all your trash and leftover food to keep the river clean and beautiful for future adventurers.

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page

Epic 3 Day Switzerland Itinerary | Swiss Alps Trip Planning

Make your Swiss Alps adventure unforgettable, even if you’re only visiting Switzerland for just 3 days! That’s plenty of time to see the amazing views Switzerland is known for, enjoy the mountain villages, and have a wonderful Swiss holiday!

If you only have a short time to spend in Switzerland, we have you covered with this perfect 3 day Swiss Alps itinerary that allows you to explore Interlaken, Murren, Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Planning a Swiss Alps Trip here – we answer all of the most common questions about visiting this region like do I need a car in Switzerland?, where to stay in the Swiss Alps, what’s the best month to visit Switzerland? And more!

To make the most of it and see as many sights as possible, choose one base and then go on day trips from there. Popular bases include Lucerne, Wengen, Interlaken, and Zermatt – depending on which area you’re wanting to see. We chose Interlaken as our base and it was beyond perfect for seeing Lauterbrunnen, Murren and Grindelwald!

Jump To:

Day 1: Interlaken
Day 2: Lauterbrunnen & Murren
Day 3: Grindelwald
Itinerary Addition Ideas

Interlaken, Switzerland

Day 1: Arrive in Interlaken

On your first day arriving to Interlaken, you’ll want to check in to your hotel or vacation rental and then start exploring your beautiful base city. Whether you’re coming from Geneva, Zurich or another location, Interlaken is super easy to reach by train or car.

Höhematte Interlaken Park

First, walk to the Main Street of Interlaken: Hoheweg. Stopping at the Höhematte Interlaken park (above) to watch the paragliders land and enjoying the mountain backdrop. Then walk just a little further to check out the exterior of Schloss Interlaken, the nearby castle.

Continue walking around the adorable downtown, enjoying the Swiss architecture and beautiful buildings. Don’t forget to stop at one of the many chocolate shops for a sweet treat!

Have a traditional Swiss dinner at Taverne – this was our favorite restaurant that we went to in Interlaken. We enjoyed it so much we went back on our third night! While pricier than other stops outside of Switzerland, it seemed like it was  a decently affordable option for this area and it was absolutely delicious. 

Continue your Interlaken explorations by heading down to the river to walk along its banks and admire its clear, teal-blue water! There’s a walking path all along the river on both sides so as long as you walk towards the river, you’ll run into it. If you’re dining at Taverne, you can cross the street and take the Hoheweg road right down to the water, but any route will do. We also recommend you cross the river when you’re able to and walk on the north bank so you can enjoy the city and mountain views as you walk, they’re incredible! 

If you’re game for a good walk, follow the path until you arrive at Lake Brienz (pictured below). We sat right on the rocks by Täggelibock for about an hour, just enjoying the views. We had it all to ourselves! You can also walk a bit further around the bend and a handful of benches by Seeclub Interlaken. This is also a 10 minute walk from the bus stop at 3800 Interlaken, if you don’t want to walk this far.

View of Lake Brienz from Interlaken

Note: If you are getting in to Interlaken early in the day, Day 1 is the perfect day to do a Lake Brienz Cruise before dinner! You can find information on booking a cruise here.

Day 2: Lauterbrunnen & Murren

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

First Stop: Lauterbrunnen

Start your day bright and early and head up to Lauterbrunnen either by car or from the Interlaken Ost train station. By train, it’ll take about 25 minutes to get up to Lauterbrunnen.

Once you arrive at the Lauterbrunnen train station, walk about 0.3 miles down Auf der Fuhren and make your way to the Staubbach Waterfall viewpoint. This viewpoint offers a picture perfect view of the falls and the surrounding valley. You’ve likely seen plenty of photos on Instagram that were taken from this very spot!

To get to this photo spot, pay close attention as the turnoff to the road can be easy to miss. After you pass by Hotel Schützen on your right, you’ll see a narrow paved road on your left sloping down the hill. Walk down that road about 200 feet until you get to the bench at the end of the path – this is the viewpoint!

Next, we’re going to go see the falls up close and personal! Continue walking down the narrow paved walkway that is right in front of the bench, towards the falls. Once you hit the road, turn right, and then make your way to Staubbach Hutte. You’ll see the trailhead for the Staubbach Falls trail right behind this structure. 

This easy hike is just 0.4 miles, but it offers some of the coolest views of the valley. After making your way up a short but steep hill, you’ll hike through a cave and end up right behind Staubbach Falls. 

Next, make your way back to Staubbach Hutte (where you entered) and turn right, heading further down the Lauterbrunnen valley trail. It may still be a little crowded at this point, but most tourists that are walking turn back shortly if you’re looking for some solitude.

This trail goes for another 4 miles or so, and you can take it all the way to the end. Or you can turn back and head to Murren which is what we decided to do after about a mile of walking, enjoying the valley. You can also rent bikes and e-bikes in this area to traverse this Lauterbrunnen Valley trail faster.

If you want to continue to explore the small town of Lauterbrunnen, you can do so now or at the end of the day (after visiting Murren). 

Murren, Switzerland

Murren

After finishing the short hike up to the falls, you’ll walk to the Lauterbrunnen cableway station, which is a bit over half a mile north of Staubbach Hutte. Most of the year, this is your best bet for getting up to Murren. However, it was closed during our trip so we had to walk back to the Lauterbrunnen train station, get on a bus to Stechelberg, then get on a cable car to Gimmelwald, and another cablecar to Murren. It was a bit long and tedious but definitely worth it.

Once you arrive at the Mürren BLM station, walk through town and join the Northface Trail. It’ll be about a 10-minute walk through the town, so stop and enjoy the beautiful views or grab a pre-hike snack in this cute mountain town! You can read more details about this hike on All Trails here. It  was moderate difficulty, with the most strenuous part on this alternate route being at the very beginning due to the steep grade – but it gets easier after that!

The North Face Trail, Murren

This was by far the best hike I have ever done. Even after living in Colorado for 10 years, this hike makes everything else I’ve done pale in comparison. The views were absolutely AMAZING and exactly what we came to Switzerland to see. If you’re looking for a hike that has those quintessential Swiss Alps views, this is the one to do. We couldn’t believe how beautiful it was for pretty much the entire hike!

Note: it’s really helpful to download the premium version of the All Trails app for this hike as the trail was not well marked when we went and there were several times that we didn’t know which path to take. 

After your long hike, grab a bite to eat in Murren or head back down to Lauterbrunnen. Most of Murren’s shops and restaurants were still closed in late May when we went so we decided to go back to Lauterbrunnen for food. We wandered through the small town to look at the cute buildings, then had a drink and some appetizers at The Bell Restaurant. We sat on the outdoor patio and had a beautiful view of Lauterbrunnen and Staubbachfall Waterfall! It was the perfect end to a perfect day exploring the mountains.

Then, take the train or your car back down to Interlaken for dinner and get some sleep so you can explore more tomorrow!

Day 3: Grindelwald

Grindelwald

First thing in the morning, head up to Grindelwald either by train or with your car if you have one. 

You have two options on how to spend your time here: spend the morning wandering around the beautiful town or go straight to the gondola that takes you to Grindelwald First for amazing views, hiking, First Cliff Walk, and activities like the mountain carts.

We did not go up to Grindelwald First and that’s something I definitely would go back and change if I could! Due to weather conditions when we visited, most of the hiking trails up there were closed and we really wanted to do a hike so we opted not to take the expensive gondola up there just to look around.

Instead, we took our time exploring the village of Grindelwald, and then chose a paved trail that was super beautiful, winding through the mountain chalets and offering stunning mountain views! With the rainy weather, having a paved option was awesome and after the initial steep ascent, it was an easy hike – more of a walk if anything.

To walk this trail, just use your phone GPS/maps that direct you to Gasthaus Waldspitz. We were going to have lunch there because it looked like it had beautiful views but it ended up being closed that day. But the path is from the village of Grindelwald to there, and it’s a super beautiful walk – we weren’t disappointed!

We then stopped at Barry’s Restaurant, Bar & Lounge for a late lunch. We ended up sitting on the patio there for awhile and enjoying a couple of beers and the amazing views of Eiger mountain – it’s literally right across the street!

After enjoying the magical views of Grindelwald from town, we made our way back to the train station and back down to Interlaken for the night. We wanted to do our walk to Lake Brienz once more because we enjoyed sitting at the lookout point by Täggelibock so much – it was the most peaceful place I’d ever been! But we were too tired from our days of exploring and had to catch a very early train to Italy in the morning.

Note: If it’s open, we definitely recommend going to First Grindelwald  this day to either do the Cliff Walk and visit the First View platform (it looks unbelievable), do the fun activities like Mountain carts, or hike to Bachalpsee Lake. There is plenty of time to enjoy all of the mountain activities at the top at First and explore Grindelwald down below as it’s not that big of a village. When we go back, we’ll definitely be taking the gondola up – we’ll cross our fingers for better weather next time!

Itinerary Addition Ideas

While we didn’t have time on our trip to add these stops, we definitely recommend researching them and seeing if they’re a good fit for your itinerary! 

Jungfraujoch

As one of the most popular day trips in Switzerland, this is definitely an addition you could make to your itinerary – especially if you plan on spending extra time in the region. The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting to major 4000ers of the Bernese Alps, the Jungfrau and the Mönch. It is famously called the “Top of Europe,” sitting at 3,454 meters high – the highest accessible point in Europe. You can take the train up to it, but expect it to be quite busy and touristy! 

At the top you can enjoy the mountain views and views of the Aletsch Glacier from Sphynix Observatory, explore the ice tunnels, learn the history of Jungfraujoch at the Alpine Sensation Exhibition, and enjoy a virtual show of the Alps at the cinema. 

This is a very popular tourist destination, but we felt we could see other beautiful views without spending a whole day getting to and from this spot. 

Cruise on Lake Brienz

While we walked to Lake Brienz and were absolutely blown away but how turquoise, clear and stunning this lake was, we didn’t have the chance to take a cruise on this lake and enjoy it and the mountain views from it. If we go back, this is definitely something we’ll want to include as it looks amazing!

Harder Kulm

Also known as the “Top of Interlaken,” Harder Kulm is a funicular station, situated high above the city of Interlaken. It offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the town of Interlaken, Lake Brienz, and Lake Thune below. We planned on making the short trek up to this viewpoint, but the line for the funicular was easily 200 people deep the evening we walked over there so we decided to just keep walking and ended up sitting by Lake Brienz and enjoying that instead. It ended up being one of our favorite moments in the trip – it was so beautiful!

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page

The Ultimate Guide to Switzerland | How to Plan a Trip to the Swiss Alps

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Dreaming of the perfect Swiss alps vacation? Even if you only have 3 days to spend in this beautiful region, we have you covered! 

After spending 3 days with Interlaken as our base, we felt like this was the perfect amount of time to explore this area and soak up all of its beauty! With day trips Lauterbrunnen, Murren, and Grindelwald, 3 days is plenty of time to enjoy it all without feeling rushed.

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Jump To:

How Many Days Do You Need in the Swiss Alps?
What’s the Best Month to Visit the Swiss Alps?
Is It Expensive to Visit the Swiss Alps?
Do You Need a Car in the Swiss Alps?
Where to Stay in the Swiss Alps
More Tips For a 3-Day Switzerland Itinerary
Do They Speak English in the Swiss Alps?
3 Days in Switzerland Itinerary: Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Grindelwald & Interlaken
What We Didn’t Do On Our 3-Day Swiss Alps Trip That We Should Have

How Many Days Do You Need in the Swiss Alps?

We felt three days was the perfect amount of time to see all of the highlights of this region. However, you could always spend more time in this gorgeous area!

Don’t waste precious time moving around too much in Switzerland when you only have 3 days to spend there. To make the most of it and see as many sights as possible, choose one base and then go on day trips from there. Popular bases include Lucerne, Wengen, Interlaken, and Zermatt – depending on which area you’re wanting to see. We chose Interlaken as our base and it was beyond perfect for seeing Lauterbrunnen, Murren and Grindelwald!

View from Murren, Switzerland

What’s the Best Month to Visit the Swiss Alps?

While there is no wrong time to visit Switzerland (it’s gorgeous year round!), when you’ll want to go depends on which activities you’re looking forward to doing. If you’re trying to ski or visit the Christmas markets, obviously winter months will be the best time to go. If you’re looking to enjoy the mountain scenery and hike/walk, the best months to visit Switzerland are June – September as the temperatures are mild and pleasant, and the days are typically dry and sunny so you have clear views across the mountain peaks and countryside.

We visited the Swiss Alps at the very end of May and it was a bit chilly and rainy though there were still plenty of hiking options open and we did have windows of warmth and sunshine each of the days we were there. Just be prepared and bring raincoats, and hats & gloves if it might be cold!

Is It Expensive to Visit the Swiss Alps?

Switzerland is infamous for being one of the most expensive travel destinations and after visiting it, we’d have to say we agree! However, it wasn’t as bad/expensive as we feared and we were able to do it in a way that was relatively budget-friendly without sacrificing comfort or staying in hostels. I’ll be talking about where we stayed in Interlaken below, but as far as other expenses, you’ll need to account for transportation cost and meals out (which tends to be the biggest expense there).

Each day, we spent probably $30-50 on train/public transportation tickets for the two of us to go from Interlaken to Grindelwald and then Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and Murren. We didn’t buy the Swiss travel pass so that could have potentially made it cheaper, but we felt it wasn’t necessary for our short trip.

Yes, Switzerland is expensive compared to visiting places like Italy or Germany but we felt it was absolutely worth a little extra expense to see some of the most amazing mountain views we’ve ever seen in our lives!

Do You Need a Car in the Swiss Alps?

Switzerland has an excellent public transportation system and downloading the app SBB Mobile made purchasing train, cablecar and bus tickets on the fly super easy and convenient. We used it constantly to get around! You can also buy tickets at each train station.

While you definitely don’t need a car in the Swiss Alps, and there are places you won’t be able to access by car (i.e. getting from Lauterbrunnen to Gimmelwald or Murren), renting one is definitely a solid option. We decided that when we go back some day we’d definitely prefer to rent a car so that we can drive to Interlaken, Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, and to make transporting our luggage a lot easier (we were dragging one with a broken wheel all through Interlaken – not fun!)

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. It was nice taking public transportation and not having to worry about parking, but we did have to wait in lines and get on some pretty crowded trains and buses at times and that made us wish we were in a nice comfy, private vehicle!

Where to Stay in the Swiss Alps

If you’re looking to explore the Swiss Alps in 3 days, we recommend choosing a central city as your base for exploring and then doing a day trip each day. Popular bases include Lucerne, Wengen, Interlaken, and Zermatt – depending on which area you’re wanting to see. We chose to stay in Interlaken because we wanted to see Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Murren and it was absolutely perfect! It was extremely convenient for our day-time adventures and then having our evenings in Interlaken was wonderful, it’s a really beautiful town in its own right! 

Staying in Interlaken also made it much easier for us to continue the rest of our trip by taking a train to Italy. If we would have stayed in one of the mountain towns like Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald, we would have had to get a much earlier train the morning we left and connected in Interlaken to another train anyway.

If you want to stay in Interlaken, we loved staying at the Zentrum Artos Interlaken. It was a beautiful hotel and had an amazing espresso/coffee machine if you need a morning cup of caffeine! We chose the Grandlit room that had a balcony and it was amazing sitting out there in the morning and evening, we even had a mountain view we weren’t expecting! The area this hotel was in was super quiet and serene, and an easy walk to everything in Interlaken. 

It was also one of the nicest, most budget-friendly options with it costing only $750 for the 3 nights we stayed. This was definitely a little pricy compared to the other stops on our trip (not in Switzerland) but as far as being in the Swiss Alps goes, it seemed like a pretty good deal for how clean, comfortable, & nice this hotel was!

Our only complaint was the hotel claims to have air conditioning, but it didn’t appear to be working in our room (or have any vents for that matter). But all in all, we really enjoyed it, loved the balcony and location and would definitely stay there again!

Interlaken, Switzerland

More Tips For a 3-Day Switzerland Itinerary

Switzerland is a beautiful country but it’s not without a few items to note if you’ve never been there before! Here are a few more quick tips so you’re prepared for your trip:

1. The currency is the Swiss Francs (CHF) and the conversion rate to the dollar isn’t great, so it will definitely feel expensive here!

2. Most Swiss shops and restaurants accept payment by credit card. We didn’t have trouble anywhere we went and never ended up needing to go to an ATM to get Swiss Francs. If you’re not going to have any local currency on hand, it’s always a good idea to ask before you order at a restaurant to verify they accept card, just to be sure!

3.  You can save money by bringing your own water bottle on your trip as you can refill it from fountains that you find everywhere in Switzerland – we even found fountains on our 5 mile hike in the middle of nowhere!

4. The country feels very safe and crime is low, especially in the Swiss Alps region. However, you should exercise normal precautions and be mindful of pickpockets in crowded spaces.

5. You may need a visa to visit Switzerland if you’re not from the United States or a country in the European Union. Always check visa regulations before planning your trip.

6. Download and use the SBB Mobile app to easily buy train, bus & other public transportation tickets.

Do They Speak English in the Swiss Alps?

If you’re like me and speak exactly zero German, you may be wondering if they speak English in the Swiss Alps and the answer is YES! Everywhere we went in Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Murren, we had no trouble speaking English thankfully. If all else fails, use Google translate on your phone or just point to what you want on the menu!

3 Days in Switzerland Itinerary: Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Grindelwald & Interlaken

Höhematte Interlaken (central park in town)

First of all, this is one of my favorite trips that I’ve EVER taken. This region is insanely gorgeous and I highly recommend it! You can absolutely see it in 3 days (that’s what we did) but there is so much to do, see, and enjoy, you could definitely spend more time there. I’ll be detailing our 3-day itinerary below but I’ll also include a few extra things we wished we did/had time to do that you might want to include in your trip!

For this itinerary, Interlaken was our base and the perfect spot to see all of the mountain towns on our list, as well as enjoy beautiful Lake Brienz and Lake Thune. Read our 3 perfect days in the Swiss Alps itinerary here!

What We Didn’t Do On Our 3-Day Swiss Alps Trip That We Should Have

Jungfraujoch

As one of the most popular day trips in Switzerland, this is definitely an addition you could make to your itinerary – especially if you plan on spending extra time in the region. The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting to major 4000ers of the Bernese Alps, the Jungfrau and the Mönch. It is famously called the “Top of Europe,” sitting at 3,454 meters high – the highest accessible point in Europe. You can take the train up to it, but expect it to be quite busy and touristy! 

At the top you can enjoy the mountain views and views of the Aletsch Glacier from Sphynix Observatory, explore the ice tunnels, learn the history of Jungfraujoch at the Alpine Sensation Exhibition, and enjoy a virtual show of the Alps at the cinema. 

This is a very popular tourist destination, but we felt we could see other beautiful views without spending a whole day getting to and from this spot. 

Cruise on Lake Brienz

While we walked to Lake Brienz and were absolutely blown away but how turquoise, clear and stunning this lake was, we didn’t have the chance to take a cruise on this lake and enjoy it and the mountain views from it. If we go back, this is definitely something we’ll want to include as it looks amazing!

Harder Kulm

Also known as the “Top of Interlaken,” Harder Kulm is a funicular station, situated high above the city of Interlaken. It offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the town of Interlaken, Lake Brienz, and Lake Thune below. We planned on making the short trek up to this viewpoint, but the line for the funicular was easily 200 people deep the evening we walked over there so we decided to just keep walking and ended up sitting by Lake Brienz and enjoying that instead. It ended up being one of our favorite moments in the trip – it was so beautiful!

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page

11 Best European Cities to Visit in February

Colder temperatures means way fewer crowds, making February a fantastic time to do some traveling! Whether you’re looking for a winter wonderland where you can relax by a cozy fire or experience the snow, or you’re looking for a sunny destination to beat the winter gloom, there’s an option for everyone on this list.

While many people don’t think of February as the ideal time to travel, there a lot of perks that come with traveling this time of year. You don’t have to worry about your hotel not having air conditioning (which we Americans usually find essential in the warm months!) and you have way fewer crowds and shorter lines to the sights.

Not sure where to go? From the dreamy Swiss alps to the Med, here are the top 10 best European cities to visit in February! 

READ: Where to Go in Europe in the Winter

1. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is magical any time of year, but it gets especially appealing in February with way fewer tourists competing for tickets to the sights and hogging the best photo spots! With temperatures in the mid 50’s (Farenheit), you can still walk around pretty comfortably. Just don’t forget a jacket and an umbrella, as this can be a rainy time of year.

There are also a number of cultural events happening in Barcelona in February, including concerts, theater performances, and exhibitions which can offer a more unique experience than other times of the year. 

June through August are Barcelona’s peak months, meaning you’re going to have some serious crowds that time of year. Take advantage of the slower season and see all of beautiful Barcelona, including iconic sights like La Sagrada Familia  without fighting the crowds!

2. Florence, Italy

Ultra-romantic and packed full of beautiful art and architecture, Florence is truly an amazing place to visit and experience. While it’s a fabulous destination any time of year, February is an especially great time to visit this Italian gem. Experience the city’s most iconic works of art by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Botticelli, without the crowds and hot weather!

Explore the city on foot, taking in all of its stunning Renaissance and Gothic design, then venture out to nearby vineyards for wine tastings and tours that are unlike any other.

3. Prague, Czech Republic

Winter in Prague is like something out of a fairy-tale. The iconic skyline of spires and the majestic Prague Castle are dusted with a layer of snow, creating a picturesque scene that can’t be missed.

Normally packed full of tourists in the summer months, you’ll have Prague mostly to yourself in February. This makes it the perfect time to bundle up and explore the winding streets of the city’s Old Town, before snapping a picture in front of the famed atomic clock – likely without a hundred people crowding your picture!

Warm up by visiting one of the city’s museums, like Prague Jewish Museum, the National Museum, or the Museum of Beer, before grabbing a pint at a local haunt. After all, you’re bound to enjoy a one (or a few!) beers when they’re notoriously cheaper than water here!

4. Edinburgh, Scotland

Emerging as an incredibly popular destination in 2023, Edinburgh has been seeing some major crowds during peak months. Explore this charming city during the slower months of November through March to really savor this charming city.

Enjoy misty mornings and quaint cobblestone streets as you visit Scottish pubs and show stopping Edinburgh Castle. It sounds like a dream doesn’t it?!

When you’re done exploring the beautiful downtown area of Edinburgh, rent a car to venture into the Scottish countryside. 

5. Porto, Portugal

Visiting Porto, Portugal in the winter is a magical experience that showcases the city’s unique charm in a whole different light. The city’s iconic landmarks, such as the Dom Luís I Bridge and the historic Ribeira district, are adorned with a subtle festive glow, creating a picturesque scene against the backdrop of the Douro River. 

Winter in Porto brings an opportunity to savor the city’s renowned port wine in the warmth of traditional wine cellars, providing a perfect respite from the crisp air outside – talk about a truly unique experience! 

Visit a local cafe for a delightful array of seasonal dishes that showcase the rich flavors of Portuguese cuisine after strolling through the vibrant Mercado do Bolhão or enjoying panoramic views from the Clerigos Tower.

6. Zurich, Switzerland

Another snow-dusted setting straight from a storybook, Zurich should be at the top of your list for a winter visit to Europe. 

The picturesque setting along the shores of Lake Zurich and the surrounding Alps creates a winter wonderland, that feels romantic and completely unique to the city. 

Zurich’s winter cultural scene flourishes with art exhibitions, music performances, and theater productions, providing indoor entertainment amidst the winter chill. Cozy cafes and fondue restaurants invite visitors to savor Swiss delicacies and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate. Zurich in the winter is a perfect blend of sophistication, winter magic, and outdoor adventures.

If you’re looking for a truly one of a kind mountain experience, or want to hit the slopes, we suggest you move on to the next stop on our list: Zermatt.

7. Zermatt, Switzerland

Of course, there’s more than one stop to make in Switzerland in the winter! Get your fill of the Swiss Alps with a visit to Zermatt, one of Switzerland’s most beautiful mountain towns.

Just a three hour train ride away from Zurich, Zermatt offers winter visitors a completely dreamy experience. Nestled beneath the iconic Matterhorn, the city transforms into a snow-covered paradise, offering a haven for winter sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. 

The village exudes a cozy Alpine charm with its wooden chalets and cobblestone streets, adorned with twinkling lights. Skiers and snowboarders can explore the extensive network of slopes, including the renowned Gornergrat and Schwarzsee, while non-skiers can embark on scenic hikes or take the Gornergrat Railway for breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. No matter your daily activities, end it with a stop to traditional Swiss restaurants serving hearty cuisine, including the famous fondue. 

Zermatt’s car-free policy enhances the tranquility of the snowy landscape, allowing visitors to enjoy the crisp mountain air and pristine winter scenery. Whether taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snow-draped streets or sipping hot cocoa by a roaring fireplace, Zermatt in the winter offers an idyllic retreat for those seeking a truly magical mountain escape.

8. Paris, France

We’d be remiss to mention the City of Love during a February trip – doesn’t it seem like the most dreamy place for a Valentine’s Day vacation? Known for being the most romantic city int he world, you absolutely won’t regret a visit to this European city in February. 

With off-season pricing at local hotels, and no lines to the city’s most iconic landmarks, a winter visit is a win-win. With fewer crowds, you’re free to spend more time exploring and less time waiting, while soaking in all of the snowy magic Paris has to offer!

Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for fabulous views of the city, and don’t forget to visit the Eiffel Tower lit up and glittering every hour on the hour after dusk for an incredible experience.

As a bonus, February tends to be the least expensive month to fly to Paris! 

9. Kyrenia, Cyprus

Looking for a destination sans snow? We don’t blame you! If you’re coming from a gloomy, snowy place yourself, we’re sure you’re more in the mood for a little sun. 

You won’t find any snow in Kyrenia in February, with temperatures sticking around 60 degrees. Located on the northern side of this Mediterannean island, you’ll find white sand beaches famous for their turtles and scuba diving opportunities galore. 

Explore the cobblestone waterfront before grabbing a bite of seafood at one of the local restaurants here, then check out the famous Kyrenia Castle and the Shipwreck Museum.

10. Reykjavik, Iceland

If experiencing an Arctic winter or seeing the incredible Northern Lights is on your bucket list, a visit to Reykjavik in February is an absolute must.

The city, draped in a blanket of snow, takes on an ethereal beauty against the backdrop of the rugged Icelandic landscape. February is an ideal time for witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights, and Reykjavik’s surrounding areas provide ample opportunities for aurora hunting. 

The city itself is alive with a unique winter energy, as locals and visitors alike partake in the annual Winter Lights Festival, celebrating the interplay of light and darkness. The geothermal pools, such as the iconic Blue Lagoon, offer a soothing contrast to the chilly air, allowing for a relaxing, rejuvenating, and truly one-of-a-kind experience. 

11. Valetta, Malta

Another warm weather destination, Valletta, Malta in February is a unique and enchanting experience. The UNESCO World Heritage site, with its stunning Baroque architecture and fortified walls, creates a picturesque setting for exploration. 

Explore cobbled streets and charming squares, such as St. George’s Square, or take a walk to the waterfront. With its panoramic views of the Grand Harbour, it remains a captivating spot to take a stroll or people watch. 

February in Valletta also coincides with the colorful Carnival season, infusing the city with a burst of energy as lively parades and vibrant festivities take over the streets. Whether wandering through the Upper Barrakka Gardens or exploring the city’s numerous museums and cathedrals, Valletta in February offers a tranquil and culturally immersive experience against the backdrop of Malta’s timeless beauty.

READ: Should I Visit Paris or Rome?

Europe Travel, Featured

Should I Visit Paris or Rome? | Paris vs Rome, Choosing the City That’s Right For You

Choosing between Paris and Rome for your European vacation? It’s quite the task trying to decide which of these two iconic videos you should visit! 

Paris and Rome are both beautiful cities with world-class sights, amazing wine, great food, tons of history, and plenty to do. 

While you can’t really go wrong between the two, there are a few things to consider when deciding if Paris or Rome is the right choice for you.

After visiting both, you’ve come to the right place for some guidance on making your selection. Read on to help you make your decision!

Jump To:
Paris vs Rome: Which City Is Right For You?
What to Do in Paris
What to Do in Rome
Where to Stay in Rome
Where to Stay in Paris
Our Final Recommendation

Paris vs Rome: Which City Is Right For You?

Choosing between Paris and Rome is so difficult, and the answer is going to majorly depend on who you ask! Having visited both, we can absolutely see the appeal each city has and all it has to offer. 

With night time champagne and watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle,  Paris is without a doubt the more romantic destination and might be more attractive to couples. Here, you’ll also find some of the most incredible art in the world, housed in the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. Art galleries and street artists are sprinkled throughout the city, making it the ideal location for art lovers or those looking for a little romance!

Paris also features one of the densest metro systems in the world so you can easily get all over the city. And it does feel like just that, a city. Probably more so than Rome, Paris feels like a metropolitan beast full of dense neighborhoods, and yes, a lot of traffic! While you can walk most places (averaging 20,000 steps a day, we did), you’ll more than likely want to take advantage of the metro or bus system as the city is quite sprawling.

Rome on the other hand, is a bit smaller in size and infinitely more walkable. From the Vatican to the Colosseum, the two furthest points you’d likely be visiting, is just a 2.5 mile walk. All of the other landmarks are, for the most part, clustered together in the center of this route. Now while 2.5 miles may seem like a lot (and you can definitely take the bus, there’s a lot of them!), it pales in comparison to all the walking you’ll do in Paris with all of the landmarks more spread out through the city. 

While Rome doesn’t have the glittering Eiffel Tower, its landmarks are still lit up and quite magical at night! From the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain, the sights of Rome are stunning any time of day and dripping in history.

Rome may not seem as romantic right off the bat as Paris, but it sure is an exciting city and a history-lover’s paradise. With world-class landmarks, stunning churches sprinkled throughout the city (that you can go in and explore!), and ancient, intricate fountains and monuments hidden throughout the city, there’s something gorgeous around every corner. It’s like the most amazing scavenger hunt you can imagine!

All in all, Paris may be what you’re looking for if you love art and romance. But Rome has more sights and rich history to offer its visitors.

What to Do in Paris

READ: 12 Things to Do in Paris for First-Time Visitors

When visiting Paris, immerse yourself in the City of Love by exploring its iconic landmarks, world-class museums, and charming neighborhoods. Begin your journey at the Eiffel Tower, an iconic symbol of Paris and a must-visit for breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Stroll along the Seine River and admire the architecture of Notre-Dame Cathedral and Musee d’Orsay, before making your way to the Arc de Triomphe, another legendary Parisian site. 

Wander through the historic streets of Le Marais or Montmartre, where you’ll find trendy boutiques, art galleries, and cozy cafes. Indulge in the culinary delights of French cuisine by sampling pastries at a local patisserie, enjoying a leisurely meal at a traditional bistro, or picnicking in the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. 

And you won’t want to miss the Louvre Museum, home to thousands of works of art, including the world-famous Mona Lisa. Paris is such a charming city that is rich in history and vibrant culture. Take the time to savor its enchanting ambiance and create lasting memories while touring the City of Light!

You May Also Like: 2 Days in Paris Itinerary

What to Do in Rome

READ: An Epic 2 Days in Rome Itinerary

A visit to the Eternal City is one you won’t soon forget! Begin your journey at the Colosseum, Rome’s most famous landmarks nd one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Explore the Roman Forum nearby, a captivating archaeological site that offers a glimpse into the city’s old-world political and social life. 

Wander through the historic neighborhoods of Trastevere and the charming streets around the Pantheon, stopping at local cafes and trattorias to savor authentic Italian cuisine (or do a food tour!) Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain and experience the grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican City, home to priceless art collections, including Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel ceiling. 

Rome’s streets are living museums, with something beautiful around every corner. Embrace the opportunity to discover ancient ruins, Renaissance architecture, and the warm hospitality of the Roman people.

You May Also Like: 11 Best Things to Do in Rome for First-Time Visitors

Where to Stay in Rome

When visiting Rome, you really can’t go wrong with where you stay! While price points vary greatly throughout the city, there are a lot of great areas that are safe, clean, and central to the sights.

While we stayed in Prati, we would definitely choose to stay near the Trevi Fountain or the Pantheon when we visit again. This area was much more central (since we liked to walk everywhere), had tons of great shopping and restaurants, and of course, made it easy to see all of the stunning architecture and landmarks in Rome.

You May Also Like: The Ultimate Guide to Rome

Where to Stay in Paris

Choosing where to stay in Paris depends on your preferences, budget, and the experience you’re looking for. The central districts, such as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th arrondissements, offer proximity to major attractions like the Louvre, Notre-Dame, and the vibrant Marais district. 

For a more artistic atmosphere (and often, better prices), Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement, with its charming streets and the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica, is a great choice. 

The Saint-Germain-des-Prés area in the 6th arrondissement is known for its intellectual and literary history, offering quaint cafes and a more local-feeling scene. This is where stayed and in November, it was very quiet while still feeling relatively central to the sights. 

If luxury and high-end shopping are priorities, the 8th arrondissement, around the Champs-Élysées, may be ideal. 

Alternatively, the Latin Quarter (5th and 6th arrondissements) is known for its academic feel, historical landmarks, and diverse dining options. Regardless of your choice, Paris has a wide range of hotels, boutique accommodations, and charming apartments to suit different tastes and budgets, ensuring a delightful stay in the City of Lights.

Our Final Recommendation

Our final recommendation in the great debate between visiting Paris or Rome is….

Rome. 

With so many landmarks and beauty around every corner, there’s so much to do in the Eternal City. When we think back to the one we most enjoyed on our trip, and which we would more readily go back to, Rome wins every time. It was absolutely one of the most amazing places we’ve ever been!

Read our Ultimate Guide to Rome to plan the best trip ever – and prepare for your adventure with these mistakes tourists always make in Rome

Europe Travel, Featured

2 Days in Paris Itinerary

Ready to explore Paris in 2 days? If you’re planning a quick trip, two days is absolutely enough time to see all of the top sights in Paris! When we visited at the beginning of November, we stayed for two full days (with the other two being travel days) and felt like this was the perfect amount of time.

Any longer than two days and you’re going to want to start planning a day trip or two to experience the countryside and vineyards or a nearby country. Check out our post on the 15 best day trips from Paris, including some hidden gems you may not have heard of!

So if you’re planning your two days in Paris and aren’t sure where to start, read on to see our jam-packed itinerary for your Paris visit!

2 Days in Paris Itinerary

Day 1:

For the first day of your two day Paris visit, you’ll want a taste of quintessential Paris. That means seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, before exploring hip Montmartre.

Eiffel Tower

Start your day at the Eiffel Tower. It’s only going to get busier, so getting there first thing will make for the most pleasant experience and best pictures. Admire this iconic landmark from the grassy area below, then take the elevator to the top for an incredible view of Paris!

Les Invalides

Another wonderful stop on this side of Paris is Les Invalides, situated on the left bank of the Seine. First built by King Louis XIV as a hospital for wounded war veterans, it eventually became the Army Museum it is today. It’s also, famously, home to the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was the leader of the French Republic and French Empire before being exiled. 

Get tickets or join a guided tour for entry into Napoleon’s Tomb and the Army Museum here.

Arc de Triomphe

Built by Napoleon (yes, the one from our last stop) as a symbol of French power, the Arc was once the largest building of its kind in the entire world. It’s still one of the most iconic sights in Paris to this day and honestly, the most entertaining roundabout you’ve ever seen. There seem to be no rules whatsoever and we stood there for 20 minutes just watching all of the insane driving!

Grab a ticket and climb your way to the top for a fantastic view of Paris, or walk beneath it to find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Walk Down the Champs Elysees

If you’re in Paris to shop, then the Champs Elysees is going to be your favorite spot in the city! This is arguably the most famous shopping street in Europe and it’s filled with everything from designer brands to chic boutiques selling Parisian clothes and accessories you won’t find anywhere else. Bonus: if you’re visiting on a Sunday, the busy Champs Elysees is closed to motorized traffic, so you can wander down the middle of the road and capture the perfect shot of the Arc de Triomphe without being run over on this typically chaotic street.

Sacre Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart)

This Parisian landmark is the perfect place to watch the sun set and end your sightseeing for the day. Both locals and tourists gather on the church’s steps to watch the sun set over Paris before continuing on with their evening.

Dinner in Montmartre

Montmartre has become extremely popular in Paris, and it’s no wonder why: it’s just so charming. Home to Sacre Coeur, this neighborhood (or arrondissement as they call it there), has fabulous restaurants and transforms from day to night. In the daylight, it’s a little more peaceful than the hustle and bustle of central Paris, but at night time, it’s eccentric and buzzing and the perfect place to grab dinner and drinks at one of the local cocktail bars.

Day 2: 

Explore trendy neighborhoods and see iconic places in Paris, with an ending to your day that really makes for an unforgettable visit!

Pont Neuf

Crossing the Seine river, this is the oldest and most iconic bridge in Paris. This intricate bridge is super cool to look at, and take fabulous photos from!

Notre Dame

While you can’t tour the Notre Dame because of the fire and subsequent reconstruction that is still going on, you can still admire this 12th century Gothic Cathedral from outside! 

Saint Germain Neighborhood

This trendy neighborhood near the Notre Dame has become increasingly popular with tourists and chic Parisians alike. Dotted with cute cafes and eateries, this is the perfect place to grab lunch before you continue your journey through the French capital.

Jardin du Luxembourg

This beautiful garden is a must-see when in this neck of the woods in Paris. Commissioned by royal widow Marie de Medici, who dreamed of bringing a little bit of her hometown of Florence to her new home in Paris, this garden is stunningly beautiful and a great spot to see some greenery in an otherwise concrete-filled city.

Panthéon

Located in the Latin Quarter, this unmissable building looks like it should be in Rome rather than Paris. Modeled after its Roman counterpart, this facade features a gigantic spired dome, thanks to its French architects. It was initially a church before becoming a place to honor those that passed away fighting in the French Revolution. Take tour of this fascinating building to view its amazing gothic architecture and impressive paintings and mosaics throughout.

Wander Around Le Merais

Another trendy neighborhood in Paris, this is the perfect place to take a stroll and admire the architecture and charm of this area. Or the perfect place to grab an afternoon glass of wine and bite to eat before dinner. You’ll also want to visit the Place des Vosges in this area, it’s the oldest planned square in Paris and lined with stunning aristocratic residences that date back to the 17th century.

Visit the Louvre

Whether you’re looking to admire the Louvre from outside, or take a tour of the amazing art collection within, the Louvre is a must-see spot on your Paris list. Beginning as a fortress back in 1190, the Louvre later became a royal residence and was modified over the centuries according to changing styles and preferences of the royals who lived there. It is now a public museum that houses one of the richest artwork and artifact collections in the entire world, including the famed Mona Lisa. 

Delicious Dinner

When it’s time for dinner, you can’t go wrong with most restaurants in Paris! We enjoyed Poni in the 9th Arrondissement and La Maison de l’Aubrac in the Champs-Élysées area.

See the Eiffel Tower Sparkle

For the last night of your 2-day visit in Paris, you have to see the Eiffel Tower lit up and glittering! While you already saw this beautiful landmark during the day, seeing it at night is a completely different experience.

Take a moonlit dinner cruise to sip champagne and admire the view, or walk to the Eiffel Tower like we did and see it from across the river! It sparkles on the hour for about 5 minutes, every hour after dusk until 11:45 PM. After two busy days in Paris, we did not feel like going all the way back to the Eiffel Tower from where we were staying, but I am SO glad that we did. It was my absolute favorite moment of our Paris trip.

Europe Travel, Featured

10 Things to Know Before Visiting Paris in the Fall

Paris is a hot destination year round, but Paris in the fall is particularly stunning! With all of the colors of the changing leaves, more temperate weather, and slightly smaller crowds, it’s easy to fall head over heels for the City of Love!

So whether you’re visiting Paris for the first time, or just visiting for the first time in the autumn season, there are 10 things you’re going to want to know before you go. 

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Bring an Umbrella (Or a Raincoat)

No matter which month you’re going in the fall, be prepared with an umbrella! It’s not uncommon to see everyone walking around with an umbrella in hand in October and November, as rain showers tend to rush in without much warning and then quickly move back out. 

When we visited Paris at the very beginning of November, we weren’t shocked at the chilly weather but rather the speed and intensity of the rain showers! It would be completely temperate one minute, then the next a complete down pour, just to be gone again 10 minutes later. 

Be prepared and have an umbrella or a trusty raincoat with a hood, as I tend to opt for – though it’s a little less chic than the rest of the women wearing cute coats in Paris! They dress so gosh darn classy!

Bring a Warm Jacket

News flash: Paris is chilly in the fall. Bring a warm jacket, and even better, layers to wear with your jacket. Between the wind that whips through this city’s winding roads, or the cold rain showers you’ll find frequently happening in the fall, it’s best to err on the side of warmth. Paris was beautiful in the fall, but I have to say that if I didn’t have my down jacket and was nice and toasty warm, I would’ve been an unhappy camper!

Bring a Scarf

Just like with a warm jacket, you can’t go wrong packing a scarf. Not only does it add a little visual intrigue to your outfit, it can also help keep you warm. There was one day in Paris on our November trip that was so windy and chilly that my warm coat was barely cutting it. I threw on my flannel scarf, felt very trendy for fall, and actually managed to feel warm that day. Thank you scarf!

I wore this one from Amazon. Nothing fancy but it was super cute and the perfect warm, cozy outfit addition I needed.

Guided Tours Are Your Friend

While there may be a few less tourists in the fall, there’s still going to be quite a lot of people visiting and exploring the city. You should still expect lines (albeit probably not as long as you’d find in the summer).

That’s where guided tours come in! Most guided tours have skip-the-line access or enter through another door entirely, saving you tons of time and giving you a great experience. We made the mistake of not doing guided tours on some of our stops in Europe and while it was cool to go at our own pace, it was hard to really understand what we were seeing and I don’t feel like we got the most of our sightseeing activities.

Tour iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles, or do a full guided tour of the city via boat and bus to soak up all of your time in Paris!

Be Prepared to Walk A Lot

Paris is a big city with a lot of walking in between each landmark. If you’re not doing a guided bus tour, and don’t want to shell out for expensive Ubers, be prepared to walk quite a bit here. It wasn’t a big deal, and it was much easier walking than places like Rome where there are a lot of cobblestones, but definitely wear a good pair of shoes! There’s a reason why you’ll see everyone here dressed nicely but wearing sneakers.

To give you a frame of reference, we walked everywhere from where we stayed near the Opera and we were consistently doing 20,000-25,000 steps per day. Though it probably wasn’t the most efficient routes we were taking as ew got off track here and there!

Enjoy All the Food (Including Dessert!)

Of all the places we visited in Europe, I’d have to say Paris had the best food by far. I’m not a foodie by any means, but I know good food when I taste it! And while I think most meals we’ve had and Europe are a little bland compared to what I’m used to at home in the US (Ok, maybe I just over-season everything), Paris had some excellent dishes. 

After spending 8 days in Italy, we were so sick of carbs and anything pasta or pizza related – we pretty much had steak and burgers for every meal! And it. Was. Amazing. 

So enjoy the culinary experience, and definitely get the creme brûlée after dinner, at least one of the nights. You won’t regret it!

Don’t Skip On Enjoying the Fall Colors!

While you’ll see beautiful leaves throughout the city, it’s particularly fun to take a walk through Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries to really enjoy all of the fall colors. 

Do a Day Trip

While we enjoyed Paris, after we saw the big sights, we were ready to experience something different. Not to hate on Paris, but it felt like it was getting a little monotonous! If you’re staying for more than a couple of days, definitely plan on doing a day trip that helps you to experience something totally different close by. Check out our post on the 15 most amazing day trips from Paris to find the perfect destination for you!

Give Yourself Extra Time At the Airport

I wouldn’t say we’re the best at getting to the airport with loads of time to spare… I loathe having to hang around airports when I could’ve been sleeping longer or seeing more of the city! And while flying in November, we got to the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport 2 hours before our flight back to the states, right when their baggage check opened.

We walked all over the terminal trying to find the right place to drop our luggage. The “helpful” workers told us this desk, then that one way over there, and then finally, the right one… right in the middle. And while I’m not complaining, it didn’t take a ton of time. It’s important that you plan for little things like this that can eat up your time.

Once we got the bags dropped, we headed towards the security checkpoint. The line to security looked short enough… until we realized that wasn’t actually the line to security. We waited in line for almost half an hour to have our passports checked by machines, that then didn’t work. And we had to wait in another line to have them checked by people. Before getting on a train to go through actual security.

I’ll just say, we were thankful for the extra time! So plan ahead for instances like this, especially during busier travel months as it would’ve taken much longer to get through all of that had it not been November!

Double Check Your Baggage Weight & Dimensions

If you’re hopping around, country to country in Europe, make sure you’re careful about your baggage weight and dimensions! Different carriers have different requirements. When we went from Manchester to Venice, we flew Ryan Air which differed in their baggage rules from EasyJet which we took from Rome to Paris. 

It’s a lot to keep track of, write it down if you need to. But if you’re going to be doing any shopping (or just cutting it close on that baggage weight), it’s important you bring a baggage scale to check the weight so you’re not frantically moving stuff from bag to bag or into your carry-on at the airport!

Europe Travel, Featured

9 Reasons to Visit Paris in November

Paris in November has it all! Smaller crowds, cooler temperatures, and beautiful fall foliage colors across the city, you really can’t beat Fall in Paris.

November also marks the kickoff of festive preparations, with enchanting Christmas lights beginning to twinkle across the city. It’s also the perfect time to indulge in Parisian culinary delights without the long restaurant queues or having to make reservations if you want to get in anywhere.  

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Savor croissants and hot chocolate in cozy cafés (likely, without having to wait for a table) in between exploring the city’s most iconic sights and charming neighborhoods. Enjoy quieter museums and art galleries, and actually be able to get some good pictures of the many Paris landmarks without having 10000000000 people in the background. 

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply seeking a romantic escape, Paris in November promises an unforgettable adventure! Here are the 9 reasons why visiting Paris in November is the best time to go.

1. Shorter Lines

Who wants to stand in a queue for half a day to just get into the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower, never mind having to wait around for people to clear so you can see the views or the art work inside. In November, there are still quite a few people in Paris but nowhere near the crowds you’ll find in the summer months. If you want to see the sights and probably be able to enjoy them a little bit more, November is ideal for your visit!

2. Fall Foliage

Everywhere looks better in a blanketing of fall colors, and Paris is no different! The otherwise picturesque city gets even more charming with orange and red hues that line roads, fill gardens, and further enhance sights like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

3. No Waits or Reservations at Restaurants

We didn’t have to wait a minute at a single restaurant in Paris, whether it was for lunch or dinner, near the most popular sights or out in the local areas. It was fabulous! We got right to a table, ordered, and had our food within 15 minutes at most establishments – which was perfect because by the time we actually went anywhere to eat, we’d be ravenous! I couldn’t imagine standing around and waiting for an hour just to get a table.

We even went to the TikTok-famous Poni restaurant for dinner one night (no wait) and drinks the next day (no wait) and it was definitely worth the hype (the steak is fantastic)!

4. Fewer Crowds

Similarly to point number one on the list (shorter lines), you’ll find that there are almost no crowds in Paris this time of year. Whether you’re trying to get the perfect picture in front of the Louvre or at the top of the Eiffel Tower, you’ll be able to snap a few perfect pictures without feeling rushed and may even have a moment to soak it all in without being engulfed in a sea of people. It made for a much more pleasant experience!

5. Cozy Weather

If you love cozy weather and dressing in layers, then Paris in the fall is perfect for you. Sport your chicest coat, throw on a warm scarf, and take on the city, or warm up with a cup of hot cocoa or coffee in a neighborhood cafe. The cozy fall vibes in Paris are immaculate!

6. Holiday Lights

The Eiffel Tower isn’t the only thing that sparkles in Paris this time of year! The city transforms with shimmering lights mid-November and through the holiday season. See the Champs Elysées in all its glittering glory, and enjoy the lights at the Tuileries Gardens and Place Vendôme.

7. Off-Peak Pricing

With fewer tourists, you’re likely to find more reasonable prices for accommodations and activities. Take advantage of off-peak deals and discounts, allowing you to experience Paris without breaking the bank.

8. Romantic Atmosphere

Paris is known for its romance, and November adds a cozy touch to the city. Enjoy romantic walks along the Seine, take in the view from Montmartre, and revel in the quiet charm of the city with your special someone. With so few tourists, we were able to sit at one of the benches right in front of the Eiffel Tower at night with virtually no one around, seeing it sparkle and feeling like we had it all to ourselves was such an amazing memory that I’ll always cherish!

9. Wine Tasting

Fall is harvest season for French vineyards. Take advantage of the opportunity to savor exquisite wines and perhaps attend a wine tasting event, or tour one of the close-ish vineyards on a day-trip out of the city. For more day trip ideas (including the best areas for wine tasting), see our recent post on 15 Amazing Day Trips Out of Paris.

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12 Things to Do in Paris For First-Time Visitors

If you’re visiting Paris for the first time, there are a few sights you absolutely must see. From the Eiffel Tower to the trendiest Parisian neighborhoods, we’ve compiled the 12 things to do in Paris for first time visitors to help you plan the best trip possible to the City of Light!

Paris is such a dreamy city. The Eiffel Tower in the distance, charming cobblestone streets and picturesque shops and eateries lining the streets, Paris has so much to offer.

With iconic landmarks sprinkled throughout this bustling city, to fabulous day-trip options that allow you to explore so much of this region in so little time, to some of the best cuisine in Europe, there’s something for everyone in Paris.

While many say you’ll have to go back and visit the city again, these are the top 12 things to do in Paris the first go around!

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1. Eiffel Tower

As the most popular tourist attraction in Paris, it’s no wonder the Eiffel Tower is number one on our list of the top things to do you first time in Paris! The Eiffel Tower is Paris. Admire the enormous tower from the Champs de Mars, then get a ticket to go up to the very top of the tower. Up here, you’ll see panoramic views of the city!

2. Visit the Arc de Triomphe

Another iconic sight in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe is a must-see monument on your list. Built in 1806, the Arc was built by Napoleon as a symbol of French strength. View it from Champs Elysees (the famous street leading up to it), or you climb up to the very top (all 284 steps of it) to see spectacular views of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the distance. 

3. Louvre Museum

Boasting a rich history that dates back to the 12th century, the Louvre’s majestic palace itself is a masterpiece, and within its walls lies an extensive collection that spans millennia. Home to iconic works such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Louvre houses an extraordinary array of art. It also serves as a living testament to the architectural and cultural tapestry of France.

4. Tuileries Garden

Tucked in between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde, these meticulously manicured gardens offer an oasis of tranquility in the middle of a bustling city. Originally designed in the 17th century, the Tuileries Garden boasts a timeless elegance with its perfectly aligned pathways, symmetrical flowerbeds, and iconic statues. 

5. Musée d’Orsay

Located in a former railway station, the Musée d’Orsay features an impressive collection of art and cultural artifacts from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here, you’ll find works by renowned artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, and Renoir, as well as sculptures, decorative arts, and photography. The museum’s atmosphere is enriched by the natural light streaming through its iconic clock windows, creating the perfect ambience for viewing all of the art and history housed here.

6. Palais Garnier

Visit this 19th century opera house, known for its gilded interiors and magnificent Baroque architecture. Legend has it, the Phantom of the Opera novel (and later, Broadway musical) was inspired by events that took place at this opera house. The novel tells the story of a physically deformed genius who terrorizes the Opera Garnier in Paris and finds the love of his life, while living beneath the Opera. 

Take a tour of this beautiful opera house, we recommend this one!

7. Cathédrale Notre-Dame

When you think of Paris, you probably think of the Eiffel Tower and the Notre-Dame. This iconic cathedral is a French Gothic architectural masterpiece, built all the way back in the 12th century. It’s served as the backdrop for many events in Paris and has been seen by millions of its visitors before suffering damage from a catastrophic fire back in 2019. It is not being rebuilt and revived, and you will not be able to tour the inside of it any time soon. However, you can still admire this landmark from outside.

8. Palace of Versailles

A visit to the Palace of Versailles is like a step back in time. This estate is the epitome of opulence and grandeur, and touring it is truly a one of a kind experience. Located just outside Paris, this historic palace served as the principal residence of Louis XIV. Its Hall of Mirrors witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, marking the end of World War I. 

The sheer scale and magnificence of the palace, adorned with intricate details, gilded ceilings, and stunning Baroque architecture, makes it a must-see when visiting Paris! Explore the palace and its perfectly landscaped gardens on your own, or even better, on a guided tour.

9. Montmartre

Nestled on the city’s highest hill, Montmartre is full of charming, winding streets and artistic ambiance. This bohemian neighborhood in Paris carries a rich history as a hub for artists, writers, and intellectuals, and that legacy is palpable in every cobblestone and every corner cafe. Visit Montmartre’s Place du Tertre, a lively square filled with artists and performers, then indulge in French cuisine at local bistros.

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10. Basilique du Sacre Coeur

This 19th-century basilica in the Montmartre area of Paris was built by the French government and features a large medieval dome that provides beautiful views of the city. This popular landmark is also a great place to watch the sunset, and you’ll find many tourists and locals doing just that on any given evening.

11. Luxembourg Gardens

An oasis of greenery in the heart of busy Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens feature 55 acres of beautiful, manicured gardens. Take a break from your site seeing and unwind in the peaceful atmosphere of this park.

12. Seine River

Stroll alongside this famous river (it has amazing Eiffel Tower views from across the way) or hop on a river cruise to explore Paris from a whole new vantage point. Flowing right through Paris, separating its left and right banks, it’s a beautiful spot to relax and admire the views in an otherwise bustling city.