Author: heyadventuretonic@gmail.com

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.  

You May Also Like: 12 Things to Do in Paris For First-Time Visitors

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.

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Uncategorized

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!

You May Also Like: Travel Guide to Paris in November

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.

You May Also Like: 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris

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.

Europe Travel, Featured

Travel Guide to Paris in November | What to Do in Paris in November

Thinking about visiting Paris in November? You’re in for a treat! Get ready for a trip that’s equal parts cozy and chic, with a sprinkle of that unmistakable Parisian je ne sais quoi that makes a visit to this beautiful city so unique. 

Forget what you’ve heard about gloomy weather because November in the City of Love is a whole vibe. There might be a little rain, but it will be more than made up for with fewer tourists crowding all of the iconic sights!

You May Also Like: Epic 2 Days in Paris Itinerary

In this blog post, we’re sharing why fall is the unsung hero of Parisian travel. From strolls along the Seine to finding cute cafés tucked away in Montmartre, get ready to fall head over heels for Paris in November – where the only thing colder than the weather is your glass of champagne. 

Jump To:
What to Know About Visiting Paris in November
Is November a Good Time to Visit Paris?
What to Pack for a Paris Trip in November
Paris Weather in November
What to Do in Paris in November
Why You Should Visit Paris in November


What to Know About Visiting Paris in November

READ: 10 Things to Know Before Visiting Paris in the Fall

Ready to embrace off-peak season in Paris? While we think it’s an amazing time of year to visit the City of Light, there are a few things you should know before booking your trip and packing your bags! Read the 10 things to know before Visiting Paris in the Fall so you can be prepared and enjoy all the beautiful city has to offer.

Is November a Good Time to Visit Paris?

November is an amazing time to visit Paris! With way fewer crowds and shorter lines, decent weather, and less expensive hotel nightly rates, late Fall in Paris is excellent. Not only can you get into practically any restaurant in the city without reservations, but queues are shorter at the sights and you’ll actually be able to take a few good pictures without being crushed by the crowds or feeling rushed in prime photo spots. 

Visiting in early November, we had to wear warm coats and duck under awnings a few times for the sporadic rain showers, but otherwise had a fabulous time in the city! While there were still quite a few people, it was nowhere near the hordes of tourists you’ll find in the summer months. We were able to get great pictures at every tourist attraction and were able to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle from a bench right next to it without many people around at all – we loved our front row seats! At times, it felt like we had the city to ourselves.

Les Halles, Paris

What to Pack for a Paris Trip in November

When it comes to what to wear in Paris in November, late fall is all about striking a balance between style and warmth. The chilly air calls for layers, so don’t forget to pack your favorite cozy sweater, medium-weight coat, gloves, and a scarf to combat the occasional nip in the breeze. 

Comfortable yet fashionable footwear is a must for those long walks along the Seine or through the historic neighborhoods. It’s super common to see women dressed nicely and wearing a stylish coat, and pairing it with athletic shoes for easy walking in the city. When we visited, we walked everywhere and hit between 20,000 – 25,000 steps a day. Even if you plan on taking public transportation or Ubers, comfortable shoes are a must!

Parisians adore neutrals, and I rarely saw anyone wearing much color. So if visiting the City of Light means dressing like a local to you, consider bringing along a versatile wardrobe in shades of black, gray, and beige/camel, allowing you to effortlessly blend in with the chic locals. And of course, a stylish pair of sunglasses is a year-round necessity for that added touch of Parisian flair. 

I’ll admit I didn’t pack the best for Paris, I should have done a little shopping! Not wanting to stuff one of my stylish, thick wool coats into my suitcase (it would’ve taken up half the bag!) and unable to find a lighter one I liked, I ended up bringing my packable down coat that while totally normal in the states, looked so casual in Paris. I’m pretty sure I was the only one wearing one! While I usually tend to value comfort especially with all of that walking, I will admit Paris is the one place I wished I would’ve had a nicer-looking coat and was able to blend in a little bit more. I’m not exaggerating when I say I got a lot of disapproving looks from the locals – ha!

You’ll also want to pack an umbrella (or a raincoat with a hood, if that’s more your speed) because Paris has quite a bit of rain in November and the showers can move in really quickly. When we visited, it would be perfectly nice out and then a rain shower would come out of nowhere, last for 10 minutes, and be gone again. This happened several times each day we were there and we were glad to have rain coats.

Paris Weather in November

While Paris can be a little chilly (ok, a lot chilly) in November and have rain showers that seem to come out of nowhere, it’s nothing a warm coat and umbrella can’t fix! Visiting at the beginning of November, we were met with chilly windy and sporadic rain, but it was still decently pleasant and we were able to enjoy most of our meals outside at cafes, and sit and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night without freezing.

Paris in November ranges from a low of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) to a high of 52 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and offers the perfect opportunity to avoid most of the crowds and wear cute layered outfits!

Palais Garnier (Opera House)

What to Do in Paris in November

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

Even with the cooler temperatures, it’s still pretty pleasant to be outside in Paris and you can do everything you would have normally – you just might want to bring an umbrella some days, depending on the forecast! From climbing to the very top of the Eiffel Tower to exploring the artwork of the Louvre Museum, check out these 12 Things to Do in Paris For First-Time Visitors to maximize your time in the City of Light.

Why You Should Visit Paris in November

READ: 9 Reasons to Visit Paris in November

November in Paris is an absolute gem, and if you’re contemplating a trip to this beautiful city, there are plenty of compelling reasons to pack your bags. Between smaller crowds and stunning fall foliage throughout the city, Paris in November is downright dreamy! Read our 10 reasons to visit Paris this time of year to see all the reasons why you should be booking your fall trip.

Adventures, Europe Travel, Featured

15 Amazing Day Trips from Paris

Whether you’re looking to escape the crowds and hustle and bustle of the city, or you’re on the hunt for another unforgettable experience nearby, take one of these 15 unique day trips from Paris!

If you’re just in the planning stages of your trip, or you’re sitting in a hotel room in Paris feeling a bit bored after knocking out the sights in one day like me and my husband were on our recent trip to the City of Light, a day trip may be just the ticket to make your visit even better.

It’s no secret that Paris can be intense – there’s a lot (a lot) of people that visit the city at all times of the year. And it can be good to get away from the chaos, or exciting just to see somewhere else that’s an easy day trip away! From medieval villages to romantic wine country to foodie paradise, there’s a day trip for every kind of traveler on this list!

We’ll start our list with the usual suspects Versailles and Mont Saint-Michel. After all, they’re classic day trip options for a reason! But if you’re looking for a more unique option, read more for one of our super memorable ideas or off-the-beaten path destinations!

Palace of Versailles, France

As the most famous royal chateau in France, this incredible estate sits just 45 minutes from central Paris. Built in 1631, the palace was originally a hunting lodge that was reconstructed by King Louis XIV.  It was later transformed into a museum devoted to “All the Glories of France” in the 1800s.

This massive ornately-decorated palace is blanketed in opulence. From golden ceilings and chandeliers dripping in crystals to its manicured 2,000 acre grounds, it’s no wonder the estate is one of France’s crown jewels.

While a spectacular place to tour, the Palace of Versailles is notoriously packed with people year-round. Over 15 million people visit the palace each year, so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, this probably isn’t going to be #1 on your list.

What to Do Here: Take a tour of the massive palace and its gardens, either guided by an expert or on your own with these entrance tickets.

Mont Saint-Michel, France

As one of France’s most recognizable silhouettes, this Normandy castle feels almost surreal at first glance. As one of the most visited day trip sites from Paris, this medieval marvel is one tour you won’t soon forget.

Mont Saint-Michel was originally known as Mont Tombe, and (as the legend goes) was built as a sanctuary in the name of archangel Michael that appeared in a dream to Saint Aubert, a bishop in a nearby town at the time. At the same time, a village began to develop on the island below the Mount. 

Due to its strong fortifications and frequent changing tides, this island eventually became an undefeated fortress and it remained uncultured during the 100 Years War. As such, it became a symbol of French resilience and an iconic French landmark.

What to Do Here: Discover Mont Saint-Michel with a guided tour that includes transportation from Paris – we recommend this tour!

Brussels, Belgium

Looking to explore another vibrant European city, without having to move all of your luggage? Brussels might be the perfect day trip for you!

Just 1.5 hours away by train, Brussels is a convenient and exciting day trip option for those looking to get a taste of Belgian culture. Brussels boasts stunning architecture, famous museums, and culinary indulgences that will excite any foodies (hello, Belgian waffles and beer, don’t mind if we do!). 

What to Do Here: Explore the city with a hop-on hop-off bus tour, visit one of Brussels’ most iconic landmarks: the Atomium, and immerse yourself in the world of Banksy art at the Banksy Museum.

Auvers-Sur-Oise, France

Enjoy this lovely underrated town along the banks of Oise River, known as one of the most beautiful towns in northern France. In addition to its beauty and quaint charm, Auvers was once the home of famed artist Vincent Van Gogh. The village inspired the artist, with him spending the last 70 days of his life creating 70 paintings of Auvers-Sur-Oise, before he was buried in the village.

Walk in Van Gogh’s footsteps as you explore the town, and enjoy the view of the Roman-Gothic Church of Auvers. Built in 1137-1227, this ancient church is instantly recognizable from some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings. You’ll find various art exhibits throughout the town, making this day trip an art-lover’s paradise!

What to Do Here: Explore the many places that inspired Van Gogh’s paintings (they’re well marked throughout the village), and visit Chateau d’Auvers to enjoy a multimedia exhibition about Van Gogh and French art at a beautiful 17th-century estate.

Bruges, Belgium

Another Belgian option on the list. While a little bit longer of a train ride than Brussels (2.5 hours), this medieval town is still well worth a day trip from Paris!

Known for its picturesque canals and relaxing atmosphere, visiting Bruges feels like stepping back in time. Take a canal tour to see all of the historic waterways and buildings throughout the town, or a Brewery tour at Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan, the oldest brewery in Bruges – they’ve been brewing beer for almost 500 years!

What to Do Here: Marvel at medieval architecture and explore this incredibly charming town on foot, by open-air bus, or by water with a canal tour. After you work up an appetite climbing the Belfry Tower for incredible views of the city, get some world-famous Belgian Waffles at a local cafe or restaurant. If you’re a beer lover, visit the Bruges Beer Museum complete with a tasting!

Lille, France

Even though Lille is France’s fourth largest metropolis, it’s still one of the country’s best kept secrets. Situated close to the Belgian border, this historic town has clear architectural and cultural influences from Belgium and France.

The old city, Vieux Lille, has two gorgeous town squares for you to explore: Le Grand Place and Le Place du Theatre. With charming cobblestone roads and lovely shops and restaurants sprinkled throughout, this is one underrated city that will surprise you with how much you enjoy it!

What to Do Here: Explore the winding cobblestone roads and beautiful buildings throughout this lovely city, then head to the Palis des Beaux-Arts de Lille for some amazing artwork – it has the largest collection in France, after the Louvre in Paris.

Reims, France

If drinking champagne right at its source is a dream for you, look no further than Reims, France. This countryside town is a dream, filled with rolling hills, a stunning cathedral, and a plethora of wineries where you can tour the cellars and enjoy a tasting.

Reims is also full of Michel-starred restaurants for anyone looking for incredible cuisine to end their day trip to this French countryside gem.

What to Do Here: Wander through the town of Reims, making stops at the Reims Cathedral and the Palace of Tau, before venturing to the wineries. Join this tour for a day to enjoy all of the highlights of Reims with transportation to and from Paris, as well as a champagne tasting – it makes it so easy to explore and enjoy without worrying you’ll miss your train back!

Lyon, France

Just two hours away by train, Lyon offers a totally different big-city experience than the City of Light. As the unofficial food capital of France, you’ll find some of the best restaurants and cuisine here, with many serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine like coq au vin and paté. 

Explore the city’s hidden passageways throughout Vieux Lyon (the old quarter), and visit the Basilique de Fourvière at the top of a hill, that’s accessible via a funicular.

What to Do Here: Get your key to the city with a Lyon City Card to access 23 museums, free public transport, a guided walking tour and a river cruise.

London, England

Looking for a major adventure in your day trip from Paris? Explore another iconic European city after being on a high-speed train for just 2.5 hours. While London is a huge city that probably warrants more than a day trip, this is a great way to get a little taste of this legendary English city!

Jump on a tour bus to easily see all of the sights: the Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and of course, the London Eye.

What to Do Here: With so much to see and so little time, we recommend jumping on a hop-on hop-off tour bus to see all of London’s more iconic sights. Then, if you have time before your train back to Paris, grab a bite of English favorites like fish & chips or a steak & ale pie.

Strasbourg, France

Nestled right on the border of France and Germany, you’ll find the beautiful and very German-esque city of Strasbourg. Explore the fairy-tale neighborhood of Petite France along the Rhine, and take a boat tour to really have a unique view of this beautiful city.

If you’re visiting France in the winter, be sure to put Strasbourg on your list as its Christkindelsmärikis one of the country’s best holiday markets!

What to Do Here: Visit the Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg, then take a boat tour of this beautiful town, or experience all of its culture via cuisine with a food tour! 

Fontainebleau, France

Similar to the Palace of Versailles, but with less of the crowds, you’ll find the stunning, old-world Château de Fontainebleau with tours and exploration that will take up most of your day! Only 50 minutes from Paris, you can admire the golden interior of this estate, walk along its canal, and enjoy the gardens throughout the property. You can even take a rowboat out onto Carps Pond when the weather is nice!

What to Do Here: Tour Château de Fontainebleau. We recommend this tour that includes transportation from Paris!

Chantilly, France

Known for its Chantilly lace exports and whipped cream, Chantilly is a gem located just 30 minutes from Paris. Here you’ll also find the Chateau of Chantilly, a 1500s-era castle with all the beauty of Versailles, and way fewer tourists. 

This relaxing town is the perfect escape from the busy hustle and bustle of Paris, without having to venture away too far from the city.

What to Do Here: Explore Chateau de Chantilly and its gardens, and even take a whipped cream workshop while you’re on the grounds!

Bordeaux, France

Wine lovers, this is your ideal day trip destination! Take a two hour train ride to Bordeaux, a city with the same name as its famous red wine. With over 350 historical buildings and monuments to explore, as well as a wine museum, you’ll have a day full of adventuring ahead of you (and likely some spectacular wine, if you choose).

What to Do Here: Visit the world’s largest reflecting pool, the Mirror d’Eau on a hot day or just for a moment of tranquility, then join a bike tour to explore all of the city’s sights (and food!) For our wine lovers, this full-day wine tour is perfection.

Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Another quick jaunt out of the country, Luxembourg is a fabulous day trip from Paris. Just over 2 hours by train, you’ll find this charming city full of cobblestone streets and fascinating underground tunnels. 

Visit the Grund area of the city to see the base of the former fortress that once surrounded the city, then go to Casemates du Bock (one of the city’s most famous tourist sites) to tour the city’s underground defense system made up of miles of tunnels that also served as bomb shelter during World War II. 

What to Do Here: Explore all of the top sights in Luxembourg with a bus tour that makes your adventure a breeze, we recommend checking out this one. If you prefer to explore with your stomach, you’ll love this Luxembourg food and wine tasting tour!

Meaux, France

Less than a half hour from Paris, this is every Brie-lovers ideal destination. Famous for its Brie and mustard, you have to try the charcuterie offerings in Meaux, France. 

After you devour all of the Brie you can handle, take a walk through the Parc du Pâtis or the Jardin Bossuet for beautiful scenery and a brief escape from city life. Visit the Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Meaux for a taste of history before heading back to Paris.

What to Do Here: Visit the Musee de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux war museum, then have your fill of charcuterie before heading back to Paris.

Europe Travel, Travel Hacks

Do You Have to Tip in Europe?

In the US, we’re accustomed to leaving a 20-25% percent tip when we’re out at restaurants and bars. In fact, tipping lower than the usual 20% can indicate poor service or offend your waiter.

However, in Europe, tipping culture is completely different. For most, tips are not expected in Europe, especially in more casual settings like bars and cafes. In most European countries, tipping is not the norm and a service fee is usually included already on the bill. Now, if you want to go above and beyond and leave a tip on top of this fee, by all means, go ahead! But know that it’s not expected.

Be sure to check the bill for a service charge or sitting fee, or words along the lines of “Service Included” to know whether or not a tip is already included. 

Is It Rude Not to Tip in Europe?

When dining in Europe, most restaurants and eateries will include a service charge or sitting fee in your bill. This means you don’t have to tip unless you really feel like you want to. If this service charge isn’t on the bill, you can leave a 5-10% tip without insulting your waiter as tipping is a bit more modest over in Europe. But before you shell out a tip, make sure you check the receipt for an extra charge or words like “Service Included” printed at the bottom.

Is It Ok to Tip in Europe With US Dollars?

It’s not like being in Mexico where they love to be tipped in USD! When you’re in Europe, you should tip with the local currency. If you want to provide a tip, withdraw local currency at an ATM so your waiter isn’t left trying to exchange your dollars for something more usable in their country.

Featured, Travel Hacks

11 Things You Should Always Pack in Your Carry-On

With all the stress of traveling, and trying to pack and prepare for everything along the way, it can be so easy to forget something.

Whether you’re going on a quick weekend escape or a big Europe trip, there are 12 things you should always pack in your carry-on. Make sure you don’t forget anything important, or leave one of these essentials in a checked bag that could potentially not arrive at your destination – it happens!

Pack these 12 necessities in your carry-on so you can travel stress-free and start your trip off on the right foot.

You May Also Like: 10 Amazing Travel Essentials For Long Haul Flights

See this power bank here.

1. Phone Power Bank

This is my #1 must have in your carry-on when you’re going on any length of trip! You would be amazed at how fast your phone battery drains as you’re checking flight information on your phone, checking emails, or using maps to help you navigate wherever you’re going. When we were in Rome, we foolishly forgot our phone power bank at home and almost had a really bad situation – we were out across the city, using our maps to navigate and taking pictures of all the cool things we were seeing. 

Suddenly, we realized both of our phones were at 10% and we had no idea how to get back to the Airbnb! I frantically used my maps app to get across town so we could charge our phones, arriving with one at 1% and the other completely dead. I didn’t even know the Airbnb address off the top of my head, it was on my phone! It was almost a compete disaster. Avoid it entirely by packing a phone power bank!

2. Phone Charger

On a similar note, make sure you bring your phone charger. If you luck out and your plane has outlets, this is a great time to make sure your phone is fully charged. Odds are when you land you’ll need to contact whoever is picking you up, call an Uber or make other arrangements requiring a cell phone.

3. Small Plastic Baggies

These are so helpful during your travels, but especially if you’re traveling with only a carry-on and have hygiene and beauty products with you! Even if you have your little travel-sized products ready to go, you never know when you might need another. Some airports even require you put each item in a separate plastic bag – we ran into this in Europe. They were mad that my hand sanitizer wasn’t in its own bag, and my sister had this happen with deodorant (a solid stick of deodorant!) as well.

You never know when you’re going to get into a bind and be dealing with a fickle TSA agent. Just bring a stash of bags in case you need them, that way you won’t have to part ways with any of your products.

I also bring a couple extra with me in my carry-on just because I’ve been on trips where one I’m using tears or I have a product that leaks and I want to put it separately. You never know when you’ll need one!

See this water bottle here.

4. Empty Water Bottle

Most airports these days have filtered water bottle filling stations. It’s essential you stay hydrated while traveling, so bring an empty water bottle so you can fill up at the airport! I usually just buy a bottle of water at the airport after I get through security, but this is a much more economical way to do it, and then you’ll have a water bottle at your destination too.

5. Valuables

It happens to most of us that our checked bag gets lost at some point. It’s always so stressful, and hopefully it gets recovered eventually. 

Regardless if this has happened to you, make sure you keep all of your valuables in your carry-on bag. That means jewelry, electronics, money, and anything else of value. You always want to keep your valuables on your person so you don’t have to worry about it going missing or being stolen when out of your sight.

6. Prescriptions & Any Other Medication

Similarly to keeping your valuables on your person, always keep your prescriptions with you as well. You never know when your bag might not show up, especially if your flight gets delayed or cancelled. You don’t want to be caught without something you really need.

See this organizer case here.

7. Electronics & Accessories Organizer

Stay organized with a little travel case that keeps your electronics, cords, and accessories all neat and in order. I loved this travel case for our Europe trip, I was able to keep my phone charger, AirPods, charging cord for my other, big noise cancelling head phones, Kindle charger, and keys for when I returned all organized and easy to reach instead of in a random tangled mess in my bag.

8. Sanitizing Wipes

I always keep a stash of sanitizing wipes in my carry-on, usually to wipe down my phone when I get to my destination but sometimes I’ll wipe off the arm rests and seatbelt on the plane if I’m feeling really germaphobic. I’m convinced they never actually clean anything on a plane, let alone the high-touch items at your seat. 

Don’t even get me started on those seat-back trays! Do you think they’ve ever been cleaned?! Not a chance.

Sometimes I don’t end up using them, but I appreciate having the option to keep my immediate area clean. It’s a great way to help prevent sickness on your travels as you don’t realize how much you touch, then touch your eyes, nose and mouth. 

9. Emergency Clothes

My husband started doing this on our long-haul flight to Europe and our flights while we were over there. Being on such a long trip, so far from home, we didn’t want to take any chances not having at least one or two changes of clothes just in case.

Now, we always throw a couple changes of clothes (especially a couple pairs of fresh undies and socks!) in a compression travel cube, zip it up and throw one in the bottom of each of our carry-on’s. Hopefully you don’t end up needing them, but if your bags get lost, I’m sure you’ll be glad to have a fresh change of clothes!

See these headphones here.

10. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

I almost always wear my AirPods but they’re not the most noise cancelling option. You can still hear pretty much everything going on around you – which makes them great for running, not so great for being crammed on a plane with a bunch of potentially annoying strangers.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve skipped out on bringing my noise-cancelling headphones just because they’re big and bulky and I don’t like dealing with them. But I usually regret it!

Whether it’s a crying baby a row or two back, loud talkers next to me, or someone that feels the need to watch a video on full volume, or let their kid watch a movie on their iPad without headphones… I almost always regret it. 

You can’t control what’s going to be around you when you’re stuffed in a plane with a bunch of wildcards! But you can give yourself a little peace and quiet through the discomfort

11. Snacks

Lastly, pack some snacks! There’s nothing worse than being thousands of feet up in the sky and you feel that rumble in your belly. In my opinion, the little bag of plane snacks just doesn’t cut it – whether it’s nuts or pretzels, it’s just never what I want or filling enough to be worth eating. I always bring a couple individually wrapped bags of trail mix, Belvitas, or my new favorite, Chomp beef sticks to keep me full and avoid any travel hanger.

Featured, Travel Hacks

10 Amazing Essentials You Need For a Long Flight

Let’s be honest, long haul flights can be SO uncomfortable. 

The seats suck, you’re way to close to other people, there’s usually at least one crying baby, and probably the guy behind you eats some really loud snacks behind you the whole time.

And as someone that deals with Fibromyalgia, getting as comfortable as possible is an absolute necessity for a long flight (or any flight for that matter).  Check out these 10 amazing essentials you need for a long flight to help you get comfortable on the plane (at least, as much as one can get comfortable on the sky tube) and start your trip off on the right foot!

Shop these headphones here.

1. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

As I mentioned above, there’s a lot of noise on planes no matter the source. You can’t control what’s going to go on around you, and when you’re on a long flight, you need to be able to block it out for your sanity’s sake! Bring a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs to make the voyage a little less irritating. 

I got this pair on Amazon and while they’re not the most expensive out there, they work great! The sound is awesome and they block noise really well – all for under $50! I like them so much, I got a pair for my dad and husband as well!

Shop this neck pillow here.

2. Neck Pillow

Never do a long flight without a neck pillow! If you want to sleep or just support your neck, a neck pillow is a must-have on any long flight. There are quite a few options out there, but I recently upgraded from the squishy styrofoam bead kind of neck pillow to this ultra-supportive cushioned one and I’ll never go back! It’s so much comfier and keeps my head and neck in a much more comfortable, supported position for all those hours on the plane.

Shop this charger here.

3. Phone Charger

Most long flight planes will have an outlet or USB charging port so you can charge your phone or other devices. Definitely bring a phone charger, even if you think you won’t need it. Your phone battery can drain rapidly and you’re likely going to need it right when you arrive to contact whoever is picking you up, call an Uber, access your maps, or otherwise use it for something important.

Shop this power bank here.

4. Phone Power Bank

You might think, hey I have my phone charger, what do I need a power bank for? I’m here to tell you, bring the power bank. Whether you need it on the plane or at some point on your trip, having it on hand will be very helpful to you. 

On our long haul flight to the UK from Atlanta, our charging ports in our row didn’t work and we arrived with very little battery life left on our phones – even after not using them for the entire flight! We quickly called my brother-in-law that was picking us up before they died, but wow that could have been a difficult situation – just bring the power bank!

Shop this eye mask here.

5. Eye Mask

Planning to sleep on your long flight? I envy you! I can never sleep on planes. Even if you’re like me, give yourself the best shot at sleep by bringing an eye mask. There’s lots of lights and screens on in the plane, even when they dim the cabin lights, that could easily disrupt your sleep. An eye mask helps you tune out from the world and relax in total darkness so you can get some shut eye.

These eye masks are so comfy, stay put without cutting off your circulation, and come in a three pack, I sleep with one every night now!

Shop these sanitizing wipes here.

6. Sanitizing Wipes

Planes are gross. We all know it. They don’t clean them much… they kind of pretend to. But there’s no way they’re wiping down your arm rest or your tray table, or your window shade… it’s just not happening! That plane lands, everyone gets off and then immediately everyone gets back on.

Keep yourself healthy on your trip and avoid any unnecessary germs and general filth and grime in your space by bringing a few sanitizing wipes to wipe down your hands and your area on the plane. You’d be so surprised how much you touch, then touch your eyes, nose and mouth without even realizing it! This is one of those simple hacks to stay healthy when traveling that really makes a big difference.

Shop these sweatpants here.

7. Comfy Pants

I’m just going to say it… I don’t trust people who fly long-haul flights in jeans. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t ever care to understand!

I am team stretchy pants through and through on flights of any length, but especially the long ones. You’re going to be sitting for a really long time so make sure you’re wearing clothes that aren’t going to feel too tight, bunch up, or otherwise make you feel uncomfortable. I also really like these leggings for travel and wear them pretty much all the time!

This goes for the guys too, wear some comfy pants! My husband is obsessed with these sweatpants that I got him for our last trip – they’re comfortable, fit really well and are a shockingly nice quality for the price, we definitely recommend them!

Shop this lower back cushion here.

8. Lower Back Cushion

When you’re on a really long flight, you may get more uncomfortable in the seats than you’re used to with shorter flights. You’d think with how expensive long flights are the seats would be a little better… but they’re usually not.

Having your lower back start to bother you 5 hours into a 9 hour trip is not going to make for very enjoyable traveling! Grab a lower back cushion to support your back and keep you comfortable on those super long flights so you’re ready to explore and take on the world when you land.

Shop this electronics organizer here.

9. Electronics & Accessories Organizer

Stay organized with a little travel case that keeps your electronics, cords, and accessories all neat and in order. I loved this travel case for our Europe trip, I was able to keep my phone charger, AirPods, charging cord for my other, big noise cancelling head phones, Kindle charger, and keys for when I returned all organized and easy to reach instead of in a random tangled mess in my bag.

Shop this footrest here.

10. Foot Rest

This one may be a little overkill for some people, but I absolutely love my foldable foot rest. Being a shorty, sometimes I get really uncomfortable on planes because the seats are putting so much pressure on the backs of my legs. If you’re taller, this probably wouldn’t be an issue, but at 5’3” it is for me!

Popping out this foldable foot rest keeps my feet elevated and lifts my legs a bit so they’re not smooshed into the seat, letting gravity have its way with my legs. It’s great for improving circulation as well, helps keep my feet from swelling, and even takes a little pressure off my back so I’m more comfortable all around. Even if I don’t end up using it, I always feel better bringing it and knowing I have it should I start to get really uncomfortable on a 10 hour flight.

Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

2 Days in Rome Itinerary

Planning a 2-day trip to Rome? You’re in for such an amazing experience! Of all the places we’ve been, the Eternal City is my absolute favorite and I usually can’t shut up about it!

Get ready to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and soak up all of the ancient vibes when exploring the beautiful city of Rome. From the Colosseum’s grandeur to the cozy corners of Trastevere, this city is a time capsule that’ll make your heart race and your taste buds do the happy dance. 

So, lace up those comfy walking shoes, read our Ultimate Guide to Rome and let’s roam around Rome together. 

You May Also Like: 15 Must-See Spots in Rome For First-Time Visitors

Things to Know Before You Go

If you’ve never been to Italy before, there’s a few norms and things to know before you go. None of them are a super big deal, but as someone that really likes to plan and prepare, I would have liked to know before being there!

At Most Places, You Don’t Tip

Something that is more common in Europe than the US (I don’t think I’ve ever seen it here, or ever will!), is the fact that most places you get a meal or a drink already includes the tip in their prices or charges a separate service charge/sitting fee. So make sure you check your receipt for a service fee or some language like “Service Included” to make sure you don’t double tip (unless you feel compelled to).

They Take Credit Card (And Ring You Up At Your Table)

When preparing for our trip, I made sure we had several credit cards that didn’t have international transaction fees so we could use them abroad. But I was still worried we’d need to use Euros a lot of the time. This absolutely wasn’t the case in Rome, everywhere we went took credit cards! The only exception was when we went to a smaller, less popular place and their card reader wasn’t working so we did have to use cash in that instance.

Additionally, unlike in the US, they ring you up right at your table. They bring the bill, ask if it looks alright, and instead of whisking your credit card away, they actually bring their little card readers to the table and check you out right there. It’s very efficient and I have to say, I liked keeping eyes on my card – you never know!

Italians Don’t Really Do Breakfast

As a big breakfast guy, this detail was not my husband’s favorite thing to learn while we were abroad. In Italy, they seem to only have a coffee or espresso, and a pastry in the morning before tackling their day. That being said there were a couple of breakfast places we did find sprinkled throughout Rome (you’ll see it written outside as “Colazione,” which is Italian for breakfast) that had more American breakfast options like eggs and omelettes, sausage and bacon, etc. 

They were few and far between, but after spending a few days in Venice where there was absolutely no option besides the coffee/pastry combo, it was nice to see that they had this option! 

Always Buy Tickets in Advance

I’ll say it again – always buy tickets in advance! I cannot stress this enough. Rome is a very, very busy city. They get almost 10 million tourists each year.

Even going in November, which is supposedly “low season,” the city was still jam-packed with tourists. Thinking it wouldn’t be so busy and because of my husband’s work schedule (we weren’t sure if we’d have to last-minute cancel our trip), I didn’t book tickets in advance to see the Vatican. Two weeks out, when we got the for-sure, green-light to go, I went to buy tickets online and they were sold out!

I was super bummed, and when we walked around Vatican City, I could see exactly why I had had trouble… there was a line to get in about 400 people long! I’ve never seen a line so long before. But that’s Roma for you!

While you can get around this hurdle with some creativity, like booking a guided tour that includes tickets/entry, you’ll still need to expect to pay a bit more for it and expect that tours may be filled up if you wait too long like I did.

The Perfect 2-Days in Rome Itinerary

While some will argue you should spend more time in Rome than two days (and you absolutely could), I think two days is great if you want to see all of the big sites and still feel immersed in the Eternal City, without getting to the point where things kind of start looking the same.

When we visited Rome, we spent 2 full days exploring the city (and a couple of hours that first night we got in), and it felt like perfect amount of time! Could we have spent a third day exploring every nook and cranny, or taking another tour? Absolutely. But for us, I really enjoyed the 2 full days and exploring it on foot made us feel like we really soaked up every second of it! Check out our self-guided walking tour we did here.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Day 1 in Rome:

Explore some of Rome’s most famous sites, like the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. Before strolling through Vatican City and experiencing all this Roman Catholic hub has to offer.

Trevi Fountain

Visit the amazing Trevi Fountain first thing, before the crowds so you can take a few minutes to just sit on a bench and soak it all in. As one of the most famous fountains in the world, and my personal favorite sight in Rome, it’s truly a stop on your list you don’t want to miss – it’s just magical!

Admire the beauty and intricacy of the fountain, snap a few pictures, and of course, toss a coin over your shoulder into the water while you’re there. Legend has it, if you ever hope to return to Roma, you need to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain. It’s also a wish to find love in the Eternal City!

Pantheon

While you’re by the Trevi Fountain, visit the Pantheon. This ancient building is so stunning, with quintessential Roman architecture and columns that seem too big to be real! As the oldest building still in use, in the entire world, the Pantheon is a really unique experience.

Take a guided tour or enter on your own (it’s only about 5 Euros), to see the world-famous Pantheon dome, and incredible architecture that takes you back in time.

Skip the line (which can be super long, depending on what time of year you go) and get a guided tour so you better understand all that you’re seeing at the beautiful Pantheon! We recommend this tour.

Piazza Navona

As one of Rome’s most bustling squares, there’s always something to see at the Piazza Navona. Here, you can take a moment to enjoy the street artists and musicians, admire the three intricate fountains that fill this square, or just grab a spot at one of the cafes and restaurants that line the square for a drink and some A+ people watching!

Spanish Steps

Climb the Spanish Steps for a fabulous view of Rome and don’t forget to snap a picture on the way up! This iconic Roman landmark is truly special – there’s a reason it’s graced the covers of magazines and postcards for years. If you visit in the spring, you’ll even get to see it covered in colorful flowers!

Piazza del Popolo

Often overlooked by many tourists and itineraries, this large urban square is worth a visit in our opinion – we went to see it again at night after stumbling across it in the daytime!

The Piazza del Popolo, named the “People’s Square,” lies just inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, which was previously a point of entry into the city. The huge doors that guard this square, within the Aurelian Walls, are so massive and ancient, they were so cool to see! It was like a little piece of history that blew us away and was ignored by everyone else walking by.

In the square, you’ll also find a beautiful fountain and have beautiful views of the twin churches built on the edge of the square. With unique architecture and dome-design, they make for a pretty backdrop in photos and are really neat to take a moment and enjoy!

Castel Sant’Angelo

Moving in the direction of Vatican City, our next stop is Castel Sant’Angelo. Originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family, this fortress has transformed into a multifaceted monument, serving as a papal residence, prison, and now a museum, along the banks of the Tiber River.

Explore the interior and dungeons, or admire it outside from the Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge that connects Castel Sant’Angelo to the rest of Rome.

Saint Peter’s Square & Basilica, Vatican City

In the heart of Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica stands as a beacon of religious and architectural splendor. This magnificent Renaissance church, designed by Michelangelo, Bramante, and Bernini, is a testament to the grandeur of Vatican City and is a must-see for anyone visiting Rome.

The sheer scale of St. Peter’s Square, framed by a colonnade, large fountains, and cobblestone roads feels so magnificent, you can’t help but be in awe! It’s free to enter the cathedral, but once inside, we recommend grabbing a ticket to climb to the top of the dome. From there, you’ll be met with panoramic views of Vatican City and Rome!

Experience all Vatican City has to offer with a guided tour, we love this one!

Dinner & Gelato

Wrap up your day with a delicious Italian meal at one of Rome’s many delicious restaurants. We really enjoyed Il Chianti – Osteria Toscana near the Trevi Fountain. The prices were fair, the ambience spot on, and my Spaghetti Carbonara was to die for!

Then grab some gelato at one of the many nearby gelato shops and go admire the Trevi Fountain lit up at night. We sat there, devouring our gelato and just enjoying the fountain for awhile and it was a really nice way to end the day!

Day 2 in Rome:

Today, we’ll venture to see Rome’s most visited tourist sight, the Colosseum and surrounding ancient wonders.

The Colosseum

As Rome’s most popular tourist destination, the Colosseum is a must-see spot on your trip to the Eternal City! And one you should try to see first thing in the morning (or later at night) to avoid massive lines.

Whether you plan on just admiring this ancient arena from the outside, or you’re going to take a tour of the interior, arena floor or underground, don’t skip out on this iconic landmark.

While there are loads of places to take pictures from all around the Colosseum, we liked taking them from up the hill across from Oppio Caffè. There were a lot less people (at least when we went) and sitting on the wall made for a cute picture! There’s also a garden right next door to the cafe with beautiful views, called the Giardinetto del Monte Oppio.

Tour this legendary, 2000-year old landmark with a guided tour that shows you the secret underground (accessible only by guided tour) and allows you to step onto the arena floor and see how it felt for gladiators to stand out in front of the crowd before battling! We recommend this tour to see all of the awesomeness the Colosseum has to offer.

Or check out this night tour for a one-of-a-kind experience of the Colosseum, and to avoid some of the crowds.

Palatine Hill

Perched above the hustle and bustle of Rome, Palatine Hill is a wonderful, ancient spot to visit while being in the Roman Forum/Colosseum area of Rome. The panoramic views of the Colosseum on one side and the Roman Forum on the other create a jaw-dropping backdrop for your exploration. 

Wander through the remnants of imperial palaces, where emperors once strolled amid opulent gardens, and let the whispers of history transport you. As you trace the footsteps of emperors, you’ll feel the echoes of a bygone era, and the city below takes on a new perspective. 

Roman Forum

Located right next to the Colosseum, and included in most Colosseum tickets and tours, you’ll find the Roman Forum. This ancient site was at the heart of the Roman Empire and is pretty mind-blowing to see.

Explore the ruins on your own, or with a guided tour. We definitely recommend a guided tour so you can get the most out of your visit and provide the most in-depth background on what you’re seeing!

Once you’re done exploring the Forum, head up the hill to Terrazza sul Foro. This is a great place to take some stunning pictures, or just enjoy the ruins from above. While you’re up that way, walk through Campidoglio, the hilltop square designed by Michelangelo.

Capitoline Museums

As the world’s oldest national museum, the Capitoline Museums are worth a visit if your interest is piqued by medieval and renaissance art. Here, you’ll also find famous sculptures and archaeological treasures, spread out over three buildings.

Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

This famous basilica is a great ending point for the day. The Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of Rome’s seven pilgrim churches and is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the virgin Mary. It’s also still used on various occasions by the Pope today.

Enter the cathedral for free, and explore a stunning blend of baroque and renaissance architecture and colorful mosaics. 

Evening Food & Wine Tour of Trastevere

Explore one of Rome’s most popular neighborhoods with a food and wine tour that shows you the best (and most delicious options) in Trastevere. Once a hidden gem in Rome and more of a local scene, Trastevere has become increasingly popular with tourists for its unique Roman cuisine and culture. 

You May Also Like: The Ultimate Guide to Rome

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page

Where to Go in Europe in the Winter | Best Europe Winter Trip Ideas 2023

Europe in the winter is a magical experience. With most travelers looking to spend their summers exploring the continent, winter in Europe is an absolute must, at least once!

When the temperatures drop, it’s time to see sparkling holiday lights, snow-dusted cobblestones, and the bustling Christmas markets that dot Europe’s most beautiful cities.

In addition to their winter beauty, most European cities are much less expensive and typically crowd free (aside from the holidays). So whether you’re looking for a cozy escape or a big city adventure, read on to find your perfect winter Europe trip destination for 2023 or next year!

You May Also Like: The Ultimate Guide to Rome

Photo: Pexels

Paris, France

There’s no bad time to visit Paris, and the winter seems extra magical to see the City of Lights. Picture taking an evening stroll, snow flakes flitting around you, and seeing the Eiffel Tower light up and glitter under a light dusting of snow – sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Make it your reality with a winter trip to Paris, and avoid the city’s notoriously large crowds while enjoying all the sights.

Nuremberg, Germany

If Christmas markets are what you’re looking for, look no further than the legendary and centuries-old Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany! Complete with horse-drawn carriage rides and homemade trinkets, this Christmas market is one for the books.

If you’re not visiting over the holidays, you can still enjoy the city’s stunning architecture, cozy haunts and plethora of Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the winter (or any time of year). 

Prague, Czech Republic

Another home to some of Europe’s most amazing Christmas markets is Prague. See the city’s iconic Charles Bridge dusted in snow, and explore Old Town Square to admire its Bohemian buildings and grab one of Prague’s world-famous beers.

Your trip isn’t complete without a trip to Prague Castle, a royal residence that dates back thousands of years, or a look at Prague’s Astronomical Clock (the third oldest in the world, and the oldest one still in operation).

Bruges, Belgium

Explore one of Europe’s most beautiful medieval cities during the holidays. With twinkling light displays set against charming architecture and cobbled streets, you can’t help but feel like you’re inside a story book.

Warm up with a mug of Belgian hot chocolate in a nearby cafe before your continue your explorations.

Vienna, Austria

No doubt one of Europe’s most beautiful cities any time of year, Vienna is especially stunning in the winter. Explore snow-covered streets, tour the world-famous opera house, and enjoy classical holiday concerts. You can even attend a Viennese ball, with the city hosting more than 400 balls each winter season – talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Interlaken, Switzerland

With majestic mountains that will take your breath away any time of year, Interlaken is particularly mesmerizing in the winter under heaps of snow. If you’re looking for a mountain-town escape that isn’t short on exploration, this is your winter haven.

In addition to beauty in all directions, you’ll also find loads of winter adventure activities for those looking to do more than just sightsee and explore. In addition to skiing and snowshoeing, you can also go paragliding down snowy mountains, winter kayaking on Lake Brienz, or enjoy curling at the local rink.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France

At the foot of Europe’s highest peak, this once small village has become a cosmopolitan hub in the French Alps and is the perfect escape in the winter time. With more than 60,000 winter visitors, this small town of about 9,000 people experiences quite the influx in population as people from all over the world enjoy the jaw-dropping mountain views you’ll find here from any spot in the city. 

Enjoy a day on Chamonix’s famed ski slopes, or take a cable car up to one of the several nearby peaks offering panoramic mountain views unlike any other. 

Tallinn, Estonia

As one of the oldest medieval cities on earth, Talinn isn’t to be missed for those looking to take a step back in time. With many of its medieval churches falling under UNESCO protection, and ancient castles that are oh-so charming, a visit to Tallinn is a truly unique experience, especially in the winter time. 

Enjoy views from the Toompea Castle of the city covered in a layer of snow, and tour Tallinn’s oldest building: St. Catherine’s Monastery, built in 1246. 

Venice, Italy

Dying to see the Floating City without crowds in every direction? Winter is your season, then. With quiet canals and discounted hotel rates, you can explore this beautiful city and feel like you’re the only one in town! As a bonus, you can take all the pictures you want in Piazza San Marco without a bunch of strangers in the background, and tour St. Mark’s Basilica or Doge’s Palace without waiting in massive queues.

Geneva, Switzerland

Often called the City of Peace due to it being home to the European seat of the United Nations and international Red Cross headquarters, this European jewel is a fairytale under a blanket of snow. Sip hot chocolate in quaint cafes and explore the picturesque city, or hit the slopes before finishing the day off with Geneva’s world-class shopping.

Photo: Pexels

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is a cozy, canal-lined winter wonderland. With picturesque bridges, twinkling lights, and charming narrow streets blanketed in snow, a visit to Amsterdam in the winter is a must. Enjoy beautiful Dutch architecture as you explore the city, and stop in for some hot cocoa and stroopwafels at one of the city’s many local cafes as you stroll through the historic streets!

Edinburgh, Scotland

Looking for a vibrant New Year celebration? Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival lasts three days and features outdoor concerts, fireworks, and traditional Scottish dancers. Even if a three-day party isn’t your thing, Edinburgh is still a fabulous winter destination, full of cozy speakeasies, excellent skiing, and even a botanic garden full of winter-flowering plants.

Enjoy your Europe winter travels!

Uncategorized

The Ultimate Venice Guide: What to Do in Venice

Nestled in the heart of the Venetian Lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, Venice is a city full of rich history. Plan your trip to Venice with ease, read through our Ultimate Venice Guide to see what to do, where to stay and what to expect!

Built upon a network of canals, this 5th century city is an architectural marvel with its intricate palaces, vibrant piazzas, and iconic bridges. The city’s unique charm is heightened by its lack of roads, replaced by a web of waterways navigated by gondolas and vaporettos. 

Visit Venice to stroll through narrow alleyways, take in the sights from historic bridges, and wander through St. Mark’s Square as you explore this enchanting city. Our trip to Venice was a dream, and definitely a bucket list destination that we were eager to cross off! Here’s everything you need to know about the Floating City.

Jump To:
Basic Information
What to Do in Venice
What Should I Know Before Visiting Venice?
Where to Stay in Venice
Where to Eat in Venice
How to Spend 1 Day in Venice
Travel Essentials

Basic Information

Currency: Euros, though credit cards were accepted everywhere we went. We only ended up needing euros to pay the local tourism tax that our Airbnb host collected upon arrival.

Languages: Italian & English. We had no issue speaking English all throughout Venice – though, we wish we would’ve picked up some Italian, it sounded so beautiful!

Climate: Humid subtropical climate with influences from the Mediterranean Sea. Summers can be quite warm with the humidity, and in the late fall/winter you can expect cool temperatures, wind and lots of rain. We visited at the very end of October and it was cold, windy, and rainy – not our favorite climate for exploring! Also keep in mind, Venice floods several times each year, usually during fall and winter.

What to Do in Venice

Read: 10 Best Things to Do in Venice For First-Time Visitors

Whether you’re in Venice for a day or for a few, there are 10 absolute must-see spots you should have on your list to experience in the beautiful Floating City. Check out our post  10 Best Things to Do in Venice For First-Time Visitors to help you plan an unforgettable trip to Venice (and ensure you don’t miss a thing)!

What Should I Know Before Visiting Venice?

Read: 9 Mistakes Tourists Always Make Their First Time in Venice

Venice is a city unlike any other, don’t make these common mistakes on your first visit like so many other tourists do! Be prepared and learn the ropes before you go with our 9 Mistakes Tourists Always Make Their First Time in Venice, and learn what to do instead to make your trip as easy and seamless as possible.

Where to Stay in Venice

Because Venice doesn’t have any roads, getting around the city can be a bit difficult. While you can take a water taxi to various stops throughout Venice, we recommend staying close to the train station so you don’t have to drag your bags too far into the city. We stayed at an Airbnb that was very central in Venice, a few feet from the Museo di Storia Naturale and while it made walking all across Venice a breeze, it was a pain in the butt getting our bags to and from it! 

Before realizing we could take a water taxi, my poor husband lugged our two enormous suitcases across 4 bridges, including the enormous one you see when you enter Venice. Even with the water taxi, it required some walking and maneuvering with the suitcases from the taxi stop. It was doable but if we return to Venice, I plan on staying much closer to the train and bus station so we can drop our bags at the rental property and then explore on foot.

One more consideration for where to stay in Venice, if it’s in a part of the city that floods several times per year, I’d recommend you try to stay on the second floor or above. Whether or not there’s flooding when you’re visiting, if you’re sensitive to mildew or any of that, I would imagine you might have some issues with any ground floor units. Just walking around Venice in October, we saw water lines on the buildings in some areas that had previously flooded and it was a good foot or so high!

Where to Eat in Venice

While for the most part, you probably can’t go wrong with where to eat in Venice, we did have a couple of stand out experiences. 

La Corte 1642

While out exploring Cannaregio, we stumbled across La Corte 1642 in a back alleyway. There was a small private party there when we arrived so we couldn’t have dinner, but they let us sit and have wine and appetizers. They didn’t give us a menu, just asked us what we liked and created a giant plate full of cheeses, meats and crackers for us to enjoy with our Tuscan wine. It was absolutely delicious and the workers were so kind, we really enjoyed every minute of being there! It definitely seemed like a place that was really popular with the locals as well.

Grom Gelato

Finding the best gelato in Venice became my personal mission while we were there. Having a big sweet tooth and a love for ice cream, I know great gelato when I taste it! The Grom gelato shop tucked away into the Dorsoduro neighborhood was absolutely delicious and we really enjoyed exploring this area of Venice. It was much less busy and still had lots to see!

Majer

Right up the “road” from where we were staying (near the Museo di Storia Naturale in central Venice) was a great little cafe that we had coffee and pastries in each morning, as well as a lunch time sandwich. It was delicious every time and the sweet ladies working there were so friendly, and were patient with us when we had no idea how to communicate what we were trying to order (lots of pointing was required)! You could even see them rolling the dough for the pastries and making everything fresh in the back.

Al Bagolo

Again, another option near where we were staying, we really enjoyed Al Bagolo. It had great wine, really friendly staff, and absolutely mouth-watering pizza. We got the capricciosa pizza and another with mushrooms, and both were fabulous. 

How to Spend 1 Day in Venice

Read: Venice in 1 Day Itinerary

Criss-crossed by a network of meandering canals and cobblestone pathways, this beautiful city is one on many people’s bucket list! Spend the day wandering through St. Mark’s square, touring Doge’s palace, and exploring all that Venice has to offer! Our 1 day Venice itinerary ensures you see all of the famous Venetian sites, and fun ideas to make your visit even more memorable. Check it out here.

Travel Essentials for Venice

Cell Phone Power Bank

This is a must-have for any trip abroad, and one that we should have had on our trip to Rome! Using maps and apps on our phones all day severely drained the batteries, and we almost ran out of juice trying to find our way back to our Airbnb apartment! We had no idea where we were and we were running through the city trying to get back before our phones completely died! Don’t be like us, pack a power bank for your phone that you can easily tote around the city. We will never make that mistake again!

Pocket WiFi Device

Say goodbye to crazy roaming charges with a portable WiFi device! Stay in touch with loved ones, look up history or information on the fly, and easily share your pictures and travel adventures on social media. It’s also super handy if you need to do any blogging or work while you’re abroad, you don’t want to have to rely on public Wifi.

Slash-Proof Purse

As a woman traveling, I needed to carry a few things – including my collapsible selfie-stick (see next)! With pickpockets and thieves throughout Rome and the rest of your European travel hot-spots, you want to be very careful with the bag you choose to travel with. I chose a slash-proof purse that had zippers that clipped to the bag, making it more secure and less-likely to be pickpocketed.

When in Rome, I felt someone in a crowd grab at my bag, and was very thankful I had the zippers clipped so no one could quickly grab my wallet or other belongings inside. This is the bag I used and it was the perfect size to carry everything I needed – even a small water bottle! I’ll be taking it on all of my future travels.

Collapsible Selfie-Stick/Tri-Pod

We used this selfie-stick everywhere we went on our travels. You can make it as long or as short as you want, it has a remote that attaches to the base of the stick or you can pull off to make snapping pictures a breeze, and it also is able to be set up as a tripod if you want some further away shots!

Say goodbye to asking strangers to take your picture, you can easily do it on your own with this set-up. And it collapses nice and small so it can fit in your bag!