We’re pretty fortunate to have the ability to travel from country to country with no additional effort or hassle; not that travelling to other countries is too much hassle but often we need visas, vaccinations, additional security checks, wait times and all at an additional cost. But with Europe on our doorstep and flights as cheap as a button; we can take a trip to an exotic city at a drop of a hat.
I loved my little summer jaunt around Europe; we did 5 cities and 4 countries in 2 weeks. We experienced different historic landmarks and sites, soaked up the different languages and customs, tasted delicious, fresh and country specific cuisine and all of this, in those two short weeks, are experiences that will last a lifetime.
We don’t know how much longer we’re going to have this flexible freedom when it comes to travel or how it may or may not change. But let’s not leave anything to chances; things worth doing or seeing require planning and commitment. So we want to show you how we did it and on a budget.
When it comes to travelling around, we’ve got options. But we’d either recommend driving or flying.
If you’re a party of two; flying, by far, will be the cheapest and most convenient option to seeing a number of our European cities in a short space of time. I found Easyjet, as always, to be the most cost effective and comfortable budget airline to travel with but depending on where you’re going, Ryanair may be the next best (for example they fly to Oslo from Stansted for as little as £30 per person). To give you an example of costs; with Easyjet you could fly to Amsterdam, Prague, Paris, Milan and Rome and back for 2 for around £600 in the next couple of weeks; if you’re planning ahead, even to around October time, for the same trip you could pay around £450.
If, however, you’re in a party of 3, 4 or more and you’re not short on time, travelling by car may be more feasible and cost effective. An additional bonus of travelling by car is the benefit of spontaneity; you get to take unexpected detours and breaks to see and take in a lot more of the sites you miss by flying.
If you have to get from the airport:
Shuttles are great if you need to get into the city, they’re usually the most cost effective method and you get piece of mind with a flat rate fee as opposed to an approximation with taxis. Super shuttle’s service a few of the European airports (Amsterdam, Paris, Stockholm and Geneva) and I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with them.
Other major cities have a train service that will get you in and out but usually limited in terms of operating hours and now with Uber servicing many major cities across the world, there are many cost effective ways to get to your hotel with ease and peace of mind. (We’ve also teamed with Uber to give you £10 off your first ride use code AnythingGoes).
When in the major cities public transport is the way to go; Amsterdam & Prague for example have a tram network, Paris & Rome have underground systems. It’s quite easy to get information in advance too so you can feel totally at ease in your new city for the next few days.
Alternatively, hop in an Uber- The benefit of Uber is you know the drivers on the app have been vetted, payment is done over the app and you can track your driver. When it comes to taxis in an unknown city it can be difficult to know if you’re getting a genuine service or literally been taken for a ride.
This is where we found things a little trickier. Hotels in our European counterparts are rated differently to here. So if you’re accustomed to a particular standard of accommodation- whether it’s tea and coffee making facilities, check in services or even the type of linens and bathrooms you have- things are likely to be a little different, so we’d strongly recommend exercising caution and rigorously read the hotel descriptions and reviews from other guests to get the best indication of what you can expect. Booking through sites like Expedia, Booking.Com, TripAdvisor, Trivago etc. will give you detailed information and opinions on those that have stayed there too.
Sites to see
Each city has distinct features and attractions, we’re not necessarily saying anything new here but we’ve some key tourist insight to share:
Prague– is an incredibly pretty city. We highly recommend taking advantage of the free tour; the guides are extremely knowledgeable about the city, they take you around the most iconic landmarks and take you on a journey through history with interesting stories. Even if you only did this aspect you’d feel like you know the city pretty well in just a couple of hours.
Amsterdam– better known for the cannabis cafes, sex tours and workers but Amsterdam is rich with culture, history and beautiful scenery. Anne Frank museum is daunting, lump in throat feeling but moving; Van Gough museum is a little further out of the city but we’d recommend allocating a day to check it out; the canals are a sight to behold so sitting by with a beer is a must; the city is full of colour in spring and early summer when the tulips bloom and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch sight of one of the iconic windmills.
Paris is the city of gothic architecture; amongst the iconic landmarks- Notre-Dame, Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower and Arc De Triomphe- is a city of beautiful surroundings. You never knew buildings could be so beautiful. If ever there was a city to spend as much time outdoors, it’s this one. Just sit with a coffee, pastry (the best, obvs) and admire the sites. For a true sense of history and culture The Louvre where the beautiful Mona Lisa sits is highly recommended but note, it’s not somewhere to visit with an hour to spare; to truly appreciate what is on offer you’ll need a day at the very least but we’d recommend two. We didn’t get chance on our last trip but we’d highly recommend a trip to the Moulin Rouge, it’s something we regret not doing!
Rome was bar far my favourite city; it helps that I instantly felt at ease and relaxed here which might just be because the Italians themselves seemed to be this way inclined but I also think it’s because Rome is a city so rich in culture and history that you can feel it moving through you as you walk the streets. Julius Caesar’s palace, The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum and of course the Vatican City for St Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel are all sights worth seeing. Some things to note: Be prepared to queue to go into St Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel; these points of interest are incredibly popular and attract thousands of visitors a day. I don’t recommend doing during lunch hours because there are few places to hide from the very hot sun. Instead, try and be there for the start of the day.
As for the Colosseum there will be dozens of tour guides looking to scout your business. Although you can book to see the stadium alone; it is value for money to book with a tour operator because you’ll benefit from access to additional sites included in the price. Obviously such a package and tour is more expensive but in the case of Caesar’s Palace/House of Augustus, which is just across the road, you can’t get access to the site without a guide and it is, in my opinion, a site worth exploring. I’d recommend you do your own research though to determine whether you believe it’s worth it; we all have different tastes! If you decide to go-it alone at the Colosseum make you sure you get the audio tour so you can get all the information but explore it in your own way and time.
Particularly in the case of Rome, a number of the sites that you visit will be regarded as sacred; specifically speaking we mean cathedrals, churches etc. and the Italians will not allow you to enter if you’re not appropriately dressed so ensure you’re in something knee-length or longer and breasts and shoulders are covered.
From your trips to Europe, do you have any recommendations for our readers?