4 cites to see when spending 2 weeks in europe

A Crash Course in Europe: 2 Weeks, 5 Cities

Two weeks in Europe isn’t enough time to see everything, but with a little research and a well-planned itinerary, you can see five of its most iconic cities. Your days will be full, but that’s part of the experience. So charge your camera, wear comfortable shoes, and prepare to be wowed by the Old World.

2 Days in Rome

Rome skyline

Day 1

Morning:

Start you trip at the former home of gladiators in the fabled Colosseum. See the surrounding ruins of the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill before making your way to Piazza Novana, one of Rome’s largest and most beautiful squares.

Noon:

Grab lunch at a local deli along the nearby cobblestone streets and amble through the Piazza della Rotonda to the Pantheon, an impeccably intact temple constructed almost 2,000 years ago.

Next, visit Neptune at the Trevi Fountain. Bring some change so you can make a wish before counting your way up the nearby Spanish Steps.

Night:

Finish your first night with pasta and drinks at a quaint café in Centro Storico, the heart of Rome.

Day 2

Morning:

You’ll be spending the first part of Day 2 in another country: Vatican City. Get to St. Peter’s Basilica early in the morning for smaller crowds and more natural light. Save plenty of time for Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel.

Noon:

Immerse yourself in the produce stalls of Campo di Fiori market to see how many Romans get their fruits and vegetables. Once you’ve gotten a taste, spend your afternoon wandering the boutiques, restaurants, and bars of Trastevere.

If you’re up for more, see the haunting Capuchin Crypt beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, adorned with over 3,700 skeletons.

Night:

Hop on the high-speed train for a ride to your next city.

Don’t leave without: Treating yourself to freshly scooped gelato

2 Days in Venice

venice

Day 1

Morning:

You’re in the cappuccino capital, so grab a fresh cup and start wandering the city’s labyrinthine streets until you find the Accademia Galleries or Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Noon:

Water taxi to Murano, the renowned glass blowing island of Venice, to see glass made the same way it has been for over 700 years. You can see artisans blow glass in a live demonstration for free in a few of the shops. For more local handiwork, check out lace-making in Burano or the mosaics of Torcello.

Night:

Splurge on a leisurely gondola ride to get the full Venetian experience. Conclude the indulgent evening with some Italian vino and fresh seafood at one of the city’s best restaurants.

Day 2

Morning:

Have a quick breakfast so you can be among the first in line to see Venice from the top of the Campanile di San Marco bell tower when it opens at 9:30. Continue inside to the San Marco Basilica, then to the adjacent piazza to see the Torre dell’Orologio clock tower and the Teatro La Fenice Opera House.

Noon:

A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without an authentic Italian pizza. Get your fix before hopping on a vaporetto waterbus for a tour of the Grand Canal. Once you’re back on solid ground, visit the must-see landmarks like Doge’s Palace and see the Bridge of Sighs.

For a glimpse into the noble life, tour one of the extravagant Venetian homes, Ca’ Rezzonico or Ca’ d’Oro. Then cross the stone-arch Rialto Bridge and sample some fresh fish, local produce, and snacks at the Rialto Market.

Night:

Take a taxi to Marco Polo airport for a flight for the next leg of your journey.

Don’t leave without: Trying on some handmade Venetian Carnival masks

2 Days in Barcelona

Barcelona Park Guell

Day 1

Morning:

Take an obligatory walk down La Rambla, a touristy, yet classic Spanish mall that serves as a central nerve to the city. Grab breakfast at one of Europe’s largest and most famous markets, La Boqueria Mercat, before exploring the winding streets and historic squares of the Gothic Quarter.

Noon:

Make your way to Montjuïc Hill to see the old military fortress, the 1992 Olympic Stadium, and panoramic views of the city below. Stop at the National Museum of Catalan Art or nearby Miró Foundation if you want to see some art on the way back to town.

Consider a siesta to beat the jet lag and prepare for the long night ahead of you.

Night:

Dine in El Born, the poshest part of Old Town. Locals don’t start dinner until nine or ten, so you’ll find yourself at an empty restaurant unless you wait. If you’ve still got energy afterwards, partying starts at midnight and goes until sunrise. Try a speakeasy for something special.

Day 2

Morning:

Head to the Basílica de la Sagrada Família, the architectural wonder designed by legendary local, Antoni Gaudí. Sit directly in the middle of the cathedral and gaze up at the nature-inspired masterpiece, then climb up the spiral staircase for views spanning from the center of the city to the Mediterranean.

Noon:

Walk to the Gràcia neighborhood for a fixed price menú del día. The “menu of the day” typically includes two courses, dessert and a drink for around ten euros. Like dinner, you’ll stick out if you eat at American lunch time—locals eat at two.

After your midday meal, walk to Passeig de Gràcia to find two more of Gaudí’s seminal works: Casa Batlló and Casa Milá. If you’re still up for more Gaudí, visit Park Güell next. Originally designed as a garden-city, it’s become Barcelona’s most vibrant park.

Night:

Share tapas, like patatas bravas and garlic shrimp, in artsy Gràcia or the bohemian El Raval areas before heading back to your accommodations to pack.

Don’t leave without: Strolling through the majestic Arc de Triomf to Ciutadella Park

3 Days in Paris

Day 1

Morning:

As soon as you arrive in France, indulge in a fresh croissant, (chocolate filling optional), a coffee, and an hour-long cruise along the Seine. The last stop on your morning tour is la pièce de résistance: The Eiffel Tower.

Noon:

Visit the Arc de Triomphe and walk the Champs Élysées until you find a glamorous spot for your first Parisian lunch. From there, it’s a short walk through the Tuileries Garden to one of the finest collections of impressionist art in the world at the Musee d’Orsay.

Night:

Make like Lautrec and head to the lively restaurants, jazz halls, and cocktail bars of Montmartre, also home to famed cabaret Moulin Rouge.

Day 2

Morning:

See how Marie Antoinette and other royals lived on a tour of the Palace of Versailles, an hour outside Paris. You can do a morning tour or a full-day trip to both Versailles and Monet’s garden at Giverny.

Noon:

When you return to Paris, cross the Pont des Arts bridge and wander through the Left Bank’s narrow streets to the city’s oldest church, Eglise St-Germain-des-Prés. Literature fans should also pop into Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach’s famous bookstore that served as a home away from home for Lost Generation writers like Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein.

Night:

Explore the ethnic restaurants, laid-back bars, and sidewalk cafés in Belleville or Ménilmontant.

Day 3

Morning:

Get to the Louvre—the world’s largest museum and a Parisian landmark—around 9am to avoid midday crowds. Once you’ve explored its galleries and taken a photo in front of the distinctive glass pyramid outside, it’s time for some shopping in the tres chic Marais district. The street art and lovely Place des Vosges square will add some excitement to your morning.

Noon:

Stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Take the time to see the cathedral from all angles, inside and out. Then, make the short walk across the Pont Saint-Louis pedestrian bridge to the high-end shopping and Berthillon Ice Cream of the Ile Saint-Louis.

Night:

Say au revoir to Paris as you ride to Gard du Nord for a Chunnel train to London.

Don’t leave without: Seeing Mona Lisa’s smile

3 Days in London

London Big Ben

Day 1

Morning:

From celebrated musicals to avant-garde plays, London’s West End theater scene has it all. Stop by TKTS at Leicester Square first thing in the morning to score discounted tickets. Tickets in hand, hop on the red, double-decker 176 bus to the British Museum, home to world artifacts like the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, Easter Island statue and Lewis chessmen.

Noon:

Stick around Bloomsbury for a classic pub lunch like fish and chips or shepherd’s pie at one of the neighborhood pubs. After lunch, walk to Trafalgar Square, one of the most vibrant spaces in the city. Once you’ve seen the square’s iconic sculptures, fountains and buildings, pop into one of the free and expansive art museums, like the National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery.

After the museum, walk 10 minutes to marvel at Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the Palace of Westminster, where the U.K.’s Parliament resides. History buffs will enjoy seeing the neighboring Cabinet War Rooms, a series of underground offices where Churchill and his staff strategized during the Second World War.

Night:

Though India’s no longer a British colony, plenty of delicious Indian restaurants remain. After trying some of the famed curry or tikka masala on Brick Lane, head to trendy Shoreditch for some of the best nightlife in the city.

Day 2

Morning:

The renowned Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace takes place daily from April to July, and on alternate days the rest of the year. Finish breakfast in time to get a good viewing spot once it begins at 11:00 a.m.

Noon:

Spend your afternoon traipsing through the sprawling lawns and gardens of Hyde Park and taking in the sights of Kensington Palace and Gardens. Continue onto Notting Hill to see some of London’s best road markets, most colorful Victorian townhouses, and leading art galleries. You’ll quickly understand why this fashionable neighborhood is used so frequently in films.

Night:

Try a meat pie and British ale in the Convent Garden-Soho area beforethe theatre. There are countless pubs to choose from.

Day 3

Morning:

The stately St. Paul’s Cathedral opens to visitors at 8:30. Once you’ve explored the nave, crypt and the galleries within its dome, walk along the Thames or ride the District Line tube to the Tower of London, which holds the Crown Jewels. From there, continue over the picturesque Tower Bridge.

Noon:

Once you’ve crossed the Thames, look for a lunch spot in Southwark and make your way to Britain’s national gallery of contemporary art: the Tate Modern. Along with fabulous permanent displays and exhibitions, the view from the top of the Tate is among the best in London.

While you’re in the area, ogle at the traditional thatched roof of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and snap a picture of the undulating Millennium Bridge.

Night:

Make your way to the airport for a flight home.

Don’t leave without: Posing for a picture in one of the city’s famous telephone booths

Two weeks in Europe is just enough time to see its most iconic landmarks. Whatever you don’t have time for is just an excuse to return!

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