Lets start by saying that 2 weeks are no where enough to see the whole of Europe. Nor is 2 months, probably not even 2 years. But since our travel budget doesn’t always allow us to vacation in Europe permanently, two weeks it usually is. We travelled to London and Europe last November for the first time, and our Europe leg of the tour was around 2 weeks. This is a complete itinerary of our two weeks in Europe, including how we travelled, where we stayed and everything in between.
I did quite a bit of research before traveling and I must have read at least 50 different posts on various itineraries before deciding on ours. First a few things to keep in mind:
- The earlier you book your tickets, the cheaper they will be. Round trips are always more economical than to and fro tickets from different cities. So plan your trip accordingly. For instance the cheapest tickets we found were return tickets from London. So we planned our whole trip around that, we started and finished at London. It worked out perfectly for us.
- Do your research on the type of visa you need and apply for your visa as early as you can. Sometimes it takes upto 6 weeks to receive your visa, or even longer depending on how many applications there are. You do not need to buy tickets or book hotels to get your visa, you only need to have a planned itinerary.
- If London is on your list, please remember that you will need 2 different visas. A UK visa and a Schengen Visa for your travel within Europe.
- If possible apply to France for the Schengen Visa, they have the fastest approval time. Ours came in 3 days!
- While planning which countries you want to see please consider how long it takes to get from one place to another. No point thinking you have 3 days in a place, when you will spend 2 of those days traveling.
- Within Europe, try to travel as much as possible using the railway system. Its hassle free and so much better than the airports. Don’t be duped by the cheaper flight costs, literally everything will be an add on, bags, seat, food, theres sometimes even an extra fee if you want to chewing at the airport and not online. So do proper research before you decide train or plane wherever possible.
- While deciding your budget, factor in all costs – visa fees, travel, hotel, daily expenses, shopping budget and an emergency fund.
Outside Park Gruell – Barcelona
Now for where we went and how we decided. I knew I didn’t want to go to more that 4 different countries, it would be too hectic and I did want to have time to see each place. We decided on London, Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona. My husband – Maddy and I both wanted to go to London for sure, so that was easy. Then he wanted to go to Amsterdam and while I knew I had to go to Paris, so we picked those two, and then Barcelona was just too awesome not to see. If we had more time, we would probably stay and see more of France – Brussels, Nice, some other small coastal towns in the south. But since this was a winter trip I thought that was something we could do during a summer next time. We had a budget of INR 1,50000 per person for this trip. And apart from my shopping which I had a separate budget for, we were able to stay within our budget.
1. London, UK ( 5 days, 4 nights)
Our flight was from Bangalore to London via Kuwait and it was around 17 hours with a layover over of 3 hours in Kuwait. Including return for both of us it was approximately INR 68000. I’ve already written a couple of posts about our London part of the trip. You can read them here and here. We stayed with Anisha and DJ and I cannot honestly describe how much fun we had. One of the highlights was definitely being able to see a Chelsea match at Stanford Bridge, it was really something.
Filling big shoes in Zaanse Schans, Amsterdam
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands (2 days, 2 nights)
London to Amsterdam – 6 hours 37 minutes
We took the Eurostar from London to Amsterdam Central. We booked our tickets from the site GoEuro, which actually shows you a comparison of the time and cost of your journey if taking a flight, train or a bus. Its really helpful. We paid €118 for 2 first class tickets which included a breakfast. We stayed in Zandaam, which is about 30 minutes from central Amsterdam. I would really recommend our airbnb. It overlooked a lake and was right next to a chocolate factory. Needlessly to say, it smelled heavenly. Its perfect if you want to avoid the center of the city which can get quite loud. Our host made us an enormous dutch breakfast, which was absolutely amazing. I had planned to do a walking tour our first day there, but we were quite tired after London and just decided to take it easy. So we walked around the city for a bit, which literally looks like something out of a storybook. Then we picked up some food (which included lots of dutch cheese) and headed back to our cabin settled in front of the fireplace. It was perfect. The next day we woke up all refreshed and went to see the village of Zaanse Schans, caught up with some old friends, and explored more of the city. Pretty soon it was time to pack and move on to Paris!
Outside the Lourve, Paris
3. Paris, France (4 days, 3 nights)
Amsterdam to Paris – 3 hours 18 minutes
We took the earliest train available, and were in Paris by 11 in the morning. We took the Thalys, we booked our tickets from Trainline and they were €164 for two tickets. We again stayed at an airbnb, which was nice enough but I would probably stay at a different place when I go back. I plan to do more detailed post on our three days in Paris and include our days to day plan there. I’ve seen pictures, I’ve read books, even seen movies about Paris but I still was unprepared for how the city made me feel. I loved every minuted of it. Maddy maintains that London was the best city we saw, but for me even at the risk of sounding like a cliche I think it’ll be Paris for awhile.
Inside Sagrada Familia
4. Barcelona, Spain ( 5 days, 4 nights)
Paris to Barcelona – 6 hours 27 minutes
We took the Renfe SNCF train from Paris to Barcelona. We booked our tickets from Trainline and they were €118. We stayed at the Casa Gracia, which was such a good find. Its at a great location, and offers so many fun activities for guest. They have free walking tours and bar crawls and all sorts of fun classes everyday. They also had an amazing breakfast buffet every morning which we really enjoyed. And I mean really..we woke up late one morning and missed breakfast and Maddy grumbled about it pretty much the whole day.
Barcelona honestly seems like the perfect city for a holiday. It has something for everyone. Fascinating history and culture, the architecture and everything Gaudi ever touched will leave you speechless, beautiful beaches, amazing food and just so much to see really. I could stay for a month and not get bored. I followed a lot of Anisha’s recommendations. The first time we tried to find the restaurant she mentions – Bodega Vascoria (at 13, Gignas) we kinda got lost in the Gothic Quarter in the most amazing way, and ended up eating at another place -L’Antic Bocoi del Gotic (at Baixada de Viladecois, 3) which is also really good. Their sangria was the best we had in Barcelona. The next day of course we found the Bodega Vascoria and it was so good that we ended up going back there twice before we left. We also went on a hunt for churros, and found this place called Xurreria Laietana(at Via Laietana, 46) within walking distance from our hotel. They serve the most delicious churros with freshly made hot cocoa. I honestly can’t think of anything better for a cold winter day. Very highly recommended if you’re ever in the area.
Ham on tomato bread and squid potato bravas
We did the Sandeman’s walking tour, which is a great starting point for your first time in the city. Its free, and you can pay whatever you think the tour was worth at the end of it. We liked it so much that we ended up doing the Tapas Tour as well. This one was a tour of around ten tapas bars mostly around the Gothic Quarter, trying the food, beer and wine in each place. It was a lot of fun. I actually enjoyed walking around the city with a local more than the actual food. There is a Gaudi tour as well. We however didn’t have enough time and decided to only see the Sagrada Familia, Casa Balto and Park Gruell. I would definitely recommend going inside Sagrada Familia, its definitely in the must see category if ever in Barcelona.
Try to get tickets online ahead of time, they sell out pretty fast and there are specific time slots for entry which you might miss if you just show up. Casa Balto was within walking distance from our hotel, which was pretty helpful. We decided against going inside as we were quite tired. The tickets were about €32 each. We went to Park Gruell the next day, and I’m so glad we did. Its on top of a mountain so you get this amazing view of Barcelona City, and even though its a park its quite interesting how its designed. There is a little bit of a climb to the highest point in the park where you get a panoramic view of the city and the coast line. Not for faint hearted or people afraid of heights. At the end of 5 days I was wishing I had more time.
The Barcelona skyline from Park Gruell
Barcelona to London – 2 hours 30 mins
We took a flight back to London. With baggage and everything it cost us about €100 for two tickets. Even though the flight was 2 and half hours, it took us around 5 hours overall to get out of the airport and then reach central London from Stansted. This was the most painful part of the journey so far. My phone wouldn’t work, I couldn’t get a cab for awhile, it was a mess. We finally figured it out and managed to get to Anisha’s place. We stayed a for a night and then it was time for our flight back to Bangalore. Which again took around 15 hours.
Near Tower Bridge, London
I’m already planning out next trip to Europe, this time it’ll be Rome, Italy and maybe Greece if possible. Hope this helps with your travel planning, and let me know if you have any questions. As always come say Hi on our Instagram or Twitter, we would love to hear from you! Till next time 🙂