8 must visit European cities for first timers

Like most other people my first trip to Europe was fast – with an itinerary aiming to visit numerous cities in only a few weeks and tick off as many key sites as possible.

If you’re planning your first trip here’s the 8 must visit European cities which I believe you should include to get a real feel for the continent.

1. London

I spent 4 nights in London the first time I visited and found the size and number of things to do there overwhelming. You won’t be able to do everything, but with a few days you’ll be able to experience the highlights such as The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, St Pauls Cathedral, Oxford Street, Westminster and a couple of galleries. The added bonus is that London Heathrow is basically a gateway to the world.

From-London-Eye

2. Paris

It’s easy to get to Paris from London thanks to the Eurostar or buses which take the ferry to Calais from Dover. Check out the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, see the Mona Lisa at Musee du Louvre, and the Moulin Rouge (whether you see a show there or not).

3. Rome

My favourite Italian city – visit Vatican City, attend a Papal Audience in St Peters Square, toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain, enter the Colosseum and check out the Pantheon. It’s also important to consume pizza, gelato and a coffee standing up.

Rome Colosseum

4. Venice

Back when Europe was a place I had only imagined the floating city of Venice and it’s Gondolas were what I pictured (probably thanks to masses of advertising). The fact Venice is made up of 117 islands crossed with bridges is inconceivable as it’s so hard to pick them out. Seeing traditional Glass Blowing and Lace Making as well as visiting the markets and Piazza San Marco are excellent starting points.

5. Athens

I’m sure many tourists only pass through Athens as means of getting to the Greek Islands but the ruins of the Acropolis and the Panathenaic Stadium are historic sites everyone should make an effort to see in their lifetime.

Acropolis Athens

6. Barcelona

I loved Barcelona and wish I’d allowed myself more time there. It’s a large city to explore so purchase a Hop On Hop Off Bus pass and get off at sites such as the Olympic Stadium, Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, and stadium of Barcelona FC.

7. Berlin

As much as I loved Munich with it’s gardens and beer halls, if you can only visit one city in Germany it really should be Berlin. One day I will walk the Berlin Wall, visit the Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate and explore the Grunewald forest.

8. Amsterdam

Amsterdam has two sides for visitors – the idyllic canals and floating flower market and then the Red Light District and the coffee shops. Best seen on a bike, save time for visiting Anne Frank’s house and the Heineken Experience.

So… do you agree? Or which cities would you swap out?

Would you rather?

92H (2)

Tea Was Here has an impressive knack for coming up with inspiring post ideas. I’m jumping on this ‘would you rather’ tag which consists of a variety of travel dilemmas. Here are my choices.

Q: Have a $10,000 budget for a holiday and you can either fly first class for $5,000 and stay in mediocre accommodation. Or spend $1,000 on economy and stay in luxury accommodation?
A: I would take the hit of the economy flight  and stay in luxury accommodation. A $10,000 budget deserves to take me to somewhere amazing a long way from home, and the floating bungalow I’m picturing in the Maldives is sure to cost a bundle.

Q: An all expenses paid trip to a small town in New Zealand with your best friends or an all expenses paid trip to your dream destination with your frenemy?
A: With all expenses paid I’d ditch the besties and head to the South America with my frenemy. Perhaps we can sort out our differences over a Caipirinha? If not I hear accidents happen on the trails at Machu Picchu…

Q: Never take the train or never take an aeroplane again?
A: Easy – trains aren’t going to get me far out of Wellington. Only too happy to give those up (sorry boyfriend, best you find your car keys or move somewhere on the bus route).

Q: Spend a full day with a thief or with a beggar?
A: I’ve seen Focus – thieving looks fun and I could learn a heap.

Q: You have won a prize. The prize has two options, and you can choose either (but not both). The first option is a year in USA with a monthly stipend of 1,000. The second option is ten minutes on the moon. Which option do you select?
A: I would LOVE a full year in the USA being paid $1,000 per month! I’ve seen too many space movies (Galaxy, Prometheus and Interstella to name a few) not to have learnt that the trip to the moon is not only long and far from glam, but also risky in terms of fellow travellers who may actually want to kill you.

Q: Wake up without your wallet or wake up without your passport and phone?
A: Without my wallet – I have mobile banking on my phone (as well as a fancy Westpac credit card stuck on the back of it!), need to be able to contact people re: missing wallet, and would not want to be stuck in whatever foreign country I am visiting (coz why else would I have my passport on me?) trying to solve that particular situation.

Q: Be left behind in the bush on an African safari or Be left behind in the water on a scuba trip?
A: Bush. I think I could hide up a tree longer than I could tread water for.

Q: Lose your luggage but land on time OR land 12 hours late with your luggage intact?
A: I’d rather lose my luggage but land on time so I could get out, see the sites and buy some new gears (hopefully via insurance). Screw the flight (in my head it’s you JetStar…) being 12 hours late and missing out.

Q: Bike across the US from New York City to San Francisco, or bike across China from Beijing to Tibet?
A: I’d take the New York to San Fran bike option. I’ve really only seen cities on the edges of the states so it would be great to take my time pedaling through the middle. China adds complexity in terms of a foreign language should I get lost or hungry.

Q: Be stuck on a desert island with Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift? (you can choose your dream dates if you’re playing along at home!)
A: While I’m sure Ed is awesome Taylor seems outdoorsy as well as lovely and like nothing would faze her.

Q: Be able to teleport to places you’ve already been or only be able to teleport to places you’ve never been before?
A: Places I’ve already been would be quite fab – London, Auckland, Clive and Sydney in an instant would save me a lot of time and money and give me no excuses not to visit people.

Q: Be stuck on a seven-hour delay, or Turn up at the airport and realise your flight is tomorrow?
A: The later so I could go back out in the world and do something. I am not good with delays – the old phone battery only lasts so long.

Which of these is the biggest travel dilemma for you?  Leave a link if you are joining the tag on your own blog!

Some others with answers to check out: