Your Best European Recommendations?

Friday, June 26, 2015


Do you have any favorite or "must-see" or "must-stay-at" spots in Europe?? I'm starting to plan out trips for after our move, and I know a lot of you must have some really good tips!! Where have you loved the most?

(A spot Cam and I still talk about years later was this amazing hotel in Venice. It had just opened so the prices were great (not sure what they are now?) and it was the prettiest room we stayed in (right on the Grande Canal) during our whole trip through Europe. Also, have you ever been to or heard of Matera, Italy? It's an ancient cave city in the southern region of Basilicata and one of the most surprising places I saw the year I lived in Italia.)

(Photo is of Hvar, Croatia and from Jordan's beautiful Instagram) Happy weekend!

52 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness gracious, I have SOOOO many ideas!!! Sarlat, France (where Ever After was filmed, perfect Medieval city!)...Bruge, Belgium (probably my favorite city in Europe!!)...Haarlem, Holland (where Corrie Ten Boom is from!! I cried at the Hiding Place museum, the tour was SO uplifting and inspiring!!)....Dingle, Ireland (OMG, you would LOVE this quaint town!!!)...Delft, Holland (the sweetest!!)...OK, I have so so many more! Why don't I tell you over dinner tomorrow night!!!! (eeep, I'm so excited!!!)

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  2. Oh my goodness so many incredible places to visit in Europe. I may have to think on it and come back to post ideas. So excited for your family to have the opportunity to live there. I keep praying somehow we'll be able to find ourselves somewhere out there someday too! England has a special place in my heart (well the whole UK really) because I spent 5 years growing up there, and then my Dad moved back again later so I would definitely put it high up on my list, but there are so many special little places throughout the continent.

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    1. We've talked about renting a car and driving through the English countryside -- I really want to see some of the estates and castles.. Thank you so much for your rec!

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  3. Hi dear! I am bursting with ideas but after living here for 2 years I'd say my absolute favorite spots have been: Lisbon, Portugal, Nerja, Spain, Cassis, France, Menton, France, Positano, Italy, & Dingle, Ireland :D Best wishes with your move!

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    1. Thank you so much, Margo! I haven't heard of a few of those before and in looking them up I am absolutely adding them to our list!

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  4. Definitely hit up Portugal, I love, love, love it there! I love Lisbon, but Porto is so gorgeous and Portugal is so cheap compared to the rest of Europe and the food is amazing!

    I would definitely give Edinburgh a go, such a beautiful city with the history and architecture! And Budapest!

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    1. Thanks, Julie! I never made it to Portugal when I lived in Europe last so I'm really looking forward to it this time!

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  5. So excited for you guys to move to Croatia! There's just so much to explore and discover in Europe that I know you and your family will have a beautiful time! :) Two of my favorite places in Europe are actually Norway and Cornwall - both just boast such an incredible wealth of natural beauty! I feel like the UK is a bit of an underrated travel destination, but the countryside is just beautiful! :)

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    1. Thank you, Melanie! Ahhh us too!! Yes, English countryside is definitely on our list and I hadn't thought of Cornwall - thank you!

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  6. I've heard of Matera but sadly know nothing about it! But if you make a trip down there, I'd recommend going all out and doing a huge Italian road trip! Puglia is incredible, I just got back from there myself - we stay down by Gallipoli which is so lovely. On the way back up to Milan we stopped in Umbria (which I read has been lauded as the new Tuscany) in a town called San Gemini which was well worth it - the food was exquisite. My all time favourite destination in Italy though is the Dolomites - we stayed in a town called Fie allo Sciliar and the entire week was a blur of apple strudel, pine forests, log chalets, flowers, mountains, prosecco and general fairytale romance. Plus a fair bit of hardcore hiking! I'm hoping to post more about my travels around Italy now I have a bit more time (sorry for the shameless self promotion!) Good luck with the move :) xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua Italy

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    1. Oh my goodness, I got to spend a week in Umbria when I lived in Italy and yes, I can definitely see why its being called that - it was GORGEOUS. Mmm I love the sound of your time in the Dolomites - heavenly! Are you kidding, thank you for letting me/everyone who reads these comments know to read your posts - already bookmarked it :) Thanks again, Lucy!

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  7. Oh my goodness so exciting!! That hotel looks absolutely gorgeous!! I have heard of Matera and have had friends who have visited say it is absolutely wonderful but I haven't been there myself! Most of my time in Europe has been spent seeing lots of places I think you have already visited and then many historical places (specifically related to World War II and biblical archaeology studies) so if you are interested in any of those type of places email me and I will be happy to pass some favorites on to you! :) Also some sweet friends loved some places in Slovenia so if you are interested in anything from there let me know and I can pass on some info! :) So excited for your new adventures!!
    Blessings, Rebecca :)

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    1. Oh gosh, Slovenia is actually one of the first places we want to go! It's less than an hour from Zagreb to cross the border and is probably where we've been doing the most research, so yes, would love to hear your recs! Thanks, Rebecca!

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  8. HI! Matera is gorgeous (even if I'm Italian I've never been there..but heard a lot about it)..once you are in that area you should do Matera + a tour around Puglia region (Lecce, Alberobello, Ostuni, il Salento...). When you are in Puglia you should stay at a MASSERIA, a typical small charming hotel (http://www.charmingpuglia.com/en/masserie-puglia.html)

    Regarding Europe we have just been to Portugal..it is amazing! We'll go to Holland in August (a 10 days bike tour) and I expect a lot also from that State!
    Ciao Ciao, Eleonora

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  9. So I might be biased, but I think Crete, Greece is a must-see. The best time to go is spring or fall, when there's fewer tourists and the weather is cool and the land is still green, but it's beautiful any time of year. It's got some of the best cuisine I've ever had (they say Greeks vacation on Crete because the food is so good!), a diversity of gorgeous beaches and villages, historic churches and monasteries, and a growing wine industry. My husband and I just got married there, so I may be waxing poetic, but I promise you it's a truly special place!

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    1. PS- amazing mountain views and hiking!

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    2. Ah, congratulations!!! How amazing that you were married there! It's somewhere we really want to go, so thank you for all of your insights!

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  10. Brugge, Belgium
    Normandie, France
    Strasbourg, France
    Mont St. Michel, France (right in between Brittany and Normandie)

    Basically, you should visit France :) Paris is always a good little trip, but I always say you don't go to France till you leave Paris. Outside of Paris you get to experience the true French culture and the seriously amazing food!

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    1. Hahaha yes, we are planning on it :) Thank you for those great recs!!

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  11. You know I'm FULL of Europe ideas! Must sees on my list would be:
    Bruges, Belgium
    Riquewihr, France (Alsace regions is just gorg!)
    Ireland (spend 4 or more days there, for sure)
    London (all time fave!)
    Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany...plus any city along the Rhein River
    Renting a villa in Tuscany for a week and visiting Cinque Terre (if you haven't already)
    Zermatt, Switzerland (winter wonderland!)
    Santorini & Mykonos (duh)
    Lake Constance, Germany
    Tallinn, Estonia
    San Marino (tiny country tucked into Italy near Ravenna)

    And about a million more...but those are my highlight reel! Feel free to email me anytime, deary!

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    1. OH, and Germany Christmas Markets, obviously. Enjoy!

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    2. Well I was just going to suggest reading Casey's blog, but now that I think about it...I'm pretty sure I found THIS blog from Casey's. Oh well, it seems like it all worked out!

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    3. I have bookmarked so much from your blog it is slightly ridiculous. Thanks, Case!! And haha, Lindsey, thank you - yes, all worked out - I love Casey!

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  12. First of all I am loving reading through everyone's comments and all these places are going on my never-ending list of places to visit haha!

    As for my personal favorite place, that would be Switzerland. I was lucky enough to visit a ton of places when I studied abroad a few years ago but Switzerland stole my heart. It was a really expensive place to visit for a poor college student, so much so that when we got on the train we were feeling really guilty about it, but then as soon as we passed the border and were staring out the window at the Swiss landscape we said that even if we never got to our final destination and just turned around and went back home it would have been worth all the money we had spent, it is that beautiful!!! We stayed in Interlaken, which I highly recommend especially if you like adventure activities because they kind of specialize in that (paragliding, canyoning, bungee jumping) but even if you aren't I would still highly recommend! It is situated in between two lakes (hence the name) and butts up right against the alps so it's just magnificent. Our first night there was an incredible sunset over the lake that reflected off the mountains making them look pink, it was amazing! It is also really close to some other smaller towns which are adorable. We went over to Murren because they have this humongous waterfall that you can climb behind (read about it on Sarah Tucker's blog - actually she is the whole reason I decided I had to go to Switzerland, I owe her!) and unfortunately we went towards the end of winter and it wasn't open yet, but the walk there was gorgeous anyways and we got to see more "regular" homes with all their cow bells and little farms of lambs, anyways, go to Switzerland!!

    Can't wait to follow along on your next adventure!

    xo Mary-Katherine
    gold-hatted lover

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    1. Thanks, Mary-Katherine!! Cam and I stayed in Interlaken years ago and hiked that very waterfall ! We loved it and are definitely planning on going back! :)

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  13. Vienna, Vienna, Vienna. Graz, as well. All of Austria, really, but Vienna is wonderful. Take a picnic to Schoenbrunn and go to the Tiergarten (the oldest zoo in the world!), tour the Hofburg Palace and all the ancient churches, just wander around in a city that has been painstakingly designed for livability, efficiency, and happiness. Vienna has vineyards within city limits, so there are a bunch of "heuriges" -- outdoor wine gardens -- where you can just sit outside and enjoy delicious local wine. Hiking/walking in the Viennese forest is also fantastic. If you can, go to a concert or an opera; it doesn't have to be too expensive and Vienna is literally the city of classical music, so it's the best place to hear some! And of course, you have to go to Cafe Sacher and eat Sachertorte and to one of the other historic cafes (I recommend Cafe Central) and try the coffee, especially a Schockoccino -- it's like a mocha, but so much more intense and delicious! Restaurant recommendations include Le Bol and Motto am Fluss. I hope you go and have a wonderful time!

    The Geneva Convention

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    1. Thank you so much for those wonderful tips, Geneva!

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  14. Yey Europe!! My fave place is Spain! I loved the Granada, Ronda, Valencia, Cordoba, and of course Barcelona!! Cannot go wrong with Spain especially when it comes to food.

    Lisbon & Porto is also amazing!

    I want to go to Italy this fall.

    Have a fantastic time!

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    1. Yes yes yes. Adding all of those to our list. Thanks, Christine! Hope you make it in the Fall!

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  15. I say you venture a little further East! Turkey (Istanbul and the coast!) was awesome -- you guys would LOVE IT. And my parents would LOVE hosting you guys in Israel! I checked and flights were as low as $380/pp!
    Can't wait to follow your travels ... and maybe visit!
    --- lanneybear

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    1. Maybe visit?! You mean WHEN you visit! Yes, can't wait to see your mama and papa!!!

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  16. You've got quite the list! I have to echo Bruges, Belgium and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. They are small cities and can be touristy - pick your timing right. I have loved wandering their cobblestone streets.
    Another of my favorite places is Klagenfurt, Austria and the lake. It's known for its summer tourism and tends to caters towards a wealthier demographic. I suggest going at the end of summer when the lake water is warm, the boats are still out and the views are amazing. We stayed in Krumpendorf, and spent a day driving around the lake. The food is Austrian with Italian influences, and lots of mushrooms!
    If you end up in Prague I recommend staying at the Lida Guesthouse. It's family friendly and on the outskirts of the city center. The hosts will tell you everything you need to know and have great recommendations, they love their city.
    I am so excited for you and your family!

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    1. Switzerland! How could I forget Switzerland?! We loved being in Interlaken and hiking down the mountain through Gimmelwald. The air is fresh and crisp.

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    2. Oh thank you so much! Klagenfurt sounds amazing and I will definitely look into that guesthouse!

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  17. Lisbon, Portugal! :) I might be biased, but it's honestly amazing here during the Summer, and easily the first stop in Europe coming from across the ocean. Barcelona-Spain, Florence and Venice in Italy, Vienna - Austria, Budapest yes! All wonderful options. Prague, Czech Republic, is my second home, and one of the most romantic cities I've ever lived in... breathtaking really! Heading home, hop to Ljubljana - Slovenia. I liked it so much I visited twice in 3 years, it's really worth it and such a great introduction to the more eastern Europe environment. I'm writing you and wanting to tag along this very second... So excited to hear about this new adventure of yours!
    If you decide to pass by and need any tips, I'll gladly pass along some :)
    Hope you have a great time!
    Vitoria

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    1. Wow, thank you! Yes I will let you know :) Ljublijana is one of the first places we hope to see and it's incredible how many people have told us to get to Portugal - I can't wait to see it! thank you again, Vitoria!

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  18. Amanda!!! First off, thanks for all the Instagram love :))) Secondly, oh my goodness I have so many recommendations for you. TOO MANY RECOMMENDATIONS!!! I need to write them all in an email to you :) I can't believe you move so soon...JEALOUS!!!! xoxoxo

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    1. Aw well thank you so much for letting me use your beautiful photo!! Haha, I can't wait to talk to you more and pick your brain:) Hope you're loving Sofia!!

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  19. Istanbul! We visited a few years ago when my sister was working in Bulgaria (fun to see but not worth dragging the kiddos to) and we loved it. The Grand Bazaar is awesome, be sure to take a Bosphorus cruise and the outdoor restaurants are all fabulous. Also Thassos Island was wonderful, a bit quieter and less touristy than Santorini. If you want to check out Western Europe, Copenhagen and Stockholm were wonderful. We took our 3 month old daughter and had a wonderful time. Scandanavia is a great place for children, we loved it!

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    1. Yay! I think we're meeting friends there in February so I can't wait to follow your great recs!

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  20. Bruges, Belgium - take a bike ride, eat a waffle, walk around the STUNNING little town.

    Brussels, Belgium - go during the Flower Carpet, something that only happens every 2 years in the Grand Place. Happening this August!

    Sintra, Portugal - absolutely gorgeous castles to visit, and a bit more off the beaten path.

    Obidos, Portugal - beautiful little town with endless charm and lots of history. Walk the walls, drink cherry liquer out of dark chocolate cups and eat delicious food.

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    1. Wow, I just looked up Sintra and Obidos and theyre gorgeous!!! Thanks so much, Nicky!

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  21. I'm totally late to this post, but if you head up to northern Italy, let me know and I'll give you some great recommendations! I miss that region every single day. I'm also surprised nobody's mentioned Plitvice Lakes in Croatia yet—it was, by far, one of my favorite trips. So many wonderful memories of living in Europe; I'm totally jealous you're moving there!

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    1. Oh I'm so glad to hear you say that -- it's only about an hour from where we'll be living so we're planning on going often! I will be asking you about N Italy too -- that's also really close! Thanks Jess!

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  22. let's all meet here - https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/704540

    (:

    and hvar! it's known for its nightlife and we didn't stay up past ten... lol... but we loved exploring the pakleni islands! it was all unreal, so beautiful!

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    1. ummmm DONE. that place looks insane!

      I've only looked through your photos from there about a hundred times. SO excited to get there!

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  23. My wedding photographer is currently on 3 week Croatia/Italy trip and has been instagramming incredible photos from Croatia. Her handle is katemcelwee if you want to check her out. Makes me want to go to Croatia--she is sailing to new cities every day!

    Also--your cous cous salad with feta-sundried tomato dip and yogurt dressing has been a staple around my house this summer! I have been substituting salmon for the chicken and it is delicious. And your blueberry lemon muffins are in the oven now. Can't wait to try them!

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    1. Ah, Alyssa, that makes me so happy to hear! Thank you!! So glad you liked both of those!

      Ooh thank you for sharing her instagram... amazing photos. I'm so excited I probably won't be able to fall asleep again tonight :) If you ever go over the next two years let me know!

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  24. Hi Amanda! I've been reading your blog for a long time now, and am really excited for your family's upcoming move to Croatia... I'm actually in Dubrovnik at the moment for a three week long university seminar, and it. is. SUCH. a dream. here!! I can't even begin to tell you. Although Zagreb wasn't our itinerary, I spent a few days in Split and toured Plitvice National Park (a MUST), and can seriously tell you everything worth doing/seeing/eating in Dubrovnik since it's such a small city! Will definitely type something out for future reference, and will pass it along via email to you!

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  25. Portugal is a must-see. From Porto, and the north of Portugal (Viana and Caminha in the coast, Chaves and Bragança in the interior closer to Spains), to the centre, with Coimbra, Lisboa, Sintra, Óbidos, to the south with the lovely Alentejo (coast and lovely spots close to spain, like Monsaraz where you can have a perfect meal in Herdade do Esporão while visiting the cellars, the olives, the garden, etc, to Évora and Vila Viçosa).
    If you ever decided to visit a spot in Portugal, I'll gladly give you some tips, since I live here :)

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