Paris

The City of Lights and Love is truly special. There is so much to do, see, and taste in Paris and often too little time, making it easy to feel overwhelmed when planning. Besides the major sites, our favorite way to enjoy the French capital is just walking around the different neighborhoods, stopping in a café to just enjoy the moment.

Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly are the two nearest international airports. Orly is smaller and offers the Orlybus shuttle from the airport to Paris Denfert-Rochereau Station in the city center. The bus costs about €8, takes roughly 30 minutes, and departs every 15-20 minutes. It is also possible to take a bus from de Gaulle into the city but may take longer due to traffic. Uber is also in the city and an efficient option.

If you are coming from London, take the Eurostar from St. Pancras Station direct to Paris Gare du Nord. The trip takes about 2.5 hours total.

While Paris is magical any time of year, we love it best in spring and fall. The weather is milder and the tourists that descend upon the city in summer have long gone home. Try visiting during the first weekend of October, when Parisians celebrate Nuit Blanche. “White Night” is an all-night festival when museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions are free and open all night. The city also celebrates special installations and performances which are hosted in public spaces throughout the city.

While in France attempt to speak French! Parisians are friendly but even friendlier if you dust off your rusty high school French.

EAT

Derriere A fun and funky spot for dinner. Good for groups.

Ellsworth Casual spot where the Parisians take on some American classics

Le Comptoir du Relais A well-known bistro in St. Germain.

La Jacobine A tiny, adorable and affordable restaurant in St. Germain. Make a reservation for dinner.

Le Marais Boulangeries (bakeries) Wander around the neighborhood and treat yourself to the local specialities: croissant, pain au chocolate, baguette tradition, and chausson aux pomme.

La Petite Perigourdine Quintessential French restaurant in the Latin Quarter. Try the steak and aligot, a smooth, buttery potato side.

DRINK

Bar du Marché This St. Germain bar is open late and a great stop for a night cap.

Candelaria Not far from Le Marais, this taqueria features a hidden, speakeasy in the back. Good for cocktails.

Chez Jeannette Hip bar between the 3rd and 10th arrondissements with a PYT crowd.

Les deux Maggots Hemingway is rumored to have frequented this old world, St. Germain cafe. Stop here for a coffee or beer and watch the world go by.

Le Syndicat An amazing cocktail bar in the 10th.

Lockwood Relaxed and understated cocktails in the 2nd.

OChateau Wine + Cheese tasting lunch Lunch and learn!

Prescription Cocktail Club Posh cocktail lounge in St. Germain. Recommended by friends.

PLAY

Eiffel Tour Paris’ most beloved icon. Sit on the lawn and admire the view with a picnic.

Jardin du Luxembourg A lush sanctuary in the heart of the 6th arrondissement.

L'Arc de Triomphe Stop to admire this monument built to honor Napoleon before strolling down the posh Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

Le Marais One of Paris’ coolest neighborhoods, go for the delicious French pastries, medieval cobble-stoned alleys and trendy boutiques. We especially love Blue Lemon Paris, Merci and Sézane.

Louvre Home to da Vinci’s timeless Mona Lisa, plan to spend at least a half day at the world’s most famous museum. While here, check out the nearby Tuileries Gardens. Bring some cheese, wine, baguettes, and enjoy the views.

Montmartre This village-esque art enclave on a hill is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Paris. Stop by the Sunday Brocante des Abbesses market, admire the Sacre Coeur church, observe the street artists and musicians, and look out across the gorgeous city view. The Moulin Rouge is also nearby.

Musée d'Orsay Internationally recognized for its Impressionist art, including works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Cézanne and more. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Notre Dame Cathedral A must see. Truly beautiful architecure inside and it. Aside from your day visit, we recommend an evening walk along the river to photograph the illuminated cathedral.

Saint Germain and the Latin Quarter The 5th and 6th arrondissements are traversed by the ghosts of literary and artistic legends who flocked here in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today these bohemian, student neighborhoods are excellent for a mosey around.

Seine river cruise A bit touristy but offers amazing views of the city from a different vantage point. Go at sunset.

Day Trips

No trip to France is complete without a visit to the Champagne region. Home to Moet, Veuve Clicquot, and Dom Perignon, this region is a must see. Rent a car for a self-guided trip or book a tour through Ô Chateau.

Palace of Versailles The opulent, former seat of the French monarchy is an easy day trip from the center of Paris. About an hour by train, go in the morning to tour the chateau before spending an hour or two in the gardens. For a little insider tip, rent a golf cart to explore the full extent of the gardens. Buy tickets online in advance.

STAY

Our favorite neighborhoods to stay in are Le Marais (3rd arrondissement), the Latin Quarter (5th) and Saint Germain (6th). Airbnbs are generally the best value for money. Friends have also recommended the four star Hôtel Atmosphères near the Sorbonne in the 6th arrondissement.

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London

Founded by the Romans, the capital of the United Kingdom is over 2000 years old. Today’s city rests upon ancient layers of civilization, a network of rivers and the rubble of The Blitz. While there is much to love about London, its prevailing medieval structures, winding streets, village-esque neighborhoods and diverse population are especially charming. #LondonIsOpen

If arriving into Heathrow, there are a few options for getting to the city. The first is via the Heathrow Express, which is a 20 minute ride into Paddington Station. Purchase round trip tickets in advance to get the best price. If you are traveling in a twosome, the DuoSaver is a great deal at £55 for return tickets. Another option is to take the Piccadilly Tube line (purple), which will get you to central London in about an hour. You can also take an Uber or taxi, which may make sense if you are a group. However, unless you are staying in West London this may take the longest and be the most expensive.

If arriving into Gatwick, take the Gatwick Express train (30 minutes) into Victoria Station.

Traffic is notorious. London is far reaching and while it can take time to get across the city, the Tube is efficient, clean and extensive. Purchase a £5 blue Oyster card for easy tapping into London’s Tube and bus network.

CENTRAL

EAT

Dishoom Delicious Indian in trendy locales. Hot tip: the Kensington and Kingly Court locations are often less crowded.

Ergon Deli Greek deli and cafe in Mayfair. Get the sesame bagel with eggs.

Fabrique Bakery Scandinavian bakery with locations in Shoreditch, Notting Hill and Covent Garden. Try the cardamom buns.

The Good Egg Healthy Jewish and Middle Eastern food in Kingly Court.

Gymkhana Michelin-stared Indian in Mayfair. One for special celebrations.

Leong’s Legend Unassuming Taiwanese dim sum in Chinatown.

Mildred’s Tasty vegetarian restaurant in Soho.

The Palomar Modern Israeli fare from the same group behind Machneyuda in Jerusalem. Book two months in advance for dinner.

DRINK

68 Wine Bar Soho wine bar with an NYC vibe. Long list of bottles for £20 each.

The French House Small pub in Covent Garden that used to be a gathering place for the literary crowd.

Gordon’s Wine Bar London’t oldest wine bar. This Embankment spot is located within subterranean vaults, and has a lovely outdoor patio for sunny days.

Milk and Honey Fancy cocktails at a Soho speakeasy.

New Evaristo Club Tiny dive bar in Soho that was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. Try to go before 11pm.

The Wolseley Old World European bistro near St. James. Go for tea and book ahead.

PLAY

Big Ben and Parliament

The British Museum. Free and open every day.

Buckingham Palace Changing of the guards is at 11am every day.

The Churchill War Rooms An excellent way for history buffs to spend a few hours.

Marylebone High Street A cute spot for shopping with trendy boutiques, quaint cafes and dreamy book stores.

The National Gallery A national treasure with works by Vermeer, Titian, Cézanne, Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many more.

St. Paul’s Cathedral This Anglican cathedral has been a worship site for over 1000 years.

Tower of London A medieval castle, founded in the 11th century, that sits in the center of the city. Visit the crown jewels and notorious Tower of Terror.

West End Catch one of London’s many Broadway shows in this part of town.

Westminster Abbey Get tickets online if you fancy viewing Poets Corner and the Tomb of the Tudor sisters inside.

STAY

If work is paying and proximity to the sites, restaurants and nightlife is important, we recommend choosing a hotel in Soho, Covent Garden or Westminster. The Courthouse Hotel in Soho is lovely and close to everything.

For a more authentic experience, consider an AirBnb in one of London’s many “village-esque” neighborhoods. See more below.

EAST + SOUTH

EAT

Borough Market A foodie haven near Tower Hill with fresh produce, craft drinks and gourmet food stalls. A market has operated on this site since the 12th century.

Cay Tre Authentic (and cheap!) Vietnamese in a BYOB setting in Shoreditch.

DRINK

10 Bells Traditional pub near Spitalfields that is rumored to be the lcoation of a Jack the Ripper murder.

The Bermondsey Beer Mile Craft beer breweries on a mile long strip.

Callooh Callay Speakeasy style cocktail bar in Shoreditch. Make a booking.

Martello Hall Industrial style pub in South Hackney that is open late on the weekends.

Netil360 Relaxed roof-top bar in South Hackney.

NT’s A hip loft bar with a deck in South Hackney.

PLAY

Brick Lane Historically home to a South Asian immigrant community, this neighborhood is sadly gentrifying. The immigrant community has left their mark behind in the mosque, Indian restaurants and sweet shops that dot Brick Lane. There is a street market every Sunday.

Columbia Road Flower Market East London flower market held every Sunday, rain or shine, before 2pm.

Greenwich Home to the Prime Meridian longitudinal line, this historical borough on the Thames River is known for its rich naval history, the 19th century Cutty Sark ship (now a museum), Royal Naval College and Royal Observatory. Catch a ferry from Westminster to Greenwich and enjoy the view.

STAY

East London is younger, hipper and a bit more of a party scene. Check out Shoreditch, Hoxton or Hackney.

On the south bank of the Thames, look in Bermondsey.

NORTH

EAT

Camden Market Food stalls and stuffs, this outdoor food market features Yorkshire pudding burritos, katsu chicken burgers, halloumi fries and many more nifty concoctions.

La Creperie de Hampstead Tiny crepe cart on the Hampstead high street. Try the mushroom, cheese and tarragon.

The Spaniard’s Inn This 16th century former inn is great place for a pub lunch.

DRINK

The Flask Historic and cozy Hampstead pub.

PLAY

Camden Town The old rock and roll neighborhood, Camden is still gritty and its Camden Market is great for eating and shopping.

Hampstead Heath Wilderness in the city. This large park has great views of the city, hiking trails and natural swimming pools.

Primrose Hill This hill in Regent’s Park has an excellent view of the city.

STAY

In the north, we love Islington, Angel and Kings Cross. There will be lots of Airbnb options in all of these neighborhoods.

WEST

EAT

Bluebelles Delicious and adorable brunch spot on north Portobello Road in Notting Hill.

Lisboa Patisserie Perhaps the best Portuguese bakery in all of London, this Notting Hill institution usually has a line outside on the weekend.

Pizza East Quality pizza. Locations in Shoreditch, Kentish Town and Portobello Road.

DRINK

Bluebird Posh cocktail bar in Chelsea.

Candella Tea Room This tiny, Alice in Wonderland-type tea shop is an adorable spot for tea in Kensington.

The Churchill Arms The most Instagram-able pub in London.

Electric Diner Hip bar open late on Portobello Road.

The Orangery Take tea at Kensington Palace!

Union Tavern Canal-side pub north of Notting Hill with outdoor seating.

PLAY

Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

Chelsea Trendy part of town with cute shops, restaurants and beautiful, old Victorian pubs. Take a walk down King Street.

Little Venice Three canals meet in this lovely neighborhood just west of Paddington Station. From Little Venice take a 45 minute canal boat through Regent’s Park up to Camden Town.

Portobello Road Market A Notting Hill street market held every Friday and Saturday. Great for antiques, artisanal gifts, food stalls and eclectic bric a brac.

V&A Design Museum One of the world’s leading museums on decorative arts and design.

STAY

In the West, both Notting Hill and Kensington are close to the park and have easy access to the city. Check out AirBnbs in both neighborhoods.

Luxembourg City

The capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was once one of Europe’s strongest fortresses, known as the Gibraltar of the North. Today this medieval city is home to the European Parliament and European Investment Bank.

While Luxembourg is a small, mostly rural country tucked between Belgium, Germany and France, it is accessible via train from most places in Western Europe. The airport is also located just a few miles from Luxembourg City.

Luxembourg was occupied by Germans during World War II and liberated by American troops in 1944 and 1945. Today, the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, a short trip from the City, is the final resting place for over 5,000 American service members and General George S. Patton. It is a peaceful place for reflection and memorial.

EAT

Luxembourgish food draws from the cuisines of its neighbors’ and immigrant communities. Try French pâtisserie, German sausages and apple sauce, and Portuguese food.

DRINK

The historic Grund district, known today for its nightlife, beauty and medieval charm, lies at the bottom of a valley that runs through the center of the city’s Old Town. Our favorite spots include:

Melusina A trendy night club.

The Pyg Friendly and cozy Irish pub.

Scott’s This pub is popular with the ex-pat crowd.

PLAY

Casemates du Bock A network of medieval tunnels used as bomb shelters during World War II.

Le Chemin de la Corniche The “most beautiful balcony in Europe” is a lovely walk along 17th century ramparts overlooking the Grund and Alzette River valley.

Grand Duke’s Palace

The Grund Walk around before the sun sets.

Moselle River Valley vineyards The Moselle’s wines, especially the whites, are internationally recognized and cellar door tastings are a short trip from the city.

Philharmonie Luxembourg A beautiful, internationally renowned concert hall.

STAY

Luxembourg City is small and easy to get around by bus. Stay in the city center for easy access to shopping, restaurants and the Grund’s nightlife, or in the area just north of the train station.

Amsterdam

With its bikes, lovely canals and narrow brick buildings, Amsterdam is one of the sweetest cities in Europe and one that begs for return visits.

Amsterdam is small and best viewed by foot or bicycle. For destinations beyond Centraal and the canal district, the trams are easy and one-hour tickets can be purchased on board.

The city is best reached from the airport via a taxi (15-20 minutes, assumes no traffic) or by train (20 minutes).

EAT

The Avocado Show An instagram-able brunch spot that serves avocado in every dish. Service can be slow so go early or plan to wait.

Foodhallen A sprawling indoor food market with good options for brunch, lunch, or afternoon drinks.

Henri Willig Cheese Try (and bring home!) Dutch cheese and mustard.

Lantjil & De Tijger The best Indonesian food in a hip, busy setting. Indonesia was a former Dutch colony and today Amsterdam has some of the best food outside of Indonesia. Try one of the nasi plates or a rice table.

The Pancake Bakery All the sweet and savoury Dutch pancakes (a larger cousin of the French crepe) you could want at a historic location in Joordan.

Restaurant C A high-end, trendy restaurant with a tasting menu prepared at varying degrees of Celcius. Service a little slow but food is delicious.

Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx The very best french fries.

Winkel 43 Incredible Dutch apple pie. The hype is real!

DRINK

Brouwerij 't IJ A brewery and beer garden serving organic beers next to a windmill.

Coffeeshop Paradox Chill spot in Joordan.

Easy Times Coffeeshop Clean coffeeshop serving dry herb and overlooking a canal. Try the carmelo.

Pilsvogel Lively pub and beer garden in Gerard Douplein Square in De Pijp.

Proeflokaal Arendsnest Dutch craft beer pub in Joordan with over 50 local brews on tap.

PLAY

Albert Cuypmarkt A street market in De Pijp. It’s on every day except Sundays.

Anne Frank House

Canal Cruise We highly recommend this. Choose the self-operated boats or hire a skipper. We enjoyed our 90 minute cruise and tour with Those Dam Boat Guys.

Jordaan The poshy part of town. Spend time strolling through it’s charming streets.

Katten Kabinet Feline friends, check out this quirky museum in an old town house devoted to cat artwork. Say hello to the kitties in reception.

Rijksmuseum The Netherlands Museum with art dating back to the Middle Ages. Works by Vermeer and Rembrandt can be found here.

Sarphatipark A small but sweet park in De Pijp.

Shopping It’s fantastic. A few of our favorites include:

De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets) for vintage and designer boutiques.

Juulry Cute jewelry shop in De Pijp.

O My Bag A sustainable and fair-labor leather company that produces beautiful bags in De Pijp.

Restored on Haarlemmerdijk.

Tikal Alternative jewelry boutique in Joordan.

Zenza Global home goods in Centraal.

Stedelijk Museum Contemporary art housed within a grand old building.

Van Gogh Museum Best museum in Amsterdam.

Vondelpark Rent a bike and cruise around.

STAY

We recommend De Pijp. Amsterdam’s coolest neighborhood, this former working class hood retains its bohemian vibe. It’s a 20 minute walk into Centraal and far enough from the tourist crowds that it feels authentic. We have loved staying in AirBnbs here and here.

We also love the Joordan neighborhood, which is a bit pricier but worth the cost for being close to everything.

Hotel Arena Gorgeous hotel property next to Oosterpark. Great bar on-site.

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