Athens

The birthplace of democracy, Athens is at once a tantalizing blend of antiquity, modernity and the natural world. Ancient structures and monuments tower over a modern city interspersed with mountains and rocky hills, and striking views of the Saronic Gulf just a few kilometers to the south. Foodies and oenophiles rejoice, the food and wine is phenomenal!

Summers in Athens are hot, searing and touristy. We recommend visiting in spring (Greece in bloom is divine!) or fall to avoid the crowds.

There are a few options for getting to and from Athens International Airport. The easiest and most direct way is via taxi with a flat rate of €38. Alternatively, take Metro line 3 from the airport to Syntagma Square Metro Station. It takes about 40 minutes and will drop you right in the heart of the city.

EAT

Dióskouroi Cafe Tavern This taverna next to the Agora is popular with the locals. The house salad is a MUST try. Great for lunch.

Esperides A taverna in the adorable Anafiotika neighborhood situated right at the top of a dreamy, cobble-stoned staircase. The roof has views of the Acropolis and live music. Go for lunch or stop by in the evening for a tipple and mezes.

Karavan This teeny, tiny sweet shop is tucked (literally!) into the side of a doorway but is known for its incredible baklava.

To Kafeneio One of our most memorable meals in Greece, this tiny taverna was empty of tourists and perfectly delicious. They have their own vineyard and winery in Nemea. Definitely try the housewine and meatballs with sauce!

The Old Tavern of Psarras Local restaurant perfect for lunch near the Acropolis or for a sunset dinner with their lovey terrace overlooking the Ancient sites.

DRINK

Couleur Locale This hip drinking hole is located on a third floor roof deck overlooking the Acropolis. Go for sunset and stay for dinner. It’s a little tricky to find - walk inside the No. 3 building, head to the back, and the go up the stairs.

Dos Gardenias This Cuban-style tapas bar in the trendy Monastiraki neighborhood is a great spot for a drink before dinner or at the end of a long, dusty day.

Oinoscent Awesome wine bar near Syntagma Square with over 50 wines available by glass. Bustling with a PYT crowd on a Friday. If you like reds, try the local agiorgitiko varietal from Nemea.

Taverna Acropoli This taverna is next door to the Roman Forum and overlooks the ruins. Stop here to refuel on Greek coffee and take a break from the sun before heading to the next archaeological site.

PLAY

Anafiotika This charming neighborhood rises above the Plaka against the walls of the Acropolis rock. It’s blue and white buildings and winding walkways are reminiscent of the Greek islands. Awatara is a cute shop featuring world clothing, jewelry and accessories.

Archaeological ruins These should be at the top of your Athens list. Purchase a €30 three day entrance pass from any of the major archaeological sites to gain access into all the sites you’ll want to see. The “do not miss” list includes the Acropolis and its museum, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Forum, the Temple of Zeus, Kerameikos (the ancient, “seedy” part of town) and Hadrian’s Library.

National Parliament Building Worth a stop by to observe the ezone guards in their traditional wear.

Lykavittos Hill Hike or take a cable car to the top of this hill just north of Syntagma for spectacular views.

Monastiraki Flea Market The go-to spot for tourist shopping. Pick up Greek wine, olives, jewelry and decently priced leather jackets.

The Pynx This hill towers above the ancient Agora and was an important gathering place for the Athenian democratic assembly. It is an important place in the birth story of democracy, and a great viewpoint overlooking the city.

Syntagma Square and Syntagma Metro Station Syntagma is the heart of Athens today and its Square is surrounded by the shopping district. Check out the Syntagma Metro, also a celebrated archaeological site! Looking for local gifts to bring home? Check out Greek skincare company Korres Natural Products.

STAY

Nearly all the major archaeological sites in Athens are within walking distance of the Old Town, Plaka. While lovely and a great place to stay, Plaka is also touristy. For something a bit hipper, younger, or just slightly quieter, look for an AirBnb in either Psiri or Monastiraki.

Alternatively, we enjoyed staying at the three star Athenian Callirhoe Hotel just south of Plaka. It was well-priced with large rooms, breakfast included and was a 10 minute walk to Plaka.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Split

Split is Croatia’s second largest city and a jewel along the Dalmatian coast. It is celebrated for its cheerful red-tiled roofs, Old Town labyrinth, and the ruins of the 4th century fortress and palace lying within it. Spit is also a gateway to the rest of Dalmatia and the many islands sprinkled off its coast. We recommended spending a few days in Split at the start or end of a longer Croatian adventure.

Split has an international airport just a few miles and short drive from the city. Taxis and ubers are an easy option.

Split is also a three hour drive from Dubrovnik. Renting a car and driving in Croatia is fairly easy, as long as you making a booking in advance. We started in Split, drove 2.5 hours into Bosnia for an overnight in Mostar, and then continued south another 2.5 hours back into Croatia toward Dubrovnik.

While this seaside town would be gorgeous any time of year, it is especially incredible in the warmer months. Avoid the height of the tourist season by visiting during late spring or early fall (May, late August or September).

EAT

Bokeria Don’t miss this restaurant and wine bar serving up Croatian dishes and wines. Make a booking in advance.

Teraca Vidilica Stop at this on your hike back down the hill in Marjan Forest Park. It’s a great place for a snack, beer and view of the city and coastline.

DRINK

Croatian wine is incredible but not yet well known on the international market. According to a wine guide we met, the winemaking industry suffered greatly under the Soviet block, as all grapes produced were used to make one style of house wine. No individuality, creativity or experimenting was allowed or encouraged. However, the industry has more than recovered today and while in Croatia be sure to try the local varietal plavac mali. This small blue grape is the most planted grape used for red wines in Croatia, and it produces the most deliciously smooth rosés and reds.

PLAY

Bell Tower of St. Domnius Cathedral Perhaps the most touristy thing to do in Split, the (somewhat) perilous climb up the steps of the tower is worth it for the view at the top. Go early to beat the crowds.

Diocletian’s Palace This UNESCO World Heritage site is whats left of a Roman emperor’s palace. Today the ruins are the heart of Split’s Old Town, forming a labyrinth of shops, restaurants and bars. Hire a tour guide or use a guide book for a self-guided walk. Major sites within the Palace include the Peristil, the Cathedral of St Dominus, the Vestibule and the palace substructures which today form a marketplace leading down to the Riva. In summer go first thing in the morning, as this area becomes packed with tourists and Game of Thrones fans.

Klis Fortress This ancient fortress sits in the hills above the city. Hire a car or take a local bus to visit. Game of Thrones fans will recognize Klis as Meereen. Recommended by a friend.

Marjan Forest Park This hilly nature reserve rising above the coast is home to medieval chapels and caves, and a lovely walk through pine forests. A hike up offers vistas of the city and ocean below. Bring snacks and water.

Riva Split’s waterfront and harbor area is bustling with boat tours, restaurants and shops.

Sunset Cruise Organize a sunset cruise along the coastline with one of the many kiosks adorning the Riva. Short cruises are approximately 90 minutes to two hours and cost between €20-30. For those with more time, book a half day trip to Hvar or elsewhere.

Zapadna Obala This promenade connects the Riva to Marjan Forest Park and is worth a walk.

STAY

Stay within walking proximity of the Old Town and Diocletian’s Palace. We highly recommend Prima Luxury Rooms, a boutique hotel just minutes from the Old Town.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Rye

One of the prettiest and best-preserved medieval market towns in the United Kingdom, Rye is a few hours east of London in Sussex. This former port town is mere miles from the seaside and picture postcard perfect. Rye has it all with a nearby nature reserve and beach, charming cobble-stoned streets, antique boutiques and adorable pubs. A trip to Rye is a lovely way to spend a weekend.

Take a Southeastern train line from London St. Pancras Station to Rye Station in 1 to 2 hours, depending on the service. If you are coming from London and have a bike, bring it! Biking is the perfect way to traverse the three miles from the town to the nature reserve and coast.

EAT

Marino’s Fish Bar Classic fish and chips in a humble establishment.

The Mermaid Inn This restaurant, pub and inn dates back to the 12th century (though the current building was built in the 15th). It’s on the prettiest street in Rye, and maybe the United Kingdom, wethinks.

DRINK

Rye Waterworks Micropub This 300 year old former water-pump is now a teensy craft brewery. Super friendly local vibe.

The Ship Inn A 16th-century inn and pub just a block from the River Brede. Apparently it used to be a halfway house for smugglers.

Ye Olde Bell Inn It calls itself the oldest pub in Rye!

PLAY

Camber Sands This beach and dune area is three miles away but an easy bus ride from Rye. Recommended by a friend.

Mermaid Street Perhaps the most charming street in England, it is lined with medieval, Shakespearean style buildings.

Rye Harbour Natural Reserve This local nature reserve is over 1000 acres and was an important historic fortification in the 14th, 16th and 20th centuries. Buses travel regularly from Rye Station to Rye Harbour village and Winchelsea Beach near the Reserve.

St Mary’s Church A church has stood on this site for more than 900 years. Climb the bell tower for a gorgeous view of the town and sea and explore the ancient graveyard.

Strand Quay Great vintage, knick knack and homeware shopping.

Ypres Tower and Rye Castle This 13th century castle is now a quaint little museum. There is also a pretty view from the top of the tower of the coast.

STAY

Rye is an easy day trip from London but we’d recommend an overnight stay. Choose a quaint Airbnb within walking distance of the tiny town or the nature reserve. Alternatively, Rye Windmill is a historical bed and breakfast just a short walk from the town center. Recommended by a friend.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Bergen

Located on Norway’s southwest coast, Bergen is the second largest Norwegian city but feels more like a large town. Surrounded by seven mountains, pine forests and beautiful fjords, a weekend here will vastly exceed the wishes of any outdoor enthusiast. The fresh seafood is also fantastic.

While Bergen Airport is 18 kilometers from the city center, public transportation is excellent and cabs are expensive. Take the Flybussen (20 minutes and $13 a ticket) or light rail (45 minutes and about $4 a ticket) directly into Bergen’s city center. Both the bus stop and light rail are directly outside the airport entrance. Book Flybussen tickets in advance to save money.

Norwegian Airlines and SAS run many daily, direct flights to Bergen from across Europe.

While Bergen would be magical any time of year, if you want to hike and fully experience the magic of the fjords (without being inhibited by ice or snow), we suggest planning a trip between April and October.

EAT

Don’t miss the local specialty, fiskesuppe, the Bergen take on fish soup.

Bryggeloftet & Stuene The local speciality is Klippfisk, a North Atlantic cod dried on cliffs for three months, with an intense and salty flavor. Choose the upper floor for the best view.

Fisketorget A fish market has stood on this site since the thirteenth century. Today it has both local vendors and restaurants.

Godt Brød This bakery chain has multiple locations around the city and is great for a quick bite or sandwich on the go.

Hoggorm A hip pizza place just west of the city center that seems to always be buzzing. The pizzas are thin crust, topped with local ingredients and divine.

Naboen This pub and restaurant is a friendly place to drink and eat.

Pingvinen The coziest pub serving up excellent, western Norwegian cooking made with ingredients sourced from local producers. Don’t miss this one.

DRINK

Bryggeriet This classy restaurant overlooking the harbor is also a microbrewery. Go for a beer flight in the afternoon.

Det Lille Kaffekompaniet Cute and comfortable cafe.

Dyvekes This quintessentially Norwegian pub near the harbor has an extensive wine and spirit list and, with its cozy nooks and candle lit tabletops, epitomizes hygge.

Kaffemisjonen Independent coffee shop with great coffee and nibbles.

Statsraad Lehmkuhl This turn of the century, training ship has a place of pride in the Bergen harbor. While it’s possible to take a cruise aboard the ship, we felt the small reception-cum-pub-cum-members-club was a hidden gem. Stop by on a Saturday afternoon for a friendly pint and live music.

PLAY

In the summer, Bergen’s seven surrounding mountains are a paradise for mountain biking, hiking and kayaking.

Bergen Cathedral Pop into this religious medieval vestige to admire its 12th century splendor and stained glass.

Bergen’s neighborhoods Make time to walk around the residential areas surrounding the harbor. The neighborhood just behind Bryggen, Eidemarken, clings to the slope of Floyen mountain and is a labyrinth of old, wooden houses and winding, brick-lane streets.

Bryggen One of Bergen's and Norway's main attractions, Bryggen was built after the 1702 great fire and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area is known for its medieval, wooden architecture and boutique shops. Check out hip home goods store Røst Bergen.

Bergenhus Fortress This medieval fortress at the top of the harbor entrance is worth an exploration.

Fjord cruise to Mostraumen One of the best ways to experience Norway’s magical fjords is by water. We recommend this three-hour, return trip that takes in wildlife, waterfalls, and gorgeous fjord views. It runs year round but in winter may be more difficult to access the fresh water areas due to ice.

Fløibanen Funicular Take this cable car to the top of Floyen mountain for views of the city and surrounding fjords. A myriad of hiking trails start from here. We also recommend a visit to the lake, which is a short hike from the funicular station at the top.

STAY

Bergen‘s city center is small and most tourist accommodations will be near the main attractions. Check out Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz in Bryggen, or, for a clean and comfortable budget option, we recommend Citybox near the city center.

Bermuda

Just 90 minutes by flight from New York City, this tiny island nation has the prettiest water and finest sand in all the Caribbean (and perhaps the world, wethinks!). Journey to Bermuda for its the natural beauty and laid-back, island lifestyle.

There are no rental cars on the island and cabs are expensive. The best and easiest way to get around is by electric scooter. Spend your days beach hopping all along the island.

EAT

Bailey’s Bay Ice Cream Parlour Quaint ice cream joint near the Crystal Caves.

Barracuda Grill Posh seafood and steak joint in Hamilton.

Bermuda Rum and Cake Company Bermuda is well known for its rum cake. Pick up a few goodies from the Royal Naval Dockyard location.

Frog and Onion Pub English-style pub in the Royal Naval Dockyard.

Wahoo’s Bistro and Patio Excellent fresh fish in St. George’s.

DRINK

Gombey’s Bar Beachy dive bar at Clearwater Beach.

The Swizzle Inn A historic tavern that claims to be Bermuda’s oldest pub. Good food too! Try the signature Rum Sizzle drink.

PLAY

Clearwater Beach Our favorite beach in Bermuda. Far from tourists on the northeast side of the island, and oh so blue.

Crystal and Fantasy Caves Book a guided tour to the underground caves. Lots of opportunities for rock jumping.

Elbow Beach Lovely beach on the south shore.

Horseshoe Bay Beach This pink sand beach on the southern shore is consistently ranked one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Tobacco Bay Beach A small beach cove off the tourist track in St. George’s. Wander through the rock pools nearby.

STAY

Looking to splash out? The Fairmont Hamilton Princess and Beach Club in Hamilton is pure luxury. Its beach club on the southern shore is a gorgeously calm and private bay.

For the budget-minded, or those simply looking for a more authentic experience, we recommend a quiet serviced apartment or AirBnb with a view on the North Shore Road cliffs. You’ll be well away from the cruise ships in Kings Wharf and tourist resorts in Hamilton and the south shore.