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

Istanbul

Istanbul straddles both Europe and Asia and for centuries has been a physical bridge between the Orient and West. The former capital of the Roman and Byzantine Empires, Istanbul was known throughout the ancient world as Constantinople. With its views of the Bosphorus Straight and Sea of Marmara, orange tiled rooftops, and Islamic minarets, it is a stunning city. Visit for the delicious Mediterranean food, shopping in the Grand Bazaar, and gorgeous architectural antiquities including the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.

Istanbul is a delight to visit in warm weather. Go anytime spring through early summer or in the autumn. To see all the sights and fully enjoy the city, we recommend at least three days.

Be sure to check Visa requirements before visiting Turkey. Online visas can be applied for here.

From the airport, take the M1A Yenikapı - Atatürk Airport subway line to the city center. Alternatively, cabs are an option but heavy traffic can make the journey take twice as long. We would only recommend this if you arrive early morning or late in the evening.

EAT

Antiochia Hip, brick-walled restaurant in Beyoğlu with amazing food. Great spot for dinner.

Cemil Dulda'nın Yeri Mardin Meat and kebab hall next to the Grand Baazar. Try the Iskander kebab and eggplant kofte.

Hocapasa Pidecisi Humble little lunch spot in Hocapasa serving up excellent pide (Turkish pizza). It is very near the Gülhane Parkı Çeşmesi park.

Hünkar Turkish and Ottoman food in the Nisantasi neighborhood.

Meze by Lemon Tree Diner  Excellent Turkish food near Taksim Square. Go for dinner.

Restaunt Mürver Beautiful view overlooking the Bosphorus from the top of the Novotel in Karaköy.

Tarihi Karadeniz Döner Kebab sandwiches in the Besiktas neighborhood. Great option for lunch on the go.

DRINK

Be sure to try the local tea, called çay, and Turkish coffee.

Anadolu Nargile Çorlulu Ali Paşa Medresesi This 300 year old, former Islamic school is now a hidden shisha bar near the Grand Bazaar. This spot has an authentic, local vibe, though as with most shisha bars in Islamic countries, it does not serve alcohol.

Istiklal Caddesi There are lots of great places for drinks in the narrow streets that flow from Istiklal Caddesi, a main street near Beyoğlu and Taksim Square. Nevizade Sokak is a particularly good side street.

Mikla Trendy roof-top bar (and restaurant) in Beyoğlu. Go for cocktails and watch the sun set over the Bosphorus.

PLAY

For visits to the mosques and other monuments, we recommend buying tickets in advance. The lines are a cluster and often warrant long wait times.

Dolmabahce This is the former palace and place of death of Atatürk, the Turk hero who brought down the Ottoman Empire.

Galata Kulesi (Galata Tower) Medieval tower in Karaköy quarter of the city. Historically, this was the city watchtower and now welcomes visitors to see a 360 view over Istanbul at the top of the tower.

Hagia Sophia This must see Orthodox church was converted into a mosque by Muslims. After you have toured the interior, grab a Turkish coffee on the terrace of nearby restaurant Seven Hills for the best views.

Kapali Carsi Grand Bazaar. Some of our favorite shops include:

Koç In need of a leather Jacket? They have two shops, one in front of the other, but try the smaller shop. The seller speaks good English.

Recep Karaduman Beautiful Turkish Carpets, worth the visit even if you are not looking to buy.

Kiz Kulesi (Maiden's Tower) Go by ferry and enjoy the beautiful views of Istanbul and the Bosphorus from the top of the tower.

Sultanahmet Known as the Blue Mosque, this active place of worship is famous for its blue tiled interior and architecture. It is a 10 minute walk from the Hagia Sophia. Free entry.

Taksim Square The heart of the trendy Beyoğlu neighborhood, this is a hot spot for cafes, bars and people watching.

Topkapi Palace This old Ottoman palace overlooking the city which was the center of Istanbul.

Turkish Baths There are many. Don’t miss trying one!

STAY

Sultanahmet is a neighborhood close to most of the major sites but does not offer many restaurant options. We enjoyed Hotel Niles Istanbul, a tiny, boutique hotel with a lovely roof terrace that is a few blocks from the Grand Bazaar.

Otherwise, check out Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş or Nişantaşi neighborhoods. Beyoğlu is known for its proximity to bars, restaurants and shopping.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

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.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

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.

Vancouver

If traveling through the Pacific Northwest, be sure to include a stop in Vancouver! The city is wedged between the Pacific and coastal mountains which makes for a beautifully unique skyline. The city and its residents have seemed to master the balance between big city life and the mountains while charming its visitors with a laid back, friendly vibe.

Vancouver International Airport is about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city center. It typically takes about 30 minutes by car to arrive into downtown from the airport.

Vancouver is a bike friendly city and has the infrastructure for comfortable, self-guided tours. There are several rental shops located throughout the city. We rented near Davie Village to spend the day biking around Stanley Park.

EAT

Burgoo Kitsilano Their slogan states food is for comfort. Throw on your finest sweatpants and order the mac’n’ cheese with no regrets!

Catch 122 Cafe Bistro Cute, rustic lunch spot serving a modern take on traditional Canadian dishes.

Granville Island Public Market Located on a tiny peninsula south of the city, this is a must do in summer. The market hosts a variety of food stalls, locally sourced products and art vendors.

Wildebeest This restaurant is known for its meat-heavy farm to table menu.

DRINK

For serious beer drinkers, head to East Vancouver to experience the city’s top breweries. A few of our favorites are listed below.

Alibi Room Modern bar in Gastown with a trendy, bustling vibe. The avid IPA drinker will not be disappointed as the pub offers 50 taps of local and imported craft beers.

Granville Island Brewing Canada’s first microbrewery with tours and formal tastings. Stop here while visiting the Public Market.

Vancouver Urban Winery A stroll away from the Alibi Room, this winery offers local, Canadian wines sourced from grapes in Railtown, Vancouver. The winery also has a wide selection of ciders and beers alike.

PLAY

Gastown Head to this historic neighbourhood to explore local shops and restaurants.

Granville Island A great place to bike through and grab lunch.

Kits Beach Historically known for its hippie culture, this is a perfect spot to enjoy a day soaking in the sun and taking in the mountain views.

Stanley Park Bike through Vancouver’s “backyard”, a massive outdoor park with swimming, beaches, an aquarium, zoo, and more. Check out the Brockton Point Totem Poles which pay homage to the indigenous Salish people and their culture.

STAY

Gastown Stay here for unlimited dining options. Known for its food and young professional scene, this historic part of the city will not disappoint.

Kitsilano Kits is the place to be for hipsters and bohemians. The neighborhood offers easy access to the beach, pools and a cute Main Street (West 4th Avenue) with boutique shops and restaurants. Lululemon fans will find the city’s flagship store here.

West End A 10 minute walk from downtown, this neighborhood provides more of a relaxed, residential feel but is close to Coal Harbour, Stanley Park and the city’s beaches. Most hotels are near Robson Street.