Hey everyone! Here is my post about travel tips for Paris! This is based on my own personal experience of the city and what I enjoyed the most!! I hope it helps if you are planning to visit anytime soon!! Enjoy!
- The metro in Paris is a little difficult to navigate at first, but after a couple trips it becomes much simpler.
- A one way ticket on the metro is 1.70 Euro, but I advise you to purchase a book of 10 tickets for 13.70 if you plan on being in the City for a couple of days!
- The bus system, I assume is similar but I did not travel via bus while in Paris. I found the metro to be very quick and sufficient.
- If you are flying Ryan Air and landing in Beauvais Airport, they have an airport shuttle that takes you to Paris. You can purchase your tickets after arriving at the airport, but to catch the first bus after your flight it is a good idea to have your tickets purchased and printed already. Here is the link to do that. Beauvais Shuttle
- The Eiffel Tower. Whether or not you make the journey to the top, it is impossible to not-see the Eiffel Tower when in Paris (literally-because you can see it from all over the City!). It is just as beautiful as you would imagine, and even more beautiful at night (if that’s even possible). Each evening, on the hour, there is a 5 minute light show where the Eiffel Tower sparkles and lights up the city! It is a must see! For a great view of the light show, get off the metro stop Trocadero!
- The Louvre. Possibly one of the largest and most famous museums ever! Home to the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. If you have enough time, definitely make a stop at the Louvre. For students with an ID, entrance is free!! I recommend using side doors to enter the Louvre, rather than the main entrance under the glass pyramid. The wait can be rather long for the main entrance! If you can find a side entrance, you should be able to sneak right in without any hassle! For information on purchasing your tickets in advance, see this link. The Louvre However, if you are a student, don’t buy you’re tickets in advance because you will be able to get in for free! Just remember, the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays! Also, if you go later at night, around 6pm, it won’t be as crowded!
- The Arc de Triomphe. It is possible to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, but like many things, we did not have the time to do so. It costs 5 Euros for students and 8 Euros for adults. For information on times, see this link. Arc de Triomphe
- Montemarte/Sacre Coeur. This area is a really beautiful place in Paris. Not only does it have an incredible view of the city but it was the home of many famous artists and is where you can find Moulin Rouge! It is worth the trek up all the stairs to get to the top, trust me!!
Luxembourg Gardens. Truly beautiful, especially in the Spring when everything is in full bloom! Grab a baguette and take a stroll around!!
- Notre Dame. This is actually the number one tourist attraction in Paris. Why? Because it is free to enter the Cathedral, where everything else costs money, including going inside the Eiffel Tower! Definitely worth checking out Notre Dame, it is truly beautiful!!
- Lock Bridge. Just take a quick stroll across the Lock Bridge before heading to the Louvre for the day! It’s beautiful to see all the locks of people young and old in love on the bridge!! It also has a great view of the Seine!
- Champs-Elysees. Best shopping in all of Paris? Hold on to your wallets ladies!
- Macaroon. This is my number one recommendation when visiting Paris. Ya, ya you can get fancy and try the snails, but don’t leave the city without having a macaroon, or two…or ten. They are so delicious!! Possibly one of my new favorite deserts! Of course, none will probably be as good until I return to Paris again!
- Crepe. They have little crepe stands and cafes all over the city! It’s a very yummy afternoon treat to have when walking around the city!! I recommend nutella with strawberries! (But you can also get more dinner-like crepes filled with meat and cheese as well!)
- Baguette. As stereotypical a baguette may seem to be, it’s true–the French love their baguettes! Everywhere you look, people were carrying large loaves of bread home with them!
- Croissant/Pastry. Any croissant or pastry you have in Paris is bound to be delicious!
- Wine. Again, Duhhhh.
- I recommend taking advantage of the free walking tour of the city offered by Sandeman! They also offer a tour of Versailles and Montmartre as well, but we only did the actual city tour! At the end of the tour, they ask that you tip your tour guide what you felt the value of your tour was! All the guides are very informed of the city and very fun!! I learned more about the history of Paris on this 2 hour walking tour than I ever knew before! For information about meeting locations and times, please see this link. Sandeman’s Walking Tour
- Another important safety thing to note about Paris, is that red lights do not always mean stop for Parisians. Be very careful when crossing the street, even if the green flashing light is advising you to cross, check both ways just to be safe!!
Cleanliness: * * * *
- Paris gets four stars for cleanliness. Although many people say that Paris is a dirty city, I found it to be pretty clean! It was very beautiful and the streets were not messy! I’m not sure what parts of Paris those people are visiting, but the parts I saw were clean and nice!!
Safety: * * *
- Paris gets three stars for safety. I’m not sure if the movie Taken has any influence on my rating for safety of Paris, but the city seemed relatively safe. I never truly felt unease, but I was a little nervous heading out at night! As long as you are aware of your surroundings, and stay in the nice areas of the city, you should have nothing to worry about!
Transportation: * * *
- Paris gets three stars for transportation. The metro is a little confusing at first and difficult to navigate. Occasionally, the metro would stop, or the lights would go out, which is not really what you want when taking a subway somewhere! The prices were reasonable however.
Food: * * * *
- Paris gets four stars for food. It is a city known for it’s delicious food, and it did not disappoint at all. Although I am more in favor of it’s famous deserts, rather than its meals, I was pleased with everything I ate while visiting! Please, do yourself a favor and try a macaroon when visiting!!!
Friendliness of People: * *
- Paris gets two stars for friendliness. Many people asked me when I returned from Paris if any French were hostile towards me because I was American. I actually did not find anyone to be particularly rude to me because I was foreign. Unlike Rome and London however, Parisians do not go out of their way to make you feel welcome or to truly help you. Nonetheless, I was expecting it to be a lot worse, so I was pleased with what I found.
Overall Cost of Visiting the City: * * *
- Paris gets three stars for overall cost. Like any capital city, it was pretty expensive when it came to meals and shopping. However, it is doable on a budget! Don’t forget your student ID to get discounts and into the Louvre for free!
Hostel Rating: * * * * *
- We stayed at St. Christopher’s Inn Hostel on the Canal. There is also another St. Christopher’s that is in the Montmartre region of Paris. We were very pleased with our stay! Breakfast was included each morning and the bathrooms and rooms were very clean. We stayed in a room meant for 12 girls, and each bed had a curtain you could shut when you went to sleep and a little light for reading! It might not have been the cheapest place we could have stayed in Paris, but it was safe and clean, and many of our friends had recommended it to us! Definitely worth the extra money! St. Christopher’s Inn Hostel
Days Needed to See the City: 1 Week
- Paris is a beautiful city with a lot to offer! Take the time to enjoy everything and spend a week there! If you are a study abroad student, you can get most of the main attractions accomplished in about 3 full days, though it is an exhausting trip! I would prefer a week in Paris so I could have time to take a day and travel to Versailles and spend more time exploring the Louvre!
I fell in love with Paris the moment I arrived! I understand why it is a place where artists and writers go to live, and lovers go to vacation! It is a beautiful city, filled with surprises around every corner! I loved adventuring through the streets of Paris, and was lucky enough to meet up with a friend from school who showed us around! It was a great trip and I will be going back to Paris again soon, that’s for sure!! xoxo
Hello everyone! Like promised, here is a post on my travel tips regarding London! It’s an amazing city, and definitely worth visiting!! But before you do–check out some of these tips!
Keep calm and visit LONDON…
- The Underground (also called the Tube) is London’s metro system! It is very easy to navigate but relatively expensive. For a one way ticket on a bus/metro it is a little over 2 pounds.
- I recommend purchasing a metro/bus day pass for 8 pounds! One way trips add up quickly, and since London is such a large city, you are going to want to take advantage of the day pass!
- The busses are also relatively easy to navigate, but the Tube is much quicker/simpler in my opinion!
- If you are flying Ryan Air and landing in Standsted, I recommend using Terravision bus (just like I mentioned in Rome) because it is very reliable, and there are busses every half hour or so! http://www.terravision.eu/london.html
- I do not recommend Easy Bus! Since we missed the last bus at 1:00am because our flight landed late, we had to sleep in the airport. They also made us re-purchase a ticket to catch the 4:30am bus! Terravision is you’re best/cheapest option to get into the city, and the busses run much more frequently!
- Big Ben/ Parliament. When most people think of London, they envision Big Ben. You must snap a quintessential picture by the phone booth in front of Big Ben!
- The London Eye. Although I did not venture for a trip on the actual London Eye, I did snap some pictures and view it’s beauty from a distance. For those interested in actually taking the trip, it costs around 20 Pounds and I heard the wait is very long. I would consider buying your tickets online, ahead of time, to avoid the lines! London Eye Tickets
- Buckingham Palace. Besides taking a few pictures in front of Buckingham Palace, and admiring it’s beauty, the only other thing we did was watch the changing of the guards. It’s best to arrive early, about half hour-45 minutes before in order to get a good spot! For information about dates/times check here: Changing of the Guard
- Abbey Road. For any Beatle’s fans, take the time to head out of the bustling city on a bus for about 15 minutes to find yourself in the quiet area of Westminster. Abbey Road studios is right next door to the famous crosswalk. If you can avoid getting hit by a car, have a friend snap a picture of you crossing!! (Just note, there are multiple Abbey Road bus stops to get off at–we made the mistake of getting off the bus too early and had to walk almost a half a mile up the road to find the studio and crosswalk!)
- Westminster Abbey. Although we actually did not go inside, it’s a beautiful church and I recommend taking the time to go in! (It’s where Princess Kate and Prince William were married!!) For information about prices and times, check out this link. Westminster Abbey
- St. Paul’s Cathedral. The beautiful cathedral where Princess Diana married Prince Charles. Definitely worth a visit inside (although we also did not have the time) St. Paul’s Cathedral Tickets
- Tower Bridge. Many people think this is London Bridge, but it’s not! However, it is an image that comes to mind when you think of London, especially thanks to the last summer Olympics where the rings were hung from!
- Piccadilly Circus. This is sort of like London’s own version of Times Square. Worth checking out for sure!
- Covent Gardens. This area was recommended by a friend who studies abroad in London. It has really cute places to eat and a lot of great outdoor markets to shop at! It’s the perfect place to find hand-made goodies to bring home for friends and family!
- Millennium Bridge. This is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Thames! You might recognize it from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.
- King’s Cross Station. Also for Harry Potter lovers, home to Platform 9 3/4! Where you can take an awesome picture before you board the Hogwarts Express!
- Camden Town. This is actually the area Kayla and I stayed in when we visited London! It’s really a hidden gem! It has cute restaurants, pubs and markets to shop at! I recommend going to Poppies for lunch or dinner (home to the best fish & chips in London!!). Also, if you’re interested in grabbing a beer, check out “The World’s End”.
- Museums. Great news, all museums in London are free to the public! So if you’re a museum lover like myself, and have the time, go check some out!!
- Fish & Chips. Go to Poppies in Camden Town!!!!!!
- Beer. London is known for having pubs all over the city!!
- London is an amazing place but is very expensive. When you consider the Pound to US dollar, or Euro exchange rate it can make you a little nauseous, especially if you are on a budget like me! Try not to think too much into the prices, but be cautious of you’re spending! 20 pounds is really more like $40!
Cleanliness: * * * *
- London gets four stars for cleanliness. Similar to most large cities, you can’t help but feel dirty touching the handle on the metro or walking along the street! However, when you consider the size of London, it’s cleanliness is very impressive. (I couldn’t imagine New York City ever being that clean!)
Safety: * * * * *
- London gets five stars for safety. I felt very comfortable and at ease in London. It could be due in part to that fact that I understood what everyone was talking about around me, but it seemed like a very safe atmosphere. Some police officers were not even carrying guns! This definitely made me feel at ease!
Transportation: * * *
- London gets three stars for transportation. Although the transportation system is very easy to figure out, it is very pricey! If you are not careful, the price of metro and bus tickets can add up quickly! For those who live/study in London, transportation costs can be a big hassle. I highly recommend getting a day pass when visiting!
Food: * * *
- London gets three stars for food. I had great meals at all the places I ate, but I give it only three stars because it was very similar to home for me. There were no particular foods that I felt inclined to try other than the fish. In comparison to Rome and Paris, London food is significantly less impressive.
Friendliness of People: * * * * *
- London gets five stars for friendliness. Maybe it was the comfort that everyone spoke my native language, but it seemed to me that every person was willing to point me in the right direction when looking for help. The people who worked at the metro stations were always available to ask questions on which stop will get you closer to where you want to be, etc. In my opinion, the people of London were very friendly!
Overall Cost of Visiting the City: *
- London gets one star for the overall cost of visiting. As a college student on a budget, the exchange rate to the pound is enough to make you cry! Just realize that when planning a trip to London, things are going to be almost twice as expensive as you would expect in the states, and relatively more expensive than those places that use the Euro. Although a price of coffee might look the same to you, remember that it is in pounds! London, however, can be done on a budget if you’re aware of the high exchange rate!
Days Needed to See the City: 1 Week
- You definitely need at least a week in London to enjoy all it has to offer! Our two days in London were spent frantically running all over the City to see everything quickly! To have a more relaxed time in London, and be able to actually go up on the London Eye, visit some of the cathedrals and museums–take a week! If you’re a college student like me who’s studying abroad, you can make due with a weekend, but rest up–because it’s going to be a crazy trip!!
London is an amazing city!! After spending over a month and a half in a Spanish speaking country, it felt almost as if I was home again being surrounded by English speakers and American-like-food. I also was able to see one of my best friend’s from home, which was awesome! I really want to visit London again, next time for more than just two days!! It is a huge city, with so much to offer! The farther you go off the beaten path, the cooler the city gets!
Again, let me know if you have any questions about London!! Hope you guys get the chance to go someday, if you haven’t already! It’s an incredible city!! xoxo
So I wanted to share some of the things I have learned through my own travels, with you! Since Rome was my first big trip, I will begin there! At the end of each of these “travel tip” posts, I will rate each trip on various things!! (Based on my opinions and personal experience!)
So here are some tips for when you’re in ROMA…
- You can buy bus/metro tickets at metro stations or at green newspaper stands located throughout the city
- It costs 1.50 Euro for one Metro/Bus ride
- I recommend investing in a Day pass or a 3-Day pass (depending on the amount of time you are staying in Rome) because it saves you a lot of money! A day pass is 6 Euro and gives you unlimited access to bus/metro for the day! A 3-day ticket is 16.50 Euro and gives you the same unlimited access for three days!
- I preferred the bus system over the metro. The busses seemed to get you to better locations and you were able to see more of the city that way!
- Also, if you are flying Ryan Air and landing at Chiampiano, I recommend taking the Terravision bus into the city. It costs 4 Euros one way and takes you right to Termini Station. From there, you can easily catch a bus or walk to wherever you are staying! (You can also purchase a Terravision bus ticket for you’re return to the airport as well, for 4 Euros). I recommend booking online to get the times you want to arrive and return…just make sure you are able to print your tickets before you leave! http://www.terravision.eu/rome_ciampino/ciampino_price_timetable.html
- The Colosseum & Roman Forum. It costs 12 Euros for one time entrance to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The pass lasts two days, so we were able to see the Colosseum one day and the Roman Forum another. Unfortunately, if you are not a member of the European Union, there are no discounts for students! However, going inside the Colosseum and exploring the Roman Forum are something you must do when visiting the eternal city!
- St. Peter’s Basilica. Whether Catholic or not, Vatican City is a sight to be seen. The architecture is incredible and the Basilica is beautiful. Even if the line to enter St. Peter’s seems to stretch on forever…trust me and wait in it! It goes by a lot quicker than you think! Security at the Vatican has it down to a science, and the line moves fast! We were hesitant to wait, but it was certainly worth it! It costs 5 Euros to walk to the top of St. Peter’s and 7 Euros to take the elevator. Depending on how ambitious you are determines which route you take. However, if you are crunched for time, or do not like waiting-you might want to walk! There is only one elevator, so the wait takes a long time! Also, I believe walking the 500 steps is definitely an experience! You feel very accomplished when you get to the top! (But please note, that the elevator does not take you directly to the top. You still have to climb some narrow stairs- if you are claustrophobic it might not be the best idea for you to go!) However, the view is incredible!! It was one of my favorite things in Rome and definitely worth the trek!
- The Trevi Fountain. Visiting this fountain is free if you are just checking it out, however, a wish will cost you some change! It is crucial that you face away from the fountain, with the water towards your back, and toss the coin over your shoulder as you make a wish. I am not sure the story behind it, but I know that people come from all over the world to make wishes in the Trevi Fountain! They say if you toss a coin in, you will return to Rome again one day! (I hope that’s true). The good news about spending money on some wishes, is that the coins are collected out of the Fountain and the money is donated to the Red Cross!! Such a great cause to make a wish for! A tip for visiting the Trevi Fountain is to go earlier in the morning to avoid the crowds! (That will allow you to make your wish in peace and snap a few good pictures!)
- Vatican City. Although I discussed St. Peter’s Basilica already, which is located in Vatican City, I wanted to note something else! If you are in Rome on a Wednesday, you should definitely go to Vatican City in the morning! The Pope does a general audience with the people at 10:00 am on Wednesdays if he is in the City (in nice weather, it is held outside in the square, if not, inside the Basilica). I recommend arriving early for a good spot! He drives around in the Pope mobile before addressing the audience, so you might have the chance to see him up close and wave hello!! It’s a very awesome experience!
- Vatican Museum. Now, if you are not a museum person, this probably isn’t for you. You might be better off exploring the streets of Rome, shopping or visiting more ruins! However, I enjoy museums a great deal and recommend this one! We originally were going to the museum to see the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo. However, we ended up spending 2 hours seeing all the other statues, art and ruins they had in the museum! It is certainly a huge collection and is worth setting some time aside to see. The full entrance to the museum is 16 Euro, but for a student is 8 Euro, so bring your ID!
- Gelato. That is my #1 recommendation for you. Although you can find gelato in almost all of Europe, the Italians are the masters! They have so many different flavors, that change with the seasons! I only got gelato once while in Italy, and it might be one of my few regrets!! Try a new flavor each day if you can! (Trust me, it’s that good!)
- Pizza. Of course you have to try a pizza when in Italy!!! In all honesty, I ate an entire pizza in one sitting while visiting Rome! However, to my credit, the crust of the pizza is a lot thinner than what we are used to in the States.
- Wine. DUHHH.
- Panini. Had a Panini for lunch and it was delicioso! Perfect mid-afternoon meal!
- Cannoli. Sad to say, I did not get my hands on a cannoli while visiting Rome but I wish I did!! Let me know how it is if you try one!
- Chocolate. Now this may seem strange but grab a bar of Italian made chocolate at a grocery store or little market before you leave! I have been trying chocolate in each country I visit, and the Italians know how to do chocolate! Very rich!!
- Be very careful when crossing the streets in Rome! Unlike many other large European cities, not all crosswalks have a little green/red man directing you when it is safe to cross. Most streets it is a free-for-all, so be cautious! Cars will buzz around you as you attempt to cross the street! By best suggestion is to follow locals as they cross, or cross in large groups! Cars will eventually be forced to stop! Just be aware that Roman drivers can be aggressive and crossing the street is a lot more difficult than you would expect!
- Take Bus 64 to get you to Vatican City! (Use the side entrances to Vatican City rather than the front–you will get in much more quickly, and possibly snag a better spot to see the Pope if it is a Wednesday! Bus 64 takes you right outside Vatican City, and a quick 2 minute walk will bring you to the side entrance!)
Cleanliness: * *
- Rome gets two stars for cleanliness. Although the city is filled with many historical sights to visit, the city itself was dirty and not as impressive as you would think the capital of a country should be.
Safety: * *
- Rome gets two stars for safety. There were police all over the city, carrying large guns, patrolling the streets and stopping many random people. For one day, two helicopters were flying very low and circling the city. Maybe this was simply a rare occurrence, but for the days we were in Rome I did not feel very safe and constantly felt like something was going on that I did not know about.
Transportation: * * * *
- Rome gets four stars for transportation. Mainly I am referring to the bus system, but both the metro and bus were relatively cheap. The day pass is the best investment. The bus system is also very easy to figure out. If you have questions on which bus to take, ask your hostel or hotel and the people should know which one is right for where you want to go!
Food: * * * * *
- Rome gets five stars for food. (Did you expect anything less?? I mean, I am Italian you know!) Everything I ordered and tried was delicious! The Romans pride themselves on being known for their great food, and they do not disappoint! Although some meals can be pricey, it is worth it! (However, you can find cheaper places if you search back roads like we did–food is still amazing, just not at the high cost a restaurant on a main road might charge you!)
Friendliness of People: * * * * *
- Rome gets five stars for friendliness. Romans, or Italians in general, were very, very friendly. It seemed that just the way they talked, with their expressive sounding language and hand motions that they were always excited about everything! They were willing to point you in the right direction or small talk with you in restaurants. I really enjoyed the company of the Italians.
Overall Cost of Visiting the City: * * *
- Rome gets three stars for overall cost. Although transportation and cost of staying in a hostel were relatively cheap, food and entrance to tourist places were not. I think I spent the most money in Rome, not from shopping, but rather from cost of food and tourist attractions. It is doable on a budget however!
Hostel Rating: * * * * *
- Hostel Mosaic (where we stayed in Rome) gets 5 stars. The people at the front desk were always very helpful at directions and answering questions. There was a complimentary breakfast included each morning and the rooms/bathrooms were very clean! I could not have been happier with my stay at Hostel Mosaic, and recommend it to anyone traveling to Rome. It is in a good location and the prices are very reasonable. If I remember correctly we paid 14 Euro a night to stay here, but since Rome has a 2 euro a night tourist-tax, it turned out to be around 16 euros! http://www.hostelmosaic.com/rome/
Days needed to see the City: 4 days
- Although Rome has a lot to offer, you really only need to stay for 4 full days to see all the main sites. We were only there for 3 full days and managed to squeeze everything we wanted to do in, so it is do-able in less! For a more relaxed paced stay, 4-5 days would be perfect!
It is evident that Rome is a very international city, filled with tourists from all over. Of course, that is the case in many country’s capitals! I’ve heard from others that Rome is the least of what Italy has to offer, and if that is the case, then I am very excited to go back one day and visit other cities, such as Florence, Venice, Milan and Tuscany. My trip to Rome however was definitely a holy pilgrimage, in more than just the religious sense. I traveled to the city that I had been learning about in school for years now. My humanities and history classes came alive right before my eyes. For any history nerd like myself, Rome is a must see!
If you have any questions about planning a trip to Rome, feel free to reach out to me! xoxo