When news of the vaccine came out, the wheels in my head immediately started turning. What destinations were on my bucket list again? Where should I travel to first? I was excited and overwhelmed at the same time. Dreaming about travel again reminded me of one of my favorite trips to-date: our first trip to Europe where we visited four cities in two weeks. It was the best possible way to see Europe for the first time, and I’m excited to share our 10 day Europe itinerary with you to inspire your own trip!
Over the course of our 10 day Europe itinerary, we traveled to London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona. The idea was that we would get a taste of these cities on this trip and come back if we wanted to spend more time in a particular one. But rather than hitting up all the touristy spots, we took our time seeing a select few. This allowed us to spend more time walking on the streets, admiring the beautiful European architecture, and trying foods that each city was famous for. This itinerary is perfect for anyone traveling to Europe for the first time, looking for travel inspiration, or just looking for things to do in one of the four cities.
Table of Contents
- DAY 1-3: London
- DAY 4-5: Amsterdam
- DAY 6-7: Paris
- DAY 8-10: Barcelona
Day 1-3: London
Day 1: Take in the Sights Along River Thames
Congratulations!! You have made it to Europe. This is a big step, so to take a moment to smell the European air, observe how people dress, and step into the first coffee shop that catches your eye.
We spent our first day in London walking around, hopping from one restaurant to the next, and admiring the beautiful architecture that contrasted what we were used to seeing in the U.S.
River Thames is a good spot to begin your London tour. There are many iconic sights along the river such as the Tower Bridge, London Eye, and Big Ben.
For our first meal in London, we stopped at Leadenhall Market. We were ready for a glass of wine and some cheese and so we stopped at the fondue restaurant Cheese at Leadenhall. It was both filling and a super fun experience to be dipping all of our food in a concoction of cheese.
London is known for its Indian food, so be sure to visit Brick Lane where many Indian restaurants are and pick one that you want to try. The Nudge has a great guide to Indian food on Brick Lane that you can bookmark for later.
Day 2: Visit Buckingham Palace and High Tea like a Royal
One day 2 of our 10 day Europe itinerary, we wanted to hit up some spots our friends recommended. Two things were on our list: watching the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace and having high tea at Sketch.
Turns out the Changing of the Guards was one of the funnest things we would experience in London! The Changing of the Guards is a ceremony where the old guards at Buckingham palace exchange places with the new guards. And it is a CELEBRATION! The guards wear bright red-colored uniforms so it’s a beautiful sight to see and photograph.
If I were to do it all again, I would’ve definitely planned this one out better because the ceremony doesn’t happen all the time!! The schedule is posted on the Buckingham palace site so keep an eye out if this is something you’re interested in doing.
After watching the Changing of the Guards, we visited the most beautiful restaurant Sketch. The restaurant has several dining rooms and you can either do high tea during the day or grab a cocktail in the evening. Sketch is popular because of its beautiful interior and there are multiple dining rooms, each one with its unique flair. Even the bathroom is unique!
Day 3: Fish n’ Chips and Sherlock Holmes
On day 3 of our 10 day Europe itinerary, we were still jet lagged. We took it easy in the morning and went out in the afternoon to see some of the last few things on our list, including trying fish n’ chips and visiting Sherlock Holmes’ apartment on 221b Baker Street.
We found a fish n’ chips spot near our Airbnb and it was a bit disappointing. After talking to a few other friends who have also been to London, the consensus was that while it’s worth trying fish n’chips in its birthplace, sampling the world-class Indian food offered by the city is a a much better use of time.
A few other things to consider doing on your last day in London include visiting the entrance to the Hogwarts train at Platform 9 ¾, stopping by Sherlock Homes’ Residence on 221b Baker Street, and visit Notting Hill, the film site of Notting Hill featuring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.
Day 4-5: Amsterdam
Day 4: Admire Dutch Architecture by Boat
Jet lag hit us HARD when we got to Amsterdam. We flew from London to Amsterdam, and as if we were completely living on adrenaline the first 3 days, all we wanted to do was sleep. I definitely underestimated the amount of time my body needed to recover from flying halfway across the globe.
After a long nap, we got ready to go to our first stop in Amsterdam: a bar by the canal. I enjoyed every minute of our time at the local bar – our table looked out onto the canal and we got to sample European beer. I was definitely blending in with the locals at that very moment.
In the evening we went on a canal cruise. The experience included an evening on the canal, unlimited wine and cheese, and good company.
The boat was encapsulated in this glass structure that allowed us to stay warm and get an amazing view of our surroundings at the same time. While on the boat we also got to see up-close what modern vs. older homes looked like in Amsterdam. It was one of the best ways to see the city.
Day 5: Bike along Amsterdam’s Famous Canals
It’s like we couldn’t get enough of the canals. Day 2 in Amsterdam, we biked across several bridges that passed through the city. Amsterdam is not a big city so biking was a great way to see Amsterdam in its entirety.
If there’s one spot I’d recommend hitting up while biking it’s the I Love Amsterdam sign. This is proof for your friends and family to believe you actually went to Amsterdam. It’s guaranteed to make them jealous.
Besides the beautiful canals and architecture, Amsterdam is a popular destination among tourists because it’s the weed capital of Europe. If this is something you’re looking to experience, you can find dispensaries that sell all kinds of cannabis products. We found a coffee shop that put cannabis in their coffees. A few sips was enough to make the city extra magical.
Wanderer Tip: Weed is technically illegal in Amsterdam but it’s decriminalized. This means that you won’t get into trouble eating an edible or smoking weed, but it’s illegal to grow it.
Day 6-7: Paris
Day 6: Tour the City of Love w/ Croissant in Hand
Bonjour! After Amsterdam, we took the train to Paris, and boy was I excited. Paris is the most romantic city in the world and I think most girls can agree that they’ve dreamed about traveling to Paris at least once in their lifetime.
We arrived in Paris a bit late, but that didn’t stop us from immediately stopping at a bakery. I had been DYING to try a chocolate croissant straight from the city of love. And yes, it was delicious!!
After settling into our Airbnb, we ended the night by doing an audio tour of Paris by bus. The driver took us through different parts of Paris and it gave us a good glimpse of some of the top Parisian attractions – the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and the Seine River.
If audio tours are not your thing, you can also hit a lot of the attractions by going on a hop-on hop-off bus.
After doing the guided audio tour, we knew we wanted to get a better view of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre the next day.
Day 7: Experience Fine Dining at a Michelin Restaurant
For day 7 of our 10 day Europe itinerary, we planned to see the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre up close, then eat at a Michelin restaurant for lunch.
Before that though, I had to stop by a cafe along the way to try a cup of cappuccino. I had always dreamed of drinking a cappuccino in Paris and this was the moment. Interestingly, the cappuccino wasn’t as good as the coffee I had been used to back in San Francisco. But I enjoyed the caffeine kick and the pastry I chose to go with my coffee.
Arriving at the Eiffel Tower, my first order of business was to take tons of pictures! In fact, there are many great picture spots for the Eiffel Tower and it’s a really fun attraction to practice your photography skills with. Here’s a great guide on the best spots to photograph the Eiffel Tower, and it even includes where you can stay to get a view of the tower 24/7.
After we were satisfied with the pictures we took at the Eiffel Tower, we headed toward The Louvre. I’d seen the architectural wonder in movies before, and it was so cool to see in person!! If you like art museums, you’ll want to go inside and admire the art the world-famous museum holds as well.
We ended our day in Paris by going to dinner at Michelin restaurant Agape. Some of the world’s most famous chefs are from Paris, and France has also played a key role in popularizing fine dining over the years. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the best of French dining while you’re in Paris.
Day 8-10: Barcelona
Day 8: Experience La Rambla’s Liveliness
The flight from Paris to Barcelona was bittersweet. We had arrived at the last destination of our 10 day Europe itinerary. I was ready to make the most of our last city.
My boyfriend and I loooove paella, so the first thing we did upon arrival was order a large seafood paella to share at 7 Portes. We literally devoured the paella in minutes. Before we even properly digested our meal, we were already planning the next restaurant we wanted to get paella at.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of walking around in Gothic Quarter and La Rambla. One of the best decisions we made on this trip was to stay in Gothic Quarter. It’s one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Barcelona and there’s so many bars, restaurants and clubs.
After exploring our neighborhood for a bit, we visited the Arc de Triomf, an architectural wonder located by the water. There were people in the square blowing bubbles and doing hoola hoop tricks. It was hard not to fall in love with the liveliness of Barcelona.
Day 9: A Night Out on the Beach
Since Barcelona is a beach city, we booked a boat tour to experience the city by water. Our tour guide gave us a glimpse into the history of Barcelona, its architecture, and what some of the best local restaurants were. It was a nice way to cool off in the heat of the Barcelona summer and I even got to drive the boat for the first time.
After a long boat ride, we went to the restaurant that our tour guide recommended – Ocho – for Spanish tapas.
In the afternoon we proceeded to grab a cocktail at Mamainé. The place was super cute and great for pictures. The flamingo wallpaper made me feel like I temporarily teleported to Miami. It wasn’t until the Spanish server started speaking to me that I remembered I was still in Barcelona.
For the rest of the day, I wanted to shop at local stores, but many of them were closed because we had caught the locals during their siesta, a long afternoon nap that people in Barcelona take before going about the rest of their evening. This inspired us to go back to our Airbnb and take our own siesta before the last part of our itinerary for the day – clubbing!
We had heard that the locals start their nights way later than we do in the U.S., so we showed up to our pregame spot, Espit Chupitos, at midnight. Espit Chupitos serves hundreds of fun shots, including ones with fire, and mystery shots that’ll put your taste buds to the test.
After Espit Chupitos, we were ready to party it at Opium Night Club. I was very excited for Opium because the club was located on the beach and I couldn’t wait to experience nightlife with the locals.
Day 10: Park Guell and Magic Fountain
A trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without visiting Park Güell. The park is open to the public and was designed by the Antoni Gaudí, one of the icons of modern Catalan architecture. The park is filled with mosaics and interesting shapes. Every corner you turn there’s a different surprise.
After visiting Park Guell, we had more paella and Spanish tapas. And we wrapped up our trip to Barcelona and Europe up by watching the Magic Fountain performance at night.
There couldn’t have been a better way to close out our first trip to Europe.
An Unforgettable 10 Day Europe Itinerary
By spending 2-3 days in London, Amsterdam, Paris, and then Barcelona, we were able to see so much of Europe for the first time. I felt like we had enough time to truly get a feel for Amsterdam and Barcelona and I’m already planning our second trip to London and Paris.
While it was important for us to see some of the sights that these cities are known for – the Eiffel Tower, Park Guell, Amsterdam’s red light district, and Buckingham Palace – I’m glad we took some afternoons just walking around in the neighborhoods with no reservations to rush to. We got to meet a few locals along the way and experienced all the love they had for their home.
Now that the EU is opening its doors to vaccinated travelers, my challenge is figuring out which city to prioritize first. Is there a city in Europe you want to travel to post-pandemic?
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