Spring Break: Got a week? Get to Europe!

A week is long enough to see some European highlights, so make the most of your spring break! Grab your passport, get on a plane, and try one of these whistle-stop itineraries.

London & Paris

London's Tower Bridge (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Either of these cities could warrant a week unto themselves, but their close proximity and ease of transportation make them a can’t-lose double-whammy of spring break fun.

Lonely Planet is touting London as 2012’s #1 City Break destination, so this is the year to check it out. With the Olympics just months away, London is pulling out all the stops to be on its best behavior this year. In a few days you could see all the hot spots: Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Big Ben & Parliament, Trafalgar Square, South Bank, Covent Garden, shopping on Oxford Street. You’d even have time to take in a West End show!

Tip: go to lastminute.com to book super cheap mid-week theatre tickets – you can find them for as little as £10 which is way better than you’ll find at the half price stands at Leicester Square.

Up for some nightlife? Try celeb-spotting at West End haunt The Box, or hang with hipsters in Shoreditch. For a night to remember try the Proud Galleries in Camden, where the club entertainment includes cirque du soleil-style acrobatics.

Paris is every ounce the big city London is, but the pace seems to slow a bit here. Linger in the Louvre, marvel at Monet in the Musee D’Orsay, and stroll down the Champs Elysees. Admire the Eiffel Tower from the green carpet of the Champ du Mars and hold your breath at the traffic vortex surrounding the Arc de Triomphe. Come sunset, climb the hill in Montmartre to see Sacre Coeur before dining on rich French fare at a chic bistro. Round it all off with a show at Moulin Rouge and you’ve put in a pretty great effort for a few days in Paris!

Between the two: Get the Eurostar from Kings Cross St Pancras to Gare du Nord and you’ll be in Paris faster than you can say Voulez Vous Couchez Avec Moi Çe Sois. (Or, you know, in 2 ½ hours.) With super slick metro systems in both England and France’s capital cities, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get around and how quickly you pick it up. Just remember to travel light – a week is not a long time, and it can be cumbersome to grapple with lots of luggage when squeezing onto trains.

Munich – Heidelberg – Amsterdam

Amsterdam (Photo via WIkimedia Commons)

Want to keep things Germanic? Fly into Munich, enjoy the sights of Bavaria, then head to the Hauptbahnhofto hop a train to Heidelberg, via Frankfurt. Heidelberg is a great stop on a Spring Break Eurotrip because it’s a cozy riverside town that feels totally German and comes complete with a hilltop castle…and it’s FULL of university students – so you won’t miss the Spring Break Party Scene. Go make new friends at one of the many student bars here, and be sure to try the local Riesling – you’re in the Rhine Valley, and it’s famous for it. Once you’ve gotten your fill of Heidelberg’s student action, it’s time to head north for action of a whole different kind.

Amsterdam is only a few hours away on a train, and is the perfect last call for your spring break Euro-trip.  Be as naughty or as nice as you please in this Dutch city of canals. Surely you don’t need to be reminded of what kinds of trouble you can find in Amsterdamage, but even if the red light district isn’t your thing, don’t be put off by Amsterdam’s liberal reputation. It’s an absolutely STUNNING city, with plenty of interesting history and world-class museums, and it’s packed with charm. Rent a bike or a peddle boat and explore the canal houses lining the streets.

Looking for something a little edgier than an architectural spectacle to round out your spring break? Well then you’ve come to the right place. You can find all kinds of ‘only in Europe’ antics to get up to here, and you know what I’m talking about. And FYI: the Dutch government is currently in the process of reviewing and tightening regulations on coffee shop marijuana smoking, so if that’s something on your bucket list, this would be the year to go.

Rome – Florence – Venice

The View from a Gondola in Venice (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

In a week you could see all the highlights of Italy – the canals of Venice, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the statue of David and the Ponte Vecchio. You CAN do it all in a week, but you’ve got to get your game face on. Up for the challenge? Ready, GO!

Fly into Rome, spend two days doing your must-sees. Hop on a train to Venice and spend the evening getting lost among the canals. The next day, check out St Mark’s and the Rialto Bridge, then grab some prosecco and enjoy a gondola ride or visit Harry’s Bar, the birthplace of the delicious Bellini cocktail. Then you’re off again on a train to Florence via Pisa. Get some snaps of the leaning tower and then be on your way to the birthplace of Italian language. Get in touch with your inner culture vulture in the world famous art museums here, take in the rooftop views of a Tuscan sunset from the Piazzale Michelangelo, and enjoy some mouthwatering Florentine steak, washed down with a glass or two of top-notch Chianti. Make the most of Firenze with a night out among other international students because tomorrow it’s back to Rome with a flight to catch.

See – told ya you could do it – just don’t forget to breath!

Europe is totally manageable if you break it into bite size pieces. What better time than Spring Break to gather up a couple of buddies and check it out?


Jennifer Vieira

About Jennifer Vieira

Jennifer is our European Travel Expert, but she has experience traveling and living all over the world. She's like the ying yang of North America: Canadian-born, American-raised, and East Coast-meets-West Coast. After living and working in Sydney, she got paid to travel in Europe. She now lives in London and advocates youth travel.