Best Way to Travel Europe in 2 Weeks

Travel Europe in 2 Weeks

Madrid, Barcelona, Venice, Florence, Amsterdam, Brussels + Bruges

Whenever I read blogs about traveling, I wish bloggers would just get straight to the point of what they did, where they stayed and what they ate. I don't like having to read through all the nuances of their lives - I just want to know the facts! So here’s a quick recap of my most recent 2 week vacation in Europe to help you plan your next visit. If there's anything more you want to know, just ask!

THERE ARE 3 WAYS I LIKE TO TRAVEL:

1.) For fun with friends and/or family

2.) For personal development, reflection + meditation

3.)  To lead life-changing Yoga, Meditation + Ayurveda Retreats of course!

This post is about my most recent trip to Europe (for fun!) for my friends' Ariel and Josh's wedding. Their wedding was at Delirium Cafe in Brussels, Belgium. I planned a 2 week Europe Trip for my husband and I around their wedding. We spent 1 week traveling on our own and 1 week with friends. We traveled to 4 countries in 2 weeks. 

 

VISION FOR THE TRIP:

Overall vision - 

Travel “college-style” or as people from Europe like to say, “like an American.” Hop around from city to city and country to country constantly. Be tired + happy.

Week 1 Vision - Lots of romance, sight-seeing and unique food experiences in Spain + Italy.

Week 2 Vision - Go with the flow and do whatever seems like the most fun with friends from college while in Amsterdam, Brussels + Bruges.

 

TRAVEL BOOKS + BLOGS:

Lonely Planet Spain

Lonely Planet Italy

Thrillist Amsterdam

NY Times “36 Hours” Articles

 

FLIGHTS:

$900 each on Iberia Airlines -

Outbound 1
Chicago - Madrid

Outbound 2
Brussels - Madrid
Madrid - Chicago

I’m upset about the price of our tickets. At first, I found an amazing deal for $600 round trip from Chicago to Madrid, but for whatever reason I didn’t book it right away. So our flights ended up being $900 each - which is expensive for flights to Europe. If you have time and date flexibility, you could find round trip tickets from Chicago to Paris, Denmark, or Madrid for $400 - so definitely do your research.

To search for flights I use a combination of -

Google Flights

Hipmunk

Southwest Airlines

Hopper (app)

3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS IN MADRID

WHERE to stay:

TRAVEL EUROPE IN 2 WEEKS Madrid

AC HOTEL ATOCHA

Average rate per night $114 USD.

AC Hotels are a line of Marriott hotels. I get a discount at the Marriott because I teach yoga at JW Marriott Chicago. The friends and family rate is hit or miss though. This was the only Marriott hotel we stayed at - the rest were too expensive, even with a discount.

WHAT to do:

TRAVEL EUROPE IN 2 WEEKS Madrid plaza

- Sightseeing - 

Plazas -

Plaza Mayor - this is the biggest, most iconic Plaza. We went very early and it wasn't crowded which was great. 

Palacio Real (The Royal Palace)

Plaza de Oriente

Plaza de Oriente

Plaza de la Villa

Plaza de Santa Ana

Plaza de la Puerta del Sol

 

Parks - 

El Retiro Park - highly recommend renting bikes and biking around this park, it's huge!

 

- Museums -

Museo del Prado

 

- Shopping -

El Rastro Market - total wash and not worth going. After seeing such great markets in Thailand, this one didn't have anything cool and was annoyingly busy. 

 

- Late night drinks - 

in Malasana, Madrid - very Brooklyn hipster vibes

in Chueca, Madrid - chic gay neighborhood with fancy high end bars

in La Latina - River North Chicago vibes, lots of drunk people

Bar Cock -  ridiculous name, great cocktails!

Tempernillo - intimate wine bar, older crowd

El Viaje - cool roofdeck bar

 

- Nap - 

or "siesta" of course.

 

WHERE to eat:

TRAVEL EUROPE IN 2 WEEKS Madrid food

Chocolateria de San Gines

For hot chocolate + churros! So good we went twice.

Mercado de San Miguel

Oldest market in Madrid. Felt like The Publican meets Eataly - very chic. We got ham iberico with manchego cheese, cup of octopus in an edible cup, squid with paprika oil and vinegar, and Mike of course had to try something weird - goose barnacle, a type of shellfish.

Casa Julio

Tiny and known for their croquettes

The Good Burger

Drunk late night burgers at Good Burger are a way better option than McDonald's and it's one of the few places that's open 24 hours.

3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS IN BARCELONA

TRAVEL: 

We took a 3 hour Renfe train from Madrid to Barcelona. Tickets were about $150 each. Totally worth it. The trains are comfortable, fast and easy to figure out. You don't have to deal with airport security which saves you so much time.

WHERE to stay: 

TRAVEL EUROPE IN 2 WEEKS Barcelona

 Chic + Basic Born

Average rate per night is $135.

This hotel is super cute and affordable considering the location and the modern amenities. With your booking, you also get a free 2 hour bike rental.

WHAT to do:

TRAVEL EUROPE IN 2 WEEKS Barcelona Las Ramblas

- Biking -

We biked to Park Guell,  Arc de Triomf + La Sagrada Familia. Barcelona has such great bike lanes. Take advantage and explore!

 

- Sightseeing -

Gothic Quarter - beautiful history + shopping

La Rambla - like Michigan Ave in Chicago, but way more beautiful because of the greenery

El Raval - the other side of La Rambla, a little sketchy, but interesting

Soho House Barcelona - as a member, I had to check it out! It wasn't very crowded, and gorgeous as usual. 

 

WHERE to eat:

 El Glop

El Glop

Bormuth

Awesome food. We got tomato toast, sardines + vinegar, Russian salad + patatas bravas.

Casa Delfin

So good but expensive.

Bonita

Cute and by the beach (not beachfront, just nearby)

El Glop

BEST PAELLA EVER. Family restaurant vibes.

Tantaranta

Mike and I became obsessed with Spanish Broken Eggs - fried eggs + chips. Try it here or anywhere it's on the menu!

3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS IN VENICE

TRAVEL: 

We flew Ryanair from Barcelona to Venice (Treviso), Italy. Flights were $60 each - great deal! 2 hour flight.

WHERE to stay: 

TRAVEL EUROPE IN 2 WEEKS Venice

Airbnb - Ca Bea Venezia

I unknowingly booked us flights to Venice during the Biennale Arte - I had no idea what this was at the time and every hotel and Airbnb I looked at was sold out except for this one. It turned out being okay. It's not somewhere I would recommend because it's so awesome - it was just practical and available. Average rate per night is $200 - expensive for this tiny room. 

WHAT to do:

Travel Europe in 2 Weeks venice photo

- Cafe Hopping - 

We walked into random cafes that looked appealing and had the best looking people. Seriously! Because we were there during this art festival, there were the most incredibly dressed humans I've ever seen - we wanted to be around them for all the great fashion and people watching!

St. Mark's Square - for drinking expensive expressos and fancy wine while listening to live classical music with an incredible view and a bunch of pigeons

Order a "Spritz" anywhere and everywhere (Aperol, Prosecco and sparkling water)

 

- Gondala ride - 

Worth the $100. #justdoit

 

- Food + Wine tour -

We booked a tour through Urban Adventures. Our tour guide was amazing and this is a great way to meet people! You could easily hop around and visit all the stops on the tour by yourself, but if you want to meet new people - try out this tour!

 

WHAT to eat:

travel europe in 2 weeks venice pasta

Mike and I went to random restaurants that we thought looked good - again based on the people we saw there. I didn't write any of the names down, because I was wine drunk and in the moment, but we did order the following types of dishes which are on almost every menu and really good!

Squid Ink Pasta - it's black and stains your mouth a little bit, but so delicious

Pizza, Gnocchi, Tortellini, any pasta - can't go wrong!

Bread + olive oil + olives on repeat. Constantly.

Also, I'd just like to note that on this leg of the trip Mike + I found out that his 99 year old grandmother passed away. We were devastated and almost booked a flight back home to go to her funeral, but we knew that she would have wanted us to stay, travel and enjoy life. I thought this was worth mentioning because sometimes traveling seems like every aspect of it is so fun and inspiring all the time, but sometimes sad, uncontrollable things happen and you just gotta go with the flow. Mike and I gave ourselves plenty of time to reflect, rest and honor his grandma's life while we traveled the rest of our trip - even if that involved staying in a hotel room, on our phones, being sad. 

3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS IN Florence

TRAVEL:

We took a 2 hour Trenitalia train from Venice to Florence. It was about $50 USD each. 

WHERE to stay:

Travel Europe in 2 Weeks hotel scoti

Hotel Scoti 

Average rate is $70 USD a night. 

Hotel Scoti is a super cute bed and breakfast in a great location. The photo above is of their common area- its so cozy. The owners are a couple and are very accommodating. The only downside is that sound travels a lot so we often woke up to voices chatting in the common area. Other than that it, it was great.

WHAT to do:

Travel Europe in 2 Weeks uffizi

- Museums -

The Uffizi - you could spend all day here. My personal fav was seeing The Birth of Venus painting by Sandro Botticelli.

Galleria dell'Accademia - To see the David by Michelangelo of course. It's the only thing to see in this whole museum - the rest is whatever. 

I've went to Italy in high school on a school trip - it was cool to see the David again after so many years. I have a new found appreciation for it that I definitely did not possess at 17 years old. Maybe the third time I go back I'll be able to appreciate the rest of the museum haha. #doubtit

 

- Sightseeing - 

The Duomo - can't miss it. 

Piazzale Michelangelo - A famous lookout point, amazing view of the city

 

WHAT to eat:

travel europe in 2 weeks florence all antico vinaio

All'Antico Vinaio - for the best panini you'll ever have in your life. Honestly, the best sandwich I've ever had. Long line, worth the wait. 

Mike and I played it by ear when it came to food a lot in Florence because every menu was very similar and all the food was good. You can't really go wrong - paninis, pasta, pizza. Done!

 

4 DAYS 3 NIGHTS IN AMSTERDAM

Travel:

We took a 2 hour flight from Florence to Amsterdam on Vueling Airlines. Flights were $75 each.

WHERE TO STAY:

Travel Europe in 2 Weeks sir albert

Sir Albert Hotel Amsterdam

This is a high end hotel and we decided to splurge - kind of. 1.) Because of its location - it was right by where all our friends were staying 2.) Because we planned to split a 2 person room between 3 people to save money. Average rate per night is $300. The amenities, design and outstanding customer service make it worth this price point. This hotel is very well designed and very expensive. They treat you like royalty and it's in one of the best neighborhoods in Amsterdam.

WHAT to do:

travel europe in 2 weeks amsterdam shopping

- Biking -

Bike EVERYWHERE. Rent bikes for $12 a day anywhere and just ride ride ride! Best way to see the city - hands down.

- Window Shopping -

Amsterdam as the cutest stores and shops everywhere. I didn't end up buying any thing because I get so overwhelmed by all the choices. If you bike around, you can take breaks and walk around all the cute shops, they're everywhere!

- Sightseeing -

Keukenhof - Tulip Festival - Mike + I rented bikes in Leiden and rode an hour bike ride to see the tulips. Unfortunately, when we got there the tulip fields were already cut down, but we still hung out with our friends and took fun pics. 

Red Light District - I mean, you have to at least see it? We walked down the main street as a group of 20+ people. It was a little obnoxious, but made me feel more comfortable. I think it's interesting to observe people's reactions + thoughts around the Red Light District. Its existence definitely brings up important conversations that I think are worth having. 

WHERE to EAT:

travel europe in 2 weeks Amsterdam brewery

Amsterdam Roest

Cool warehouse vibes, eclectic decor and unique crowd. There's hammocks and a beach-themed patio that creates a very chill vibe. We had coffee here but they also have food and drinks. 

Brouwerij't ij

This brewery is the place to go for flights of beer, lots of cheese + meat. There's a comfortable outdoor seating area with an awesome looking windmill - great for pics ;)

Gebr. Hartering (jk go to Daalder instead)

This was one of the more high end dining experiences we had. I thought the wine was great but the food wasn't that exciting or worth the price. The staff and atmosphere were awesome though, which definitely plays a part in what you are paying for. My friends went to Daalder earlier in the day and said it was the best meal of their lives - so go there instead! 

5 DAYS 4 NIGHTS IN brussels

Travel:

We took a 2 hour Thalys train from Amsterdam to Brussels. It cost $55 USD each.

WHERE TO STAY:

Travel Europe in 2 Weeks airbnb

Airbnb - Zen + Art Flat

There were a ton of Airbnb options in Brussels. Highly recommend going that route since Brussels is such a small city. Staying at an Airbnb makes it feel like you live there and since it's so small - it's easy to figure out how to get around. You'll feel less like a tourist and more like a local in no time. 

 

WHAT to do

travel europe in 2 weeks grand plaza

- Sightseeing/Photoshoots -

Grand Palace - do all the photoshoots. Take all the pics. This is the most beautiful plaza of all. This is where my friends' Ariel + Josh took their wedding party photos and they ended up looking so epic! Although, pretty much every little street in Brussels is a picturesque moment. 

Manneken Pis - Small tiny statue, huge let down. But fun to check out anyway!

- Day trip -

Visit Bruges - Brussels is so small, you can see and do everything in 2 days. If you have more time, visit Bruges and explore. You can take a quick train ride over. 

 

WHERE to eat:

travel europe in 2 weeks mussels

Since my intention was to go with the flow as much as possible, I didn't keep track of any bars or restaurants we went to (other than Delirum Cafe, where my friends got married. You definitely should go there!).

If I had to list the top three types of food you need to eat while in Brussels it'd be:

Mussels + Frites (fries)

Waffles - get them everywhere and anywhere. Try all different kinds.

Fries - eat all the fries!!!


I hope this post helps you plan your next European adventure. If you plan to travel Europe in 2 weeks and visit 6 cities - you can! Just plan for travel delays, random things to come up and to sleep when needed. You can do it! I am not someone who typically makes a budget and sticks to it, but if I want to go somewhere and do something, I can motivate myself enough to save money and make it happen. I have no idea exactly how much this trip cost us, but if I had to estimate, I'd say save about $3000 of fun European vacation money for yourself! And then go make it happen. 

Was this post helpful? Is there anything more specific you want to know? If the thought of traveling + planning your own adventure intimidates you - don't worry! You can always come on a retreat with me and I'll plan out alllll the things :) Check out the details of my next yoga retreat to Costa Rica!