If you’ve read any of my last blogs, you know that weekend trips have been a key part of my study abroad experience. If you study in a major European city, take advantage of your location and travel around.
Tips on how to make the most of a weekend trip:
1. Have goals in mind and map your days. Look up the locations of the landmarks, restaurants, museums, etc. Plan based on where they are. There have been several times when I have realized I crossed an entire city only to have to go back to the area I came from. If you have a list of ten things to do, make a map in your head of what is close to each other, and travel from one spot to the next.
2. Research museums. What do people online say about the best museums in the given city? Do not overload yourself with too many, I usually stick with one or two per weekend. Try different kinds - history exhibitions, art galleries, etc. I love museums, but it is important to know yourself. If you would rather spend the time outdoors, find a more active excursion.
3. Research the local foods. Many cities have a famous dish or pastry. Find out what the city is known for, and try it!
4. Explore neighborhoods. That is often the best way to get a local feel for a city. Walk around individual neighborhoods and learn about the city’s different histories and personalities. If there is specific designated “Old Town,” make sure to go. It can be helpful to get a tour about the history of that area.
5. Go somewhere outside of the city. This isn’t a must, but if you have the time, I really recommend it. Ask people who have done similar trips and research excursions. You need to be organized and look into transportation in advance.
When I visited Ljubljana, I went outside of the city to Lake Bled. It was really good for me to be out in nature and away from noise. When I visited Lisbon, I traveled about an hour to Pena Palace in Sintra. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. You could see the water, and the colors of the palace itself were so vivid. I’ve never seen anything like it. The feature photo of this blog post is of my friends and me at Pena Palace.
With all that in mind, though, be flexible. Sometimes I had the most fun wandering around.
Tips on logistics:
1. Use Airbnb instead of hotels!
2. Bring a backpack and a purse. Do not bring a rolling bag! My friends who did this always regretted it. You’re often stuck with your bags for the majority of the first and last day of the trip. You do not want to be stuck dragging a rolling bag, you’ll feel like you’re back in elementary school.
3. Bring a portable phone charger, because you will need the extra battery. And make sure you have the proper converters.
4. I mentioned this in a previous blog, but check if the City Mapper app works in your city. If it does, download it to help you navigate public transportation.
5. Get the local currency when you arrive. Don’t assume everywhere accepts card!
Some of my favorite weekend trips, in no particular order:
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
2. Florence, Italy
3. Vienna, Austria
4. Ljublana, Slovenia
5. Lisbon, Portugal
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<p>Born and raised in Indiana. Very likely to ask, “if you could eat anything right now, what would it be?” at the wrong times. Join me as I write my way through Italy!</p>