London, Paris and Barcelona… Europe’s big city sampler. It’s easier than you may think to cram in the highlights of England, France and Spain in a 10 day whirlwind trip. I did it!
At the end of July this summer my good friend Brianna and I went on a trip (for work!) to see some of the most popular tourist attractions in these three cities. This itinerary was provided for us through the tour company that we were traveling with and it functioned really well. I would recommend it to anyone looking to explore these places for the first time.
Day 1: Travel from Boston to London
We took a red eye flight from Boston Logan airport into London Heathrow airport.
If you haven’t flown a red eye before here are my tips:
- Eat a regular dinner at the airport or right as soon as you get on the flight.
- Settle in and maybe watch one movie or show and then try your absolute hardest to get some sleep. Even if you don’t actually sleep, close your eyes and listen to music and REST. It’ll make the rest of your trip get off to a much better start!
- When you’re not sleeping, drink a TON of water. Drink more water than you think you need. When they come around and offer you something to drink ask for TWO cups of water. You’ll feel a thousand times better for it.
- Pack a pack of make-up remover wipes, toothbrush and toothpaste, moisturizer, deodorant and a fresh pair of underwear in your carry-on. Right before landing head into the bathroom and do the best you can to freshen up so you don’t spend the first full day looking and feeling like you haven’t slept or bathed in weeks (even if that may be the truth).
From Heathrow, we collected our bags and boarded our tour bus where we would head to our hotel, drop off our bags and venture into London for the day. Our tour guide brought us right into the city center! I took Brianna to Oxford Circus, Trafalgar Square and Carnaby Street.
On Carnaby Street we ate one of my favorite London treats: Bread Ahead donuts… SO delicious.
For lunch we went to another one of my favorite central spots: Franco Manca for the most delicious sourdough pizza.
If you’re looking for a super cheap, but super delicious sit down spot to rest your legs whilst touring central London, look no further than Franco Manca.
We spent the rest of the day touring around and taking photos.
Our friends Pete and Andrew were also traveling on our same itinerary but in a different bus. We got to meet up with them in most locations!
Day 2: Explore London
The next day we hit the ground running with some more sightseeing. We started the day with a viewing of the changing of the guards in front of Buckingham Palace.
After that we visited Westminster Abbey.
Then we had some free time so Brianna and I went shopping before meeting up with two of my friends who live in London for a night out.
We went to an awesome rooftop bar pop-up that was on the roof of the John Lewis on Oxford Street. It was a beautiful night and so much fun to have all of my friends together in my favorite city.
Day 4: Free Day in London
The next morning we had the whole day free! Brianna met up with the rest of our group to ride the London Eye and walk around the South Bank. Meanwhile I met up with Lewis’s parents who took a train in to visit with me for the day! We wandered around (ate more donuts from Bread Ahead!) and took lots of photos.
Day 4: London | Paris
We woke up early to take the Eurostar train to Paris. The Eurostar is super easy and it only takes about 2 hours to get to France. You do have to treat the train ride almost like a flight though and show up at least an hour early, go through security and a border checkpoint.
Immediately after arriving in Paris I stumbled upon THIS shop! If you’ve followed me since Australia, you’ll understand why I needed a photo in front of this store…
We spent the afternoon exploring the Palace of Versailles and it’s gardens which were absolutely stunning!! I think the photos we took at Versailles are some of my favorites from the whole trip.
While the inside of the palace was of course absolutely beautiful, I think Brianna and I both wished that we could have had more time in the gardens. Especially in early July, they couldn’t have been more beautiful.
And a little photoshoot in front of the Arc de Triomphe because when in Paris…
Day 5: Paris
The next day we spent the first part of the morning taking a walking tour of Paris and it’s Latin Quarter. We visited the Champs-Élysées, an elegant boulevard packed with high-fashion boutiques, the Placede la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe and of course the Eiffel Tower. Of course we dined on crepes, macarons and croissants at any and all opportunity.
Other than eat, we simply admired the beautiful shopfronts of Paris and tried not to spend our ENTIRE life savings on all of the trendy and cute clothes we saw.
Above is definitely one of my favorite photos from the whole trip. Top tip: if you want this shot you have to head to Trocadero. Punch it into Google Maps and you’ll find that it’s not a far walk from the tower’s base. If you want no one in the photos, try heading here during sunrise!
In the evening we had a Seine river cruise which was the perfect way to rest our (achy and sore) feet and have a nice breeze.
Day 6: Paris | Barcelona
Day 6 was mostly a travel day. The TGV train from Paris to Barcelona took the most part of the day but it was a good opportunity for a much needed nap…
Day 7: Barcelona
Our first full day in Spain we covered a lot of ground. We visited Las Ramblas, Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia.
Stop into Toni Pons for a colorful selection of authentic made-in-Spain espadrilles in all different styles.
Below was one of my all-time favorite things about Barcelona… the fruit juices at the Boqueria. The Boqueria is probably my favorite food market I have ever been to (yes, more than Borough Market in London) and I think it was these juices that really sealed the deal for me. For only 1 Euro you could get a fresh squeezed juice made from nearly any combination of fruits you can think of. It was SO hot in Barcelona and I constantly felt dehydrated so these drinks were an absolute God-send.
It was also fun to just admire all the other colorful goodies at the Boqueria.
After exploring Las Ramblas and the Boqueria we boarded the bus for a visit to Gaudi’s famous Park Guell.
After the park we were back in Barcelona for the rest of the afternoon exploring (and eating!).
Day 7: Barcelona
For our final full day of our trip we headed straight to the beach!!
But before that, we had brunch at the Instagram-famous Brunch & Cake restaurant. Brunch & Cake is famous for it’s VERY Insta-worthy food presentations, as you can see below.
While the food looks 10/10 it only tasted OK. I wouldn’t totally dissuade you from going there as it was a fun experience, but you might be able to get some better tasting food someplace else.
As for the beach, it was an undeniable 10/10. be honest, I am not sure what I was expecting out of the Barcelona beach (Barceloneta) but it really surpassed my expectations. Yes, it was crowded BUT that WATER. Oh my goodness, it was like nothing else.
Barcelona was HOT. Actually, the whole trip was hot… word to the wise for anyone considering traveling to Europe’s major cities in July… it’s gonna be HOT and it’s gonna be CROWDED. But the water at Barceloneta was the most IDEAL temperature imaginable. I had a fantastic time… even though 99% of my belongings were pickpocket off of this beach. You really can’t leave you bags alone here. If you’re in a group someone has to stay behind and look after the bags or else all your things will be stolen immediately.
Day 8: Depart for home
This trip was a whirlwind. I don’t think I could have prepared myself for the amount of walking involved in a tour of three major cities. We walked and walked and walked and walked but we saw SO much and I feel like even though we barely scratched the surface of deep-diving into all that these places had to offer we were able to really get a taste of each city/country. I think it was a great intro to each country so that later in life you could know where you would want to go back and spend more time. I couldn’t have asked for a better travel buddy… I don’t think I have ever laughed so much in a week as I did with Brianna. We didn’t know each other very well prior to this trip but it is pretty amazing how close you do get with someone after an experience like this one was.
For anyone considering doing an itinerary similar to this one here are my main suggestions:
1. If traveling in July be prepared for some serious HEAT.
2. Comfortable walking shoes. That doesn’t mean you have to walk around in dorky running shoes, just make sure that whatever it is they don’t rub or pinch in a way that you’re going to hate after a 12 hour day on your feet.
3. Go with the flow, things aren’t always going to go right, you’re going to get thirsty, hungry, grumpy but when those times hit just look around and realize how cool it is to be where you are in that moment– you can sleep when you’re home!!