Honey I’m home! And just like my 6 week stint of exploring Europe has come to an end. I am so excited to share with you in detail all the places we went, cities we saw and things we learned. My 2018 Europe trip feels like a dreamy moment in time that never really happened – everything went perfectly well, no missed flights, broken cameras or stolen phones and zero nasty encounters! I feel so blessed for how this trip turned out; 5 years of planning and picking out exactly the cities I wanted to visit. See the full 6 week itinerary here.
A lot of people have asked me how I found the places we went to and honestly it was a combination of images I stumbled upon Pinterest, Instagram posts, blogs and word of mouth. The cities I chose were a combination of some major cities like Florence, Seville and Lagos that I have been meaning to tick off the list for a while, as well as some more unknown places like Calpe, Granada and Burgenstock.
I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again – Europe really is my favourite. I can’t believe I let 5 years go by without visiting again after I left from my 6 month stint living in London and exploring Europe (read more about it here). I’m so glad I was able to share this trip with my cousin Nat and hubby Ards. I split the trip into 3 parts: first week by myself in London, then 2 weeks traveling Spain and Portugal with Nat followed by 3 weeks exploring Poland, Switzerland, France and Italy with Ards.
There were so many memorable and jaw-dropping moments (I literally said “This place is not normal” more times then I can count) but I’ve listed below the ones that topped the trip for me!
Here are the best moments from my 6 week Europe trip:
Wandering the streets and enjoying perfect summer weather in London
I forgot how much I missed and loved London! This city will always have a dear spot in my heart. Every street is so picturesque; quintessential British. London was the first stop of my trip and those first few days were honestly perfect. I walked EVERYWHERE and soaked in that British summery goodness, stopping at whatever cafe, boutique or florist tickled my fancy!
Finding the turquoise pool of my dreams in Valencia, Spain
My expectations for Valencia were… well I had none! We booked this destination so we could pick up a car and drive to Calpe (see below). I was so surprised by Valencia; it is a beautiful city on the south-east coast and best known for it’s City of Arts and Sciences – see the incredible monument above. A futuristic structure, oceanarium and interactive museum. We hired paddle boards here and soaked in the Spanish sun.
Discovering pink heaven in the form of La Muralla Roja in Calpe, Spain
This was one of the places I found on Pinterest and Instagram, and at first sight I knew I had to go there! Muralla Roja is actually a housing project on the cliffs of the Mediterranean in Spain. La Muralla Roja (in English the Red Wall), is a bold apartment block with breathtaking seaside views. Completed in 1968, Ricardo Bofill designed this fortress and 50 years later it is still capturing our attention. See more incredible images of the place, including baby blue walls and a ocean view pool here.
Early morning hike up Penon de Ifach in Calpe, Spain
Nat and I woke up early one morning after discovering we were able to hike the 332m limestone rock our hotel looked out on. Not going to lie, the hike was a bit sketchy with steep cliffs and plenty of birds circling around us, but all worth it as we ascended to the top with views over this coastal town surrounded by the glimmering blue Mediterranean.
Admiring the Moorish archways of the Alhambra palace in Spain’s Granada
Another Spanish city that took me by surprise! Granada had so much to offer, with the crown jewel being the Alhambra palace that overlooks the entire city. If you haven’t been to Granada yet, add it to your list now. I can’t wait to write a full guide for this city – so much to see and explore here. We stayed for 3 nights but I would recommend even more.
Watching the boats, horses and a wedding at Seville’s Plaza de Espana
Seville is a vibrant and lively city growing in popularity in Spain. With flamenco shows, mouth-watering churros and the most orange trees I’ve ever seen in a city, Seville is a must see in Spain. Plaza de Espana is the main square of the city, and I enjoyed admiring the details on the tiles and the architecture of the square.
Seeing the sunset over the Algarve coastline in Lagos, Portugal
Lagos is known for its walled old town, cliffs and steep wooden steps leading to its Atlantic beaches, and after seeing Tuula’s trip there a couple of years ago, I knew I had to visit. I wish I could have spent a whole month here as Lagos has so much to offer. The beaches are so unique and stunning – nothing like swimming in a secluded cove beach looking out onto these rock formations. But boy oh boy, the water was cold! (16 degrees)
Booking a hotel with the best view in Krakow, Poland and people watching over the main square
My mouth hit the ground when I walked into our hotel in Krakow and realised this was the view from our room. I was so excited to show Arden the country my parents grew up in. We had such a great time in Poland, and Krakow was definitely a highlight for us. The culture and history of this place amazes me every time I get to visit.
Finding Swiss heaven at Burgenstock Resort overlooking Lake Lucerne
I have no words for this place. All I can say is how happy and grateful I am to have found Burgenstock Resort in Lake Lucerne, Switzerland. This was Arden’s favourite part of the trip. Burgenstock Resort had only recently reopened after being closed for several years for a major renovation. The resort is everything you would imagine a 5-star Swiss spa retreat in the mountains to be like, and more! We are coming back here, no doubt (just need to save up some money as it’s a tad $$$$).
Strolling across the canals of France’s Venice, Lake Annecy
Lake Annecy was a delight! The people were so friendly, the cheese fondue was nothing like I’ve ever experienced, and the lake was crystal clear. We had a week of perfect weather here and got to enjoy what the French may consider a stellar summer holiday – champagne, chocolate croissants and dreamy lake views, oui oui!
Becoming a true Italian and holidaying on Lake Como, sipping countless Aperol Spritz
I can’t remember how many Aperol Spritz I had – it’s the only option for a summer drink in Italy! Lake Como was another place I had on my list for a while and it did not disappoint. How could it when we booked a stay at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Great pizza, gelato and boat trips on the Lake exploring villas I still can’t believe exist.
Watching the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy
My favourite moments often end up being the spontaneous and unplanned ones. This was towards the end of our trip, and Ards and my last night in Florence. We had no plans that evening and decided to have a sunset picnic. I did a quick Google search for look out points over the city and Piazzale Michelangelo popped up. It was a 30 minute walk to get to the top, but was so worth it watching the sunset over the Duomo cathedral and Ponte Vecchio.
What’s one of your favourite moments from Europe?