No matter where you go in Europe, there’s always someplace new to explore. That’s why you should never limit yourself to a major tourist city. Choose a home base and plan day trips around it. Here, we break down three of the best day trips from Paris, Florence, and London.
Paris: Monet’s Garden in Giverny
Why You Should Go: Claude Monet is not only the founding father of French Impressionism – he’s one of the most famous figures in all of art history, and the paintings he produced here at Giverny are some of his most beloved works. Monet painted these stunningly vibrant gardens over and over again, capturing their beauty in every light and every season. When you visit Giverny, you can explore the exact environment that Monet found so endlessly inspirational. As you stroll through the gardens, you’ll feel like you just walked into the world’s most beautiful painting.
How to Get There: If you’re staying in Paris, you have several easy options for visiting Giverny. The easiest way is to hop onto a guided tour. You’ll meet a coach bus at a central location in Paris and take a 90 minute scenic ride through the countryside before arriving at Giverny. (If you go the guided tour route, consider pairing Giverny with an excursion to Versailles.) If you’re not the guided tour type, ride the train from Paris Saint Lazare to Vernon, where you’ll catch an €8 bus straight to Giverny.
Why You Should Go: The rivalry between Florence and Siena dates back hundreds of years. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, both cities were powerful forces in the medieval world. Florence eventually overtook Siena to become the “jewel of the Renaissance” we know today; Siena, on the other hand, maintains its medieval glory. A trip to Siena offers the ultimate immersion in old world Italy. Streets are narrow, curved, and surprisingly hilly. If you opt to eat outside, you might find yourself sitting at a table with two legs longer than the others – an essential Sienese hack for making the most of the steep roads. Spend your time in this medieval Tuscan treasure taking in the beauty of the Piazza di Campo (the shell-shaped piazza known for the yearly Palio event), exploring a few of the family-run restaurants, and taking a wine-tasting tour.
How to Get There: No matter how you travel, you can reach Siena from Florence in less than two hours. The cheapest route is via bus, which you’ll catch in front of the Santa Maria Novella train station. Take the Rapida bus (131R) for a non-stop ride to Siena, or hop on the Ordinaria (131O) for a slightly longer trip with stops in the villages of Poggibonsi and Colle Val d’Elsa. There’s plenty of luggage space onboard – just let the driver know if you need to store something. If you prefer a train journey, you can travel to Siena in 90 minutes via Trenitalia – but take note that Siena’s train station is a little out of the way, so you might want to include cab fees in your budget.
Why You Should Go: Brighton is the eccentric younger sibling to London’s cosmopolitan elegance. In Brighton, the land of colorful cottages and quirky independent shops, all roads lead to the pier. Before heading down to the beach, however, check out the Royal Pavilion, an utterly extravagant palace and seaside retreat built for King George IV. After touring the interior, relax in the garden or grab lunch at the outdoor café. Then, make your way to the seafront for a taste of old-timey English entertainment. For a gorgeous view of the scene, ride the Brighton Wheel, then stroll along the iconic Brighton Pier to enjoy the classic rides, carnival games, and sweet treats. Our favorite hidden gem? The Mechanical Memories Museum, a fabulously entertaining interactive museum filled with vintage arcade games for you to play. It’s an only-in-Brighton experience that’s not to be missed.
How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Brighton from London is by train. Take a direct train from either London Victoria or London Bridge stations and you’ll find yourself in Brighton in less than 60 minutes. Coach rides are available, too, but the ease and convenience of the train can’t be beat.
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