Best Things to Do in Annecy, France

2 Days in Anncey France - Things to do and see

WHAT TO DO IN ANNECY ONE DAY

Annecy is surely one of the prettiest towns in France. I don’t exaggerate to say, it is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe.

If you plan a trip to France and skip Annecy, you will miss out. So, whether you have only a day or a bit longer, here are the best places to see in Annecy in one day (or two days). Annoy is one of the most beautiful places in FranceThough I cannot really remember, I am pretty sure that I first heard about Annecy on Instagram, and that must have been the trigger to wanting to visit it.

What is better than colorful medieval houses, clean, alpine air, and in the case of Annecy, proximity to a gorgeous, pristine lake that is set against the Alps?

Not much, and so I finally made my way to visit for two days. And I can easily say that this picturesque town was a pleasure to see!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR ONE DAY IN ANNECY

Here is some important information for your Annecy trip!

How to Get to Annecy from Geneva

  • By Plane: The nearest airport to Annecy is the airport in Geneva.
  • By Car: Annecy is located close to the Swiss border. Though it is just a 30 minutes drive from Geneva, the motorway toll for France is about 20€ (on return).

How to Get Around

  • Annecy itself is pretty small, so you can explore Annecy on foot.
  • You do not need any buses, etc.
  • However, you can rent bikes, take the bus, or drive easily by yourself to leave the old town.

Where to Stay

If you stay only for a few hours, you will not need accommodation. In case you stay overnight, I recommend booking a hotel in the old town of Annecy though. It might be tricky if you come by car to find parking, so double-check if the hotel offers (free) parking.

Tips for Solo Female Traveler

I visited Annecy with my little dog only, so I am not sure it is considered solo travel. Our accommodation was outside the old town, and we did not walk around at night, but I felt totally safe during the say. Since it is quite busy in summer, I recommend watching your bag/purse, but other than that, I loved exploring Annecy as a solo traveler.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN ANNECY IN ONE DAY

I suggest starting the morning by visiting the old town of Annecy.

Beautiful Annecy on a sunny day

Annecy Old Town

Since I was coming from “outside, “I “entered“ the old town, and strolled along the streets without any real plan (which is sometimes the best).

And then there it was. The famous castle that I had seen many pictures of: Palais de L´Isle. 

Palais de L´Isle 

As seen in the pic above, this castle is one of the main tourist attractions in Annecy. It looks tiny and has a long history.

It was used as a prison, a courthouse, an administrative center and now it is as an art and history museum. It is an original structure and the oldest parts of which date from the 12th century. According to the website of the castle, a visit takes about one hour.

Annoy is one of the most beautiful places in France

Even if you do not go inside, it is such a lovely setting with all the flower pots everywhere – indeed very Instagram-worthy (and something I did not see in Venice).

Get Lost in the Streets

Annecy is so pretty that I could have easily just strolled around for hours without a goal. It is such an unreal place that you should explore, so make sure to plan to explore the old town without a real goal in mind.

Annecy: one of the many bridges

The houses around the castle are so charming and reminded me pretty much of beautiful Italy, and after strolling around, I had lunch in one of the numerous restaurants.

Besides the many colored houses and flower pots, you´ll find plenty of restaurants and cafes – seriously. There are so many options to dine or grab a gelato (or real snacks) that you´ll definitely find something for every budget and taste.

If you don´t rush, take your time and have lunch/dinner. I guess it might take a few hours to see all the little narrow streets and souvenir shops.

Be warned: you´ll be only one of many tourists there, but it does not surprise that this is one of the most famous Annecy hot spots.

Cute, cuter, the cutest_ Annecy -annecy things to do

What to See in Annecy in 2 days - Lake Annecy things to do

Château d’Annecy

Château d’Annecy is a hilltop castle located right next to Lake Annecy in the old town’s heart. Castle in AnnecyIt is one of the numerous beautiful castles in France, and though the castle was built many years ago, it was just in the 1950s when the town of Annecy rebuilt it.

It has become a popular tourist attraction and is now a museum: Le musée-château d’Annecy. The castle is also listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture in 1959.

My dog and I walked up (it is an easy uphillwalk-up), but since dogs were not allowed to enter the castle (which is now a museum), we could not visit.

  • Prices are around 5,50€ for adults.

Lake Annecy

I cropped off the day at the stunning Lake Annecy. Lake Annecy is seriously beautiful and one of the top places to visit. I suggest planning in the afternoon (at least 3-4 hours if you do some activities in and around Lake Annecy).

I have been to Switzerland many times, and I am used to pristine lakes that make you want to jump in. Lake Annecy is equally clear and spectacular. In the sunshine, the water shimmers in several beautiful greenish/bluish colors.

Boat Tour

A boat tour is one of the best Annecy activities. It is a great way to cool off and see more of the beautiful lake and the Alps.

The boat’s audio guide was in French, which is a pity, but I still enjoyed my boat trip. The lake also offers options to rent pedal boats and do some other kinds of watersports activities.

A boat tour on Lake Annecy - annecy attractions

  • Boat tours cost about 15€ no admission for dogs or children under 5 years)

A park surrounds Lake Annecy, so there are also enough other options to rest or chill (and Annecy is a great place to visit with kids).

Stroll the Lake

Also, take your time to stroll the lake. Even if you are tired. There are enough places to take a rest (including parks where you can lay down and have a picnic).

Lake d´Annecy in Annecy, France - what to do in annecy france

Chilling at Lake Annecy - what to see in Annecy in 2 days

Water Activities

You can do many activities on and in the water – go kayaking, swimming, or enjoy other water activities on Lake Annecy.

Water activities in Annecy

Rent a Bike

After that, I´d suggest renting a bike and tour the lake. Though not all of it, most of the path should be pretty good to ride or just hike around in the area. With 1 day in Annecy, you should have time to do that.

Enjoy Outdoor Adventure

Though for me Annecy is mostly about the gorgeous old town with its colorful buildings and flower pots (in the summer months) and Lake Annecy, the area itself is also very well-known as a place for outdoor sports lovers.

Depending on what your focus is, you can also do some outdoor adventure. As mentioned, you can do a lot on Lake Annecy, including SUP and biking around the lake, but you can also go paragliding, hiking, via Ferrata, canyoning, and more.

It might be a busy itinerary with only one day in Annecy, but since Annecy is so small and you could also add a little adventure to your list.

However, Annecy also has some more modern parts that you can discover with a short sightseeing bus tour (though I often hop on one of those, I did not do so in Annecy since I think it cannot get much better the old town and the lake). They start at the lake, and it might be a good thing to get a quick view over other places of Annecy.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN ANNECY

Annecy´s old town is probably one of the most beautiful places (in Europe?) and, together with its lake, probably the main reason to visit Annecy.

I left Annecy with a good feeling. Despite the crowds, I loved the pretty Alp town, and I would be happy to return for another weekend in the summer. Though it is a small place with not THAT many attractions, it is still full of beauty. Discovering Annecy with Puppygak - Where to go in Annecy

I hope this post has helped you find out about the best things to do in Annecy in one day.

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

How to Have an Epic 2-Week Italy Itinerary

First-time in Italy_ An itinerary for Italy in 10-14 days

AMAZING ITINERARY FOR ITALY IN 14 DAYS

If you are planning your 2-week Italy itinerary, this post is for you! This 2-week Italy itinerary helps you to see some of the most beautiful places of Italy in 14 days (or a little less).

There are not many countries that are so rich in natural sights and beautiful architecture and history! Italy plays in a different league, and you could never spend too much time here.

While I have many favorite places in Italy, some quite unknown to tourists, I understand that the main tourist destinations like Rome, Venice, and Florence are on everyone’s bucket list!

For your first trip to Italy, these destinations are probably very high on your list! And I can assure you: Each destination is impressive and worth a visit. 

In two weeks you will experience some city life and also some stunning scenery. But more on that later.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 2 WEEKS IN ITALY

So, before talking about the perfect 14 days in Italy, here are some travel tips for your first-time trip. Find out how to get around, where to stay, and more tips for your trip.

HOW TO GET AROUND ITALY IN 14 DAYS 

There are two main ways to get around in Italy. I have done both: road-tripping and rail travel.

I suggest using the train to discover Italy in two weeks. You might have less freedom by using public transportation only but will gain so much more. Particularly, because it is less nerve-wracking compared to driving in Italy and it is way cheaper (at least, if you travel alone or in a group of 2 or where you can share the costs of a rental car).

ROAD TRIPPING

  • Petrol is sooooo expensive in Italy. It has some of the highest petrol prices in Europe, even more, expensive than in Switzerland!
  • Tolls are also pricey.
  • Plus, the streets are narrow, and Italians rush when it comes to driving!

TRAIL TRAVEL

Luckily, public transportation is an excellent alternative.

  • Trains are quite cheap, reliable, and very efficient.
  • Trains might run late a few minutes. Basically, all my trains were 5-10 minutes late, but that is still tolerable in my eyes.
  • Check out prices and schedules here.

So, go with public transportation for this Italy trip.

BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY FOR 14 DAYS

You can visit all the places mentioned in this two-week Italy itinerary throughout the year: spring, summer, fall, and winter.

However, I recommend NOT visiting Italy in the summer months. It is hot and sticky, expensive, and worst of all, every place is full of tourists

Understandably, tourists are here all year round, but in the summer months, be prepared to fight your way through the crowds. If you plan to visit attractions during the summer months, you will need to buy the more expensive “skip-the-lines tickets.“ Otherwise, you will spend a big portion of your day, waiting in lines. 

Even during shoulder seasons, I highly recommend those tickets because it gets busy – but in summer, it is a must!

Disclaimer: This post might contain affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost for you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

PLACES TO STAY IN ITALY FOR 2 WEEKS

Since I suggest rail travel for you, and I recommend not changing hotels too often as it makes the trip more stressful.

  • If you stay 14 days in Italy, my tip is to have a base near/in Rome for exploring Rome and Vatican City. Then have a base near/in Florence and a base in Venice. If you visit Cinque Terre and its surroundings, I recommend staying in La Spezia, a city directly in front of Cinque Terre.

These places are, without a doubt, quite expensive. It might be cheaper to stay a bit further out of the city. If you do so, make sure the train station is close by so that you can easily get to the places you want to visit.

So, here are my recommendations for places to visit for your Italy itinerary.

I suggest arriving in Rome and end your trip in Venice. You can, of course, do the trip the other way around and start with Venice. I wouldn’t change the stops in between, though, as they make sense looking at Italy’s geography.

PLACES TO VISIT IN 10-14 DAYS IN ITALY

Okay, let’s talk about all the beautiful places you can visit in up to 14 days in Italy.

ROME AND VATICAN CITY FOR 3-3,5 DAYS

Arrival in Rome + Rome + Vatican City 

  • Rome has two airports: Fiumicino and Ciampino.
  • Both airports are well connected to the city center.
  • The cheapest way to get to the city center is via a shuttle bus. The most expensive is via taxi or private transfer!

ROME (2 DAYS)

I suggest not wasting too much time in the hotel – head out and explore Rome! What a unique ancient and special city. 

View from Castello del Angelo  - best viewpoints in Rome with Arzo Travels
@shutterstock

I’d say that the minimum amount of time for Rome and Vatican City would be 2.5 days. Three full days would be even better. Also, plan in a few hours to get to the next destination.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN ROME

  • Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built
  • Roman Hills & Palatine Hills is the centremost of the Seven Hills of the city is one of the most ancient parts of Rome
  • Spanish Steps are a set of steps, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti
  • Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele is a national monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy
  • Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city 
  • Castel Sant’Angelo was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Later, it was used by the popes as a fortress and castle and is now a museum.
  • Here are my travel tips for Rome

WHERE TO STAY IN ROME

Rome is one of the busiest cities in Italy. Accommodation can be pricey though you will not find many of the typical 5-star hotel chains that you might know from other parts of the world.

  • Luxury Hotels in Rome: St. Regis is one of the few hotel chains with a property in Rome. The hotel is popular because of its central location (within walking distance to Rome attractions like the Spanish Steps, etc.). Click here to find out more and get the best rates.
  • Mid-Range Hotels in Rome: This 3-star hotel is also popular – find out more about the Suites Farness Design Hotel.
  • Budget Hotels in Rome: Looking for a budget hotel in Rome? This might be the perfect choice for you: We were a group of three and needed a big room with three beds. And we were really, really happy with our hotel. It was not spectacular, but the location was good, and so was the value for money: Find out more about the St. Peter Bed in Rome here.

VATICAN CITY (1 DAY)

Crossing borders has never been easier than crossing the Italian border and entering a new country – Vatican City. I must admit, the excursion to Vatican City was one of the highlights of my Rome trip. I highly recommend a day trip (or at least half a day in Vatican City) and to see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

That view....Places to see in Vatican City

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN VATICAN CITY

  • Sistine Chapel is a chapel in Vatican City and the official residence of the pope
  • Spiral Staircase was designed to link the Belvedere Palace to the streets of Rome. This also allowed Pope Julius II to travel directly to his private residence by carriage
  • Raphael’s Rooms form a suite of reception rooms and are now part of the Vatican Museums. They are famous for their frescoes
  • St. Peter’s Basilica is a church built in the Renaissance style
  • Check out this Vatican City 1-day itinerary with important travel tips

FLORENCE AND TUSCANY FOR 3 OR 4 DAYS

Then it is time to visit Tuscany and its capital of Florence.

From Rome to Florence

  • From Rome’s Termini Station, you can take the train to Florence. It only takes about 90 minutes.

They say that the earlier you book, the better and cheaper it will be. However, I haven’t noticed that prices go up within a few days for train tickets. So, I always bought them more or less last-minute. But please do not take my word for granted and double-check because I might be wrong.

FLORENCE (2 DAYS)

Florence in one day is possible, but not fun! This city is bursting with attractions and sights. There is so much to do and see that you should try to stay 1,5-2 days.

Florence- from Piazzale Michelangelo, Italy
@shutterstock View from Piazzale Michelangelo

Even if you aren’t into art – believe me, I am not – art in Florence is a different matter and totally amazing – you will love the city. You might skip a few museums and “finish“ within 1.5 days.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN FLORENCE

  • Florence Cathedral helped set the tone of the Italian Renaissance – now, is the third largest church in the world
  • Uffizi Gallery is a famous art museum housing impressive collections of ancient sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages to the Modern period
     
  • Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River
  • Piazzale Michelangelo is on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River and offers a stunning panorama of the city
  • Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence
  • Piazza della Signoria is an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and still maintains its reputation as the political focus of the city.
  • Check out my Florence trip for more tips.

After your 2 days in Florence, it is time to do one or two day trips and explore the area around Florence. You can also do them in between the days you are in Florence. You can do San Gimignano and Siena in one day and see Lucca and Pisa the other day. 

WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE

I did not stay overnight in Florence but took a train from my accommodation nearby. However, based on recommendations, these are my tips for places to stay in Florence:

LUCCA AND PISA (1 DAY)

So, when planning your two-week Italy itinerary, you should plan one full day for Pisa and Lucca. These two places are located close to each other which makes it a perfect day trip from Florence.

PISA

As mentioned, the main places in Italy are easily accessible by train. While I road-tripped Tuscany, I often left my car at the hotel and used trains to get around, so I also suggest doing day trips this way.

Day trip to Pisa, The leaning tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower in Pisa

Pisa is well known for its Leaning Tower, but there is actually more to see. Lucca is a little gem, and while not really off-the-beaten-path, it is probably one of the least busy and least crowded places on this itinerary.

How to get to Pisa from Florence

It is easy to get to Pisa from Florence (in Italian Florence is Firenze). It takes about one hour by train, and the cheapest tickets are less than 9€ one way.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN PISA

  • Leaning Tower of Pisa is the freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of Pisa, most known worldwide for its nearly four-degree lean
  • Cattedrale di Pisa is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
  • Camposanto Monumentale is a historical edifice at the northern edge of the Cathedral Square
  • Palazzo Blu is the center for temporary exhibitions and cultural activities
  • Check out my travel guide on Pisa for more information

On your way back, stop in Lucca – a lovely, charming medieval town. Lucca is a little gem, and while not really off-the-beaten-path, it is probably one of the least busy and least crowded places on this Italy itinerary.

Secret places places in Italy, Lucca in Tuscany

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN LUCCA

  • Guinigi Tower
  • Basilica of San Frediano
  • St. Martin Cathedral
  • Plaza del Anfiteatro (Piazza dell’Anfiteatro)

SIENA + SAN GIMIGNANO (1 DAY)

Another day trip from Florence could be a trip to Siena and San Gimignano. Both are wonderful places to visit – you could rush a bit and add both places to your itinerary or decide on one of the places.

SIENA

Siena is known as one of Italy’s best medieval cities. It takes about 70-90 minutes to get from Florence to Siena by public transportation.

The city sits over three hills, so comfortable shoes are a must.

Sienna tower, looking up

THINGS TO DO IN SIENA

  • Piazza del Campo 
  • Duomo di Siena
  • Pubblico Palace
  • Tower of Mangia
  • Basilica of Caterina
  • Foto Gala
  • Check out my Siena travel guide for more tips

SAN GIMIGNANO 

Siena is beautiful and you might need one full day for visiting it. However, I would try to add another town/place on this day. Some might also be interested in visiting San Gimignano, a famous village about an hour from Siena. 

It is a small hilltop village encircled by 13th-century walls. It looks pretty to look at but also the village itself is impressive.

landscapes of Italy. medieval San Gimignano - Tuscany cutest towns in Italy
@shutterstock

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN SAN GIMIGNANO

  • Piazza della Cisterna
  • Torre Grossa
  • Duomo di San Gimignano
  • Palazzo del Popolo
  • Torre e Casa Campatelli

With Florence or Rome as your base, you have spent about six to seven days in Italy so far – it is time for some beach time and a different side of Italy.

CINQUE TERRE AND PORTO VENERE FOR 2 DAYS

CINQUE TERRE + PORTO VENERE (2 DAYS)

It is time to head to Liguria – a beautiful region northeast of Italy.

It is quite easy to get to Cinque Terre and Porto Venere from Florence. 

  • From Florence, you take a train to La Spezia. You cannot get to Cinque Terre by car. It is almost impossible and will make your hard day harder, so park your car at La Spezia.
  • From there, you will hop on the Cinque Terre Train, which will take you to Cinque Terre within minutes.

CINQUE TERRE 

This string of five towns on the Italian Riviera is famous for its colorful seaside houses and a great combination of relaxed Italian village life and outdoor activities, like swimming and hiking. While I enjoyed my time in Cinque Terre, I would suggest not spending more than 1,5 days there. Italy has so much to offer, and two weeks in Italy actually isn’t that much – and Cinque Terre is quite small.

Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore Harbor (1 von 1)

It is easy to visit the five villages. Either hike or hop on the train that connects all 5 villages. It does not take much time.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN CINQUE TERRE

  • Riomaggiore
  • Manarola
  • Corniglia
  • Vernazza
  • Monterosso
  • Here is my Cinque Terre travel guide (also with more images and plenty of travel tips)

There are many more beautiful places in Tuscany – check them out here.

PORTO VENERE

This place is not a typical stop on most Italy itineraries, but I loved it. Porto Venere is a small and lesser-known but equally stunning (or probably even more stunning) little fishing village near Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre, half day trip to Porto Venere

Cinque Terre is quite small, and you can explore it in one day or 1,5 days max. Use the rest of the time for Portovenere. I know places like Portofino, which is also in this area, are more famous and popular with visitors, but after having visited both, I can say, that I liked Portovenere better.  

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN PORTO VENERE

  • Doria Castle
  • Promenade
  • San Pietro Church
  • Byron’s Grotto
  • San Lorenzo Church
  • Cemetery
  • Here is my Portovenere travel guide (with more pictures and info)

Spend 1-1,5 days in Cinque Terre and half a day – 1 day in Porto Venere. I would leave half a day for the onward journey. If you want to find out more about the area, check out my post with the most beautiful places in Liguria.

WHERE TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE

  • Riomaggiore is a popular place to stay in Cinque Terre. I stayed there, too. Check out rates and prices here for the hotel I stayed at. The location was okay. It did not come with any great views, but it was easy to reach from the train station, and the room was quite big by Italian standards. 
  • However, I would choose differently if revisiting Cinque Terre, and it would probably be in Vernazza or Manarola because they were the prettiest towns in my eyes.
  • If you are on a budget, I actually recommend staying in La Spezia. After two nights in Cinque Terre, I booked a hotel in La Spezia for two nights. I used it as a base to get around and see other places in Cinque Terre, like Porto Venere, and it is easier to take a train if heading to your next destination on your Italy itinerary. Click here to find the best hotels in La Spezia.

VENICE, BURANO, AND VERONA FOR 3-4 DAYS

So, while the two weeks in Italy are almost up, you still have a few highlights on your itinerary.

From Cinque Terre to Venice

  • I recommend that you now head to Venezia Santa Lucia.
  • The whole journey will take about 2 hours.

Venice (1 Day)

Venice is a city like no other. I have never seen or experienced such a city before. Even those who didn’t like Venice can‘t disagree on that.

Venice Itinerary 2 days

Seeing all the gondolas and ferries, and no cars around, makes this city quite surreal. So, you have to see and experience the city, the Grand Canal, gondolas, and everything else to really believe it.

However, the city itself is quite small. Venice is one of those places you have to see once in your lifetime. While there is definitely way more to see and do in Rome or Florence, Venice also has some attractions.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN VENICE

  • Grand Canale
  • Doge’s Palace
  • Saint Mark’s Basilica
  • Rialto Bridge
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Campanile Tower
  • Check out my Venice guide for more info.

But after one full day in the city, you will have seen all the main attractions and might even have time to visit a museum or two.

WHERE TO STAY IN VENICE

  • Luxury Hotels in Venice: Venice has some great 5* hotels like the Gritti Palace with a lovely view of the Grand Canal. You can check the prices for the Gritti Palace here.
  • Mid-range Hotels in Venice: Travel back in time to the 18th century at Antica Locanda Sturion Residenza d’Epoca: antique furniture, silk wallpaper, and views of Rialto and Grand Canal. Check out the prices for this hotel here. 
  • Budget Hotels in Venice: The family-run Hotel Locanda Ca’ Foscari offers some hotel rooms with ensuite bathrooms, as well as cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms, at a good location close to a Vaporetto ferry stop. Check out prices here.
  • If you plan to travel to Verona by train or need even cheaper accommodation, consider staying in Mestre, the first large city on the mainland. The ao Hotel Venezia Mestre is conveniently located near the train station. Recently built, it provides comfortable rooms as well as dorms, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Check out the prices here.

BURANO AND MURANO (1 DAY)

If you have one full day, visit Burano and Murano but if you have less than one full day, make sure to visit Burano – the most colorful place in the world. Burano is a small little island near Venice and it is easy to get from Venice to Burano and Murano.

You can buy a 24-hour (or 48-hour) pass, which allows you to use unlimited water taxis. Within 90 minutes, you are in colorful Burano. Spending 2-5 hours on the island is totally enough because it really is tiny!

Best Instagram pictures for Burano

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN BURANO

If you like, you can also visit Murano, which is on the way to Burano. If you have a 24-hour ticket for the water taxis, you can just get out in Murano and take another taxi later to head to Burano.

See if you still have time left to discover this little island that is known for its glassworks. However, I would make Burano a priority. 

VERONA (1 DAY)

You can do a day tour from Venice to Verona.

  • It takes a bit more than one hour to get to Verona from Venice.

One of the best, most pleasant surprises in Italy was the beautiful city of Verona. Though it was bursting with tourists, I have the feeling that it is somewhat underrated.

Verona in one day, the best Verona travel travel tips and best 1 day Verona itinerary
@shutterstock

And when I went through my own images, I understand the problem: taking great pictures is a bit challenging because it is so full of statues and attractions that something is always “in the way.“ It is hard to find a good angle. Thus, I hardly saw great photos that convinced me to go. Luckily, I still went and was happy because it is just the most charming city in Italy.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN VERONA

WHERE TO STAY IN VERONA

Verona is great for a day trip from Venice, but of course, you can stay there overnight, too. 

  • I highly suggest picking a hotel directly in the city center, and I would choose this hotel for my next Verona trip.

DEPARTURE

Now, there is some bad news. It is time to leave beautiful Italy! Your two weeks are up! There are many other gorgeous places to visit in Italy – I do not want to confuse you but I want to give you more options in case you are looking for alternatives.

  • Check out this guide on the Dolomites – this area in Northern Italy is perfect if you are an outdoor person who likes hiking. 
  • If you want to spend time in and around Lake Como and Milan, you can check out this Lombardy itinerary.
  • If you want to avoid long train rides and rather focus on one part of Italy, you can check out this Northern Italy itinerary or find out about the best places in Southern Italy.

CONCLUSION: ITALY IN 14 DAYS

Wait, where is Milan? As you can see, some top places, like Lake Como and Milan or the Dolomites, are not on the list. They surely are lovely and have their charm, but with limited time (meaning less than three or even four weeks in Italy) for the first time, I suggest the places mentioned above.

If you are a restless traveler and want to add even more places to the itinerary, I have more tips here. However, this itinerary is busy already, though it should not stress you out.

If you plan a trip to Italy, you’re sure to broaden your horizon and experience a variety of unique adventures. I can highly recommend that you travel to Italy for a guaranteed great trip.

You will be able to see quite a lot – and with this 2-week Italy itinerary, you get a perfect idea of the best places to visit.

However, you can never spend enough time in the country and 2 weeks in Italy is surely not enough, so it will just whet your appetite for Italy, and you can see more of it on your next trip.

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

 

Best Things to Do in London in Winter

Best things to do in Winter in London

WHAT TO DO IN WINTER IN LONDON

If you are wondering about a great time to visit London, my suggestion is to visit London in winter. Yes, it might be gray and rainy, but in London, that can happen at any time. So, visiting in winter means you at least get all the fun winter activities to do. I think London is one of the best cities to visit in December in Europe.

So, find out about the best things to do in London in winter – where to go and what to see, plus many travel tips for your trip.

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MIGHT EARN A SMALL COMMISSION WHEN YOU BUY A PRODUCT/SERVICE (AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. MORE ABOUT IT HERE

Christmas by the River / South Bank

Strolling the South Bank is a must-do. It is located beside the River Thames and is a dynamic area at any time of the year.

However, it is even nicer to stroll the riverside in the pre-Christmas period.

christmas by the River is one of the best places to see in London in winter

There are bars and cafes to warm up in – and of course, all the beautiful lighting that makes places on a gray day even nicer!

Let’s not forget the views along the way either, but most of all, there are many different activities to do before Christmas.

You can join “Walking with The Snowman” – 12 giant snowmen sculptures are located along the way. This trail is based on the nation’s favourite festive story “The Snowman”.

So, you can sign up for workshops like creating your own cards (and there are even some children’s activities) – it is more than the usual stalls that offer snacks, drinks, and gifts.

Yes, this place is a must-visit in late November/December.

Geffrye Museum now The Museum of the Home

The Geffrye Museum is now The Museum of the Home and if you are looking for some indoor winter activities check out this museum that informs the visitors about Christmas celebrations over the last few centuries. You’ll find authentically-decorated living rooms and more information on Christmas.

It is completely free to visit, but you need to book a ticket online.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

If you happen to visit London in winter, make sure to plan in some time to visit Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Christmas fair in Hyde park, one of the best places to visit in London in winter
@shutterstock

Visiting London in winter means: enjoying the Christmas markets and eating your weight in snacks, drinking mulled wine, and then burning all the extra calories by ice skating at Hyde Park.

BUT it also means rollercoaster rides – so, if you want a bit of a thrill, then hop on one of the illuminated rides.

While it is one of the most popular places to go in winter, I must say that it felt more like a fair than a Christmas market. However, kids, as well as adults, loved it.

  • It is free to visit but you have to pay for rides and, of course, food and drinks.

Christmas Markets

There are many Christmas Markets throughout London – some are so good they deserve an extra paragraph here. And good news:

As pretty as outdoor London is in winter, sometimes we need to warm up (especially if you don’t drink mulled wine like me). So check out indoor Christmas Markets – or at least the covered markets (rain in London is nothing unusual).

Carnaby Street Lights

One of the most beautiful streets to visit in winter in London is Carnaby Streets. The popular street is located in Soho and is easily reachable from Regent´s Street. Here, you will find Christmas decorations that is different from the rest of London- there is no typical Christmas lights though it is fully decorated. 

Carnaby Project Zero in winter London

the decorations come with a political and important message. In 2019, the message was to use less plastic to keep the oceans clean! So, this is why all decorations have been made out of recycled plastic.

And though it seems hardly anyone actually cares in London during Christmas time (and single-use plastic is widely used), it hopefully is a good reminder to use for the future to be more conscious of what we consume.

Pubs

Winter is the perfect time to spend in pubs. The pubs in England are charming – often with flowers outside and Christmas trees and decorations for a festive atmosphere.

I am not a drinker, and I am not a pub lover – but I can’t help but admire the beautiful pubs all over London. And I have to admit that, especially in the cold winter months, pubs are a good place to spend a few hours. Also, it is not only about drinks but food, too.

There are even pub walking tours that you can take. 

Ice Skating

As mentioned above, there is one ice rink at Hyde Park, but there are many more that you can visit. So, bring your own skates and hit the ice rink.  But of course, you could also rent some if you don’t travel with your own skates.

While there is only one ice rink at Hyde Park, many others are open in December or January.

Somerset House

Another must-see place in winter in London is the Somerset House – and not only because it has an open-air ice rink.

Somerset House in Central London is one of the best places to visit in winter in London
@shutterstock

The ice rink at Somerset House has particularly nice surroundings, and with the big Christmas tree, there is surely a lot to see. And thanks to all the little stalls, there is a lot to eat, too.

Trafalgar Square

If you are into beautifully decorated Christmas trees, then check out Trafalgar Square´s Christmas tree that is about 20 meters high. It goes up at the beginning of December and stays until the beginning of January.

It is an annual gift from Oslo (Norway) for the help they received during the Second World War.

If you arrive at the end of November, Trafalgar Square is still worth a visit – the Christmas Market in front of the Victoria Museum is absolutely charming, and the view of the Trafalgar Square makes it one of my favorite places after the sun sets, and the lights get switched on.

Millennium Bridge

Cross the Millennium Bridge towards St. Paul´s Cathedral – not only because it is one of the best photo locations, but also because you can read some “secret“ messages.

Millennium Bridge in London

You will find many different messages in different languages, like those that wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020 (in German).

Afternoon Tea Bus 

One of the prettiest buses I saw in London in November/December was the Afternoon Tea Bus. If you are into things that are typically British, you should do an Afternoon Tea.

The Afternoon Tea is offered in a red double-decker bus, which comes with little tables and is beautifully illuminated. Enjoy the afternoon tea while cruising the main attractions of London in around 90 minutes.

I was quite envious when I saw the bus passing me several times.

Winterville

A bit further from the other winter activities mentioned here is the free pop-up park town, Winterville.

An entire Christmas Town is here to entertain you and make you feel happy – including Christmas townhouses, an ice rink, roller disco, fairground, and a cinema.

Harrod´s

Oh, Harrod‘s! Harrod´s is one of the most iconic shopping malls in the world. Before Christmas, it looks even more stunning and is probably one of the prettiest buildings in the city center.

Harrods shopping mall in winter time

It also has great Christmas decorations inside – so hop in to see what the Harrod´s fuss is all about and add this to your London winter itinerary.

Rooftop Bars

Rooftops are not only great to visit in summer – they can be a perfect place to spend some time in winter, too. At least in London.

So, for the winter months, some rooftop bars have unique decorations so that you can experience London from above while having a drink.

One rooftop bar to check out is the Queen of Hoxton’s Rooftop, which was inspired by Morocco and the famous Jardin Majorelle (aka the Yves Saint Laurent garden) this year. 

Coppa Club Tower Bridge

For a unique view of Tower Bridge – and a unique dining experience – book an igloo at Coppa Club Tower Bridge.

Coppa Club Igloo is one of the best winter activities
@shutterstock

Bookings need to be made weeks in advance (especially if you visit during the weekend), and then you and your friends can warm up in the cozy igloos.

Oh, you can even spend New Year‘s Eve here – plan in advance as it is a popular place.

Yes, I was too late, and though I checked the website more than 1 week in advance. There were hardly any free tables left for dinner, but I still think it is one of the best things to do in London in winter even though I haven’t experienced it myself.

Shop

If you are into shopping, then London is the perfect place. With its numerous shopping streets and markets, you will for sure find something for your loved ones (or even for you).

Be careful not to go overboard with the many shopping options and don’t buy things you don’t need – which can easily happen with all the temptations.

But if you still need something, London is the perfect place for some shopping – even after Christmas, as you then have the sales starting in January. 

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is always worth a trip, and so it is, of course, also during the Christmas month.

Covent Garden in wintertime Christmas

Covent Garden is also one of the busiest but also best places to visit in December in London – the cafes and restaurants are full of people. And not only people – if you can’t get enough of Christmas trees, come to Covent Garden. There are so many trees decorated that you couldn’t even count them (well, kind of).

The main Christmas tree has more than 30,000 lights! But there are also some entertainers (musicians and actors), so it is also a fun thing to do in London with children.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral’s entrance fee is high – more than $25 if you buy the ticket on the spot. But before Christmas, it is one of the best places to see. And if you come for the services, it is actually free to visit.

St. Pauls Cathedral in winter

If you visit on December 23 and Christmas Eve, you can catch the service relayed on a big screen at Paternoster Square next to the cathedral.

I visited once (years ago), and it was mesmerizing. Shortly before Christmas with its festive atmosphere, it is even more lovely. However, if you have some money to spend, why not here rather than on unnecessary things?

Christmas on the Canals

Take a Christmas canal ride and see London from the water. Hidden Canal Cruises offers relaxing cruises down the Regent’s Canal in full festive finery for the season.

While I didn’t experience it myself, I suggest doing the cruise with your friends – a fun evening activity during the winter.

Regent‘s Street

The most beautiful street in London in winter must be Regent´s Street. This popular shopping street is probably the very best places to visit.

Regent Streets in London is one best things to do in Decmeber
@shutterstock

While it is extremely illuminated and there is a lot of bling-bling, it still feels classy and not overdone. If you had only a few minutes in London (I know, it sounds ridiculous), then you should visit Regent´s Street once it gets dark.

Natural History Museum

Whether you want to learn more about natural history or you want to go ice skating: here you can do both and even more.

From the end of October until mid-January, you can skate on the ice rink that is surrounded by fairy lights nestled in frost-covered trees.

Theatre

With the cold comes the wish to stay in cozy, warm, indoor places – so, why not visit a theatre and combine warming up with a Christmas theatre play?

Please don’t ask me about my personal opinion as I did not get to visit any (to do all these London winter activities you need more than 48 hours), but The Snowman and Slava’s Snow Show at the Royal Festival Hall are known to be great winter plays.

New Bond Street

After Regent Street, the New Bond Street is another must-see in December. The shopping streets are also beautifully illuminated and make this street one of the most prettiest in London.

Christmas decorations in New Bond Street is one of the most beautiful places in winter
@shutterstock

You can easily get there from Regent Street, and it is almost as stunning as Regent Street.

Museum of Childhood

Another indoor place that is great to see in the wintertime is The V&A Museum of Childhood, which is free to visit.

Whether you want to reminisce and think about Christmas gifts we used to get (assuming most of us on this blog are at least 30 years old) or want to do workshops – activities here are free and for most ages.

Little ones can join the interactive storytelling – this is probably one of the best free things to do in London in winter.

Kew in the Dark

This is probably the best thing to do in the winter in London – I can guess, as it was already fully booked, so I had to pass.

The botanical gardens host a magical nighttime experience, showcasing the sculptures, buildings, and trees in a totally different way. The fairytale walk also has roasted chestnuts and other tempting treats along the route to tempt you off course.

New Years Eve Fireworks

If you visit at the end of the year, make sure to stay in London for New Year‘s Eve. It must be magical to welcome the new year in London with all the fireworks.

Best places to celeberate New Years Eve in Europe shutterstock_540151606
@shutterstock

 However, to watch the Thames River’s fireworks, you have to pay an entrance fee of about $12.

Spa Time

While spa visits are always a good idea, the best time to get pampered is in the cold months. Whether you want to relax before the Christmas stress or just after, book yourself a spa appointment. We all deserve to spend some time where it is all about us only.

Christmas Lights Bus Tour

Yes, this is another must-do in December – hop on a Christmas Lights Bus Tour and see most (though not all) of the fun and impressive places that are uniquely decorated.

Christmas Bus Light Tour Regent Street

Even though the double-decker buses are not heated – and it is cold – it is a great way to see the Christmas decorations from “above“ and within a short amount of time.

Yes, I am not ashamed to admit that I wanted to see all the main Christmas lights, and thus, I additionally booked a light bus tour.

So, do as I did and enjoy a 2-hour bus ride (starting at Victoria Station) and get to see the beautiful, decorative lights all over London while sitting on a bus and relaxing.

Christmas Lights Walking Tours

Yes, while the bus tour is amazing, you can also do a walking tour and see other places the bus tour doesn’t cover. Dress warm and wear comfy shoes and get ready to see some of the most beautiful places in London in winter.

I love walking tours, and there are many offered in December, January, and February, too. 

If you visit London in December, then make sure to join one tour or plan your walking itinerary yourself carefully, so you don’t miss out on the top spots for festive lighting.

Cycle

London is quite bicycle-friendly – and in the wintertime, not that many people cycle, which means you have the cycle lanes almost all to yourself.

Cycling in London in winter

I would not ride a bike when it‘s icy, but other than that, pay a one-time fee of around $3 for 24 hours and discover London by bike (the city is quite big).

You can use the bike for 30 minutes without any extra fees and can bring it back to any of the numerous docking stations and immediately rent the bike for the next short bike tour.

This way, you don’t miss out on all the pretty little side streets while still getting around quite fast.

Christmas at Leicester Square

If you are into Bavarian winter Christmas Markets, you can head to Leicester Market. Located in between Covent Garden and Picadilly Circus, this small market is supposed to be a traditional Bavarian market.

While it is cute, I am not sure whether Bavarian Christmas markets are really like that – well, the food and drinks surely have a real heavy and hearty German touch.

Ever After Garden

Whether it is a hidden gem in all the Christmas markets or not – head to Grosvenor Square and get some lovely pictures from the “light tunnel.“ 

Ever after Garden in London is one of the best things to do

Especially if you can’t make it to Kew Garden, this might be a kind of alternative for your Instagram picture.

You can also donate some money, get a white rose, write a message to one of your loved ones, and stick it to the rose. The roses are then displayed and illuminated – it looks beautiful and helps collect some donations to go to the Cancer Center.

LONDON IN WINTER TRAVEL TIPS

Weather: London in winter will be cold for sure. But it is not always freezing cold – temperatures are low with some rain, with a little snow, can be expected.

WHAT TO PACK FOR LONDON IN WINTER

If you visit London in December – or winter in general – it is important to dress warmly. Or better to dress in layers.

  • A warm, waterproof jacket should be one of the first items you think to pack. Avoid choosing a bulky jacket that takes up a lot of space. This can make you feel uncomfortable when you have layers underneath. Instead, opt for a lightweight trench raincoat that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. 
  • A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out. A hat will keep you toasty warm wherever you are.
  • A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility and comfort. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.
  • A warm scarf and/or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily. 
  • Leggings are an essential item to pack as you can dress them up or down. You can even wear them underneath your denim as an extra layer of warmth. 
  • When it comes to packing socks for your Iceland trip – the thicker, the better. The chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in the snow, and you’ll want your feet to be warm and cozy. 
  • My favorite winter clothes are thermals. A quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather in Iceland. You have to wear them on a cold day to believe what a wonderful invention it is!
  • Make sure you have a trusty pair of waterproof snowshoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Snowshoes allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry. 

Public Transportation in Winter 

Don‘t worry about renting a car – there is so much traffic, parking is difficult, and public transportation is too good to worry about driving yourself.

The best way to get around in winter is via public transportation. Though I recommend some cycling as well, you will probably walk or use buses or the underground to get around most of the time.

Oyster Card: 

Buying an Oyster Card makes sense if you use public transportation often. You can load it up with credit and swipe it in/out at every bus or underground station. In the end, it finds the best rates and calculates the cheapest tickets (so, no need to worry beforehand if a day ticket will be cheaper than single tickets).

And that is just because it is the best way to get around.

Red bus in London during winter time travel guide
@shutterstock

Accommodations in London For Your Winter Trip

Accommodations in winter: London in winter, especially in December, can be quite busy, and finding good accommodations spontaneously is not that easy. I suggest planning and booking in advance for December, but it is less busy in January and February.

  • Luxury Hotels in London: Ritz-Carlton is one of the top hotels. It is also conveniently located in the city center and quite close to Buckingham Palace. Click here for the best rates and more info.
  • Mid-Range Hotels in London: 3-star hotel Hampton by Hilton Waterloo. Find out more about this hotel and get the best rates here.
  • Budget Hotels in London: This hostel is well-rated, conveniently located, and if you book a bed in a dorm, you can actually get a bargain. Click here to get the best rates for YHA London Central.

Accommodation in London is quite expensive – so even the more budget-friendly places cost a bit or are quite far from the city center.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON A LONDON WINTER TRIP

London in winter is magical!

I have visited London many times, my trip in December was one of the most unique London trips. I truly enjoyed the special atmosphere, and I do believe it is a great idea to spend a few days next winter in London. As you can see, there are tons to do and see in winter.

Safe Travels, Arzo

HOW TO HAVE AN EPIC ONE DAY IN INTERLAKEN

One day in Interlaken, Lake Brienz and Brienzer Rothorn

SEE THE BEST OF INTERLAKEN IN 1 DAY – ITINERARY

Are you wondering about the perfect 1-day Interlaken itinerary? Then read on – this post will help you find out about what to do in one day in Interlaken.

Interlaken is the epitome of breathtaking scenery: The Swiss Alps are stunning, the (mountain) lakes are out of this world, the possibilities of activities are endless…

There is no shortage of things to do. However, if you have only one day in Interlaken, you have to decide what you want to do. And this will be a hard decision – it is really hard.

I have visited Interlaken so many times, yet I always fall in love with new places. And when I talk about Interlaken, I do not mean the town only but the whole area of Interlaken (and Jungfrau).

There is the Jungfraujoch, Lauterbrunnen, Lake Brienz, Lake Thun, Sigriswil, St. Beatus Caves, Trift Bridge, and much, much more. So, how do you decide? While I cannot say this is the very best 1-day Interlaken itinerary for everyone out there, my suggestions here are based on a very special day I had.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means, I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

A PERFECT 1 DAY IN INTERLAKEN

Here is how to have a relaxed and still fun perfect day in Interlaken. This itinerary is perfect for those who like to take it very easily and avoid physical exercise, but it is also a great itinerary for active people. You can include a hike and have some nice exercise with amazing views.

This itinerary includes a couple of highlights I have had in Interlaken/Switzerland.

One of my all times travel highlights, was actually my trip to Brienzer Rothorn Mountain (about 2300m above sea level). It was one of those experiences I will not forget.

The Brienz Rothorn Railway promises “an experience of a lifetime” when visiting Brienzer Rothorn Mountain in the region Interlaken. I can say that they definitely do not promise too much.

So, I actually repeated that experience, and it did not even disappoint me the second time.Arrive by boat at Grandhotel Giessbach or just do a boat tour on Lake Brienz

Boat Tour Lake Brienz

Start your day with a boat tour of Lake Brienz and get a good overview of the lake. The lake is located northeast of Interlaken – if you stay in Interlaken you are at the lake within minutes.

First of all, I should mention that Lake Brienz is one of the most beautiful lakes with an awesome color. It is a quite large lake with an area of 29.8 square kilometers. It is approximately 14 km long, 2.8 km wide, and 260 meters deep. At the surface, Lake Brienz is 564 meters above sea level.

View from the boat - get to Grandhotel Giessbach by boat

I have seen smaller lakes with a more special color but never a lake of this size that mesmerizing. That lake is definitely one of my most favorites ever, if not my most favorite lake. This alone will make the boat trip a highlight. P.s. I keep coming back and have done probably 5 boat cruises on Lake Brienz.

I am obsessed with boat cruises, and if you are not, this might change your views on boat cruises.

Take the boat from Interlaken East to Brienz. It does not start spectacularly, but it will become amazing. There are several stops along the way. I suggest staying on the boat until you reach the Giessbach Waterfalls.

Giessbach Waterfall

If you have time, get out at the Giessbach Waterfall which is on the southern shores of the lake. Enjoy this unique waterfall and take a short hike up there. 

Best things to do around Lake Brienz, Interlaken Giessbach Waterfalls

The Giessbach Falls tumble right past the Grandhotel Giessbach in 14 tiers, plunging 400 meters into the depths in thunderous cascades of white. 

You can hike up to the waterfall (it should take anywhere between 10-20 minutes) and have a coffee at the hotel’s terrace.

Alternatively, there is a funicular that gets you up to the hotel. It is just a short ride and you have to pay a fee. It does not run all the time (it belongs to the hotel at the top).

Then, you could go even further up and walk behind the waterfall. This is another uphill but easy hike and should take an additional 10-20 minutes. There is no funicular taking you up all the way behind the waterfall though.

Giessbach waterfall - with a view of Grandhotel Giessbach

  • Take the next boat (though they don’t regularly go, so I would definitely check it out beforehand) and continue your journey.

TIP: By now, you have probably spent a few hours if you get out at Giessbach Waterfalls. If you are short on time, you can just admire it from the boat without getting out.

Brienz

Then it is time to continue your boat cruise and get to Brienz. It is a cute little village on the northeast shore of Lake Brienz with a beautiful boat station.Best things to do at Lake Brienz, Interlaken

You will find 18th-century wooden chalets and sculptures throughout the village which are testimonials to the woodcarving tradition of Brienz.

You can stroll Brienz for a while or get up straight to Brienzer Rothorn. 

TIP: Check out what time the steam locomotive leaves from Brienz. It is always annoying if you just miss it because you strolled Brienz for a minute too long.

Brienzer Rothorn

Then it is time to get up Brienzer Rothorn. It is a mountain of the Emmental Alps at 2,350 meters of elevation, which makes it the highest summit of the range.

There are different ways to reach the top: 1) Hike up (some parts or all the way to the summit), or 2) take the ride and enjoy a one-hour journey with a steam locomotive (almost 8km) that offers spectacular views.

In this post, I will start with the steam locomotive first and later talk about the hike.

IF YOU GET UP VIA STEAM LOCOMOTIVE:

  • The train station is located next to the boat station in Brienz. It is impossible to miss the “Brienz Rothorn” sign and station.
  • Buy your ticket directly at the ticket shop. I suggest buying a ticket first and then go and explore the village of Brienz. On busy days, you are not guaranteed to get a seat on the train you wish to take. You could buy a seat guarantee online or at the counter. It could happen, that the loc is full and you might have to wait for the next one (especially on clear days) without the seat guarantee.
  • When you buy the ticket, you have to decide whether you want to use the train for the whole distance or just for some parts. There are several stops along the way, where you could get out/in.
  • You should arrive at the station at least 30 minutes early.
  • Daily until October 24, 2021 – 08:00 am until 6:00 pm

Brienzer Rothorn steam locomotive station

Once you sit on the train, it starts to get amazing. 

Little houses in Brienz

Interestingly, the steam locomotives are the same that were used when the railway opened back in 1892. So, this also makes everything even more special, and be prepared that it is quite loud if you sit close to the driver.

I have gotten up many mountain peaks via cable car/gondola or funiculars. However, this was the most impressive ride. And believe me, I have been to almost all mountain peaks in Switzerland that are accessible via cable car, etc.

It is an hour-long journey (if you do not disembark) – and you will pass some beautiful little houses, many tunnels, and you get to see almost untouched nature.

View from steam loco
Then, at some point, you will get the first glimpse of Lake Brienz from above. It gets magical then.

Since I got up twice, the views were different. The first time, it was still a bit foggy, and on my second trip, the sky was clear, and the views were even more spectacular.

View of Lake Brienz

Most beautiiful lake in Siwtzerland Lake Brienz

Getting up Brienzer Rothorn via steam locomotive

View from Brienzer RothornAt the top of Brienzer Rothorn, you have stunning views of the lake and an impressive panorama of no fewer than 693 peaks! This is what you call a magnificent view!

Up on the top, you will also find a restaurant and hotel. 

The trip up to Brienzer Rothorn was an incredible trip with spectacular views and definitely an “experience of a lifetime. “

  • Return ticket adults: about 85€ (half-fare with your Swiss Travel Pass).
  • Kids (under the age of 6) and dogs don´t have to pay. Kids between 6-15 years pay a small fee.
  • Check out their website for more information.

If you take the locomotive, I suggest planning in about 4 hours at least for this mountain experience.

HIKING TO/FROM BRIENZ TO BRIENZER ROTHORN:

Alternatively, you can also hike from Brienz to Breinzer Rothorn. If you decide to do the full uphill hike, you should know the ascent is about 1750 meters and it is about 9 km long. Though the ascent is a lot, according to reviews, it is still doable because it is slow. This should take about 5-6 hours. 

You could also get up via the steam loc for some stops and just hike parts of it.

Or, this is how I would do it these days, get up via steam loc and then hike down. Since it is a quite gradual downhill hike, it should not be too bad for the knees, so that is possible for many people.

The hike is recommended between the months of June to October.

Dinner in Interlaken

After enjoying this fantastic panorama, it will be time for dinner. For this, I have a few suggestions for you.

I suggest heading back to the town Interlaken (which is on the other side of Lake Brienz) and have dinner there. Take the train (fastest way) from Brienz to Interlaken.Interlaken Where to go, Höhenmmatte

The town center of Interlaken itself is not spectacular (in terms of being a very pretty town with historic buildings). Still, if you have dinner around Höhenmatte (a beautiful park area), you will have a fantastic place to end your day.

Buy something and have a picnic at the meadow while watching paragliders (on clear days, there will be many), or pick one of the numerous restaurants in the town center.

UNFORTUNATELY, this Interlaken itinerary is – I want to be totally honest – not ideal in the winter months. The steam loc does not operate in the winter.

It is the best day I can imagine for the months of April to the end of October. For the other months, we need different itineraries. But no worries, here is my post with the best day trips from Interlaken. You can use many of these ideas for the cold winter months, too.

GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR INTERLAKEN

After talking about ta perfect day in Interlaken, here are some travel tips for Interlaken, so you are well prepared for your trip!

Language in Interlaken

Though Germany is the main language, most people speak basic English.

There are many Arabic, Chinese and Indian restaurants as Interlaken is extremely popular amongst tourists from those places. 

How to Get Around Interlaken

Driving in Interlaken is very safe and easy (the streets are well paved, driving in the mountains might be a bit tricky, though). Public transportation in Interlaken is effortless as buses/trains go often, are punctual and reliable, so I recommend getting around by public transportation.

If you stay in an official accommodation in Interlaken, you will get the Interlaken Guest Card – giving you free bus rides within Interlaken and close places by (like really close villages like Iseltwald). If you stay in the region of Thun, you can even use your Thun Guest Card to get to Interlaken.

For this trip, I suggest using public transportation (Swiss Travel Pass if you stay for a few days) as you can hop on the boat without paying extra, and you do pay 50% only for using the steam locomotive to get up Brienzer Rothorn.

Where to Stay / Best Hotels in Interlaken

Interlaken is home to some amazing hotels – amazing and expensive. I have a detailed accommodation guide for Interlaken but find some tips below.

  • The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. Since I have not started there myself, I can repeat what I heard: This hotel is supposed to be amazing, so if you are looking for a fancy place, this is probably the best pick.
  • One of my favorite hotels – ever – is the beautiful 4* hotel  Grandhotel Giessbach. You can probably see why. However, it is not open during the winter months.
  • I recently stayed in the newly renovated Hotel du Nord. I actually was very positively surprised (the reviews were not great, but since all rooms were renovated lately, it is a great place to stay). Click here to get the best deals.
  • If you are on a budget, I recommend staying at this gorgeous hostel that I stayed at when I was not traveling with my dog. This hostel is a bit more expensive than other hostels, but the best I have stayed at (even though I relay missed curtains in front of my bed) and they also offer free parking. Check out the hostel here.

Security in Interlaken

Interlaken – and the region – is very safe and secure. With common sense, you should be fine. I have always traveled solo to Interlaken (sometimes accompanied by my little dog) and never felt unsafe. Keep valuables close to you, and you should be fine!

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEST  ITINERARY FOR INTERLAKEN IN 1 DAY 

Interlaken is so incredibly beautiful – there are so many stunning, fantastic and crazy things to do in and around Interlaken. And I want to be honest – this is not the only way to have an epic one day in Interlaken.

But it is a pretty great itinerary for a day. If you stay longer or prefer something more adventurous, check out my many posts on Switzerland and Interlaken in particular, as I have written quite a lot on the area!

Stay safe!

Best Things to do in 2 Days in Florence, Tuscany

The best 2 days in Florence itinerary, what to do and see in 24-48 hours in Florence

HOW TO PLAN YOUR 2-DAY FLORENCE ITINERARY

Are you planning your Florence itinerary and are wondering about the best things to do in 2 days in Florence? Then this post is perfect for you – here I share my tips on what to do in Florence for 2 days.

Florence had been on my Italy bucket list forever (mostly because of Michelangelo), and yet it took me more than a decade to finally visit. I fell so in love that I had to revisit just a few months later. 

First off: I am by no means an architecture or art enthusiast, but after reading a biography of Michelangelo as a teenager, I knew I had to visit Florence. And of course, there are Leonardo Da Vinci and the Medicis… And what can I say? Florence did not disappoint. 

You cannot visit Tuscany and skip Florence. After all, Florence is Tuscany’s capital and most famous city, with millions of people visiting it each year. It should be on any Italy itinerary.

In this 2-day Florence itinerary, I share with you:

  • How to Get to Florence
  • How to Get Around Florence for 2 Days
  • Best Time to Visit Florence
  • Where to Stay for 2 Days Florence
  • Places to Visit on Day 1 in Florence
  • Places to Visit on Day 2 in Florence

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means, I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost for you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR 2 DAYS IN FLORENCE

How long should you stay in Florence? Well, I suggest staying at least 2 days. You will not see all of its beauty, but with 2 days in the city, you can still visit most of the stunning sights. 

How to Get to Florence

You have two airport choices to get to Florence. The airport in Pisa is actually bigger than the one in Florence and you might fly into that.

  • From Pisa Airport: Take the Pisa Mover shuttle train to Pisa Central Station. There you can transit by train to Florence’s main train station (Firenze), Santa Maria Novella.
  • From Florence Airport: The Volainbus shuttle bus runs to the Florence bus station every 30 minutes during the day and hourly in the evening.

Florence is also quite easily accessible via train from many places in Italy. Even if you are coming from neighboring countries like Austria, Slovenia, or Switzerland, it might be worth checking the train connections to Florence.

How to Get Around Florence for 2 Days

WALKING

  • Many of the attractions listed here are in the city center and within walking distance of each other. Wear comfy shoes because of some (minor) uphill walking and the cobbled-stoned streets.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

  • If you need to take a bus or public transportation, don’t worry. It is easy, safe, cheap, and reliable.
  • If you stay outside the city center, you will arrive at one of the train stations – Santa Maria Novella or Campo di Marte in Florence. Then walk or take the bus to the attraction (or walk).
  • You can buy tickets for the buses at tobacco shops and newsagents, and they come as either a single trip or a multi-trip. Tickets are quite cheap and are only around 1,50€ one way. The last resort is to buy one from the driver, but it will cost you a bit more. Remember always to validate your ticket on the bus (or at the train station when taking the train). ALWAYS!

CAR

  • Getting around via car is impossible as a tourist because the center of Florence is a Limited Traffic Zone (ZTL), which means you need a permit to drive there.

Best Time to Visit Florence For a Weekend

Never visit Italian cities in the summer. At least, if you want to avoid the heat and crowds of tourists. Like hardly any other country, Italy is stuffed with people in the summer months, and Florence is no exception.

The shoulder season is certainly the best time to visit Florence. So, if you can, visit Florence in April or May (and early June probably) or from mid-September to October. 

Where to Stay For 2 Days in Florence

Florence skyline from Piazzele Michelangelo

More Travel Tips For Your 2-Day in Florence Itinerary

  • Keep in mind that some of the biggest museums in Florence, including the Uffizi, Galleria dell’Accademia, and the Palazzo Pitti (which holds the Boboli Gardens), are closed on Mondays, so if one of your 2 days in Florence is a Monday, you might need to make some adjustments! One of the few exceptions is the Duomo and Duomo museum, which are open on Mondays.
  • Besides, all the museums close on certain holidays, like Christmas. Make sure to check the website before visiting.
  • If you are on a budget, check out my Florence budget guide for some tips on how to save money.

2-DAY FLORENCE ITINERARY

So, here we are: discussing places to visit in 2 days in Florence. Day 1 focuses on the city center and its attractions and day 2 focuses on the other side of the river with some lesser-known activities.

Day 1 of 2 Days in Florence Itinerary

Early in the morning, when it is still quiet at the city center, head to the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). This will be the only time you can take pictures of the stunning buildings without millions of other people around! It is the perfect place to start your day in Florence.

Stop 1: Piazza del Duomo

Your first stop should be the Piazza del Duomo. It is home to several attractions and is located in the heart of Florence.

You will find the impressive Duomo (cathedral), which is also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

This stunning church was completed in the 15th century – being the fourth largest church in the world back then. Today, it is the 11th largest church building in the world.Florence Duomo - visit this place in 2 days in Florence

Florence Campanile with churchThere are several ways to enjoy the Duomo Complex:

You can marvel at it from the outside; see the Duomo from inside and enjoy the mosaic floors and frescoes; and visit the Baptistery with its bronze Gates of Paradise.  

You can also climb Giotto’s very tall bell tower for the views. It was named after the painter Giotto, who also was the architect of the project for the bell tower (though the bell tower was only completed after his death). 

I am all about views, so I highly suggest climbing to the top and soaking in the sights. Oh, and you should be aware that there are quite a few steps to climb. To be exact, there are 414 steps to reach the very top!

TIPS:

  • Visiting the Duomo is free, but you will need a ticket for the top and the Baptistery.
  • I recommend buying the ticket in advance and having the option to skip the lines. Believe me: I visited at the beginning of April before 9 am, and I saw them…the lines were long! Yes, they exist in the off-season before 9 am! Imagine this during peak season and after 9 or 10 am! It must be shocking! 
  • Come here early to avoid the crowds inside.
  • Total time: I would estimate, for seeing everything, anywhere from 1-5 hours (with skip-the-line tickets, much longer without them). Find out about prices for skipping the lines at the Duomo and a guided tour here.
  • Opening hours: The opening hours for the areas differ. Check out the opening times here.

Stop 2: Piazza Della Signoria

Close to the Duomo is the Piazza Della Signoria. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the piazzas (squares) in Italy? They tend to be colorful, fun, and lively – and Piazza Della Signoria is no exception.Florence Piazza della Signoria in one of the best places to go

Florence Michelangelo David StatueYou will find statues like the equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna Fountain of Neptune by Ammannati. And of course, the replica of the famous statue of David by Michelangelo.

This piazza used to be the center of Florence’s political power for centuries. From here, you have quite a few impressive buildings to look at. There is the grand Palazzo Vecchio, headquarters of the city government, and a city museum.

After 10 am, this piazza fills with tons of tourists, but it is still so much fun and worth it.

You could visit the Palazzo Vecchio, but my guide actually recommends another place for admiring art – so feel free to skip it with only two days in Florence.

  • Total time: It depends on how closely you look at everything, but my guess is between 20 and 90 minutes (without the Palazzo Vecchio).

Stop 3: Lunch at Day 1 in Florence

Maybe it is already time for lunch? The best restaurants are said to be on the other side of the river. However, close to Piazza Della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery is a street named Via Dei Neri, where you can also find good food. 

Actually, according to my local guide, you will get the best sandwiches in Florence there. All the restaurants there have good sandwiches – which is considered a typical meal in Florence.

Stop 4: The Uffizi Gallery

Close to the Piazza Della Signoria is the Uffizi Gallery. As mentioned, I am not an art fan. By no means do I understand much about it. But names like Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci make even my heart beat faster. Florence Uffizi Gallery which is one of the main points of interests in 2 days in FlorenceCommissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany, the building was conceived to house the “Uffizi”, the administrative and legal offices of Florence in the 16th century. Now, the Uffizi Gallery entirely occupies the first two floors of the building. 

The Uffizi Gallery is one of Italy’s top museums and one of the most important in the world. Its large collection of Renaissance masterpieces displays Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and many more.

  • Florence is quite busy – at any time of the year. So make sure to buy skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid wasting much time waiting.
  • Skip-the-lines tickets are a bit more expensive but will save you valuable time with just 2 days in Florence.
  • Total time: 1,5 to 4 hours
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8.15 am to 6.50 pm
  • On Saturdays and holidays, it will be necessary to make the reservation at least one day in advance
  • Closed on: Mondays, 1 January, 25 December

Stop 5: Ponte Vecchio

I admit I did not really understand the fascination for the most famous bridge – Ponte Vecchio – when I initially looked at its pictures.

I mostly saw pictures taken from people standing on the bridge…but after finally visiting, I got it. Now, I really got it!Florence Ponte Vecchio which is one main tourist attraction to visit in 2 days in Florence

The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) connects the river banks (nothing unusual for a bridge, but wait) and probably dates back to the 10th century. It was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. It was destroyed once by a flood but rebuilt in the 14th century.

Florence Vecchio Bridge close-up_

The bridge looks like a little street with houses from a distance. On the bridge, you can buy souvenirs and jewelry from the little shops but be warned; this place is stuffed with people.

  • The opening hours are not the same for all shops. Some shops might be closed on Sundays or Monday mornings and some might close during lunchtime.
  • However, you can cross the bridge at any time.
  • After crossing the bridge, you are on the other side of Florence. It is less busy and less visited, but it also holds a few great places and attractions. However, we will focus on that side of Florence on day 2 of this itinerary.

Stop 6: Dinner in Florence

Cross the bridge to have dinner, if you are ready for it. My local guide told us that the best restaurants are on this south side of the river. Cheaper, more authentic, and they all serve good food! 

If you are not ready for an early dinner yet, you will find more options later. Then cross the bridge just for fun.

So, after dining it is time to end the evening at a beautiful spot.

Stop 7: Giardino Delle Rose

So, for the rest of the day, head to Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers gorgeous views of the skyline. But don’t head there straight away – before the Piazzale, you will find a gorgeous little garden that you should take your time in.Florence Rose Garden with a view for your Florence itinerary

Rose Garden in Florence- things you can do in Florence on a budgetIf you have crossed the Ponte Vecchio, it takes about 20 minutes and is an uphill walk, but not too difficult.

The Rose Garden in Florence is beautiful! You will find 1200 botanical vanities and 400 rose species… It also houses a Japanese garden, donated by the twin city of Kyōto and the Zen Kodai. That all come with great views and a lovely setting (and tons of options to sit and rest).

The garden was created in 1865 by Giuseppe Poggi, who also designed also the Piazzale, on behalf of the City of Florence. The Rose Garden is just below the Piazza Michelangelo, and thus, a great stop on your way up.

If you plan to visit, keep the opening hours in mind:

  • Free entrance
  • January, December 9 am – 4:30 pm
  • February, October, November 9 am – 5 pm
  • March 9 am – 6 pm
  • April, May, September 9 am – 7 pm
  • June, July, August 9 am – 8 pm

Stop 8: Piazzale Michelangelo

End your first day in Florence here: Piazzale Michelangelo. This piazza was created in 1869 by Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi. From there, you can admire the gorgeous view of Florence and the skyline of the city. Florence view from Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best things to seeIn the middle of the square, you will find another replica of the statue of David.

You can buy something to drink beforehand, so you can enjoy watching the sunset (there are also a few cafes and restaurants) on a warmish day.

Florence- from Piazzale Michelangelo, Italy
@shutterstock

TIPS FOR VISITING THE PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO

  • It is free to visit
  • Open at any time of the day, all year round

If you head back down, you will find a larger selection of restaurants.

With this Florence itinerary, you have actually seen quite a lot on your first day, but day 2 is also full of amazing things to do. 

Day 2 of 2 Days in Florence

Knowing that more beautiful places in Florence are awaiting will make it easier to wake up early and start the day, right? So, here are my tips on how to spend the second day. Today, you will also spend some time on the south side of the River Arno.

Stop 1: Accademia Gallery

The Accademia Gallery is on the north side of the river. By now, you have come across the replica of David twice – and here is the original.  

David Statue in Florence in 2 days is a must
@Pixabay

There are, of course, some other art pieces, but nothing can top this famous statue by Michelangelo. 

If you want to see the original, book in advance. Check out skip-the-lines tickets to see the art pieces by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Gaddi, and more, and it is a must-see in 2 days in Florence.

  • Opening hours: Open every day except Monday
  • Closed: January 1, December 25, and every Monday
  • Total time: 30-90 minutes

Stop 2: Piazza San Lorenzo

About 500 meters from the Accademia Gallery, you will find the Piazza San LorenzoFlorence Basilica di San Lorenzo is a place to go in FlorenceI have mentioned Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. But the most famous and important families of their time, not only in Florence but all of Italy, were the Medicis. Without them, Florence would not be what it is today.

The Medicis were patrons of the arts, especially during the time of Michelangelo and da Vinci. So, they were politically active and supported the arts in a way that allows us, centuries later, to admire the works of the Renaissance.

If you still have energy and time on your hands, then visit the San Lorenzo Church with its unfinished facade, where the Medici family once worshipped. You can also visit the Medici Chapels, the final resting place for the Medici dynasty, where you’ll find marble statues by Michelangelo in the New Sacristy.

  • Total time:  30-90 minutes

TIP: If you have to skip out any of the activities on day 2 (for whatever reason), I would say, this skip one. 

Stop 3: Lunch on Day 2

Then it is time to visit the south side of the Arno River. As mentioned above, according to my guide, you will find the best restaurants on this side of the river. Great prices and even better food – afterward, you will stay on that side of the river.

Stop 4: Boboli Garden

The Boboli Garden comprises the largest monumental green area in Florence. The park hosts centuries-old oak trees, sculptures, fountains, an amphitheater, and more – this garden actually inspired Versailles.

TIPS

  • The single ticket is around 10€ and 26€ for a ticket to Pitti Palace and Boboli Garden.
  • Total time: 1 – 3 hours
  • Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 8.15 am 
  • Closing: 4.30 pm in November, December, January, February, 5.30 pm in March and October (without Daylight Saving Time), 6.30 pm in April, May, September, March, and October (with Daylight Saving Time), 7.00 pm June, July, August
  • Closed: First and last Monday of each month, 1 January, 25 December

Stop 5: Pitti Palace

Most of the day, I suggest staying in the Oltrarno area and visiting the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. The Pitti Palace was home to the Medicis and houses not only a lot of impressive pieces of art but also furnishings and more. Florence Pitti Palace from outside should be on your Florence itineraryYou need to stand in front of it to feel how big the palace really is. I mean, of course, the Medicis were not to be humble (they were one of the most influential families in the history of Italy), but that palace is enormous!

On the ground floor and mezzanine is the Grand Dukes’ Treasury, displaying a vast collection of Medici household treasures, from table silverware to precious stone vases, rock crystals, and precious jewelry.

On the first floor is the Palatine Gallery, which has 16th and 17th-century paintings (including works by Raphael), and the Royal Apartments.

The Gallery of Modern Art is on the top floor, holding mostly Tuscan, 19th, and 20th-century paintings.

In the separate Palazzina del Cavaliere, on the upper slopes of the Boboli Gardens, is the Porcelain Museum, while the Palazzina of the Meridiana contains the Museum of Costume and Fashion.

TIPS

  • You can either buy a single ticket for the Pitti Palace (16€) or a combined ticket for the Palace and the Boboli Garden (26€).
  • Total time: 1,5 to 5 hours
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 1.30 pm to 6.50 pm 
  • On Saturdays and holidays, it is necessary to make the reservation at least one day in advance
  • Closed: Mondays, 1 January, 25 December

Read more: Things to know before visiting Italy for the first time

Stop 6: Dinner at SE·STO on Arno

On my second visit, I had dinner at this stunning place: SE·STO on Arno at Westin Hotel. The views were amazing, the staff great. There is even a rooftop bar, and I could not imagine any better restaurant with a view of the Duomo.Florence SE·STO on Arno

However, it was also busy, so should reserve a table in advance. If you have a second evening in the city, it is a great place to end your trip here.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE

Florence is amazing – but there are also many places close by that make for perfect day trips.

So, in case you plan some excursions, check out my post on the best places to visit near Florence for more information.

CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO IN FLORENCE IN 2 DAYS

Florence has quickly become one of my favorite cities in Europe. I was smitten within seconds. Its people, the architecture, the lifestyle – everything about Florence made me love it (okay, the crowds not so much). And I was lucky to visit Florence twice within a few months. 

Two days in Florence is surely not enough to see all the highlights, let alone all the attractions and beautiful places. However, it gives you a good idea of what the city is about. It is enough time to fall in love with it.

Also, with 2 days in Florence, you will want to come back again – because it is so rich in attractions and landmarks, that you always have a reason to come back and enjoy more of this gorgeous city!

Hopefully, this 2-day Florence itinerary has given you a better idea of what to expect and what to do and see!

PIN ME FOR LATER – 2-DAY FLORENCE ITINERARY

Save this pin on Pinterest for your trip to Florence.

Florence in 2 days, ARZO TRAVELS

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

HOW TO CREATE AN EPIC CROATIA ROAD TRIP

Croatia road trip

HOW TO ROAD TRIP CROATIA + TRAVEL TIPS

So, you are planning a Croatia road trip? With cities like Dubrovnik, Split, Rovinj, or national parks and beaches, this country is a perfect road trip destination in Europe.

Public transportation in Croatia is not bad. Also, you could do guided day tours to visit the top places in the country. However, given Croatia´s geography – stretched over length – it is not easy to visit all the top places as day trips. To create a perfect Croatia itinerary, driving is the best way to get around.

To visit all the places mentioned in this post, I suggest spending at least 14 days in the country. However, you can also skip a few places and do a 5- 7- or 10-day Croatia road trip. 

Before talking about the best places to visit, here are some tips for driving in Croatia.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means, I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

DRIVING TIPS & RULES FOR ROAD TRIPPING CROATIA

Driving in Croatia is amazing. I have driven in a few countries (mostly in Europe), and it was probably the best conditions I have come across – better than in Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, and of course better than in Italy.

  • The roads, even in the mountains, are not as narrow as in many other countries. Plus, most of them are in great condition.
  • The streets and roads are not very busy and the best: Croatian drivers are quite friendly (unlike in Italy, I must say).
  • People could argue that tolls are high in Croatia – and it is true. Tolls for highways in Croatia are insane. For 100 km you pay around 10€ (just roughly) – BUT… here comes the good news:
  • If you drive along the D8 – along the coast – you can avoid the tolls. The most beautiful street to drive to in Croatia is free – and you will have amazing scenic views along the way.
  • Gas and diesel prices are quite high, though. Prices change daily but are higher than in Germany or Austria, for example. 
  • Also, it is pretty easy to find parking in most cities and towns (at least compared to Italy and if you do not visit in July or August) – an exception is Dubrovnik. If you park in the city center – fees can be up to 240€ – for 24 hours!

Street in Croatia, driving

  • Croatia has done a great job. There are many great spots if you want to take a break and enjoy the views. So, pack enough food and drinks for many stops – there is no need to rush to get from one place to the next.
  • When you plan to visit any of the islands, like Hvar, you will need to use the ferry or a boat but can leave your car in Split.
  • In general, I did not worry about safety – don’t leave any valuables on display and take your wallet, etc., with you (and put everything that could attract thefts in the trunk).
  • If you need to rent a car, check out rental prices here and make sure to rent a car in advance. This applies especially if you visit during the busier months.
  • If you drive all the way down to Dubrovnik, make sure you have an insurance card with you (either if you drive your own and a rental car) as you will cross borders with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Check out my accommodation guide for Croatia.

BEST STOPS FOR A ROAD TRIP IN CROATIA

So, here is the perfect Croatia road trip itinerary (skip whatever you want or add other places). If you only have 7-day in Croatia, check out my one-week itinerary.

Zagreb

Start (or end) your trip in Zagreb, the capital of the country It ranks among the oldest cities in Central Europe dating back to the 11th century.

Cemetery in Zagreb, Croatia
Cemetery of Mirogoj

Located more inland than other popular cities in Croatia, Zagreb still has a lot to offer. Its architecture sets it apart from other Croatian towns as well, with a heavy Austrian-Hungarian influence.

  • You will want to visit some places: the Cathedral, the Museum of Broken Relationships, shopping at Dollar Market, seeing St. Mark’s Church, eating at Tkalciceva Street, and walking through the cemetery of Mirogoj which is just outside of Zagreb’s city center.

Zagreb is, however, a little more challenging to reach because it is located in the north, close to the Slovenian border. If you have less than 10 days, I would skip it.

TIP: Driving in Zagreb is fine. It is busy but not as crazy as in other European capitals. If you can, book accommodation with free parking though. I recommend staying 1 or 2 days in Zagreb if you have 10 + days in Croatia.

WHERE TO STAY IN ZAGREB:

Plitvice Lakes

One of the most stunning and famous natural landmarks in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest and largest national park and is almost 80% covered in forest. It is a popular destination for hikers with many trails. It is a biodiverse region with many threatened species and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

It is a favorite among visitors and is a popular place to visit for your Croatia road trip. Plitvice Lake in Croatia

The lakes themselves feature stunning colors in their water.

The Plitvice Lakes are actually made up of 16 larger lakes and numerous smaller ones, the largest in all of Croatia is Veliki Slap

You can circle them, exploring along eight different routes.

Tip: There are enough parking spots (paid) at Plitvice Lakes. Depending on your speed, I think something between half a day or a full day is enough. Some people spend more than one day, but for me, about 6 hours were enough to see most of it.

The only downside to the Plitvice Lakes is that they are located inland and away from any other travel destinations in Croatia, so you will have to detour on your road trip to reach them.

WHERE TO STAY AT PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK: 

  • I stayed at a clean, tidy, and nice (though simple) pension a few kilometers near the lakes. The owners were really nice, too. So definitely a place I recommend staying at. Check out the rates for the Pansion House Prijeboj.

Rovinj

Located close to the Italian border – in fact, just across Venice’s water – and on the northwestern side of Croatia is Rovinj.

Rovinj has a very Italian feel to it. From the Venetian architecture to the cobblestone streets and colorful houses, Rovinj will remind you of a town on the coast of Italy. It sits on the Istrian coast, just below the Lim Fjord. There are a lot of charming houses and narrow little streets that are fun to wander and explore.Croatia, Rovinj the best streets_

  • Some of the highlights of visiting Rovinj are strolling through the old town, climbing the bell tower, exploring the artistic street of Ulica, and taking a walk on the promenade.
  • If you like the beach, there are a few where you can go to relax or swim. And there are also boat cruises offered to see Rovinj from a different perspective.

TIP: Parking in the town center might be difficult in the summer months. Book accommodation that has parking included or park a bit outside and walk to the city center/accommodation. It is a small town but lovely and so different from the rest of the country, making it special.

Unfortunately, it is quite a detour from the Plitvice National Park, so you have to think, whether you want to add it to your road trip. If you visit, I recommend staying for at least one night.

WHERE TO STAY IN ROVINJ

I recommend staying in or near the old town of Rovinj.

  • Rooms Barbieri: I picked a little B&B near the old town. Prices are good, they allowed dogs, and they offer free parking. It just takes a short (and lovely) walk to get to the old town. However, there are not many rooms, so book early if you want to stay here. Find out more about the little B&B I stayed at.
  • For a more luxurious stay – just a 10-minute walk from the old town  – check out Grand Park Hotel Rovinj rates.
  • Hotel Adriatic is a very well-rated boutique hotel in the old town. Find out more about the rates.

Pula

From Rovinj, you could continue and visit Pula. Pula is a seaside city located at the Istrian Peninsula’s tip and has a very tragic past.

It was founded during the prehistoric era and, over the course of many centuries, was occupied and destroyed, and rebuilt repeatedly. It was favored because of its strategic location within a protected harbor.

Pula has been occupied by the forces of the Romans, the Ostrogoths, the Venetians, and the Allied forces from World War II over the years.

Pula Amphitheatre a must for Crotia road trip itinerary
@shutterstock

Nowadays, it is a popular destination because of its beautiful and historic landmarks and Roman ruins, its beaches, and its coastline. Visit the Roman Amphitheater and some of the many museums in Pula. It is also the home of various festivals.

TIP: With only 2 weeks in Croatia (or less), I would limit my time here and visit the Roman Amphitheater and then spend the rest of the day driving to Zadar.

Zadar

Founded in the 4th century, Zadar has an ancient history. Located along the western coast of Croatia by the Adriatic Sea, Zadar is the country’s oldest continuously inhabited city.

Zadar from above with Arzo Travels_

Despite its fame, this town is not very busy or crowded, so it is easy to explore and enjoy. You can definitely see the best of Zadar in one day: see the Forum, visit the ancient square, stroll down Kalelarga Street, and see the church of St. Donatus.

You can take in the views from the bell tower and stroll the promenade, where visitors can listen to the Sea Organ’s unique sounds and watch the sunset. Zadar has a very laid-back vibe to it, so take your time exploring this Croatian town for the day before heading to your next road trip destination.

Tip: I am very honest – Zadar wasn’t my favorite stop. Compared to other places here, it lacked attractions, but it is a perfect stop-over. So, from your way to Pula, I would probably spend the evening here (it is charming in the evening) and then continue the journey the next day.

Krka National Park

Spend half a day (or a day) at Krka National Park. It is located in the southern part of Croatia and, similar to Plitvice Lake, has beautiful waterfalls.

Situated along the Krka River, the national park has a series of seven waterfalls that are scattered throughout the area. There is the Roški Slap in the north, a cascade close to a nature trail, and the Krka Monastery, which was created above the catacombs from Roman times.

To the south, Skradinski Buk waterfall is surrounded by two watermills. You can actually swim in the water here.

KRKA National Park a must for 7-day Croatia itinerary
@shutterstock

Also in Krka National Park is on Visovac Island, which was where the Franciscan Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy was located in the 15th century. 

I skipped it – I visited Plitvice Falls and was not too eager to see these falls as the weather was not great. So, I can tell you what I have heard. These falls are not as impressive as Plitvice Lake’s, but they are still a good place to visit.

Tip: It is a great alternative if you don’t want to drive up north for the Plitvice Lakes or if you want to swim. Since it is close to Zadar and even closer to Šibenik, it would make a great stop before discovering these two beautiful towns below.

Trogir and Šibenik 

Now, it is time to head to Trogir and Šibenik. You can’t road trip Croatia and miss out on these beauties! Located along the Adriatic Sea’s western shores, these two towns are absolutely beautiful and quite charming.

Sibenik is one of the most beautiful towns in CroatiaŠibenik is famous as the filming location for the show Game of  Thrones, but besides that, it also has a lot of old, picturesque streets and famous landmarks. The town has two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Šibenik Cathedral and St. Nicholas Fort. Trogir is a must-see in CroatiaTrogir felt like a mini version of Split, but even more lovely with its colorful streets, little cafes, and friendly people. There is a really nice seaside promenade that you can stroll, as well as other sights like the Trogir Cathedral, the clock tower in the market square, Kamerlengo Castle, and the bell tower.

The streets themselves are a sight, and you should spend some time exploring these two towns on foot to really get a feel for them.

TIP: Both places are absolutely gorgeous, and you could do them in one day. It is enough time to see the main attractions but I suggest staying overnight in Sibenik or Trogir.

Where to Stay in Trogir:

  • Hotel Brown Beach House & Spa looks like a lovely hotel with a pool, lovely views. It is located quite close to the city center. You can check out rates here.
  • Hotel Concordia is located in the old town – I think, location-wise, it cannot get much better, and it seems to offer great value for money! Find out more about the hotel here.

Split

Then it is time to visit Split – and spend a day or two in Split, which is located on a peninsula in the southwestern part of Croatia, jutting out into the Adriatic Sea.

Diocletian’s Palace in Split is one of the top attractions

Split is one of the most famous and popular cities in the country. It can be very crowded here, partly because it was another filming location for Game of Thrones (GoT) because there are many beautiful landmarks that you won’t want to miss.

Visit the Cathedral and the Bell Tower of Saint Domnius, see Diocletian’s Palace and explore the Peristyle (Peristil) and the Vestibule, and see the City Gate. Klis Fortress is another must-see for GOT fans. 

You can also hike up Marjan Hill for views of the surrounding scenery and walk the promenade

Tip: Split is lovely, though, with a limited time in Croatia (less than 10 days), I would not spend more than 1 day in Split.

Where to Stay in Split:

Hvar

Hvar is one of Croatia’s most popular islands – known as a famous port city as well as a party spot.

But it also has a rich history and lovely architecture done in the Italian Renaissance style. The old town is great to walk through and explore.

There are lots of caves, forests, and secluded beaches for outdoor activities like hiking and swimming. 

Hvar is one of the best places to stay in Croatia
@shutterstock

To reach the island, you will need to leave your car in Split and take the ferry to enjoy a day in Hvar. It will take a few hours to reach, but it should be worth it.

Where to stay in Hvar:

  • While I did not stay in Hvar myself, this hotel seems like a great place to stay when visiting Hvar.

Omiš

Spend a day (or half) in Omiš, a port town just southeast of Split, situated where the Cetina River and the Adriatic Sea meet. During the 12-14th centuries, it was a pirate town, so it’s an interesting place to explore

Omis view from the fortress

It has lovely scenery and is a very unique and pretty town that really shouldn’t be missed. Huge gorges surround Omiš. For adventure lovers, it’s even better – you can enjoy biking, canyoning, ziplining, rock climbing, and rafting.

Head up to Castle Mirabella, which offers great views of the old town, mountains, and river. A little farther away is Starigrad Fortica, a 15th-century fortress built during the Croatian-Ottoman wars, which also offers nice views.

There are many churches to see, including the remains of the 5th-century Church of St. Euphemia.

TIP: Omis is the perfect place…for anyone actually! Beautiful scenery, a lot of activities of adrenaline junkies, easy hike opportunities, and more. 

Punta Rata & Baska Voda

Punta Rata & Baska Voda beaches are among the best to visit in Croatia. The coastline of the country is gorgeous, so visiting one of these two beaches will allow you to enjoy the beauty even more. Punta Rada Beach in CroatiaPunta Rata is well-known as the prettiest beach in Croatia. Baska Voda town in Croatia is a beautiful hidden placeThere are more than a few in this area, but this is a good place to stop and, if the weather cooperates, go for a swim or lay out in the sun. It is surrounded by pine trees and has clear water and smooth sand.

Baska Voda is also along the Adriatic coastline and has smooth sand and clear waters. This beach is a little busier, though, as you’ll notice as you walk along the promenade.

Tip: You might long for a day at the beach after driving and visiting the many towns and villages. This is the place to rest and chill. One day or two here might be enough to sunbathe and chill at the beach, but of course, you could stay here much longer.

However, more great places are waiting for you.

Mostar, Blagaj Monastery, Kravice Falls, and Pocitelj (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

To get to Dubrovnik, you must cross into Bosnia-Herzegovina. So, why not visit some of the most popular destinations along the way!

Old Bridge seen from the beach in Mostar

Mostar, located by the Neretva River, is wonderful! You should take time to stroll through the many shops and market stalls down the city’s alleys. Also, take in the panoramic views from the minaret of the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque and see Stari Most, a famous reconstructed bridge from medieval times.

In the southeastern region of the Mostar basin, you will find the ancient Blagaj Monastery built 600 years ago on the cliffs, along with a Turkish bath and mausoleum.

Blagaj is a good half a day trip from Mostar

The Kravice Falls are lovely cascading waterfalls found on the Trebižat River, in the center of Herzegovina, and just south of Mostar.

Also in Herzegovina is Pocitelj, a historic village with an open-air museum that you can explore.

TIP: I adore Bosnia-Herzegovina. I loved the people, the places…in addition to that, it is also much cheaper than Croatia, so make a gas stop here and do some shopping if you are on a budget. You could visit the places in 1 day – but with crossing the border, I actually suggest spending a night in Mostar before heading to the last place on your Croatia road trip itinerary.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is one of the most popular and famous cities in the country. Located in the south of Croatia, along the coast of the Adriatic Sea – Dubrovnik is unique.

One of the downsides of Dubrovnik is its location. It is quite far from other main places in the country. However, it is really worth it.

After the excursion (with or without a stop in Bosnia), you will be back in Croatia and visit Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik should be on every Croatia road trip

It is known for its 16th-century walls that encircle the city and a very well-preserved old town that dates back to medieval times. The 2-kilometer-long walls are walkable and offer great views of the city.

You can also see more filming locations from Game of Thrones. Other landmarks to visit include hiking up Srd Mountain, seeing St. Blaise Church, Rector’s Palace, the Dominican Monastery, Dubrovnik Cathedral, Fort Lovrijenac, and Sponza Palace.

The Old Town and the many buildings throughout the streets make wandering one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik.

Tip: The old town of Dubrovnik is car-free. Park your car outside the city center – and walk or take a bus to get to the old town. Parking prices are ridiculously high. Driving up Srd Mountain can be challenging for people who cannot drive the extremely narrow mountain roads. 

Where to Stay in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is busy. I mean, really busy, and this is why I recommend staying at least one or two nights. This way you can explore the city when the visitors are gone (many people visit only for a few hours).

CONCLUSION OF MY CROATIA ROAD TRIP

I think the Croatia road trip was one of the most fun road trips I have had. The scenery, the streets, the people – not to forget the places you get to visit will surely make your trip amazing!

Avoid highways (for the costs) and see what the country has to offer along the coast. You will meet many friendly locals and beautiful spots. So, enjoy your Croatia road trip and drive safely!

PIN ME FOR LATER – ROAD-TRIPPING CROATIA

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Croatia road trip, places to visit and more travel tips

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

7 DAYS IN TUSCANY ITINERARY

Tuscany, the most beautiful places and best towns and villages to visit in one week road trip, Italy

BEST ITINERARY FOR TUSCANY IN 7 DAYS

Are you planning your 7 days in Tuscany itinerary? Then this post is for you. Here you will find out how to create an epic itinerary for Tuscany along with many travel tips for your trip.

Tuscany is the place of rolling hills, beautiful medieval towns, and villages that often sit on top of hills and thus comes with great views. The region is known for its vineyards and great wines, and then there are the villas at the end of cypress-lined lanes.

But, of course, it is also known as the Renaissance’s birthplace and was home to geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. There is so much to do and see. After spending more than one week in Tuscany myself, I finally saw with my own eyes what all the fuss is about!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR TUSCANY ITINERARY

Let´s start with the travel tips before discussing your itinerary.

How to Get Around Tuscany in a Week

Many places in Tuscany are very well-connected! It is easy getting around by public transportation or car. I used public transportation whenever I headed to the main places (like Florence or Pisa) and drove for the rest of the time. Both ways have their perks. Tuscany, driving in Tuscany, typical road

Tuscany Road Trip Tips For 7 Days

I found that driving in Tuscany was fine – most of the time. I cannot deny that I will probably never get used to the way Italians drive, but in general, it was good. 

  • Especially driving through the vineyards in Val d’Orcia was so much fun! The scenery was top-notch!
  • The streets might not always be perfectly paved and modern, but it should not be a big problem for an experienced driver. Also, streets can be extremely narrow, and that is why I seriously advise choosing a small car.
  • Most towns, villages, and cities don’t allow regular cars. So, even if there are no barriers, you are not allowed to drive. Keep an eye out for this sign, which means you are only allowed to drive there with a special permit.
  • Also, I figured out that I should avoid busy hours. It can be crazy driving in and near main places from 7-9 am and 5-7 pm. It saved me time and stress not driving at these times.
  • Do not let the Italian drivers make you nervous. Do not speed unnecessarily (there are many speed cams around).
  • There are some toll highways in Tuscany, but I only drove them to Tuscany from Liguria. In general, most of the roads here are toll-free. Even some “autostrada” (motorways) are free (they are generally not in great condition).
  • Parking can be really costly and can eat into your budget over time. With some prior research, you might find free parking spots, but most of the time, I had to pay around 1-2.50€ for an hour near the old towns of Lucca and Siena.
  • And do not get me started on Italy’s gas prices – the highest I have ever seen in Europe. One liter of gas costs up to 1.85€. If you find gas for 1.45€, you have found a bargain.
  • Oh, and be prepared for an abundance of roundabouts in Tuscany. If you have not gotten used to them, recheck the rules, as I find the roundabouts in Italy a bit busy and hectic at times.

Public Transportation in Tuscany

I am probably not the first one to openly declare my affection for public transportation in Tuscany. The train rides, in particular, became a nice way of getting around. If I had to choose one way of getting around, it would be train travel in Italy.

  • It is quite affordable and reliable (yes, my trains always ran a few minutes late, but I consider this tolerable).
  •  However, getting to smaller towns and villages without a train station is a bit trickier.
  • So, when you have a train station close to your accommodation – great. Then you can do some trips by public transportation. If there is none, then bus transport is fine, too, but when it comes to schedules, it is not always clear.
  • TIP: Always, always validate your ticket. Even if you buy your ticket at the ticket counter for the next train/bus, you need to validate it at one of the little machines at the station for trains and in the bus for bus rides.

Best Time to Visit Tuscany For One Week

  • I visited Tuscany in spring: At the end of March/beginning of April. It was a lovely time to visit. Temperatures were mild (around 16°- 20ºC), but I also experienced a few rainy days. The trees were blossoming, and it was hilly and lush. The places were not crowded (except Florence and Pisa), and I did not have to rub shoulders with other tourists.
  • I revisited it in summer: In July, it was hot and busy. I did not like it much.

Personally, I recommend visiting at the end of April, May, or early June as it gets a bit warmer and the scenery is supposed to be even more colorful and bright.

Or I would pick fall as my travel time – September to October. Overall, the weather is good, the crowds are gone, and the hills and trees are still lush and colorful.

The summer months are great if you like heat and crowds  – July and August would be good months to visit then!

Pin me For Later – Tuscany Itinerary

Before talking about the best places to add to your Tuscany itinerary, here is a pin for your future reference (save it on Pinterest).7-day Tuscany itinerary pin for Pinterest. places to visit and more tips for 7 days in Tuscany, Italy

PLACES TO VISIT IN 7 DAYS IN TUSCANY

Here are the best places to visit in beautiful, beautiful Tuscany.

Florence – 2 Days

  • If you are in Tuscany for one week, I recommend staying in Florence for 2 days, because there are so many places to visit and things to do. 

Florence is one of the best places in Italy. You seriously have to add to your Tuscany itinerary. This city is one of my favorites in all of Europe! It wins the heart of its visitors within minutes – it is soooo pretty! Florence Campanile with church

Florence view from Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best things to see

And even if you are not the typical art fan (believe me, I am not), Florence is different. While Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci still play a crucial role in the city today, there is so much more to do and see. 

You can do a few things for free in Florence but several fantastic museums and churches need a ticket reservation in advance if you don’t want to spend hours in line. There is no country in the world where skip-the-line tickets make more sense than in Italy from April to October.

Things to Do and See in Florence

  • Uffizi Gallery – find the original statue of David by Michelangelo. Skip-the-line tickets are essential). 
  • Cross the Ponte Vecchio Bridge – this medieval bridge is 312 meters long and houses some smaller shops. It dates back to the 14th century.
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – oh, what a lady! This stunning cathedral is a beauty. You surely will be impressed by its sheer size if you want to visit the inside book your ticket in advance.
  • Piazza Della Signoria – this lively square is fun and busy. You will also find a replica of the David Statue and many more art pieces. 
  • The views from Piazza Michelangelo are priceless. It takes a 10-15 minute uphill hike (not too steep, though), and from there, you have great views and can enjoy the Florentinian skyline for free (also great for enjoying the sunset).
  • Pitti Palace – once the Medici family’s home, it is now a Renaissance Palace that houses incredible art pieces. Plan in 3-5 hours for this place and buy tickets in advance.
  • The Boboli Garden – located right behind the Pitti Palace, you can stroll this gigantic garden for several hours without getting bored (get a combined ticket for Pitti Palace, Boboli Garden, and more.
  • Here is a more detailed Florence guide for you!

If you make Florence your base for your whole Tuscany trip, then check out the best day trips to take from there.

Where to Stay in Florence

Lucca and Pisa – 1 Day

For this day, we have two towns on your itinerary. It’s up to you which one you opt for first- Lucca is closer to Florence than Pisa. 

  • From Florence, you can easily get to Lucca and Pisa via train or car.

Day trip to Pisa, The leaning tower of Pisa

Pisa is surely mostly known for one attraction, but it is a bit more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is a charming little town. Initially, I  planned to stay one whole day in Pisa, but I figured out that half a day is really enough! There are just so many other stunning places in Tuscany.

And like Florence, Pisa is busy. At least, it is busy around the Leaning Tower, not so much in other areas.

Day trip to Pisa, stroll the river

Things to Do and See in Pisa

  • Visit the Piazza del Duomo, where you have the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is a 14th-century tower that is probably the most famous tilted building in the world. Skip-the-lines tickets are a must if you do not want to spend a lot of time in line.
  • But there is also the impressive Cathedral di Pisa, the baptistery, and Camposanto Monumentale. The Duomo is free to visit, but you need to get a ticket center ticket (which is well signed).
  • If you want to climb the Leaning Tower or visit the baptistery or the Camposanto, you need to buy tickets. If you don’t buy skip-the-line tickets in advance, you might have to stand in line forever or not even get a ticket at all.
  • Stroll the Arno River (which is such a tranquil place after the busy Piazza del Duomo) and visit the Santa Maria Della Spina – a tiny church with a unique gothic exterior
  • On your way to the Santa Maria Della Spina, you should visit the Palazzo della Carovana at Knights’ Square. 
  • Check out my Pisa itinerary to find out more.

WHERE TO STAY IN PISA

In case you want to stay overnight, here are some well-rated accommodations:

Lucca

  • Then it is time to head to Lucca. It is just a 30-minute  drive (or train ride) from Pisa.
  • While it seems like there is much more to see in Lucca than in Pisa, Lucca is very walkable. Despite the number of attractions, you can see all these places in half a day. 

Lucca is a popular, though not overly crowded, town between Florence and Pisa.

Secret places places in Italy, Lucca in Tuscany

Things to do in Lucca

You can walk the huge Renaissance walls that offer nice views and are a good place to rest. Seriously, I have never seen such big city walls. From there, you can make your way to the historic city center and visit other main attractions.

  • The Duomo di San Martino (entry about 3€, which was nice, but you can skip it if you’re on a budget). You can climb the tower there (the views are not as great as from the other tower, but if you are in the mood to climb towers and don’t mind paying another 3€, this is a good place to enjoy the views). 
  • Then there is the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro with its many cafes and restaurants.
  • Climb to the top of the Guinigi Tower – it has centuries-old trees at the very top; climbing the 270 steps will cost you about 4€
  • Visit the St. Martin Cathedral (Chiese di San Michele) with its unique exterior.
  • Visit the Basilica of San Frediano 
  • If you enjoy guided walking tours, check out this affordable Lucca walking tour.
  • Tip: If you do not road trip Tuscany, check out this guided tour of Lucca and Pisa in one day from Florence.

Volterra and San Gimignano – 1 Day

Here are two stunning villages to visit: Volterra and then to San Gimignano. Whether you road trip or not  one day for visiting both places should be fine.

Driving to Volterra and then to San Gimignano was one of the best driving experiences: great views and nice roads. However, these are mountain roads and they are narrow – and it might not be everyone´s cup of tea. 

Volterra

Volterra is a walled mountaintop town southwest of Florence which dates from before the 8th century BC. I visited Volterra on a rainy day, and despite the weather, it still charmed me.  Volterra the most beautiful places and best towns and villages to visit in 5 daysSince it is a hilltop village, you with great views – but you also have cute streets, and even cuter doors and houses.

Things to Do and See in Volterra

  • Piazza dei Priori  – The piazza is located in the center of the town. You will also find the Palazzo dei Priori (city hall), the Council Chamber, and the bell tower (both open to the public) there.
  • Piazza San Giovanni, where you will also find the Cathedral and the Baptistery
  • Walk the Etruscan Gate that is close to the Piazza San Giovanni and built in the 4th century. 
  • Visit the Etruscan Acropolis, which is located within the Archeological Park. 
  • Enjoy the views!

San Gimignano (1 Day)

From Volterra head to San Gimignano – this place is surely is not a hidden gem. This small-walled medieval town near Volterra is one of the most popular tourist hotspots in Tuscany. Encircled by 13th-century walls, the town center is a triangular square lined with pretty medieval houses and its skyline is one of a kind.

landscapes of Italy. medieval San Gimignano - Tuscany cutest towns in Italy
@shutterstock

It gets busy, especially in the summer. However, it holds a few great attractions that make it worth a visit. 

Things to Do and See in San Gimignano

  • Climb Torre Grossa – The tower stands at 54 meters and dates back to the 13th century. The admission fee is about 5€, but the view is probably well worth it (I visited on a rainy day, so I skipped it).
  • Check out Porto San Giovanni – The door was finished in the 13th century and is a highlight of the town.
  • Piazza del Duomo – The heart of San Gimignano also houses the cathedral, the Palazzo del Podesta, the Palazzo del Popola, and more.
  • There are also guided tours that will show you both towns in one day.

Val d’Orcia (incl. Montepulciano) & Wine Tasting in 1 Day

South of Siena is one of the most beautiful sceneries, and you will see the Tuscan countryside at its best! The Val D’Orcia is famous for its stunning landscapes and its red wines. While I, personally, don’t drink wine, I know it is still a great place for wine tasting.

I was in love with the views. Driving here was fun. The roads are winding  and you have great views wherever you look at.

Tuscany Val D`Ora and the green lush hills The lush, green hills and yellow fields in between (and in the summer, you can expect red poppies and fields of sunflowers) make it one of the most beautiful places in Tuscany.

One of my favorite towns was the hilltop village of Montepulciano. Spend a few hours there, and if you have time left (I wish that I had), then visit Montalcino or Pienza as well.

Here are some tours that include wine tasting that I have found online – because some people just come to Tuscany for food and wine.

Siena – 1 Day

Now let´s talk about Siena – one of the most beautiful medieval towns in all of Italy. Siena sits over three hills and is a perfectly preserved medieval town and a shrine to Gothic architecture. There is an impressive maintained historic center that’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.Siena tower, looking up

Tuscany, Siena cathedralYou can start your day at the central piazza. The huge Piazza del Campo is the heart of the city and where most of its important events have been held ever since.

Twice a year, on July 2 and August 16, a famous horse race takes place. But most of the time, it is a nice and lively square where you can enjoy the Dolce Vita.

Things to do and See in Siena

  • Visit the impressive Duomo die Siena, a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral with mosaics – the exterior looks a bit pinkish. 
  • Climb the 400 steps of the Tower of Mangia- which is located on the Piazza del Campo. It was closed at the time of my visit but is supposed to offer some of the best views in Tuscany.
  • Admire the Pubblico Palace that is the town hall building in gothic style and located on the Piazza del Campo.
  • Stroll the old town and be ready to find some cute houses around every turn.

If you have less than 5 days in Tuscany, check out this organized tour that allows you to see several towns in Tuscany – including Siena.

Where to Stay in Siena

Arezzo and Cortona – 1 Day

For this day, you can visit two places eat of Florence or you can take it easier and just visit the first one, which would be Arezzo.

Arezzo

Arezzo is a town in eastern Tuscany and has become one of my most favorite towns in Tuscany. 

I was a bit exhausted and forgot what the town was about due to bad research – or better yet, due to a lack of research. I expected another hilltop village and was surprised that it isn’t a typical medieval town in Tuscany.Tuscany, Arezzo view from above, one of the best places to visit in Tuscany

Tuscany, Arezzo market square one of the best places to visit in TuscanyThe town square is indeed uphill, but not all of the town just some parts.

Also, I was spoiled with great weather, and I fell in love almost immediately. So, if you are 7 days in Tuscany, make visiting this small town a priority.

Things to Do and See in Arezzo 

  • Visit the Piazza Grande – the market square is home to several beautiful buildings, cafes, and restaurants. 
  • Visit the Arezzo Cathedral 
  • Stroll the Fortezza Medicea 
  • Visit the museum of the Fraternity dei Laici (located directly on the Piazza Grande, and for only 3€, you will also get access to the panoramic terrace)
  • Fancy a cooking class in Italy? In Arezzo, you can take a cooking class at a local´s home.

Cortona

If you have more time, you can add a visit to Cortona, which is quite close by. It is one of the few places I wish I had made a priority but somehow did not visit.

Cortona is a medieval walled hilltop town and the main cultural and artistic center of the Val di Chiana after Arezzo.

You can combine it with a trip to Arezzo and visit the Villa Bramasole, the Diocesan Museum, or the Santa Margherita Cortona.

MORE PLACES TO SEE IN TUSCANY IN 10 DAYS

With 7 days in Tuscany, you should be able to see all the above-mentioned places.

Of course, you can see what works for you and change days as you like, but logistically, it makes sense to combine two or three places each day. Only Florence will take much more time to explore.

If you have more than one week in Tuscany, then here is what you can do also.

Pistoia and Pescia – 1 Day

These two places, Pistoia and Pescia, are quite unknown and very underrated in Tuscany. You could combine a trip to these places and explore the more off-the-beaten-path destinations in Tuscany.

Pistoia, in particular, is a charming town with an authentic medieval touch. Secret places places in Italy, Pistoia in Tuscany

Pistoia is divided by a river; on the left side of the river, you will find the Cathedral, and on the right side, you will see the main square (Piazza Mazzini) as the heart of the town and the City Hall.

Tuscany, Pistoa baptiserary_

Places to visit and things to do in Pistoia: The Cathedral of San Zeno, the Spedale del Ceppo, the church of Santándrea, the Piazza Della Sala, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Humility.

It was one of the least busy places during my Tuscany trip and it is the perfect place to visit if you want to see beautiful architecture with interesting buildings but want to escape the crowds. I would plan in half a day, eat lunch at the square, and after a nice lunch, head to nearby Pescia.

Pescia is a small town loacted on the banks of the Homonymous River. It is a little beauty – strolling the town (and river) will take less time than visiting Pistoia, though.

Saturnia (Thermal Bath) – 1 Day

I forgot about this! Can you believe it?! I forgot I wanted to visit the Saturnia Thermal Baths and remembered when I was in the east of Tuscany. Then I could not be bothered to drive all the way back! 

Saturnia natural thermal bath in Tuscany
@shutterstock

Anyhow, the Saturnia Thermal Bath seems to be a great way to relax and see the other side of Tuscany. You can also visit the town of Saturnia after hopping in the free thermal springs!

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FINAL THOUGHTS ON PLANNING YOUR TUSCANY ITINERARY

Tuscany is surely one of the most beautiful regions in Europe, if not in all of the world. The landscapes and the fantastic cities, villages, and towns make it a perfect place to discover.

Sometimes I felt like I had visited a village already as some towns and villages are “similar,” and the scenery did not always dramatically change. However, it was a great experience. 7 days in Tuscany is a good amount to spend here, but even 10 days in Tuscany will be fun without getting bored.

While I did not do my trip to this Tuscany itinerary, this is how I would do it now, now that I know better.

However, even if you change the route or some places, this post hopefully has helped you create your perfect one-week Tuscany itinerary.Safe Travels, Arzo

 

BEST LAKES IN SWITZERLAND TO SEE

MOST BEAUTIFUL SWISS LAKES TO VISIT 

While other travelers might chase waterfalls, I chase lakes. Yes, I am a lake chaser – this might explain my obsession with Switzerland. Because some of the most beautiful lakes in the world are home in Switzerland.

And if you are wondering where to find these the best lakes in Switzerland, this post will help you. 

Here are the most stunning, prettiest, most amazing lakes in Switzerland to add to your Switzerland itinerary.

Lake Brienz

INTERLAKEN

Located just east of the town of Interlaken, in the canton of Berne, is the turquoise Lake Brienz, a quite large lake with an area of 29.8 square kilometers. It is approximately 14 km long, 2.8 km wide, and 260 meters deep. At surface, Lake Brienz is 564 meters above sea level.

Best things to do around Lake Brienz, Interlaken Giessbach Waterfalls

The alpine lake takes its name from the village of Brienz, which lies on the northern shore towards the east. Ships connect the main settlements around the lake, as well as the famous historical funicular Giessbachbahn, which rises 98 meters until the beautiful Giessbach Waterfalls nearby.

View from Brienzer Rothorn

The Aare channel connects the western tip of Lake Brienz to Lake Thun by crossing the town of Interlaken.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Brienz is definitely in my “top 3 of Swiss lakes”. Its sheer size in that unique color is beyond incredible. Also, there is so much to do and see around Lake Brienz. You can check out my full guide on Lake Brienz for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

Lake Thun

INTERLAKEN

Another famous lake in the Bernese Oberland is Lake Thun, located west of the town of Interlaken. With its 48.3 square kilometers, it is the largest of Swiss lakes located within a single canton (Bernese Oberland). Its length is about 17.5 km, the width is 3.5 km and the maximum depth is 217 meters. Similar to Lake Brienz, it stands among alpine peaks at 558 meters above sea level.

View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves
View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves

Best things to see at Lake Thun, boat tour Lake Thun

The town of Thun, which lies on the northwestern tip, gives its name to the lake. Multiple ships cross the deep-blue lake and connect the Thun to Interlaken.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Thun is definitely in my “top 5 of Swiss lakes”. Its amazing villages and towns along the shores make this lake very special. You can check out my full guide on Lake Thun for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Lake Oeschinen

KANDER VALLEY

A true alpine gem and UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007, the small Oeschinen Lake has a surface area of just over 1 square kilometer and 56 meters of maximum depth (1.6 km long and 1 km wide). With an elevation of 1.578 meters above the sea and high mountains all around, it is the perfect alpine lake postcard.

Stunning Lake Oeschinensee with Arzo Travels

Oeschinen Lake is located in the Kander valley, in the Bernese Oberland canton. You cannot reach the lake by car – you can take a gondola, a bus, or hike from the nearby town of Kandersteg.

Best Interlaken attractions

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Oeschinen is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. Its color and the scenery make it incredibly beautiful. However, for the best views, you have to do quite a bit of hiking.  You can check out my full guide on Lake Oeschinen for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Lake Blausee

KANDER VALLEY

Even smaller than Oeschinen Lake, the gorgeous Lake Blauseee is another picturesque gem in the Bernese Oberland. At 887 meters of altitude in the Kander Valley, this tiny lake is just 0.64 hectares large (0.0064 square kilometers).

Blausee in Berner Oberland, Arzo Travels

Thanks to its deep-blue, crystal waters, Blausee is one of the most famous mountain lakes in Switzerland – it was praised in a travel guide in 1885! Located in a nature park between the town of Spiez (on Lake Thun) and Kandersteg, it is easy to reach and a popular spot to hike. Swimming in Lake Blausee is not allowed.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Blausee is pretty, a pretty, pretty small lake. It is not in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”, because there is an entrance fee to see it. Quite a bumper. You can check out my full guide on Lake Blausee for more information. 

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Lake Lucerne

LUCERNE

The fifth-largest lake in Switzerland is located within 5 cantons in the center of the country: surrounded by beautiful and famous peaks, the irregular shape of Lake Lucerne covers an area of 114 square kilometers at 434 meters of elevation. Its maximum length is 3 km, the maximum width is 20 km, and the maximum depth is 214 meters.

Getting up Mount Rigi - a must-do activity in Lucerne

Lake Lucerne is so large and complex that nine different parts have their unique designations: there are bays, funnels, basins, and lakes within the lake. However, the town of Lucerne gives its name to the lake, located on the western side.

Most Expensive Hotel in the region Park Hotel Vitznau

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Lucerne is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. Its sheer size and stunning scenery make it a top lake in Switzerland. Also, there is so much to do and see around Lake Lucerne. You can check out my guide on Lucerne for more tips on things to do around Lake Lucerne. 

Lake Geneva

GENEVA, MONTREUX, LAUSANNE

All the way to the south-west of Switzerland is Lake Geneva, the largest lake in Switzerland. With 73 km of length and 14 km of width, its surface area is 580 square kilometers, making it one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. It lies at 372 meters above sea level, with a maximum depth of 310 meters.

Boat Tour on Lake Geneva with the Swiss Travel Pass

Its half-moon shape is cornered by the city of Geneva on the southwestern tip, the city of Lausanne in the center of the northern shore, and the picturesque town of Montreaux on the eastern tip. The southern shore belongs to France.

Geneva view of the lake for your one day itinerary

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Geneva is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. Its enormous size blew me away. Also, there is so much to do and see around Lake Geneva.

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Lake Zurich

ZURICH

Lake Zurich is located in the north of Switzerland, towards Germany. The city of Zurich is on the northern tip of this slightly L-shaped, long, and narrow lake. Its surface area is approximately 88 square kilometers, with 40 km of length and 3 km of width, making it the 6th largest lake in Switzerland. It lies at 406 meters above sea level and the maximum depth is 136 meters.

Where to stay in Zurich - best places to stay in Zurich Switzerland

It is popular to swim in Lake Zurich, thanks to its very clean water, even though summer temperatures go just beyond 20 °C (68 °F). Multiple ferries connect the towns around the lake.

Sunset over Lake Zurich

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Zurich is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. It probably is not the most beautiful lake in the country. However, there is so much to do and see around Lake Zurich. You can check out my full guide on Lake Brienz for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Lake Lungern

LUNGERN

Between Lake Brienz and Lake Lucerne, in the Obwalden canton, is the pretty Lake Lungern. Named after the town of Lungern, on its southern tip, this lake at 688 meters of elevation is just 2 km long and 660 meters wide on average, which gives it an area of just 2 square kilometers.

Brüning Pass, Lake Lungern Switzerland Arzo Travels

With a temperature of approximately 23 °C (71 °F) in the summer, swimming in the crystal waters of the lake is very refreshing. There are many beaches, as well as an easy hike around the lake, and the beautiful Dundelbach falls nearby.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Lungern is one of my favorite stops when I road trip. For the last 6 years or so, I always stop here and enjoy the view from here. Sometimes I take some short walks around the lake. 

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Lake Bachalpsee

GRINDELWALD

South of Lake Brienz, in the Bernese Oberland near Grindelwald, you can find Lake Bachalpsee, a small lake of just 0.08 square kilometers of surface and 14 meters of maximum depth.

Bachalpsee in Grindelwald - not too far from Hotel Caprice

The incredible elevation of Lake Bachalpsee is 2265 meters! It is one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Switzerland, surrounded by green pastures and the high peaks of the Jungfrau region, not far from the Grindelwald-First gondola station.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Bachsee is definitely a unique lake – unfortunately, it was very foggy when I visited. This might be a problem because it seems the weather in Grindelwald is often not ideal. If the weather had been better, it surely would have made it on my top 10 list.  

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Lake Walensee

Lake Walensee is located almost at the eastern border of Switzerland, not far from Lake Zurich, in the cantons of St. Gallen and Glarus. Approximately 20 km long and 1 km wide, this lake has a surface area of about 24 square kilometers and an elevation of 419 meters.

 

It takes its name from the town of Walenstadt, on its eastern side. However, it is famous for the Churfirsten mountain on its northern side, which rises almost vertically straight out of the water.

Lago di Saoseo

POSCHIAVO

The circular lake of Saoseo is located in the Val di Campo valley of the Poschiavo region, in the southeast of Switzerland, very close to the Italian border. This mountain lake is a small gem surrounded by pine forest, just 570 meters long and 550 meters wide – that’s 0.025 square kilometers. Its altitude is 2028 meters.

Lago di Saosea - underrated places in Switzerland

Making Lago di Saoseo even more photogenic, there is even a tiny rocky island that reflects in the crystal clear waters. During the winter, the lake is covered in ice and snow.

Lago di Saoseo in Valposchiavo

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lago di Saoseo is definitely in my “top 5 of Swiss lakes”. Its beauty is beyond…everything. It does not present itself on a silver platter and it is time-consuming getting there but it is worth it. This lake is everything. For more info, read my Valposchiavo travel guide.

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Lake Gelmersee

In the south of the Bernese Oberland, not far from Interlaken, is the reservoir Lake Gelmer, at 1850 meters of elevation. The surface area is just 0.64 square meters, with a maximum depth of 48 meters.

Gelmer Lake in Switzerland Arzo Travels

With a dam, an incredibly steep funicular, fresh water to swim in, and waterfalls along the hike around the lake, it is a very impressive Swiss lake.

Water Gelmersee view Arzo Travels

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Gelmersee is definitely in my “top 5 of Swiss lakes”. I know, it is a man-made lake and yet, I just love it. You can check out my full guide on Lake Gelmersee for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Lake Maggiore

LOCARNO

Lake Maggiore, or Lago Maggiore in Italian, has its northern tip in Switzerland, and most of its length in Italy. The Swiss part of the lake is located in the Italian-speaking Canton of Ticino, in the south of the country, right in the center.

The whole surface area is 212 square kilometers, at an elevation of 193 meters, but the Swiss part is just 16 km long and less than 10 km wide.

Lago Maggiore in Locarno

In the town of Locarno, located on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore, you will find the best climate in Switzerland, with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures.

Best Places to See in Switzerland

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Maggiore is pretty – no doubt about it. It has beautiful towns and villages along the shores. However, it has not made it on my top 10-list. I am not sure, why not. Maybe it is just because I like another lake close by even more?  

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Things to do in Locarno/Ascona

Lake Lugano

LUGANO

Just east of Lake Maggiore is Lake Lugano, which is also shared between the Swiss Canton of Ticino and Italy. Its twisted shape covers an area of 48.7 square kilometers at an altitude of 271 meters.

Parco Ciani is one of the most beautiful places in Lugano

The lake takes its name from the town of Lugano, on the northern shore. It is popular to bathe in the lake at numerous establishments, as well as hike the nearby mountains.

Monte San Salvatore

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Lugano is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. I love its colors, the vantage points, the villages along the shores (including the most beautiful village which is Morcote) – I just love it. You can check out my full guide on Lugano and Morcote for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Palü Lake

POSCHIAVO

The small Palü Lake, a blue gem surrounded by forests and high peaks, is located in the canton of Graubünden, in the south-eastern part of Switzerland, near Poschiavo Valley.

Valposchiavo Palü Lake in heart shape

This small lake at the elevation of 1923 meters has a surface area of 0.052 square kilometers. It is a natural lake as well as a reservoir, fed by the Palü Glacier. 

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Standing at the vantage point and looking at Lake Palü on the one side and Palü Glacier, on the other hand, made me realize it is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. I know, it is an artificial lake and yet, I just love it.

Disclaimer: I have seen the lake twice. The lake color looked incredible the first time. The second time, I visited after some heavy rainfalls – and the lake color was quite disappointing. That can happen if you visit after some rainy days. You can check out my full guide on Valposchiavo for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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FINAL WORDS ON THE TOP LAKES IN SWITZERLAND

These are my favorite lakes in Switzerland. Some are not easily accessible – some you will see while sitting on a train. Some are small and charming, some are gigantic and impressive. Each of them is stunning.  Each is special! Each s worth a trip! So, whichever lake you end up visiting, you cannot go wrong! 

 

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