italy

10 Gorgeous Places in Europe To Add To Your Bucket List

I recently wrote about 14 Europe Experiences You Must Have In Your Lifetime, but there are also places in Europe that I believe you should see just for the sheer beauty. Even though a picture doesn't do justice to these gorgeous places, it's more than enough to make you want to see it for yourself!

Lake Como

Bellagio Lake Como Lake Como Water

The drive from Como to Bellagio in Northern Italy is absolutely stunning. The homes along the water on either side is enough to make these views worth the drive. But you'll just have to see it for yourself!

Interlaken, Switzerland

Interlaken 1

Interlaken Switzerland

Gorgeous all year round, Interlaken is a perfect small Swiss town right up by the alps. Head up the mountains for adventure sports or hiking, or even walk along them for picturesque views.

Buda Castle

Buda Castle Buda Castle View

The hill is worth the climb to get up to this castle in Budapest, Hungary. At the top you'll find not only the castle with its patterned glazed tiles (a signature in Central Europe), but the views of the famous parliament building, the chain bridge, and the city are amazing.

Charles Bridge

DSC_0529

DSC_0841

This bridge in Prague is crowded all year round with tourists, but for good reason. Not only is there history surrounding the area, but you'll find gorgeous panoramas as you walk along the bridge over the Vltava River. There are also statues lined up on either side, as well as merchants selling things like jewelry or paintings. The views of the Prague Castle are amazing.

Southern Croatian Islands

Croatian Islands Croatian Islands 2

There are many reasons to visit Croatia, and one of them is due to the gorgeous islands. Think palm trees, red-roofed homes built into the lush, green hills, and some of the clearest water you'll find in the Adriatic Sea. Go now before tourism makes this hidden gem into the next hot spot.

The Seine River

Seine river paris s

Seine River Paris

No list like this would be complete without France's famous capital and the river that winds through it. Every bridge leads to somewhere spectacular in the city, and views along the river are not to be missed.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle View Cork Ireland

Ireland

The Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland is more than what you imagine when you think of Ireland. So much GREEN! It's a fun spot to visit (and to kiss the Blarney stone for good luck) but walking around the grounds and taking in the scene atop the castle will show endless emerald views.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi PalaceTopkapi Palace view

Istanbul's Topkapi Palace is definitely somewhere you must go if you find yourself in Turkey's major city. It's much different than your typical castle or church  in Western Europe with the architecture and colorful tiles.

Monaco

WP_20130920_007Ally Archer of Go Seek Travel blog - Monaco

Its own tiny little country in the French Riviera, Monaco has spectacular views of the coast, not to mention the yachts of the rich and (sometimes) famous. It is truly one of the most beautiful places in Europe.

Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast - Go Seek Explore

DSC_0812

A popular summer spot, you'll find the likes of Sorrento, Positano, and Capri here. The views are spectacular whether you're cliffside, on the beach, or walking through the windy walkways.

All photos by Ally Archer.

Where To Find Good Food in Florence On A Budget

Where to find the best food in Florence, Italy on a budget! Top travel food budget recommendations from a girl who used to live there

Florence is one of the best cities for food in Italy (the best in my opinion). The pasta is perfect, the pizza is topped with fresh mozzarella, and the panini are made with crisp bread.

Like any city, not all restaurants are budget-friendly, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality for a cheap eat!

To find delicious Italian staples and save a few euros, go to these places to get your fix for pizza, panini, gelato, pasta, and chicken.

If you’re looking for some of the best Italian food for less…you’re in the right place.

Let's eat!

Pizza: Gusta Pizza | Via Maggio, 46r

gusta-pizza.jpg

It can be hard to find good Italian pizza under five euros, but you can find it at Gusta Pizza, located near Santo Spirito.

For 3.50 for marinara (just sauce and crust) or 4 for margherita (sauce, crust, cheese), the prices are hard to beat.

Pizzas with more toppings aren't even much more. What's even better is if you split your pizza with a friend, then you'll have some extra cash for a glass of wine!

Panini: I Due Frattelini | Via dei Cimatori, 38

Due Frattelini is always packed at lunch time and for good reason. Part of that is because it is a tiny walk-up kiosk, but mostly because the panini are just that good!

And inexpensive, too: 2.50 euro for most sandwiches.

The bread is the best part, warm and crisp. The ingredients are fresh - you see them cut up the tomatoes and mozzarella right in front of you. They serve wine as well!

Gelato: Gelateria La Carraia | Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25

You can't beat tasty gelato for only 1.50 euro!

My general rule is to only trust gelaterias that serve the small sized gelato for 2 euros or less. More than that, the prices are likely tourist-driven and the quality isn't as great.

The gelato at La Carraia is good quality and right across the Ponte alla Carraia bridge. Take your gelato with you to the bridge and enjoy the views while you eat.

Pasta: Osteria de' Peccatori | Piazza di San Firenze, 14

Osteria de' Peccatori is one of my favorite restaurants in Florence. We went there a number of times - it is great for a semi-large group of people or dining solo, whatever works for you.

There is a lot of selection on the menu, but the pasta has always been my favorite - especially the gnocchi al pesto or the tortellini labro di prete (7.90 euro each).

The service is really friendly and welcoming. (The dessert is beyond amazing, too)! I could sure go for their tiramisu...

Rotisserie Chicken: Ristorante La Spada | Via della Spada, 62

I'm not quite sure if rotisserie chicken counts as a staple Italian food, but if you need to take a break from all the carbs, head to La Spada for some delicious, juicy take away chicken.

For only five euros you get a half chicken and can add a side if you want - potatoes, vegetables, etc. You also have many other choices with the take away selection.

(Note that sitting down at the restaurant costs more than it does at the take away shop around the corner, but tastes the same all the less).

There you have it - the best places in Florence to get amazing Italian food at a fraction of the price.

These are a few examples of my personal favorite places to go from when I used to live in the city – I would often frequent these eateries at least once every other week!

I recommend these places and hope you enjoy them too.

Book a Place to Stay in Italy

My all-time favorite booking website is the well-known Booking.com - I’ve used it for years all over the world.

It is the easiest way to search and find the best hotels (hostels too!), especially based on reviews. I always check the reviews on Booking, even if it’s a name-brand hotel. You never know!

Photo sources: pizza, panini, gelato, pasta, chicken

The ABCs of Studying Abroad in Florence

The ABCs of Studying Abroad in Florence A: Acqua - whether it's sparkling or flat, water is not free at restaurants, and sometimes more expensive than wine.

Florence Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo

B: Bars. If you studied abroad between the age of 18-20, you got to enjoy the awesomeness of being of age and getting let in (legally) to a bar. If you were already 21, then you at least got to enjoy going to the bars with all of your friends without leaving out the youngsters.

C: Cooking. Italy is the food capital of Europe, and Florence is arguably the best city in Italy for finding the best food and fresh, high quality ingredients. Pesto pizza, pasta bolognese, or a tomato and mozzarella panini...yum.

D: Duomo. The most iconic church in Florence is enormous and beautiful. You'll never forget your first time walking up to the piazza and seeing it in person - it literally takes your breath away.

Duomo Florence

E: Experience. One that you'll never forget.

F: Florence! Where a majority of American students study abroad in Italy. Also, a small, gorgeous city with beautiful renaissance art.

G: Gelato. You know it's good when the smallest size still comes with two flavors.

H: Hostels. You'll always remember your first time staying at a hostel - bringing shower shoes, sharing bunk beds with other travelers...

I: Italy. While you spent most of the week in Florence, you likely got to see more of the country - the gorgeous Tuscan countryside, historic Rome, and the beautiful Amalfi Coast were musts. Maybe you made it down to Sicily, or up to Venice.

Florence, Italy

J: Just go. Your motto when deciding whether or not to do that last-minute weekend trip.

K: Knocking on the door to a secret bakery at 2am. Warm, nutella-filled croissants for a euro each was the best way to end a night out.

L: Language. The beautiful Italian language that flows up and down, and sounds almost musical when listening to locals converse.

M: "Molto delizioso" means "very delicious," which is what you answered when your host mom asked how the pesto lasagna she made for lunch was.

N: Never leaving. Or what you told yourself while you were in denial during the final days of your study abroad.

Oltre Arno Florence Ponte Vecchio

O: Oltre Arno. Heading across the Arno river to the less touristy part of Florence, where you could encounter some great cafes and shops, and take a breather from the crowds by the Duomo or Santa Croce.

P: Piazzas. Piazza Repubblica, Michelangelo, Santa Croce...

Q: Quotes. Hopefully you made a list of all the funny things people said so you can look back on it a few months later when you get nostalgic. #memories

R: Resume. Studying abroad is a culturally enriching experience that you should definitely put on your resume.

S: Studying. The actual reason you were there.

T: Tiramasu. A delicious Italian dessert.

U: Umbrella. Something you were so glad you had during the random late summer downpours and also so the guys selling umbrellas on the streets would stop bothering you about buying one.

go seek explore ponte vecchio florence italy

V: Vacation. Knowing that most people only have the opportunity to take a week or two of vacation to Florence, but you were lucky enough to live there for months.

W: Wine, and lots of it. Whether it's red or white, you drank way too much of it last night, vow never to drink it again, but then somehow find yourself at Dante's in Florence a few days later with your friends where you proceed to do it all over again.

X: X-change rate. Calculating it to see if those 80 euro ($110) shoes were really worth it.

Y: Year abroad. Those lucky enough to extend their summer or semester study abroad into a full year.

Z: Zero regrets.

Amalfi Coast and Lake Como: Why Winding Roads Are Worth It

The Amalfi Coast - Go Seek Explore Not all the beautiful places in the world are easily accessible, but in most cases, they're definitely worth the effort. I've had the pleasure of visiting two of my favorite places in Italy, the Amalfi Coast and Lake Como. Lake Como (northern Italy) and the Amalfi Coast (near Naples) are only accessible by taking a bus or car through narrow, winding roads on hills or cliffs.

The Amalfi Coast

In Amalfi, the pastel houses and hotels are built into the cliffs, and I definitely recommend driving down during the day so you can appreciate the beauty. As you wind into Sorrento, you'll see the houses, the cliffs with the fog/clouds hovering above, and the gorgeous beaches. One of the funniest memories from my study abroad experience (the first time I went to Amalfi) was when our bus got wedged next to another bus going the opposite way. We were literally stuck, with the drivers backing out and backing back in dozens of times to squeeze through. Meanwhile, Italians were honking their horns and shouting behind us (their anger was well-understood).

Lemon Groves in Positano

When I went to Lake Como with a friend last year, we took an hour-long bus ride from Como up to Bellagio, the center of the lake. (The lake is shaped like an upside-down Y). We were both still really jet lagged so being on a bus definitely didn't feel the best for our queasy stomachs, however the view driving up was absolutely incredible. I will never forget the adorable houses lining the water from looking out the window on our way up. It was one of the highlights from the trip and I'm glad we went up to Bellagio instead of staying at the bottom of the lake in Como.

lake como - go seek explore

 

bellagio - go seek explore

If you find yourself in Italy during the summertime, I highly recommend these two locations - they are even more breathtaking in person.