How I Spent a Weekend (With Friends!) in London

A Weekend in London Guide, Three Days in London Travel Guide // Pearl Girl

If you know me, you know London is my absolute favorite place on earth. I even feel like my love of London is something I’ve become synonymous with — after all, there’s a giant Union Jack flag hanging in my room. And my Instagram bio reads “A Brit trapped in an American’s body.”

So when any excuse to visit London comes up, I take it. And one of my best friends moving there to get her Masters definitely qualified. As fate (and luck!) would have it, two of my other close friends would be in Europe at the same time: One is working in Paris for six months and the other just finished her two years of service in the Peace Corps in Namibia and was doing some European traveling before heading back stateside. The timing worked out perfectly for us to all congregate in London for an amazing weekend together.

A Weekend in London Guide, Three Days in London Travel Guide // Pearl Girl

Wearing this leather jacket in front of the Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe.

Now, I’ve been to London six times, and one of those was my study abroad experience, where I lived in the city for four months. So though I’m not a true Londoner, I’m definitely more in the know than your average tourist. So this weekend, I was more focused on spending time with my friends and walking through my favorite neighborhoods than hit up museums and the Tower of London. That being said, I like to be always on the go when I’m there, walking around and soaking up as much of the city as I can (to hold me over until next time!)

I landed around 11 on Friday morning and hit the ground running, taking the Tube into the city. I transferred at South Kensington to Victoria station, where I stored my bags for the next few hours. Highly recommend doing this if you need a place to stash your stuff for a few hours in London. I just did it on my last trip to the UK, this past week, when I had a few hours to kill before meeting up with my travel group, too.

Though I’ve always taken the Tube into the city when I’m on my own dime, but those days may be over. I just took the Heathrow Express for the first time on my most recent trip, and OMG, my life is changed. The Tube can take about an hour, and that’s just to get into South Kensington. Heathrow Express takes 15 minutes to get to Paddington station. It’s a bit pricier, but if you are running on limited time, it’s really incredible.

I left Victoria station and walked over to Peggy Porschen Cakes, an incredibly Instagrammable spot that I’d had on my to-visit list for quite some time. The decor definitely lived up to the hype: Metallic pumpkins and ornaments lining the doorway, and cute pastel plates and cups. I ordered a slice of cake and a cup of tea — the perfect warm welcome to London.

The rest of the afternoon I went on a long, long walk through London. Over to Sloane Square, down King’s Road in Chelsea, then up through Chelsea into South Kensington. Then up to Kensington Gardens, where I went to Kensington Palace. I’ve been through the interior rooms of the palace a few times, but they currently have a new exhibition going on — Diana: A Fashion Story — with tons of Princess Diana’s most iconic outfits on display. If you’re in London while the exhibition is going on, I highly recommend checking it out. Even if you’re not a huge royal fan, it’s just an incredible display of gorgeous clothes.

It was the most beautiful fall day. At that point, the leaves hadn’t really changed yet in New York, so it was so nice to see all the yellow and orange in London! I left KP and headed up to Notting Hill, and then walked back around down through Kensington. I caught the tube at High Street Kensington, went to pick up my bags at Victoria station, and then headed to London Bridge area, where my friend’s dorm is. We all met up there and then headed to dinner at O Ver, a really delicious Italian restaurant nearby. We got drinks at a pub afterwards, the perfect London nightcap.

The next day it was off to Granger & Co. for breakfast. If you’ve never been, put it on your to eat list in London! They have the fluffiest pancakes, and they’re the must-order item on the menu. They have several locations throughout the city, but we went to the one in Clerkenwell, right near where I used to live in London when I was studying abroad. We walked down Gray’s Inn Road over to Primark, which is the least expensive store on the face of the planet. I grabbed a cheap beanie (which I ended up using a TON over the course of the entire trip.) We then headed down to Trafalgar Square, and finally, over to Covent Garden.

A Weekend in London Guide, Three Days in London Travel Guide // Pearl Girl

I convinced the group to go to drinks at Bob Bob Ricard, a swanky restaurant in Soho with the cutest “Press for Champagne” buttons equipped at every table. Though I didn’t actually press it (we were only going to order one drink, and I didn’t know if pressing it would actually bring out a bottle of Moet or something?! Haha.) Our cocktails, however, were delicious! The food is all Russian-inspired, so if you want to have dinner there, that’s what’s you’re in for!

We, on the other hand, were looking for something a bit more affordable. So we hopped in an Uber and shot over to East London for dinner on Brick Lane, a street that’s famous for its wide variety of Indian restaurants. Our restaurant was called Jasmine and it was delicious, but I don’t really think you can go wrong on Brick Lane. It also had the funniest illustrations on the wall. There were all these really sexual pictures of men and women in like, intense warrior gear. And then there’s one of Princess Diana. It was actually hilarious, and I couldn’t resist taking a photo with it.

The next day we headed to North London to the Camden Markets. This area of London has a totally different vibe than say, Kensington. It feels very punk, very Hot Topic, almost (but not in a suburban mall way!) — but is so cool! There are tons of stalls, stands and markets, from food to t-shirts to jewelry. I picked up a tiny gold knot ring that I haven’t taken off since, as well as a pair of earrings and a donut.

We then walked along the canals over to Primrose Hill, one of my favorite parks in London. It’s set on top of a hill (as the name suggests!) and gives you a really gorgeous view of the city. It’s right on top of the better known Regent’s Park.

A Weekend in London Guide, Three Days in London Travel Guide // Pearl Girl

Primrose Hill is right near a really gorgeous area in London, so we walked around for a bit before sitting down at a pub for an afternoon drink. Such a lovely and perfectly London-esque way to spend the afternoon.

A Weekend in London Guide, Three Days in London Travel Guide // Pearl Girl

We also had so much fun playing around with Portrait mode. I swear, some of the photos are better than the ones on my SLR! The candy-colored houses made for a pretty stunning backdrop, too.

My friend lives right near Borough Market, so I also made a point to try the famed grilled cheese. Oh my gosh, y’all, IT LIVES UP TO THE HYPE. Seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life. The stand isn’t actually inside the market, it’s like a little storefront RIGHT outside. If you can’t find it, just ask someone for directions. Everyone knows!

That night we went to dinner at Oldroyd, which has British foods but serves small plates. We had already eaten quite a bit that day, so splitting smaller dishes was just right for us. The restaurant is in Angel, a fun area in London with a lot of shops and restaurants. It’s also right near Kings Cross, which was convenient for the two who were heading to Paris that night. I caught one myself, to Brussels — my next post! — the next morning.

It was such a special weekend, to share time in my favorite city with three of my favorite people. And it was just the start of an incredible trip!

Continue Reading

Quebec City, Canada: Photo Diary and Travel Guide

Quebec City, Canada Travel Guide, What to Do on a Day Trip to Quebec City - Pearl Girl

With my latest trip coming to a close — I just returned from 11 days in London, Belgium, Paris and Lyon on Tuesday! — it seems fitting to wrap up the posts on my vacation to Montreal and Quebec City. (If you missed my recap of our time in Montreal, you can find it here.)

Immediately after we booked our flights to Montreal, I looked to see if it would be feasible to do a day trip to Quebec City. I knew I wanted to visit both cities, and I figured while I was in (the province of) Quebec, I might as well try. Turns out, it’s a three-hour trip each way, which is just about my threshold for a day trip. I know, my threshold is high — so if you want to spend the night in Quebec City, I don’t blame you.

That said, it’s a gorgeous (but small) city. It feels very European, even more so than Montreal. We arrived at the bus station around 11 in the morning and were able to walk straight to the center of the city, passing plenty of adorable storefronts and colorful architecture along the way.

At the heart of it all is the Chateau Frontenac, a massive luxury hotel that sits at the center of the city. It is seriously so, so big, and if I had the cash and the time, I would have loved to spend the night there. (Note: I just Googled the hotel, and it’s much more affordable than I originally thought — around $200 a night! Now I’m kind of wishing we had booked a night there!) It looks out on the St. Lawrence River, and the view is so pretty. Even if you can’t spend the night, it’s worth a walk through the lobby.

You also can walk around the hotel, on the “boardwalk” — I don’t think that’s the official name, but that’s what it looks like — where you get a great view of the river and the rest of the hotel. The path goes pretty far, and eventually, you can work your way up to the top where there’s some sort of museum on the history of Quebec. It looked like it was mostly military history, and due to our limited time frame, we skipped it and headed back down.

You can also take a funicular up to the “boardwalk” surrounding the Chateau Frontenac from the Petit Champlain area, which sits just beneath this area, but it’s really a pretty easy walk to do on your own. (We didn’t take the funicular ourselves.)

We got lunch at Le Petit Chateau, a casual spot near the Chateau Frontenac that served cheese fondue — my ultimate weakness, and one I was especially craving in this very French city. If you’re not one for massive amounts of melted cheese (though who isn’t?), they also serve crepes.

Later on, we headed down to explore the Petit Champlain area. It is so adorable and really makes you feel like you’re in Europe. (It felt a little similar to the adorable Annecy, France, which was in this past weekend!) There are lots of shops and restaurants, but honestly, it was so, so crowded on the day we were there that we made our way through the main drag of the neighborhood pretty quickly. (You can get an idea of what I mean in the photos below!) Afterward, we went to walk around some of the other streets nearby, which were also adorable, but a bit less crowded.

We were there in August on a Sunday, so I have to imagine if you’re there on a weekday, on less of a “peak” month, it would be a bit less packed and even more lovely.

Needing a break from being on our feet, we stopped by Cochon Dingue for rosé, fries and caesar salads. They had very cute branding, which is always a plus. And we sat outside, it was a nice way to take in the view and rest for a minute.

At that point, we had to head back to the train station to catch our bus back to Montreal. It was a quick day in Quebec, but a really beautiful one (look at that weather!) Now, I’m wanting to plan a trip back to this charming little city for a full weekend (and a few nights at the Chateau Frontenac!)

Continue Reading

Photo Diary and Guide: Montreal, Canada

What to Do in Montreal Canada, Montreal Photo Diary // Pearl Girl

Montreal has been on my to-visit list for longer than I can remember. I took French from ages 11 to 18, so it’s always a place that I studied in school. And when I was at Syracuse, I meant to plan a weekend trip up there (it’s a fairly short drive!) but things were constantly going on on campus and I never made it up. And in my first three years in the city, I always thought ‘Hey, Montreal would be a quick weekend trip,’ but up until now, never got my butt in gear when it came to planning.

I got the kick in the pants I needed when I was given an Air Canada gift card that would cover the bulk of a flight to Montreal. I was easily able to talk my roommate Taylor into coming with me, we booked our flights and an AirBnB and we were off! We visited for four days, Friday to Monday, with a day trip to Quebec City on Sunday. It was the perfect amount of time to explore the city without overdoing it. I’ll cover Quebec City later, but here I’ll take you through our Montreal itinerary.

We took an early morning fight out to Montreal (all the while thinking WHY WHY did we do this?!) on Friday, and unfortunately, couldn’t check into our AirBnB until that afternoon. We were able to drop our stuff off in a storage space, and then headed to a restaurant called Cafe Imagination for breakfast. It wasn’t anything special, but it was in nearby and we were starved.

We then headed down to the Old Port neighborhood, which is super cute and looks very European. There are walkable streets lined with restaurants and gorgeous architecture. You can also head down to the waterfront, where there’s ziplining, outdoor shops and food stands. We rented a paddle boat and rode around for a bit. It was a fun way to spend an hour for the afternoon!

After a much-needed nap back at our AirBnB, that night we went to dinner at Robin Square, and it was excellent. We split the burrata pizza, pork belly and mac and cheese, all of which were so, so good. This spot is near the Old Port area, but not quite in the thick of it. Highly recommend. The best meal we had the whole weekend!

Another note: We took a few Ubers in Montreal, but for the most part found the subway to be extremely reliable and affordable. There were a few neighborhoods we couldn’t reach, but for the most part, it was very easy to get everywhere by subway.

We walked around the Mont Royal park and the surrounding neighborhood (which is gorgeous and filled with pretty houses, like the one above) on Saturday morning. We were hoping to find the Chalet Mont Royal for a view of the city, but that proved a bit difficult. Instead, we got out of an Uber at a lookout point. Though we would have started trekking on more to try and find the Chalet, which is one of the most famous views in Montreal.  But it started pouring and I leaned against a maple tree and accidentally got syrup in my hair. (#Canada) So we decided to head back to our AirBnB so I could wash my hair, haha.

We spent the afternoon walking around St. Catherine Street, which is the major shopping drag in Montreal. Along it are the entrances to the famed underground shopping malls, which we walked through though didn’t buy anything. They feel sort of like a non-luxury American mall, nothing special, but they sure are expansive!

Honestly, the real highlight of our second day was the FOOD. We started the day with bagels from St. Viateur, which makes authentic Montreal bagels. They were so, so good. They’re a little small, but very doughy and chewy, which sounds like a contradiction, but if you’ll try them, it makes sense. Sort of like Black Seed in NYC, if you’ve ever been there!

For lunch we stopped at a place near our AirBnB called MooseBawr where we got a pitcher of sangria (DELICIOUS!) and poutine, a must-have if you’re ever in Canada. If you don’t know, it’s french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. Not healthy, but definitely tasty.

And then for dinner, we went to Schwartz’s, a Montreal staple deli. There’s almost always a line outside, but it goes pretty quickly. And oh, the food is so worth it. You don’t have a ton of options on the menu, so we ordered smoked meat sandwiches, fries, and coleslaw. I normally don’t eat coleslaw, but this one is amazing. So tasty and refreshing to eat alongside the heavier sandwich and fries. And the sandwich was so good. Just thinking about it has me wanting to plan a trip to Second Ave Deli in NYC.

Our last day we got breakfast at Tim Horton’s — I ate so many TimBits, their version of donut holes, that weekend, I thought I was going to turn into one. The birthday cake ones are my favorite. SO. YUMMY. We then made our way up to Chalet Mont Royal. It took a bit of a walk through what seemed to be the woods, but we finally reached a park and then found the crowds heading up towards the spot. It was definitely crowded, but worth it for the view. I always love to get to a good viewpoint in whatever city I’m visiting, and this one didn’t disappoint.

We headed back down to the Old Port area for lunch, where we ate poutine topped with smoked meat. Again, so tasty. I need to find a place in NYC that can do the dish justice. We also popped into the Notre Dame Basilica, which is enormous and stunning.

After seeing the ziplining on Friday, we both knew we wanted to try it on Monday. It wasn’t very expensive and there wasn’t a long line, so we thought why not? Both of us had done it before and if you haven’t, seriously, try it! It’s so fun and such an adrenaline rush. We got churros from one of the food trucks around the area afterward.

One thing I will note is that we tried to take the bus back to the airport and it ended being an epic fail. The wait for the bus was crazy long (with a ton of people) and when a bus finally arrived, we didn’t have enough money to cover the trip — even though we specifically added enough money to our cards to make it work. In the end, we got an Uber and got there on time, so all was well, though we were definitely annoyed

If you’re interested in our AirBnB, email me and I’m happy to send you the link. However, I wouldn’t hugely recommend it. Though it had a good location and they helped us with storage, the WIFI DIDN’T WORK. Not trying to be an internet addict, but it was essential for looking up locations and directions. Thankfully, we both had working data on our phone or we would have been lost. (Literally.) We honestly wouldn’t have booked the place had we known this, so I don’t want to give it a full endorsement when I don’t mean it.

Continue Reading

How I Travel Often Without Spending an Absurd Amount of Money

How to Save Money While Traveling, Travel Money Saving Tips // Pearl Girl

London, October 2015

I truly believe that travel is one of life’s greatest joys (and privileges.) I’m lucky enough that I was raised in a family that valued travel, so I’ve been going on trips and vacations (I wholeheartedly believe they’re different) since before I can remember. As I’ve grown up and become a “real adult” with a real income, I’ve prioritized traveling on my own — and on my own dime. And along the way, I’ve been able to pick up a few tips and tactics on how to travel as much as you can on a budget.

I think a lot of people shut down the idea of traveling in your early 20s because they believe it’s too expensive and unobtainable. Though it is definitely an investment and something you need to plan and save for, it can be done — on the cheap, too! In fact, I think your 20s are one of the best times to travel. Most likely, you don’t have kids keeping you home, and you’ve got the stamina and (lack of) standards to rough it a bit. You just need to be a little creative. Here are a few ways how.

New Orleans Louisiana travel guide from fashion blogger Diana Pearl of Pearl Girl

New Orleans, September 2016

 

Go where your friends are.

This is my biggest tip, for obvious reasons. When you visit a friend, you’ll most often be able to stay with said friend for free. Removing the cost of a hotel or AirBnB is HUGE for savings, and sometimes, you can remove transportation fees, too, if the person you’re staying with has a car. And of course, the bonus of this method is that you get to spend time with a friend you don’t see quite as often, and you get to have a local as a tour guide!

Though most of my friends from college live in NYC, which doesn’t lend itself to visits, I’ve tried to take advantage of visiting people where I can. Last fall, I went to Arizona, where my aunt and uncle live, for Thanksgiving. And two of my best friends from high school live in Boston, so I’ve been there three times in the past two years, too.

Sometimes, it’s worth waiting to visit a destination, too. People move around and you never know when one of your good friends will arrive in a place you’ve been wanting to visit. For example, I’ve wanted to visit Los Angeles for the past few years. But it just seemed so pricey: Hotel, renting a car, etc. But when my step-sister moved out there last fall, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to finally get out to LA and get to spend time with her, which only made the trip more fun.

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston, May 2017

Take opportunities when they arise.

Similar to the above point, I think it’s important to sort of let your destinations be dictated by circumstance. An example: Last fall, Barcelona wasn’t super high up on my list of places to visit. I had already been, but just for two days when I was in high school, so while I knew I wanted to go back one day, it wasn’t my number one destination. But when my friends invited me to join them on a trip, I didn’t hesitate. We ended up having an amazing time, and I truly felt like I experienced Barcelona.

One thing to note is I am single, and while I have a ton of great friends, I don’t have that go-to travel partner in the way something in a relationship does. (Of course, there are friends — like my roommate and Natalie — who I travel with more often, but you know what I mean) So when a friend says “Hey, want to go to X?” I’m likely to say yes. It’s a great way to spend time with people and sometimes, be introduced to new destinations. Like when my roommate and friend Katie invited me to go to Iceland with them, I said yes because I wanted to go on another big trip that year and had no plans to do so. I had never really considered Iceland as a destination. I ended up absolutely loving it, and now am dying to go back and see more of the country.

It’s also worth mentioning that family vacations are a great way to go on subsidized trips. Nowadays I just go on a few, usually one big one every other year. Of course, this totally depends on your family situation and I recognize that I’m very lucky to still get invitations from my mom and step-dad to join them on some of their adventures!

Paris, April 2016

Stay in an AirBnB.

Y’all, I cannot express how much I love hotels. I love them. The beds, the lobbies, the plush robes and fluffy towels. But nine times out of ten, AirBnB is the more affordable option, so that’s what I go with. It also gives you more options when it comes to staying with a larger group, or if there are couples in the mix, etc. You also usually have a kitchen, so you can elect to cook some meals at home rather than constantly paying restaurant prices.

Hostels are also an inexpensive option, and one I did take full advantage of during my study abroad days. I honestly am at the point in life now where, most often, I will splurge for the AirBnB or cheap hotel room. However, if you’re traveling alone and looking to make friends, I’d recommend staying in a hostel because it’s a great way to meet fellow young travelers.

Points and miles.

I’m just starting to get into the points game, but I have to say, I love it! Since I grew up in Chicago — a United hub — I’ve been accumulating United miles for years. I try to fly United when I can so I can stock up on the miles. It can take some time to really build these up on your respective airline, but when you can it’s a great way to save on flights.

I also recently got the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which I highly recommend. I’m planning a more in-depth post about my credit cards later, but this one has incredible travel perks and allowed me to book a free trip to Europe this fall — with lots of leftover points to spare! It also has no foreign transaction fees, which is a HUGE plus when you’re abroad.

If you want to travel regularly, you need a credit card with travel points. It’s such an easy to way to slash your travel costs, just by going about your normal life and spending as you usually would.

Iceland, June 2016

Timing.

You likely already know this, but if you’re going on a weekend trip and you want to leave on Friday and come back on Sunday, you’ll pay a premium for those flights. If you’re able to take a daytime Friday flight, or Thursday evening, or come back on Monday, you can save a lot of cash. Hotels are often cheaper on weeknights, too.

Don’t be a snob.

One day, I truly hope that I’ll be able to occasionally splurge on a truly gorgeous hotel room, or business class on a flight to Europe or Asia. But that is just not the place I’m at in life, and that’s fine! I’m 25. I always say you can go up, but it’s tough to go back down. So this is the time in life to stay in the teeny AirBnb, fly the budget airline, and sit in the last row of coach. In the end, you can handle any situation that’s mildly uncomfortable — like a long layover in Lisbon, as I did on my way to Barcelona — as long as you’re safe, healthy and have the end in sight. I always tell myself that a long flight only lasts so long. It’ll be over eventually, and then you’ll be at your amazing new destination.

In order to give a more tangible portrait of how I’ve been able to travel as I often as I do, I’m including a list of how I’ve paid for a few of my most recent trips.

How to Save Money While Traveling, Cheap Travel Tips // Pearl Girl

Quebec City, August 2017

Montreal and Quebec City

I received a gift card to Air Canada as a gift, and convinced my roommate to come with me. We’d both been wanting to visit Montreal for a while. We stayed at an AirBnB that cost $75 a night, so divided between the two of us, it was very affordable.

New Orleans

I booked my flight 100% with miles, so it cost me about $13 in fees. My friends and I — a group of five of us — stayed in an AirBnB, an economical option for the long weekend when divided by five!

Nantucket, June 2017

Nantucket

We booked our flights and AirBnB in February, four months before the June weekend we were going to be visiting. As such, we were able to get flights for less than $200 to a notoriously pricey destination.

Boston

I take the MegaBus and sleep on my friend’s couch. $60 total, without the costs of food and such.

Los Angeles California Travel Guide, What to Do When You Visit LA

Los Angeles, March 2017

Los Angeles

I used United miles to book my outgoing flight and paid for the other. By flying out on a Wednesday and returning on a Tuesday, the prices were cheaper. The one-way I paid for was a little more than $100. I stayed with my step-sister while I was out there, so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel, either. Adding even more to the savings, she let me borrow her car while she was at work, so I didn’t have to rent a car to get around L.A. (which is essential!)

Paris

We stayed at a wallet-friendly AirBnB and we flew the budget XL Airways France to get a good deal. ($700 round trip, compared to $1500 on other airlines.)

Barcelona Spain Antoni Gaudí Architecture Guide

Barcelona, December 2016

Barcelona

Again, we stayed at an AirBnB, and managed to nab some seriously cheap flights — about $460. This did involve some less-than-optimal flights: A three hour layover in Portugal on the way there, and a seven hour layover in London (during which we ventured into the city, because I couldn’t be in London that long and not!) Both travel days were exhausting, but well worth it for that price tag.

London/France/Belgium

This trip has yet to occur, but it’s set to be a very affordable one! I booked my flight with credit card points, so it was 100% free. In two of the locations I’m going — Paris and London — I have friends living there, so I’ll be staying with them. I planned my trip so I’ll be spending the most nights possible in the free locations. And when I’m not, I’ll be staying at a cheap hotel or an AirBnB. To get around, I’m taking trains, and they aren’t very pricey!

Do you have any tips on how to travel on a budget? Share in the comments! And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Continue Reading

Paris Photo Diary + Travel Tips

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

One of the reasons I decided to start blogging again last fall was to have a place to share my travel photos. I got my SLR camera for high school graduation, and have taken it with me on every major trip I’ve taken since. It’s been seven years since then, so I have thousands of photos sitting on my hard drive. And while I’ve shared a fair amount on Facebook, I wanted to have a place to put them + with more detailed descriptions of where I’ve been and what I’ve loved in these places.

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

Paris is one of my absolute favorite cities. I’ve been four times — when I was eight, when I was a sophomore in high school, while I was studying abroad, and then last year, with my friends Natalie and Alex. Though I’ve been a fair amount of times for someone my age, up until last year, each of my visits had been only three days long. If you’ve ever been to Paris, you’ll know that three months isn’t long enough to completely conquer this city. There are so many incredible museums, gorgeous streets, world-famous sights, and obviously, amazing food, it’s impossible to do it all.

But when you’re only there for three days, it’s even harder. And each time I was traveling with someone new, so I ended up hitting a lot of the same spots. So when the opportunity to visit Paris for a full week arose last year, I hopped on it. And if you can, I highly recommend spending a full week in Paris, so you can check far more boxes than you would in three days.

Museums

The Louvre // Of course, any first timer to Paris must visit the Louvre. It’s one of the best-known museums in the world for a reason, and though

Musée d’Orsay // Great for lovers of impressionism, and worth checking out for the impressive collection + cool space (it’s housed in an old train station!)

The Catacombs // This is a mass grave underneath the city, filled with bones and skulls of more than six million people. You make your way through, and it honestly is freaky, but cool to say you’ve done. Warning: They’ll only let a certain amount of people in at a time, and the line can get bad. We waited at least two hours, maybe more. I say do this once, and then you never have to do it again.

Musée Picasso // One of the most impressive collections of Picasso’s works, and an easy way to spend a morning.

Musée Rodin // Rodin’s sculptures are displayed in a bright and airy home.

The Pantheon // Originally a church, famous figures like Victor Hugo and Volitaire are buried here. The space is huge and gorgeous.

Pompidou // A modern art space, and one that I’ve never been to! Hoping to check this off on my trip this fall.

Musée de l’Orangerie // Monet’s water lilies are the highlight here, but there’s an additional collection downstairs that’s worth seeing.

Maison de Victor Hugo // Victor Hugo’s former home, turned into a museum. A quick stop, and worth a visit if you’re a fan of Les Miserables.

We purchased a four-day museum pass last time we were there, and it was completely worth it if you’re planning on seeing a lot of museums. If you’re there for longer, I’d just pack your museum visits into those days, and then spread out your other activities on the other days you have. You can’t get in everywhere with it, but you can get in most places.

Also to note: If you’re a European student, you can get into most of these museums for free. That includes people who are studying abroad. Bring your student visa (passport) or student ID and you should be able to get a discounted (or free) rate.

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

Places

Eiffel Tower // Obviously. I haven’t been to the top since I was nine, but walking around outside is just as lovely.

Champs-Élysées // You’ve obviously heard of this famous street. It’s worth a walk down, but honestly, the shopping is meh.

Rue Saint Honoré // This is the best shopping street in Paris. It’s home to tons of designers, like Goyard, and cool shops like Colette.

Arc de Triomphe // Climb to the top for one of the best views of Paris! It’s at the end of the Champs-Élysées, so you can walk down there after.

Notre Dame // There’s free guided tours inside, or you can just walk around at your own pace.

Sacre Coeur // A gorgeous cathedral on a hill in the beautiful neighborhood of Monmartre. Walking up the steps to the top is worth it for the view alone.

Père Lachaise Cemetery // A ton of famous people are buried here, and it’s worth it to walk around and

Palais Royal // That very Instagram-able spot near the Louvre. It’s perhaps most famous for the black and white cylinders

Place des Vosges // A beautiful public square and park. There’s lots of shopping near there, and it’s a great place to sit down and take in the view.

Sainte Chapelle // Stunning stained glass as far as the eye can see in what used to be the private chapel of the Kings of France.

Palais Garnier // The famed Paris opera house. I’d love to see a performance here one day, but if you can, definitely do the inside tour. I’m a huge Phantom of the Opera fan so it was such a highlight for me.

Galeries Lafayette // An epic department store near the opera house. Lots of designer items, but some more affordable pieces, too!

Shakespeare & Company // The bookstore featured in Midnight in Paris. It’s super cute and right by Notre Dame.

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

Eats

To be honest, usually when I’m in Paris, I have no cell service and no idea where I’ll end up by the end of the day, so we just head somewhere that looks appetizing. When I’m there for a day this fall, I want to do a little more research. Off the top of my head, these are a few spots that I’ve liked. To me, it’s more about the food you’re eating than where you eat it (of course, there are lame spots, but a lot of Parisian food is delicious!) Croissants, baguettes, pastries, steak frites, fondue, crepes, mussels — I could go on. So, so good.

Laudree // We have it stateside now, but it’s still worth a trip to try their macarons in their home city.

Angelina // I’ve never been, but they’re known for their hot chocolate. (I don’t like chocolate, so that’s why!)

Les Deux Magots // An elegant café in St. Germain des Pres. Go for brunch — and order a cocktail!

Le Refuge des Fondus // Right near Sacre Coeur, you can get wine in baby bottles and cheese fondue at this is a hole in the wall spot.

Berthillon // The best ice cream on the Île Saint-Louis. Lots of spots around there sell it that aren’t the actual Berthillon storefront.

L’Elephant Du Nil // I love this little spot, and had an amazing meal there when I studed

Of course, there’s so much more to do in Paris, but I like to think of these points as the highlights. I’ll be back this fall for just a day, and I can’t wait. It’s truly a city like no other. And while there are things that the pictures don’t show — hoards of tourists and pickpockets, to name a few — it’s beautiful and is a really special place. If you have any questions about Paris, leave a comment below! Or share your own Paris tips with me, as I’m heading back with a day to kill this fall!

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

Paris Travel Guide for 20 Something Women

Continue Reading