What To Do And See In Amsterdam and Italy

Our month long trip to Europe is coming up in FOUR weeks! Needless to say, I am getting very excited. It's hard to not talk about it 24/7. As the trip creeps closer and closer, a fun thing to do to take that excited energy out on something is to scour the internet and figure out the best places to eat, drink and the best sights to see at each location on our itinerary. Putting together a "must see and do" list can really make the difference on your vacations. That extra effort and research can really pay off and helps you to discover the hidden gems of each destination you are going to. Chances are you are like me and when we hear "Rome" for example, we think of things like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, etc (which are all must sees OF COURSE), but sometimes the most amazing experiences come from visiting the less known touristy sights. I think a combination of both is perfect. After all, the main touristy attractions are popular for a reason. On these lists of to-do's I will do my best to create a list that would bring a blended experience of what the locals do and what a tourist must see. 

If you don't already know about the month long Europe trip we are going on in August, you can read more about it HERE. We are going to Amsterdam, Rome, Tropea, Sicily, Venice, Cinque Terre and Florence. To figure out everything we want to do at each stop we have been doing a few different things to investigate the must do's. My favorite way to find out where we should go, what we should eat, drink, do and see is from asking a friend or family member who has been to the destination before (preferably many times). Nick's grandparents have traveled to Europe so many times and are amazing at filling you in on what to do. In fact, they love sharing their stories and experiences with us. Ask detailed questions about each place or activity people refer you to. Why did they enjoy it? How long will that take? Where exactly is that? How much does that cost? What time of year did you do that? etc. This will give you a good idea on if it will be a fit for what you enjoy. Another great source is Pinterest. It is such a great search engine for travel blog posts. What I love about reading travel blog posts is that there is usually no bias, and these bloggers (like myself) are simply sharing their experiences, tips and tricks. I search Pinterest by each city we will be going to and I have been "pinning" away! My sister in law (who will be on the trip with us) and I started an Amsterdam board that we both pin to. It's so much fun and super helpful in discovering the secrets of each city. There's not much you can't find on Pinterest, it's great. Another thing we do to discover more about European destinations before we visit is watch Rick Steves videos. He knows how to travel Europe like a pro! That's his career, and he gives amazing information. Last time we went to Italy, we did a ton of things he recommended and it was extremely helpful. The final resource I use is TripAdvisor. I love searching the "Best of..." section on TripAdvisor. You can search for different regions. This will help you find the best restaurants, attractions, museums, and landmarks in each region. You can also just type in "restaurants" in "Florence" for example. It will pop up the best rated places in a list starting with best reviewed. When it says "certificate of excellence" it's usually a great sign. With using each of those sources, I bring to you the Must Do & See list for Amsterdam and Italy!

 

AMSTERDAM

  • Ann Frank house (buy tickets ahead so you do not wait in line).

  • Eat at Blue 360 restaurant. This has panoramic views of the city. It is located in a glass tower in the center of the city. 

  • Van Gogh museum. Pre-order tickets. It is 17 euros for adults and free for kids under 17.

  • Grab food at Stach Food Market

  • Flower Market in Amsterdam. This is the ONLY floating flower market in the entire world! My husband's Grandma said this was her favorite part of Amsterdam. I am so excited for this. 

  • Diamond Center. There are free guided tours of diamond factories around the city. Nick's Grandparents also loved this.

  • Rent a bike. Bikes are a very popular form of transportation around Amsterdam. 

  • According to this blogger, you must snack on a Stroopwafel (part cookie, part waffle with caramel on the inside) and also snack on fries (which come with many different sauce options). These two foods are very popular in Amsterdam. Yumm!

  • The Red Light District. Not saying I agree with legal prostitution (because I don't). However, that is part of the Dutch culture and I want to see it for myself. I think it will be quite interesting.

  • Rembrant house and museum. 

  • Rijksmuseum. Another art museum. 


ROME

  • Tour the Vatican City. Make sure to see St. Peter's Basilica (in St. Peter's Square) and the Sistine Chapel. View my blog post on the Vatican City. 

  • Tour the Colosseum. Make sure to buy tickets ahead of time. 

  • Tour the Roman Forum. Again, buy tickets ahead of time. 

  • Visit the Pantheon. This is a free sight. 

  • Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain. 

  • Eat gelato on the Spanish Steps.

  • If there on a Sunday, catch a mass from the Pope. You need a ticket, which you can get from the Swiss Guards in St. Peter's Square near the "Bronze Door". Tickets are free. They suggest getting there 1-3 hours early to get a good seat and good view of the Pope. You can view the schedule HERE.

  • Buy produce at the market in Campo de Fiori. The farmers market is in the mornings, you can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and other foods. Campo de Fiori was one of my favorite piazzas in Rome. 

  • Wander around Trastevere (less touristy) and make sure to eat here! We had some of the best food in Trastevere and it is much cheaper. To read on where to eat in Rome, read this blog post I did on that. 

  • Eat gelato as you enjoy the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona. The atmosphere in Piazza Navona is amazing.

  • Walk through the Borghese Gallery. 

  • See Palatine Hill. This is basically part of touring the Roman Forum, it is just south of it.

  • Castel Sant'Angelo. I had never heard of this prior to visiting Rome, but it was quite interesting to tour. 

  • Walk the city at night. The city comes alive at night, especially the Piazzas. There is always music playing and it feels like a scene from a movie. 

  • Giardino Degli Aranci (Garden of Oranges). This garden offers an amazing view of St. Peter's Basilica. 

  • Take a day trip to wine country.


Tropea

  • Refer back to my post on Tropea


Sicily

  • Visit the Greco Theatre. Of course I love this place, our last name is Greco! This ancient theatre is truly amazing, the seats are made of stone, the Mediterranean sea is the backdrop, and big name artists still preform here today. 

  • Wander around Taormina.

  • Rent a paddle boat at the beach. The water is crystal clear, it's fun to look down into. 

  • Visit Mount Etna (but be careful, it is an active volcano). 

  • Slides at Sicily's Citta del Mare Hotel Village. I saw these slides on Pinterest and was obsessed. They are water slides that slide right into the Tyrrhenian Sea! Looks incredible. After lots of research, it seems like you must be a guest at the hotel in order to enjoy the slides, and warning, the only positive hotel feedback is about the slides. I still want to experience these slides though.


florence

  • Statue of David

  • Duomo di Firenze (Florence Cathedral) - go to top of bell tower and the dome (the cupola) for amazing views of Florence. 

  • The Ponte Vecchio Bridge- walk and shop along it. 

  • Eat aperitivo instead of dinner one night. I read a blog post on this and the girl said it is usually from 7-9pm and you pay for the drink which is usually 7-10 euros and you then get access to enjoy the buffet of food with it. This allows you to try several different foods.

  • Eat at Sandwichic in Florence. It is the #1 best rated restaurant for Florence on TripAdvisor. 

  • Eat at Cuco Cucina Contemporanea. The pictures of the food on TripAdvisor look amazing (my mouth was watering) and it's rated #11 in Florence, with people saying it was the best meal they have had in Italy. Can't wait to try it!

  • Tuscan wine tour. 

  • Walk through Boboli Gardens. I am SO grateful I read this article and that she mentioned these gardens. It looks absolutely breathtaking and I don't want to miss seeing this.

  • Visit the Uffizi Gallery. I am not a huge art fan, but I think I might still make this a stop on my trip. After all, everyone has heard of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and seeing their art in person is probably an amazing experience whether you like art or not. 

  • Get a panoramic view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo


Cinque Terre

  • Stay in town. You won't find many or any hotels in Cinque Terre, but you can book an Airbnb (this is what we did). Rick Steves is the reason tourists even know about the Italian gem that is Cinque Terre, and he says that you need to experience it by staying there. He says the tourists will typically come for the day, then leave. Once they leave you have the towns to "yourself". At night it is less crowded and it is mainly locals walking around town. 

  • Stay in Vernazza. Rick Steves claims this is the best town of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre. 

  • Eat pesto! Cinque Terre is known for their fresh pesto. 

  • Cinque Terre hike. You can hike along the coast from town to town. Start early for best weather and for less crowds on the trail. This might be a while day thing if you stop in each town to explore. I cannot wait to do this. I absolutely will be writing an entire blog post on it once I come home from our trip!


venice

  • Eat in St. Marks Square.

  • Tour St. Marks Basillica.

  • Doges Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. This is near St. Marks Basillica. 

  • Book your hotel or Airbnb IN Venice, on the island. Rick Steves says Venice (like many Italian cities) comes alive at night and you want to be there when most of the tourists leave (which is at night).

  • Take a day trip (if you have time) to the Prosecco region. Prosecco is the Champagne of Italy. You can tour the vineyards. 

  • Take a gondola ride, or a boat ride in the canals. Or do both. Gondola rides are a bit pricey, but for me it's such a top of the bucket list item that I don't care. If it hasn't been on your heart to ride in a gondola, go for the boat ride.

  • Head to Cocaeta for a crepe, sweet or savory. Rated #4 for food in Venice on TripAdvisor. The reviews are great and the photos look delicious.

  • Eat cichetti, this is popular in Venice. Cichetti are small snacks or side dishes. TripAdvisor claims that Osteria Al Squero has amazing cichetti. It's rated #9 and has amazing reviews.


I hope this post helps you in your travels!! Thanks for reading! 

 

RELATED:

European Vacation Outfit Inspiration | Featuring PinkBlush & Mizzen+Main

european vacation

If you've read my blog for a while or have followed me on social media, then you already know I am totally addicted and obsessed with travel. I absolutely love the feeling of discovering a new city, state, country... seeing, tasting and trying things for the first time is so thrilling to me. This summer my husband and I are embarking on a huge adventure, and spending a month in Europe! I am beyond excited for this trip. We will get to explore Amsterdam for the very first time, and we will be going back to Italy to visit Rome, Tropea and Sicily for the second time but also experiencing a few more Italian destinations for the first time! To hear more about that trip click HERE.  Or follow me on Instagram for a ton of fabulous photos from the trip.

I know for a lot of people, especially my generation,  pride themselves of not only packing like a "backpacker" but looking like one too. What I mean is I know a lot of people think it's not possible or maybe not practical to look nice on a trip like this one. Here's the thing... Yes, I love to travel. But I also value cute outfits, great style and feeling fabulous in what I wear. When I travel, especially on trips like this, I love finding a balance between style and comfort. I truly believe both men and women can achieve style and comfort at the same time while traveling. Don't worry, I would never be caught dead walking the cobble stone streets of Rome in 5-inch stilettos.  

After dozens of vacations and trips, I feel confident that I know what to wear and what not to wear on a trip. In this post I am going to bring you some outfit inspiration for a European vacation during the summer months! In Europe you will find many different climates, so of course it will depend on where exactly you are traveling to. On our trip we will be in Amsterdam and Italy. Amsterdam and southern Italy are two very different climates; Amsterdam is cooler and southern Italy is far more hot and humid. It's important to pack clothes that can be worn in many different temperatures. I'll need to pack a sweater or jacket for Amsterdam ( just in case). 

Let's start with women. My all time favorite thing to pack for a trip that is during the summer months... DRESSES! I love that most dresses are so versatile. You can dress them up, dress them down. They are comfortable yet classy. Depending on the dress of course. The dress pictured below is the perfect example of a dress I would (and will for this trip) bring to Europe. This navy and white hi-lo dress from PinkBlush is my favorite dress in my closet at the moment, which is saying a lot because I own quite a few dresses that I love. The soft material allows you to be super comfy all day. I could see me wearing this both day and night. You can wear it with simple sandals for sight seeing and exploring during the day, and then dress it up with wedges for a nice dinner at night. Another great thing about packing dresses like this one is that they do not take up much room in your bag. Read more on my packing tips here. In the photos below I've paired the dress with a big straw hat that I bought at a darling store in Tropea, Italy. Crossbody bags like this one pictured are great for travel. I personally love finding a bag that will match many outfits so that I don't need to pack more than one bag. Packing versatile accessories that can match many outfits is key to saving space while packing for a trip of this length.  If you are looking for new dresses for the summer or for a special trip, check out PinkBlush, they have an amazing selection and I love their prices! I am definitely going to be a repeat customer for them. 

pink blush dress

Like I said before, my husband and I have a huge Europe trip planned for August. Most of our trip will be spent in Italy. Italy in August is extremely hot and humid. Last time we went was for our honeymoon and we suddenly realized what real heat is, not the "Colorado heat" we were used to. Nick has been bugging me the last few months about these dress shirts he had heard of that are basically sweat proof. He said he wanted them for our trip so that he can still look professional but stay cool at the same time, overheating is not on our to-do list while there. Another reason he wanted these shirts was because they are wrinkle free. When you pack a dress shirt for a trip, usually you get to your destination with a shirt that you need to iron for thirty minutes, and that can be frustrating - taking time away from what you could be experiencing out in your destination. The brand he was bugging me about was Mizzen + Main, so of course when I had the opportunity to collaborate with them I got SO excited!! This to me is the best men's brand on the market today. Genuinely! Being a wife that does the laundry, dry cleaning, ironing, etc., I have to say this shirt is a dream. Most of his other dress shirts I have to dry clean, which takes time and money. This shirt they sent us I have already washed a few times and when I hang dry it it is so wrinkle free, and it keeps its form. That makes my life so simple!! Plus, Nick (my husband) loves these shirts, he probably won't be buying any other shirt brand in the near future and for our trip he is going to exclusively be wearing Mizzen + Main shirts. The reasons why (in his words) - "With these shirts you don't have to iron them, they stay wrinkle free, and they stay cool no matter hot it is. I had heard about the shirts and always wanted to try one, and they don't disappoint when it comes to comfort and convenience." Also at home  when he is doing meetings all day he can sit outside and still feel comfortable in the sun. We are so excited to purchase a few more of these dress shirts for our trip to Europe, and honestly for every trip we have. They make traveling and looking classy and professional so simple. 

mizzen +main2.jpg

I hope this post helped give you some inspiration on what to pack for your next summer trip or adventure. I sure do love travel, and when you have the right apparel it just makes your experience that much more enjoyable. Thanks for reading! 

 

RELATED: