If you want to see the best of these cities we love around Europe, let these expats and travel experts help you with their top recommendations
COMPILED BY JAMILLE DOMINGO
FEATURED IMAGE BY DELPICS VIA PIXABAY
When a destination is beautiful, we can never get enough it. There is always something to explore and discover, even if the places are already on everyone’s radar. In these three-part-series of articles, we’ve asked people who have become experts in the cities that we love—the expats and the locals. For this first story of the series, check out the experts’ recommendation in the best of cities we love in Europe!
Emergency communications design consultant, has been living in Vienna since 2016
1. Walk around the prettiest districts of Vienna and stop by a cozy café for some Wiener Melange. The 8th and 7th districts are known to have the prettiest cobblestone alleyways in the city outside the Innere Stadt (First District). Café der Provinz in the 8th offers one of the best Wiener Melange in the city, as well as a nice view of the Maria Treu Kirche.
2. Try Vienna’s best sausage—the Käsekrainer. This sausage is crispy on the outside and cheesy on the inside.
3. Visit the Schönbrunn Palace. In summertime, people come here to sunbathe or jog around the gardens. In wintertime, however, a Christkindlmarkt opens and lights up the entry garden where you can enjoy a sip of traditional Glühwein.
Austrian working as Commercial Counsellor at the Austrian Embassy Manila
1. Have a coffee. Vienna is famous for its coffee lifestyle, so it’s no surprise if you see many coffee houses where you can spend hours on end without anybody ever bothering you (waiters included). My favorites are Café Central, Gerstner K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäcker (opposite the Vienna State Opera), and Café Hawelka (for its unique charm).
2. Stay at Vienna’s boutique hotels. Vienna has great five-star hotels, but it also offers good accommodations for those who are on a budget. These homes are known for their modern designs. Some of those you should check out include 25hours Hotel (near Museumsquartier), Motel One (next to the State Opera), or Hotel Lamée (located right in the city center).
3. Check out Vienna’s beautiful buildings and natural wonders. There’s a whole city to explore such as Hofburg, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Museumsquartier, Prater, and The Alte Donau (Old Danube).
4. Unleash the music and party buff in you. You’ll never run out of music options in Vienna, from opera shows in the Vienna State Opera House, to classical concerts at the Musikverein, to jazz performances at Porgy & Bess. Those who want to dance the night away should go to these clubs: Albertina Passage, krypt., or Club Alice.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
An expat based in Amsterdam
1. Go partying! There are enormous parties and gatherings (called festivals) in the city where the locals go. Sometimes, they last for multiple days. Some of those you should not miss include: Rollende Keukens (they will run from May 29 until June 2 this year), Vertical Festival (which takes place in multiple levels at the Amsterdam Tower), and De Marktkantine.
2. Stay at Pulitzer Amsterdam. If you want to experience authentic Dutch architecture, this is the hotel for you. If you’re not staying there, at least try the local tastes and the unique cocktails at Pulitzer’s Bar inspired by Pulitzer Prize winner Ernest Hemingway.
3. Check out the city’s best hidden bars. One of the bars you should try is Waterkant, with tranquil views of the water front and a lively crowd.
4. Try Café De Klos’ spare ribs. It has arguably the best smoked ribs in town (in the world)! If you are a fan of strong and smokey taste, this is the place to go. The staff might not be nice, and even mock you (it’s part of the Amsterdam experience) but they will serve you the best ribs in the world.
5. Visit the Vondelpark, and if the weather is good, lie on the grass next to one of the ponds and look at the locals biking though the park on their omafiets (grandma bike). (Fun fact: according to the local government, fornication is allowed at night in Vondelpark. You might want to prepare your eyes.)
6. Touch a real Picasso. In Vondelpark, you have the chance to reach out and touch a real Picasso, as his Figure découpée is publicly exhibited there. It is actually what Picasso wanted—to be publicly exhibited and be available to anyone who wants to reach and touch his works. He believes it is exactly how art should be.
Nats Sisma Villaluna
English teacher and an active social volunteer, has been living in Barcelona for 15 years
1. Go on an early morning stroll along the streets of El Born. Appreciate the streets of one of the most historical and interesting neighborhoods in Barcelona early in the morning (between 8 to 10 AM). Get lost in its many calles and beautiful graffiti artworks before the whole neighborhood wakes up and goes about its busy day.
2. Go to Spanish markets. Visiting Catalan markets is fun. La Boquería is undoubtedly the first on the list. Not far behind is Santa Catarina Market, which has undergone a handful of renovations. If you want to shop like a local, stop by Carns Selectes David, a butcher’s stand which sells one of the best original hamburgers in the region.
3. Get “modernized” at The Museu del Modernisme. The Museu de Modernisme is considered to be the first and only museum specializing in the modernist period in Catalonia.
4. See breathtaking panoramic views of Barcelona at Turó de la Rovira. Just 45 minutes from the city center is this historical but “isolated” place. This place was used by the Republican gunners who were commanding the anti-craft battery as a defense post during the Spanish Civil War. After the war, this place was converted into a housing settlement mainly for Spanish workers coming from different parts of the country.
5. Cap off your tour by seeing an opera show at Gran Teatre del Liceu. Located in the heart of La Rambla, this eclecticism-styled edifice was constructed in 1847 and has witnessed numerous performances from highly acclaimed performers around the world. One can experience a breathtaking opera for as low as EUR 12.
Pharmacist consultant from Madrid and traveler
1. Go for a walk at Parque del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park). This beautiful park is the former gardens of the Royal Palace of Madrid. You can go rowing on its beautiful lake, enjoy a drink in one of its terraces, or climb up to the recently opened viewpoint in the monument to Alfonso XII.
2. Visit Museo Sorolla. It is the former family house and the studio of painter Joaquín Sorolla located in the district of Chamberí, and very close to Calle Ponzano, now one of the coolest streets in Madrid for its restaurants, tapas, and drink bars.
3. Visit El Madrid de los Austrias, one of the most historic districts in the city, and discover some of the most symbolic buildings in the city, such as the Plaza Mayor, Teatro Real, and Royal Palace of Madrid.
4. Enjoy the nightlife. The nights in Madrid are even longer and definitely more intense than the days. You can have a drink at one of the rooftops in Gran Vía and go to a musical in one of the many theaters on the same street.
Fabio Massimo Aromatici
Has worked in Milan as an International Executive for 25 years
1. Visit the lively Navigli district. Milan is constantly changing but some landmarks stay the same. Navigli is one of the places where you can see such characters. The district serves as a relaxing and posh area for design, art galleries, and cool bars.
2. Drink at Bar Magenta. There is a ritual in Milan—which takes place every night around 7 PM—”l’aperitivo” (the appetizer): with one order of a drink, you can enjoy a classy Italian buffet with friends. The ideal place to do that is at this 100-year-old bar, which is built in Liberty style, and provides a relaxed yet authentic experience.
3. Dine at Acqua Pazza Ristorante (a reservation is needed in advance). You will forget that Milan is a landlocked city once you get a taste of its fresh fish meals. Also, the restaurant assures a first-class service, as well as great wines and spirits.
4. Stay at Room Mate Giulia. Enjoy the art and pictures of local artists on the walls of this hotel, as its 85 rooms offer distinct furnishings from one another.
5. Go to Zucca located under the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. They have, on display, the oldest coffee machine in town. After that, check out Teatro alla Scala, the world-famous theater, or visit the gothic Duomo di Milano. Lose yourself in the beauty of this amazing city.
Argentinean Tourist Coordinator based in Paris
1. Have a picnic at Champs de Mars. Do not forget “du fromage, du vin et de la baguette” (to get some cheese, wine, and baguette) and go to the garden, where you can have great pictures and views of the Eiffel Tower.
2. Don’t miss the Latin Quarter. It got its name because many years ago, lessons at universities were taught in Latin. Their buildings, boulangeries, and the great atmosphere will make your trip to the City of Lights an unforgettable experience. I suggest going to Angelina, a tea house in Paris, to have some traditional macarons.
3. Stop by Le Marais. It’s my favorite district in Paris. Located near the Seine River, Le Marais offers various shops, great food, and the beautiful Rue Rambuteau. After experiencing the district, you can top it off with a calm stroll along the Seine River. You will love it!
4. Check out the arts neighborhood. Some of the places you can visit include Montmartre, Place du Tertre (where you can get canvasses and have a portrait session), and Sacré-Cœur, one of the most beautiful churches in Paris.
London, United Kingdom
Finance Process Manager for The Walt Disney Company. Has been living in London for six years
1. Do a museum marathon—it’s free! Take the underground subway to South Kensington and explore one or all the museums that are adjacent to each other. The Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and The Victoria and Albert Museum are all within a stone’s throw from each other. All have vast collections so if you are a museum lover, one day will probably not be enough to visit them.
2. Watch a Shakespeare play like how they do it in the olden days—standing up! Shakespeare’s Globe or the Globe Theater has standing tickets that lets you watch a performance from the yard, which offers the best view of the stage. The duration of a play, though, may last two to three hours so you need to be able to stand for the full length of the show. If your legs can’t withstand such trauma, you can always purchase a seated ticket.
3. Have a leisurely stroll at Saint James’s Park which is adjacent to Buckingham Palace. You can feed the ducks and swans, and admire the pelicans that have considered Saint James’s Park their home for 400 years. Fancy saying hello to some other royals? Then head over to Kensington Gardens and marvel at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s home.
4. Venture West! To escape the tourist-crazed attractions, head to Hollyhock Vegetarian Fairtrade Café. It’s a quirky café that serves lovely desserts and tea or coffee. Grab a seat on the terrace as it has a lovely view of Richmond Hill and the River Thames.
Marlon Joseph Apaňada
MBA Candidate at Berlin University of Applied Sciences
1. Check out 6000 years of art and cultural history at the Museum Island. Five museums, with two more opening in 2019, are clustered together in this one area housing everything from Stone Age relics to Hellenic artifacts to French Impressionists’ oeuvre. My personal favorite is the Gate of Ishtar built by Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar II, a reconstruction of which is found at the Pergamon Museum.
2. Experience a quintessential Berliner laidback vibe at Mauerpark. One thing to experience here is to belt out a song at the 3 PM open-air karaoke in the area’s amphitheater! Mauerpark may not be the typical leafy oasis like other great city parks, but its jaw-dropping history (the park itself was forged from a section of a Cold War-era death strip and remnants of the Berlin Wall, and now serves as a canvass for graffiti artists) and carefree vibe make this area a can’t-miss Berlin experience.
3. Be one of the cool kids at the Badeschiff. This is a favorite place to soak up the sun, people-watch, or just enjoy a book or chat by the deck.
4. See Berlin’s nightlife, especially its gritty side. Berlin is really a 24/7 party city and any bon vivant would love its vast party spectrum, which caters to every taste, gender, budget, and age group. While the city has undergone massive gentrification (there are sky bars and chic cocktail lounges aplenty), its grittier side have much more character. The best way to experience this gritty side is to join one of the “Alternative Pub Crawl” tours, which bring you to some of Berlin’s most character-filled nightlife venues.
5. Witness community spirit at the old Berlin Tempelhof Airport (which is now a public park). The legendary airport in Neukölln is now a sprawling public park, literally an open-sky space where people can bike, run, and rollerblade along what used to be the tarmac. The climate of openness and tolerance that fosters experimentation, a virtue that sets Berlin apart from the other great cities in the world, is showcased here.