While I was traveling in Europe I was deeply touched by the world famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Colosseum, but also pleasantly surprised by how many great charming little towns there were. Even though I loved every moment in the big cities, the day trips made my time in Europe more special. Take a train, look out the scenic ride and enjoy the fresh air. No need to bring the big bag, and no need to flip through the guidebook to find a place to stay. You can hold your big plan and enjoy the day! Here are the tree best day trips I’ve took in Europe.
Paris to Chartres
Paris itself is stunning with so many reasons, but don’t miss out the chance to see other great France towns! Chartres is only 60 miles (96 kilometers) southwest from Paris, it takes an hour by train.
The reason to visit Chartres? To see cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres is one of the finest examples of the French High Gothic style. The current structure of the cathedral was mostly built between 1194 and 1250. The preservation is exceptional. The 176 original stained glass windows, which are the most distinctive feature of this cathedral, mostly survived all these years. They have been remarkably fortunate. The glasses including the west rose were damaged from artillery fire in 1591 but other than that only a few windows were replaced. 152 of 176 survived – far more than any other medieval cathedral anywhere in the world. Nearly all of the 176 windows were filled with equally dense stained glass, creating a relatively dark but rich coloured interior.
Rome to Orvieto
Go to Colosseum, walk around the Roman forum, make your wish at Trevi fountain, buy some gelato and take a train to Orvieto.
The city of Orvieto in Umbria is an extraordinary destination to add to your Italy trip. It is a popular daytrip from Rome, only an hour away by regional train. It is scenic, laid back and historic. Its location, perched atop the volcanic tuff cliffs, is one of the most dramatic in Europe.
Make sure to walk around the little streets all over the town. The view of wineries and other parts of Umbria that can be seen from Orvieto cliff are a great reminder why Umbria is such a lovely travel destination. Also the Orvieto Underground Tour is another good opportunity to learn more about the lifestyle in the old days. Medieval time the people needed the caves to find water. There are 440 caves document on the map and 1,200 unidentified ones. They made olive oils, store water and breed pigeons. You can learn about why Orvieto is now located on the top of the tuff rock cliff. There a number of small and charming restaurants, café and wind sellers around the town. Pay a visit to the tallest building in Orvieto, Duomo.
Girona/ Barcelona to Figueres
If you are looking for a good food scene, laid-back atmosphere, and an off the beaten path destination, consider visiting Figueres. By regional train, it takes two hours from Barcelona and one hour from Girona. A small Catalonia city Figueres is the last major town before the Spanish/ French border. It serves great food and wines that represents the Catalan culture.
When in Figueres, go out at lunch. While I was staying here for three days, I went out for lunch every day. The lunch special had a killer deal: three course meal with wine (or water but who would choose water?) for only 10 euros. The choices were diverse, the food was amazingly well prepared, and the atmosphere was so comfortable.
Probably the most well known fact about this city is that this is the world famous artist Salvador Dali’s hometown. The Dali museum is the second most visited museum in all of Spain. There are a lot of Dali’s works around the town if you decide not to visit the museum. Find the faces of Dali in the city square. His face is stretched out and distorted when seen flat on the ground, but when viewed in the convex mirror next to it, it appears correct.
Castell de Sant Ferran is a good place to see the view of the city and rest of the Catalonia. It’s only 15 minutes walk from the Dali museum. This is the primary reason why Figueres became the prominent town in the region as it acted as the commercial base for the castle, which was built in the mid 18th century. You have to pay a small fee to get into the castle, but also you can just walk around the castle. It’s an easy 3km flat-walk. You can see as far as the seaside.
Do you have any favorite day trip places in Europe?