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What should I do and see during my European vacation?
August 28, 2014 12:30 PM   Subscribe

A follow-up to this question: now that we've decided which European cities we're visiting, what should we do when we're there?

The itinerary is Amsterdam - Berlin - Prague - Vienna - Ljubljana. If you've been to (or live in!) any of these cities, could you please suggest one off-the-beaten-track thing that you'd recommend doing/seeing/eating/etc.? Our trip lasts from late September to mid-October.
posted by The Card Cheat to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Amsterdam has a great antiques neighborhood. It has proper antiques, and some great art deco jewelry. I wish I had known this in advance so I could have spent at least 1/2d there.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:45 PM on August 28


Also in Amsterdam - I've always liked mooching around the flea market at Noordermarkt in Jordaan for a bit and then getting a piece of the amazing apple pie at cafe Winkel.
posted by bebrogued at 1:01 PM on August 28


In Amsterdam, eat and then go clubbing at Trouw, before it's too late!
In Berlin, pay a visit to Dr Pong.
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:23 PM on August 28


In your previous question you mentioned an interest in museums and art galleries, so in Berlin I would strongly recommend the Bauhaus Museum.
posted by alona at 1:39 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I just went to Berlin, Prague, and Vienna a month ago!

I don't know your budget but you can get a private tour guide in Prague for about $30/hour for up to 3 people. It's quite affordable compared to a lot of other European cities. I like http://personalpragueguide.com — specifically Alzbeta, who knows all about contemporary art.

If you like contemporary art, I would make it a point to see some David Cerny pieces, which are strewn around Prague and in some galleries. Upon googling, there seem to be multiple "David Cerny walk"s (example from the Guardian) that I would like to do next time I visited.
posted by yaymukund at 3:13 PM on August 28


I'm sure I've suggested this some where before, but the Long Night of the Museums is 4 October in Vienna. Go see the Emperor Franz Joseph Hat Museum and Imperial Wine Cellar. You get to wear one of the old timey hats and drink some old timey wine.
posted by chrisulonic at 4:28 PM on August 28


Oh, and that's also a great time to go to one of the heurigers (wine taverns) out in Neustift am Walde in Vienna's 19th District.
posted by chrisulonic at 4:36 PM on August 28


I can heartily recommend De Kas restaurant in Amsterdam. It's housed in the former municipal greenhouses and features a gorgeous setting and beautiful, tasty, fresh food made from locally-sourced ingredients and fruit, veg and flowers from their garden and greenhouses. It isn't cheap but boy is it worth it.

If you really want to splurge, you can make a reservation to sit at the chef's table. It costs [quite a bit] more, but you get a multi-course meal and wine pairings, as well as a seat at a lovely table off to the side in the kitchen. The chefs will personally introduce each dish they are responsible for and you will get a tour of the gardens and greenhouse. We were there for 5 hours, tasted 9 different wines/liqueurs (I had to beg the sommelier to do smaller pours towards the end!) and finished our meal with a cheese course, dessert, and tiny bon bons and espresso/fresh mint tea at the end.

If you are vegetarian they will prepare your meal accordingly.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:52 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Ljubljana is awesome! Very walkable and lovable city. Check out the outdoor markets for foodstuffs.

Not exactly obscure, but definitely check out the Museum of Modern Art.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:25 PM on August 28


Free feel to MeMail me for Ljubljana, but without knowing what you're looking for, I'd suggest going for a stroll around Metelkova - former military complex turned into gritty hippie art commune/squat.

For anything else, the Visit Ljubljana city guide is pretty informative.
posted by gakiko at 12:06 AM on August 29


Amsterdam has a lot of museums in addition to The Big Four (Rijks, Stedelijk, Van Gogh, Anne Frank). For photography, visit Foam. For film, EYE. Everyone I know who has visited Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder has enjoyed it. The Hermitage has interesting art exhibitions, and is in a really lovely location. There are a lot of unique little museums, too, like the Museum of Bags and Purses and the Pianola Museum. The Royal Palace was recently opened for tours. I found it interesting, but the tour is very short; you really only see one floor of the palace.

Some places to eat in Amsterdam:
- Burger's Patio for a nice meal (in the Jordaan, near the Anne Frank House)
- Burgermeester for burgers (three locations)
- New King for good Chinese (in Chinatown, a couple of blocks east of the Oude Kerk)
- Koh-I-Noor for surprisingly good Indian food given the location (just past Madame Tussauds)
- Restaurant Blauw for Indonesian (definitely try to eat Indonesian while you're over, even if you don't go to Blauw)
- If you like beer, go to In de Wildeman
posted by neushoorn at 12:54 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Very personal advice.

I've rented a bike in all these cities (except Prague) and I think that really is the funnest way to discover most big European cities. There will always be a bike tour with an entertainingly opinionated guide. Not at all dangerous, less tiring than walking, esp. for the big parks, which are an important part of the history and vibe in Berlin, Amsterdam and Vienna.

Vienna has a great interactive science of music museum. In Berlin you should swim in a lake. Ljubljana is charming but tiny in this group.

Read Clive James Cultural Amnesia and Simon Winder's two books about Germania (via the indexes) in some open-air cafe in the park and they will make you itch to see the places mentioned.
posted by smugly rowan at 4:16 AM on August 29


Not a direct answer to your question, but all the cities you plan to visit are covered by the free "In Your Pocket" city guides (PDF files). I've used them in the past for sightseeing and found them incredibly useful. They're quite comprehensive and mention less touristy places as well.
posted by rom1 at 6:06 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Seconded on renting a bike.

Seconded on Metelkova.

Something nice about Slovenia is the fact Ljubljana is such a good hub for the rest of the country. From there, it's a relatively quick drive to most other places.

If you have a chance, you should check out the Postojna Caves. Nearby Predjama Castle is built right into cave system, and it's pretty badass.

The area around Lake Bohinj is gorgeous. Superior to Bled.

If you would like to go to a spa, check out Thermana at Laško.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:46 AM on August 29


Some Berlin ideas:

Great atmosphere and tea at Tajikistan Tearoom
The Museum of Things
(Subtly) Twin Peaks-themed bar (with great Dutch beer) at The Black Lodge
Orlandos Idee Spice Shop
Amazing Lebanese food at Babel
Nursery and Cafe at Blumencafe
Great record store for weird/obscure/experimental music: Staalplaat
Great art/architecture book store: pro qm
Fun gay bar I've heard described as "being inside a muppet's womb": Roses
Highly recommended if you have any interest in anatomy/disease/Wunderkammern: Museum of Medical History
Very good, hole-in-the-wall style Turkish food at Mercan
I've wanted to go to Beth Cafe for a while now, but it is always closed when I try.

I live here, so memail me if you want any more information or have questions.
posted by Yiggs at 7:48 AM on August 29


Ljubljana on a bike is a good idea - there are no hills (except where the castle is, and you can take the funicular to get up there) and bike paths are relatively good. There's a city-wide bike rental scheme, BicikeLJ, which I recommend. Of course, as Ljubljana is not exactly a sprawling metropolis, you can also just walk, unless you want to visit the suburbs.
posted by gakiko at 12:33 PM on August 29


Some Vienna suggestions, if you are a fan of unusual museums:

The Third Man Museum (4th district) is totally brilliant -- both an obsessive collection about every aspect of the film, but also a social/political history of Vienna in the immediate postwar period. If you have any interest in film noir or WWII, it's really unmissable.

The Imperial Furniture Collection (7th district) is a little like the Viennese V&A, and is fascinating if you have any interest in material/cultural history.

If you're visiting the Prater (2nd district; the amusement park felt a little sketchy, but the larger public park is beautiful), check out the Prater Museum, with lots of old fairground/sideshow memorabilia from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It's part of the larger (and excellent) Wien Museum group of museums/sites.

The new and improved (!) Vienna Funeral Museum is slated to open in the Central Cemetery (11th district) this fall. The cemetery itself is quite beautiful (and often elaborately over-the-top), as well. Speaking of Viennese death cults, the Imperial Crypt (1st district) is lavishly gothic and rather creepily fascinating as well.

Not really off the beaten path, but I would also highly recommend The Jewish Museum (Inner City), which is absolutely excellent. (Bonus: the main location on Dortheergasse is just down the street from Cafe Hawelka, which is my favorite of the famous inner district coffeehouses.)

Also not off the beaten path, but if you're interested in art of the Secession, the MAK (Museum of Applied Arts) and the Leopold Museum (in the incredible MuseumsQuartier complex) are both absolutely excellent.

Have fun! Wish I was going back there this fall myself.
posted by scody at 7:28 PM on August 30


Wow, thanks so much for the great suggestions, everyone!
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:42 PM on August 30


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