Europe summer suggestions
May 1, 2015 7:41 PM   Subscribe

Please help me figure out where to kill time for two weeks in Europe

I'll be spending several weeks in Europe this summer. My first two weeks (The Hague, Denmark) and my last week (in Amsterdam) are sorted. I have two weeks (plus change) in the middle (where I start at Copenhagen) that I don't know how to spend.

Notable things
* I'm traveling alone
* On a budget, but I don't do hostels anymore (not that poor or young). But I can airbnb either a room in someone's house or a full house.
* hate super touristy things but love the outdoors and pretty areas
* light weight traveler, like

I could go to Norway, but it's super expensive and not sure what I would do there (but open to suggestions). Same with Sweden/Finland. I've spent time in Spain and Germany before.

What I'm looking for:
* A place where I can get my with my English and minimal phrases (e.g. Berlin)
* Coffee shops where I can hang and write
* Museums and other things I can do by myself
* Hikes and other beautiful things
* Go for runs along beautiful areas

Don't want to:
* Rent a car there
* Be stuck in a super conservative place (I'm brown). This mean a location where my chances of getting mugged or hurt are high. I'd prefer to be around friendly people.
* Stray too far out of Scandinavia or central Europe (e.g no Iceland) in general since I have to be in Amsterdam eventually and don't want to add more to travel costs.

A place where I can spend a week, read, write, get good food, not be bored or super out of place. Then do the same again somewhere else.
posted by special-k to Travel & Transportation around Netherlands (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I remember Tallinn, Estonia being pretty nice and had tasty food relatively cheaply. I think they realize that nobody's really going to learn their language so most people speak English relatively well. It looks like you could even take the ferry over to Helsinki pretty cheaply. Both are in the eurozone, which is convenient. I'm not sure how it'd be for a whole week, as I was only there for a day, but that wasn't long enough.
posted by that girl at 7:58 PM on May 1, 2015

I'd suggest exploring cities in the NRW of Germany. Maybe a week in Dusseldorf and then Cologne. There's some great art museums and it's pretty easy to get out to nice outdoorsy areas.

Or another option is grab a cheap flight to Prague. Excellent cafes, very cheap, easy to get around and good museums.
posted by geryon at 8:41 PM on May 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Southern Sweden-- Helsingborg/Malmo/Lund might fit your bill. There are a number of things to see, but very low key, and the running and scenery is lovely. Not sure about AirBnB there, but there are affordable hotels. If you stay in the town centers, you can get around without cars, and there are good train connections between areas.

I love Stockholm, myself, but you sound as though you are looking for more off-the-beaten-path type places.

Belgium/Wallonia might also suit, but it is more difficult if you don't speak French. Gent, however, is a nice little city and should be used enough to tourists that English would not be a problem. Many cool castles and great food. (Try the Waterzooi, if you go). Bruges is also nice, but may be more expensive than Gent.

You can also try Koln in Germany. I find it a lovely little city, although I am not sure it could occupy a week very well, and a lot of the things to see may require a car.
posted by frumiousb at 8:42 PM on May 1, 2015

Take the Hurtigruten ferry from Bergen to Kirkenes in Norway. Do as much as you want on the 33 stops, or nothing at all. Watch the changing coastline. Write words, take pictures. Fly to your next destination from Kirkenes. That's one week sorted. Or remain on the ship and return to Bergen for the 13-day trip option. Highly recommended trip.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:27 PM on May 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

I second the Hurtigruten. But I would also suggest getting off at Tromsø for several days. It's an amazing city, right above the Arctic Circle, and if you're there in the summer, you'll see the midnight sun (perpetual light). You can even bike around along the coast of Tromsøya, which often squeezes between the ocean and the mountains, with idyllic little fishermen towns dotting the road (my favorite is Oldervik, which is about 40 km from Tromsø). There's also a lot of hiking to do in that area.
posted by mrmanvir at 9:39 PM on May 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

I could spend a week--easy--on the Danish island of Bornholm: bike around, visit breweries, take the ferry out to the smaller island of Christiansø, see old buildings, eat smoked fish, check out art galleries. It's a vacation island, so tons of rental opportunities. The Danhostel in Gudhjem has, if I remember, private rooms that are basically the same as a hotel but much cheaper. You can rent bikes on-site, too. My husband is brown, and we had no problems in Bornholm. They love tourists of all sorts!
posted by whitewall at 11:13 PM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just popping on to say that Norway is incredible and everyone should see it in their life. It is super pricy, but if you are fine not eating at restaurants and drinking alcohol then your bill won't be so high. And there are TONS of things to do that are free.
posted by catspajammies at 12:07 AM on May 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

From Copenhagen to Prague or Berlin, from there to Paris or Brussels and from there to Amsterdam.

In Paris and in Berlin, it can give a different perspective to go and live in one of the "royal" suburbs, Versailles or Potsdam. It's more value for money, but you also have an other experience of the landscape which created the city and it's better for a more relaxed visit. And easier acces to hiking. Both cities have great public transport and bike rentals.

If you choose Brussels as your second stop, you can plan the trip back to Amsterdam as a train trip with a stopover in Antwerpen. Brussels is really underrated, even though it is not consistently pretty, it has great parks and museums and flea markets and restaurants. Antwerp is very beautiful.

If you enjoy food, you should avoid rural Scandinavia like the pest. Except for above-mentioned Bornholm and a few destinations around Sweden. My dad saved up for the Hurtigruten trip his entire life, and he was so disappointed - not by the wonderful scenery, but by the atmosphere aboard the boat and the horrible food.
posted by mumimor at 2:07 AM on May 2, 2015

I think you'll love Berlin. It seems to tick all your boxes. Good food for reasonable prices, for sure. It's a very hip and happening city. All the museums and coffee shops you could want.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:26 AM on May 2, 2015

Berlin and then Krakow.
posted by mdonley at 4:44 AM on May 2, 2015

If you haven't been before, then definitely Berlin. If you get stuck for things to do or places to go, Slow Travel Berlin is a good starting point. There's everything there from cafes and restaurants, to day trips, to a list of upcoming events.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:15 AM on May 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

+1 for western Germany. You could spend some time in travelling through Heidelberg. The University, Philospher's Walk, and Castle are all great sites to visit. From there, you can travel north to Bonn which is a city with international flair since there are UN organizations and German development organizations housed there. Further north along the Rhine, you can spend many wonderful days in Cologne - the cathedral, is a must-see. A stopover in Dusseldorf would be a nice way to end the trip. You could also head towards Amsterdam from Cologne very easily via train.

Or, a trip to the east could include Berlin, Prague, and Dresden.
posted by allthingsconsidered at 10:31 AM on May 2, 2015

The Dordogne Area of France has incredible natural beauty and picturesque villages are everywhere. It's not overrun by tourists, but has many British expats so English is spoken most places (of course, you will still need to begin with some butchering of the French language as penance first). There is train service and bus service to all the major towns, and if you want to stay put and do hikes (also canoeing and biking!) around and while away the hours reading and writing, there are many towns that will suit you. Perigueux, Brantome, and Sarlat-le-Caneda are all beautiful. The only drawbacks I can see are a) if you want to travel between villages/sightsee, you may have to do some planning if you don't want to rent a car, and b) the villages may be too small and sleepy for you (but they are used to strangers there).

The more tentative suggestion I have is for the Cinque Terre in Italy. It doesn't tick all your boxes, and if you are traveling in the height of summer it will likely be crowded. But it does have hiking, natural beauty, and laid-back cafes.
posted by hiker U. at 7:47 PM on May 2, 2015

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