Where should I spend one day in Europe?
June 21, 2006 9:10 PM   Subscribe

I have two nights and one day to spend basically anywhere in Europe (the EU or UK would be easiest). Where should I go? What should I do?

After I spend a week at a conference in Stockholm, I have one whole (Friday night and) Saturday to spend as I please, before I have to return to the USA on Sunday. I've been told that flights between European countries are cheap (RyanAir has flights for 100 SEK, which is around 18 greenbacks!), so I'd like to spend that day somewhere NOT Stockholm.

This thread has some great recommendations on how to spend a day in Paris, and I'll certainly take that into consideration, but I'm open for any suggestions! My only requirement is that it have a usefully international airport, so that I can fly home on Sunday without too much trouble.

Oh, also, I only speak pidgin French, and "No hablo Espagnol". I enjoy modern and contemporary art, casual dining with nice wine and a friendly wait staff, old musty bookstores, and "foreign" films. Thirdly, I'm a young, single woman traveling alone, so any advice towards that matter would be appreciated.
posted by muddgirl to Travel & Transportation around Hillsboro, MO (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Consider Amsterdam. The core of the city is quite compact, so you can easily take in much of the city quickly, just by walking about. Plus, it's not a long flight from Stockholm, and Schiphol is a huge airport with tons of flights to America.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:22 PM on June 21, 2006

Reykjavík is amazingly awesome and should not be missed, especially in summer.

I lived there for over a year and while I would not advise *moving* there, I am practically a one-woman tourist information board when it comes to badgering people into visiting the city and telling them where to go. There's a lot of art in the city; the Reykjavik Gallery especially should not be missed and they have a lot of amazing exhibits in addition to their permanent collection. I've seen some Goya etchings there that were just jaw-droppingly incredible.

Casual dining - Hornið would be my first recommendation, a really great Italian place. Other recommendations: KruaThai - suprisingly Iceland has really great Thai food; First Vegetarian; Kaffibrennslan... I could give you a bazilion others.

Old Musty Bookstores - not too many, sadly. There are exhbits of Old Musty books at the National History Museum! Manuscripts of the Icelandic sagas! They're really amazing.

As a young, single woman travelling alone, you'll be perfectly safe. You may be the object of a lot of attention from drunken Icelanders (and drunken tourists!), but you certainly won't be in any danger of anything more unpleasant than a few catcalls. The nightlife is amazing, if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:23 PM on June 21, 2006

Amsterdam, Brussels, Maastricht, Berlin... there are so many choices...a smaller city might be best given the short time.
posted by amberglow at 9:36 PM on June 21, 2006

Only one city, short time, I would have to suggest Amsterdam too. Small compact city, with a nice feeling to it. Walking through red-light district is just something you do. (seriously, its not sleazy). I'm not Dutch, I'm Swedish if you assume I'm biased :)
posted by lundman at 11:26 PM on June 21, 2006

I too would vote for Amsterdam because of the size, food (check out the Indonesian food) and activities. It's also easy to get around even if you only speak English. Don't be put off by stories of the red light district or the drugs. As mentioned before the red light district isn't as bad as you may think. In my opinion, Amsterdam can be as classy or as sleazy as you want it to be.
posted by cjw333 at 11:45 PM on June 21, 2006

If you do go to Iceland, you should visit the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa not far from Keflavík International Airport near Reykjavik. I haven't been, but I've been dreaming about it ever since I saw how beautiful it is.
posted by hot soup girl at 11:51 PM on June 21, 2006

You shouldn't have too much trouble speaking english in amsterdam, from what I understand.
posted by delmoi at 11:57 PM on June 21, 2006

Prague is a wonderful city and well worth considering.
posted by tnai at 12:16 AM on June 22, 2006

Nobody's mentioned London? There's a fair few things to do here, and we're not short on international airports either.
posted by influx at 12:38 AM on June 22, 2006

Reykjavík's good (I'm assuming this is Summer). Howzabout Dublin? Paris might be a bad idea in August, but not that bad.

It's pretty tough to go wrong here....
posted by mr_roboto at 1:01 AM on June 22, 2006


Beaches, amazing architecture/museums and cultural events, friendly people, great nightlife, wonderful food. Cheaper than many of the other suggestions, too, although I've never flown there so I don't know if it's more expensive to fly to.
posted by cactus at 1:47 AM on June 22, 2006

Given the short amount of time you have I would choose somewhere not too big or too far from Stockholm.

I would also vote for Amsterdam - the airport handles a huge number of flights and has good transit straight into the centre. Consider hiring a bike for a day as the city is really set up for it and you will see more.

If you want to go to the UK then London is a possibility - but it is busy, complex to get around and has much more than you can meaningfully see in your time. Edinburgh would be a better choice for my money.

Whoever you fly with look very closely at where the airports are really located and how easy it will be for you to get to the city you want to reach. Ryan air in particular have a habit of being a little dishonest in this regard. You may find it is better to buy a more expensive, direct flight.
posted by rongorongo at 1:54 AM on June 22, 2006

If you're going to the UK Edinburgh is definitely a great choice, and there's only one airport so RyanAir (an evil airline) can't dump you out in the middle of nowhere. I think RyanAir only flies to Prestwick though (which is outside Glasgow, luckily with a train to Glasgow city centre), and if you're keen on shopping, Glasgow is a great place to go -- it's got a great scene for fashion and music and tons of big labels and small indy shops, and while there's less beautiful architecture than Edinburgh, there's still quite a bit of it.
posted by ukdanae at 2:13 AM on June 22, 2006

Nthing Amsterdam. Great city, and the red light district is so full of tourists that it's completely safe, even for a single woman. If you want to find the best cheap flights, I've found that WhichBudget.com is great for giving specific recommendations on airlines from specific cities. That's how I found my 23 euro flight from Prague to Venice! :)
posted by antifuse at 2:15 AM on June 22, 2006

With the question answered, I feel compelled to give a snarky answer, no matter the consequences...

"Frankly, Charlotte, I don't give a damn!"
posted by The Confessor at 4:00 AM on June 22, 2006


PS, Ryan Air is cheap, but it ends up being more expensive than it looks with taxes and the like.
posted by k8t at 4:12 AM on June 22, 2006

I spent 3 days and 2 nights in Prague in April, and it was more than enough time to explore the city. It's still relatively cheap compared to the major cities of Western Europe, it's got great history and culture (beautiful buildings, live jazz and classical music every night of the week, etc), pretty good restaurants, cozy book stores to explore, and as a woman, I felt perfectly safe walking back to my hotel at night. Note that English isn't widely-spoken outside of the city-centre but if you only have a couple days, you probably won't be straying too far from the main sights anyway, so that shouldn't be a problem.

My one pet peeve was my experience at the airport--passport control was very disorganized and understaffed when I arrived from London on a Monday afternoon, but the experience was otherwise amazing and I would definitely go back.

Amsterdam, as already mentioned above is another great option--the city's safe, there's lots to do, the airport is a major international hub and English is spoken everywhere.
posted by phoenixc at 5:26 AM on June 22, 2006

If you want to go somewhere different (you didn't say where you've been before), Belgrade is a great city, especially for such a short time. There's amazing nightlife, friendly people (who like to use hospitality to prove to foreigners what a great place Serbia is), a beautiful Citadel/park with lovely old churches and a military history exam (with relics from the recent war strewn about), some bookstores, and a Bohemian-ish restaurant street called Skadarska which sounds like exactly what you're looking for. Huge art museum right in the center, too, with a promenade full of outdoor cafes right next to it. It's not the cleanest place, but it has great energy, it's pretty compact and extremely interesting. Especially if you're already familiar with Western Europe, it would be the perfect contrast to Stockholm. Getting there and back so quickly might be problematic, but i second the recommendation of whichbudget.
posted by xanthippe at 5:26 AM on June 22, 2006

One more caveat about Ryanair - you'll end up at an airport fairly far away from your destination, so you'll lose valuable time, esp. considering how little of it you have.

I'd recommend Paris because I love it, but Amsterdam does sound more reasonable.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 5:31 AM on June 22, 2006

(Exam = museum.)
posted by xanthippe at 6:02 AM on June 22, 2006

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