May 3rd, 2022, 12:00 PM

Discovering Europe from Paris

By Lauren Viggiani
Image Credit: Pixabay/ Yuri_B/ 123 Images
A guide to easy and affordable travel in Italy, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

When living in America, traveling to any country in Europe seems overwhelming. This is because the flights are far, expensive and often include layovers. Once I moved to Paris, I realized how much easier and cheaper it is to travel to other European countries, especially countries that are included in the Schengen area, a geographical zone of European countries that allows individuals to travel between them with little hassle.

During my time at the American University of Paris, I decided this would be a really great time to take advantage at my position and take as many weekend trips as possible. Traveling is a great way to develop an intellectual sense of the world by exposing oneself to many different cultures and ways of life. I decided to share the four easiest and most affordable countries to visit from France.

Milan, Florence & Rome

The first country I visited during my time in Paris was Italy. Italy has many amazing cities and I recommend seeing more than one during a trip to Italy; but be careful not to try and cram too many cities into one trip. Traveling can be exhausting so it is important to enjoy the time spent traveling rather than being overwhelmed in an attempt to see a whole country all at once.

I went to Italy in early March and so my friends and I decided to see the parts of the country that would be enjoyable during the colder months of the year. We avoided places like Venice and Naples and decided to visit Milan and Florence, and end the trip in Rome.

The first piece of advice I have is to avoid hotels at all costs. Hotels tend to be very expensive and are typically very small and hard to share with friends. Making an Airbnb account is essential to traveling affordably. I found places in Milan, Florence, and Rome for all-around $100 a night. When splitting the price between a few friends, using Airbnb becomes very inexpensive.

Image Credit: Pixabay/Trimlack

We started the trip in Milan, which feels a lot like Paris, and only planned to spend one night and two days there to spend more time in Florence and Rome considering Florence has a small-town feel, and Rome is very ancient-looking, putting the cities apart from Paris. Traveling from Milan to Florence to Rome was very easy when using the train. If you make sure to book tickets in advance, they will cost around 40 Euros.

When it came to food, make sure to avoid tourist traps and don't go to any place that was on trip advisor. Instead, use your judgment to find the places the locals eat at. That way, it will be much be less expensive.

There are a few essentials that are important to see when traveling to Florence and Rome. There are many galleries in Florence, but the Uffizi gallery is truly amazing and has many breathtaking sculptures.

My personal reccommendation for sights in Italy are the breathtaking Trevi fountain is breathtaking and, of course, when in Rome it is essential to take a tour of the Colosseum. The Vatican City was one of my favorite parts of being in Rome and I definitely recommend a visit. 

Image Credit: Pixabay/Spalla67


A great place to Travel if you like to avoid planes in London. I booked my train ticket in advance and got one for the fast train for about 100 Euros.

London is also a great place to stay if you are an English-speaking native. After living in Paris for a few months and traveling to multiple places that communicate in foreign languages, London is perfect for foreign a language barrier break. 

One thing to keep in mind in London is that it is not a part of the EU and the pound is worth more than both the dollar and the euro. The pound is a very expensive currency so it is important to keep the conversion rate in mind when you go shopping or buy dinner. Uber can get expensive in any country, so I would especially recommend taking public transportation while in London. Luckily, the tube is a fast and efficient way to get around the city. It is a little confusing at first but after a few times and really paying attention to Google maps, the tube will help you save money during your stay in London.

Image Credit: Pixabay/mathewbrowne

My favorite area of London was Notting Hill, and I would definitely recommend staying there. It is filled with vibrant houses, endless thrift, and small shops to look in. There is also a huge outdoor flea market that is open on the weekends which is a must-see.

Big Ben is a breathtaking sight and a great place to take photos, and of course, walking around Buckingham Palace is essential to feeling like a trip to London is complete. One part about London that is interesting is the history that has been made there. Shakespeare's original globe theater is still there and is open for visits and guided tours. 

When it comes to food, I was personally underwhelmed because I do not find fish and chips to be that exciting. However, this ended up working in my advantage because my friends and I ended up saving money by cooking in the Airbnb. However, when it comes to sightseeing, shopping, and historical monuments, London is the perfect place.

Image Credit: Pixabay/ Ichigo121212


Usually, when people think of Greece, places like Mykonos and Santorini come to mind. However, there are other islands that are very inexpensive.

My trip to the island of Crete did not have an excessively cultural aspect to it, however, it was great for a beautiful getaway vacation. It was very relaxing and the beaches were amazing.

It was also much cheaper than both London and Italy. The town of Chania is a quaint place with amazing food options and very cheap leather and jewelry shops. My friends and I stayed in a huge villa with a view of the Mediterranean sea for under 200 American dollars a night.

Image Credit: Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures

The only downside to traveling to Crete is the fact that renting a car is essential to the trip. Uber is unavailable on the Island and getting taxis is not easy. Crete is a mountainous island and from the Airbnb, we stayed at there were no Taxis to flag down.

The flight is only around 3 hours and if booked in advance a round trip is only around 250 Euros. I would definitely recommend taking a boat tour which is also inexpensive. This is the best way to see the sub islands of Crete which are filled with pink sand beaches. Above all, the locals are kind and did everything they could to show my friends and me a good time on the boat and at the restaurants. 

Image Credit: Pixabay/Anis1969


Out of all of the cities I decided to visit, my favorite is Istanbul, Turkey. This is also the least expensive out of all the places in this guide. I got my round-trip flight through a budget airline for only 130 Euros and stayed in an Airbnb for 50 USD a night.

Istanbul was much more lively than I expected and the streets were always filled with people. Even though Istanbul is a very large city, walking got me very far, and when I did not want to walk there were always taxis available. 

There are a few places that are essential to see when in Istanbul. First, is the Galata Tower which was built in 1348 and offers views of the whole city. For those who like shopping, the Grand Bazar is the largest market in the world. It covers 30,700 meters and is a break-taking sight to see.

Image Credit: Pixabay/ Kirill_Sobolev

Turkey is a Muslim country which means there was many beautiful Mosques to visit. I recommend going inside the Blue Mosque, with its beautiful ceilings. Another Mosque I recommend visiting is the Süleymaniye Camii. The inside is beautiful with red and blue ceilings. Keep in mind, in order to enter the Mosque, women must have their hair and shoulders covered as well as be dressed in a long skirt or pants, so remember to bring a scarf if you wish to see the inside of the Mosques. Also, no shoes are allowed in the Mosques so also be prepared to be barefoot.

Turkey also has some amazing food to offer. My best food experience was the street food, which I found to be authentic and tasted the best. I definitely recommend eating at smaller restaurants that seem to attract the locals.

Further, before visiting Turkey, I had never experienced a Hammam, a Turkish bathhouse that is also popular in Paris. However, having experiences the Hammam in Turkey, it is something I highly recommend. It was a very relaxing experience; they also washed my hair and massaged me. Istanbul has much ot offer as a city and showed me aspects of a culture and history I had never experienced before.