During our Europe trip, we went to Rome, Positano, Barcelona and Madrid. Below is a list of all the food we ate, activities we did or places we saw/toured, as well as where we stayed and the transportation we use to get to and from cities.
Packing essentials (besides the usual clothes, etc):
- Europe Adapter Plugs
- Fanny pack and/or over the shoulder purse (I used this & as long as you keep this close to you and closed/zipped it should be good!); if you go in cooler months there is a travel scarf that has a secret pocket – so cool!
- Comfortable shoes: I got Sperry Memory Foam (which I loved and did not have to break in at all – literally wore them for the first time in Rome and walked 12+ miles with no problems) & Bobs Sketchers Memory Foam sandals (maybe not the cutest sandals ever but they were very comfortable)
- Portable phone charger
- A lot of hotels didn’t have a blow dryer if that is something you use often
We unfortunately ended up only having one full day in Rome due to a cancelled flight in Barcelona, so we arrived about 8 PM on Monday night and left Wednesday at 11 AM. Monday we checked into our hotel and went to dinner at a recommendation from our hotel only a few blocks away, Girarrosto fiorento. The staff was so friendly, I learned that a lot of places don’t let you order a glass of wine (strictly bottles) and the food was amazing. Then, we got gelato at come il latte, which was good but probably our least favorite gelato of the trip. Thursday we woke up bright and early for our 4 hour Vatican Tour (Tom’s idea), had lunch on our walk back to the city center at Osteria Trattoria de Fortunata (this is in the campo de Fiori area which is where the American’s party at night I guess – we actually stopped at an American themed bar while waiting for the lunch place to open), gelato at Giolitti, then pretty much saw all of Rome in a day – Spanish steps, Terrazza del Pincio (overlooks the piazza del Popolo and there are pretty stops along the way to take photos – ex: where the IG photo accompanied with this blog post was taken), stopped at Ginger café for smoothies and coffee, walked by the Pantheon, and Altar of the Fatherland, walked through the Roman Forum (cheap tickets to get in and actually really cool to walk through and some of the prettiest views of the city inside), Colosseum, drinks at Aroma, dinner at Ristorante le Lanterne (stumbled upon this place and it ended up being one of the best pizzas we had on the trip) then finally saw the Trevi Fountain and wobbled back to our hotel to go to bed. In the morning we had breakfast at our hotel with the most beautiful view and then went to the train station to head to Positano.
- Girarrosto Fiorento – Traditional (good) Italian food, and friendly staff. We got an appetizer of grilled vegetables (forget what this is called) and for dinner, I got the homemade pasta with artichoke and Tom got the cacio e pepe.
- Come il Latte – We shared a salty caramel and coffee gelato . It was really good, but ended up being one of our least favorite gelato we had (it was a little too sweet, but that could just be because of the flavors we got).
- Osteria Trattoria de Fortunata – This opened for lunch at 12 PM and was packed by like 12:10 PM. We sat outside and they were making pasta fresh right there in the window of the restaurant. We got a caprese salad and Cacio e Pepe pasta
- Giolitti – Best gelato we had all trip! I got the vanilla and oreo cookie (something like that, forget the exact name), and Tom got two of the sorbet-type flavors. Pro tip (for any gelato place)- if you get a cone, you should probably get a cup too. Gelato is not as cold as ice cream and melts very fast in the Summer heat. Within minutes, the gelato was running down my arms and a complete mess.
- Ginger café –Organic/sustainable cafe with everything from breakfast to dinner/wine. We ended up stopping here for smoothies and coffee, but I would have loved to come back for a meal.
- Aroma – Restaurant/bar that overlooks the Colosseum – need to make reservations! It’s pricier and we just had a drink here, but can’t beat that view!
- Ristorante le lanterne – Close to the Trevi Fountain. We sat outside and it was such a great spot for people watching and live music. We got salad and pizza (I forget the name of it but with egg and bacon – it was unbelievable!)
- Vatican tour (Eternity Tours – $75/person, 4 hours) – so I’ll start by saying the thought of spending 4 hours in a museum tour is pretty much my nightmare, I agreed begrudgingly because it was important to Tom. BUT I actually loved it. This tour is one of few that starts before the museum opens so you miss the crazy lines and crowds, our tour guide was wonderful and there is so much to see in the Vatican that it didn’t feel unnecessarily long at all.
- Spanish steps – we just walked by them, that’s all you really need to do unless you want to take pictures there (which I hear it’s best to go very early in the morning before the crowds)
- Terrazza del Pincio (overlooks the Piazza del Popolo) – this is not necessarily a “must-see”, but there are some amazing views and places to take photos. We walked up the street Viale della Trinita dei Monti and ended up stopping at the overlook spot “Terraza Viale del Belvedere” (found that on google maps just now – I didn’t know it was called then when we were walking). There’s a small path to your right that goes uphill – this was the best view I thought and where I took the IG photo that accompanied this blog post.
- Pantheon – not a must-see in my opinion, we just looked inside really quickly (it’s free) but it is the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, so that’s cool.
- Altare della Patria – we walked by this on our way to the Roman Forum (didn’t go inside). It’s a monument built in honor of the first King of unified Italy and was absolutely stunning. Tons of people were taking photos on the steps and/or by the fountain.
- Roman forum – This was the city center of Ancient Rome (built as early as 29 BC and mostly destroyed by 410 A.D.) It is right next to the Colosseum and tickets were ~$13, which grants you access to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palantine Hill. It is like walking through a time capsule, with glimpses into what life was like in Ancient Rome. It also had some of the most breathtaking views of the city.
- Colosseum – We unfortunately didn’t make it inside the Colosseum because it closes at 7 PM, but it is obviously still as grand seen from the outside.
- Trevi fountain – This was our last stop of our day and was amazing to experience in person. We wanted to throw a coin in but honestly we were too tired at this point to push through the crowds and get to the front row of the fountain.
Recommendations I got, but didn’t get a chance to go to:
- Dar Poeta & Roma Sparita – in Trastevere (area of town South East of Vatican City) where there are tons of great restaurants
- LOVEbar – cute food/cocktail spot with a big light up “LOVE” sign
- L’Osteria de Memmo – my friend said this was one of her favorite restaurants in Rome, looks great for seafood!
- Hotel Eden – So, this is a 5-Star Luxury Hotel that we were able to stay at because we got an amazing family discount – shout out to my favorite brother-in-law for working at the Beverly Hills Hotel (a sister hotel of Hotel Eden) and just being all-around awesome. If you are able to, I HIGHLY recommend staying here – the most beautiful rooms, the staff was exceptional, breakfast buffet was included and was the best breakfast we had by far with a breathtaking view, and Tom was able to choose what newspaper he wanted in the morning (a perk he enjoyed very much lol)
Train from airport to Termini (~$15 one way)
Wednesday we made the trek from Rome to Positano, which took about 4 hours total (transportation details below). We arrived and had to walk ~500 stairs down and back up to get to our hotel – I should have realized that this would be the case given the whole city is on a hill, but after walking 30 miles in the previous 3 days we were not prepared for this. Aside from that, the city was indescribably beautiful and full of character. Our hotel/villa was on the very top of the hill and I have never experienced a more dreamy balcony view in my life. During our 48 hours in Positano, we mainly walked around with little agenda and ended up finding some of the best food and cutest spots. We also took a sunset boat tour which was my favorite part of our whole trip.
- Saraceno D’Ora– Great Italian food! Tom got the seafood pasta and I got the gnocchi and lemon sorbet that came in a frozen lemon!
- La Zagara – we ended up going here twice, first we stumbled upon it as a cute drink spot and then we went back because we heard they had the best cannolis (they did!). It is a store in front, and then you walk back to a cute cafe covered in greenery.
- Casa e bottega – BEST salad of my life, honestly I didn’t know a salad could taste this good. Tom took a bite first and said “you’re about to lose your mind”. Really, it was that good. Also, I found this place on a blog post by Giada De Laurentiis, so you know it’s good.
- Chez black – Restaurant right on the water and definitely more touristy. I have heard mixed reviews about this place but I got the white fish and it was super fresh and tasty! They are also famous for their heart shaped pizza, but we didn’t see it on the menu and Tom ordered pizza and it was definitely not heart-shaped, so idk lol.
- Mediterraneo – We stopped here for lunch before leaving and just wanted something light. It was perfect! Side note: the tomatoes in Positano were the best tomatoes I’ve ever had.
- Private sunset boat ride (Blue Star Positano, 1.5 hours, ~$275) – This was the most honeymoon type activity we did during our trip and I am so glad we decided to spend the money on it. They had a bottle of Prosecco and snacks for us, we were able to see Positano from the water and then went up the coast towards Almafi. Our boat driver would stop and take pictures for us at the locations he knew were best, without us even asking for them. He was friendly and informative, but then let us sit on the front of the boat for most of the ride to have a more private setting. Definitely recommend this company – they have tons of options ranging from groups to private and day-time to sunset.
Recommendations I got, but didn’t get a chance to go to:
- Ristorante il Capitano – bar and pizzaria with amazing view!
- Hotel Poseidon for a drink by the pool
- Le Sirenuse
- Path of Gods hike
- Il Ritrovo & La Tagliata – these are a little outside Positano on the Montepertuso hill (~45 min walk or a cab ride; Il Ritrovo has a free shuttle pick up for people who make dinner reservations!!)
- Da Adolfo – beach restaurant, about 10 minute boat ride from Positano
- Villa Trevilla – also a little outside the city (cab ride) but supposed to have a great restaurant with a beautiful view
- MAX restaurant
- Bars: Francos bar, Rada, Music on the Rocks
- Villa Anfitrite – Family-owned hotel with only a few rooms. It is at the top of the hill (aka lots of stairs to get there) but the views made it beyond worth it. We got the room with the sea view balcony and spent so much of our mornings and late evenings sitting out there soaking in the views. Homemade breakfast was included and they set it up on the balcony for us every morning. The staff was absolutely amazing and helped us make dinner reservations, gave us recommendations, etc.
Transportation: We were traveling from Rome and took a train to Naples, bus to Sorrento and then another bus to Positano – all of this took a total of 4 hours.
- We bought the train/bus tickets to Sorrento as a bundle and it was ~$40/ticket
- Then we took the SitaBus from Sorrento to Positano – we did not buy this in advance, we were able to hop on a bus right away and it cost ~$10/ticket
- When leaving Positano, we decided to get a taxi to the Naples airport (we flew to Madrid after this). Our hotel was able to set this up for us (~$120 for the trip)
We were in Madrid for one of our best friend’s wedding, with 15+ of our college friends. I wasn’t taking as many pictures and didn’t make note of a lot of the restaurants we went to (sorry!).
- Mercado de san Miguel – this is an indoor marketplace with tons of different vendors – a few things that we loved were the mini salmon bagels, fried calamari sandwiches, sangria, avocado toast, croquettes
- Roots Lamarca – Build your own bowl or choose one of their signature bowls – tons of options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. “Food as Fuel” is their slogan. Also, I didn’t get any, but their treats looked so delicious!
- Casa Lolea – Amazing tapas and sangria! My favorite was their patatas bravas, truffle risotto and all the sangria (which fun fact – they sell at Whole Foods and some other stores. Look for it – you won’t regret it!!). We actually went here our first night of the trip in Barcelona (a recommendation from one of our college friends) and it was so amazing we all went again as a group. The Madrid location is new (only a few months I believe) and just as good! For large groups they have a set tapas menu ($34/person) that was absolutely amazing – included 10+ dishes and ½ a bottle of wine or sangria/person
- Chocolatería San Ginés – Amazing churros! Founded in 1894 and open 24 hours, what more could you ask for? Get the churros and chocolate dip, and thank me later.
- Honest Greens – Loved this place! Everything was super fresh and tons of great options. I got the Avocado Supergreen salad, but wish I also got the loaded sweet potato fries (saw someone else have them and got very jealous)
- Royal Palace of Madrid – absolutely stunning! Tickets were ~$15 and it took about an hour to walk through (could go faster than that though)
- As stated before, I’m not the biggest museum person so I didn’t go to anything else in Madrid, but Tom and some of our friends went to (and really liked):
- Prado National Museum
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
Recommendations I got, but didn’t get a chance to go to:
- La Hummusaria
- Fit Food
- Ten Con Ten
- Moulin Chocolate
- Hotel Vincci The Mint – Great location and nice hotel! Breakfast was included and you could order off a menu which was a nice change from a buffet, rooftop bar.
- We flew from Naples to Madrid. Our flight was delayed and we arrived very late so took an Uber from the airport to our hotel (~$35), but I believe there is an easy train route into the city
- After Madrid, we took the train to Barcelona (~$50/ticket)
So we ended up going to Barcelona twice (unplanned). We were supposed to start our trip in Rome but our flight from Barcelona to Rome got cancelled and we ended up spending our first night in Barcelona, and then ended our trip with two days in Barcelona (that part was planned). Our first day in Barcelona we actually got into the city at ~ 9 AM and couldn’t get into our hotel room until 3 PM. So, we walked a ton of the city (and obviously ate a lot of food along the way). On our second trip there, we were able to go to some more of the restaurants/sites we had wanted to go to, but since it was our last stop of the trip we took it pretty easy.
- Citizen café – Super cute cafe with healthier options. I got the smoked salmon eggs benedict (homemade english muffin and came with salad and potatoes) and it was absolutely amazing!
- La Campana – We got lemon gelato and it was delicious! Not as good as Italian gelato but definitely worth getting. We walked down this street (Carrer de la Princesa) after and there were tons of shops and restaurants
- Casa Lolea – We went here in both Barcelona & Madrid (it is that good!). See more about it in the Madrid food section
- Rosa Negra – Bar with a few of their own beers, and great prices on margaritas and mojitos (2 euro I tihnk). I got a mojito and it was great! We stopped here while waiting for our dinner reservations, but the food looked good. Oh, and there are dolls all over the walls.
- La Pallaresa Xocolateria Xurreria – more churros and chocolate dip – didn’t disappoint!
- Milk bar bistro – This was highly recommended! My avocado toast was good but nothing crazy special, but Tom really liked his chorizo hash.
- Taquerías Tamarindo – we were wanting something different so looked up a good taco place by us and these were sooo dang good! I lived in San Diego for a year, and these tacos were definitely just as delicious as Mexican food in SoCal.
- Flax & Kale – This is an instagram dream – super cute inside & second floor garden (where we sat). I got the (pink) mini salmon burgers and Tom got the vegetable curry – both were amazing
- Vinitus – really great tapas place! I forgot to take many pics (besides of my fav patatas bravas), but everything was delicious. Also, the wine was 2 euro/glass.
- Dela crem – We stumbled upon this and wow was it good. Rivals Italian gelato for sure! I got the dark chocolate and vanilla.
- Arc de Triunfo – you don’t need to go out of your way to see this, but it was definitely beautiful to walk through
- Basilica de la Sagrada – famous church that has been being built since 1882. I had heard from some people that you don’t have to go inside because the outside is so beautiful, but I disagree! The inside is absolutely stunning and a must-see! We bought tickets ahead of time (skip those lines!) for ~$15
- La Boqueria Mercat – indoor marketplace with tons of different food and vendors. Fresh produce, no sugar added fruit juices (some do have sugar though, just have to ask!), meats, and tons more!
- Park Guell – This was absolutely beautiful with great views of the city, but it was a little smaller than I expected. We walked the whole park in probably 15 minutes or less. Again, we bought tickets ahead of time for ~$10
- Beach – go to the beach, or the boardwalk has tons of shops, restaurants and bars
Recommendations I got, but didn’t get a chance to go to:
- Los Tarantos Flamenco Show
- Casa Batllo
- Picasso Museum
- Erotic Museum
- Chic & Basic Born
- Bo de B –best sandwiches ever
- Green Spot
- Boldu Donuts
- Brunch & Cake
- La Fianna
- La Luna
- El Nacional – best seafood
- Ca La Seu
- Café Murada – amazing Italian with great view
- Sa Llum – amazing tapas small local restaurant
- La Parada Del Mar – pick your seafood and they cook it right there
- Hotel 1898 – We stayed here our first (unintended) night of the trip and absolutely loved this hotel! Great location, they upgraded us to a room with a private terrace, rooftop bar with pool, very friendly staff!
- Exe Cristal – We stayed here the last two nights of our trip. Good location, the hotel was clean, breakfast included (buffet, not the best), overall nothing special
- Aerobus (~$12 roundtrip from airport to city center)