We spent 10 days in Europe for Philip’s 4oth birthday. Here are all the details about where we stayed and visited.
We returned from Europe last week and it was a magical whirlwind trip! I want to share all of the details of our Europe trip itinerary from where we visited, the hotels we stayed in and of course what we ate.
Our Europe Trip Itinerary, day by day.
Day 1: Fly into Paris airport, drive to Bruges, Belgium. Stops in Lille, France and Kortrijk, Belgium on the way.
Day 2: Leave Bruges and drive to Brussels, Belgium. Stop in Ghent on the way.
Day 3: Leave Brussels and fly to Geneva, Switzerland.
Day 4: Full day in Geneva, Switzerland.
Day 5: Leave Geneva and drive to Lyon, France with a stop in Annecy, France on the way.
Day 6: Leave Lyon and take the train Paris.
Day 7: Full day in Paris
Day 8: Full day in Paris
Day 9: Full day in Paris
Day 10: Leave Paris and fly home.
Our Hotels and Airbnbs during our Europe trip
- Bruges Hotel – Martin’s Relais
- This hotel was an old mansion turned boutique bed and breakfast hotel. It was so charming, and more fun than a regular hotel. We didn’t eat breakfast, but they had a dining room with a large table for breakfast, and it looked delicious when we went past. This hotel was also right on the canal so it was great proximity to pretty much everything.
- Brussels Hotel – The Dominic Brussels
- This was a more traditional kind of hotel, and very nice, very clean, and super beautiful. It was also great proximity to most things in the city. It had a gorgeous restaurant right off the lobby that we would have tried out if we weren’t in Brussels and wanted to try other things. The only tiny downside was the gym. It had a beautiful area with treadmills and ellipticals, plus a sauna and steam room, but the weights area was very small with very few options. That was the part we wanted to use, since we were running outside and not in the hotel, so that’s the only reason I mention it. The rest of the gym was beautiful!
- Geneva Hotel – Hotel d’Angleterre
- We stayed here for two nights and it was probably my favorite hotel of the hotels we stayed in. We had a beautiful room with a small balcony on one wall and a large window that faced Lake Geneva and the Jet d’Eau. The decor of the hotel was stunning, with dark, rich hues, and we had the breakfast buffet both mornings, which was in a beautiful room and the food options were incredible. There was a cool bar called the Leopard Bar in the basement of the hotel, and on our second evening we got mocktails and dessert there while we listened to live music.
- Lyon Airbnb
- We stayed in an Airbnb for one night in the middle of our trip so we could easily do laundry. This allowed us to pack half the amount of socks, underwear, and workout clothes. This Airbnb was funky and cool, and tiny but exactly what we needed. It had big, beautiful windows that opened up on to a square with cafe’s below and a view of the Basilica. It was close to everything, and also had a (very small) elevator to bring our luggage up and down. The stairs to get up and down were steep and circular, so the elevator was very helpful for getting our luggage up and down.
- Paris Hotel – Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome
- This was the last hotel we stayed in, and we stayed for 4 nights. It’s just a couple of blocks from the Louvre museum, so it’s in a pretty good, central area, close to lots of restaurants and shopping and fun things to do. It was definitely the most expensive hotel we stayed at, but we used Hyatt points, and it was an incredible stay. It had a gorgeous spa and gym, beautiful restaurant, and incredible rooms. The service was beyond amazing as well!
How did we handle transportation from city to city?
- Many of you asked if we rented a car or took the train from city to city, but Philip found a company called DayTrip where you can hire drivers to do one way trips for you, with as many stops as you’d like. It was a perfect solution for three of our trips, since we wanted to stop in smaller cities but would have to deal with our luggage, find places to park, or pay a one-way drop fee with a rental car. So we used DayTrip to have a driver take us from the Paris Airport to our Bruges hotel (with one hour stops in Lille and Kortrijk), a different DayTrip driver to pick us up at our Bruges hotel and drive us to our Brussels hotel (with a two hour stop in Ghent), and a different DayTrip driver to pick us up at our hotel in Geneva and drive us to Lyon (with a two hour stop in Annecy). They held our bags in the car and just waited while we walked and toured around. It was definitely more expensive than taking a train, but it allowed us to see lots more of the country.
- For our other transportation needs, we flew from Brussels to Geneva by airplane, and then took a train from Lyon to Paris (it was a 2 hour train ride), and we just Ubered from our Airbnb to the train station, and then caught a taxi at the Paris train station to our hotel.
Activities and restaurants we recommend
- We highly recommend the canal tour! You can’t make reservations, but tours begin at 9:00am and are constantly going with many boats, so it was easy to get on with very little wait. The tour was about 40 minutes long, and it was a fun way to learn the history of the city and buildings, and see the city from a different perspective.
- Bones Restaurant. Bruges was apparently known for their ribs, so Philip found this place and made a reservation a few weeks in advance. You absolutely need a reservation — they were turning people away all evening! It’s all you can eat ribs and they were delicious. The restaurant was tucked on a quieter street and was so charming with shelves of books lining the walls and a very friendly staff.
- Belgian Waffles…you’ll see the waffle shops literally all over the place. They all have similar options and toppings, so you can’t go wrong with any of them, but highly recommend stopping to eat one!
- Aux Merveilleux de Fred. We stopped here on a whim because there was a huge line of people and that had to mean it was good. They sold brioche and fresh stroopwafels, and they did not disappoint. Highly recommend for a little snack.
- There were tons of chocolate and treat shops everywhere, so stop in one and get yourself a Belgian truffle…they’re little triangle shaped chocolates with different flavors inside. We got a dark chocolate raspberry one that was out of this world good.
- Parc de Bruxelles. We went running around the city in the morning before we left, and we actually didn’t run through this park, but saw it on the way to the airport and we wished we’d run through it! It was gorgeous and lush and full of runners. Definitely wander through here if you’re looking for a good place to run.
- Auberge de Saviese. While were in Geneva, we had to have traditional Swiss fondue, and this place got amazing reviews. We walked in and it smelled VERY strongly of sticky cheese, but after a couple of minutes you couldn’t even smell it anymore and the entire meal was delicious. We got the half and half fondue, the fried cheese, and a small charcuterie board. All were amazing.
- St Pierre Cathedral. We ran over to old town Geneva and went inside this beautiful church. We bought passes to go up into the towers, and the views from the top were breathtaking. Don’t miss that, unless you can’t do stairs, cause there were A LOT.
- Lake Geneva Boat Tour. This was actually something we didn’t end up having time to do, but I wish we had! It’s a quick ride back and forth across the lake, and we ran around both sides of the lake, so we got the experience of all sides without the boat tour. I’d still have done it if we had more time!
- The Leopard Bar. I mentioned this above — it was the bar in the basement of our hotel and it had such a cool vibe and delicious drinks and desserts. I got a mocktail, Philip got a soda, and we shared the creme brulee and the chocolate molten cake (literally the best chocolate molten cake I’ve ever eaten)!
- Notre-Dame de Fourviere. This was the basilica that we could see from our Airbnb room. It was quite a steep hike to get up to it, with lots of stairs, but it was worth it for a spectacular view of Lyon and seeing inside the beautiful church.
Boulangerie Du Palais. This was around the corner from our Airbnb and the windows were filled with delicious pastries and tartes and cakes. We stopped in for a praline almond croissant with Lyon’s signature pink pralines, and it was insanely good.
Paul. This is a chain that is all over the place in all the countries we visited. It’s kind of a quick counter food place, with salads, sandwiches, tarts, breads, cookies, etc. I got a sandwich from there before we left on the train and it was incredible. The bread was amazing! Sometimes a chain restaurant isn’t necessarily worth checking out, but this one definitely is.
- Dalmata pizza. We ate plenty of traditional French food while we were in Paris, but we went to this cool and funky pizza place our first night and it was so good. The pizza was incredible, and the restaurant was such a cool vibe. They didn’t take reservations, and they filled up the very small restaurant very quickly. We arrived right at 7pm and got a table, but it was full within 10 minutes.
- Laura Todd bakery. We went to Laura Todd twice because we went once and they were literally the best non homemade cookies we’d ever eaten, so we had to go back again. The big milk chocolate chip cookie was my favorite, and the caramilky was Philip’s favorite. The white chocolate chip cookie was a close second for both of us.
- Versailles. Philip went to Versailles when he was in Paris a decade ago with his dad, but I had not been so we went together. We hired a private tour guide and driver to pick us up and take us to Versailles and give us a full tour. She was so knowledgable and sweet, and we were able to avoid all the long lines with her. When we went to the Louvre the next day, we enjoyed the whole section with Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette so much more because of everything she taught us. Highly recommend. We booked it through THIS COMPANY.
- Pierre Hermes. We got a few yummy items from this pastry shop, and they were amazing. Definitely recommend checking it out.
- Cafe De Flore. This cafe is famous for being a regular spot for many, many famous Parisian artists and writers. We didn’t need a reservation, and it had a really fun atmosphere.
- Le Flan de Notre-Dame. We stopped at this place on a whim after walking around Notre Dame, because they were giving out samples of flan so we decided to try. They had a raspberry, white chocolate, almond croissant in the case, so we picked that up and WHOA it was the best pastry we had the entire trip. It was flaky like a croissant, melt-in-your-mouth crispy on the bottom like a really good chocolate chip cookie, and filled with almond and raspberry goodness with white chocolate chips on top. After I posted about it on instagram, someone said the regular chocolate croissant was even better, so I’m mad we didn’t get that one too!
- Place du Trocadero. This was the lookout area where we took THIS PICTURE. It was super crowded with a million tourists when we went on a Sunday afternoon, but we went off to one side and got a clear shot! We just asked a couple to trade pictures with us — we took some for them and they took some for us.
- Montmartre. We climbed up this one morning to get up to the La Basilique du Sacre Coeur, and it had spectacular views of Paris. Definitely recommend spending some time up here.
- Des Antiquaires. We went here for Philip’s birthday dinner and it was SO GOOD. I got the beef bourguignon and it was melt in your mouth good. Highly recommend.
I’ll be answering more of your questions about our itinerary and our trip on my instagram stories today — head over there to check it out!