Europe in a Week: Barcelona, Rome, and Amalfi
Where do I begin.
Europe is such a historical and delicious county to travel to.
It can be overwhelming to narrow down which countries to visit so here’s how we decided: First; food, second; things to do, and third; it must end with a beach or some form of waterfront.
That being said, it was decided that we would start with Barcelona, and then travel to Rome, and finish on the Amalfi Coast.
This blog will break down the things to eat, places to stay, things to do, things to buy, how to get around, and things to know ahead of time for each city.
This was my first time in Spain, and it has been on my bucket list for a long time, so I was really excited to visit. There is so much history and art and amazing food in Spain, and Barcelona is a good place to start.
We took a red eye flight with a layover in Amsterdam, and interestingly enough, we got out passports stamped in Amsterdam! Apparently, once you enter the EU, you only get a stamp where you initially enter and depart from. So, needless to say, I still don’t have a Spain stamp.
We stayed at the Casa Camper Hotel in a corner suite. The hotel staff was incredibly friendly, the hotel was modern, situated in a PERFECT location, and had a bed so comfortable that we made it a point to take an afternoon nap every day after lunch. They welcomed us to our room with a bottle of champagne and a hand written note from the management. It was a sincere touch and much appreciated!
- Breakfast/Brunch: Caravalle. This is a quaint little place that had a lot of solid YELP reviews. It’s a mix of Mediterranean and Spanish fusion. I had Turkish Eggs with the most delicious labne and green herb salsa, and my boyfriend had huevos rancheros with house made chorizo.
- Lunch/Dinner: Mino. Tapas and Paella. Need I say more? The tapas were really amazing with my favorite being this fried potato ball with ham known as the Patata Bomba.
- Sensi: Tapas. The Padron Peppers were phenomenal
- Can Paixano: Tapas. A very unassuming little hole in the wall, but definitely worth the visit.
- La Boqueria: There were so many little market counters and open restaurants here, it was almost overwhelming. Here you can find delis, seafood counters, fruit stands, tapas and crepe spots.
- Churros: they’re everywhere, and they’re all amazing. Get it with the chocolate sauce, the caramel is good also, but churros were destined for chocolate.
THINGS TO DO:
We realized that there was not enough time to go and see everything so here are the few things we did visit.
- La Sagrada Familia: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the work of Antoni Gaudi, and still under construction through 2026! This was the highlight of the entire visit. I don’t think there is another structure on earth that can compare to the beauty that is Sagrada Familia. It looks pretty “odd” from outside, but once you step inside, you will be in awe. It is honestly one of the most beautifully constructed buildings I have ever been in. The colors of the stained glass when the sun shines in are almost surreal. It is the epitome of augmented reality and if you can only see one thing in Barcelona, this is it.
- We didn’t realize that you should actually book your tour pass ahead of time, so when we went there the guided tours were all sold out, but we were able to get tickets for the next day from the official ticket stand across the street. The guided tour was totally worth the $25 each. Our guide was very knowledgeable, and she really made you appreciate all of the work and detail and effort that have gone into building this incredibly beautiful Basilica.
- While you’re in Barcelona, be very careful with your valuables. Theft is frequent, and tourists are easy targets.
- You will get approached every 5 feet with someone asking you if you want to go to a “coffee shop”. THEY DO NOT MEAN STARBUCKS. “Coffee shop” actually means, “do you want drugs”. So, unless you’re in the market for illicits, just ignore them and keep walking.
So, the next stop was Rome!
We took a quick and cheap flight with Ryan Air from Barcelona- $56 each for a one-way, and then took a taxi from the airport to our hotel, which was in city center, next to the Pantheon.
We stayed at the Albergo del Sonato. This was a very nice hotel with very personal service and a million dollar location. Our windows opened up to the Pantheon. It was breathtaking. The one down side of this hotel, which I think is just par for the course for Italy, is that the hotel room was super small. It was just two of us and we felt cramped. But, again, the small room size was not really something that negatively affected our visit, because we were only there to sleep. Also, it was a 5-20 minute walk to everything.
I mean, you’re in Italy, you can literally eat everywhere. I will only list a few of the memorable spots because there are so many great choices. Again- I always choose based on 2 things: the local’s recommendations, and the YELP reviews/ratings.
- Lunch: La Prosciutteria. This little gem is technically a deli, so you have to walk up and order at the counter. There are some seats in the back you can sit at to eat your food. There is only 1 thing you need to know when you walk in. The PORCHETTA with GORGONZOLA TRUFFLE CREAM sandwich will change your entire existence on this planet. I’ve never in my life had a sandwich so simple and amazing. Their focaccia bread was superb. It was the last thing we ate in Rome and I honestly considered ordering an extra one to take with me but I decided that would probably not be a good idea. (Cue LOL)
- Virginae: This elegant restaurant is perfect for a date night or special occasion. The service is great, and the food was incredible. We had bruschetta and buffalo mozzarella to start and some red wine that was recommended by the server. I had this insane house made rigatoni with bacon and truffle, which, I am sure was crafted by God himself because I honestly didn’t want it to end.
THINGS TO DO:
Okay, so, for me, Rome had the most memorable and meaningful activities. I have wanted to visit Vatican City for basically my entire adult life, and to be able to do that finally meant the world to me. It was Epic. It was incredible. It was humbling.
The architecture, the art, the history, it was just absolutely breathtaking.
We first booked an “Early entry tour of the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel” which was beyond anything I could imagine. I mean, the SISTINE CHAPEL!!!!!
Do you even know how long I have wanted to see the masterpiece that is Michelangelo’s Frescoes?!?!?! For my entire life!!!
- Vatican Necropolis, St. Peter’s burial, catacombs, needs to be booked ahead of time via the office of Vatican excavation
- Papal Audience- free for all with tickets you can get online, only on Wednesdays and holidays
- Basilicas, St Peters Square
- Piazza Navona
- Trevi Fountain
THINGS TO BUY:
- Pesto, leather goods, truffle anything, spices, olive oil
Leaving Rome we then headed to the coast to finish the last portion of our trip. Next up was Amalfi.
We took the Italia Rail Train from Rome to Naples (booked online). And since Amalfi is about 60-90 minutes from Naples, we needed to make arrangements to get there. There are busses that you can take, but we opted to have our AirBNB host arrange private car transport, which was 120 Euros each way. I know this seems steep, but here’s why. We only had a short amount of time in Amalfi, and didn’t want to spend most of it in transit. The bus is much more affordable, but can take much longer because it makes stops along the way. We also wanted to see what the locals recommend, and since our driver and AirBNB host were local, it was nice to meet them and get some good recommendations from them as well. In all honestly, we would have preferred to take the bus if we were not in a time crunch. It would have saved tons of money.
- For day trips we took the ferry to Positano (30 minutes, 25 Euros, ok-ferry.com) and then another Ferry from Positano to Capri (40 minutes, 30 Euros, ok ferry.com) much better to go on weekdays. The weekends are normally crazy and if you can go on a weekday that’s best. For the return, we took a ferry from Capri to Amalfi (21 Euros, ticket office in Capri or online, 60 minutes).
In Amalfi, we found a great AirBNB called “Casa Mao”, which was located in City center, 160 steps through the Cathedral. 160 steps actually aren’t bad especially since some of the options had 220+! Ahh!!
The AirBNB had a beautiful and MASSIVE private balcony, which offered the most beautiful view of the town and the sea and the cliffside. Our host spoke English and it was nice to see that there was a lot of thought that went into the room we stayed in. It was a loft 1BR with a large bathroom. There was a Juliet balcony and a massive balcony with table and chairs. The windowed doors were floor to ceiling and we basically kept them open the entire time because the weather was so perfect. It was also newly remodeled and decorated with lots of unique sculptures which we later found out came from the owners father who was a well renowned sculptor from Amalfi.
So, first on the agenda was FOOD.
Our first night we dined at the recommendation of our host at a restaurant called “Il Chiostro”. Here we had calamari and the local dish known as “Schiatielli” which is a delicious and light seafood pasta, usually consisting of mussels, clams, etc in a olive oil and lemon sauce with fresh baby tomatoes and parsley.
We spent most of the next day just wandering around and taking photos, taking naps, and people watching. It is such a unique small town with so much character, you can literally park yourself at a table with some good wine and food and sit for hours and be completely content.
- Taverna del Apostoli- HANDS down the best meal of the whole trip. We had Breen cooked in lemon leaves, padron peppers, and this insane homemade fusilli with mussels clams and little lobsters with fresh sautéed cherry tomatoes in a white wine and olive oil and sauce
THINGS TO DO:
- We booked an excursion for a 2 hour boat tour around Capri to see the famous blue grotto. However, the blue grotto was closed 2/2 choppy water, and instead out guide took us to the Green Grotto where we hopped off for a swim. The boat was nice and comfortable and it was a smack group of 8.
In Amalfi, there are 2 options for the beach: a public one that is free, but offers no services or food/drink, and another section located at the Marina Grande where they offer service- food and beverage towel and umbrella. The beach there is made of rocks and sand. The water was brisk, and you can rent a reclining chair and get beachside service for about $10-20.
THINGS TO BUY:
Things to buy in Amalfi- leather sandals and ceramics!! The ceramics are world renown here and it is the largest producer of ceramic goods in the world. I am planning on ordering a beautiful tabletop from here one day, and the local artists and shops offer free shipping to the US!
I would say buy some lemons but don’t make the same mistake I did and try to bring them back to the United States. I claimed them on my customs form and got detained in the Quarantine area, which eventually ended up in them confiscating my lemons. Needless to say that the USCBP did not care that I had delicious plans for those lemons in the form of lemon chicken, lemon rosemary shortbread cookies, and lemon zested drinks!!!! It was sooooooo SAD!!! And also, my boyfriend was a little perturbed since we ended up being detained for almost 2 hours. LOL.
Okay, so, Amalfi was our last portion of the trip, so as we headed back, our first flight was delayed, which resulted in us missing our connecting flight in Paris. BITTERSWEET, because my boyfriend had to work the next day, but we got to spend one night in Paris!!!!!
ONE NIGHT in PARIS:
Airbnb, airport transfer, food, Eiffel Tower.
So, at the airport, we found an AirBNB instant Book for only $195 in the La Marais area, which had lots of good reviews in the trip advisor forum for “Paris for one day”.
We took the B line train to the city (10 Euros each way), dropped our things at the hotel, and set out on a walk. Oh Paris, there is something so romantic and snazzy about that city.
We saw the Eiffel Tower that night which was just magnificent.
We ate a delicious dinner at Les Temps des Cerises and dined on Escargot, Crunchy salad, duck, and clam risotto. This meal was a whole new category of scrumptious.
The next morning we only had time for breakfast and went to “Ob La Di” which was walk from our AirBNB. We had poached egg tartine, coffee, and a blueberry scone. We felt extra French for that short moment. Lol.
It was a 1 hour drive to CDG with the mid day traffic, and the Uber was 70 Euros
Also, of note, there are tons of cabs that can take you around the city, but the local cabs prefer cash and some of their cc machines don’t work, which, I think is because their cashless cab system is sort of out of date since they were using small older handheld credit card swiping devices.
Overall it was an amazing trip, and I look forward to returning to Europe when the USD holds a little more value! Lol!
Here is a helpful list of items that are my suggestions for packing and preparation for any travel destination.
- Light comfortable clothes that can be re-worn and coordinated easily
- Sneakers, flat sandals (I did not bring one pair of heels)
- Travel size “Downy wrinkle releaser” for tees or anything that has potential to get wrinkles
- Plastic Ziploc bags for dirty laundry
- Tegaderms for blisters
- Would not advise to wear backpack or mini backpacks 2/2 high rates of theft and they are easy to get into in a large crowd
- Adapter plugs for Europe
- Extension cord
- Avoid short shorts if your thighs rub together because you will get road rash
- For the Cathedrals and Vatican you need to have your shoulders and knees covered. You can wear pants and t shirt or long skirt or dress, and you can also use a shawl over sleeveless top but it will be annoying to keep in place and they are very strict
- A hoodie or jacket for the airplane ride and night time because its cooler
- See if your bank has Euros on hand and take them out before you leave, most banks in the US will exchange easily for account holders with 2-3 days notice
- Book tickets and tours ahead of time because the reputable agencies typically sell out first
- Global Entry is the fastest USCBP re-entry solution
- If you don’t have Global Entry, download “Mobile Passport App” to make returning to the US a seamless and quick process
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my Europe in a week experience! Good luck and happy travels!!