By Céline Brandstötter [Visiting Student Blogger]
You will meet a lot of students on exchange who have plans to travel around Europe. People’s excitement to travel is contagious, so you will definitely also want to travel. However, student budgets are small and you will want to get the most out of your trips. Living in Ireland has many advantages and one of them is Ryanair, the low-cost Irish flight company that can bring you to almost every place in Europe, so definitely make sure to check out their website. For low-cost housing options, see Hostel World and Airbnb. I have listed my favourite European cities and what I enjoyed the most during my time visiting them. Hopefully this gives you some tips on what to see, what to eat, and maybe inspire you to visit, too!
London is a magical city. It is a quick flight from Dublin and a must see. If you are staying long enough, try to go around Christmas time for the great Christmas decorations and atmosphere. Staying in London can be quite expensive, so I would definitely recommend staying in a hostel or trying to find a place through Airbnb.
If you want a great view over all of London, definitely take a tour on the London Eye. Book your tickets before you go to avoid massive queues!
Find your tickets here: https://www.londoneye.com/tickets-and-prices/saver-tickets/
If you never had a chance to meet your idol in real life, you can go see Madame Tussauds. It’s not a 100% real life meeting but it’s one step closer to meeting the real person. Again, try to buy your tickets upfront to avoid queuing for hours.
Find your tickets here: https://www.madametussauds.com/london/en/tickets/ (scroll down for single tickets)
I found the crown jewels from the royal family to be most impressive. You can find them in the Tower of London. And again: buy your tickets beforehand.
Find your tickets here: http://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/visit-us/tickets-and-prices/#gs.A6nNVZA
England is not exactly known for its refined cuisine but there are definitely great inexpensive places where you can eat in London.
Nandos is a restaurant specialised in chicken, which you can also find in Dublin. Definitely a place to check out!
TGI Friday is very popular with students so if you want to go there make sure to show up early or reserve in advance. Check out their website before you go, they sometimes have great deals as well!
My hometown, Bruges, has a special place in my heart. It is a medieval city located in Belgium, about an hour away from Brussels. You will fall in love with the city instantly!
Bruges offers a lot of B&B’s and hostels in the city centre, which is great for sightseeing.
If you don’t have a lot of time, the boat tour is a great way to see the majority of Bruges. It will give you some fun facts and historical background at the same time. You can buy tickets at the boat stands.
If you want to know more about the history of Bruges, Historium is the place to be! It’s a walk-through museum, which tells the story of Bruges in a unique way – it even mimics the smell from the middle ages.
Get your tickets here: https://www.historium.be/en/tickets
The Belfort is the tower that stands above the market place in the middle of Bruges. You can take the challenge of climbing up 366 steps up to the top of the tower to enjoy Bruges from an 83-meter height.
As a student city, Bruges has some great food to offer.
Ellis Burger is one of the most popular places to go at the moment. It’s pretty self-explanatory: it offers burgers but they are homemade and great.
ONE restaurant is a bar/restaurant at the waters of Bruges. They serve great Belgian food as well as great cocktails.
Pasta Presto is a fast and easy way to have some quick food if you are on the go. You can take away or you can eat in. They sell pastas, pizzas and other great Italian dishes.
Madrid is a magnificent city located in Spain. As the capital, it has everything to offer, from great places to go out, to a great cultural experience.
My favourite part of visiting Madrid was seeing the Royal Palace. It was truly a magical experience to walk through the grand hallways and rooms of the castle. Buy your tickets beforehand since the lines are massive and you don’t want to stand in it for hours (like I did). Get your tickets here: http://www.patrimonionacional.es/real-sitio/palacios/6039
The Prado is a must for art lovers. It holds the most impressive and beautiful art pieces of Europe. If you decide to go, bring your student card and ID. They’ll let you in for free!
The Cristal palace is located in the Retiro Park and is very impressive to walk through while you are there. It holds some great exhibitions of artwork. No need to get tickets, you can just right walk in.
You can’t think of Spain without thinking: TAPAS! 100 Montaditos is a chain of tapas restaurants that are great. As it says: they have more than 100 tapas to choose from and to share with your friends!
La Tia Cebolla is one of the most famous tapas places in Madrid. It is absolutely worth it to pass by and try some of their great, fresh food.
I hope this was helpful and I wish you save travels and an incredible amount of fun on your semester or year of discovering Europe.