There may be snow on the ground but spring break is right around the corner. Not sure what to do? We’ve put together five options for a vacation, all at different price levels to suit any budget.
Sometimes North America just gets too boring. The United States seems like a vast wilderness between two coasts, Mexico’s party destinations are so clichéd to the point of irrelevance, and even Canada’s multicultural flair can appear tired. When that happens, the overworked spring break imagination settles on what is only the next logical trip: Europe.
While it is a pricey trip, adventuring in Europe is a prospect that even the seasoned world traveler cannot turn down, as there is always something to discover in the 47 countries and 4 million square miles that make up this landmass.
Whether paradise for the epicurean or riveting for the newcomer, a trip here is an exciting alternative to staying stateside.
Start with England. Booking a roundtrip flight from Dulles airport to London’s Heathrow Airport will cost about $700. Once there, budget around three days to spend touring. The traditional sites to hit include the houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, but when the royalty gets overbearing, check out the Afro-Caribbean cultural scene in Brixton, located in southeast London. Or try the nightlife in the economically diverse and recently revitalized Soho area.
Unlike the United States, driving won’t be necessary to continue the trip, so book the rest of your trip on Europe’s high-speed train network. Prices will vary based on how many cities are visited, seating class and whether the tickets are city-to-city or part of a bundled pass.
A two and a half hour ride under the English Channel will lead to the iconic Paris. Like London, there are lots of traditional attractions to see – the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysées and the Louvre (to say hello to the Mona Lisa) to name a few – but also much more, so expect to spend around three days exploring. Don’t miss Montmartre, a nightclub district situated on a hill overlooking the rest of the city and featuring the famous Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart). Or check out the enormous Bois du Boulogne in western Paris, commissioned by Napoléon III to replicate the model of London’s Hyde Park.
Go east from Paris on the train for a two-day visit to Amsterdam, traditionally associated in American minds with socially permissive attitudes and a lax legal climate. Be sure to explore de Wallen (Dutch for “the quays”) but be careful because it is the city’s infamous red-light district. Ironically, Amsterdam’s oldest parish church, aptly named Oude Kerk (“Old Church”), is located in the center of this neighborhood. Tread lightly – the floor is made entirely of gravestones. There is so much to do in this city of 1.36 million and the haze of cafes that readily serve marijuana, that it is easy to lose track of time.
It’s doubtful you’ll have much time left after visiting three cities, but this brief European tour will definitely give you a quick glimpse into an amazing and beautiful area of the world.
Wherever the journey ends, grab a train back to London to make the return flight out of Heathrow to the United States. The 7-hour flight will surely provide an ample chance for finishing that one paper you were supposed to be working on.
How much is all of this for a trip to Europe?
Round trip flight D.C. to London’s Heathrow $700
Average price for three nights in a London hostel: $90
Average price for three nights in a Paris hostel: $120
Average price for two nights in Amsterdam hostel: $70
Eurostar London to Paris: $90
Train Paris to Amsterdam: $80
Train Amsterdam to London: $130
Food and entertainment for eight days: $400
(Per person, all prices estimated and calculated with the most recent exchange rates)
– Hadas Gold, Max McGowen, Miranda Green