10 tips for Europe: Paris and Italy

On our trips, we have figured that even with a detailed itinerary and list of places to visit, at times we needed some specific nuanced tips which added huge value to the experience. These became the difference between a good and a great trip. So, combining our own experiences and our in-depth pre-trip studies for Europe we have come up with the following tips to save (time/money) and enjoy.


  1. Use Paris Metro and RER for local travel
    1. It is cheap, convenient and well connected
    2. Buy a carnet of tickets (10 or 20) and save 10%
    3. Download Paris metro app to get connections at your fingertips
  2. Go for a Seine river cruise in the evening
    1. Yes, it is very touristy and clichéd. But the tour would give you a unique view of the city highlights from the Seine
      1. Going in the evening, you can enjoy the beautiful illumination of all the monuments of the ‘City of Lights’.
    2. Opt for the hourly cruise at 8/9 pm so that you can view the shimmering lights of the Eiffel tower (at the stroke of the hour) as you pass it.
  3. Avoid the main entrance of Louvre
    1. You would definitely be turned off by the huge queue at the main (pyramid) entrance of Louvre. But why go there? As many people do not know, there are few other entrances of Louvre where you could just walk in without much trouble or wait.
    2. Galerie du Carrousel or Passage Richelieu entrances are good alternatives for saving precious time.
  4. Enjoy patisserie and chocolatier products
    1. French cuisine is of course world famous, but what many people might miss are the bakery items. Pick any local boulangerie and patisserie in your neighborhood and you would be delighted by the find.
    2. Though the neighboring Swiss and Belgian chocolates are more famous, Paris has some of the best gourmet chocolatiers. Do experience their distinctive creations.


  1. Sitting down at a restaurant table would have cover charges
    1. Restaurants have cover charges for sitting down. So, if you are on a budget, stand at the bar
    2. Food might be cheaper in some cases for standing at the bar versus sitting at a table
    3. As cover is included in the bill, leaving tips is not necessary
  2. Use public water taps
    1. Most of the cities have public water taps throughout the city. So just carry a bottle.
    2. Perfectly safe drinking water and absolutely free
  3. Finding good food
    1. Go away from the tourist attractions to find better food. The eateries close to the tourist places are generally overpriced and/or low quality. You would find better quality by stepping away from these traps.
    2. In Italy (like in any other country) different regions are famous for different types of food be it sauce, wine, balsamic vinegar, olive oil etc. Research beforehand or ask the natives about the regional specialty both for food and for wine.
    3. At any restaurant ask for the house wine, it is usually good
  4. Traversing Venice could be tricky
    1. Venice is a compact city. So, if and when you get lost (and you would get lost), you are probably no more than few minutes’ walk from a square, a church, or another landmark.
      1. When in doubt, follow the crowd and the directional signs (in yellow or white) that are scattered all over the historic center. Understand the language for the signs, e.g., “calle” for street, “sotoportego” for “tunnel” or “covered street” etc.
      2. Sometimes a sign might have arrows in two directions for the same destination. This simply means that you can get to this destination by either route.
    2. For a cheap ride through the grand canal, ride the Vaporetto No 1 from railway station towards San Marco in the evening
    3. Make sure you buy and validate your tickets before getting on the water taxi. If you cannot do that, catch the ticket personnel on the taxi as soon as you get on the ferry.
  5. Be careful while driving in Italy
    1. Some roads in the cities (Florence, Sienna etc.) have restricted entry. Only the residents are allowed to drive on those roads and any foreigner could get a huge penalty ticket.
  6. Choose the Cinque Terre trail carefully before your hike/trek
    1. Some trails might be closed due to weather or maintenance work. So, before starting your trek, contact the local tourist center or railroad station where you are staying for more information

Do you have a story to tell about your Europe experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.


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