When some people plan a trip, they only really focus on visiting one destination and making the most of it. But with help from one of Vacation’s expert travel agents, you can plan a multi-day itinerary that includes multiple European destinations such as Amsterdam, Venice and Dubrovnik. That’s right! You can see the Netherlands, Italy and Croatia in one trip! So, we decided to chat with Travel Leaders Group employee and traveler Sara Lantto about her experience visiting these three amazing cities with her fiancé Mike. And although they arranged the trip on their own, they would recommend using a travel agent to help facilitate a stress-free planning process. Find out first-hand why you should visit these popular European cities.
Was this your first time visiting Amsterdam, Venice and Dubrovnik? What piqued your interest to travel to Europe?
This was my first time visiting Amsterdam, Italy and Croatia. I saw an article in a magazine written by Andrew Zimmerman describing the perfect trip to Croatia by flying anywhere in Italy, taking a ferry across the Adriatic to the Dalmatian Coast, and then, renting a car to drive to Dubrovnik. While that all sounded simple and was our full plan – I am not a planner when it comes to travel. So, when we got to Venice we learned that we would have to travel south to catch a ferry, which was a roundtrip overnight cruise. Because we had time constraints, we bought last-minute flights from Croatia Airlines. Unfortunately, we did not visit the Dalmatian Coast or rent a car.
Your trip started out in Amsterdam. What were some things that you recommend seeing and doing when visiting?
Well, we had less than 24 hours in Amsterdam; so, we really power-visited the city. Stop inside the cheese shops – they’re everywhere. You can try a variety of local cheeses because they’re not stingy about providing samples to customers. And if you’re burger connoisseur, you’ll be surprised to know that burger restaurants are super trendy in Amsterdam. I went to a pub called Grizzlies and had one off the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life. I asked a couple locals why burgers are so popular, and they said, “They are so good and everyone is really loving burgers right now, so there are more and more places opening up every day.”
The canals and the countryside are also good reasons you’ll enjoy visiting this city. It’s so peaceful. Our short visit made me wish that I lived there for a moment.
After Amsterdam, you traveled to Venice. What were some things you’d recommend to first-time visitors?
You can’t leave Venice without sampling the food. From the delicious, thin-crust pizza to an Aperol Spritz served on ice to Cherry-Amaretto flavored gelato to tiramisu… the food is to die for! I would also suggest taking a water shuttle to Burano to go shopping, while you take in the beautiful views of the brightly-colored homes along the waterfront. Bring an extra bag. You’ll need it to pack those scarfs, shirts, dresses and handmade lace you pick up at the various shops located here. You can also escape the crowds to visit Murano, an island with residents known for mastering the art of glass blowing. In Venice or on one of the nearby islands, the smell of cappuccinos and croissants at the local bakeries to the smells of fresh pasta, sauces and pizzas baking in restaurants is so intoxicating. It’s not uncommon to order a liter of wine and sit for hours without the waiters badgering you to pay your check and leave. It’s the typical relaxed European dining experience.
What would you recommend as things to do and see in Dubrovnik, Croatia?
Take a dip in the Adriatic Sea. The water is crystal clear, and you can see all the way to the bottom. Make a stop at Buza Bar to grab a drink at the bar, go cliff diving and watch the sunset. And if you’re looking for other vantage points to watch the sun go down, I’d suggest going to Dubrovnik’s Old Town, the Walls or hop in a cable car to jaw-dropping views of the sun-kissed horizon.
We grabbed a lot of fresh fruit and squeezed juices at the street stands. If you’re looking for a nice sweet treat, try the candied orange peels. It's not surprising, but the seafood here is magnificent, including the fresh lobster, prawns, shrimp, and scallops. And the feta was so fresh, too! It was as soft as goat cheese. Yum!
What are some travel trips you’d give to people traveling to Amsterdam, Venice and Dubrovnik?
Amsterdam: Walk the streets in the evening. The reflection of the lights along the canal is stunning. We recommend taking a tour by boat.
Venice: Avoid the crowds visiting San Marco – the tourist heart of Venice with sights like St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs – and visit before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. And take a gondola ride or walk around the city and get wonderfully lost. You’ll find your way, but there’s always something amazing with every turn around each corner of the city.
Dubrovnik: Although it’s a lot of walking, I recommend a one-way walking tour along the Walls of Dubrovnik for amazing views for about $2-4. And even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, you should still visit Old Town. It’s so beautiful especially a stroll along the water. For adventurous travelers, consider taking a kayak tour around Old Town. It’s an insanely jaw-dropping experience.
Would you recommend this trip to family and friends? Why?
I’d absolutely recommend my trip to family and friends. Visiting Venice is a must-see destination if you’re planning a trip to Italy. San Marco is amazing early in the morning and in the evening. And Dubrovnik was beyond our expectations. We didn’t really know what to expect when, I just imagined crystal clear water, but the country’s rich history was not something I thought would capture my attention, but it did!
Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an amazing trip to visit the Netherlands, Italy and Croatia? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent to customize an itinerary you’re gonna love.