Travel Smart Tips

It’s a big world out there with a lot to see and do. Before you hit the road, stop here on your way to a new adventure and check out our fave shops, restaurants, hotels, attractions, plus some other miscellaneous stuff. Our motto: Explore, experience, and enjoy. Let’s go! Click on each entry to learn more.

Austria
f02d1184a35e927c0f7e60a2deba4351_hkip Das Traunsee—Traunkirchen, Austria. If you’re looking for a charming small hotel in an idyllic Alpine setting, look no farther. Das Traunsee, snuggles next to the shores of its namesake lake, the Traunsee. From your room, feast on views of sparkling blue water and craggy mountains. Let the delightful village of Traunkirchen serve as your base for day trips.
Meinl am Graben–Vienna, Austria. A foodie’s paradise. This shop is bursting with specialty cheeses, sausages, jams, candies, cookies, coffees, and wines. Treat yourself to a wonderful lunch in their cozy dining room.
35b98f1fdcef1bed569a3ae5724a4da1_vka5Secession Building—Vienna, Austria. Built in 1898, this is an incredible example of Viennese Art Nouveau architecture. The highlight? The building’s gold dome, a giant ball of over 3,000 gilt laurel leaves.
Denmark
DesignerZooDenmark Designer Zoo—Copenhagen, Denmark. Stop by this studio and see the latest in Danish design. Designer Zoo offers a varied selection of fantastic ceramics, clothing, jewelry, and furniture from vibrant Danish designers.
1+1TextilDenmark 1+1 Textil—Aarhus, Denmark. Take the fast train from Copenhagen and then walk (or cab it) to this charming studio. Artists from across Denmark display textiles, glassware, ceramics, prints, and jewelry.
MonAmourDenmark Mon Amour—Copenhagen, Denmark. Some of the tastiest gigot d’agneau (served on top of fluffy mashed potatoes) and confit de canard we’ve had outside France. This is a small restaurant, so call ahead or go early.
BrasserieGranbergDenmarkBrasserie Granberg—Copenhagen, Denmark.Brasserie Granberg—Copenhagen, Denmark. Fabulous French food in the Danish capital. We enjoyed several meals here and loved the foie gras, coq au vin, and steak salad.
Peter Beier Chocolate—Cities across Denmark and Sweden. When traveling, we always brake for chocolate, especially delicious chocolate. Well, we discovered cocoa paradise with Peter Beier Chocolates. This is rich, creamy, and oh-so-sinful. Perfect! If you decide you need one more fix before heading home, visit the boutique in Copenhagen’s airport.
Germany
Zugspitze—Bavaria, Germany.ake the time to journey via train and cable car to the top of Germany’s highest mountain. Breathtaking views across Germany and into Austria.
SchnoorvietelGermanySchnoorviertel—Bremen, Germany.Wander through this small neighborhood (the Schnoor District) that dates from the 1400s. The quiet streets are lined with tiny cottages that have been transformed into quaint shops, galleries, restaurants, and taverns.
36c4f5a4464aa7530ca8b7673b3efe4e_6xeiWenigemarkt 13–Erfurt, Germany.Thüringer specialties in a charming setting in the middle of Erfurt, Germany. Be sure to order the grilled sausage with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. German food doesn’t get much better than this.
Café zur Frauenkirche–Dresden, Germany. Take a break from sightseeing and treat your taste buds with a stop at this café for a coffee and one of their incredible desserts. Worth every calorie.
9228ad8bb158e69766145195fc128365_ax06Dresden, Germany—Christmas Market.One of Germany’s oldest holiday markets. In addition to the Saint Nicks and snowmen, be on the lookout for the Pflaumentoffel (the plum man). This happy chimney sweep character, made of dried plums, brings good luck to everyone.
Green Vault—Dresden, Germany.Located in the Residenzschloss, this jaw-dropping art collection consists of royal jewels, gems, and jewel-encrusted table settings.
Koblenz, Germany.The statue to Emperor Wilheim I at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Wilhelm I is credited with unifying Germany and making it a modern nation.
Verkehrs Musuem—Dresden, Germany.Planes, trains, cars, and ships in this spectacular transportation museum. If you want to see some zoom zoom from the past and present, this is the place.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.Stroll the quaint cobblestone streets of Germany’s best preserved medieval city. Be sure to see the high altar at St. Jacobs Kirche (Church of St. Jacob, built between 1373-1464) carved by Friedrich Herlin.
Sweden
d071a5908863dcad6b1474e971562f67Form Design Center—Malmö, Sweden. Operated by the Swedish Association of Crafts, this is the place to see Swedish and Scandinavian arts, crafts, architecture, and industrial design. Don’t miss the gift shop on the top floor.
Per Ljung—Malmö, Sweden.Gentlemen, get your dapper on at this clothier. Per knows men’s fashion since his days as a designer at H&M and Danish label, Matinque. Today, he owns this shop and dresses Malmö’s most-fashionable guys.
Belgium
BrugesBelgium Bruges, Belgium. Enchanting small city northwest of Brussels. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to its series of small canals, rightfully named “The Venice of the North.” Take a boat ride or hop on a carriage for a fun way to view the sights.
T’Schrijverke—Bruges, Belgium. The kitchen here creates tasty regional and contemporary entrees. Located in the heart of the historic city. Enjoy your meal and a beer on the terrace. We love the interior design of this restaurant.
Le Pain Quotidien—Brussels, Belgium. Wonderful bakery and café on Sablon Square. Salads, soups, and sandwiches made with their fresh, chewy bread. Or, pop in for a dessert and coffee.
SteakFritBrusselsSteak Frit’—Brussels, Belgium. Classic brasserie atmosphere, plus outdoor seating. Order the steak and frites. Or, the grilled chicken with mashed potatoes. True comfort food. End your meal with some delicious rice pudding.
LaBesaceBelgium La Besace—Crupet, Belgium. A charming small restaurant in the village of Crupet. Off the beaten path, but well worth the journey. Delicious food and drink. Try the grilled pork ribs. Then, end your dinner with the chocolate mousse.
namurBelgiumNamur, Belgium. Travel to Wallonia and practice your French in this historic city on the Meuse and Sambre rivers. Namur also is home to the Citadel, a fortress that has overlooked the city since the 10th century.
Finland
HelsinkiRailway station Central Railway Station—Helsinki, Finland. Opened in 1919, this impressive structure was designed by Finnish architect, Eliel Saarinen. Even if you’re not traveling by train, stop by to see the incredible details.
Helsinki CathedralHelsinki Cathedral/Senate Square—Helsinki, Finland. Probably Helsinki’s most iconic building, the neoclassical Cathedral, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, sits on one side of the city’s Senate Square. A great place to do some people watching.
KappeliHelsinkiFinlandKappeli—Helsinki, Finland. Since 1867, this beloved restaurant has served meals to the city’s residents. Enjoy traditional Finnish entrees like reindeer with juniper berries, cream of salmon soup, or elk meatloaf. For dessert, perhaps some crème brulée and rhubarb sorbet.
Restorante Gastone HelsinkiRistorante Gastone—Helsinki, Finland. Italian food in Finland? Yes, my friends, and it was delicious. Sue enjoyed a braised lamb shank and I ordered the beef and chili ragu on homemade pasta. We skipped dessert and ordered glasses of Lakka, Finnish cloudberry liqueur. Perfect!
Italy
GiliFlorenceGilli —Florence, Italy. Opened by Swiss immigrants in 1733, this restaurant, confectionary, and bar is one of those places you have to put on your list to visit if ever in Florence. Located on the Piazza della Republica, this is the spot to watch stylishly dressed Firenze residents stroll past. If the weather allows, grab a table outside and enjoy a glass of wine with a bowl of pasta with wild boar ragu.
PiazzaleMichelangeloFlorencePiazzale Michelangelo —Florence, Italy.Florence is a beautiful, compact city perfect for walking. Around every corner is another picture-perfect historic building or church. But, to get the best views of the city, cross the Arno River and climb the stairs (or hop in a taxi) and go to the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Aroma Ristorante—Rome, Italy.Classic Italian cooking all the way. Incredible pizzas and pastas. But, save room for the tiramisu. Some of the best we’ve ever tasted.
c.u.c.i.n.a.—Rome, Italy.Wow! A kitchen and home accessory store loaded with the basics. Towels, platters, glassware, and linens. If in Roma, stop by one of their three stores.
TrattoriaDaCarloItalyTrattoria da Carlo —Orvieto, Italy.By chance we discovered this small restaurant in the charming Umbrian town of Orvieto. What a delicious surprise. The young owner/chef, Carlo, presides over the place with the help of his charming mother. Everything is made by scratch with the finest ingredients and love.Try the hearty ribollita soup (simmering for two days) and the tagliolini alla zucla (pasta with pumpkin and sage).
HotelVanucciItalyHotel Vannucci—Citta della Pieve, Italy.Wonderful small hotel in our favorite town in Umbria. Great rooms, friendly staff, and delish food. Plus, the melon gelato is out of this world.
Italy—Feast of the Epiphany (January 6).La Befana, the gnarly old witch swoops across Italian skies on the evening of January 5. According to legend, she delivers candy to the good children and coal to those that have been naughty. Being a kind witch and a good housekeeper, La Befana has been known to sweep the floors before flying away. Santa, do you do windows?
Italy—major cities.All aboard! Speed between Italy’s metro areas on the country’s new high-speed Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) trains. At 360-km/per hour the Rome to Milan journey takes just two hours and 45 minutes. Now, that’s veloce (fast).
MaioMilanItalyMaio Restaurant—Milan, Italy.Enjoy the food and the spectacular views at this restaurant. Located on the seventh floor of La Rinascente (the epic department store), the eatery offers amazing vistas of the Duomo (Milan’s cathedral), located just across the street.
Peck—Milan, Italy. The famous Milanese food emporium. Wander the displays, then head upstairs for lunch (and a glass of wine). On the way out, stop and have a scoop of their homemade gelato. Yum!
Switzerland
MorcoteSwitzerlandMorcote, Switzerland.A tiny village perched on the shores of Lake Lugano in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking South. Our favorite spot in the world. Stay at the Hotel Carina Carlton. Nothing beats sitting at the pool, reading a book, and hearing the church bells ring.
Monte Generoso—Capolago, Switzerland.Ride the 40-minute cogwheel train to the top of this 1,704 m. peak for panoramic views across southern Switzerland and northern Italy (yes, that’s Milan in the distance).
Des Alpes–Interlaken, Switzerland.Drop by this cute café for delicious rösti, cold locally-brewed beer, and awesome mountain views.
Globus—Zurich and other Swiss cities.This department store is a shopper’s paradise. Be sure to check out the extensive deli and food section. Warning: Don’t enter hungry.
Ristorante Positano—Zurich, Switzerland.Enjoy a fantastic Italian meal in Switzerland’s largest city. Save room for the banana gelato with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
RestoranteVicaniaSwitzerlandRistorante Vicania—Vico Morcote, Switzerland.Hike the trail (or drive) to Vico Morcote and enjoy a wonderful meal at this restaurant set in the country. Enjoy a glass of local wine and a plate of pasta with veal ragu.