You've scaled the Eiffel Tower, ridden the London Eye, strolled Las Ramblas and posed outside the Pantheon. If you've been there and done that in Europe, Rachel Beard has some alternative suggestions on how to combat attraction apathy in London, Paris, Barcelona and Rome.
Been there: Strolled the South Bank
Try this:Walk under the Thames
There are countless iconic London bridges to hop across but for a different perspective, head under the Thames via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. Built in 1902, this underwater shaft lies just 50 feet below the river’s surface and was constructed to allow south Londoners to work in the docks on the north bank. Open 24 hours, it’s a great (if a little eerie) way to escape London’s cars and crowds.
Been there: The British Museum
Try this:Sir John Soane’s Museum
Sidestep the mummies and the Marbles and champion one of London’s lesser-known repositories instead. Sir John Soane’s Museum is a neoclassical townhouse stuffed full of antiquities and artwork from the eponymous owner’s private collection. Visit on the first Tuesday of the month for a bewitching (and free) candlelit tour.
Been there: The Eiffel Tower
Try this:Meudon Observatoire
Once the site of a grand chateau commissioned by Louis XIV, this sprawling estate on the outskirts of Paris is now where the country’s top astrophysicists specialize in solar observations. Fittingly, it’s one of the best spots to see the City of Light in full effect, with views to rival those from the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré Cœur. Getting there requires a little prep work (you need to book tickets in advance and tours are only conducted in French) but it’s worth the effort to be able to scan the skyline sans touristes.
Been there: Moulin Rouge
Try this:Au Lapin Agile Cabaret
On a steep cobblestone street in Montmatre, Au Lapin Agile is a historic cabaret joint and bohemian drinking den where the likes of Picasso and Modigliani would pay for their drinks with artworks. Grab a seat at a carved wooden table, sip a glass of cherry wine and sing along to French folk tunes, sea shanties and drinking ditties.
Been there: Gaudi’s Blockbuster Buildings
Try this:Palo Alto Artist Community
Sidestep the Sagrada de Familia and head to the Palo Alto artist community to see the current crop of Catalan architects at work. This former 19th-century textile factory was transformed in the 1970’s into a complex of small workshops, artist studios and an urban garden (which featured in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona). The staff cantina is open to the public for lunch Monday to Friday.
Been there: Strolled Las Ramblas
Try this:Get Lost in the Labyrinth of Horta
Veer off Las Ramblas and navigate your way around the impressive labyrinth in the grounds of Horta, Barcelona’s oldest park. Built in 1791, the elaborate 22-acre site contains a sprawling neoclassical garden, Italian-style pavilions, Roman busts and a romantic waterfall. Access is restricted to just 750 people per day.
Been there: Sistene Chapel
Try this:Capuchin Crypt (The Chapel of Skulls)
In an unlikely location off Via Veneto, Rome’s poshest street, the Capuchin Crypt is a series of tiny chapels decorated with the skeletal remains of close to 4,000 Capuchin monks. The chamber walls are bedecked with bones, skulls and mummified corpses positioned in intricate patterns and vignettes, and macabre bone chandeliers dangle from the ceiling.
Been there: Colosseum
Try this:Palazzo Valentini Underground Ruins
For a spot of subterranean sightseeing, head beneath the 16th-century Palazzo Valentini to explore the ancient ruins of two opulent imperial-era villas. The site was only unearthed during an excavation in 2007 and the beautiful mosaic tiling, marble floors, staircases and Roman baths are all remarkably well preserved.