Welcome to Europe Travel Blog & Planning Guide
Planning a trip to Europe for the first time? OMG yay, we are so excited for you!
Europe is the sixth largest continent in the world, and despite its small size, it is packed with history, innovations, and 50 countries and sovereign states.
Europe is a fascinating place to explore and kick-start a travel bucket list. We are on a mission to explore all of Europe, and currently sitting at 50% of countries visited.
Europe Travel Blog: The Ultimate Guide to city guides, itineraries & tips
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Discover the best of Europe through our itineraries, detailed travel guides, and tips!
Blessed with great infrastructure especially a rail network, cheaper flights, loaded historical remnants, cuisines, and unique sights – Europe is a must-visit for every traveler.
With 50 countries strong, Europe sightseeing is made easy with tons of guided tours, with the ability to see more in less time, due to geographical proximity. A few times, we crossed three countries in one day! Like wow!
Did you know, the word, “Europe” is derived from the name of a Phoenician princess – Europa
Quick Facts Travel Europe
✔️ Continent Size – Europe is the second smallest continent in the world
✔️ No of countries – 44. Of the 44 recognized countries of Europe, 27 of them belong to the European Union – a political and economic union within the continent. Citizens have an EU passport and the Euro is the official currency.
✔️ Largest & smallest – The world’s smallest country – Vatican City and the world’s largest country – Russia is located in Europe (by area).
✔️ Population – 8.545 million (2019)
✔️ Tourist Visa – Schengen and individual countries.
✔️ Schengen Area or zone is an agreement within European nations to allow free movement of people (between the participating countries). Not all EU nations are part of the Schengen Zone and vise versa.
✔️ Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are associate members of the Schengen Area but are not members of the EU – what it means for a traveler is that – if you have a Schengen visa you can travel there, however, their official currency is not Euro.
They might accept Euros, but be ready to exchange currency or take the change in their national currency. We visited 3 of the 4 countries listed here, and they are pretty expensive as compared to other EU countries like France, Spain, or Germany).
🗸 Northern Europe consists of the Nordic countries, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the Faroe Islands, etc. (Scandinavia and Nordic are two terms associated with some of the countries in northern Europe)
🗸 Southern European countries include Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, and all the Mediterranean countries. (Balkans is a common term used for countries in the southeastern part of Europe)
🗸 Central & Eastern Europe – The term Central & Eastern Europe is often used interchangeably and are overlapped with countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia (also referred to as Eastern European countries).
🗸 Western Europe – Western Europe is often associated with World War II politics (and a term coined as a result of that). It includes countries like Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Austria (also referred to as “Central Europe”). But again geographically and politically, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Vatican City, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, and Austria are all “Western Europe”.
The westernmost point of the European continent is Cabo da Raco, located near Lisbon (Sintra Cascais Natural Park) in Portugal.
Getting ready for Europe – Travel Visa
As mentioned earlier about 27 countries are members of the European Union, and they use the Schengen agreement to allow tourists to enter various countries. Belonging to the Schengen zone of countries means that – if you need a visa, it will be the Schengen Visa.
🗸 A Schengen visa allows you to visit these 27 countries with one ‘visa’. You have to apply for it prior to your visit. You can get a single entry to multi-entry visas.
🗸 For citizens of the United States and Canada, no visa is required. US and Canadian passport holders can enter and stay in the Schengen zone for up to 90 days for tourism purposes without a visa.
There are a few countries that follow the Schengen visa but are not EU members (like Switzerland and Iceland). Countries like Russia and Serbia have their own visa system that you need to look at prior to traveling.
Flight Tips for Europe
Being a home to many touristy places, there is no dearth of flights leaving for Europe. Here are some quick flight tips for you (+ savings and time-saving hacks!)
🗸 Main flight: Look for flights to major cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich, Madrid, etc. They tend to have a lot of flight options from various cities of the world, and with a good frequency. You can also find direct flights, depending on the city of departure.
🗸 Star Alliance: When traveling from North America, search for Star Alliance list of partners to book connections, and save money.
Based on our experience so far, we had the best luck in these flight companies for long flights – KLM Dutch Airlines, Air France, Air Canada, Swiss Air.
IcelandAir and TAP Air Portugal are also good options – for stopovers.
Stopovers will allow you to explore the hub country/airport area and then make connections to another country in Europe. Like IcelandAir makes a stopover in Reykjavik (stay here for 48 hours or so), and then leave for London, or head to Lisbon, and then make a connection to Rome, Italy via TAP Air Portugal.
🗸 Budget Airlines: Europe is home to a ton of budget airlines from RyanAir, Vueling to many others that serve routes starting at $30 USD. We recommend using cheap flights when the train network doesn’t exist or is really expensive (like 3 times the flight cost). This way you are saving time (check-in, security, etc), plus you get to see amazing scenery outside.
Trains will also reduce carbon footprint, and allow you to pay less for luggage. Yes, note that budget flights will charge extra for bags.
Best time to travel to Europe
Europe experiences 4 distinct seasons – spring, summer, autumn/fall, and winter. And each country is different when it comes to its official seasons. Of course, there is a varied temperature too – winters are not the same everywhere.
Typically, the seasons are as follows,
- Spring: March to June
- Summer: June to September
- Autumn/fall: September to November
- Winter: December to March
There are variations in temperatures, as you move from the south to the north end of the continent. But Europe has it all – ski resorts, winter warm destinations, beaches, cities, and everything in between.
🗸 Summer Months – The summer months are the most popular time to visit Europe. It is usually the peak season for tourism, and attractions, hotels, and restaurants are easily packed.
During this time, the days are longer, the weather is warm. When visiting in the summer, we recommend making reservations early for hotels, tours, and for any festivals that you might have on your Europe bucket list.
🗸 Winter Months – Although the weather tends to move towards chilly cold months in late November, some of the major European cities do not experience a ton of snow in December. Temperatures do stay around 1 to 5 degrees Celcius (33.8 F to 41 F).
January and February are the coldest months in Europe, and January is the cheapest month to fly to.
December is a great time to visit Europe for its beautiful Christmas markets, shopping, and New Years’ celebration. Ski season doesn’t start until January, and it is a busy tourist month for those heading to the slopes.
- Visiting Europe in winter – Best winter destinations in Europe
- Christmas in Europe – Best places to spend Christmas in Europe
- Warm places in Europe? – Here are the warmest places to visit in Europe from December through March.
- Europe in February – Best places to visit in Europe in February
🗸 Off-season – Spring or fall months are the perfect time to visit Europe, as it is usually less crowded. It is easy to find cheaper flight and accommodation deals. Plus you can expect timed attractions to have fewer people or no wait time.
Our favorite time to visit Europe is in the fall. Keep in mind, rains are frequent in the fall and spring.
Early spring and late fall might be cold too – so opt for late April/May or September and early October for both popular destinations.
- Best time to visit: September – mid-October, late April – May
- Peak Season: July – August
- Off-Season: Fall, and late winter like January, February, and early March
- Venice Carnival: February (Italy)
- Easter: Various
- Cannes Film Festival: May (France)
- Tomorrowland: Summer (Belgium)
- Dimensions Festival: July (Croatia)
- La Tomatina Festival: August (Spain)
- Oktoberfest: October (Germany)
- Amsterdam Light Festival: December (Netherlands)
- Christmas Markets: Various
What to pack for Europe? Europe Packing List
As mentioned Europe experiences all 4 seasons, and depending on the month you are visiting, and the activities you will be undertaking your packing list will vary.
We have written a detailed guide to packing for Europe for all seasons here
Also, read about the best
- Shoes for Europe (for her): Best walking shoes for women for Europe
- Boots for European winter (for her): Top boots to wear in European winters
Here is a quick packing list for Europe
- Top: Long sleeve tops, shirts
- Bottoms: Dark washed jeans, pants, leggings
- Nice sweater dress for dinners out (her, winter)
- Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes, hiking boots (summer), winter boots (winter)
- Outerwear: Winter Parka, wool coat (winter). Light waterproof jacket (summer)
- Winter Accessories
- Scarf (winter)
- Gloves (winter)
- Warm socks (winter)
- Beanie (winter)
- Toiletries: Moisturizer, sunscreen, toothpaste & toothbrush, shampoo, body cream, light make-up
- Your cellphone.
- Sim card
- Charger: Like this multi charging cable to power up multiple devices
- Universal travel adaptor: Europe uses a plug with two round pins (type C), unlike the flat ones in North America. Don’t forget to carry your universal adaptor
- Camera: Don’t forget your camera. We carry our Sony Mirrorless Camera and Sony A7iii.
- SD Card: To back up all the photos
- Laptop: Optional
- Travel Documents
- Passport: Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival in Europe.
- Visa: If you require a Schengen Visa for Europe/Switzerland, do apply for it prior to your trip.
- Currency and Credit Cards: Don’t forget your credit cards and currency (Euro or whatever is needed for that country you are traveling to)
- Travel insurance (medical, trip cancellations, etc): You can get a quote in minutes from Worlds Nomad Insurance
- Transportation: Carry EuRail Pass, City Passes, flight tickets or any tour confirmation
- Hotels: Confirm hotel reservations, and save your emails or a screenshot of the booking email.
Budget for Europe Travel Tips
You can explore Europe in affordable ways or splurge in style, the possibilities are endless.
In Europe, there are a plethora of chic hostels to stay in and meet other people. Hostels start at $25 USD in major tourist destinations.
Mid-budget hotels and properties further away from city centre will be around $120 USD or slightly more in peak seasons. Keep in mind hotel suites are typically smaller, than what we have in North America. Just like the Best Western, Holiday Inns of NA, there are iBis, smaller motels where affordable accommodation can be found.
Always make note of the distance from the city centre, sometimes trains could take 45 minutes to an hour to get to neighborhoods or airport. So do factor that in (+ costs of train pass vs staying at the centre and just walking to the sites).
For food, you can save by getting groceries, small cafes/bakeries, or even choosing healthy options at a fast-food restaurant. In fancy restaurants with a 3-course meal, expect to pay upwards of $75 USD per person.
Sightseeing passes also vary. Rooftop access to churches/cathedrals will be as low as 3 euros, to entering the Lourve (the most visited attraction in Europe) starts at 15 euros. Full-day tours average $90 USD, and single trip averages 1.50 euros.
These averages are for popular destinations in Europe like Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Barcelona, etc.
Countries like Switzerland, Iceland will be expensive – in terms of food, accommodation, etc.
And then there are other destinations like Zagreb, Budapest, Sarajevo, and Belgrade (the Balkans) where overall it is a cheaper vacation – food, sightseeing, hotels, taxi, etc – without compromising on historical and culinary delights.
For us, we set aside a budget of $160 – $215 per adult (for Swizterland/Iceland) which included the hotel (twin-share), day tour/pass, and food. In cities like Munich, and Paris, we were able to get by with $100-$150 per day (per adult) and even less in Sarajevo or Lisbon.
- Luxury: $250
- Mid-Budget: $120
- Hostel: $25 (dorm)
- Restaurant: $75
- Fast Food: $2-18
- Day pass: $7
- Day tours: $85+
- Car rental: Starts $30/ day
We take pride in planning and crafting the perfect itinerary to make the most of our trips. In all of our European itineraries, we have included options for multi-city trips, with or without renting a car.
Our detailed Europe itineraries also include multiple sightseeing samples. Take a look,
- One week in Europe trip
- 2 weeks in Europe itinerary
- 2 weeks Balkan itinerary
- Central Europe itinerary 2 weeks
- Spain and Portugal itinerary 10 days
- Amsterdam Brussels Paris itinerary
- Vienna Prague Budapest itinerary
Where to go in Europe? Things to do in European Destinations
By area, although Europe is the sixth largest continent, it is packed with so many amazing destinations that you would want to visit year after year – and still have a lot to cover.
Geographically Europe is divided into north, south, east, central and western regions. Culturally and regionally, you will hear terms like Balkans, Scandinavia, Nordic, etc and each city and country has its own flavor and distinctive culture.
Major cities in Europe are usually crowded, congested, and sometimes not very clean. Typically, everything touristy is centered at and around old towns, which are also pedestrian-friendly (so don’t forget your comfortable walking shoes).
There are historical buildings, churches, fancy shopping streets, and amazing restaurants and cafes that will catch your attention.
Here is what you must explore in Europe (by country). All of the European destinations explored by us are categorized by country.
We have included most of the Balkan countries under Balkans, and the 6 micro-states are listed under European Microstates for ease of navigation.
All travel posts here – Austria travel blog
Explore the capital city of Vienna, take a day trip to the beautiful Wachau Valley. Salzburg and Hallstatt are other popular destinations to visit in Austria.
You can also explore Vienna, with Budapest and Prague in one single trip or a guided tour.
- Austria Itinerary 7 days
- Most beautiful places in Austria
- One day in Vienna
- 2 days in Vienna itinerary
- Vienna in March
- 2 days in Salzburg itinerary
All guides here – Belgium travel blog
One of the most stunning countries we have visited, Belgium is so delightful. Explore Brussels, and use it as a base to visit Brugges, Dinant, or take day trips to other places in Belgium and beyond.
- Belgium Itinerary
- Interesting facts about Belgium
- One day in Brussels itinerary
- Day trips from Brussels
- One day in Bruges itinerary
- Things to do in Dinant Belgium
All travel guides here – Balkan travel blog
Read all the guide here – Croatia travel blog
One of the most popular Balkan states is Croatia. Use our 7-day Croatia itinerary packed with 4 samples to travel easily.
Read all the travel posts – Czech Republic travel blog
Click to read all of our travel posts here – France travel blog
A country we hope to revisit quite a few times in the future, France is our absolute favorite. Head to explore Paris for 4 days, or take day trips to nearby areas. Versailles and its palace-guided tour is a popular day option.
- One day in Paris
- 3 days in Paris itinerary
- Day trips from Paris
- Paris Quotes
- Paris gifts
- Best hotels in Paris with Eiffel tower views
- What to wear in Paris
- Paris bucket list
- Best places to visit in South of France
Click to read all posts – Hungary travel blog
Get ready to visit Budapest for a short trip or longer, with other Central European countries. Our favorite memory from Budapest was taking a Danube dinner cruise.
View all of the Germany posts – Germany travel blog
Our very first European destination was Germany. Germany is a stunning place to visit and must be on your bucket list for winter, especially German Christmas Markets.
Don’t forget to add Nuremberg to your Germany bucket list – it is one of the prettiest cities in the country.
Read all of our posts – Iceland travel blog
Iceland is a breathtaking country. One of our most popular posts is our quick and efficient 3 days in Iceland itinerary. We also have a detailed trip planning guide to Iceland plus budget activities to do in Reykjavik.
We enjoyed taking a ton of tours in Iceland, here is an all-seasons Iceland tours guide and a winter tour edition. Visit Iceland in October to experience the best of summer and winter, and beat the crowds.
Here are more Iceland guides:
- One day in Reykjavik iitnerary
- Best airbnbs in Iceland
- Iceland bucket list
- What to wear in Iceland in October
Read all Italy posts here – Italy travel blog
- Most beautiful cities in Italy
- Most Picturesque Amalfi Coast Towns in Italy
- Best towns in Italian Riviera
- 10 days in Italy itinerary
- One day in Milan itinerary
- Visiting Milan Cathedral
- How many days in Milan
Read all guide for – Luxembourg travel blog
Read all the posts – Netherlands travel blog
One of the most popular countries in western Europe is the Netherlands. Spend a weekend or more in Amsterdam, and head out of the city to admire the iconic windmills like Zaanse Schans!
The capital city of Portugal has stolen our hearts. Lisbon is a beautiful city and deserves a place on your European bucket list. Get our detailed 3 days in Lisbon itinerary and many day-trip ideas, including everything to visit the Pena Palace in Sintra.
- Portugal itinerary 8 days
- Most beautiful cities in Portugal
- 2 days in Lisbon itinerary
- Day trips from Lisbon
- Lisbon to Sintra day trip
Read our – Spain travel blog
Head to the gorgeous country of Spain and explore its pretty towns and magnificent cities. We have the perfect Spain itinerary for you – packed with samples to discover more of the country in 7 days.
Barcelona was our base in the country for the first 2 visits to the country, and we have included a trip planner, itinerary, travel tips, and jaw-dropping views.
- Most beautiful places in Spain
- Spain bucket list
- One week in Spain itinerary
- Southern Spain itinerary
- What to wear in Spain
- 2 days in Barcelona itinerary
- Barcelona itinerary 3 days
- What to wear in Barcelona in September
- Barcelona tips and tricks
- Views in Barcelona
- Getting to Bunkers del Carmel Barcelona
- 2 days in Seville itinerary
- Things to do in Seville
- Tapas in Seville
All of our travel posts – Switzerland travel blog
Another stunning European country we hope to keep re-visiting in the future is Switzerland. It is an expensive country, but all the scenic views make it super worth it.
- Planning a trip to Switzerland
- Best time to visit Switzerland
- Most beautiful cities in Switzerland
- Most beautiful towns in Switzerland
- 2 days in Switzerland itinerary
- 5 days in Switzerland itinerary
- Places to visit in Switzerland in winter
- What to wear in Switzerland
- Where to stay in Switzerland
- Scenic trains in Switzerland
- 2 days in Zurich Itinerary
- Zurich in winter
London bucket list
Click to read all the blog posts – European microstates
Europe Package Tours
Guided tours are a popular way to explore Europe if you do not wish to do all the research and planning/booking. Our favorite booking website is Intrepid Travel. They are a small group tour company that organizes tours to Europe.
You can choose from a range of departure dates, activities, areas and make the most of your travel time. We recommend choosing a smaller geographical area and allotting 2 weeks to cover various destinations in a short period of time.
This will give you an introduction to the ‘chosen’ region within the European continent and will provide you with the confidence to plan and book your trips in the future.
Note that you do have to book flights separately, but hotels are included in the tour package (plus a few meals and of course guided sightseeing and free time).
Sometimes these tours might seem fast-paced, but it does give you a glimpse of the countries you are visiting – with someone else doing all the sightseeing research work, etc.
Tourradar is another site, where you can look for guided tours. We took a Cosmos tour a few years ago in Europe, which was a large size group tour. We were happy with the amenities that came with the package and utilized the free time by exploring on our own. Being a larger site, you will find a variety of tours here.
- Check out the latest – packaged guided tours offered by TourRadar.
- Check out the latest – packaged guided tours offered by GAdventures.
🗸 There are also day tours that you can use to make the most of your trip via GetYourGuide!
Transportation Options in Europe: Europe Travel Blogs
There are various ways to explore Europe, and depending on the season, the number of travelers in a group, and trip duration one mode of travel might work better for you, than the other.
As mentioned above, guided multi-day tours that include transport, accommodation, and 1-2 meals are great options for the novice, new travelers.
Train travel in Europe: Traveling Europe via trains, or public transportation is an affordable way to capture different destinations and also admire the countryside along the way. If you exploring just one country, a national rail pass or regional pass is good enough. Like Swiss travel pass.
For multiple countries, a Eurail pass or a multi-country one like Benelux are great options.
Public transportation in a European travel destination includes – cable cars, trams, local buses, trains, and funicular trips as well. Each city has its own city pass (full day pass, weekly or monthly pass) for trains, and includes discounted or free attractions.
Day tours are a great option too. We book all of our tours in Europe via GetYourGuide (they also have an amazing cancellation policy, so you are in safe hands when you book through them). You can use day tours with trains to maximize your travel time!
Renting a car is always an option in Europe. If you have a valid international driver’s license or national ones (like the USA, Canada) you can rent a car, and enjoy amazing road trip itineraries in Europe.
Roads in Europe are well maintained and safe. On average a rental car starts at $30 per day plus insurance. When renting a car, do check regulations when crossing a country’s border, possible toll fares, and also parking at city centre hotels – as many properties may not have free parking, and old towns may be car-free.
Where to stay in Europe?
There is no dearth of accommodation options in Europe. Keep these tips in mind when booking a place to stay in,
- Staying at or near the city centre might be expensive but is worth it for convenience – walking distance to sightseieng, tour meeting points, amazing views, great properties. You can save on transport passes
- Staying away from the centre, will allow you to save money on accommodation. But keep in mind that travel time will eb awaywhere from 30 to 50 minutes (on way, depending on the destination), and using a transit pass will be convenient and save money
- Types of accommodation –
- Hostels: You can book hostels or shared dorms to save money. When backpacking Europe many also couchsurf, and many love to book hostels to meet new people.
- Hotels: From budget to luxurious properties there are properties, starting at $120 USD for mid budget, and luxe ones are at around $400 USD
- Boutique properties: For an intimate experience, a nice boutique property with decades of heritage is a great option to consider in many destinations
- Airbnbs: Not all countries/cities have airbnbs but you can surely find them in popular places. Or something equivalent to one
- Camping/campervans: Places were camping sites are available, this is a great option for saving money
Whichever accommodation you book, you may be required to pay a tourist tax at the hotel reception (at check-in or check-out). It is levied per person, per night, and the price varies by property and town/city you are in.
We use Booking.com, and Airbnb to browse accommodation deals.
Safety in Europe: European travel blog
Overall cities in Europe are pretty safe. You do have to be mindful of crowded touristy areas as petty theft, pickpocketing is very common. Try to keep your belongings close to you, zippers closed, and skip exploring with flashy and expensive items.
Violent crime is rare, and when in need you can find a consulate or your embassy for support and answers.
In countries where the official language is not English, no worries – as you will easily find staff, and guides speaking in English. Europe is safe for solo travelers, backpackers, family travel, and couples alike.
Not only history and city lovers, but adventure travel lovers will also feel at home here. So, you will find a plethora of options to suit your traveling style, budget, and personal taste.
We hope you found this our Europe travel tips useful in planning your getaway. We hope to move to Europe someday and experience a life of travel there.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us!