If you are planning a big trip but you aren’t sure where to go, you should definitely consider a tour of Europe. There are so many amazing countries, all with their own rich culture and history. You will also find a big variation in the natural landscapes, meaning that a trip around Europe will tick all of your boxes in one go.
The problem is, if you’ve never visited before, you might not have a clue where to start. Which countries should you visit? When should you go? Are there any cultural customs you should know about? It’s important to answer all of these questions when planning your trip if you want to get the most out of this amazing continent. Luckily, this quick guide will tell you everything you need to know about planning your first tour of Europe.
When Should You Go?
Firstly, you need to decide when you are going to go on your European trip. Although Summer is obviously a nice time to go, you will have to deal with some big crowds, especially in cities like Paris or London where there are a lot of famous tourist attractions. The prices will also be higher during the peak season, so if you want to save a bit of money and avoid the crowds, it’s best to go during the off-season instead.
Most Europeans head off for their own vacations in the Summer too, which means that there are fewer locals and more tourists. So, if you want a more authentic experience and you want to mix with a lot of locals, Summer isn’t always the best time.
However, it’s worth remembering that a lot of European cities, especially in Eastern Europe, are popular in the winter too. They have big Christmas markets and lots of events running in the winter, so there are still a lot of tourists. Having said that, it is a beautiful time of the year to visit.
In the end, it’s really up to you whether you want to brave the crowds or not but if you want to avoid other tourists and get the cheapest deals, Fall is usually the best time to go.
Where Should You Go?
This is perhaps the hardest question to answer because there are just so many amazing places in Europe to visit and you won’t have time to do it all. If you spread yourself too thin and attempt to see too many cities, you’ll spend half the trip on trains or planes and you will never have time to really explore any of the destinations that you go to.
When you are trying to decide which countries and cities to visit, you should start by looking at this list of the things that Europe is best known for. However, you really need to think about what you want from your trip.
If you have never been to Europe before, you may want to hit all of the main tourist spots. In that case, look at places like Paris, London and Berlin. There are some other great city break destinations in Europe, like Budapest or Vienna, for example. These are the best places to visit if you are interested in learning about the culture and history of Europe. Visit https://www.lastminute.com/city-breaks/top-10.html for a full list of the best city breaks in Europe.
If it’s great food you’re after, there are plenty of amazing places to visit in Europe, but Italy, France and Spain are some of the best. Italy is world-famous for delicious pasta dishes, authentic pizza and delicious gelato. In France, you’ll find some of the best cheese and wine in the world and Spain is well known for incredible Paella and Tapas.
Spain is a great spot for anybody that wants a relaxing beach experience instead of a city break. Portugal is also ideal if it’s beautiful beaches that you are looking for. But both of these countries still have plenty of culture on offer as well.
In the end, it’s down to you to decide what you want out of your European adventure. It also depends on how long you are going for because it’s important that you don’t try to fit too much in. It’s a good idea to do a good mix of city break destinations and relaxation spots, but make sure that you do your research before you go so you can decide which countries are right for you.
Sort Your Money Out Before You Leave
If you are traveling to a few different European countries, make sure you check which currency they use. A lot of countries use the Euro, which makes life easier for you, but there are still a lot of countries that use their own currency, especially in Eastern Europe. Even though you can exchange your money as you go, the exchange rate will be much higher than it would if you did it at home. If you want to save yourself a bit of money, check what currencies you need and work out a general budget, so you can exchange all of the money before you go on your trip.
Alternatively, you should look into prepaid travel cards, like Revolut. You get a good exchange rate on these cards and you can withdraw money from cash machines while you are traveling. This means that you don’t have to carry a lot of cash around with you, which is a big bonus if you are taking a long trip through multiple countries.
Check Your Phone Plan
This is something that catches a lot of people out. It’s always useful to have access to the internet when you are out and about in case you get lost or you want to see if there are any good restaurants nearby. But a lot of phone providers will charge you roaming fees when using mobile internet in other countries, and they soon add up. You may need to change your phone plan to ensure that you have free roaming in European countries. If you visit https://halfcooked.co.uk/roaming-in-turkey/, you can find more information about plans that offer free roaming in Turkey and other European countries. Make sure that you take the time to compare different plans and find one that covers all of the European countries you want to visit. Check whether you have to pay extra fees for international calls too, so you don’t get caught out by a big bill at the end of your trip.
Travel By Train As Often As Possible
When you are planning your travel from one city to another, always use the trains if possible. Although there are a lot of great budget airlines that will help you get around relatively cheaply, the trains are way more comfortable. It may be slightly cheaper to fly in some countries (train prices vary quite a lot) but you don’t need to deal with big queues at the airport and you have plenty of space on the trains. In most countries, they are very efficient and you don’t need to worry about booking in advance, so if you have a flexible itinerary, trains are the perfect choice. Before you set off, visit https://www.roughguides.com/article/tips-for-travelling-by-train-in-europe/ for some great advice on using the train system in Europe.
Take City Walking Tours
If you are jumping from place to place and you don’t have long in each destination, walking tours are a brilliant way to hit all of the major highlights and get a feel for the city. Most European cities offer walking tours where you will see the big attractions and learn more about the geography and history of the city. The good news is, a lot of them are free and the ones that aren’t don’t cost very much at all.
Whenever you arrive in a new city, try to take a walking tour on the first day if you can. That way, you get your bearings and you have a taste of what is on offer. You can then decide what you want to do for the next few days of your trip. The guides will be able to answer your questions about the city and give you some great recommendations so you can discover things beyond the popular tourist attractions.
Learn Some Languages Before You Go
One of the great things about Europe is that most people speak great English, so you shouldn’t have any communication issues. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to bother trying to learn the language before you go. Even if you are not brilliant, the locals will still appreciate you attempting to speak their language and it’s a show of respect.
Building a rapport with the locals is so important when you are visiting Europe because, in most cities, there are two halves. You’ve got the touristy part of the city, which is great, but the locals have their own side of the city which is where you will often find the most rewarding experiences. If you are able to speak to the locals in their own language and ask for recommendations, you will get much more out of your trip.
Europe is such an amazing continent with so many incredible destinations, but if you want to get the best experience, it’s important that you follow these planning tips.