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Europe Travel Guide: Trip Planning and Tips

There’s simply no better place than Europe for history, culture and culinary diversity – not to mention the great shopping!

Each European country (and there are 44 of them, according to the UN) is unique. All are downright beautiful.

We’ve traveled to various places in Europe a zillion times. We’ve been on European cruises. We’ve visited so many cities and towns in Europe that we’ve lost count.

By now, we know a thing or two about how to plan a trip to Europe – and we’ve written 78+ Europe posts.

So here goes: Welcome to our Europe travel guide! It’s ideal if it’s your first trip to Europe. We cover itinerary planning, some of the best destinations to visit in Europe, how to travel around Europe and more.

Destination Mediterranean
Who wants to visit Italy’s Cinque Terre?

Some Europe facts

About: Europe covers about 3,930,000 sq. miles (10,180,000 sq. km).

Population: It’s densely populated, with about 742 million people (in 2024).

Countries in Europe: It comprises 44 countries. There are 11 European countries with a coast on the Mediterranean Sea.

European islands: Of the 2,400 inhabited islands in Europe, five are island countries – Cyprus, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom. Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island.

Smallest country in Europe: Vatican City – yes, the Vatican City in Rome is its own sovereign city-state and country!

Languages: Europe has 24 official languages, with the most common languages being English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Russia.

Practical information for visiting Europe

Visiting Europe for the first time? We know some great places to go and useful Europe travel tips

Documents and Schengen area

An essential part of your Europe travel planning is making sure you have the right documents to go. For one, you’ll need a valid passport.

Do you need a visa to visit Europe?

Travelers from a long list of countries (including the U.S. and Canada) can stay in the Schengen area without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Learn more on the US government website.

Currency

Most countries in Europe use the Euro. 1 Euro is roughly equal to $1.09 USD. (Check the exchange rate before you go.)

English is spoken

English is fairly well understood by many people in Europe. But it does vary. English proficiency is much higher in Sweden than in Italy, for example.

However, in bigger tourist destinations you can expect English to be widely used and understood.

Bring an adapter

If you’re traveling Europe for the first time, remember that you’ll need to bring a universal plug adapter with you. Europe uses the type C plug (two round pins) mostly, though UK-type plugs are also used in Cyprus and Ireland.

Our 7 favorite destinations in Europe

1) Croatia

Croatia is amazing!

Any guide to traveling in Europe will tell you that this Mediterranean nation serves up a sizeable dose of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, natural wonders and intriguing history.

Our 14-day itinerary to Croatia is a good place to start your planning. Beginning in Dubrovnik, you’ll visit Adriatic islands like Korcula, Hvar and Brac, and Croatia’s famous beach towns like Split and Dubrovnik.

“Where is Diocletian’s Palace?” visitors often ask when in Split. Shopkeepers laughingly reply, “You’re in it!” The ruins of this 1,700-year-old palace are the beating heart of the inner city. It’s an incredible place to get lost in. 

In Dubrovnik, spend time strolling atop the medieval Dubrovnik city walls and exploring the Old Town. Then head to the coast for a swim at one of Dubrovnik’s best beaches

Popular Banje Beach is just a short walk from Dubrovnik Old Town

Croatia highlights

  • Pay a visit to Trogir, a tiny, charming town that’s nicknamed “Little Venice.”
  • Hit the beach! With hundreds of miles of coastline edging the Adriatic, Croatia has no shortage of coves and sandy beaches to explore.
  • Don’t miss Croatian cuisine, a blend of Slavic traditions, rich Venetian influences and fresh ingredients making use of the coastal location. We particularly love Croatian desserts!
  • Walk the wooden footbridges and paths than wind around the lakes and waterfalls in the UNESCO-listed Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Where to stay in Croatia

  • Dubrovnik: Offering spectacular views of the sparkling sea, the 5-star Hotel Excelsior is just a 5-minute stroll to Dubrovnik’s Old Town. It’s the perfect place to base yourself for an island-hopping Croatian adventure.
  • Split: Occupying a Renaissance-era palace, Judita Palace Heritage Hotel is our favorite place to stay in the heart of Split. The boutique hotel is within walking distance of all the city’s cultural sites and attractions.

2) Greece

Mamma mia! We love Greece!

It’s one of our favorite places to vacation in Europe.

Octopi drying outside in the hot Greek sun
Head to the Greek islands, and you may see octopi hanging outside to dry in the hot Greek sun

There are many hidden gems and unique places to visit in Greece – and we can’t wait to explore more of them. Kythera, we hear you’re the perfect Greek island? 

With hundreds more islands to discover in the Ionian and Aegean Seas (Mykonos, we love you), not to mention ancient wonders on the mainland like Athens and Delphi, Greece is a dream for explorers and history buffs alike.

So if you’re planning a European vacation, we’re full of praise for Greece.

Start your Greece travel planning with these fun facts about this Mediterranean nation (like Santorini being the only inhabited caldera in the world!).

Greece highlights

  • Greek food. Hands down some of the best in the Mediterranean. Feta cheese, honey, olive oil, Greek yoghurt… What’s not to like?
  • From donkey rides to luxury hotels like Vedema and the Grace Santorini, the island has this awesome balance of rustic charm and high-end simplicity that just needs to experienced! In fact, we’d say that staying in one of the island’s iconic cave hotels – Ikies, for example – is a highlight in itself.
  • The ancient ruins at Philippi are truly captivating. What a place to explore!

Where to stay in Greece

  • Athens: The deluxe King George, a Luxury Collection Hotel has a prime city location across from Syntagma Square. Its restaurant offers fantastic views of the Acropolis.
  • Rhodes: We just can’t choose one amazing hotel in Rhodes, so here are 10 boutique hotels in Rhodes to choose from!
  • Crete: A picture-perfect place to stay, St. Nicholas Bay in Crete is tucked into the coastline and boasts amazing sea views. We had a dreamy time staying here.

3) Mallorca (Spain)

As you travel in Europe, you’ll find many gems. The sunny Balearic island of Mallorca is one of them.

Gold-colored Gothic cathedral of Palma de Mallorca, against the backdrop of the blue sea
With its Gothic cathedral, historic old town and seaside bicycle path, the island’s capital of Palma de Mallorca is a great base to stay for at least a few days

From hiking donkey trails and admiring Palma’s Gothic cathedral to swimming in idyllic coves, we love all the fabulous things you can do in Mallorca.

Two great areas and towns you’ll definitely want to include in your Mallorca itinerary are Soller and Santanyi.

There are many enchanting accommodations in Mallorca too. (Don’t miss bedding down in a countryside finca!)

Mallorca highlights

  • Spend some time in Puerto Pollensa. Whether you stay or just visit briefly, we challenge you to not fall in love with this laid-back seaside resort area.
  • Hikers and food lovers can’t get enough of picturesque Soller. Wandering narrow lanes, eating in pretty restaurants, trekking in the hills, tram-riding, days spent at the beach – there are so many activities in Soller you can enjoy!
  • Go out on a catamaran and see the island of Mallorca in all its glory from the sea.

Where to stay in Mallorca

  • Palma de Mallorca: There are several great areas to stay in Palma – the The Old Town is our recommendation if it’s your first visit. Can Bordoy is a 5-star boutique hotel right in the Old Town, with historic sights on its doorstep. Bonus: It has both a small rooftop splash pool (with Old Town views) and a small shady garden pool.
  • Deia: Hotel Es Moli is a great 4-star option. Its La Muleta beach club on a private beach cove is heaven.
  • Puerto Pollensa: For an elegant seaside boutique hotel, Hotel Illa D’Or is a good pick.

4) Portugal

Portugal stands out in Western Europe. It’s celebrated for its cuisine, culture and history.

And that’s not even mentioning nature – its beaches, mountains, and the Douro Valley.

Visit Porto in northern Portugal for its buildings clad with colorful tiles (called azulejos), port wine and delicious food.
Visit Porto in northern Portugal for its buildings clad with colorful tiles (called azulejos), port wine and delicious food

There’s something here for just about every kind of traveler, from charming villages to urban landscapes.

Speaking of urban landscapes, which is better: Porto or Lisbon? Tough one!

But if you only have time for one, we’d say Lisbon. As it’s a bigger city, it has more historic sites and attractions.

Portugal highlights

  • Is Porto worth visiting? Absolutely! (Especially if you read our tips on how to avoid the crowds…)
  • Head to the Atlantic island of Madeira to hike along some of its levadas (historic irrigation channels that lace the island).
  • Soak up the sun in the Algarve, famous for its stunning Atlantic coastline, dotted with limestone caves and golden beaches.
  • Drink port wine from the source! (That’ll be in the storied port wine cellars of Porto.)
  • Visit Sintra, a dreamscape of regal splendor, where palaces like Pena and Quinta da Regaleira stand amid lush forests.

Where to stay in Portugal

5) Turkey

Two women on a Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul look at the Dolmabahce Palace.
Passing the Dolmabahce Palace on a Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul

Turkey doesn’t appear on everybody’s travel guide to Europe.

But it should – it’s special.

This continent-crossing nation bridges the gap between East and West. It’s a country of contrasts, where you’ll find Roman relics, late-night party scenes and grand mosques. It’s home to mountains, and it’s home to beaches too.

Not only that, but the food here is unbelievably tasty. 

Not sure where to start? Then begin by browsing our two-week itinerary of Turkey.

Turkey highlights

  • Try one of Istanbul’s luxury hammams. A visit to one of the bathhouses is a must-do – a slice of the city’s historic heart and soul that you shouldn’t miss.
  • Don’t skip Cappadocia, a wonderfully unique region in Turkey. Stay in a cave hotel, admire medieval churches and see “fairy chimneys” from above on a hot air balloon ride.
  • The ruins of Ephesus left us speechless (almost). These ancient Greek and Roman era ruins are amazingly well preserved and well worth your time.

Where to stay in Turkey

  • Istanbul: The crossroads of culture that is Istanbul has a wealth of high-end hotels and luxury stays. Here’s what we thought of the boutique hotels in Istanbul.
  • Cappadocia: The way to stay in Cappadocia is in a cave hotel. Esbelli Evi is truly special. One of the first of its kind to open in the region, it’s furnished with antique pieces. Another option is the luxurious Argos, which is situated at the highest point in Cappadocia. And you know what that means – unreal views. 
  • Bodrum: This coastal resort is the place to stay for sun, sea and sand in Turkey. Try Macakizi for a chic deluxe beach resort, or Casa dell’Arte for something more classic.

6) Italy

Gondolas await in Venice at sunrise
Gondolas await in Venice at sunrise

Feel like you need some dolce vita

Then Italy beckons.

It’s where you’ll find the Eternal City of Rome, and a long list of glorious Italian cities besides. Think Venice, Pisa, Florence, Verona, Bologna… Well, you get the idea.

Add Tuscan hilltop villages and watercolor seaside towns like the Cinque Terre to that – and you’ll agree that Italy has many beautiful places to visit!

Whether you’re sampling the coffee shops in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood or floating under Venice’s charming bridges that cross over its canals, Italy is endlessly romantic.

Planning a trip to Italy is all about getting your itinerary right. There are a ton of places to visit after all.

Italy highlights

  • No luxury Europe travel guide would be complete without a trip to Venice. It’s all romance and gorgeous palazzos. (Well, after you’ve figured out how to get from the cruise port to Venice itself)
  • See the Leaning Tower of Pisa. What can we say, it’s an icon – and the rest of this handsome city deserves some attention too!
  • Pizza, pasta and Prosecco. Enough said.
  • The only problem with the Cinque Terre’s five colorful villages is that they’re too darn pretty for their own good!
  • The island of Sicily beckons with its fiery heart, Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano – where hiking and wine tasting are popular. Taormina’s beaches are also legendary.
  • We have to mention the Vatican City – not technically part of Italy, but accessed from Rome. Who can deny the unmatched beauty of the Sistine Chapel? This isn’t just an Italy highlight, it’s a must-do in Europe as a whole.
  • Perched on cliffs that plunge down into the sea, the Amalfi Coast towns of Positano, Sorrento and Amalfi on the Amalfi Coast offer enough beauty for a lifetime.
The beautiful Amalfi Coast is one of the best places to visit in Italy.
The beautiful Amalfi Coast is one of the many jewels to visit in Italy

Where to stay in Italy

  • Venice: There are some seriously romantic hotels in Venice that should be on every discerning traveler’s radar. 
  • Rome: Don’t ignore the Italian capital. Treat yourself to a luxury stay somewhere like the St. Regis Rome, an elegant affair set inside an historic palazzo.

7) Germany

We have family connections to Germany, and so we always try to visit when we’re in Europe.

But quite apart from our personal experiences, Germany is well worth a visit. 

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Here, you’ll find a patchwork of charming villages, bustling cities and mountain castles straight from the pages of a fairytale.

Visiting throughout the year offers up different experiences. Ski or snowboard in the Alps in winter, discover some of the best European Christmas markets over the festive season, and hang out on North Sea or Baltic beaches in summer.

And yes, let’s not forget Oktoberfest!

From Baden-Baden to Bonn to Hamburg, there’s tons of stuff to do. Ogle museum treasures and tour opulent palaces. Bicycle the Elbe River. And (importantly) go beer-hall hopping.

Germany highlights

  • Make sure you spend at least one day in Berlin – a vast city! Take an art tour, see the Berlin Wall and visit the many museums.
  • Get your spa on in Baden-Baden. Try Friedrichsbad. Yes, you go naked. And, yes, it’s co-ed. But this spa elevates the simple act of getting clean into a decadent 3½-hour ritual. (Just leave your modesty behind.)
  • Spend at least 2 days in Dresden to enjoy what this delightful city has to offer. (Hint: Ogle exquisite treasures in the Green Vault, one of the world’s most extraordinary museums!)

Where to stay in Germany

  • Berlin: One of Europe’s major cities, Berlin is a modern metropolis with an energy and vibe all its own. Basing yourself here on a trip to Germany makes sense – it’s a hub for transport connections to many places in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. While you’re here, stay at the Rocco Forte Hotel de Rome. The location is excellent (a stone’s throw from the Brandenburg Gate and central train station), and the rooms and spa are sumptuous.
  • Baden-Baden: We stayed at the gracious Hotel Belle Epoque. Built in 1874, it’s within walking distance to most of Baden-Baden’s sights.
  • Dresden: The 5-star Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski offers elegant rooms in the heart of historic Dresden.

Other top things to see and do in Europe

1) Smell the roses at Claude Monet’s Gardens

Claude Monet's gardens in Giverny are wonderful to wander.
It’s wonderful to stroll around Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny

This is one of the most popular things to do in Europe. It doesn’t get more iconic than Claude Monet’s very own gardens at Giverny – the same gardens that inspired dozens of his Impressionist masterpieces.

Are they the most beautiful gardens in the world? Maybe!

2) Walk the Camino de Santiago

Hiking fans should definitely put the Camino de Santiago on their Europe itinerary.

Weaving its way through France and Spain, and marked by the symbol of the scallop, it’s one of the most important Christian pilgrimage routes – and one of the most rewarding hikes for keen walkers to tackle on the European continent. 

3) Take a European river cruise

Europe has no shortage of river cruises (with bicycling included too). You can ply the waters of the Rhine or the Danube, visit Amsterdam on the Moselle or hit up Portugal’s ancient wine-producing valleys along the Douro.

Don’t miss a cruise along the scenic Seine, where you’ll stop off at picturesque places like Villequier, the former home of author Victor Hugo.

4) Visit a palace 

Wondering where to go in Europe that’s special? A visit to a palace (or a castle) is always a good idea.

There are famous palaces like Versailles, Windsor Castle, Schloss Neuschwanstein (the castle that inspired Disney), Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg, Romania’s Bran Castle (aka “Dracula’s Castle”) and the Alhambra in Spain.

Then there are the lesser visited palaces like Hampton Court Palace in England, Drottningholm in Stockholm and France’s Chantilly.

Stockholm's Drottningholm Palace is a visual feast.
You take a boat ride across Malaren Lake to reach Stockholm’s Drottningholm Palace

5) Get lost in a city’s old town

When traveling around Europe, you’ll come across myriad old towns – many European cities have an historic old town.

Dubrovnik’s Old Town is simply astounding, set within its original medieval city walls.

Elsewhere, Gamla Stan in Stockholm is a colorful place for a walk, while the cobbled streets and Gothic architecture of the Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia, are UNESCO recognized.

Where to go in Europe for the first time

If you’re planning your first Europe trip, first of all: Lucky you! It’s an amazing continent with enormous variety.

We’ve set out our preferred European countries to visit above. But if it’s your first time, obviously, you have to choose what tickles your fancy.

If you want a trip that includes a lot of history (and we mean a lot), then try Greece or Turkey on for size. The ancient Greek and Roman ruins here are something else.

For beaches, we’d recommend Croatia, Portugal (in the southern Algarve region) and the Greek Islands. Croatia especially is an island-hopper’s dream, with plenty to choose from in terms of beaches.

For ease of travel, and for visiting other nearby countries, head to Germany.

It’s got some great international rail and flight connections that make it simple to travel further afield. Plus, you can easily hop over the border into Poland, Switzerland, Czechia (Czech Republic) or France.

Dresden Royal Palace
Dresden, Germany, wowed us with its Green Vault museums

Italy is ideal for romantics. There’s nothing quite like Venice or Florence.

France is perfect for foodies.

And for a little bit of everything – from beaches to hiking to historic towns – we’d recommend Mallorca. It’s compact and easy to get around, and there’s plenty to keep you occupied.

Best time to visit Europe

Essential to any Europe trip planning: When should you visit?

It’s a good question. 

And a complex one, given that the regions of the continent are wildly different from each other.

While it’s hot and sunny in the Mediterranean in summer (i.e. in Southern Europe), that’s not the case in the UK or Sweden (Northern Europe). Here’s a quick season-by-season guide to Europe:

Spring

Spring is the time of year for festivals in Europe.

Flowers burst into bloom at places like the Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam, and the weather is great for exploring outside.

Winter snow destinations, as in Iceland and other Nordic countries (plus the Alps) are still open for business.

Couple sit at an outdoor cafe in Lyons La Foret, France
We took a Seine River cruise in spring, and the weather was great for sightseeing (this is Lyons La Foret, dubbed one of the “most beautiful villages of France”)

Summer

This is peak travel season in Europe.

School summer vacations (over July and August) see scores of Europeans leave cities behind for beaches and resorts. Temperatures soar in places like Rome, Greece and Turkey – be prepared for sometimes scorching sun, heat and humidity!

In Northern Europe, it’s a different story – relatively mild, with only occasional heatwaves perhaps.

Fall

Autumn is an ideal time to visit Europe. You’ll encounter fewer tourists in major destinations like Greece and Italy, and the Mediterranean Sea is still warm(ish) for swimming after being heated up all summer.

Towards the end of October, places and tours in more touristy destinations (especially island ones) begin to close as the season winds down.

Janice and George in Mallorca
We’re hot and sweaty in Mallorca (climbing the Calvari Steps in Pollenca) – and it was late September

Winter

You may not think it’s the best time of year to visit Europe, but winter can be great!

Join locals and cozy up in London pubs, Athenian tavernas and Roman trattorias. Museums galore save you from the rain and cold and offer a good dose of culture. 

You also have the luxury of not rubbing shoulders with crowds of tourists.

And, of course, it’s the season for winter sports – skiing, anyone?

How to get around in Europe

Trains

Trains are the backbone for traveling in Europe. They connect up pretty much every major destination on the continent. 

From exploring cities to taking long distance journeys, train travel is reliable, efficient and affordable. 

If train travel sounds good to you, Eurorail is your friend. You can get a pass that gives you unlimited train travel over a set amount of time.

George on the train to Berlin
George on the train to Berlin

Car rental

If public transportation isn’t your thing, you can always rent a car. 

In fact, renting a car is the best way to get around when seeking out more off-the-beaten track locations (or if you want to see a more local side of life).

Car rental is available from international brands like Discover Cars and others.

Some more top tips for renting a car in Europe:

  • Smaller is better: Rent a small car! This is the best piece of Europe travel advice we can offer when it comes to car rentals. Roads can be winding and narrow, especially in cities and rural areas. (We sorely regretted the free “upgrade” to a bigger vehicle given to us on one of our Mallorca trips!)
  • Left-hand driving: Don’t forget – it’s not just the UK where you’ll have to drive on the left. There’s also Malta, Ireland and Cyprus.
  • Driver’s license: Make sure you have the correct license or permit. Depending on your current license, you may need an international driving permit to drive a car in Europe.

Where to stay in Europe?

Hotels

From well-known chains to smaller boutique offerings, hotels in Europe offer a high standard of accommodation. One of the best things about European hotels is that much of the time they’re set in historic buildings, just adding to the charm of your trip. 

We’d recommend a hotel stay if it’s your first time in Europe. We can think of plenty of romantic European hotels that would totally fit the bill.

Booking.com

This is a great site to find a good hotel in Europe.

Choose your city, and filter search results according to your preferences (for example, a superb 9+ rating, budget, distance from downtown, etc.). Or search with their map view to find a hotel that’s convenient for your travel needs.

We use Booking.com all the time for our hotel needs. We especially love the flexibility offered by their free cancellation policy – so we choose hotels that offer free cancellation on Booking.com

Once you’ve chosen your European travel destination(s), we recommend you search Booking.com for your ideal hotel(s) there. Then you can figure out the best transportation options between your destinations. 

People suntan around the pool at Cas Curial in Soller, Mallorca.
We booked this great boutique finca (farm hotel) – Cas Curial – in Soller, Mallorca, using Booking.com

Vrbo

Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner) offers a more local way to stay in Europe.

It’s like Airbnb, except all accommodations are completely private and self-contained (either a whole house or apartment). If that sounds good to you, simply put in your destination and when you want to travel, and see what’s out there!

5 Top Europe travel tips

1) Don’t try to see all of Europe in one trip

One of our top Europe travel recommendations for a first-time visit?

Don’t try to see absolutely everything in one trip when planning a vacation to Europe. Use your first trip as an introduction to the continent and work out what you would like to see the next time you travel there.

2) Learn about gratuities

Tipping culture in Europe differs from country to country and the type of service you’re paying for. It’s a good idea to get a grip on the tipping etiquette in the European destination you’re visiting before you get there.

3) Pack light

Dragging huge bags around Europe is no fun at all.

Keep your packing list to a minimum and leave those high heels at home. Bring comfortable walking shoes or travel sandals for all of those miles you’re going to be walking around all those incredible European cities.

Young woman rolling suitcase in Europe
You’ll only want to take one suitcase that you can roll easily

4) Learn some of the lingo

English may be widely spoken in many European cities, but don’t expect everyone to understand you. Learning some of the local lingo will help to make your trip run a little smoother. It will also mean that you get more of an insight into local life!

5) Book tickets ahead of time

Be sure to book tickets in advance – especially if you’re going in high season.

In peak season, the most popular European attractions get booked up far in advance. If you have a particular museum, experience or journey that you want to add to your European travel itinerary, we recommend booking it weeks, or even months, before you travel.

FAQs about traveling to Europe

Is it better to use cash or credit cards in Europe?

Both are fine.

Most places will accept a credit card unless they’re super local. Then again, it’s always good to have a bit of cash in case you need it for taxis, souvenirs or snacks from a food vendor. For booking hotels, credit cards are mainly used.

Is the water safe to drink in Europe?

It depends. Generally speaking, most European countries have safe drinking water. So you don’t need to buy bottled water.

But you might want to avoid tap water in some countries, including the Greek islands, Turkey, Cyprus, Albania, Montenegro and Bulgaria. Tap water safety is important to prevent getting sick while traveling some areas of Europe.

How many European countries should you visit on a two-week Europe trip?

If you want to use your trip to see lots of European cities in different countries, then a two-week trip gives you enough time to visit three to (at the very most) five countries – depending on where you’re visiting in Europe (France, Italy and Spain, for example) and the type of transportation you’ll be using (combination of train and plane, for example).

Should you see that many countries?

In our view, squeezing a lot of countries into your trip isn’t the best way to travel around Europe.

We’re more into slow immersive travel. So on a two-week trip, we’d prefer to pick one country (like Italy) – ideally one area in that country (like Sicily) – and spend our time really getting to know that particular part of Europe. 

Arethusa Spring, Ortigia, Sicily
You can easily spend two full weeks in Sicily alone!

How far in advance should you book your trip to Europe?

How far in advance you should reserve your hotels, flights and tours will depend on the time of year you’re taking your trip.

In summer? Booking at least two months in advance is recommended (preferably four or more months in advance). In the off-season, you’ll be fairly safe booking a few weeks before you travel.

Is Europe expensive to visit?

Quite a few countries in Europe are expensive for travelers. You’ll pay more to visit the UK, France, Iceland, Germany, Switzerland and Nordic countries like Norway than a visit to other European destinations.  

On the other hand, you can expect to get much more for your money if you travel to Poland, Lithuania and Albania.

The time of year that you travel will also affect how much you spend on your European trip.

Summer has peak prices for travel to places such as Italy, Greece and Croatia, while prices for accommodation and transportation drop in the low season.

Helpful resources for planning a trip to Europe

Here’s a list of some of our favorite travel resources:

  • Google Flights – A great site for searching for flights (we always start here)
  • Skyscanner – Good for booking cheap flights
  • Booking.com – Our go-to site for scouting out great hotels (and getting good deals)
  • Vrbo – For sourcing more spacious accommodations with a kitchen
  • GetYourGuide – Terrific for booking tours and tickets in Europe
  • Viator – A really good alternative site for booking tours and tickets
  • Discover Cars – For car rentals
  • Rick Steves – Our favorite Europe travel blog

That wraps up our travel guide for Europe!

There you have it. Finito!

We hope our guide to traveling Europe has helped you with planning your own European adventure.

One final tip: Take care of the logistics. That means book your hotels and transport in advance (your car rental too) and maybe brush up on the local lingo. Then you’ll be on track to having the best Europe trip ever!

For more Europe travel information, see all our Europe posts.


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Europe travel guide

Photo credits: 4, 7, 8, 11, 15, 18 to 23, 25 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase


About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

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