Many people who consider themselves expert travelers would probably admit that when it comes to how to travel Europe, there's no one overall answer for everyone. There are things that you enjoy and things that you don't, so no itinerary will be the same for everyone. There are some things however, that most
people will enjoy, which is why you see themed travel packages available for many different elements. From art to food to music to architecture, there's generally something for everyone in most European cities.
Planning a European Vacation
If you're considering travel, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions:
- What do I want out of the travel experience?
- What are my top destinations to visit?
- How many locations can I see?
- When should I travel?
Question one deals with you personally and will give you the best perspective on your journey. Are you looking for peace or excitement? Some locations will offer both! Do you want to try new things or stay comforted by familiarities? This would include everything from language to food. If you don't speak another language and don't want to deal with a barrier, stick to England and Ireland. English is spoken widely around Europe, however it's polite to try to learn a little of the native tongue. Are you interested in seeing major attractions, or finding out secrets that only the locals know about? Most first time travelers want to see the big attractions as there's usually a reason that they are so popular. Places like the Louvre in Paris attract millions of visitors every year for a reason, and will probably offer something for everyone. If it's art you want, Paris can't be beat, but if it's architecture, you may enjoy Prague or Barcelona. Maybe you're more interested in historical cities like Rome or Athens. Either way, try to figure out what it really is you're looking for, and you will be better off. Ask people you know who have been to Europe where they think you would like. You may get some surprising answers.
What to do in Europe
Once you've figured out what you like and what the purpose of your vacation is, you can start to nail down where you want to go. Try and make a list of your top 3-5 destinations. If they are close, you may be able to use a car rental in Europe to explore, or you may wish to fly or train to different cities. It's okay to take a long time to process the information you will find. Don't worry too much about price at this point. If you start searching and find one location is more expensive than others, you can always look at your other options. The Euro exchange rate is the same in every country, but local prices vary depending on what you're doing. It may sound crazy, but try not to be too frugal at this point. For many people, this trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity and saving up for years is not uncommon. It's important not to get too overzealous about your plan. If you want to see Rome, Paris, London, Munich, Madrid, and Athens in two weeks you will want to re think your trip. Give yourself at least 4-5 days for each major city, maybe more. It's not hard to spend a month exploring Italy alone, not to mention the rest of Europe. Be realistic about what you can see in a day. The aforementioned Louvre is worth at least a complete day or two on it's own. Read reviews about museums and attractions to get an idea of how much time you should dedicate to each thing you do. Also, plan 'free' days when you just do whatever comes naturally to you. Some of the best experiences you will have can come from asking your hotel concierge what to do.
When to Travel to Europe
Once you've taken all this into account, figure out what time is best for you to travel to Europe. For many the summer is ideal, but it's not uncommon to see large groups of people heading to Europe in the fall (Oktoberfest), spring (Easter/Holy Week), or winter (Christmas markets, skiing/snowboarding). With planning, you can have the vacation experience you've always wanted. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any suggestions, or if you have a question about how to travel Europe.