Planning a holiday in Europe? Check out these top tips for traveling to European countries and discover how to see the sights and make the most of your trip.
Traveling to Europe can be the trip of a lifetime. Fifty countries, each with their own unique culture, language, food, and attractions, are found either entirely or partly within the European continent.
You may be planning to try and visit several different countries on the same trip, and you are not alone. Many iconic destinations, such as Paris, Rome, London, Munich, Barcelona, and Prague are all located relatively close to each other and many of them can be visited with the same visa or travel authorization.
If you’re planning to visit Europe, here are 10 key pieces of advice to help you make the most out of your trip.
Check Visa Requirements for Europe
Whether you are planning to go to France, Germany, or Italy, it is important to have the correct authorization to reach your destination. Depending on the nationality of your passport, you might need a visa to enter the country.
The 26 European states that make up the Schengen Area have the same entry requirements, including a shared visa. There is also a list of visa-exempt nationalities who can travel freely to all the countries in the region.
Starting in 2022, if you are in the visa-exempt category, you will need to register your details online with the new European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) before traveling. This system is designed to improve security and will be mandatory for anyone traveling without a visa.
The big plus is that the registration can be done from the comfort of your own home rather than at an embassy (as with a visa) and will be much quicker and more straightforward. Check here to see if you are eligible for the ETIAS.
It is also worth remembering that some countries, including the UK and Ireland have separate visa policies. Before traveling, do a quick search online to find out what you need to arrive at your destination.
Book Tickets in Advance
Waiting until you arrive in Europe to buy tickets for famous buildings or museums is not the best idea. There are frequently long queues for iconic locations like the Parisian Catacombs and Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia and tickets may be sold out days in advance.
The key is to draw up a rough agenda for your trip before you go and reserve tickets for any popular sites.
Go to Europe in the Off-Season
Summer may bring good weather, but it also brings tourists in droves, especially to the Mediterranean. No one enjoys overcrowded beaches and queues for tourist attractions.
That’s why it’s a great idea to travel to Europe during the off-season. You will find better deals on flights, accommodation, and tours. Even if you are coming for the weather, countries like Spain and Greece have great weather through most of spring and fall—in fact, it might be far more bearable than the sweltering Mediterranean summers.
Book Flights Early
Europe is a popular destination and many airlines compete to offer potential customers good offers. The lowest prices on flights to European countries can be found by searching as early as possible. In general, the more seats that are available, the lower the price will be.
Pack to Travel Light
This tip is especially true if you plan to visit more than one place in Europe. The last thing you want is to be lugging a heavy suitcase up and down the cobblestone streets of an English country village or steep mountain roads of towns in the Swiss Alps.
If you are planning to stay for some time, don’t be afraid to use the readily available laundromats to wash and re-wear clothes so that you can pack less and keep your luggage light.
Don’t See It All in One Go
Traveling to Europe is exciting. One of the big appeals is that there are so many countries all located close together with easy transport options between them. It is tempting to try and tick them all off the bucket list in one epic trip.
This is not a great idea.
Cities like London, Paris, and Rome have so many things to see that you could easily spend a week in each and still barely scratch the surface.
If you spend one day on a Croatian beach and the next admiring the work of Van Gogh in the Netherlands, before jetting off to get that essential holiday snap with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, followed by a pint of Guinness straight from the source at St James’ Gate in Dublin… Well, you will quickly suffer from burnout.
Try to fit in too much and you will end up tired and won’t fully appreciate all the amazing places you have been. Take it slow and spend at least a few days in each location to give yourself time to relax and enjoy the experience.
Check if You Need an International Driver’s License
Different countries have different policies on what you need to drive there. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that your license will do the job. You don’t want to book a hire car only to be told that you cannot drive it.
Check beforehand if you are going to need an international driver’s license. These are not difficult to obtain. Simply check online where you can get one in your country and book an appointment.
Take Out Travel Insurance
This is good advice wherever you travel. You never know what might happen while you are abroad and Europe is no exception. Buy insurance from a reputable company and have that peace of mind. Why take the risk?
Get Off the Beaten Path
Of course, iconic landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe, Tower Bridge, and the Brandenburg Gate are essential items on any to-do list for Europe, but these popular spots are usually thronging with crowds of tourists.
There are plenty of lesser-known gems to explore in Europe, which could turn out to be the highlight of your trip. Never be afraid to get off the beaten path and discover something new.
Learn Some of the Local Language and Use It
Knowing how to communicate not only makes traveling easier, but can add a whole new dimension to your European experience. It helps to be able to order food and ask for directions and locals will appreciate the effort.
If you can go beyond the basics and hold up a conversation, who knows where it will lead you?
Perhaps a few drinks in a local bar chatting in broken Spanish will lead to some great tips on where to find the best local restaurants, beaches away from the tourist crowd, or a lesser-known basilica or museum to visit. Never be afraid to try and speak a foreign language, even if you make mistakes!
Abhirup Banerjee is an experienced content writer. He is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where he shares his valuable travel tips with the audience.