EUROPE TRAVEL GUIDE

From beautiful Paris to smoke-filled coffeeshops in Amsterdam, Oktoberfest to La Tomatina, Europe is a massive, diverse continent with an unlimited assortment of things to see and do. You won’t have any problem filling your time, whether you’re backpacking Europe for a few months on a budget or just spending a few weeks there on a well-earned vacation.

The continent boasts wonderful beaches, historical architecture, amazing wine, and tons of world-class festivals. Every country is incredibly different from the next too, providing limitless variety in what you do during your trip.

I first backpacked Europe in 2006 and was hooked immediately. I’ve been visiting every year since, have run tours around the continent, and even wrote a book on traveling in Europe. It’s a destination I love and never get tired of exploring.

This guide will give you an overview of Europe and the tips and tricks you need to start planning your trip. I’ve also written extensive travel guides to each country on the continent (linked below in this post) so you can get more in-depth information for your specific itinerary too!

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Europe

1. Tour the Greek Islands

These islands are the mecca of summer beach fun and each is unique in its own great way. There’s Ios (beach party central with archeological ruins and awesome boat tours); Kos (ancient ruins and nature); Crete (Bronze Age ruins of Knossos, hiking, beaches, and wine), Santorini (iconic blue water, white buildings, and local wineries); Mykonos, (the upscale party island with beautiful beaches, villages, and sunsets), Naxos (best island in the Cyclades). Plus, Milos, Corfu, Lemnos, Zakynthos, and so many more! With hundreds of islands in the country, you can always find what you are looking for!

2. Ride the rails

Europe is famous for its international rail system. Rail passes like the Eurail Pass have been around forever and still make it very easy to get from country to country on a relatively small budget (and with lots of flexibility). Europe has some of the fastest trains in the world that travel up to an incredible 217 mph (350 kph). The whole continent is connected by trains and there’s a growing push for even more connections and long-distance, high-speed trains in order to reduce flying and help combat climate change. There’s nothing more quintessential than riding the trains in Europe and I encourage you to take as many trains as possible. It’s one of the best ways to see the continent.

3. Get lost in Paris

The “City of Lights” is everything people say it is. I fell in love with it the first time I stepped foot in Paris. The city is just magical. You have a ton of museums, cafes, jazz clubs, famous art, and beautiful architecture. I love just strolling around the streets of the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter) or Montmartre neighborhood as it makes for a breathtaking day. Another one of my favorite things to do here is just sit in the Jardin des Champs-Élysées park and picnic like the Parisians. For something a bit different, check out the famous Catacombs and Paris Sewer Museum. With so much to offer in the way of culture, history, and gastronomy, it would take years to see everything here but you can still get a good feel of the city in a few days.

4. Go city hopping

There are so many amazing cities in Europe that we’d need a top 100 to list them all. Here are some of my personal favorites and must-see cities: London is rich in history, culture, and the famous Big Ben clock; Edinburgh is a vibrant medieval city with cozy pubs and a famous castle with a huge New Year’s Eve Party; Amsterdam has cozy coffee shops and canopied tree-covered canals; Berlin has a wild party scene, street art, and the Berlin Wall; Barcelona has tapas, beach, and unique Gaudi architecture; coastal Lisbon has colorful tiles, old tramcars, cobblestone streets and plenty of fresh seafood; Prague has a beautiful intact Old Town, incredible architecture and eclectic bars; Tallinn Estonia has beautiful medieval buildings with colorful roofs. Florence  is a mecca for Italian Renaissance architecture, art history, and gelato; Stockholm mixes medieval architecture and modern art and design. Crisscross the continent, take in the culture, and enjoy all the historic cities!

5. Hit the Alps

Whether you go skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer, the Alps hold some of the most breathtaking views in all the world. You don’t even need to be an expert hiker because there are mountain trails for all levels and crystal-clear Alpine lakes. Check out the spectacular Eibsee trail loop in Bavaria at the foot of Die Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain, for the clearest, multi-colored, sparkling lake you’ve ever seen. Or the Männlichen Kleine Scheidegg Panorama trail in Switzerland’s stunning green and snow-capped Alps. Or visit Italy’s Dolomites in South Tyrol for the scenic Seceda trail. The Alps have trails for every fitness level and in every season.

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