What should you know for your First time in Europe

After I started writing this blog, about various destinations, I got a huge response from all over the world. You love the way I present my posts and the summery about the destinations. Most of you especially like the tips, I provide at the end of each post.

I thank you all for such a lovely response and encouragement.

First time in Europe
Europe map

I am getting lots of questions and the most common one is about planning Europe trip for the first time. Taking into consideration this, I thought to write this post all dedicated to this subject –

How do I plan my first ever Europe trip?

There are tons of travel companies which bring loads of people every day from all over the world in Europe. At the same time, the number of independent travelers arriving here is also considerably big. There are pros and cons for each type of travel. One can find lots of discussion about it on the internet. Here are some links for example –

http://www.runawayjane.com/taking-a-tour-vs-independent-travel/

https://www.ytravelblog.com/why-take-guided-tours-over-independent-travel/

Whatever way you choose, I think it is always good to be aware of some facts and have some information. So here we go:

Visa

If you need a tourist visa to enter in the European territory, then most likely you will get Schengen Visa. This visa permits to enter and stay in most of the EU countries and in Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland (these are not in European Union). A few East European countries and Great Britain are not the part of Schengen areas and one needs to apply for a separate visa.

When

First time in Europe
Ludwigsburg palace garden blooms in spring.

Europe is beautiful all year. Given this fact, in winter, the northern countries freeze and southern countries can receive thunderstorms and wind chills. Summers are crowded and costly. I would prefer Spring and Autumn seasons as an optimal choice.

Entry

Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Munich are some bigger airports in Europe which receive a large portion of intercontinental air traffic. Lufthansa Airlines will bring you in Munich or Frankfurt, Air France will bring you in Paris and KLM will bring you in Amsterdam. All these airports provide all the basic facilities and are well connected with the cities. Frankfurt has a very good connection with fast train ICE right at the airport. This can be convenient to travel to some other destination. Munich airport is fairly near the city and Munich is one of the popular tourist destinations.

One can enter anywhere in Europe as per flight availability and convenience. The suggested route below can be altered accordingly. Believe me, it won’t be hassled.

First time in Europe
Travel in Europe

Europe has best train network with some fast trains like ICE(Germany), TGV(France). All the popular destinations are very well connected with public transport. There are lots of various transport means available. For more details, visit here.

Where

Europe is widespread, culturally diverse, scenic and historic. There are some most visited travel destinations in the world. At the same time, there are hidden gems which are less touristic. Some places can be visited in few hours while some need to be enjoyed with pace.

For first time visitors, I will suggest visiting most of the popular destinations. Keep the offbeat destinations for the next trip.  On the first trip to Europe, one must admire the Mona Lisa painting, take a photo in front of the Colosseum and Eiffel Tower, row through canals of Venice, get introduced to various architectural styles. One must walk through east and west Berlin to understand the history. One cannot miss the wax statues at Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam and should ride on Rotair to reach Mt. Titlis. The list is long and one should visit these popular destinations at least once. These destinations give the first glimpse of European culture and lifestyle. This will help you to plan the second trip more confidently and then offbeat destinations are easy to adore.

Route

One can explore Europe through all various possible routes. Here is just one option which covers most of the top destinations. One can spend 2-4 days at each place as per time availability and interest. The following travel route demands about 1-month duration. One can skip or add one or more destinations.

Munich (2 days) –> Berlin (3 days) –> Hamburg (2-3 days) –> Amsterdam (2 days) –> Brussels (1 day)–> Paris (2-3 days)–> Geneva (2 days)–> Zurich (1 day)–> Milan (1-2 days)–> Florence and Pisa (2-3 days)–> Rome (3 days)–> Venice (2 days)–> Vienna(2 days) –> Salzburg(1 day) –> Return to Munich to fly out.

One can always add Spain and Portugal. These are also popular destinations. One can choose Malaga, Barcelona, and Madrid in Spain while Lisbon and Algarve in Portugal to visit. These places are not at all inferior to those above selected in the route. Only the thing is, that will add minimum one more week.

Some tips

  1. If you book a return ticket from the same airport as that of arrival, it will save much of the travel cost.
  2. Rome is little distantly placed in this itinerary, but it is the hub of Roman culture. If you are not interested in Colosseum or Vatican City or any such Roman historic ruins, one can skip it. 🙁
  3. Europe is the place for most of the popular museums. All are reputed for their unique collections and exhibitions. It is simply impossible to visit all of them during a short stay. I would suggest selecting 2-3 as per interest and enjoying them thoroughly.
  4. Each city in Europe has Town Hall square and Marketplace. These can be the perfect starting point to explore the place.
First time in Europe
Europe coffee culture

Something more

While in Europe, just to visit the destinations should not be the only motto of the trip. One must try to know the local lifestyle and culture. This will make the stay more enjoyable. Following are some such tips to mingle with locals.

  1. Roadside cafes are the part of European culture. Enjoy there breakfast.
  2. Pubs can be the best place to interact with locals. Just make sure it is not a touristic pub. 🙂
  3. If traveling with children then public parks, zoos or summer festivals are the places you will be interested in.
  4. This might seem like weird, but I want to suggest this. Make a trip to the local supermarket and you will find all sorts of local foods and articles and that too at the cheaper rates. The only drawback can be that no one speaks English

While you are planning your trip, why not to try this European flags quiz? I am sure it will be fun.

I wish you all a very happy journey!

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