Planning an amazing Europe Itinerary
The perfect Europe Itinerary for first time visitors
Planning your first Europe itinerary is such an exciting time. Whether you decide to backpack across the old continent or explore it in luxury, a good Europe itinerary will require some research. We've been doing several European road trips a year and we learned a few things about the best places to visit and why they should be included in your itinerary. So grab that cuppa and let's help you organise that amazing trip you've been dreaming of.
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The great Europe itinerary
The first thing we need to consider when planning a Europe itinerary is the length of time you should spend exploring the continent. Of course, this ties in with your budget. We believe it's better to budget well and explore more, rather than cut your trip short but stay in utmost luxury. We appreciate everyone is different, but for the purpose of this article, we'd like to recommend mid-range accommodation options and a few tips to save during your Eurotrip.
Our first long Europe itinerary lasted three whole months. We did it prior to this blog, so we crafted the itinerary old school: with pens, papers, maps and books. We didn't backpack, but we aimed for mid-range accommodation. We spoiled ourselves with a few foodie treats and nice restaurants. We love travelling for the sake of food, like most people.
4 days trip for culture lovers
Our great Europe itinerary started in London. It wasn't the first time we visited the great British capital city, but we love it so much, we couldn't skip it. The good thing about London is that most international planes will arrive in Heathrow, so very likely you too will start your itinerary here.
There is something truly sensational about London. We think is one of the greatest cities, because of its history, the royal family, the pubs and high teas. There is so much to do in London you can spend a lifetime here.
We recommend spending 4 days in London. Start with the main attractions, like the glorious Big Ben and the London Eye, then move to the museums and art galleries scattered all around the city. We recommend staying somewhere not further than 10-15 minutes from a subway station. When in London, get an Oyster card so you can pre-pay for travel and save time. Alternatively, if you have a contactless card you can also use that. Just remember that if you visit from abroad, you might get charged every single time you use your card, so do check with your provider first.
For food in London, we recommend trying the great British pies. We love a good pie and pieminister is our favourite shop. They have vegetarian and vegan options too. Of course, don't skip the pub experience. When you go in, just order a pint of beer. We also recommend ordering a Sunday dinner for the whole British pub experience.
2 days trip for off the beaten path attractions
We lived in Bristol for close to ten years so this city holds a special place in our hearts. There are so many things to do in Bristol and it's a city often overlooked by tourists because pretty much everyone wants to visit London. We recommend taking a couple of days to explore what Bristol has to offer. Start with a walk by the harbourside, enjoy the stunning views from Cabot Tower and have lunch in one of the many restaurants located on Cheltenham Road.
We also recommend taking a short day trip to Bath. Bath is located just 10 minutes away by train. The city is a World Heritage site since 1987. You'll really enjoy a proper cream tea (British black tea with milk and scones with jam and clotted cream).
3 days trip for art enthusiasts
Right, time to leave the UK behind and head to the awesome capital of the Netherlands. Known for its red district and loose soft drug laws, Amsterdam is a unique city to visit. Here is a handy guide on where to stay in Amsterdam so you can better find the right accommodation for your needs. We also put together our favourite 50 things to do in Amsterdam, which include a lot of incredible cultural activities.
We recommend a visit to the Van Gogh Museum. Then spend a while just enjoying the quiet outdoors in the city. We walked around the canals and tried to discover off the beaten path places, where not many tourists venture. The centre can be very busy, but don't let that deter you from visiting one of the best capitals in Europe.
2 days trip for foodie travellers
From Amsterdam, you can board the train to Antwerp, a Belgian city with a twist. Many visit Brussels during their first Europe itinerary, but we think you should head for Antwerp instead. Antwerp is less known, thus a little quieter. It also has a variety of chocolate and beer shops right in the centre. It has a long canal under the river which can be crossed on foot or bike. From the other side, you can see the cityscape and admire it at sunset.
Antwerp has a strong foreign influence as well and you'll find that the mixed cultures made Antwerp into a flourishing Belgian city. You'll find Spanish influences in some of the beautiful buildings in the centre. Antwerp is also the Belgian capital of fashion, so if shopping is your favourite sport, you'll find plenty of local businesses to support.
We recommend staying in Hotel De Witte Lelie, a luxury boutique hotel located in the centre. We think it's beautiful and romantic and perfect for a night in Antwerp.
2 days trip for castle seekers
From Antwerp, you can grab another trail to Luxembourg, one of the cutest cities we visited recently. We recommend exploring Luxembourg for one day (and sampling some of the Luxembourgish food) then going out of the city and heading for the castles, so you can truly see what Luxembourg is all about. We think it's best if you rent a car for the day so you have a bit more flexibility.
If you arrive during summer, June 23, is the National Day. That's when people gather outside, party, enjoy street food and awesome fireworks. You'll love it.
3 days trip for romantic travellers
Oh beautiful France, when your romantic 3 days itinerary in Paris starts. We put together a handy guide to help you find where to stay in Paris. We know many people want to visit Paris for its attractions, but we promise, it's also incredible to just walk around the city and admire its gorgeous architecture. Walk by the river, photograph it at night, chill on a bench. Paris is a city which deserves to be discovered on foot. We love doing that and we rarely rely on public transport. The first time we visited Paris we also booked tickets for the opera.
The best time to visit Paris (in our opinion) is during Autumn. Is less busy than summer and the weather is pretty fantastic. The colours of the trees turn ruby so the parks look far more appealing and inviting. To us, autumn is all about visiting Paris. Please don't stop at the restaurants by the major tourist attractions. They tend to be more expensive with slower service. Try to go out of your way to find a smaller bistro which will offer better food, better experience and tailored service. Guaranteed!
Remember that Paris gets booked up really quickly, so we recommend buying tickets for your attractions in advance. Click here to buy yours now.
2 days trip for luxury travellers
Often overlooked during a Europe itinerary, Nice is a beautiful and sunny city located in the South of France. Known for its glorious weather, Nice was founded by the Greeks and later transformed into a retreat for 19th-century European elite. There is much to be discovered in Nice, but for the purpose of this short trip, we should focus on where to find the best views of the city. Hike towards Mont Boron and visit Le Chateau during the evening for incredible night vistas. Promenade on the Prom. des Anglais along boulevard next to the main pebble beach.
Nice has incredible food, so we recommend allocating time to just indulge in some of the local dishes which are absolutely spectacular.
1 day trip for car enthusiasts
Since you are in the gorgeous French Riviera, you can't skip a quick visit to Monaco. Monte-Carlo is known for its casino, but also for its crazy expensive cars and lavishing lifestyle. You can treat yourself and book a super car experience for the day.
3 days trip for tapas addicts
There are a few pros and cons to visiting Barcelona but above us, this city offers an array of amazing things to do, see and eat. We put together a guide to help you find where to stay in Barcelona and remember to book your accommodation in advance as it gets pretty busy. Barcelona has long been subject to debate due to over tourism but this doesn't mean you shouldn't visit. We recommend staying in a hotel and not an Airbnb. Also, try to book things to do with locals so you can give some back and help the communities.
Sagrada Familia is a must when visiting Barcelona. It was the highlight of our trip. Food in Barcelona is pretty fantastic so don't hesitate to try the many tapas bars around the city. For a unique experience, visit a local supermarket and buy a few local ingredients, then have a picnic on the beach. Don't forget to clean and recycle when you finish.
3 days trip for summer lovers
Although we have a guide on where to stay in Madrid, we'd advise that you don't head for the Spanish capital, but you travel down south, to the beautiful city of Seville. We lived in Seville for 6 months and although we couldn't make it our permanent home, we absolutely loved the city and we'll happily return to visit.
There are so many things to do in Seville but our favourite is walking around the sunny centre, enjoying the gorgeous tapas bars. Seville is visually stunning, making it the best place we photographed in Europe. We put together a guide on where to stay in Seville for your ease. We believe the best time to visit Seville is Spring or Autumn. Avoid summer if you can, as the temperatures soar to over 30 degrees Celcius. As beautiful as the city is under the Spanish sun, it becomes too hot during summer, making it impossible to explore.
If you visit during Spring, you can admire the blooming orange trees which fill the city with a sweet perfume. Don't forget to book your tickets to Alcazar in advance.
4 days trip for beach bums
Time to take a break from exploring and settle on the beach in the sunny South coast of Portugal. The Algarve was our home for a few months and we had the time of our lives. It was incredible to just walk on the beach for kilometres on end, indulge in fresh seafood and scuba dive in the Atlantic. We recommend staying in Vilamoura although any place will be magical. Visiting the Algarve in the summer is ideal for the weather, although do remember that it can get pretty busy on the beach.
You can also rent a car and explore the coast a little more. There are several hikes and trails, myriad beaches and sleepy villages awaiting to be discovered. The Algarve is also known for its lime cliffs and amazing natural beach caves.
3 days trip for bohemian travellers
Celebrate one of Europe's most enchanting cities: Lisbon. Once you pick where to stay in Lisbon, it's time to start exploring the city by enjoying a beautiful 3-day itinerary. You can extend by adding an extra day to your itinerary in order to visit Sintra and its beautiful castles around. Sintra sure looks like a fairytale.
We recommend visiting the botanical garden, which looks like something out of Great Expectations. Chill by the river during the evening and grab a drink with the locals. Indulge in octopus and traditional Portuguese dishes and walk up and down Lisbon's many hills. Lisbon is a beautiful, sunny city with friendly folk and exciting cultural sights.
3 days trip for soft adventure travellers
From the chilled city of Porto to the outdoorsy city of Dresden. We know many add Berlin to their Europe itinerary, but not us. Of course, we ended up visiting Berlin years later, but we are glad we initially skipped it. Berlin is full of history and a bit gritty but didn't steal our hearts. As such, we'd recommend an alternative city in Germany: Dresden. Dresden is romantic, outdoorsy, spectacular.
In fact, it's known to be the Florence of the Elbe. It has so much to offer, from beautiful streets to incredible castles. Take the cruise on the river in the evening and have a pint while learning about the city. Visit the nearby smaller villages and marvel at the German half-timber frame houses.
In fact, we loved Dresden so much, we decided to make our home base for a while.
2 days trip for hygee seekers
From Germany to Scandinavia, that's what we did during our first Europe itinerary. You can take the plane or drive to Copenhagen if you like road trips. We sure love a good drive so this is what we are planning this year: a drive from Germany all the way to the Arctic Circle. Can't wait!
With so many things to do in Copenhagen, it's easy to see why so many people love the Danish capital city. We remember we loved it so much because everyone was incredibly friendly and smiley. The food was outstanding and the pastries were a dream.
We recommend visiting Copenhagen sometimes during the week, but not on Monday. We wanted to visit its towers to see the city from above and found a couple of them to be closed on a Monday.
3 days trip for snow addicts
One of our favourite places in Europe is Helsinki. Although a bit cold during winter, we braved the snow and immersed ourselves in what the city has to offer. First of all, Helsinki has so many incredible restaurants. Not something we ever thought we'd say. But to our surprise, Helsinki was super vegan-friendly and very delicious indeed. It has an array of saunas and outdoor pools, which made us addicted to the sauna. In fact, we are now so crazy about saunas, we rarely want to book a hotel which doesn't have one.
In terms of cultural activities, Helsinki has a ridiculous number of epic museums. In fact, this is a pretty all-around destination which offers an array of things to do. If time permits, we recommend taking a day trip from Helsinki as well to visit Nuuksio park. We saw it during winter, and it looked magnificent. We also took a day trip to Tallinn with their ferry.
3 days trip for history travellers
We've seen so many amazing pictures of the Charle's Bridge, that eventually made us want to add Prague to our Europe itinerary. Prague really surprised us. It looked very beautiful day and night and its historic centre really was as photogenic as we imagined. The castle area was even better, with medieval buildings and wonderful vista points.
Prague surprised us with its great food which we adored. Don't forget to check where to stay in Prague and plan accordingly. We recommend spending around 3 days in Prague to explore its unique sights. You'll very likely end up missing it the moment you leave: it really is that great.
3 days trip for elegant travellers
Vienna was a wonderful surprise for us. So much so, that for a while we decided to live in Vienna. We didn't find a short term apartment at the time, but we continued to visit it for years to come. Vienna is elegant, sophisticated and full of baroque buildings. You can have lunch at one of its many special Michelin star restaurants, enjoy high tea in a luxury hotel or see the city from a traditional horse carriage.
Known for its incredible museums, Vienna is the place to be for the cultural traveller. Check where to stay in Vienna and position yourself close to a subway station. We were just 15 minutes away from a station and it came in very handy, as we were able to visit all the attractions. We recommend spending 3 days in Vienna.
3 days trip for party goers
Budapest is an incredible city which must be added to any Europe itinerary. We started by spending 3 days in Budapest, then ended up living in Budapest for a year. Who knew it will leave such an impression. First, check where to stay in Budapest then prepare yourself to have the time of your life. Start by visiting the Buda side first thing in the morning, enjoy the party scene on the Pest side and indulge in some of the best Hungarian food ever.
Food and drinks are very well priced in Budapest which makes it ideal for the budget conscious traveller.
2 days trip for the colour-seeker traveller
From Budapest, take the train to Bratislava and immerse yourself in one of the youngest capitals of Europe. Bratislava has a small and compact centre, making it ideal for a quick visit. Spend one day around the centre, visit its main museums and see the beautiful blue church. Don't miss the city museum where you can learn more about Bratislava, then head to its tower so you can admire the rooftops from above.
On your second day, take a hike to the Bratislava Castle, then visit the restaurant in the UFO. From the platform, you can admire the city from above.
3 days trip for curious travellers
With so many things to do in Bucharest, we are surprised to see how underrated this city is. Not many add Romania to their Europe itinerary, but we think that should change. Bucharest is a budget destination, perfect for those interested in culture, history and food. There are some aspects of Bucharest's history which are not very known to foreigners. We took several trips with locals to learn more about the city.
You should check out the old town which not only looks spectacular but has an array of bars and clubs, as well as lovely terraces for the summer. If you love walking, head to King Michael I Park and rent a rowing boat for a few hours. Of course, take a day trip to Transylvania so you can see the gorgeous Dracula Castle.
We recommend booking some of your tickets in advance so you can learn more about Bucharest, directly from locals.
3 days trip for fashion addicts
From Bucharest, take a cheap flight to Milan, Italy's fashion city. We spent one day exploring the city, admiring the Duomo di Milano and eating our weight in gelato. Once we found where to stay in Milan, we also decided to take a day trip to Bellagio, which is now one of our favourite places in Italy.
Milan is the perfect place for fashion lovers and those interested in exquisite shopping. But all in all, Italy knows how to speak to every traveller through its magical food.
3 days trip for history seekers
Buongiorno Roma! If there is one thing we can recommend you do when it comes to Rome, is buying tickets in advance. Preferably, skip the line tickets. Honestly, the line at the Colosseum and Sistine Chapel were incredibly long. So we were so grateful we paid a little extra and save time.
Rome knows how to surprise, starting from its architecture, history, incredible food, all the way to its romantic itineraries you can do. They say that when in Rome, do as the Romans do: and that is love and eat your way around this magical city.
Our of all the amazing things to do in Rome, we decided to try awesome food which we now still crave after so many years.
4 days trip for chill lovers
Time to celebrate your Europe itinerary by ending it in Greece, on the beautiful island of Mykonos. We recommend spending 4 days just enjoying the sunshine and Greek food, but of course, you can tailor this according to your needs. We feel that at the end of every itinerary, we get a little tired and we just feel the need to chill. So what better way to do so before your final flight home, than by spending time on a Greek island.
Check where to stay in Mykonos and pick the hotel that is closest to the beach so you can just recharge after your monumental trip all around Europe.
Did we miss your favourite European city? Should something else be added to our article? Please let us know in the comments section below.
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