Europe is a fascinating place enjoyed by families, honeymooners, and backpackers each year. Due to its deep history, lively cultures, rich traditions, and mouth-watering foods, Europe is also one of the most visited areas in the entire world. Many travelers dream about wandering through the lush wine fields, ancient ruins, and storybook towns this continent has to offer.
With all the different countries and languages that Europe packs into such a small area, many people feel overwhelmed and lost at the thought of planning a European vacation. However, that should never stop you.This beginner's guide to Europe will help dissolve some of the confusion and give you a jumpstart at planning that once in a lifetime vacation that you have always dreamed of.
Countries in the European Union are part of what is known as the Schengen Zone. In this zone, you can drive between borders and areas without any questions asked. This also means that Americans don't have to go through the trouble of applying for a new visa before arriving in a different country. Basically, Americans are free to travel between these countries for up to 90 days. Not all countries in Europe are part of the EU though, and while Americans can travel visa-free throughout the continent, if you are a different nationality, then be sure to check the Embassies for your country before you leave home.
Getting travel insurance is just smart. Protecting yourself and the people you are traveling with is one of the most important things to do before heading abroad. Travel insurance covers a wide range of unexpected accidents that could happen while on a vacation. Plus, it gives you the peace of mind knowing that if an accident does happen, including having something of value stolen, you and your loved ones are covered. Travel insurance is extremely affordable, therefore everyone without exception should have it.
One of the most popular questions people ask when planning a trip to Europe is How do we get around Europe? There are three main methods of transportation I use when traveling within and also between countries.
The first option is trains. Europe has a vast and efficient train network that can easily get travelers from one place to another quickly. I prefer trains when traveling in Europe because, unlike buses and cars, trains go further into the landscape and show off the striking European countryside. Trains are also ideal for families and offer many low budget choices.
Another efficient mode of travel in Europe is the budget airlines. Both RyanAir and easyJet can get you between many cities quickly. While budget airlines cut travel time significantly, keep in mind, you miss the beautiful countryside. Plus, overall plane tickets tend to cost more than trains and buses unless tickets are bought well in advance.They are an option that should be considered especially if time is a factor.
Another popular way to get around Europe is the bus network. The bus network can take a little more planning than trains and planes, especially for newcomers, but it is fairly easy to navigate.
However, I recommend trains over buses for two reasons. Trains are more comfortable and spacious than the buses, and depending on the schedule, they take about the same amount of time without the extra planning.
In reality, most European vacations consist of using all three modes of traveling. Planes to get somewhere quickly, trains to go between cities and also see some of the beautiful countryside and small towns and villages, and buses to hop on and off as you go from sight to sight in the big cities.
Travelers could spend a lifetime in Europe and still not see everything. To get the most out of your trip, take time to plan carefully before you start your adventure. Also remember to consider activities that you normally enjoy as well as those you have always wanted to try. If you are interested in ancient history, then head to Italy and Greece to get a taste of the old world. If you are a foodie, then the quaint cafes and fragrant bakeries of France and Germany might just be calling your name. If you love the beauty of nature and also a little adventure, Croatia is unbelievable.
The possibilities are almost endless. Make sure to take some time to read, research, and plan. A little bit of preparation will make for a memorable journey.
A few of the most popular cities in Europe are Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Budapest, and Berlin. However, it is important to spend some time outside of the major cities.The little villages and towns that dot the countryside are charming and give a well-rounded perspective of the heartbeat of the country.
Europe has an intoxicating diversity to explore. Beautiful lakes to epic mountains, exotic cultures to bustling cities, ancient treasures to modern marvels, Europe is waiting to be experienced. A few sites I recommend seeing on any trip to Europe include the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the Eiffel Tower and Louvre in Paris, the gorgeous Greek Islands, and the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. But the list could go on and on, as I could endlessly talk about all the wonderful places to visit.
Europe has a lot to offer travelers and many enjoy it so much that they return over and over again. Even so, first-time travelers can needlessly feel overwhelmed and wonder where to even start. Hopefully, this guide takes away all those fears and gives you the tools you need to begin making your European trip a reality.
What places are on your European bucket list?
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Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Stephen Schreck is a world traveler, nomad, and adventure backpacker. Knowing a life of aimlessly wandering the globe in search of adventures was the only life for him he set out to make his dream his reality. Currently he is trying to conquer his fears and tackle his bucket list. Follow Stephen's adventures at A Backpacker's Tale or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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