One Week in Europe: 30 Ways to Plan a 7 Day Europe Trip

If you only have one week in Europe, you may be a bit intimidated when it comes time to deciding where exactly to go.

After all, there are countless possibilities: from exploring one country in depth to zipping around a couple of capitals as fast as you can, there are so many different ways to spend your one week Europe trip depending on the kind of traveler you are and what kind of sights you’re interesting in seeing.

I’ve broken down the best ways to spend 7 days in Europe with the help of well-traveled bloggers from around the world, sharing their favorite way of spending just one week in Europe.

From classic examples like Italy and Spain to one week itineraries for the Balkans and Central Europe’s capitals, here are 25 incredible ways to spend a one week in Europe itinerary!

One Week in Europe: Classic Itinerary Ideas

Classic Italy: Rome – Florence – Venice

A one-week road trip through Italy is on many people’s bucket list. The incredible views of Tuscany, mouth-watering food, and pristine history make it one of the best road trips in the world!

Rome to Florence and Florence to Venice are only 3-hour drives, and the route can also be done by train. 

Stop 1: Rome (3 days)

The eternal city of Rome is a traveler’s dream destination! With an incredible lifespan filled with rich history and delicious food, what’s not to love. 

Highlights:

  • Visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum to appreciate the glory of Ancient Rome
  • Explore the history of Vatican City
  • Toss a coin or two into the Trevi Fountain to guarantee a return to Rome. 

Stop 2: Florence (3 days) 

Walking through beautiful architecture while snacking on homemade gelato is the perfect Florence day! 

Highlights:

  • Visit the impressive collection of museums in Florence – including the Uffizi Galleria 
  • Walk through the city to the Piazza del Michelangelo for panoramic views of the city
  • Enjoy live music throughout the many piazzas

Stop 3: Venice (2 days) 

The floating city of Venice is a breathtaking destination for all travelers.

Since there’s no driving in Venice, it’s the perfect time to drop off your rental car and use public transportation during your stay. 

Highlights:

  • Cross the iconic Rialto bridge with gondolas gliding underneath
  • Take a relaxing gondola ride through the small alleyways 
  • Enjoy cicchetti (Italian tapas) at a waterfront restaurant.

Explored by Pamela of the Directionally Challenged Traveler

Northern Italy: Venice – Verona – Milan

A one-week whirlwind trip through Northern Italy is the perfect way to experience a bit of Italy, without biting off more than you can chew with just one week in Europe.

Here’s how to structure a perfect one week Northern Italy itinerary!

Stop One: Venice (3 days)

Venice is a beautiful city with plenty of opportunities to just lose yourself in the backstreets.

There are some great family hotels in Venice making it the perfect base to start your travels.

Highlights:

  • Take a gondola ride through the canals to see Venice at its best.
  • See the glass being made in Murano, some of the most exquisite in the world.
  • Explore the history in the Doge’s Palace full of intrigue and culture.

Stop Two: Verona (2 days)

Verona is much less touristy than Venice but has a real charm.

It’s a place to see history, eat great food and soak up the history in this picturesque city that featured in Romeo and Juliet!

Highlights:

  • Take a trip to the Roman Arena which is older than the Colosseum.
  • Stand on Juliet’s balcony to imagine yourself in Shakespeare’s tale!
  • Climb to the top of the Lamberti Tower for spectacular rooftop views.

Stop Three: Milan (2 days)

Milan is a fantastic city to take in the culture, the shopping and the sights.

It is cosmopolitan Italy at its best!

Highlights:

  • Visit the Duomo di Milano – one of the largest cathedrals in Italy.
  • Shop until you stop at the Via Montenapoleone.
  • Immerse yourself at the Museo Nazionale Della Scienza e Della Tecnologia with all the creations of Leonardo da Vinci

Explored by Nichola of Globalmouse Travels

Classic Spain: Seville – Granada – Madrid

Spain is a beautiful destination that’s perfect for a first Europe trip.

If you only have one week in Europe and you want to see history, culture, and food: Spain is the destination!

 Stop One: Seville (2 days)

 Located in the southernmost region of Spain, Seville is a beautiful city that is easy to explore on foot.

It is filled with stunning historical buildings, traditional music and dance, and incredible food.

Highlights:

  • Visit the incredible Royal Alcázar of Seville
  • Experience music and dance at a flamenco show
  • Explore the Triana neighborhood and enjoy some of the best tapas in Seville

Stop Two: Granada (2 days)

Visiting the small city of Granada is like stepping back in time.

While many visitors simply stop for a day trip to the Alhambra, an overnight stay allows you to truly experience the heart of this historic city.

Highlights:

  • Visit the magnificent Alhambra Palace and gardens
  • Wander the historic Albaicin neighborhood
  • Visit the Granada Cathedral and the Royal Chapel, the final resting place of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand

Stop Three: Madrid (3 days)

The capital city of Spain, Madrid is filled with history, art, and wonderful food. Make sure to include a little of each during your visit!

Highlights:

  • Visit the Reina Sofia art museum to see Guernica, as well as the Prado if you have time
  • Take a tour of the Royal Palace (Palacio Real)
  • Walk around the beautiful Retiro Park

– Explored by Joanne of Sunsets and Roller Coasters

Beloved Italy: Rome – Florence – Pisa

There are so many wonderful destinations to spend one week in Italy, but perhaps the most classic is the combination of Rome, Florence, and Pisa, a tourist favorite.

Here’s how to tackle Italy if you have just a week in Europe!

Stop One: Rome (3 days)

Rome is the ultimate place to visit for ancient history, culture, and cuisine. It’s also home to many of Italy’s famous landmarks as well as plenty of hidden gems that will leave you in awe. 

Highlights:

  • Wandering the Colosseum, the biggest amphitheater of the Roman Empire
  • Admiring the beautiful fountains in Piazza Navona
  • Walking up the Spanish Steps and enjoying the view
  • Tossing a coin in the legendary Trevi Fountain
  • Seeing the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums
  • Tasting the delicious local cuisine in the Trastevere neighborhood

Stop Two: Florence (3 days)

As the capital of Tuscany, Florence is filled with beautiful cathedrals, scenic bridges, and magnificent art. It also offers one of the most gorgeous sunset views of Italy!

Highlights:

  • Wandering the historical center with a gelato in hand
  • Climbing to the top of the iconic Duomo
  • Shopping for souvenirs on the scenic Ponte Vecchio
  • Watching a spectacular sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Seeing beautiful artwork in the Uffizi Gallery
  • Getting cultured in the museums of Palazzo Pitti

Stop Three: Pisa (1 day)

The charming town of Pisa is only an hour away by train from Florence, making it an easy day trip to take. It’s not only a great place to visit for architecture and food, but also for shopping!

Highlights:

  • Climbing up the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • Listening to the acoustics in the Pisa Baptistery
  • Exploring the stunning Pisa Cathedral
  • Admiring the artwork inside Palazzo Blu
  • Shopping at Corso Italia

-Explored by Jiayi of The Diary of a Nomad

Southern Spain: Seville – Malaga – Granada

If you want to stick to the south of Spain (Andalusia), then this alternate one week in Spain itinerary is a great choice.

Stop One: Seville (3 days)

Seville is a top highlight of Spain, with incredible Mudejar architecture, 25,000 orange trees, spectacular streets with buildings covered in orange and white, amazing food, and flamenco music on every corner!

Highlights:

  • Visit the palace of Real Alcazar, a Game of Thrones filming location
  • Stroll around the colorful streets of Santa Cruz neighborhood
  • Watch the sunset from the top of Las Setas

Stop Two: Malaga (2 days)

Malaga is the most popular, and the largest beach town of Andalusia, with beautiful beaches, colorful streets, and vibrant nightlife.

We can’t forget that it’s the birthplace of the famous artist Pablo Picasso! By bus, it takes 2.5 hours to arrive from Seville, so it’s an easy next stop:

Highlights:

  • Visit the Picasso Museum to learn more about the man behind the paintings
  • Explore the beautiful beaches of Malaga
  • Watch a sunset from the best viewpoint of the town, Mirador de Gibralfaro

Stop Three: Granada (2 days)

Granada is one of the most authentic towns to visit in Andalusia, and it’s just an hour and a half away from Malaga.

The Moors (Arabic) played a really important part in Andalusia’s history and unique architecture, an you can see that in Granada.

Granada is spectacular for its amazing views, authentic feel, and the many flamenco artists that are strolling around in Albaicin and stopping at each restaurant for a quick show.

Highlights:

  • Visit the spectacular Alhambra palace
  • Wander around in the Moorish neighborhood, the white-washed old town of Albaicin
  • Listen to flamenco artists while enjoying a delicious meal

– Explored by Helga of ShegoWandering

Mainland Greece: Athens – Meteora – Thessaloniki

A wonderful trip through Mainland Greece is the perfect one week in Europe trip, since you won’t have to deal with coordinating flights and ferries during a shorter trip.

This one week in Greece is the perfect primer to Greece and is easy to travel by car or train.

Stop One: Athens (3 days)

Athens, the capital of Greece, is a vibrant city rich in history, archaeological sites, museums, and amazing food that enjoys great weather all year round.

It has a wealth of archaeological sites like the Acropolis but also the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and more.

Highlights:

  • Visit the Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Athens’ most popular attraction, as well as the Acropolis Museum and the Archaeological Museum of Athens to learn about Greece’s rich history.
  • Explore the street art on the streets of Athens
  • See the change of the guards on Syntagma Square

Stop Two: Meteora (2 days)

Meteora is another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is a place of unique natural beauty where you will find big rock formations with Greek Orthodox monasteries on top. 

Highlights:

  • Visting the 6 remaining monasteries
  • Watch the sunset from the top of the rocks
  • Hike one of the many paths around these unique rock formations

Stop Three: Thessaloniki (2 days)

Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece built around the coastline of the Thermaic Gulf.

It is a lively city with great nightlife, food, and a lot of interesting historical sites.

Highlights:

  • Admire the view from Ano Poli
  • Check out the archaeological sites of the Roman Agora, the Rotonda, the Byzantine Baths, and the Arch of Galerius.
  • Visit the landmark of Thessaloniki, the White Tower on the waterfront

– Explored by Chrysoula of Athens & Beyond

Central Europe Sampler: Budapest – Vienna – Bratislava

Central Europe is a wonderful destination for travelers hoping to experience a few different countries in a single week in Europe.

The closely-linked capital cities of Vienna and Bratislava are just an hour apart, and Budapest isn’t far, either, making three European countries in one week not only doable but also downright pleasant.

Stop One: Budapest (3 days) 

A city of two halves divided by the Danube River, Budapest has so much to see and do. Budapest is a cosmopolitan city offering a wealth of culinary delights and a historical center with magnificent architecture.

Budapest also has the most thermal springs than any other capital in the world, so plenty of choice for bathing. 

Highlights:

  • Relax in the Szechenyi Thermal Baths, or the Palatinus Baths which is more suitable for families
  • Visit Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion on Buda Hill
  • Explore the Jewish Quarter and the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’, a memorial to those killed during WW2

Stop Two: Vienna (3 days) 

Trains to Vienna (Wien Hauptbahnhof train station) depart from Budapest Keleti train station every hour and take around 2 hours 40 minutes, making this an easy next stop on a week in Europe itinerary.

Vienna is a romantic and magical city packed full of architectural masterpieces. If you like shopping and museums, Vienna has an abundance of both.

Highlights:

  • See Vienna’s magnificent Rathaus (City Hall) and Hofburg Palace
  • Visit Maria Theresia Garden, home to both the Natural History Museum & Vienna’s Art History Museum
  • Explore the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace & Children’s Museum

Stop Three: Bratislava (1 day) 

From Vienna, the train journey to Bratislava is just a little over an hour. It can be visited as a day trip or as an overnight.

Such an underrated city, Bratislava has something for everyone with its quirky historical old town and modern center, tightly packed with super trendy bars, cafes and eateries.

Highlights:

  • Visit the unique, white rectangular Bratislava Castle which overlooks the city
  • Wander around the old town and visiting the Church of St. Elizabeth (aka the Blue Church)
  • Walk over the River Danube via the UFO Bridge

– Explored by Gemma of Families Can Travel

Best of the UK: London — Lake District — Edinburgh

The UK is a compact and diverse country that is perfect for a first trip to Europe.

If you only have one week in Europe, you can easily visit both the English and Scottish capitals with a quick trip to the beautiful Lake District in between, all easily connected by train.

Stop One: London (4 days)

London, the capital city of England is brimming with history and royalty. From the many iconic landmarks to Red double decker buses to red telephone booths to black cabs, the city will make you fall in love with it.

Highlights:

  • Explore the royal city by taking a tour of the city and visiting Buckingham Palace and seeing the Change of Guard, Tower Bridge, London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, iconic Big Ben, British museum and cruise on the Thames river.
  • Taking a day trip to Greenwich and visiting Royal Observatory and other landmarks like Queen’s House, Old Royal Naval College, National Maritime Museum. Could ride the Emirates Cable for a round trip from London.
  • Taking a day trip to Windsor Castle and Stonehenge.

Stop Two: Lake District (1 day)

Lake District, a national park in Cumbria, is known for its mesmerizing glacial lakes surrounded by mountains and lush greenery. It is a popular vacation spot to unwind and rejuvenate yourself.

Highlights:

  • Take a cruise on the Lake Windermere or Lake Ullswater
  • Hike or explore on an electric bike around Lake Windermere along the trails.
  • Check out Castlerigg Stone Circle, 5000 year old.

Stop Three: Edinburgh (2 days)

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland is a vibrant city with beautiful landscape, cobblestone roads, window to the Scottish culture that will strike a chord in your heart. Checking out Edinburgh’s attractions will also let you enjoy its classical Scottish architecture. 

Highlights:

  • Walking the Royal Mile and shop for lambswool/cashmere, whiskey, and other souvenirs. Don’t forget to eat at the cafes on Royal Mile.
  • Visit the Edinburgh Castle perched atop the hill, Camera Obscura, Holyroodhouse Palace and Scottish Parliament all on the Royal Mile.
  • Hike Arthur’s seat for a panoramic view of city and take a Harry Potter tour. 

-Explored by Neha from Travelmelodies

Best of Ireland: Dublin – Cork – Galway

Ireland is the perfect introduction to Europe for first-timers to the continent. Friendly people, no language barrier for English speakers, beautiful landscapes: what’s not to love?

Plus, Ireland is small and compact so that if you only have one week in Europe, you can easily do Ireland justice without stressing.

Stop One: Dublin (3 Days)

Dublin is Ireland’s capital and largest city. Most importantly it’s the heart and soul of the country. The city offers something to see for every travel, incredible food and drink, and best of all, it’s easy to explore.

Highlights:

  • Learn about Ireland’s most famous export, Guinness, at the Guinness StoreHouse and Brewery
  • Trinity College and the Book of Kells
  • Explore Ireland’s tumultuous history at Dublin Castle

Stop Two: Cork (2 Days)

Welcome to the “Rebel City”. Cork is Ireland’s 2nd largest city and gateway to southern Ireland. The city has played a large role in the history of Ireland from confrontation with the British, to the setting off point for millions of Irish emigrants. Today it’s one of Ireland’s most dynamic cities offering tons to see and do.

Highlights:

  • Wander the English Market to sample some of the best Irish food in the country. 
  • Visit the 18th Century Gothic Revival St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
  • Explore Fitzgerald Park and Cork Public Museum

Stop Three: Galway (2 Days)

Located on Ireland’s rugged west coast, Galway has been referred to as Europe’s “friendliest city.” More of a small town than a major city, Galway is a vibrant city thanks to a lively music and arts scene.  

Highlights:

  • Visit one of Europe’s youngest cathedrals, Galway Cathedral
  • See Galway from the water on a Galway Bay boat tour
  • See the last remaining parts of the old city medieval walls at the Spanish Arch

-Explored by Eric from Food and Drink Destinations

Best of France: Avignon – Lyon – Paris

These three French cities are connected via the high-speed TGV train, making this an easy one week in Europe itinerary.

Stop One: Avignon (2 days)

The cultural and historical heart of Provence, Avignon is a stunning city situated on the River Rhone.

From boutique shopping to dining in world-class restaurants, it offers a sophisticated city break.

Highlights:

  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage city, with its intact ramparts and endless historical attractions
  • Visit Les Halles food market to shop for regional specialities and to watch food demonstrations
  • Take an interactive 3D tour (via histopad) of the Pope’s Palace.

Stop Two: Lyon (2 days)

Famous for food, Lyon is the ideal place to indulge your inner food critic.

Settle into the city’s cafes and restaurants to sample the region-specific specialities on offer. Then walk off your gluttony by touring the wealth of historical sights around the city!

Highlights:

  • Take a stroll through the streets of Presqu’île for stunning architecture and shopping
  • Go on a mural-spotting spree through the city, since Lyon takes street art to a whole other level!
  • Visit Vieux Lyon to take a step back in time and see how the city once was.

Stop Three: Paris (3 days)

Equally as alluring for lovers as it is for families, Paris is a destination with something for everyone.

From touring the city’s standout museums to people watching on a cafe terrace, the City of Lights is sure to dazzle every visitor.

Highlights:

  • Ride the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower for dreamy Paris views
  • Walk through Montmartre and climbing up to the Sacré-Cœur
  • Take to the French art of flaneur and spend hours wandering the streets and gardens as you go

– Explored by Nadine of Le Long Weekend

Paris & French Riviera: Paris – Marseille – Nice

This France itinerary from Paris to Nice covers Paris, Marseille, and Nice, and it is excellent for sightseeing if you only have one week in Europe.

All the cities are well connected by direct trains, so you don’t need to take any flights, great for a short trip.

Stop One: Paris (3 days)

Paris is always a good idea, and there’s no better place to start this 1-week holiday than from the French capital.

If this is your first time in Paris, you will want to visit some of the city’s main sights, perhaps with a couple of leisure strolls around the most picturesque areas.

Highlights:

  • Climb up to the Eiffel Tower
  • Walk around Montmartre
  • Visit the Louvre Museum

Marseille (2 days)

Direct TGV trains leave Paris Gare de Lyon train station to Marseille. The train ride takes less than 3 hours, and it is very straightforward.

Marseille, in southern France, is the capital of the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. It is one of the most important port cities in the Mediterranean Sea and an exciting place to visit for a couple of days. 

Highlights:

  • Stroll around the Old Port and visit the fish market, as well as the Le Panier neighborhood
  • Admire the magnificent views from Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde
  • Visit the MuCEM (Museum of Mediterranean Cultures)

Nice (2 days)

The last stop of this French trip is Nice.

Enjoy the sun and the glamour of this coastal city in the French Riviera famous for its baroque architecture and the iconic Promenade des Anglais.

Highlights:

  • Stroll around the Old Town
  • Admire the views from La Colline du Château
  • Walk the Promenade des Anglais, ice cream in hand

– Contributed by Elisa of World in Paris

Best of the Netherlands: Amsterdam – Rotterdam – Utrecht

The Netherlands is a compact country with so much more to offer than just Amsterdam!

If you only have one week in Europe, the Netherlands is a perfect destination as it’s compact, easy to travel by train, and very easy to navigate as a foreigner due to the friendliness of the people and the prevalence of English speakers.

Stop 1: Amsterdam (3 days)

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and known for its beautiful canals, 17th-century warehouses and excellent museums.

Highlights:

  • Admire world-class artworks from famous Dutch and international artists in the Rijksmuseum
  • Visit the house where Jewish diarist Anne Frank was hiding during WWII.
  • Learn about science at the interactive NEMO Science Museum (especially suitable for families planning a Dutch city trip with kids)

Stop 2: Rotterdam (2 days)

Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands. The city is famous for its modern architecture such as the iconic Erasmus bridge, the Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses), and the colorful Market Hall as well as its maritime history.

Highlights:

  • Ascend to the top of the 185-meter-tall Euromast. On a clear day, you can look as far as the city of Antwerp in Belgium!
  • Learn about Dutch naval history at the Maritime Museum Rotterdam and stroll along the Old Harbor.
  • Take a boat tour and visit the Europoort, the largest harbor in Europe.

Stop 3: Utrecht (2 days)

Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and is often called a smaller (and better) version of Amsterdam. Its historic city center can easily be explored on foot, or do as the Dutch people do and hop on a bicycle.

Highlights:

  • Climb the Dom Tower and admire the view (you can see Rotterdam and Amsterdam on a sunny day).
  • Take a bus to nearby Castle De Haar, a beautiful historic castle surrounded by lovely gardens.
  • For those with kids, the Miffy museum is a must. Here your little ones can meet this famous children’s book character and walk around in 10 miniature worlds based on the Miffy books.

-Explored By Lotte from Beste voor Kids 

Scandinavian Sampler: Stockholm – Malmo – Copenhagen

For a quick trip of some of Scandinavia’s best cities, you can easily combine a trip to Sweden and Denmark with just one week in Europe, using Malmo as a connection point between the countries’ two capital cities.

Stop One: Stockholm (3 days)

Stockholm, Sweden’s vibrant capital, is a city built on a 14-island archipelago. It has a series of bridges and ferries to help visitors navigate the city and the waterfront of Stockholm is seemingly everywhere. The city is a must-visit capital in Scandinavia and home to fascinating history and a most-welcoming people.

Highlights:

  • Wander the streets of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s perfectly-preserved medieval town center
  • Visit the Vasa Museum, an exhibit of a 17th-century Swedish warship that was recovered from the harbor fully intact
  • Check out the ABBA Museum and learn about the Eurovision Song Contest and the band that has become a Swedish national treasure 

Stop Two: Malmo (2 days)

Malmo is a diverse city in the southern region of Sweden. It’s geographically and culturally close to Denmark with historical ties to the nation, having been part of both kingdoms throughout the centuries. It’s a vibrant city with a young population due to the universities in the area.

Highlights:

  • Take a canal tour around the beautiful city of Malmo and its harbor
  • Visit the Malmo Saluhall, a hip street food hall in a rustic post-industrial building
  • Check out Malmo Castle, the city’s fortress and part of Malmo Museum

Stop Three: Copenhagen (2 days)

Copenhagen is an often-overlooked European capital that maintains a quiet and unassuming charm. It’s a perfect foodie destination and home to castles, canals, and an amusement park that inspired Walt Disney himself. 

Highlights:

  • Embark on a canal tour of Copenhagen to see the entire city from the water in under two hours
  • Try a New Nordic meal at any of the fabulous restaurants or Copenhagen street food areas
  • Visit Copenhagen’s famous amusement park, Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest amusement park in the world.

-Explored by Derek & Mike of Everything Copenhagen

Best of Norway: Oslo – Flåm – Bergen

If you only have one week in Europe, the country of Norway is one of the most majestic places for a scenic vacation. Norway is a nature-lovers dream, filled with waterfalls, hikes, and stunning fjords. 

Stop One: Oslo (2-3 days)

Start your journey in the country’s capital city of Oslo. Plan to give yourself 2-3 days, as the city is filled with museums, the Nobel Peace Center, and the world-class sculpture park, Vigeland Sculpture Park. 

Highlights:

  • Visiting the Nobel Peace Center
  • Admiring the art in Vigeland Sculpture Park
  • Checking out the Fram Museum and the National Gallery

Stop Two: Flåm (2 days)

After a few days learning about Viking culture, art, and Scandinavian history, catch a train to Flåm, Norway. The tiny village in the heart of the fjords is serenely beautiful. Even the train ride to Flåm is known as one of the most scenic train rides in the world.

Take a cruise through the fjords, kayak or hike to a waterfall. To truly relax and take in nature, give yourself at least 2 days in Flåm before continuing on your journey to your final destination, Bergen. 

Highlights:

  • Admiring the views from the scenic Flåm Railway
  • Heading out onto the water on the Nærøyfjord Cruise
  • Seeing the gorgeous Brekkefossen waterfall

Stop Three: Bergen (2 days)

The coastal city is known as the gateway to the fjords. Give yourself 3 days in Bergen to explore Bryggen and its colorful row of wooden houses along the harbor, take the Ulriken cable car ride or take a funicular up Mount Fløyen. You can even hike between Ulriken and Mount Fløyen for stellar views of the harbor and its surrounding peaks.

Be sure to eat fresh fish from the Bergen Fish Market and take a short train ride to see the beautiful Fantoft Stave Church to round out your one-week itinerary in this incredible Scandinavian country. 

Highlights:

  • Take the scenic Ulriken Cable Car for incredible views
  • Soar above the city on the Mount Fløyen funicular
  • Marvel at the Fantoft Stave Church

-Explored by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports

One Week in Europe: Alternative Itinerary Ideas

Best of Benelux: Amsterdam – Brussels – Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

This European itinerary belongs to the classics: just in 7 days you will visit 3 countries and their capital cities.

It features the so-called Benelux countries Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Stop One: Amsterdam (3 days)

Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – with its maze of canals and step-gabled canal houses, the city attracts millions of tourists each year. The best way to discover Amsterdam is on foot.

Highlights:

  • Taking a boat tour of the canals – a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Visiting the Rijksmuseum to admire Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch 
  • Stopping at Anne Frank House to learn the story behind the famous wartime diary and its author – the Jewish girl Anne Frank
  • Seeing the gorgeous tulip gardens at Keukenhof (open only from March – May)

Stop Two: Brussels (2 days)

Belgium’s capital is an amazing city where the lush architecture of the historical centre is juxtaposed to the modern buildings in the European Quarter. Brussels is also the capital of the European Union as the most EU-institutions are headquartered there.

Highlights:

  • Admiring the Grand Place with the Town Hall – a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Binging on Belgian waffles, Belgian chocolate, Belgian fries and Belgian beer
  • Checking out the Atomium

Stop Three: Luxembourg City (2 days)

Luxembourg City is a cosmopolitan city with rich historical heritage. The city was founded in 963 and is a good example of medieval defensive European architecture. Luxembourg City is, after Brussels, the city with most EU-institutions in Europe.

Highlights:

  • Visiting Grund – the old town along the Alzette River with the Neumünster Abbey and the famous casemates – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Relaxing at one of the cafés at Place d’Armes
  • Checking out on modern and contemporary art at Casino Luxembourg and at the Museum of Modern Art Grand-Duc Jean

-Explored by Daniela of Exploring the Netherlands

Beautiful Baltics: Tallinn – Riga – Vilnius

For travelers looking to visit three countries in Europe in a week, the Baltics are the perfect place to do so — and get off the beaten path in the meantime!

The three Baltic capitals are all beautiful and compact, and the short travel distance between them (and the easy bus connections) make it quite a perfect itinerary for a seasoned Europe traveler looking for a slightly different Europe trip.

Stop One: Tallinn (3 days)

Tallinn, Estonia is a beautiful cobble-stoned city that looks straight out of a fairy tale. It has a fascinating naval history to explore at the Maritime Museum. It’s also a delicious destination for those who want to try Nordic-style cuisine at much cheaper prices. 

Highlights:

  • Exploring Tallinn’s Old Town
  • Smelling the roses in Kadriorg Park
  • Seeing the best of Estonian art at the Kumu Museum

Stop Two: Riga (2 days)

Riga, Latvia is a fascinating destination for any lover of architecture from medieval to communist styles.

Its Old Town is full of charming statues like the one of the Bremen Town Musicians. It has some of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in all Europe as well as a fabulous food market.

Highlights:

  • Visiting the many churches in Riga’s Old Town
  • Admiring the Art Nouveau designs on Albert Street and in the Art Museum Riga Bourse
  • Tasting the special Latvian drink known as Black Balsam

Stop Three: Vilnius (2 days)

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and the best place to learn about Lithuania’s rich history.

But it’s also a vibrant university city with an exciting youth culture and street art scene. It’s also a famous destination for riding hot air balloons!

Highlights:

  • Learning about Lithuania at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
  • Visiting the quirky independent community Uzupis
  • Tasting local delicacies like the potato dumplings known as zeppelin

-Explored by Stella Jane of Around the World in 24 Hours

Classic Poland: Warsaw – Wroclaw – Krakow

For an alternative way to spend one week in Europe, go a bit more off the beaten path and explore Poland.

A great budget destination, Poland is also incredibly rich with history, culture, and delicious food and nightlife.

Stop One: Warsaw (3 days)

Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is an incredibly special city.

Its history and style combine pre-war classic old town (that was completely ruined and rebuilt) and castles, sad memorials from Second World War and the Holocaust, post-war gray communist buildings, and modern streets with fun vibes, great shopping, and interesting Polish food.

Highlights:

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of the old town of Warsaw
  • Watch the view from the Palace of Culture and Science
  • Visit the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Stop 2: Wroclaw (1 day)

Wroclaw is one of the most beautiful cities in Poland, and maybe in Europe.

The colorful houses, the Oder river, and the impressive cathedrals make you feel as if you are walking inside a 200-year-old painting!

Highlights:

  • Climb up the St. Elizabeth’s Church Tower to get an amazing view of the old town
  • Cross Tumski bridge (the Lovers’ bridge). If you are with your loved one, add your own lock to the bridge.
  • Follow the mini dwarf statues in between the city’s landmarks

Stop 3: Krakow (3 days)

Krakow is the second largest city in Warsaw and the historic capital of Poland (until 1596).

The city is an extensive cultural heritage, and the entire old town was declared a UNESCO world heritage site.  It is also a city of students and is renowned for its nightlife scene.

Highlights:

  • Visit the Wawel Royal Castle, the beautifully preserved 14th-century castle
  • Grab a beer at Rynek Główny – Europe’s largest medieval market square
  • Take a somber day trip to Auschwitz concentration camp to learn about Holocaust history.

Explored by Moshe of The Top Ten Traveler

Best of Bosnia: Sarajevo – Konjic – Mostar

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a beautiful country off the beaten path of Europe, and it’s a great place for a one week Europe trip for seasoned travelers.

While Bosnia and Herzegovina isn’t the easiest country in Europe to travel — language barriers and infrastructure issues are a concern — it may be one of the most rewarding, with kind-hearted people, fascinating (and at times tragic) history, and incredible landscapes. Here’s a Bosnia itinerary to follow:

Stop One: Sarajevo (3 days)

Sarajevo is Europe’s most multicultural city. The charming old town allows you to travel back to Ottoman times, but there is great Austro-Hungarian architecture too. With its scenic location in the hills there are a variety of things to do.  

Highlights:

  • Walking through the cobbled stone streets of the Bascarsija
  • Enjoying the Panorama views over Sarajevo from the Yellow fortress
  • Learning about the Bosnian civil war at the Tunnel museum and Galerija 11/07/95.

Stop Two: Konjic (1 day)

Konjic is a small town with a beautiful Ottoman bridge spanning the Neretva river. Recently it became more famous for being home to a secret nuclear bunker built by Tito. It also serves as a gateway to the spectacular natural beauty that surrounds the city.  

Highlights:

  • A visit to Tito’s bunker
  • Rafting over the Neretva river
  • Walking over the ancient Ottoman bridge.

Stop Three: Mostar (3 days)

Mostar is one of Bosnia’s most picturesque towns that is famous for its historic Ottoman old town from the 15th century. Although it was destroyed during the war everything was beautifully renovated, including its iconic bridge spanning the Neretva river. 

Highlights:

  • Watching the locals jump off the Stari Most bridge
  • Shopping for souvenirs in the old town
  • Visiting the Dervish monastery in Blagaj

-Explored by Ellis Veen of Backpack Adventures

Best of Czechia: Pilsen – Karlovy Vary – Prague

Most travelers to Czechia never make it past Prague, but if you want to see some of the best of this Central European gem, head a bit off the beaten path and explore cute other towns like Pilsen and Karlovy Vary.

Czechia’s small size makes it perfect for a leisurely one week in Europe, and here’s how to do it.

Stop One: Pilsen (2 days)

The beautiful Czech city of Pilsen is most well known for the beer derived from the destination. It’s located in the western Czech Republic and is wrapped in charming city parks hugging a medieval town center. 

Highlights:

  • Visit the Pilsner Urquell Brewery for a tour and tasting
  • Climb to the top of the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew for a panoramic view of the city
  • Explore the old city and Pilsen’s Great Synagogue, the second-largest in Europe

Stop Two: Karlovy Vary (2 days)

Karlovy Vary is a picturesque spa town in West Bohemia. This Czech city has been a favorite of global celebrities and nobility since the early 19th century. The thermal springs have defined the city with visitors flocking to the spas that have emerged from them.

Highlights:

  • Hike to the many lookouts around the city of Karlovy Vary like the famous Diana’s Lookout
  • Book a spa treatment at one of the best thermal baths in Europe
  • Taste the waters from any of the hot springs fountains in the city’s colonnades

Stop Three: Prague (3 days)

The cultural center of the Czech Republic, Prague is a must-visit European capital. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with incredible architecture, art, history, and culture. It’s bisected by the Vltava River and has been a crucial trading center in Central Europe for hundreds of years.

Highlights:

  • Visit historic Prague Castle and the iconic Saint Vitus Cathedral
  • Walk across the famous Charles Bridge and admire the sculptures that line it
  • Wander Old Town Square and catch the hourly performance of Prague’s Astronomical Clock

-Explored by Derek & Mike of Robe Trotting

Best of Bulgaria: Sofia – Bansko – Melnik

Bulgaria is a beautiful and underrated part of Europe that travelers often miss, but that’s why it’s such a true hidden gem, a rare place where you can escape mass tourism in Europe.

This itinerary covers the capital, Sofia, as well as two small but quaint towns that are great for travelers looking for a less hectic one week in Europe itinerary.

Stop One: Sofia (3 days) 

Sofia is the country’s biggest city and the capital of Bulgaria.

The city has everything that you might wish for: cultural and historical heritage, amazing cuisine, exciting nightlife, plenty of parks and even its own mountain, Vitosha! 

Highlights:

  • Explore the ruins of the Roman city Serdika 
  • Visit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia’s most iconic landmark
  • Go on a day trip to Plovdiv or the Seven Rila Lakes

Stop Two: Bansko (2 days)

The town of Bansko is one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria for hiking lovers and winter sports enthusiasts.

Located at the foot of Pirin Mountain, Bansko is famous for its distinctive architecture, stone houses, its wood-carving school, and the traditional Pirin songs as well as cuisine.

Highlights:

  • Hike in summer and ski or snowboard in winter 
  • Wander around the pretty Old Town 
  • Check out the oldest tree in Bulgaria, Baikushev’s pine (1,300 years old!) in Pirin National Park

Stop Three: Melnik (2 days)

Melnik is the smallest city in Bulgaria.

Situated among sand pyramids with bizarre forms, this little town attracts its visitors with its ancient houses and aromatic wines. The town is declared as a cultural-historical reserve. 

Highlights

  • Wine tasting along the Melnik Wine Route
  • Visit Rozhen Monastery 
  • Stop by the Kordopulov House

Explored by Bilyana of Owl Over The World 

Best of Portugal: Lisbon – Sintra – Porto

The best of Portugal can easily be seen in a week, meaning it’s a great introduction to Europe if you only have one week.

You’ll get to see the vibrant capital of Lisbon, the fairytale castles of Sintra, and the romantic azulejos of Porto all in an easy one week Europe trip.

Stop One: Lisbon (3 days)

Lisbon is one of the most vibrant cities in Portugal, filled with historical landmarks, museums, scenic lookout points, and charming neighborhoods. It’s also a fantastic destination for foodies and those looking for a buzzing nightlife scene.

Highlights:

  • Visiting the 11th-century São Jorge Castle.
  • Attending a Fado show to enjoy the soulful, most symbolic Portuguese music.
  • Exploring the important and unique National Tile Museum, housed in a 16th-century former convent.

Stop Two: Sintra (2 days)

Sintra is the queen city of beautiful palaces and castles, which gave it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also a great base for exploring the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.

Highlights:

  • Admiring the colorful 19th-century Pena Palace – one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
  • Visiting the intriguing Convent of the Capuchos.
  • Living a fairytale at the dreamy Quinta da Regaleira palace.

Stop Three: Porto (2 days)

Sitting on the Douro River, Porto is a beautiful city perfect for travelers who love wine, good food, interesting landmarks and museums, and “wanderable” historic centers. It’s also a perfect base for exploring the Douro Valley.

Highlights:

  • Admiring the 18th-century Carmo Church and its stunning Azulejo tiles.
  • Getting lost in the maze of the narrow, colorful streets of the neighborhood of Ribeira.
  • Crossing the Luís I Bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia to visit some cellars and enjoy the best port wine tasting tours.

Explored by Or from My Path in the World 

East of the Iron Curtain: Berlin – Prague – Budapest

For history lovers, a one week Europe trip covering Berlin, Prague, and Budapest will allow you to visit 3 European capital cities in 3 different countries that were all formerly behind the Iron Curtain.

If you’re curious to see beautiful European cities while also learning more about the history of the 20th century, this is the perfect one week Europe itinerary for you.

Stop One: Berlin (2 days)

The quirky city of Berlin is unlike any other in Germany – and the world! Not only does it have buckets of history but there are plenty of alternative things to do in Berlin popular with young travellers and locals. 

Highlights

  • Learn about Berlin Wall history by visiting the Berlin Wall Museum and checking out the street art that now covers the remaining section
  • Explore quirky museums like the David Hasselhoff Museum!
  • Alternative nightlife – check out warehouse parties, discos in refurbished phone booths and friendly LGBTQ+ bars

Stop Two: Prague (2 days)

The capital of the Czech Republic is a fantastic place for history and architecture lovers especially those who love castles. Although it gets cold in the winter, you can warm up over hearty Czech cuisine and affordable Czech beer. 

Highlights

  • Drink in panoramic views of Prague from Vyšehrad viewpoint or Letna Park
  • Explore Prague Castle dating back to the 9th century 
  • Take photos at colourful and quirky John Lennon Wall

Stop Three: Budapest (2 days)

The beautiful city of Budapest is another one with classic architecture and history in abundance but also a quirky side and off-beat attractions. You can explore the best of both worlds during a 2 day Budapest itinerary.

Highlights

  • Soak in the famous Széchenyi Spa Baths
  • Catch the funicular up to Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion on top of Buda Hill
  • Have a drink in quirky ruin bar, Simpla Kertz and others set inside refurbished buildings.

-Explored by Rose of Where Goes Rose

Mini Balkans Tour: Kotor – Dubrovnik – Mostar

The Balkans is a complex region covering 12 countries and numerous languages, currencies, and traditions. Transit between countries can be time-consuming, and a proper trip through the Balkans definitely requires more than just one week in Europe.

However, this mini Balkans itinerary with stops in Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina takes advantage of a particularly beautiful corner of the Balkans where you can easily visit three Balkan countries in just 7 days in Europe.

Stop One: Kotor (2 days)

Kotor is an ancient port city in Montenegro on the Adriatic coast. The city is on the UNESCO world heritage list. Kotor is famous for its churches, walls and astounding views.

Highlights:

  • Wander through the old town with many beautiful buildings, narrow streets, restaurants, terraces, small shops, and unique squares.
  • Climb the over 1200 stairs towards the fort, towering over the city. The rewards are stunning views over Kotor and the Bay of Kotor.
  • Take a boat tour in the Bay of Kotor. For the views on Kotor and to visit the town of Perast and the island Our Lady of the Rocks.

Stop Two: Dubrovnik (3 days)

Dubrovnik is another beautiful port city on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. It’s a famous, walled city with red-tiled roofed houses. Visitable in one day in Dubrovnik, but it’s more relaxed in 2 days.

Highlights:

  • Walk on the medieval walls, surrounding the old town of Dubrovnik. Admire the city and its buildings from above.
  • Wander through the old town with its Stradun (main) street and old buildings like the Onofrio fountain.
  • Go up Srd Mountain with a cable car to have a perfect view over Dubrovnik.

Stop Three: Mostar (2 day)

Mostar is a city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, famous because of the bridge Stari Most. The bridge was destroyed during the Bosnian-Croatian war and rebuilt in the early 2000s.

Highlights:

  • Walk over Stari Most, the famous steep bridge. Admire it also from afar.
  • Take the Mostar Free Walking Tour, a walking tour with a local. Learn more about the city and its history.
  • Sit down at a terrace and try a Bosnian coffee.

-Explored by Cosette from KarsTravels

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50 Best Places to Visit in Europe in Winter

Europe in winter is a magical place, and while you certainly can find several places for winter sun on the continent, this post is all about enjoying the festive side to Europe!

From traditional Christmas markets in Germany to dog sledding and Northern lights chasing in the Arctic, here are all the best places to go in Europe in winter!

Key Things to Pack for Europe in Winter

A good, waterproof parka

While Europe’s weather can vary dramatically in the winter, it’s best to prepare for the worst and risk being overdressed than the alternative. I am a huge fan of The North Face because they guarantee all their products for life and will fix or replace literally anything you send to them — which I’ve tested by sending in a much used-and-abused down jacket that was returned looking like new.

Their jackets aren’t exactly budget-friendly, but they’re a great investment if you’re looking for a winter coat that will last a lifetime. This is the parka I own and I’ll use it for life (unless North Face cuts me off for how badly I abuse my clothing).

Thermal layers

A good winter parka goes a long way, but unless you’re matching that down jacket with proper layers underneath, you won’t be maximizing your potential warmth.

Everyone raves about wool’s warmth-retaining properties but I can’t tolerate it – it makes me so itchy that I want to tear off all my skin. If you can stand wool, something like these merino wool leggings paired with a cashmere sweater layer will serve you very well.

Personally, I constantly wear these 32 Degrees thermal layers during European winters — I have about 5 tops that I rotate during the winter between laundry days. On bottom, I wear these fleece-lined leggings.

Waterproof boots and warm socks

I’ve never really felt like snow boots are entirely necessary unless you really are planning on spending a lot of time in deep snow, like if you’re staying in a cabin in the woods or spending a significant amount of time in Lapland or ski resorts around Europe.

When it comes to packing for winter in Europe, if your trip is mostly in the cities, you just need two things in your boots: they need to be waterproof and have good traction. I first bought a pair of Blondo waterproof leather boots in 2008 and still own and love them to this day.

Despite many years of abuse and New York winters, I only had to get them resoled once in the last nearly 10 years. I’ve worn these in every European winter and they’ve always held up great.

If you plan on doing a lot of hiking in the snow, you may want a proper snow boot. The Elsa snow boot by KEEN is waterproof, insulated, and looks super cozy, and comes highly recommended as one of my friend’s favorite hiking boot brands.

Finally, no matter how insulated your boots are, you need proper socks to match –  sad, thin cotton socks won’t do the trick. I bought these excellent Smartwool socks after hesitating because of the price, but I’m glad I did.

Although I generally hate wool, the skin on my feet is thick enough that I don’t mind wearing wool socks at all and can get all the lovely warm wool benefits without the itchiness.

Rome, Italy

Contributed by Kate of Our Escape Clause

The Eternal City is a delight at any time of year, but visiting Rome in winter means being treated to mild weather, very few crowds, and the chance to have some of Rome’s most iconic sights (almost) all to yourself.

With plenty of Christmas decor to see in the city in December and a truly endless list of things to do, you can’t go wrong with a winter trip in Rome.

While you’re there, be sure to:

  • See the nativity scene in front of St Peter’s Basilica. Not only does St. Peter’s Square boast a beautiful Christmas tree during the holiday season, it is also home to an absolutely stunning nativity each year that is carved out of sand!
  • Watch the sunrise over the Colosseum. There’s never a better time of year to get up for sunrise and stay out for sunset–the short winter days make it easy to see the city in its best light.
  • Stroll down Via Condotti. This avenue near the Spanish Steps is home to some of the best holiday decor in the city.
  • Eat all the artichokes. Rome is known for its artichokes! They start coming into season in November and really pick up steam in February, making them the perfect dish to try in late winter.
  • Wander Centro Storico and Trastevere. These two popular neighborhoods in Rome are at their best in winter, when the crowds clear out and Rome’s infamous heat dies off. Just be prepared for gray skies!

In addition, December visitors to Rome can enjoy a handful of Christmas markets in the city–but there are much better places to head in Europe in winter for markets! Rome’s charms in winter lie outside that classic holiday escape.

Trento, Italy

Contributed by Emily of London City Calling

The pretty little Alpine town of Trento sits quietly nestled within the Brenta Dolomites in the Trentino–Alto Adige region of northern Italy. While it may not be as well known as other cities in Italy, Trento is one of the countries real hidden gems, especially during the winter months.

There are so many reason’s you should visit Trento during the winter, from wandering down the quaint cobblestone streets looking up at the snow-covered mountains which peek out from behind the city’s Italian Renaissance architecture, to indulging on Tortel di Patate washed down with a warm mug of mulled wine at Trento’s traditional Christmas markets.

Here are a few things you have to do in Trento in winter:

  • Visit the main Trento Christmas Market in Piazza Fiera, a real-life winter wonderland with plenty of food and drinks traders, as well as stalls selling artisan products, Christmas decorations, gifts, and more.
  • Stop by Santa’s Grotto and write a letter to ‘Babbo Natal’ in Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore.
  • See the giant illuminated Christmas tree in Piazza Duomo.
  • Hop on the ‘Christmas train’ and take a ride around Trento’s historical center
  • Take a day trip into the Trentino region for outdoor winter activities such as skiing and tobogganing.

Lake Como, Italy

Contributed by Paula of Paula Pins the Planet

Lake Como is one of the most scenic destinations in Italy all year-round, but it’s during winter that the magic happens. The view of the lake nestled amongst the Alps covered in snow is an awe-inspiring sight.

It is not just the beauty of Lake Como in winter that makes it so special. Wintertime is considered low season, which means the prices are lower and it is less crowded.  

Just a short trip by train from Milan, Lake Como draws travelers from all over the world to enjoy the stunning lakeside villas with their colorful houses surrounded by the mountains. The diverse landscape gives ample choices for winter activities, and some that you cannot miss are: 

  • A ferry tour to visit the other amazing villages of Bellagio, Varena, and Menaggio 
  • Enjoy the breath-taking Christmas lights in the city of Como, giving the opportunity for a charming Christmas atmosphere. 
  • Christmas Markets can be found around the city of Como, and the opportunity to taste the local delicacies, like local cheese and wine. 
  • Enjoy the ski resorts: some of the most popular ones are Piani di Bobbio, Monte Sighinola, and Valchiavenna. 
  • Spoil yourself at a spa. Como offers many incredible options of luxury spas where you can warm up with a hot stone massage, followed by a jacuzzi overlooking the lake. 

Bolzano, Italy

Contributed by Linda of La Dolce Fit Vita

There is no better place in Europe during winter than to be right in the middle of the Dolomites. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful snowcapped mountains in the world, Bolzano is that perfect little Italian town that encompasses that all around fuzzy feeling you might be yearning for during Christmas.

Besides its adorable little Christmas Market, if you’re a fan of chocolate and wine then this is hands down the place for you… and I mean who isn’t a chocolate and wine fan?

Bolzano is home to the largest Loacker production facility- meaning you will see wafers and hot cocoa pretty much everywhere. Also, the town is right on ‘La Strada del Vino dell’Alto Adige.’ Translated, the Wine Road of South Tyrol. That means there are dozens of vineyards to explore. And guess what? Wine-tasting, even in winter, is a thing!

There are also a handful of outdoor activities to indulge in – skiing and snowboarding being the most popular. There are so many different ski slopes to pick from, each with different scenery or level of difficulty. Not a fan of winter sports? No sweat, you can head to QC Terme Dolomiti, one of the most luxurious spas in the entire region. And guess what, it’s three floors of relaxation and pools and only 45 euros for a day pass… gasp!

As you wander around the town you will find mulled wine on every corner and roasted chestnuts waiting for you every hundred meters or so. In being smaller than other European Christmas Markets, the overall feeling is much cozier. The area surrounding Bolzano is known for its wooden carvings so make sure to not leave without a handmade wooden Christmas ornament!

 As a recap:

  •  Go wine tasting on the Wine Road of South Tryol
  • Treat yourself to a chocolate tasting tour of Loacker products
  • Hit the slopes to ski or snowboard in the Dolomite mountains
  • Go to the spa at QC Terme Dolomiti
  • Wander the Christmas Market and shop for wood-carved souvenirs

 Can winter in Europe get better? Wine, chocolate, spas, snow, and Christmas… I think not!

Colmar, France

Contributed by Maartje of The Orange Backpack

Colmar in France is one of the best cities in Europe to visit in winter, especially during the holiday season. This charming town in the Alsace in northeastern France is at its most beautiful during the winter months of the year.

The picturesque streets with monumental houses will be decorated with lights and Christmas trees. The medieval setting with half-timbered houses the Alsace is known for will definitely get you in the holiday mood. There will be many Christmas markets to buy souvenirs or get some wintery food, although it’s not sure yet if there will be any in the winter of 2020.

The best things to do in Colmar:

  • Wander around the charming streets and spot the most colorful traditional houses, especially around the area of Petit Venise.
  • Visit one of the Christmas markets around town.
  •  Visit the Unterlinden Museum for medieval art or the Toy Museum to see the history of toys.
  •  Make some day trips to other Christmas markets in picturesque towns like Riquewirh and Ribeauvillé.

The best way to visit Colmar? Combine your visit with some other charming medieval towns for the perfect road trip in the Alsace. Especially Riquewirh, Ribeauvillé and Kaysersberg are definitely worth a visit and have the same colorful half-timbered house. 

Paris, France

Editor’s Choice

Paris is always a good idea: and in winter, that goes even more so!

From charming Seine-side strolls with views of the iconic Parisian art nouveau architecture to ice rinks in front of the Eiffel tower to Christmas Markets and festive lights everywhere you look, winter in Paris is a dream.

Here are the highlights of winter in Paris:

  • Visiting the massive La Defense Christmas Market, the largest in Paris
  • Shopping for books at the adorable and historic Shakespeare & Company – and heading up to the second floor to relax in the reading room
  • Visit the Galeries Lafayette department store for all sorts of Christmas pics
  • Stroll through the cities iconic covered passageways
  • Spend time in iconic museums like The Louvre and Musee D’Orsay

Strasbourg, France

Contributed by Elisa from France Bucket List

Strasbourg is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in France and a good destination to visit all year round, also in wintertime. Strasbourg, in eastern France, is the capital city of the historical region of Alsace and also the capital city of the French region of Grand Est.

Strasbourg hosts one of the most famous Christmas markets in France, and also the oldest. It is also a good destination for sightseeing or a gastronomic trip so if you cannot make it to Strasbourg during the Christmas holidays there are still plenty of things to do around.

We recommend spending at least 2 days in Strasbourg – check out this Strasbourg itinerary to see the main sights. If you have more days available, consider a day trip to visit an Alsatian village or doing part of the Alsace wine route.

If you are visiting the city before or after the Christmas holidays, these are the top things to do in Strasbourg in the winter:

  • Visit Notre Dame de Strasbourg, one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in France
  • Explore La Petite France (the tanneries neighborhood) the most picturesque area of Old Strasbourg
  • Visit the European neighborhood, home of European institutions like the European Court of Human Rights
  • Learn about the Alsatian wines, perhaps with a wine tasting tour
  • Try at least one of the popular winstubs – a type of traditional wine bar and restaurant-specific to Alsace. With a warm and rustic atmosphere and good local food, they are super cozy in the wintertime.

Lyon, France

Contributed by Stefan of Nomadic Boys

Lyon is our favorite place in France. It’s a city famous for being the gastronomic capital of France, it has a really picturesque old town and a gorgeous backdrop across the Presqu’île where the Rhône and Saône rivers converge. We also love Lyon’s gay scene, which is mainly spread across the northern side of the Presqu’île.

Lyon is also particularly special during the winter months when the city is bustling with Christmas markets and the iconic “Fête des Lumières” (Festival of Lights) takes place. The famous festival takes place over 4 nights in early December. As well as being one of the most exciting festivals in Lyon, it is the best light show in France.

During the days of the Light Festival, the entire city traditionally places a candle on their windowsill as a thank you to Mary (mother of Jesus) who was said to have spared the city from the plague when it was spreading across the country back in 1643.

During this time, an impressive light show also takes place every evening across the main sights in the Old Town and the Presqui’île as a nod to the Lumière Brothers who invented the early motion-picture camera and projector in Lyon, called the Cinématographe, or simply, the cinema!

The winter months are also super cozy in Lyon when people gather to dine out at the city’s renowned “bouchons” (restaurants) and drink lots of vin chaud (mulled wine) at the many Christmas markets.

  • Explore the Vieux Lyon (Old Town) and its unique Renaissance passageways called “traboules”
  • Climb up to the Fourvière Basilica for the best views of Lyon
  • Visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon: the largest fine art museum in France after the Louvr
  • Discover Lyon’s murals: there are around 100 large paintings around the city to spot
  • Pay homage to the Lumière brothers at the Institut Lumière

Andorra La Vella, Andorra

Contributed by Stephanie Craig of History Fangirl

Andorra La Vella, the tiny mountain capital of the micronation of Andorra, makes for a great day trip from Barcelona or as a point of entry to a fabulous Andorra winter getaway.

The country is a popular winter destination since there are so many specific winter activities in Andorra, from dog sledding to skiing in the fabled Pyrenees to winter mountaineering.

However, don’t skip spending some time in the capital, since there is at least enough to fill a day or two just in town. 

Andorra is also famous for its hearty, winter cuisine, so enjoy some fabulous local Catalonian dishes that will keep you fueled up while you explore. Make sure to spend time on the following:

  • Visit the December Christmas Market
  • Exploring the city’s Barri Antic (Old Quarter) on foot
  • See the famous Dali statue La Noblesse du temps (The Nobility of Time)
  • Shop for tax-free luxury goods
  • Warm-up at Caldea, Andorra la Vella’s mountain spa

Innsbruck, Austria

Contributed by Nadine of Le Long Weekend

An alpine city brimming with historical attractions, Innsbruck is much more than your usual ski town.

Spend the day on the slopes before sinking into a cosy restaurant to feast on Tyrolean dumplings, or skip the fields altogether and browse the charming streets of the old town instead.

You’ll find plenty of attractions to amuse both young and old, including the Swarovski Museum, Austrian Christmas markets, and the Imperial Palace. Here are a few of the best things to do in Innsbruck in Winter:

  • Take the Nordkette Cable Car for the best views in town. Even if you’re not skiing, you can ride the cable car to the top of the mountain where you’ll find sled rides for kids and a bar with a view for the adults.
  • Visit the Swarovski Crystal Worlds for an immersive experience into the world of these iconic crystals.
  • Shop at the Christmas markets. Austria really knows how to do Xmas in style, and the markets in Innsbruck are among the best. Fill up on punch and warming treats as you browse the stalls selling trinkets and winter woolies. The markets start in late November and run right through to early January in Innsbruck.
  • See the Golden Roof – completed in 1500 to mark the marriage between Emperor Maximilian I and Bianca Maria Sforza. The roof is adorned with over 2600 copper tiles, giving it a beautiful golden shimmer.
  • Wander the colorful Old Town with its curious buildings, gorgeous boutiques, and intricate architecture.

Vienna, Austria

Editor’s Choice

Emanating wintry charm from everywhere you look, Vienna in winter shines brighter than you could imagine.

From the Christmas markets and festive lighting scattered all around the city to the shops beautifully decorated and enticing you to enter, Christmas in Vienna is simply a magical time.

There’s no denying it’s one of the best cities to visit in Europe in winter! A few of the best things to do on a winter trip to Vienna include:

  • Visiting the Christmas Market in front of Schönbrunn Palace for its delicious spaetzle and garlic soup
  • See a show at the Spanish Riding School, where equestrians perform beautiful dressage shows
  • Window shop on the pricy yet beautiful Der Graben boulevard and take in all the beautiful Christmas lights
  • Take a fiaker (traditional horse and carriage ride) around Vienna’s historic city center
  • Eat all the lebkuchen (gingerbread) your stomach can take!

Salzburg, Austria

Contributed by Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster

Salzburg is Austria’s fourth largest city. Located just 10km from the German border, Salzburg which literally means “Salt-Fortress”, is one of the country’s most beautiful cities and the second most visited. While the city is a delight to visit anytime of the year, a trip to Salzburg during the winter is especially magical and some may say it is the best time of year to go. 

Visitors are spoilt for choice for things to do during winter. With nature on the city’s doorstop there is a plethora of outdoor activities available, including a range of skiing options within a short distance of the city. 

The Altstadt (Old Town) district sparkles with fairy lights and glitzy trees in the month of December, and if it snows, you can take in the snow-covered roofs, Christmas lights and mountain views from one of Salzburg’s best viewpoints

Those staying within the city limits can enjoy multiple seasonal activities in the month of December including:

  • Visiting the Christmas Markets in the Altstadt 
  • Going ice-skating on Mozart Square
  • Listening to seasonal classical music concerts inside the Mirabell Palace
  • Checking out the Christmas Market at Hellbrunn Palace just outside Salzburg
  • Taking a magical trip to the birthplace of the Christmas Carol “Silent Night” in Oberndorf

If you would prefer to keep warm, Salzburg has many cozy cafes to enjoy a sweet treat and a hot chocolate, and a fair few churches and museums that are worth visiting, many of them linked to the famous Composer Mozart, who was born in Salzburg. In fact, you can even tour his birthplace, located in the Altstadt. 

Berlin, Germany

Editor’s Choice

Berlin is a fabulous winter destination in Europe.

Incredible Christmas markets, crisp winter weather, German and international food restaurants that are truly world-class, excellent museums: Berlin has everything you want in winter.

You could easily spend a week enjoying all the best things to do in Berlin in winter, but my favorite winter highlights are:

  • Take a wintry stroll through Tiergarten up to the decorated tree at the Brandenburg Gate
  • Warm up checking out the museums of Museuminsel
  • Shop ’til you drop on Ku’damm and at KaDaWe
  • See the decorations at the Reichstag
  • Visit the adorable Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt

Frankfurt, Germany

Editor’s Choice

Frankfurt is thought of more as a layover city than as one of the most interesting cities to visit in Germany… but I beg to differ!

Frankfurt has an amazing international food scene, a beautifully reconstructed Old Town, excellent Christmas markets, phenomenal coffee shops, and so much more to enjoy in winter.

Here are a few highlights in Frankfurt in winter:

  • Have delicious ramen at Takumi which specializes in chicken-based broths
  • Warm up with spicy Ethiopian-Eritrean food at African Queen
  • Visit the enormous Frankfurt Christmas Market and drink Gluhwein and Dampfnudel until your heart can take no more
  • Hear a concert at the beautiful Frankfurter Dom
  • Check out the Gay Christmas Market (Pink Market) for an alternative festive market experience

Dresden, Germany

Contributed by Chris from Punta Cana Travel Blog

Dresden is a beautiful city in the German state of Saxony, located mid-way between Berlin and Prague.

While it is well-known and has its fair share of tourists, it’s usually not mentioned in the first place when talking about the German cities to visit. However, Dresden is absolutely worth visiting as it has one of the most beautiful and historic old towns and amazing scenery along the river Elbe. 

When visiting Dresden in winter, it’s a must to explore the famous Christmas market of the city, the Striezelmarkt. It’s one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world – dating back to 1434 – and features an abundance of local Christmas decorations (such as Schwibbogen, smoking men or nutcrackers) as well as various typical foods and drinks from Saxony, for example, gingerbread from nearby Pulsnitz or the famous Stollen, which is home to Dresden and has one of its origins in Saxony.

Besides the famous Striezelmarkt, there are numerous further Christmas markets in Dresden. While most of them are not worth mentioning, you should have a look at the medieval Christmas Market at Stallhof, a part of the former Royal Palace. It’s always an interesting spectacle to see and experience the various traditional costumes, individual decoration and charming atmosphere, all focusing on the medieval theme. This place is so much different than most Christmas markets in Germany.

As you should not come to Dresden just to visit the Christmas markets only, the following are my Top 5 for further activities in Dresden:

  • Walk through the historic Old Town and admire the beauty of the historic buildings
  • Visit the New Town with its art cafés, alternative bars, and international restaurants
  • Visit Panometer Dresden, a former gasometer with impressive 360-degree panorama installations, usually about Dresden’s history (perfect for a rainy day)
  • Take one of the two funiculars of Dresden to reach the best viewpoints of the city 
  • Take a day trip to Saxon Switzerland, an area with picturesque rock formations and stunning scenery 

Nuremberg, Germany

Editor’s Choice

If you’re looking for one of the best Christmas markets in Germany, you can’t miss Nuremberg! It’s one of Germany’s oldest and most traditional Christmas markets.

Besides the market, you can enjoy Bavarian cuisine, stroll along its charming bridges and waterways, admire half-timber and traditional architecture, and feel like you’ve stepped into a true winter wonderland.

  • Visit the Altstadt (Old Town) with its historic walls
  • See a show at the Staatstheater
  • Visit the amazing museum at the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus
  • Learn about Nuremberg’s dark role in the Holocaust at the Nuremberg Trial Courthouse and the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds 

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Editor’s Choice

Canals, Christmas Markets, and stroopwaffels: these are what my EUrope in winter dreams are made of.

Any time in Amsterdam is guaranteed to be a good time, as long as you leave the touristy center, but Amsterdam in winter has even more charm.

While of course you have to see the scenic Canal Ring (Grachtengordel) area, there’s much more to Amsterdam than you’d think, so be sure to leave the center a bit and explore!

  • See the canals all lit up and twinkling during the Amsterdam Light Festival — even better on a boat tour!
  • Visit the Netherlands’ best art museum, the Rijksmuseum
  • Wander around the hip 9 Straatjes (9 Streets) neighborhood with its boutiques and cafes
  • Visit the Christmas market on Rembrandtplein
  • Try spicy Surinamese and Indonesian food in East Amsterdam (Oud-Oost) – I recommend Lalla Rookh for Surimnamese and Warung Sranang Makmur for Indonesian

Utrecht, Netherlands

Contributed by Lotte from Beste voor Kids 

Utrecht is the 4th largest city in the Netherlands and is located in the identically named province of Utrecht. It’s a great city to visit any time of year but winter is especially enchanting in this charming Dutch city. 

Utrecht was granted city rights in 1122 and has a beautiful medieval center with pretty canals, gorgeous old houses, and plenty of cozy cafes, restaurants, and bars.

As a Utrecht local it’s hard for me to narrow down the list of things to do as there are so many worthwhile places to visit in Utrecht… However, below you can find some of my favorite Utrecht highlights: 

  • The Old City Center: stroll around the lovely city center with Neude, St. Janskerkhof, and the pretty canals around de Oude Gracht.  
  • Visit the Miffy Museum: if you’re visiting Utrecht with kids this is a must-do in any season but in winter there is a special Christmas Theme so it’s even more fun to visit with your little ones.  
  • Ice skating at the Spoorwegmuseum: the Spoorwegmuseum is another great place to visit with kids or for anyone interested in the history of train travel in the Netherlands. During the Christmas Holiday, there is a special theme called Winter Station during which you can go ice-skating at the temporary ice rink! 
  • Climb the Dom Tower: enjoy a bird’s eye view from the tallest church tower in the Netherlands. This 112-meter-tall tower is a city icon and offers beautiful views of Utrecht city all the way to Amsterdam and Rotterdam! 
  • Go shopping at Hoog Catharijne: revamped Hoog Catharijne is an indoor shopping mall connecting Utrecht Central Station to Utrecht city center and is transformed into a winter wonderland during winter. Admire the Christmas decorations, shop for souvenirs or a Christmas outfit, or have a drink or lunch at one of the restaurants in the mall.  

Brussels, Belgium

Contributed by Sarah of CosmopoliClan

Right in the heart of Brussels, you’ll find its most eye-catching landmark: Grand Place. The interesting gothic City Hall, grand King’s House and stately guild houses adorned with the most intricate gold leaf details are a feast to the eyes any time of the year.

During the festive season, this magnificent place comes to life under a twinkling Christmas blanket. A trail of lights and wooden chalets connects this wonderful location with other enchanting sites that are part of the Brussels Christmas market.

And the wintry fun doesn’t have to end there: Around mid-February, the city hosts a spectacular light festival called Bright Brussels. It’s the perfect occasion to see some of the city’s classic sights with an interesting twist. 

Visiting Belgian’s capital in winter comes with an added bonus: Brussels’ central location also makes it the perfect starting point for winter escapes to other European cities.

  • Watch the captivating Sound and Light show at the Grand Place that takes place every night during the Christmas festivities.
  • Indulge in a fluffy waffle topped with Belgian’s legendary chocolate.
  • Let the Ferris wheel whisk you up for an unforgettable view over the twinkling city. You’ll find it at Vismet during the Brussels Christmas market.
  • Explore the city in a different light during the Bright Brussels Light Festival.
  • Visit the Royal Galleries and enjoy a hot chocolate at one of the city’s most enchanting locations.

Haarlem, Netherlands

Contributed by Manon of Visiting The Dutch Countryside

Haarlem is one of those Dutch cities that is charming, and when you add winter to the mix, you get a magical combination.

Admire its picturesque streets, explore the incredible museums, visit a Christmas market and so much more. Haarlem has everything you could wish for when visiting Europe in winter.

  • Visit the Christmas market in Haarlem: One of the Netherlands’ biggest Christmas markets takes place here. And not only will you find many tasty Dutch treats here, but there are more than 300 stalls to find your perfect Christmas presents. There are also performances, and there’s even a Christmas sing-a-long.
  • Go ice skating at Ijsbaan Haarlem: When you’re visiting The Netherlands in winter, ice skating is part of the deal. We love it. The ice rink is opened from September until March, and you can rent ice skates here.
  • Get cozy at the Jopenkerk brewery: This Dutch beer brewery is found in a beautiful church. So, not only can you taste some amazing Dutch craft beer here, but it’s also found in a beautiful surrounding.
  • Sit in front of the fireplace at Het Veerkwartier: Dutch winters can often be very windy, rainy, and chilly. This is the perfect place in Haarlem to visit when you want to warm up in front of the fireplace.
  • Admire incredible museums in Haarlem: Haarlem is filled with fantastic museums, think of the Teylers Museum, Frans Hals Museum, Corrie Ten Boom, Museum Haarlem and Museum van de Geest.

Zurich, Switzerland

Contributed by Smita of My Faulty Compass

Rich in culture and history, Zurich is a centuries-old city dripping with charm and beauty. A stunning lake and a lovely river along with snow-covered mountains surrounding it add to its stupendous charm.

Zurich in the winter is magical and beautiful with the holiday season transforming the city into an even more spectacular place!

Twinkling fairy lights adorning the streets, unique Christmas trees and markets, a multitude of Advent events and the enticing aromas of hot chocolate or fondue make it an unforgettable experience to spend winter in Zurich.

Here are some of the best things to do in Zurich in the winter,

  • Take a stroll around the old town of Zurich – Start at the famous shopping boulevard of Bahnhofstrasse and make your way to Niederdorf, the old town district situated next to the river.
  • Visit the Christmas markets – Zurich has many many Christmas markets and some of the best of them are at the train station (the largest covered market in Europe!), at Sechseläutenplatz and at Bahnhofstrasse (boasting a singing Christmas tree!).
  • Check out some Christmas events – Several popular events take place around the holiday season including the Lichterschwimmen floating candle event (candles placed into the river make for a beautiful sight) and the Samichlausschwimmen tradition (Santa’s swimming across the freezing cold river!).
  • Enjoy winter sports – Several ski slopes are located a very short distance from Zurich where you can enjoy skiing, tobogganing, or snowboarding.
  • Enjoy the Zurich lake – Take a stroll along the lake promenade or a ferry ride on the beautiful lake

London, England

Editor’s Choice

London in winter is a European dream: it’s gorgeous and festive, yet not so cold that you don’t want to do some sightseeing.

There are plenty of day trips to take to explore castles and other scenic English towns and cities in the area, but there’s also so much to do in London in winter that you can easily spend the entirety of your trip just exploring London.

After all, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” according to Samuel Johnson!

Here are my favorite winter things to do in London:

  • Check out the hip neighborhood of Shoreditch for its street art, cute cafes, and tasty food
  • Shop at the beautifully decorated Borough Market for Christmassy souvenirs
  • Have a tasty afternoon tea to escape from the cold and recharge for evening sightseeing
  • Check out the numerous Christmas Markets throughout the city
  • Have a traditional Sunday roast dinner at a local pub

Galway, Ireland

Contributed by Bruna of Maps ‘n Bags

Galway is the perfect place to visit in Europe winter to get into the Chrismas spirit!

As one of the world’s friendliest cities, Galway has a combo of Irish attractions and a relaxed atmosphere that you can’t afford to miss!

  • Walk down Quay Street to spot a wide variety of shops and venues, from vintage bookshops to traditional Irish pubs to colorful storefronts.
  • Visit the Christmas Market. Boasting over 50 wooden stalls that sprawl through the city center, which is one of the best places to stay in Galway, it’s a must-do. There you can watch the choirs or carol singing, indulge in European food, and feel slightly adventurous in the Big Wheel.
  • Breathe the fresh breeze of the sea and stroll along the Salthill promenade. It’s a 2km long path with peaceful views and, of course, many spots to savor some local seafood along the way.
  • Have a pint of Guinness (or a few) at Busker Browne’s Pub, a venue housed in a historic building in the Latin Quarter dating back to the 17th-century. This building used to be a meeting point for the tribes of Galway, a Dominican convent, and more.
  • Pay a visit to arguably the most important structure in Galway, the Spanish Arch. It’s the last surviving arch from the defenses of the city.

Kyiv, Ukraine

Contributed by Megan Starr of Megan & Aram

Kyiv is a gorgeous city to visit in winter and it has so much to offer during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season. Do note that Ukraine celebrates the Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas in early January, and not in December if you are traveling there for the holidays.

The Ukrainian capital is teeming with lights and festive Christmas decorations and you’ll find small stalls throughout the city where you can purchase small trinkets or traditional food.

Here are some exciting (and cozy) things to do in Kyiv during winter:

  • Eat Varenyky: While you can indulge in this Ukrainian dumpling at any time of the year, it definitely tastes best during the colder months! While you can find varenyky almost everywhere throughout the city, SHO and O’Pana’s have some of the best and both restaurants are located in the city center.
  • Get Acquainted with Kyiv’s coffee scene: Kyiv has some incredible cafes and you will find some of Europe’s best third-wave coffee in the city. While Kyiv may be enduring sub-zero temperatures outside, the cafes are always cozy and warm. You can find several cafes worth visiting in Podil or you can opt for The Journalist right on Khreschatyk.
  • Head to the Opera: Kyiv is home to the Taras Shevchenko National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Ukraine and nothing is quite as festive and seasonal as enjoying a night at the opera during winter. The remarkable building dates back to 1901.
  • Hunt for Soviet Architecture: Kyiv is a city with an endangered Soviet architecture scene. And tracking down some of the obscure buildings is definitely one of the best things to do during winter while they look mysterious under the foggy, grey skies. Don’t miss the Salyut Hotel and Kyiv Crematorium, two masterpieces by Abraham Miletsky.
  • Take a day trip out of Kyiv: The city can be cold and alluring, but there are some fantastic day trips from Kyiv. Opt to head to Slavutych if you already have Chernobyl on your itinerary. The purpose-built city was constructed in 1988 by the Soviets for those who suffered tragedy at Chernobyl. Every neighborhood of Slavutych is different and was built by an architect from a different Soviet republic.

Visting Kyiv in winter is a great choice of travel plans and it is one of Europe’s best winter destinations if you love large cities with a lot to do.

Budapest, Hungary

Editor’s Choice

Budapest in winter is a dream — beautiful architecture bedecked in snow, Christmas Markets on seemingly ever corner, hearty food that matches the wintry weather, and tasty wines to indulge in when the sun goes down early.

Bathhouses offer a great escape from the cold, but outdoor activities like ice skating, Danube river cruises, and even caving under Budapest are all great winter activities as well.

Don’t miss beautiful sights like Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle, the sights from Citadella, and Vajdahunyad Castle while you’re visiting Budapest in winter!

  • Take a steamy soak on a winter day in one of the thermal baths around Budapest — my favorite is Gellért, but I also love the outdoor baths at Széchenyi
  • Try a tasty kürtőskalács (chimney cake) at one of the many Christmas Markets around the city
  • Grab an espresso and a tasty slice of cake at one of third wave coffee shops like Espresso Embassy or at one of the pricy yet beautiful traditional coffee houses like New York Café and Central Café
  • Wander through the beautiful Central Market Hall, loading up on strudel and souvenirs
  • Do an incredible wine tasting experience with Taste Hungary

Prague, Czechia

Editor’s Choice

One of the most traditional choices for celebrating the winter in Europe is visiting Prague with its beautiful Central European architecture and adorable Christmas Markets.

The Old Town Square can get really crowded in the winter, with crowds moving slowly through the tiny winding roads, but if you veer off the beaten path a bit, you’ll find plenty of wonderful places to celebrate winter in Prague sans crowds.

Jiřího z Poděbrad, Náměstí Míru, the markets just to the left when you cross the Charles Bridge in Malá Strana, and the area around Palladium Shopping Mall are 4 of my favorite markets in the city: none are totally “offbeat” and unknown, but they won’t be nearly as crowded as the Old Town.

Of course, you can’t miss a winter visit to Prague Castle and its gorgeous St. Vitus Cathedral, a stroll down the dreamy Golden Lane, and just wandering the castle district of Prague and the beautiful architecture which marks every street.

Here are a few of my best recommendations for Prague — from someone who used to live there!

  • Have a tasty beer at the place where the first Pilsner Urquell was tapped at U Pinkasu — don’t miss their tasty food, either!
  • Eat tasty, heart-warming Czech food. My favorites are guláš s knedlíky (Czech-style goulash stew with handmade sliced bread dumplings), vepřo-knedlo–zelo (roast pork with cabbage and bread dumplings), and česnečka, a delicious garlicky broth laced with caraway seeds and topped with rye bread croutons.
  • Go ice skating in the cute square at Ovocný  Trh
  • Take a short cruise down an icy Vltava River
  • Take a sauna on the river in the pop-up Lázně na Lodi

Cesky Krumlov, Czechia

Contributed by Riana of Teaspoon of Adventure

Cesky Krumlov is one of the best places in Europe to visit in the winter. Cesky Krumlov is a small medieval town just a few hours south of Prague in the Czech Republic.

The entire town is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you know it’s going to be beautiful! Many people visit Cesky Krumlov on a day trip but I suggest you spend a night or two to really appreciate the charm of the town and discover all it has to offer.

In the summer, Cesky Krumlov can get very crowded. It’s the most popular day trip from Prague! So one of the best reasons to come in the winter is that you can have the entire place to yourself. Visiting in the winter also ups the fairytale factor of this cobblestone covered little city when it’s blanketed in snow. 

5 things to do in Cesky Krumlov in the winter

  • Go on a free walking tour of the city and learn about its royal history
  • Visit the Cesky Krumlov Castle Tower complete with views over the entire city
  • Warm up in one of the many adorable cafes throughout town (Ideal Coffee comes recommended)
  • Stroll through the Castle Gardens that will hopefully be covered in snow
  • Shop at the charming Christmas Markets in the town square

Bratislava, Slovakia

Editor’s Choice

If you’re planning a winter trip through Central Europe, don’t miss the magic of Bratislava in winter. I’m sure this city is charming at any time of year, but in the winter, Bratislava just shimmers.

Compared with its more popular Central European neighboring capital cities – Prague, Vienna (just an hour away and a world apart), and Budapest, to name a few – Bratislava is an oasis of calm. Even the beloved Bratislava Christmas markets don’t do much to add chaos to Old Town, dispersing the tourists in smaller, more manageable numbers.

Whatever the reason, if you make Bratislava a priority – and you should – you’ll be delighted that you included this gorgeous Central European city to your winter in Europe itinerary

Here are the highlights of Bratislava in winter:

  • Admire the (hopefully) snow-capped Bratislava Castle grounds
  • Stroll the Danube and check out the quirky UFO Bridge
  • Warm up from the Bratislava winter with some comforting Slovak food at Bratislavský Meštiansky Pivovar.
  • Marvel at the baby blue Church of St. Elisabeth
  • Cozy up in an adorable café — I love St. Germain

Krakow, Poland

Contributed by Vanessa of Wanders Miles

As the second-largest city in Poland, Krakow has a fascinating history, unique architecture, hip art scene, delicious food, craft beer, and is great value for the money. This is the perfect recipe for a fabulous European city break.  

Krakow is a true delight for history buffs. Krakow Old Town one of the first-ever urban UNESCO World Heritage Sites dating back to the Middle Ages. Wawel Royal Castle located on the Vistula River majestically overlooks the city. Learn about the harrowing story of the Jewish population in WWII within the city or by taking a day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  


One of the main highlights of visiting Krakow in December is feeling the festive vibes in the main market square, Rynek Glowny. The elegant horse-drawn carriage is a win for tourists and the huge Christmas tree displayed in front of St. Mary’s Basilica is a stunning sight to see. Visitors to the traditional Polish market will hear Christmas carols sung by performers and see the display of elaborate cribs (szopki) submitted for the contest which has been held at the start of December since the 19th century. 

You can’t visit without sampling traditional Polish dishes from smoked cheeses, grilled meats, and sweet gingerbreads. Christmas souvenirs, Polish pottery and jewellery from the folklore handicraft stalls are a great memory from your trip. If you fancy a sip of the good stuff, try the mulled wine (Grzaniec Galicyjski) or craft beers poured from the wooden barrels. 

You will also find beautiful classical performances at St. Peter and Paul’s Church and St. Mary’s Basilica, both fine examples of Polish Baroque architecture. 

  • Take a tour of Wawel Royal Castle 
  • Attend a concert at St. Joseph’s Church  
  • Walk over the Vistula River on the Bernatek Footbridge 
  • Learn about the Nazi occupation in Oskar Schindler Museum
  • Get creative in MOCAK (Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow

Warsaw, Poland

Contributed by Bec of Poland Travel Expert

Poland is fast becoming a hot destination for travellers and there is no better city to visit than Warsaw. It is a city that has a proud and extremely sad past but it is also one that is looking to the future.

Warsaw is a city that feels like home when you arrive and Warsaw in winter is a beautiful time to visit. If you are a family, a solo traveler or a couple there is so much to do in Warsaw.

Polish food is absolutely amazing and very filling. From zapikanka to pierogi there is something for everyone and all tastes. You can find so many little street stalls (you will find a favorite) or you can find a restaurant that has been around for years to enjoy a meal. 

If you love history, a visit to Warsaw is a must. There is so much to learn in the city about WWII and how the city was rebuilt after being nearly totally destroyed. From museums to wandering the Old Town the scars are everywhere. 

Here are a few things to do in Warsaw in winter.

  • Visit the traditional Christmas Markets in the Old Town
  • See the amazing Christmas light displays through the city
  • Try some Grzane Piwo (mulled beer)
  • Visit the Palace of Science and Culture (in the basement there is a ‘milkbar’, a traditional Polish kitchen)!
  • See a Chopin performance

Zagreb, Croatia

Contributed by Ciara from Wellness Travel Diaries

Zagreb, the beautiful capital of Croatia, is filled with stunning architecture influenced by Gothic and Austro-Hungarian styles.

During winter, this magnificent city hosts a spectacular Advent Christmas market throughout the entire town. This sensational market has been voted one of the best markets in Europe for three consecutive years according to European Best Destinations.  

With numerous holiday activities for families, couples, and solo excursions, it’s no wonder this winter destination is a traveler’s favorite city.

This magical market starts in late October and ends in January with a bustling list of winter activities to do.  Some of the best activities include:

  • Exploring the Christmassy wonderland at Ban Josip Jelačić Square
  • Taking a stroll at Zrinjevac Park
  • Walking through the semi-underground Advent Christmas tunnel
  • Visiting the Christmas market at European Square
  • Ice skating at Tomislav Square

These activities merely scratch the surface of all the things to do when visiting the Christmas markets in Zagreb, Croatia. The mood is set with festive wooden stalls charmingly decorated with fresh trimmings, and cheerful lights.

These stalls sell an abundance of goodies including mulled wine, traditional Croatian foods, and artisanal handcrafted items ranging from ornaments, scarfs, teas, and more.

On top of the breathtaking Christmas festivities, Zagreb does get cold during the winter months so I highly recommend packing layers and a winter coat for enjoying your strolls through the impressive holiday market.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Editor’s Choice

For a winter Europe destination that will impress you with its beauty, you can’t miss a trip to Copenhagen!

Whether it’s traversing its historic Danish Castles and Roskilde Cathedral, learning about the country’s Viking history, or walking around the charming streets of Copenhagen’s neighborhoods, there’s no denying Denmark is a charming place to spend winter: this is the country that introduced hygge to the world, after all!

Here are a few choice things to do in Copenhagen in winter:

  • Stroll the charming grounds and Christmas Markets of Tivoli Gardens amusement park, all lit up for the holiday season
  • Grab delicious Danish and international foods at Torvehallerne — grab some Mikkeler craft beer at the bottle shop here as well!
  • Snap fairytale-esque photos from the home neighborhood of Torvehallerne, Nyhavn, with its colorful houses on the canal
  • Take in the view from the Rundetaarn
  • Walk around the trendy and diverse Nørrebro neighborhood and stop for ramen at Ramen to Biiru

Aarhus, Denmark

Editor’s Choice

Denmark’s little-known second-city is rarely visited by tourists, but it’s a charming well-kept secret that more travelers should know!

Winter in Aarhus is a great time to come and explore the city as its easily accessible from Copenhagen by train yet it offers a totally different side to the country than Copenhagen does.

Here are a few things I recommend doing in Aarhus in winter:

  • Check out great works of art at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum
  • Walk around the Aarhus Ø district and see its most iconic buildings like The Iceberg: an emblem of Danish design
  • Learn about Danish history and culture at the Old Town Open Air Museum
  • Instagram your way through Aarhus’s most scenic street, Møllestien, as well as the photogenic Latin Quarter
  • Dine til you drop at Aarhus Street Food, a permanent indoor/outdoor street food market

Reykjavik, Iceland

Contributed by Amanda from A Dangerous Business

When it comes to winter destinations in Europe, a lot of people will immediately think of mulled wine and Christmas markets. But there’s another city removed from mainland Europe that you don’t want to forget: Reykjavik, Iceland.

Iceland is most popular during the summer months, when long days leave ample time for road trips and outdoor adventures. But winter in Iceland – and in Iceland’s capital city – can be just as great.

Reykjavik is the heart of Iceland. Not only is it the country’s capital, but it’s also where the majority of Iceland’s population lives. Even in the dark days of winter, Reykjavik is lively and makes for a great long weekend escape.

The top things to do in and around Reykjavik in winter include:

  • Cozy up with a coffee in one of Reykjavik’s trendy cafes.
  • Take the elevator to the top of Hallgrimskirkja to enjoy snowy views of Reykjavik and the surrounding landscape.
  • Spend a morning soaking at the Blue Lagoon. Yes, you can visit these thermal pools even in the winter time!
  • Go on a Northern Lights chasing tour to try to spot the aurora borealis dancing in the sky. The Lights are sometimes bright enough to see right in downtown Reykjavik.
  • Stay in Reykjavik for the city’s famous New Year’s Eve party, which includes bonfires and a massive fireworks display.

Reykjavik is also a great base for exploring Iceland’s natural wonders during the winter months. Day trips to see the geysers of the Golden Circle and the waterfalls along the South Coast run year-round, or you could get even more adventurous and go hiking on a glacier, or horseback riding in the snowy volcanic landscape.

Oslo, Norway

Contributed by Ella from Many More Maps

Oslo, the capital of Norway, is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter. Known for its stunning setting overlooking the Oslo Fjord, you’ll be treated to spectacular winter scenery and scenic cruises during your trip here. 

For a great introduction to the city, plan to stay at least 2 days in Oslo. This will be enough time to hit up all its highlights, soak up its unique vibe and try some of Oslo’s totally unique and completely delicious food.

As one of the safest cities in Europe, you won’t need to worry about walking alone after dark in Oslo (and it gets dark very early in winter!).

What’s more, contrary to what you’ve probably heard, with a bit of advanced planning Oslo can easily be seen on a budget.

Purchase the Oslo pass to cover your transportation and museum entry tickets, and stay at the Smarthotel Oslo, where you can score a room for as cheap as €55 per night!

  • Sample the famous Norweigan meatballs at Kaffistova
  • Walk up to the roof of the Oslo Opera House for a free, only-in-Oslo experience.
  • Take a sauna right on the Oslo Fjord for one of the best sunset views in the city.
  • Marvel at the bizarre sculptures at the Vigeland Park.
  • Head to the Viking Ship Museum to see three reconstructed Viking ships that were found buried near Oslo.

Tromso, Norway

Editor’s Choice

How does going north of the Arctic Circle sound for winter in Europe?

With some days where the sun never rises above the horizon and freezing temperatures and snow nearly every day, it may sound a bit crazy. But trust me on this: Tromso doesn’t need sun to be beautiful in winter!

While you won’t find the traditional Europe in winter staples of Christmas markets and lit-up trees, you will find plenty of active adventure to get you out and about in Norway’s gorgeous arctic nature.

Here are a few incredible things to do in Tromso in winter:

  • Take a self-driving dog sled red with a team of enthusiastic huskies
  • Visit the Tromso Ice Domes, a scenic ice hotel rebuilt each year located about 90 minutes from Tromso city.
  • Go whale watching for orcas and other whales during whale season (November through January) if conditions permit
  • Visit a Sami reindeer camp and learn about the customs and lifestyles of the indigenous people of Sapmi (which settlers named Lapland)
  • Take an aurora minibus tour and chase the Northern lights — sometimes all the way into Finland!

Gothenburg, Sweden

Contributed by Roshni of The Wanderlust Within

As the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg, is perfect for a winter break. There are four amazing Christmas markets in Gothenburg all scattered across the city, and focusing on different themes.

The most traditional is at Kronhuset, the most modern one, that sells local designer goods is at Roda Sten Art centre, and the foodie focused Christmas market is in Haga.

However the most popular and largest Christmas market in Sweden is at Liseberg amusement park. Running for most of December, the attraction combines roller coasters with festive ice skating shows, over 80 Christmas stalls and Santa’s grotto.

The Christmas Markets sells everything from hand decorated baubles to traditional Swedish gingerbread, called Pepparkaka.

There is also a wonderful Swedish Christmas buffet dinner available (book well in advance), that serves all the local festive favorites such as pickled herring, saffron buns, cured salmon, and a long table full of chocolates and sweets known as a ‘gottebord’.

Top things to do in Gothenburg in winter include:

  • Explore the city on a Paddan canal cruise
  • Try the largest cinnamon rolls in Sweden at Cafe Husaren in Haga
  • Visit the free palm tree house and explore the tropical botanical gardens
  • Go ice skating at Liseberg theme park
  • Check out the singing Christmas tree, a choir arranged on a platform in the shape of a Christmas tree, performing all your favorites

Stockholm, Sweden

Editor’s Choice

From exploring the museums, stopping for coffee breaks and Swedish pastries, visiting Christmas markets, and enjoying scenic boat rides through canals, there are countless things to do in Stockholm during the winter season.

If you visit Stockholm in November or December, try to time your vacation around the Christmas markets. The Christmas lights and cheer somehow make the snowy, dark days feel a little brighter.

Here are the best things to do in Stockholm in winter:

  • Experience a genuine Stockholm winter by visiting the Christmas Market in the heart of the Old Town, Gamla Stan.
  • See an expertly preserved ship 17th century ship at the Vasa Museum
  • Eat your heart out at the indoor marketplaces: Hotorgshallen and Östermalms Saluhall
  • Spend a day at Centralbadet (Central Bath), a beautiful bathhouse with Art Nouveau décor, plenty of saunas, and several heated swimming pools to choose from.
  • Take a boat tour around Stockholm’s 14 islands

Abisko, Sweden

Editors Choice

While I’m sure Abisko, Sweden is a lovely place to visit at any time of year, it truly shines in winter.

You can see Northern lights dancing overhead almost literally every night, walk amongst frozen waterfalls in the national park, snowshoe across epic landscapes, and experience all the wonder of Lapland.

Here are my top picks for what to do in Abisko in winter:

  • Go Northern lights spotting with a guided tour or independently out on the frozen-over Torneträsk lake
  • Go dog sledding and cuddle some husky pups
  • Chase (frozen) waterfalls in Abisko National Park
  • Learn about the indigenous Sámi culture on a day tour
  • Visit the ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi

Helsinki, Finland

Editor’s Choice

Helsinki in winter may not be the first choice that comes to mind for a winter in Europe, but keep an open mind and you’re sure to love the Finnish capital city in winter, even when the sun sets just after 2 PM!

From Christmas Markets in December to festivals all winter long, winter in Finland is all about getting cozy at cute cafes, sweating it out in saunas, enjoying tasty Nordic cuisine at trendy restaurants, and enjoying Helsinki’s architecture on strolls through the city.

Here are a few can’t-miss winter activities in Helsinki:

  • Drink some glögi (mulled wine) at one of the Christmas Markets in the city — the cutest is at Senate Square
  • Visit the snowy island fortress of Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which you can access by a quick ferry from Helsinki
  • Visit during the Lux Festival in January to see Helsinki Cathedral all lit up beautifully
  • Take a traditional Finnish sauna at a public sauna house like the trendy Löyly — and jump into the icy Baltic Sea after, if you dare, like a true Finn!
  • Warm up indoors at the Old Market Hall and snack on all sorts of traditional treats

Rovaniemi, Finland

Contributed by Jordan of Inspired by Maps

Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland, in northern Finland, is one of the best cities to visit in Europe in winter.

Not only is it renowned for being the home of the ‘real’ Santa Claus’, but there is husky-sled ridding, incredible museums, sauna’s and it is one of the best spots to see the Northern Lights from.

Rovaniemi is also surrounded by spectacular picturesque photography locations — including virtually infinite stretches of pristine Nordic forests and wilderness — all of which are even more stunning when blanketed in the winter snow. The Northern Lights perform in Lapland roughly 200 nights of the year-and can be observed from Rovaniemi every third night during the winter. 

While in Rovaniemi in winter, you should download the Aurora prediction app and head down to the Arktikum Park and Lake for an adequate chance to see the action when the app tells you. There is a little light pollution here, however, so a more reliable way to see the phenomena is to go out on a Northern Lights tour with expert guides who know how to expose Lapland’s beauty to tourists. 

Other than Northern Lights viewing, there are so many other things to do in Rovaniemi  on a European winter escape including:

  • Learn more about the nature, community and history of Lapland at the prestigious Arktikum Museum of Science.
  • Appreciate a genuine Finnish sauna experience, both in your hotel or one of the public saunas in the city.
  • Head out to the Santa Claus Village and cross over in the Arctic circle. 
  • Get your artistic fix at the Museum of Art in Rovaniemi or by exploring the modernist Rovaniemi Library, designed by the famous architect Alvar Aalto.
  • Feel the wind racing and get your heart pounding while embracing the chill of the wilderness on a husky sledding tour in the Lappish wilderness. 

Tallinn, Estonia

Editor’s Choice

Tallinn is one of my favorite places to be in Europe in winter, hands down! I have a huge crush on all things Estonia, and I think it’s one of the most underrated countries in Europe.

With a thriving hip scene in the trendy area of Kalamaja, trendy restaurants serving up beer pairings with new takes on Estonian cuisine, and tons of historic charm to add a refreshing context to the forward-focused city, Tallinn is Europe’s best kept winter secret.

Here are a few great things to do in Tallinn in winter:

  • Grab coffee at a cute local cafe — I like Kohvik August in the city center and pretty much anywhere in the Telliskivi Creative City area
  • Spend the dark afternoons in one of Tallinn’s many cool museums: my preferences are the KGB Museum, KUMU (art museum), and Seaplane Harbor Museum.
  • Eat tasty food and sip on local beer at the redesigned Balti Jaam market
  • Drink mulled wine and shop for hand-crafted souvenirs at Tallinn Christmas Market
  • Take in views of Tallinn from its three best viewpoints: Toompea Hill, Kohtuotsa, and Piiskopi.

Riga, Latvia

Editor’s Choice

Another little-traveled Baltic gem, Riga in Latvia doesn’t usually come to the forefront of people’s minds when thinking of where to spend winter in Europe, but I think that’s a huge mistake!

While yes, Riga is often frigid and dark in the winter, that just means that you have more excuses to indulge in delicious Latvian food and beer and check out cool museums around the city.

Here are a few picks of what to do in Riga in winter:

  • Stop for a cake and Instagrammable surroundings in the charming Café Parunasi in Riga’s Old Town
  • Climb to the top of St Peter’s Church for epic views of the Old Town
  • Visit Riga’s most iconic piece of architecture, House of the Blackheads
  • Take in sweeping views with a delicious drink at Skyline Bar
  • Warm up from the inside out by trying Riga’s signature liquor, black balsam, at any local bar

Moscow, Russia

Contributed by Lindsey Puls of Have Clothes, Will Travel 

Moscow in winter is simply magical and looks as though the city were plucked straight from a fairytale. There are many beautiful Christmas lights displays, as well as Christmas markets that begin in late November and run to the end of February.

The most famous Christmas market is held in Red Square. Here you can shop and marvel at the snow-covered St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin, with a mulled wine in hand.

Some more of the best things to do in Moscow, especially in winter, are:

  • Visiting a traditional Russian banya! In short, a banya is similar to a sauna. In the winter, you can cool off in between sessions by jumping in a snowbank or even a frozen lake!
  • Enjoying a show at the Bolshoi Theatre. This historic theatre holds some of the world’s best ballet and opera performances. If possible, I highly recommend seeing a ballet performance on the Historic Stage. And if you’re visiting at Christmastime – The Nutcracker ballet performance is, hands down, the best performance I’ve seen in my life.
  • Shopping at Izmailovksy Market: Izmailovsky Market is a year-round market that has the best prices on Russian souvenirs.
  • Touring the Moscow Metro. Moscow’s metro is considered one of the most beautiful in the world!
  • Exploring the Kremlin Armory. This is Moscow’s most famous museum and houses more than 4,000 exhibits – the collection of rare, ancient carriages of Russian rulers is not to be missed!

Tbilisi, Georgia

Contributed by Baia of Red Fedora Diary

Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is one of the best cities to visit in Europe in winter because of its mild weather. It rarely snows here, so it’s perfect for those who’d like to explore warm places during winter break. Moreover, prices for accommodation drop during winter months, so you can easily find a cute Airbnb or a hotel room. 

The city is rich in history and shows the trace of Russian and Persian rulers in its narrow cobblestone streets. Therefore, it’s a perfect juxtaposition of old and new, with modern architecture backdropped with ancient fortresses, churches, Soviet brutalist architecture, and Art-Nouveau buildings. 

There are plenty of things to do in Tbilisi, so everyone can find something that suits their taste. However, the top experiences to have here are as follows: 

  • Climb the 4th-century Narikala Fortress for amazing views of the old town
  • Take a sulfur bath in Abanotubani to relax after a long day of exploration 
  • Learn more about the country in the National Museum and its Soviet occupation hall
  • Pay a visit to Jumah Mosque where Sunni and Shia Muslims pray together
  • Indulge in comfort food and taste Georgian cuisine

If you come here during Christmas or New Year, beautiful lights and decorations do adorn the city, while small Christmas Markets are scattered in the central parts of the city. Find them at Rose Relovultion Square and Orbeliani Street. 

Pin This Guide to Winter in Europe

40 of the Absolute Best Road Trips in Europe

As a continent, Europe is perfectly suited for road trips. The distances between countries are short – at least in this American’s eyes – so you can easily see several countries on one quick trip, or very thoroughly explore one country in depth.

While the rail and bus system in Europe is quite advanced, there’s really no better substitute than having your own car so you can explore as much as possible and get off the beaten path whenever you like.

I asked some travel bloggers to share their expert opinions on what some of the best road trips in Europe are, and they didn’t disappoint! Check it out below and get inspired.

Need tips for what to pack for a road trip? Check out my packing list here.

The Best Road Trips in Europe: UK & Ireland

Five Ferries Route, Scotland

By Kathi from Watch Me See

The Five Ferries Route on the west coast of Scotland is traditionally a cycle route, but who says the 55-mile loop can’t be equally done by car? It’s the perfect island-hopping road trip if you’re short on time. 

The route is named after the five ferries one must take between the mainland and various islands and peninsulas in this jagged coastal landscape.

The road trip begins in Ardrossan, a seaside town with a busy ferry port around 35 miles southwest of Glasgow. Set sail to the Isle of Arran and on to the Kintyre peninsula. From there make your way to the Cowal peninsula, the Isle of Bute and back to the Ayrshire coast on the mainland.

The first stop on the Five Ferries Route is the Isle of Arran. It is also known as Scotland in miniature and boasts a little bit of everything Scotland has to offer. Stunning mountains and white sandy beaches, baronial and ruined castles, locally made produce from beer to cheese, an independent whisky distillery, and even some fascinating standing stones. Spend at least one full day on Arran before heading on to the ferry.


Next up is the Kintyre peninsula. The ferry from Lochranza on Arran arrives in Cloanaig near the top of the peninsula. If you are pressed for time, you can simply take in the nearby sites (Skipness Castle and Tarbert Castle) before heading on to Portvadie on the next ferry, or you can spend a couple of days in the area to explore everything the long finger-shaped peninsula has to offer.

From the beautiful lighthouse at the Mull of Kintyre to the whisky distilleries in Campbeltown, stunning beaches and bay along both coasts or a day trip to the Isle of Gigha, there is a lot to see here.

The next part of the Five Ferries Route takes in a remote part of Scotland called Argyll’s Secret Coast. While it’s not really a secret, this area on the Cowal peninsula is so far off the beaten path, few people venture here. Your efforts will be rewarded with stunning natural beauty, breathtaking scenery and welcoming and vibrant villages.

From Colintrave (on the second finger of the Cowal Peninsula), catch the short ferry across to Rhubodach on the Isle of Bute. Bute is a true hidden gem among Scottish islands – super easy to get to from Glasgow, lots of things to do, yet a complete underdog in comparison to the likes of Skye, Mull or Islay.

Visit Mount Stuart and spend a few hours on the beaches of Ettrick Bay or Scalpsie Bay. Hike from Kilchattan Bay to the remote Glencallum lighthouse and visit the sites around Rothesay. 1-2 full days on the island is enough to see the highlights.

Finally, make your way back to the mainland. From Wemyss Bay, head on to Glasgow or continue down the Ayrshire coast back to Ardrossan. Stop for ice cream and Scottish Viking history in Largs and visit the colorful Kelburn Castle.

NC 500, Scotland

By Gemma Armit of Two Scots Abroad

Historic castles, white beaches, turquoise water, local food, live music, Highland coos, fresh air, hills, whisky distilleries – what’s not appealing about Scotland’s North Coast 500

The UK’s answer to Route 66 starts in Inverness and goes around the Scottish Highlands over just over 500 miles in a loop route. 

There’s no right or wrong way to drive around the route but the roads are mostly single track so you need to be careful when you meet other cars. Use the passing places to pull in so locals and fellow road trippers can enjoy the space too. 

Starting in Inverness head west over Scotland’s most terrifying road, the Bealach Na Ba. Crawl around the corners and pray that no one is coming the other way! Your first food stop is Applecross. Enjoy lunch at the pub and enjoy the views by sitting in the outside area if the weather is on your side.

Next, head through the small villages of Sheildaig and Gairloch stopping at the secret beaches, Mellon Udrigle Beach and Gruinard Bay. This section of the trip includes a drive through the majestic Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. You will most likely want to spend the night in either of the two villages mentioned above. Which one really depends on availability. 

The next section takes you to the spirited town of Ullapool. There’s always live music at one of the three hotspots, The Ceilidh Place, The Arch Inn or the Argyll Hotel. It is worth spending an evening here and setting off a little later the following day. Scotland has a zero-tolerance drink driving policy. 

Heading north to Durness, make a pitstop and take a short walk to the ruins of Ardvreck Castle at Loch Assynt. Enjoy the crazy landscape of the B869 to Achmelvich Beach. 

At Durness visit Smoo Cave and pay the £5 to ride the boat inside in the cave. Next head up to Dunnet Head and John o’ Groats, the most northern tip of mainland Scotland!

From here you can catch a ferry to Orkney or start your route down the east coast of the Highlands stopping at the castles and distilleries along the way. The designated driver gets to choose the lunch spots. 

Spend some time dolphin spotting at the Black Isle before ending your trip back in Inverness. 

Edinburgh to Isle of Skye

By Justine of Wanderer of the World

Scotland is an ethereal place where you can expect to find emerald green hills, bright blue waters, trendy cities, and never-ending countrysides. With the country being fairly small in size, it is possible to see most of Scotland during a short road trip.

As we were on a bit of a time limit ourselves, we only had 5 days to explore and we saw a lot in that short space of time. Our road trip went a little like this: Edinburgh > Loch Lomond > Glenfinnan > Loch Ness > Isle of Skye.

Starting your Scottish road trip in super trendy Edinburgh, it’s best to explore the city on foot. A visit to the Edinburgh Castle to learn some fascinating histories is a big recommendation, as is eating haggis in the local restaurants and admiring the Edinburgh skyline from the top of Holyrood Park.

Driving west from Edinburgh, you can discover Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park, which is really beautiful to see. When visiting Scotland, it’s definitely a must to explore as many of its vast lakes as you can, given how much Scotland is renowned for them. There is a pathway to take you along around the outskirts of the lake, or you can opt to see the lake from on top of it instead – in a canoe or kayak!

Glenfinnan isn’t on most travelers’ lists when visiting Scotland, but if you’re a Harry Potter fan, then this is an absolute must. Glenfinnan Viaduct is a filming location from the second movie and is the perfect place to see the Jacobite Steam Train chug past (or better known as the Hogwarts Express)!

one of the best road trips in Europe

Loch Ness is of course a must-see in Scotland, especially if you’re interested in learning more about the legends behind the Loch Ness monster.

Given just how vast this lake is, you will likely not see the whole of it. But there are plenty of places to park up your car and explore its outskirts by foot.

Next, drive the main road of the Isle of Skye so that you can see as much of it as you can. This also makes for a really simple circular route!

Portree is a great pit stop for various restaurants, bars, and shops, but my advice would be to head to the northernmost tip of the island. From here, you can see some old castle ruins and fabulous views across the sea.

Wales

By Cath of Passports and Adventures

One of the best road trips to take in Europe has to be a tour of Wales. Once a kingdom in its own right, this small country lies in the West of the United Kingdom and is a beautiful, rugged country with rivers, lakes, mountains, coastline, and much more.

To tour Wales, it is best to start in Cardiff, the capital, in the south east. Do not spend time here first though, pick up your car and start heading north. Enjoy some of the best castles in Wales by visiting Caerphilly, Chepstow, and Raglan. From Raglan, you should head to Brecon and enjoy the mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

If you are adventurous and enjoy hikes, then take a day to scale Pen-y-Fan, the highest peak in South Wales. It will take a couple of hours, just make sure weather conditions are favorable and bring layers, drinks and snacks. Stay in Brecon Castle, now a hotel in the town of the same name and enjoy wandering the streets of this quaint little town.

From Brecon, continue north along the A470, stopping in Builth Wells for lunch before continuing to Rhayadar, your next stop on your tour of Wales. This town will be your base for exploring the beautiful area of the Elan Valley.

The Elan Valley is an area of natural beauty centered around three reservoirs. While the reservoirs are man-made, the surrounding area is beautiful with amazing scenery. It’s worth spending a day driving around the reservoirs or hiking some of the hills.

From Rhayadar, head to the north coast and Conwy, famous for its magnificent castle, which is a must-visit. Use Conwy as your next base for exploring the north coast of Wales, Anglesey and Bangor.

From Conwy, head south towards the Snowdonia National Park, using their Porthmadog or the very pretty Portmeirion as your base for spending a few days exploring the Snowdonia National Park.

If your fitness levels are good, you could scale Snowdon, the highest mountain peak in Wales. If you do not fancy that, you can get the tourist train up to the peak of Snowdon.

The Snowdonia National Park is one of the most beautiful areas of Wales and is a must-visit on your road trip. Visit the small ruined castle at Harlech, the pretty seaside town of Barmouth, before heading south towards Aberystwyth. You could stay here if you arrive late and enjoy a walk along the seafront.

From Aberystwyth, head south along the coast towards the Pembrokeshire coastline where you must visit St David’s, Solva and Pembroke Castle in the town it shares its name with. You could make Tenby, a colourful, picturesque town, your base for exploring the beauty of Pembrokeshire.

And when you have finished exploring West Wales, return to the capital Cardiff to explore everything this vibrant city has to offer.  If you are visiting Wales as a family, ending your road trip in the capital is a must as there are so many things to do in Cardiff with kids. From Cardiff Castle to St Fagans, Cardiff Bay and the city centre, this is a great place to end your exploration of Wales.

To cover the length and breadth of Wales, you will need at least a week to ensure you can visit all the places mentioned here and to have some time to get out and explore. If you have more time, even better, as you can take your time and really soak up all that Wales has to offer. At each town mentioned there will be hotels and guesthouses to stay in and plenty of cafes, restaurants and even pubs to eat and relax in.

Ireland

By Stephanie of History Fangirl

There is no country in the world that’s makes for a better road trip than Ireland! The rolling fields, herds of sheep bounding their way down the road, and stunning coastline make the Emerald Isle the perfect road trip destination.

While there are tons of options here for a road trip since the country is packed with scenic Irish drives, a few popular choices include the Ring of Kerry, the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland, and the Wild Atlantic Way which includes Slea Head Drive. 

The Wild Atlantic Way is the perfect introduction to driving in Ireland and includes some of the country’s most famous roadside attractions.
Fly into Shannon Airport in Galway to pick up your rental car. You can spend the night here or immediately head north.

For your first stop, begin in Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey. One of the country’s most famous Instagram spots, the picturesque abbey is one of the most famous postcard images from Ireland.

Next head south to Doolin. This is the perfect place to base yourself to see both the Cliffs of Mohr as well as a day trip out to the Aran Islands. Make sure to spend some time driving through the Burren before you leave this part of the country.

As you make your way south, you will arrive in Dingle. This colorful town is the perfect place to relax for a night or two. While here make sure to do the Slea Head Drive, visit the Dingle Distillery, and go on a Dingle Dolphin tour. You can make a day of it, or you can enjoy more of Dingle’s activities and extend your time here. 

As your trip reaches its end, drive back to Galway. Spend a day exploring this lively city before turning your car back in at the Shannon Airport. 

South England

By Darek of Darek and Gosia

When going to England, do not limit yourself to exploring the capital. Around London, you will find historic towns, picturesque villages, and beautiful landscapes. Here is our plan for your successful road trip of southern England.

First up, head to the Cotswalds. The nearly 80-km range of limestone hills, among which the sources of the Thames are hidden, attracts with idyllic landscapes. A trip to the Cotswolds will be perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Almost everything – from dog huts, garden walls and houses to churches and castles – is made of material mined in local quarries. The Cotswolds also delight in straw thatch covering buildings.

The northern part of the hills is considered more picturesque than the southern one because of the higher hills. At 300 m, at the intersection of eight roads lies Stow-on-the-Wold, one of the highest located towns of England, which dates back to prehistoric times.

Next up, spend a day in Bath. Bath is close to the only natural geothermal springs in the British Isles. In the spa town, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Roman baths and pump rooms have been perfectly preserved. The place also impresses with Georgian architecture, including sandstone buildings that blend in perfectly with modern buildings.

Bath was the destination of trips already 2 thousand years ago! The beauty of the spa and the beneficial influence of waters on humans again attracted tourists in the 18th century. Today, many visitors believe that mineral water from Bath is a remedy for various ailments.

Next up, time to hike the Cheddar Gorge! Cheddar Gorge is the largest limestone gorge in Great Britain. It is located near the village of Cheddar, in the southern part of the Mendip Hills, in the English county of Somerset. The rocks that make up the gorge are full of caves, and one of them found in 1903 the oldest human skeleton in Great Britain (9,000 years old), called the Man of Cheddar.

Cheddar Gorge, along with caves and the nearby village, is a popular tourist attraction attracting about half a million tourists a year.

Next up is one of England’s greatest attractions: Stonehenge. The Stonehenge stone complex is one of the oldest megalithic structures in Europe and one of the most recognizable structures in Great Britain. It has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1986.

Some say that Stonehenge was used to observe the sky and stars, others that pagan ritual ceremonies were held there. The mystery also remains how prehistoric peoples managed to transport these huge stones to the place where they are now, about 5,000 years ago.

Finally, hike the Seven Sisters in East Sussex. There you can see for yourself the amazing work of nature which certainly are white cliffs aptly named Seven Sisters.

The chalk cliffs are located between the towns of Seaford and Eastbourne in the area of Seven Sisters Country Park. It is certainly an interesting fact that there are eight hills instead of seven as the name suggests.

There is so much to see in the southern part of England. But to see it all you will need to spend a bit longer on the road trip around southern England!

Central England (including Cotswalds)

By Kat of Wandering Bird

One of the best road trip ideas for England has to be the Cotswolds and central England.

This entire area is filled with cute villages, pretty roads and incredible views over the rolling English countryside- as long as you are lucky enough to do it on a clear day! 

I’d recommend starting in Salisbury, a fabulous city with plenty to do and see- including one of the best cathedrals in the UK. There are great  shops and plenty of bars and cafes to get you started.

Whilst there, you have to head out to Stonehenge and see the world-famous stone circle. You don’t need to stop unless you have time- you can see it quite well from the road, but except long queues as everyone slows to take photos. If you do choose to stop, tickets can be bought on the day but there may be a wait in high summer.

From here, head to the Cotswolds. This collection of pretty villages has become famous as being picture-postcard cute and is the perfect place for instagram shots. I highly recommend the villages of Bourton on the Water and Castle Combe- both have been called the prettiest villages in England. You can drive around as many villages in the Cotswolds as you have time for and there are plenty of places to stay in the area if you want to explore for a few days.

Alternatively, end your road trip in Bath. This beautiful city is built from local ‘yellow’ stone, which looks spectacular in the evening sunset. It is a bustling city with plenty of nightlife and things to do. I also recommend staying a night (or two) and enjoying an afternoon tea at the Pump rooms (an English tradition), as well as exploring the city on foot. 

The Best Road Trips in Europe: Nordics

Iceland Ring Road

By Nick & Val of Wandering Wheatleys

When it comes to iconic road trips in Europe it’s hard to beat the Ring Road around Iceland. True to its name, Iceland’s Ring Road runs the circumference of the island and allows you to take in most of the country’s top sights. 

Even though it is just 1,330 kilometers and you can technically drive the Ring Road in just 16 hours, most people spend 10-14 days because of the plethora of spectacular waterfalls, beautiful hikes, and inviting hot springs along the route.

You’ll almost certainly begin and end this road trip in Keflavik, due to that being home to Iceland’s largest airport. From there you’ll head east along Iceland’s Southern coast. 

The first 2 stops on this road trip that you absolutely cannot miss are 2 of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls – Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Seljalandsfoss is a 60-meter high waterfall that pours down in front of an overhanging cliff face that allows you to walk behind the waterfall. 

Skogafoss is an equally tall waterfall but with an impressive width of 25 meters making it one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. You can walk right up to the base of Skogafoss if you don’t mind getting absolutely drenched by the spray from the falls.


The next stop on your trip is Diamond Beach – a black sand beach covered in tiny bits of ice that sparkle like, well, diamonds. This beach sits in front of the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Giant icebergs break off of the Jökulsárlón glacier and float out to sea where they are broken up and washed back ashore by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

From here you’ll round the southeastern corner of Iceland and start heading north up the eastern coast. The road winds its way in and out of endless fjords on this side of the island and you’ll encounter scenic views the whole day.

On the northern side of the country, you’ll want to make sure you stop at Detifoss. While this waterfall drops just 44 meters, it is an impressive 100 meters wide. And with almost 200 cubic meters of water flowing over it every second, Detifoss is the second most powerful waterfall in all of Europe.

After all the driving and exploring you have been doing you have earned some rest, so spend a day relaxing at the Mývatn Nature Baths – the water is the same striking turquoise color as the famous Blue Lagoon, but it’s 1/3 of the price and much less crowded. 

As you round the west side of Iceland you’re in for a treat. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is home to stunning waterfalls, stunning views, and cool hikes. The most common stop on the peninsula is at the iconic Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall with Kirkjufell Mountain in the background. 

If you still have time left in Iceland you can spend a couple of nights in the capital city of Reykjavik. Otherwise, head back to the Keflavik airport for your flight home.

Icelandic Westfjords

By LC of Birdgehls

Most people who arrive in Reykjavík hire a care to drive the Golden Circle, or head south. This is pleasant, but your trip could be so much better if you simply drove north, into the Icelandic Westfjords!

The Westfjords are home to some of the most jaw-dropping scenery you will witness in this already staggeringly beautiful country. They are also quite remote – the area only sees a fraction of the tourists that otherwise flock to Iceland every year. There were long stretches of the road where we simply did not pass any other cars at all.

 There’s plenty to do in the area, beyond simply gaping at the scenery. I recommend visiting the little town of Bíldudalur, which is located far north enough to catch the Northern lights (as we did one night in early autumn).

Ísafjörður is the capital of the region and acts as an excellent base for exploring the area. There are constant festivals held in the town throughout the summer.

If you like museums, Iceland has some good’uns. In this region of the country you’ll find the Sea Monster Museum and the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft in Hólmavík (one of the displays is a replica of 17th century necropants. Google it. It’s worth going for this alone).

And it wouldn’t be an Icelandic experience without a waterfall – Dynjandi Waterfall is massive and has the advantage of not being constantly swarmed by tourists!

Senja, Northern Norway

By Aga of Worldering Around

A road trip on the island of Senja in Norway makes for an unforgettable experience. Jagged mountain peaks plummeting to the sea, turquoise water, white sand beaches and wild nature describe Senja perfectly.

Senja is an island  located in the Troms Country in Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle. It’s the second largest island in Norway with the area of 1 589.35 km2. Thanks to its northern location, in the summer the sun doesn’t set, which is called a midnight sun phenomenon. In winter, there is a polar night and an opportunity to see the Northern Lights.

Senja is best to be discovered by car. There is public transport on the island, but it’s scarce and not always easy to manage. There are a lot of places that are worth visiting and stopping by, so having the car is convenient. 

The Norwegian National Tourist Route runs through Senja, passing through some of the most beautiful parts of the island. The route is 102 km long and it runs from Gryllefjord to Botnhamn, with short detours to Mefjordvær and Husøy. If you want to go on a road trip on Senja, I recommend following a National Tourist Route. And if you have more time, extend the road trip further.

I recommend starting the route from Botnhamn or Husøy, a picturesque tiny island with one of the most active fishing communities in Senja. A place worth taking a break in is Ersfjordstranda, a famous beach with fine, white sand, and green sharp mountain backdrop. 

The next stop is Tungeneset, a wooden walkway overlooking the Oksen mountain and the crashing waves of the North Sea. Another viewpoint worth driving to is Bergsbotn. This 44-meter long viewing platform lets you admire the waters of the Bergsfjord and the mountains behind.

Other places to visit during the road trip on Senja are the Hesten hike with a view to Segla mountain, the Segla hike, Ånderdalen National park, and Hamn I Senja.

Lower Scandinavia

By Jamie Italiane of the Daily Adventures of Me

Take a trip through southern Scandinavia to experience the maritime culture and learn Viking history in just a little over a week.

Start in Gothenberg, Sweden: the home of the Fish Church. Drive north up Sweden’s west coast stopping at the Stone Ship, a Viking burial ground.

Be sure to spend a few days in Oslo, Norway’s capital. To learn details about Viking history, spend at least half a day in the Viking Ship Museum. From there drive the winding roads across Norway to see the magnificent fjords.

Spend at least one night in Flam, Norway exploring the fjords, waterfalls, and fairy-filled forests. Continue to the coast, visiting Bergen and Stavanger, learning about Norway’s industrial and immigrant cultures.

Take an overnight ferry ride into northern Denmark, a worthwhile experience in itself. Head through the flat farmland of Denmark until you reach its capital, Copenhagen.

Spend time in this cultured, seaside city and visit its famous garden and amusement park, Tivoli Gardens. Finally, head to Hamlet’s Castle before taking the very short ferry ride back over to Sweden, and your Scandinavian road trip is complete.  

Best Road Trips in Europe: Western Europe

Tuscany

By Matt of It’s All in Italy

If you’re visiting Italy on vacation and are planning the ultimate Italy road trip, the drive from Rome to Florence is a special one as you’ll be passing through the stunning Tuscan countryside for at least half of the trip.

Starting in Rome, here’s a fantastic driving itinerary that takes you through some of the most historic and picturesque cities and towns in the heart of Italy…

Departing from Rome, make your first stop in Bolsena, situated on a beautiful lake by the same name. The quaint village of Bolsena is a must stop for a quick stretch, a traditional Italian meal such as wild boar ragu and perhaps a walk by the lake.

The largest volcanic lake in Europe, Lake Bolsena is an essential stop on your road trip from Rome to Florence.

Next up is Montalcino – a name wine lovers will recognize! the Medieval hilltop town is famous for its unique wine, especially its Brunello di Montalcino. Offering spectacular views over the region, dotted with vineyards, you’ll really feel like you’re absorbing the best Italy has to offer when you visit Montalcino.

Afterwards, head to Siena. Perhaps it’s a little less known than its more popular neighbor Florence, but no less interesting, Siena is distinguishable by its medieval brick buildings and its popular town square, Piazza del Campo with its iconic 14th-century tower, Torre del Mangia.

Next up on your road trip is Monteriggioni – one of the smallest medieval fortified hilltop towns in Tuscany. Monteriggioni is a special place to spend a few hours, either experiencing Italian village life, walking the walls for stunning vistas of the Tuscan countryside or enjoying a meal and locally produced wine.

Finally, you’ll arrive in Florence, where you’ll feel the unique history of this special city, home of the Renaissance. With countless statues, monuments and artworks, you’ll run out of time before you run out of things to see. Must-sees include Michelangelo’s ‘David’ statue, Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) and finally, the city-wide views from Piazzale Michelangelo. 

Whether your road trip will be continuing after Florence, this itinerary could satisfy your travel bug for years to come. Enjoy!

Sardinia

By Claudia Tavani of Strictly Sardinia

A road trip along the south-eastern coast of Sardinia is an excellent way to enjoy one of the most beautiful parts of the island, especially in the summer months, and it can be done as an easy day trip from Cagliari

The obvious starting point is Cagliari, the capital. From there, take SS554 all the way to the end, and then follow the signs to Villasimius. You can stop at various beaches along the way, all of them different and all of them beautiful. 

Your first stop should be Cala Regina. This small, rocky cove will surprise you with its transparent waters, perfect for swimming or just for relaxing. If you want to get splendid views of the beach from above, make sure to follow the narrow trail on the right hand side of the parking lot. 

Next, make a stop at Mari Pintau. A favorite of locals, this is another small cove with large pebbles, but contrary to Cala Regina, the seabed is actually sandy so perfect for standing up once you get in the water. As this beach is very well protected from the wind, you will usually find very calm waters. 

Hop back in the car and follow the coastal road to Villasimius. It’s windy and slow, but the views are impressive and you will often be tempted to stop for photos. Although Villasimius is home to many beaches, some of them only allow a limited number of people in – which means you’d have to get there at the break of dawn to get your own spot. 

Once you pass the village of Villasimius, you can head towards the scenic Cala Pira, which contrary to the other already mentioned beaches is sandy. This small beach is surmounted by a Spanish watchtower (there are many scattered around Sardinia), which you can see from the outside – however, the best views are actually from the southern side of the beach. 

Pack up and head to Cala di Monte Turnu, another small sandy cove with incredibly clear waters and well protected from the wind. It will take you about 10 minutes to drive there from Cala Pira. From Cala di Monte Turnu, it is a short drive to get to Costa Rei, one of the most popular summer destinations in Sardinia.

The beach in Costa Rei is long and sandy and perfect even for families with children. The transparent waters will invite you in for a swim. Along the beach there are several kiosks. If you want to have dinner in Costa Rei, Chaplin is a budget friendly trattoria that focuses on fish and seafood dishes – make sure to try their swordfish carbonara. 

Costa Rei is a good place to stop for a couple of days if you don’t want to drive all the way back to Cagliari. There are various holiday homes for rent, but you need to book well in advance via one of the local real estate agencies. If, on the other hand, you’d rather head back to town, you can get on SS125 as the drive is much smoother and quicker from there. 

Puglia, Italy

By Maria & Katerina of It’s All Trip To Me

A land of sun and endless plains filled with century-old olive trees and vineyards, the region of Puglia in Southern Italy feels as though it’s made for a road trip. 

The best way to enjoy a road trip across Puglia is by following a circular route that begins and ends in either Bari or Brindisi, the two main entry points to the region, as both of these cities have a port and an international airport alike.

With countless picture-perfect towns, pristine beaches and unique sites of natural beauty, the sky’s the limit when it comes to essential stops you need to make while road tripping across Puglia. 

However, there are some places that you most definitely have to add to your itinerary. These include the beautiful towns of Trani, Polignano a Mare and Monopoli that adorn the region’s Adriatic Coast, some of the most stunning towns in Itria Valley such as Alberobello, Locorotondo and Cisternino, as well as dazzling Ostuni and easy-going Otranto. 

The important thing to keep in mind here is that you should take your time while roaming the authentic and breathtaking region of Puglia. This sun-kissed piece of land in Italy’s South hides at its core the essence of the laziest and most nostalgic Italian summers. 

This is evident at the historic centers of its medieval towns, the jaw-dropping courtyards of the most impressive estates that have been turned into unique farm-stays as well as the plentiful beaches of turquoise waters and abandoned watchtowers. 

Puglia is where you’ll get to mingle with locals more than anywhere else in Italy. It is a region that doesn’t suffer from overtourism. At least not yet. Food is delicious and always prepared with locally grown ingredients. Available activities you can try range from hiking or cycling through the stunning countryside to attending cooking classes with people whom you’ll be calling friends from then onwards. 

Yet it’s on the road that Puglia will steal your hearts forever. All along its scenic routes, away from impersonal and grey highways, it’s where you’ll witness the magic of Puglia unfold right before your eyes. 

Castle Circuit, Germany

By Becki from Meet Me In Departures

This circular trip starts and ends in the German city of Köln (Cologne), it covers the south-west region of Germany going down as far as Stuttgart before completing the circuit through the Rhineland’s. Ideally, you’d want approximately 4 or 5 days to complete it, although a more leisurely week is better.

This castle route is one of the best road trips in Germany, as you’ll get to see beautiful fairy-tale castles, the ancient Black Forest as well as picturesque cobbled towns.

In brief, the places on this circuit are Koln > Frankfurt > Mespellbrunn Castle > Stuttgart > Bad Wildbad > Heidelberg Palace > Koblenz > Eltz Castle > Rheinstein Castle > Cochem Castle > Bonn > Köln.

From the city of Köln head in a south-easterly direction towards Frankfurt. It’s well worth spending at least half a day exploring the Old Town and getting lost in the pretty cobbled streets.

From here, continue the journey towards the first castle on your road trip, Mespellbrunn Castle. If you’ve ever ready the fairytale Rapunzel, this is probably the sort of tower she was kept in. The tall and circular tower overlooks a pretty lake. Make sure you take the guided tour inside the castle too.

The final stop of the day is in Stuttgart. You’ll probably arrive quite late in the day, but enough time to explore the town, get a nice meal with local beer. This is also a great place to spend the night too. The next morning finish exploring the town before heading north-west towards Bad Wildbad. If you have time, spend longer here to explore some of the fabulous walking trails.

After you’ve visited the Black Forest, keep heading north-west to the university town of Heidelberg, and Heidelberg Palace. This complex gets quite busy, so you might need several hours here to see everything. The town is also quite lively, with a bustling town square. Stay overnight in the town.

The next day you’ll be heading towards the picturesque town of Koblenz with its quaint buildings. Spend a couple of hours here before driving on to Eltz Castle.

Eltz Castle is the quintessential fairytale castle, it’s perched on a rock, in a valley, with a stream running next to it, all surrounded by ancient woodlands. You’d probably want a couple of hours here. It’s also worth getting the tour inside the castle.

The next destination on this road trip is to the smaller Rheinstein Castle overlooking the Rhine River. It often gets overlooked, so it’s quieter than lots of the other castles, it does have an interesting crypt as well as the turrets and roof you can climb up to.

Continue driving towards the town of Cochem and Cochem Castle. The colourful town is situated along the riverside, with the castle overlooking the surrounding vineyards. This is also a great place to try the local wine. From here head towards the town of Bonn, as well as wandering through the town, be sure to visit the fabulous castle.

From Bonn, complete the circuit and drive back to Köln. If you’re looking for something to do in Cologne, make sure you climb the cathedral.

Provence to Nice via the Gorge du Verdon

By Anne Sutherland-Smith from Pretraveller

An amazing European road trip is the 350 km (220 mile) drive from Avignon to Nice via the Luberon hilltop village region and the Gorge du Verdon, the deepest gorge in France.  Plan to take at least four days to drive this route to enable you to have enough time to properly explore each location.

Day 1 starts from the ancient Roman town of Avignon.  You start your journey by traveling east 36km / 22mi / 45 minutes to your first stop, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, to see the amazingly clear natural spring waters, which flow out of a 230m high cliff. 

Plan to spend 1-2 hours exploring the township and see the most powerful natural spring in France.  

Your second stop is the hilltop town of Roussillon, a beautiful winding drive of 31km / 20 mi / 55 minutes. 

Roussillon means ‘red’ in French, and the town lives up to its name by being surrounded by amazing red cliffs and is also located in the center of the biggest ochre deposits in the world.  Enjoy at least 1-2 hours exploring the beautiful colors, art galleries, and fantastic natural views of the Luberon countryside.

Your next stop is the amazing Provencal Colorado, an old ochre quarry which is located 20km / 12 mi / 25 minutes drive east from Roussillon.  You will enjoy the short walk through this site, where you can see amazing shades of red, orange, yellow, white and black, with streaks of blue and green.  Plan to take 1-2 hours to explore the site at your leisure as it is truly amazing!  Plan to stay overnight at accommodation located near Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (a 45km / 28 mi /1 hour drive further east), ready for an exciting adventure exploring the Gorge du Verdon the following day.

Day 2 starts by deciding which route to take to explore the Gorge du Verdon – you can drive on either the north or south side of the gorge – the northern route is called Route des Gorges (or the rive droit – right bank), and the southern route is called the Route de la Corniche Sublime (or the rive gauche – left bank).  From the northern route you can also access the circular one way Route des Cretes loop where you can see amazing cliffs and views.  

You can take either one or two days to explore the Gorge du Verdon region – for one day plan to drive the Route des Gorges and ensure you also take the circular Route des Cretes loop before driving on to either Castellane or Trigance. 

If you have two days then take the Route de la Corniche Sublime, and plan to stop at the township of Les Salles sur Verdon to hire a boat or kayak to explore the river before driving the route through to Trigance.  On day two you can drive along the Route des Gorges to the Route des Cretes, before returning to Trigance or Castellane.

On your final day you can drive from either Castellane (63km / 40 mi / 1:05 hrs) or Trigance (70km / 44 mi / 1:10 hrs) to Grasse, where you can enjoy several hours exploring the perfume capital of the world. The surrounding fields are covered in flowers during the peak season!  Your final seaside destination is Nice, a drive of 42km / 26 mi / 40 minutes.

Provence (Luberon Valley)

By Martina Grossi of The Global Curious

Far from the Côte d’Azur bling packed with beaches and flashy vibes, and closer to calm sunsets gazing across the countryside, lies Provence, in France. Medieval villages made of stone buildings hanging on to cliffs, abbeys, lavender fields, vineyards, and that classic French grace that never gets old.

Travelers looking to relax and get a taste of the sybarite life should definitely spend between 3 to 7 days exploring one of Europe’s most charming regions. 

The area’s expansive countryside, tranquil settings, and proximity between highlights make it an ideal option for road-trippers! You could easily rent a car or motorbike and do a whole loop, or head south toward the Riviera for your itinerary’s grand finale! 

Avignon is where this itinerary kicks off! Avignon is a small city and a great way to ease your way into the region. Explore the XIVth century Papal Palace, the famous Avignon Bridge, and take a stroll around the city’s tree-lined boulevards.

Then head west and hit Arles, an absolute must for art and history lovers. For Roman ruins, visit the Arles Amphitheatre, and then discover the streets that inspired some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

Once you’ve checked two of the region’s most important cities, get right into the soul of France’s countryside! Wander the Les Baux castle, tour the Saint-Paul Asylum -where Van Gogh spent his final year-, go wine tasting around Saint Remy, and catch a sunset in Roussillon! 

For a movie-set worthy spot -literally- spend a morning enjoying  Gordes panoramic views and the village’s central square. This hilltop town appears in Russell Crowe’s 2006 movie, ‘A Good Year,’ and it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France. 

To crown your Provence road trip, spend a day chilling by the most famous and gorgeous spot in the whole region! The Sénanque Abbey was built in the XIIth century and now remains as a monastery, a retreat place for guests, and an expansive lavender field. You’ll truly feel like you’ve escaped reality and jumped into a painting here!

Once you’ve finished your ‘Provencal holiday,’ either circle back to Avignon, or keep driving south, toward the French Riviera. A word of caution! Don’t be surprised if you feel like giving up everything to move there and become a poet -just blame it on the lavender, the wine, the food, and the views!

Dordogne Valley, France

By Cindy Baker of Travel Bliss Now

The Dordone region in the southwest corner of France couldn’t be more perfect for a road trip.  There are miles of quiet country roads, lined by forests and vineyards, and dotted by quaint, medieval villages where castles and fabulous gourmet fare await.

Many international visitors will arrive in Bordeaux, close to the Atlantic coast.  Treat yourself to at least two days of wining and dining in the city, culminating in a visit to the interactive wine museum, La Cité du Vin.

Form Bordeaux, it’s 1.5 hours via the A89 to your first stop in the Dordogne, the town of Bergerac.  Enjoy the pretty town square, the narrow streets lined with half-timbered houses and the Maison de Vins de Bergerac in a beautiful old cloister.  Spend the afternoon or stay overnight in Bergerac before proceeding to Sarlat-la-Canéda (Sarlat), in the heart of the Dordogne.

Sarlat is the perfect base for two or three nights to explore some of the most beautiful villages of France.  These include the castle towns of Beynac-et Cazenac, La Roque-Gageac and Domme.  Sarlat, itself, is a pretty, well-preserved medieval town.  It’s also known as a gourmet’s delight, specializing in truffles, foie gras and wine.  A great place to stay to soak in the old world charm of Sarlat is Les Suites Sarladaises.

From Sarlat, head north to the romantic village of Brantôme.  On the way, stop in at the Lascaux International Centre for Cave Art to see incredible, prehistoric cave paintings and have lunch at  Le Dejeuner sur L’Herbe, a hidden away cafe by the river in lovely Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère.  

Brantôme is known as the Venice of the Dordogne because the village is surrounded by a river.  The highlight is the town’s ancient abbey, but be sure to take some time out for romance with a stay at the Relais & Châteaux, Le Moulin de l’Abbaye. 

The final stop in the Dordogne is Périgueux.  In the very unlikely case that you haven’t had enough to eat on this road trip yet, Périgueux is often called the culinary heart of France.  Try to time your visit to be there for market days on Wednesdays or Saturdays to sample the best delicacies of the region.

After you’ve had your fill in Périgueux, it’s time to head back to Bordeaux.  The entire road trip could be done in as little as 5 days, but take your time (more like 9 – 10 days).  Enjoy the slower pace of French country life and all of the delicious things it has to offer.

Southern Portugal

By Diana of In Between Pictures 

What better way to explore Portugal’s hidden gem than by road-tripping? This road trip itinerary will take you from the vibrant Portuguese capital to the breath-taking cliffs of Algarve, stopping along the way to visit charming small towns.

Begin your Portuguese road trip in Lisbon. The colorful city packs lots of things to see and do, and you could easily spend a week here exploring its nook and crannies. While in Lisbon, make sure to watch the sunset at one of the many Miradouro, get lost in the colorful neighborhoods, visit the oldest bookstore in the world, and go on a free walking tour. 

After Lisbon, make your way to Sintra. Besides Lisbon, Sintra is probably the second most popular place to visit in Portugal. Here you will find the famous Palacio da Pena as well as many other beautiful palaces. The old town is a UNESCO Heritage Site, so it is not to be missed. Pick up the car rental early in the morning and make your way to Sintra. Once you finish exploring, make your way to Evora. 

Next up is Evora, the capital of the Alentejo region, is a UNESCO Heritage site and one of Portugal’s most beautiful medieval towns – a hidden gem! The small town also makes a great base if you want to explore the region. 

After Evora, head to Elvas. Elvas is located east of Portugal near the border with Spain. This small town exudes Portuguese charm with its narrow streets and whimsical façade. It was once a defense point, but now, Elvas is a peaceful, picturesque town. 

Next up is Monsaraz. Monsaraz is a beautiful medieval village perched on a hilltop overlooking the Alentejo plain. The quaint town is filled with colorful bougainvillea amid whitewashed cottages. It is a great place to spend a few hours strolling the cobblestone streets and enjoying the panoramic view. 

Elvas and Monsaraz are small and close enough that you could visit both places on the same day. If you have extra time, add Marvão to your itinerary as well. 

Finally, end in the Algarve in Lagos. Lagos boasts the most spectacular views in Portugal, not to mention beautiful beaches and scenic hiking trails. The old town is a charmer too! If you enjoy nature and outdoor activities, you are going to love Lagos. 

The nearest airport in Lagos is located 30 minutes away in Faro. You can return the car by the airport before departing. 

Portugal makes it easy to explore for road-trippers. Most hotels outside Lisbon, as well as attractions, offer free or affordable parking. The roads are smooth and easy to navigate, and driving distances are relatively short.

Southern Spain

By Reshma Narasing of The Solo Globetrotter

Andalucia in southern Spain is one of the best regions for planning a road trip in Europe. What’s special? Well, splendid monuments boasting Moorish architecture, magnificent castles, pretty beachside towns, excellent food & drinks(Think Tapas and Sangria), beautiful roads along the coast flanked by stunning landscapes dotted with vineyards – Do you need any more reasons? This Spain itinerary can be done in about twelve days or more if you want to. 

Start at Seville, one of the most popular cities in Spain, which is a perfect place if you are flying to the town. Spend a few days admiring the iconic Plaza de España, the bell tower La Giralda, the Royal Palace of Alcázar. Walk amidst the pretty cobbled streets, taste the best Tapas with Sangria in one of the many excellent restaurants, spend your evenings watching the enthralling Flamenco dance performances by local artists.

Leave Seville to arrive at Cordoba, one of the most famous ancient cities in Andalucia with a rich history, and the epicentre for two religious faith. You can cover the highlights in a day or better, spend at least two nights here. Check out the historic Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, the second largest mosque in the world after Mecca, renowned for its grand confluence of Moorish-Renaissance architecture. 

Next to it is the beautiful Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs. Take a walk admiring its grandeur. In the evening, stop on the Roman Bridge of Córdoba for capturing panoramic views across the river.

Next, it is time to get a peek of south Spain’s beach line at the port city of Málagawhich was one of the prominent ports during the Roman empire. You can choose between hitting the beaches and enriching monuments. Even if you are not into history, don’t miss Alcazaba, a medieval Moorish castle for its excellent location and gorgeous views of the sea. Close to it is the remnants of a Roman Theatre, dated 1st Century BC. For more views, head to the hilltop palace Castillo Gibralfaro.

If you want to relax instead, head to Costa del Sol Occidental known for its lovely beaches, cliffs and bays spending the day soaking in the sun, enjoying the sand and Sangria.

Drive next to Granadaenjoying the beautiful landscapes surrounding the Sierra Nevada mountainsbefore moving up the coast. Granada is a classic example of Moorish medieval architectural grandeur. It is the city of Palaces, Cathedrals and fortress – each more beautiful than the other.

Explore the fortified palace Alhambra which consists of several stately buildings and gardens, the summer palace The Palacio de Generalife, medieval Catedral de Granada & the old town.

Head next to Cartagena, the ancient Roman city and port with lovely beaches for a more relaxed time, after castles and forts. Stay close to La Manga so that you can enjoy the beaches nearby. Visit the iconic Roman Theatre, which also has a museum. Wrap up this fabulous road trip by heading to Murcia, from where you can fly out.

Belgium

By Bhushavali of My Travelogue by Bhushavali

Namur is the capital city of the Wallonia Region of Belgium and is the home to Namur Castle which Napoleon Bonaparte described as the ‘Termite Mound of Europe’. While exploring the citadelle is free for all, the fascinating thing here is the guided tour (ticketed) of the underground tunnel system!  Apart from the Castle, there are quite a few things to do here including, visiting the Belfry which is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium.

Stop next at Wepion which is known for its strawberries. There is a museum dedicated to the local strawberry cultivation techniques and of course there’s an orchard. A visit in late spring or summer is perfect to experience strawberry cultivation, first hand! Of course, anytime of the year, it is possible to shop for yummy strawberry preserves and other products.

The next stop would be Les Jardin d’Annevoie, which is a huge garden filled with several fountains. While on the first look, they might look like regular fountains, but these were built in mid 18th C, without any motors, but with merely basic laws of physics of pressure and flow! The water is all fresh all the time because it constantly flows in and out of the river Meuse. There is a chateau in the midst of this garden, but now it is under renovation. With waterbodies and swans, it is indeed very picturesque.

The next stop is the very unique Railbikes of Molignee. Long back, Belgium was extremely well connected by railway lines. Today some of these lines have fallen into disuse and have now been converted to rail biking activity. It’s quite unique and we get to bike through tunnels and some areas of spectacular views. This would take between 2 to 3:30hrs.

The final stop of this journey would be Dinant, which is one of the most fascinating little towns! First, it is the birthplace of the musical instrument Saxophone! A bridge here is filled with art installations of huge saxophones!

The Notre Dame Cathedral with the imposing castle at the back is very picturesque. The best way to experience Dinant is by taking a cruise or by kayaking. Also, it is possible to do quite a few adventure activities here including rock climbing, ziplining, and more.

Netherlands

By Umang Trivedi of Travelmax

Amsterdam is a revelation for many first-timers. It was my first European city and going from a comparatively conservative country like India, I had built sky-high expectations from the European city.

When I reached Amsterdam, these expectations were not only met, but exceeded! Moreover, I did a road trip to the fishing towns of Marken & Volendam which offered me a view of the beautiful Dutch countryside as well.  This short road trip added more flavors to my visit to the Netherlands and at the end of the day, I was in love with the country. 

In order to go to the fishing towns of Marken & Volendam, you need to go through the Amsterdam – Noord region. There are public busses going between Amsterdam city & the towns of Marken & Volendam and you can pick the specific route. However, if you have your own car, driving down to these fishing towns will give you a memorable experience. 

You can easily return to Amsterdam, but I’d recommend staying in one of the cute Airbnbs in Marken or Volendam. Frankly, I’d recommend staying in Marken because of one beautiful hike which I have suggested below as 5th stop. This hike is completely untouched and will give a spectacular sunset view. 

The road to Marken is a treat, because a narrow stretch of road is engulfed by water on both sides. A worthy road trip indeed. 

Here are the 5 stops which you can consider on this road trip from Amsterdam to Volendam to Marken. 

Start with Adam’s Lookout & This Is Holland experience. I am mentioning this as one attraction as they are adjacent to each other. Adam’s Lookout will give you a bird’s eye view of the Amsterdam city from a swing located at top of a high rise building. This Is Holland experience will give you a virtual tour of the Netherlands with 4D effects and flight simulation.

Next, visit the Volendam Museums. After enjoying the various views of Amsterdam, head to Volendam and enjoy the 3 museums: Volendam Museum, Palingsound Museum, and the Cheese Factory.

Next up is the city of Marken and its famous shoe factory. From Volendam, after lunch, you can leave for Marken to see the Shoe Factory. These shoes are basically clogs – a Dutch symbol – a locally preferred footwear style from yesteryear. You can see the shoes being made along with an interesting collection of clogs as well. 

Afterward, check out the Marken Lighthouse: There is a lighthouse in Marken town that offers a wide view of the ocean. Unfortunately, you cannot go to the top of the lighthouse, but can surely spend some peaceful time at the nearby benches. 

Finish up with the Marker Landtong hike. This is nothing but a hiking stretch on a slightly elevated piece of land with ocean both sides. It’s popular as a dog walking track among locals, but lesser-known in the tourist circuit. This hike goes on till you can reach the land’s end. It offers some beautiful sunset vibes and views. 

After this sunset, you can consider heading back to Amsterdam. You can also stay back in Marken as the morning can be very peaceful!

Best Road Trips in Europe: Central & Eastern Europe

Mini Balkans (Croatia, Montenegro & Bosnia)

By Mayuri of ToSomePlaceNew

One of the amazing European road trips to take is to the Balkans. On this road trip, you can explore some of the popular destinations like Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia, and then visit Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Start this epic road trip in Split in Croatia (if you are traveling from overseas most likely you will arrive in Zagreb and you can travel to Split from Zagreb in about 4 hours). Explore the old town of Split, admire the Doelicitian’ Palace, Temple of Jupiter and stroll the lovely Split Riva Promenade.

Next day start for Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina. Split to Mostar is only a 2 hour drive away. Ensure you carry your passport, and a license plate (from car rental companies) to cross the border.

In Mostar, fall in love with the Stari Most (old bridge) in Old town, and learn about its history, and how the town is shaping up after the 1992 Siege. In and around Mostar old town, is the Crooked Bridge, pretty bazaars and cafes, Mostar Peace Tower and the war exhibitions.

Spending a day or two in Mostar is a good idea, and when ready head to the stunning Kravice waterfalls, also located in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mostar to Kravice is only 45 minutes away, making it a perfect stop before arriving in Dubrovnik, back to Croatia.

At the Kravice waterfalls, go for a swim, kayaking, boast tour or just admire the stunning falls. The water is perfect for a swim in the summer months.

The border crossing in Bosnia Herzegovina (to Croatia) can get super crowded in the peak tourist months, so factor in the time as you plan your road trip stops. Aim to reach Dubrovnik hotel by evening, so that it’s easy for sightseeing the next day.

In Dubrovnik, visiting the historic city walls are a must. Opt for a walking tour in the old town and visit the city highlights like the Rector’s Palace, Sponza Palace, Dubrovnik Cathedral, Saint Franciscan Monastery, Placa, to name a few.

Don’t forget to pig out and eat in one of the outdoor cafes, relishing Balkan cuisine. When in Dubrovnik hit the beaches or embark on an island tour from the old port. This will be one of the highlights of this road trip – the Adriatic will leave you speechless!

From Dubrovnik, make your way to Montenegro – this time for the Kotor Bay. Dubrovnik to Kotor is only 2 hours away. Depending on the time you have on the road you can either explore more of Montenegro, starting in Kotor, then heading to Budva and then Stevi Stefen.

However, you are pressed for time, take a day or road trip to Kotor Bay and Perast. Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro, and it is filled with Adriatic charm with orange rooftops and the stunning blue waters.

You can easily spend a day or two here, wandering through the old town and square, including visiting the iconic Kotor Cathedral. Boat tours are quite popular here.

Perast is also located near the Bay, just north of Kotor and is known for the island of Our Lady of the Rocks. These two destinations will definitely give you a taste of what Montenegro’s coastline has to offer.

Croatia (Zagreb to Dubrovnik)

By Maggie Turansky of The World Was Here First

“One of the best ways to see the highlights of Croatia is by hitting the open road and, if you want to be able to see some of the most iconic areas that this beautiful Adriatic nation has to offer, the drive from Zagreb to Dubrovnik is an excellent option.

Starting in Croatia’s dynamic capital, this road trip can take you by some of the most spectacular natural and coastal scenery in the country along with stops in some historic towns and cities. Leaving Zagreb, make sure to stop in the incredible Plitvice Lakes National Park. Spending at least a night near the park will ensure that you can visit early in the morning and avoid the large crowds that descend on this incredible area by the late morning.

From the inland highlight that is Plitvice Lakes, make sure to include a stop on Pag Island, which is easily reached by a bridge. This island is known for its cheese production and, if you’re visiting in the high season, you may even have the opportunity to visit a dairy and sample some of the award winning cheese.

From there, spend a night or two in the historic city of Zadar, or head a bit further south to enjoy the lovely town of Sibenik or the beautiful Krka National Park.

On a  road trip from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, you also can’t miss Croatia’s second-largest city of Split. There are countless things to do in Split and the city is well-situated to explore a number of Dalmatian towns and even countless Croatian islands. Make sure to spend at least a few nights in this beautiful and historic city in order to really do it justice.

When you finally make it to Dubrovnik, you will have seen so much of Croatia that you’re sure to have completely fallen for this beautiful country!

Crete, Greece

By Chrysoula of Travel Passionate

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and can be visited as a year-round destination. From the wildflowers and hikes in spring to the beaches, archaeological sites and sunshine of summer, Crete makes a wonderful destination for a road trip as there really is so much to see and do.

Start your Crete road trip in the coastal town of Agios Nikolaos that sits perched between the lake and the sea with quaint cafés and restaurants looking out over the water in every direction. You can begin your journey with a relaxing day or two here, soaking up the laid-back way of life; wandering along the marina and visiting the small church that gives this town its name.

From here, you’ll make your way on to the port town of Sitia. This friendly settlement has a rich history of Venetian and Turkish reign, the remains of which can be seen in the town’s architecture such as the restored Venetian Fort which now plays host open-air theatre performances.

While the town itself is more catered to the locals living there than to tourists, Sitia does serve as the gateway to the Richtis Gorge, a dramatic natural landscape that is a favorite among walkers. Travel down to the small village of Exo Mouliana just outside of Sitia to enjoying hiking in the gorge, starting early to avoid the heat of the day and ending up at the blissful Richtis Beach for lunch!

The hike takes around 3-4 hours and follows lush landscapes, old water mills and the Richtis waterfall which is a lovely place to take a dip.
Your road trip then moves on towards Kato Zakros a region famed for an ancient settlement from the Protopalatial Period (1900-1700 BC). Today, visitors can explore the archaeological site which features ancient tombs, palatial ruins and religious ceremonial grounds. Guests can take a guided tour of the site in summer to learn about the history of the region in more depth. 

The penultimate stop on your Crete road trip is the town of Ierapetra on the southern coast of the island. This bay is known for having the highest temperatures and most amount of sunny days in Greece so it’s the perfect spot for some sunbathing and relaxation. Thanks to the town’s locale nestled between the mountains of western and central Crete, Ierapetra sees very few cloudy days so don’t forget your swimsuit and sun screen and enjoy the beach!

While staying in Ierapetra you may also want to catch a boat out to Chrissi Island for day trip, a small stretch of white sand buried in the azure waters of the Libyan Sea. This island boasts a stunning landscape of forest, sea, sand and sunshine and with a church, lighthouse, bar and taverna and one house being the only structures on the island, Chrissi really is a peaceful place to be!

After spending your last few days relaxing on the beach, you’ll return to the town of Agios Nikolaos to drop off your car and continue your vacation or catch your flight home.

Hungary

By Giulia of Travelling Sunglasses

Even though Budapest is undoubtedly the most famous destination in Hungary, there are plenty of charming towns worth including in a road trip.

Due to the small size of this Central-European country, it is easy and quick to travel from city to city. After landing in Budapest, reach the Southern cities of Szeged and Pecs; then, head North-West to Balaton lake to visit the towns of Tapolca and Balatonfured; end your Hungary road trip in Budapest.

Budapest, the pearl of the Danube, is not your usual European capital: it carries the signs of time and wars, it is experienced, yet young and full of life. Discover the grand, Austro-Hungarian palaces from the mid-1800s in Pest, and explore the iconic landmarks of Mathias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion in Buda. 

Head South to the city of Szeged, close to the Serbian border. After being destroyed by a flood in 1879, Szeged was rebuilt as a jewel of Art Nouveau architecture. Make sure you visit the imposing Dom Cathedral and the eclectic New Synagogue: the intricate decorations of the former and the glass dome of the latter are masterpieces of Hungarian art and skill. Check out here more things to do in Szeged.

To the West is Pecs, famous for the Zsolnay ceramics factory: the colorful roof tiles and decorations you saw in Budapest are produced here. The museums at the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter showcase artifacts of incredible beauty and quality. The city centre features beautiful eclectic and neo-Baroque buildings and two major places of worship: the unusual Pasha Mosque-turned-Church and the huge neo-Romanesque Cathedral.

Balaton Lake is the Hungarian Sea in this landlocked country. Surrounded by tourist destinations and hills covered with vineyards, there are plenty of towns to visit.

Tapolca is a hidden gem located on the northern side of Balaton Lake, 15 km away from the shore. The heart of the tiny city centre has a fairy-tale charm: a small lake surrounded by colorful houses, a church and a water mill. The Lake Cave also deserves a visit: rowing a boat on crystal clear waters in an underground cave is a magical experience.

Balatonfured is one of the largest towns on the shores of Balaton Lake. Stroll on the promenade with an ice cream in your hand to get a feeling of a typical Hungarian summer. Nearby, on top of a peninsular hill stretched into the lake, is the beautiful Tihany Abbey, established in 1055. The views of Balaton Lake and the surrounding countryside are gorgeous.

The Hungarian road trip ends in Budapest. Enjoy your last gulyas soup and say goodbye to the Danube river!

Slovenia

By Claudia of My Adventures Across the World

Going on a road trip is one of the best things to do in Slovenia. This involves driving around the incredible scenic countryside, hitting beautiful lakes, spotting castles, crossing forests, discovering lovely cities and meeting the friendly locals.

The first stop of the perfect road trip itinerary in Slovenia would have to be Ljubljana, the gorgeous capital. The city is packed with lovely sights, good museums, and beautiful parks. My top recommendation, however, is to do a food tour. This would include a wonderful sample of all the local eats (and wine too) and is a great way to learn more about the culture of the country.

Lake Bled would be the second (and obvious) stop. The gorgeous lake can be best seen from Bled Castle, and can be explored on a lovely boat ride.

Getting off the beaten path when driving is incredibly easy, and thus I would wholeheartedly recommend heading to Bela Krajina to follow its Wine Road.

Slovenia has a great wine tradition, and Bela Krajina is a great place to learn more about it. Road tripping, it is possible to admire the beautiful hills covered by vineyards, and visit some of them to have a taste (remember not to drink and drive!).

Driving around Bela Krajina, don’t miss the Kolpa River, a gorgeous scenic area with some hidden gems like an abandoned mill, the ruins of various castles, thick forests and hidden archeological sites. It is also possible to go rafting.

Finally, when visiting Slovenia on a road trip, I recommend stopping by some of its lovely small cities. Semic, in Bela Krajina, dates back to the 13th century. Metlika, on the left bank of the Kolka River, has a beautiful castle dating back to the 15th century and a nice parish church.

Switzerland (Zurich to Geneva via Bernese Oberland)

By Arzo of Arzo Travels

So tiny, yet so awesome! Switzerland is such an extremely beautiful country and I truly believe that road tripping through Switzerland should be on everybody´s bucket list!

Why? I cannot think of any other place that is packed with so much gorgeousness in such a small space. If you are looking for picture perfect sceneries where each detour is a blessing, rather than a problem, then Switzerland is the place to get a car and start a road trip.

It is not only the scenery (great lakes in the most beautiful colors, and wonderful mountains – some of them world-famous) that is beyond stunning. You´ll also find some great and very lovely towns and villages, and even some lively cities – well, basically you have it all. 

 Since Switzerland is not big, you can see a lot without having to drive thousands of kilometers to see all the beauty. Plus Switzerland is super safe and it is easy to drive.

You can’t miss Zürich, where you can visit the most expensive shopping street in the world: Bahnhofsstraße. Lucerne is another highlight. After seeing the world-famous Chapel Bridge drive to and the hidden gem “Weggis” to swim in the clear lake with a view of the Alps.

Bernese Oberland is my absolute favorite area in Switzerland. It is home to places like Interlaken, where you could hike up Harder Kulm to enjoy a fantastic view and you should do a boat tour on Lake Brienz. 

Don´t forget to visit places like Thun, Bern, Grindelwald or the Furka Pass and plan in some extra time to stop along the way, soak in the beauty and enjoy some picnics at the many lakes.

The Italian-speaking part of Switzerland (Lugano and Lucarno) can also convince with its beauty (though driving there is a bit….let’s say Italian-style). If you are heading to Locarno definitely put Valle Verzasca on the list and swim in the emerald green water!

one of the best road trips in the world

Finally, you must visit Geneva. I admit that driving the freeway from Luzern to Geneva is not a highlight, but once you have arrived in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, you’ll enjoy the scenery and experience a touch of France in Switzerland.

Switzerland (Zurich to Bachalpsee)

By Nisha of Nerdy Footsteps

Switzerland is a small country with an abundance of natural beauty. The best way to explore it is on the road.

To see the best of what Switzerland offers, take the road trip from Zurich to Bachalpsee. This road trip will take you through stunning shimmering lakes, beautiful lakeside towns, and villages, waterfalls, Alpine peaks, green meadows, creeks, and frozen lakes. Yes, all on one road trip!

Start your road trip from Zurich and drive in the direction of Lucerne. Laying by the namesake lake, Lucerne is one of the most charming cities in Switzerland. With attractions like the medieval age Chapel bridge or the Lion monument, it has made its unique place in the tourist itineraries. Kids will love the Swiss museum of transport.

A short drive away is Interlaken, the adventure activity hub of Switzerland. From paragliding to rafting, there is a lot of adrenaline rushing activities you can choose from. Nestled between the Lake Thun and Lake Brienzer, Interlaken justifies the tourist attention it gets. For a bird’s eye view, take a funicular to Harder Kulm.

The journey from Interlaken to Grindelwald is my favorite chunk of the trip. The journey itself is stunning and refreshing with waterfalls rolling down the alpine peaks, on every turn.  Once in Grindelwald, feel free to explore the petite village on foot. Park your car and get lost in this paradise. The traditional wooden Swiss houses and the green meadows paint a beautiful picture of Switzerland.

But don’t stop here. Take a 30 minutes gondola ride (expensive but justified) to the First mountain pass for the amazing Alpine views. Up at First, you can get a 360-degree panoramic view of the are on the Tissot walk, which is free of cost.

You can also take a short hike/walk from First to Bachalpsee, one of the most beautiful serene lakes in Switzerland. Secluded due to its location, the Bachalpsee lake makes for a perfect picnic spot on this road trip.

This road trip offers you a glimpse into all the natural wonders Switzerland offers. Be it the Alpine views or the beautiful glacial lakes, every stop on this road trip will make for an unforgettable memory.

Romania to Austria

best stops for a Europe road trip

By Raluca of Whisper Wanderlust

One of the reasons why I like Europe is that you can visit many countries in a short time, and each of these countries has its own culture, people, architecture, and especially landscapes. For this reason, a month ago my boyfriend and I decided to go on a spontaneous road trip, where we would visit 5 countries in 7 days. 

We started in Sibiu, Romania, where we rented the car for the road trip. Of course, we took advantage, and we got lost on the streets of the old center. We admired the beautiful architecture of the pastel-colored houses, whose roof windows seem to resemble some eyes spying on you. We also visited Paltinis, a mountain resort just 30 km away, where we had lunch on green grass at a height, with a dreamlike panorama in front of us and many sheep that were quietly grazing.

From Romania, we headed straight to the capital of Hungary, Budapest, an underestimated city from my point of view. Budapest is superb, it has sensational neo-Renaissance architecture and many places where you can get a picture-perfect panorama of the city, such as Fisherman’s Bastion or Citadella. One of my favorite buildings is the Palace of Parliament.

Next, we moved onto Croatia to visit the Plitvice Lakes National ParksThis national park with its stunning waterfalls has long been on my bucket list, and I’m glad that I finally had the opportunity to visit it on a perfectly serene and warm day of May. I almost have no words to describe how beautiful the place is. Although I always had the feeling that the colors of the lakes have been edited in the photos on the internet, I was surprised to discover that they are just as turquoise in reality.

After, we moved onto Lake Bled in Slovenia. I didn’t know much beforehand, so I was pleasantly surprised when I finally saw it. The country is full of towering mountains and forested hills. It is a very green and very beautiful country, so I was already expecting to be conquered by Lake Bled, the famous lake situated at the foot of the Alps in the northwest of the country. And yes, I was.

Our final country was Austria. The first stop was in Zell am See, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. We stayed on the shores of Lake Zeller See, surrounded by picturesque chalets. Also, in Zell am See, we tried the Alpine Coaster in Kaprun, which was a sensational experience I was eager to try. From Zell am See, we went to Hallstatt to check out a fairy tale spot where swans are spotted on the lake, and everything looks perfect as if you were looking at a postcard.

After a few hours in Hallstatt, we headed to Vienna, the capital of Austria, an elegant and romantic city, with rich culture and colorful buildings, whose Baroque and Gothic architecture will definitely conquer you.

Northern Italy

By Geoff & Katie of Wandertooth

Road-tripping through northern Italy’s Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna regions is an awesome way to see Northern Italy’s most beautiful cities and towns, as well as get off-the-beaten path a bit.

The region is well set-up for road trips, with many hotels just outside the cities offering free or affordable parking, and the historical cities offering affordable paid parking lots just beyond the pedestrianized areas, making it easy to park and explore.

We picked up our rental at Bologna airport, and drove south to start our trip in Tuscany. I’d recommend budgeting at least 2 days to explore Florence’s neighborhoods and catch the panoramic sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo.

Siena deserves a day as well, with time to climb the tower in Piazza del Campo for great city views. Take a day trip from Siena, and hit up Monteriggioni and San Gimignano, two of Tuscany’s most beautiful towns.

From Siena, I recommend driving through the Chianti region to San Marino, one of the smallest and richest (per capita) countries in the world.

Perched at the top of a mountain, with castle-like towers standing watch over the Italian plains below, it’s easy to see why San Marino is an independent country that’s never been conquered! It offers incredible, fairytale-esque views, so be sure to charge your camera battery. For a fun souvenir, hit up the tourist office for a San Marino passport stamp (€5).

The beach-side city of Rimini is the most convenient Italian city to base yourself after a trip to San Marino, but isn’t worth more than a night; enjoy a seaside dinner before heading northwest the next day, to the pretty, low-key university city of Bologna.

Despite the name, spaghetti bolognese is nowhere to be found on Bologna’s menus: look for tagliatelle al ragu instead, if you want to try this local classic. Centrally located, Bologna is a great base with a car, or you can return the car and take the train to visit the lovely small city of Ferrara, or even visit some of Italy’s more well-known cities, like Venice or Verona, as a day-trip.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

By Helga from ShegoWandering

This is possibly one of the most authentic, dreamy, and colorful road trips along Italy. Heading from the Rome down south takes us to places with breathtaking scenarios, and allowed us to see a different view and perspective of the Italian lifestyle.

The fist stop on the road trip is always Naples. The city that has many faces, and gives many impressions. Naples is the colorful south Italian city, where you can have a deep look into the culture, and it really differs from everything you’d see in Rome, or on the Amalfi Coast.

Busy streets, colorful buildings, loud people, crazy drivers. Yes, that’s Naples! But Naples is also about the authenticity, the breathtaking monuments and panoramic views. Seeing the Vesuvius volcano from the city, with an amazing panorama from Castel San’ Elmo, or admiring the sea from Castel dell’Ovo is really a must. Oh, and don’t forget about Naples’s specialty, the pizza! If you have the chance to spend at least two days in Naples, that’s really suggested to have enough time to explore it!

Down from Naples, the next stop must be Pompeii, the town that was once covered in lava, after an exploration of the Vesuvius volcano. Pompeii can be visited at any time of the year, however you’ll always need to pay an entrance fee.

Leaving behind the coast of Naples, we’re arriving into the Sorrentine bay, with the first stop being Sorrento, the charming Italian lemon town. Sorrento is on top of the cliffs, overlooking the bay.

A colorful little town, where you can walk under lemon trees, watch a sunset from the Villa Comunale, and enjoy the vibrant nightlife in the coastal town. Sorrento is a great place to spend the night, as there are many accommodations here, for lower budgets as well!

Right after Sorrento, driving over the other side of the peninsula on a road that’s built on the cliffside, offers an unforgettable experience. Imagine a tiny, sinuous road, where on one side you have huge cliffs above, and on the other side, you have a view of the sea.

This road leads us to the dreamy little town of Positano. The cliffside town is known for its beautiful colors, and beautiful landscapes, as well as its tiny beach with a great view of the cliffs, and the colorful town.

Right after Positano, the next stop should always be Amalfi. A town just as charming as Positano, but with a beautiful town center and the famous Amalfi Cathedral, that really deserves a visit!

If you’re on a road trip and you want to add some more places to visit, driving down until Salerno, with a stop in this other famous cliffside town called Ravello will make your Amalfi Coast experience complete!

French Riviera

By Liza of Tripsget

One of the most amazing road trips we have ever done is the road trip to the French Riviera or Côte’D’Azur. In order to explore the French Riviera properly, you will need at least 7-10 days, but it’s also possible to do it just during 4 days. Nice is a wonderful starting point for this trip. Actually, if you’re only doing this trip over 4 days (like we did), it makes sense to be based in Nice during all the 4 days. Why? Because the distances in the French Riviera are not so long! 

So, which places are totally worth seeing during your road trip in Côte’D’Azur? 

Nice is a very beautiful and quite big French city with a wonderful promenade – Promenade des Anglais, where you can stroll during the evenings in France. The sea in Nice is really blue – you won’t believe your eyes! 

Cannes is another iconic destination you have to visit during your trip to the French Riviera. It’s lavish, posh, and has amazing seafood restaurants. Maybe you’re even lucky to get to go to the Cannes Festival.

St. Tropez is a lovely French village, which happens to be home to some of the most expensive restaurants and clubs in France. It’s a place for the billionaires to park their yachts and enjoy the nice weather in France. For the rest of the people, it’s just a lovely place to spend a couple of hours! 

St. Paul de Vence is a unique medieval French village located on top of the hill just 30 minutes away from Cannes. There are plenty of crafts and arts you can buy and in case you’re planning to have a dinner there – you need to make a reservation in advance!

Monaco is actually a separate country, but there is no passport control or anything to enter this tiny country. Its capital, Monte Carlo, is world famous for its casino and the shops and restaurants in Monaco are among the most expensive in the world!

Bavaria & Beyond

By Dean of La Vida Global

Combine three countries, stunning scenery, unique buildings and plenty of good food and beer and get an awesome Bavaria road trip experience that only takes about 600 miles of leisurely driving.

We set off from Munich, but not before spending a few days to take in all that this place has to offer. Our first stop will be the charming old town of RegensburgTake a few days to explore the alleys of the medieval Old Town district and the beautiful riverside areas before heading back out on the road.

A quick detour on the way to our next stop will take you to see one of the most interesting buildings in Germany. Feel transported to ancient Greece as you witness Walhalla high on the hills overlooking the Danube.

Next we arrive in the fairytale town of Cesky Krumlov. Much photographed but still unspoiled by high tourist numbers, this tiny town will capture your heart. While in the Czech Republic, make sure to sample some of the seemingly thousands of beers on offer.

After a short stay we find out if the hills really are alive with the sound of music. Our destination is the cultural city of Salzburg in Austria. Be sure to take the funicular to the top of the hill and explore the castle, the views are sure to impress. For more iconic things to do, visit the Sacher Cafe for the original Sacher Torte or take a “Sound of Music” tour.

Another detour after we depart Salzburg not only takes us along some of Europe’s most scenic roads but brings us to Berchtesgaden with some of the most amazing views in Bavaria.

Our final stop keeps us in Austria but gives us a totally different type of town. Innsbruck is all about the mountains which you can scale using the Nordkette funicular to reach as high as 2250 meters for some stunning views. Be sure to try some strudel and then spend the evening around the river.

Time to round off the trip and head back to Munich but not before our final detour which takes us to arguably the world’s most famous castle, Neuschwanstein. Whether nature gives you the white background of winter or the colors of fall, this is a place that makes average photographers look good and creates lifelong memories.

Europe is perfect for road trips as it allows you so much variety over short distances. Bavaria and beyond is one of the best parts of Europe for that experience.

Montenegro

By Emily of Wander-Lush

Petite in size and packed with stunning landscapes and interesting small towns, Montenegro is a terrific place for a road trip. The Bay of Kotor and the Adriatic Coastline are particularly well-suited to self-driving.

You have the option to start this road trip in either Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital city, or in Tivat on the southern end of the Bay of Kotor. Both cities have international airports and plenty of car hire agencies to choose from. End your trip in Herceg Novi on the opposite side of the Bay, close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

If you need to return your car in the same place you hired it, you can easily turn the route into a loop by adding a few extra hours of driving on the final day. Set aside a minimum of 5-7 days total, more if you want to spend time lounging on the beach or hiking in the hills above the bay.

If coming from Podgorica, start your road trip by crossing the bridge over Skadar Lake. Stop in Virpazar for a short boat trip through the marshy swamps of the largest lake on the Balkan Peninsular before continuing to the coast. Sveti Stefan (the bizarre beach town with its privately owned, off-limits island) is a good place to base yourself for a few nights. The first of two UNESCO-Listed old towns, Budva, is just 15 minutes’ up the road. 

From Budva, cut across to reach the Bay of Kotor, the highlight of Montenegro with its beautiful Venetian towns and secluded coves. Kotor is a must-see; set aside a full day to wander the Old Town and climb up to the fortress for a view. Further along the bay, Perast has a shallow harbor and is a lot quieter than Kotor by contrast because it doesn’t get the same cruise ship crowds. Stay here for a couple of days, exploring the charming streets by foot and taking a boat to Our Lady of the Rocks, an artificial island built from shipwrecks and topped with a gorgeous chapel.

For a break from the beach, you can make a detour between Kotor and Perast to visit Lovcen National Park. This involves driving on the infamous Kotor Serpentine, a road with 25 switchbacks that offers spectacular views of the entire bay. Your final stop, Herceg Novi, has yet another gorgeous old town and plenty of swimming beaches and hiking trails. If you’re returning to Podgorica, stop at Ostrog Monastery, Montenegro’s most sacred pilgrimage site, along the way. You can easily extend your itinerary by continuing to Durmitor National Park in the country’s mountainous north.

Driving in Montenegro is pretty safe and straightforward. Just be wary that it’s often very difficult to find a street park in the busier towns, especially Budva and Kotor. Choose accommodation with secure on-site parking, and avoid driving in Montenegro during peak summer season.

Albania

By Erin of Three is Us

Start your Albania road trip in Tirana. As the capital city and the only international airport in the country, Tirana is a likely spot to start a road trip through Albania. (If you’re arriving from Greece, just do this road trip in reverse!)

Spend a few days exploring the capital city of Tirana. Skanderberg Square is the main square, located in the center of Tirana. This large, open pedestrian area is named after the Albanian national hero Gjergj Skenderbeu and is surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the country. South of the square lies many monuments and museums reflecting on the communist times, such as the Blloku area, Postbllok monuments, Bunker Art and House of Leaves museum.

Before leaving Tirana, head up to Mount Dajti on the Dajti Express cable car. Mount Dajti National Park at the top of the mountain is a great place to hike and has an impressive view of the city.

After a few days in Tirana, head west to the port town of Durres. Originally the capital city, Durres is the oldest city in Albania and one of the oldest in Europe. Known for its’ Roman amphitheater, it also has sandy beaches and excellent restaurants along the water.

From Durres, head south to Berat. Perched high above the town is Berat Castle, one of the last inhabited castles in Europe. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Berat is also known as the City of 1000 Windows. Traditional white houses are built close together, rising up the steep hills and their large wooden windows seemingly overlook the town, earning Berat its’ nickname.

From Berat, head west towards the coast to the town of Vlorë. This is where the Adriatic and Ionian seas meet, which makes for excellent beaches. There are beaches in the city and also stretching down the coast for a few kilometers. Vlorë is also where Albanian Independence was declared. Flag Square and an independence monument in the center of town pay tribute to this.

From Vlore, head further south to Gjirokastër. Like Berat, Gjirokastër is a UNESCO Heritage Site, earning the distinction for its’ well-preserved and rare Ottoman-style architecture. It’s also the birthplace of communist leader Enver Hoxha and writer Ismail Kadare.

Head back to the coast and visit the town of Sarandë. Often called the capital of the Albanian Riviera, it’s a popular beach destination. Boasting a perfect beach climate and surrounded by hills of olive groves, it’s a perfect place to relax and finish your road trip of Albania.

Grossglockner High Alpine Road (Austria)

By Anjali Chawla of Travel Melodies

A road trip through one of Europe’s highest alpine road, Grossglockner High Alpine Road or Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse is hands down one of the most awesome road trips in Europe or rather the world.

How can you not feel the adrenaline rush through your veins as you climb to 3,000 feet while swishing around the 36 hairpin turns? The Grossglockner is a 48 km stretch that starts in Salzburg and ends in Carinthia.

The best part about the road journey is it taking you through the oldest national park in Austria and one of the largest in Europe, Hohe Tauern National Park. Meaning, you’re going to witness the mother nature up close. Snow-clad peaks, gleaming white glaciers, gushing waterfalls, lush grasslands, lakes as clear as crystal, rare and exotic flora, and fauna, and well, in short – the road trip has it all!

There are tons of amazing stops to make along the Grossglockner road trip. The road is dotted with amazing attractions like museums, themed playgrounds, expositions, and offers scenic hiking opportunities. To tell the truth, you’d not wait for the stop to stop and admire the ethereal beauty all around.

Wild-& Erlebnispark Ferleiten, a wildlife park that’s home to about 200 animals in the Alps, should be your first stop on this iconic road trip, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

Make Haus Alpine Nature Exhibitions your second stop to know more about the alpine ecology as it was during the construction of the engineering marvel called the Grossglockner.

The most thrilling stop on this road trip itinerary will be Edelweißspitze, famously known as Biker’s Point for the right reason. You can’t, in your right mind, drive up to this highest vantage point in a car, taking into account a narrow winding access road and the harsh winds. What’s so special about it? It gives you a 360-degree panoramic view of the region encompassing more than 30 mountains. You can park your car and walk up to the lookout point to enjoy the view.

Fuschar Törl is a must-stop as it unfolds the first view of the mighty Grossglockner. You may want to stop at Fuschar Lake and pay a visit to Herbert Haslinger, who tames alpine marmots at Mankei-Wirt. You can meet and have fun with the adorable marmots.

Visited by Emperor Franz Josef along with Empress Sissi in 1856, Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe is a unique vantage point that offers the views of Grossglockner, Pasterze (Austria’s longest glacier), the black mountain, and Glocknerwand, and Johannisberg mountains. Also, many of the famous Grossglockner hikes like Gamsgrubenweg Trail and Pasterze Glacier Trail start from here.

The last leg of the road trip is Heiligenblut, a quaint village known for its church of St. Vincent.

Pin These Europe Road Trips for Future Inspiration!

What to Wear in Winter in Europe: Packing List

I remember my first time spending the winter in Europe. The year was 2009, and my semester living in Prague was coming to a close. The Christmas markets were in full swing, the snow coating the houses of the Old Town was straight out of a fairy-tale — and I was freezing my ass off, mostly because my California-addled brain had never learned to dress properly for the winter.

If it weren’t for the many cups of piping hot cups of svařák (Czech mulled wine) I was drinking at inappropriately early hours, I likely never would have survived.

Fast forward nearly a decade and several winter trips to Europe later, and I’ve finally mastered the art of packing for Europe in winter without wanting to die.

It’s a combination of not giving a crap if you look like a fat, fluffy dumpling and layering with actual winter-specific layers rather than what I was doing… which was piling some summery clothes on top of a pair of leggings and cute pea coat and wondering why I was still cold. California, guys. Growing up there does things to you.

After all that trial and error, here’s my full winter inn Europe packing list, detailing exactly what I recommend you wear for winter in Europe.

What to Pack for Europe in Winter

What to Pack Everything In

If you’re visiting Europe in winter, my number one recommendation is to travel with a backpack rather than a suitcase. While it is definitely possible to travel with a suitcase, and there are times when it is more convenient – I can also assure you that there will be times when you regret it hard, such as when you’re trying to lug your bag across snowy cobblestones and cursing your life. Take it from an idiot who brought a rolling suitcase to Finland in November.

I prefer to travel light with a backpack that fits carry-on restrictions because I hate paying for baggage fees and waiting at the airport. Even traveling Europe in winter, I’ve found that having a 44L backpack is perfectly fine, and there’s no need for a massive backpacker-style backpack unless you truly love clothes and want a jillion options. I’ve used and sworn by Tortuga Backpacks for the last three years – this is the one I’m carrying now. I’ve traveled around Europe in winter for the last few years and never truly needed a larger bag.

One thing that makes packing for winter in Europe so much easier is using packing cubes – having an organized system, especially with all the layers you need for winter travel – makes your life a lot easier, especially if you are traveling to more than one city or country. This packing list for Europe in winter includes a few of the things that I swear by all year round, not just winter, for helping me organize my clothes and belongings when I travel.

Abisko train station
How I packed vs. how my friend packed for winter in Europe. Trust  me – leave the rolling suitcase behind. She ended it dragging it more than rolling it!

Travel backpack (carry on size or check-in size)

While rolling suitcases can be great for in summer and fall weather, they aren’t a great idea for winter travel. For one, there will likely be snow or ice on the ground – meaning that you will have to drag, not roll, your suitcase… which kind of defeats the purpose of having a rolling suitcase.

Trust me, you’re way better off with a travel backpack that you can easily carry across snow, cobblestones, and other various obstacles that are the hallmarks of traveling Europe in winter. I am a light packer, so the Tortuga Backpack is the main backpack I need. I’ve spent two 5 month trips through Europe with it, including winter months, plus I take it on all my short term travels.

Why do I recommend Tortuga so much? Here’s why: this bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to.

It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.

Does it pass European budget airline requirements? I’ve never once had to check it in on a budget airline flight, and I’ve taken probably 50+ Ryanair and Wizzair flights at this point. I just buy priority boarding so that I have a guaranteed spot on board for my bag (plus a second personal item bag), which adds about $5 onto my total flight cost instead of the $20-40 or so that a heavy checked suitcase or backpack would. This adds up massively over time – with a bigger bag, I would have paid $1,000+ extra in baggage fees over the past few years. That’s massive savings.

Need a bigger backpack? Despite these long term trips, I haven’t personally used a bigger backpack (mostly because I have the back of a 90 year old woman). That said, I’ve heard great things about the Osprey system. If I ever were to upgrade my backpack capacity, that’s what I would choose. But I’m cheap and hate paying baggage fees, even at the expense of having less clothing options, which is why I prefer Tortuga. When flying budget airlines, I never check the bag, but I just purchase priority boarding for a few dollars (usually around $5) so I can have this bag on board with me, plus another personal item.

Packing cubes

Packing cubes will save your travel sanity. These easily zippable bags are wonderful when it comes time to pack and organize your clothing.  It keeps everything contained when you open your backpack, so if luggage clothing explosions drive you half as crazy as they drive me, investing in packing cubes will save you some serious therapy costs down the line.

I use these packing cubes and love them more than a logical person should love a simple zippable bag. Especially when packing for Europe in winter, when you have tons of accessories and layers to organize, this becomes extra essential.

Laundry bag

If you are traveling Europe in winter, your clothing will take a beating. Wet, dirty, covered in snow – basically, prepare to change your clothes at least once a day. I love having a laundry bag with me in addition to my packing cubes so I can keep dirty stuff separate and ready to go on laundry day.

You don’t need anything fancy – any bag will do – but I like having a cute one like this one from Kikkerland though, because I’m impractical and easily won over by a cute design. In a pinch, some plastic grocery bags will do as well.

Hanging toiletry bag

Packing for Europe in winter means you’ll need a few special toiletries (hint: bring ALL the moisturizer). After struggling to find a good way to organize my toiletries, I stumbled across this  hanging toiletry bag and purchased it on a whim to give it a try… and I promptly became a product evangelist.

It’s perfect for organizing your travel toiletries like shampoo, moisturizer, make-up, hairbrushes, tweezers, etc. It has a lot of organizers and seperators so you can really maximize your organization without taking up much excess space. It fits quite a bit – it’s like the Mary Poppins bag you always needed but never knew existed. It’s wonderful for girly girl travelers like myself who have a hard time leaving make-up behind when they travel.

It comes in a large size – I do just fine with the regular size, but those with lots of toiletries and odds and ends to organize will probably want to size up.

Cute travel daypack

I always use a daypack rather than a purse when I travel because it’s so much more comfortable, especially because I often carry lots of camera equipment with me. That said, I don’t want to look like an American bum (though I often do anyway) so I splurged on this adorable PacSafe Citysafe backpack

This bag is so amazing that I basically wrote a love letter to it here. My favorite feature about this travel backpack is that it has tons of awesome security features (locking zippers, slash-proof mesh on the inside of the bag, RFID blockers, etc.) but it looks adorable and not at all horrendous.

I use it pretty much every single day whether I am traveling or not. It’s one of the crucial things I bring with me on every trip, and it’s key when packing for a trip to Europe in winter because it’s the perfect size for squeezing in layer upon layer of cozy winter clothing.

5 Most Essential Things to Pack for Europe in Winter

When it comes to what to pack for winter in Europe, it’s best to bring all your essentials from home and try to minimize what you need to buy abroad. Most of the time, you won’t save any money by shopping in Europe. Prices tend to be a little higher than in, say, North America because 20% VAT is often rolled into the prices.

Also, depending on where you travel, in many countries the currency is currently quite strong compared to the US/Canada/Aussie dollar, so you won’t be at an advantage when it comes to shopping. For that reason, I recommend planning your winter in Europe packing list beforehand, and buying all your winter travel necessities before arriving in Europe.

A good, waterproof parka

While Europe’s weather can vary dramatically in the winter, it’s best to prepare for the worst and risk being overdressed than the alternative. I am a huge fan of The North Face because they guarantee all their products for life and will fix or replace literally anything you send to them — which I’ve tested by sending in a much used-and-abused down jacket that was returned looking like new.

Their jackets aren’t exactly budget-friendly, but they’re a great investment if you’re looking for a winter coat that will last a lifetime. This is the parka I own and I’ll use it for life (unless North Face cuts me off for how badly I abuse my clothing). If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a new jacket but still want to ensure warmth in the winter, try buying a down jacket liner like this one and layer it between your warmest coat and winter layers.

Thermal layers

A good winter parka goes a long way, but unless you’re matching that down jacket with proper layers underneath, you won’t be maximizing your potential warmth. Everyone raves about wool’s warmth-retaining properties but I can’t tolerate it – it makes me so itchy that I want to tear off all my skin. If you can stand wool, something like these merino wool leggings paired with a cashmere sweater layer will serve you very well. Personally, I constantly wear these 32 Degrees thermal layers during European winters — I have about 5 tops that I rotate during the winter between laundry days. On bottom, I wear these fleece-lined leggings. I bring about 2-3 pairs of fleece-lined leggings on a winter trip since I can wear them several times before they start to feel gross. You’ll definitely want at least 2 pairs so you can change them out if they get wet from snow or bad weather. With thermal layers and a parka, you’re nearly set for any kind of weather in Europe.

Waterproof boots and warm socks

I’ve never really felt like snow boots are entirely necessary unless you really are planning on spending a lot of time in deep snow, like if you’re staying in a cabin in the woods or spending a significant amount of time in Lapland or ski resorts around Europe.

When it comes to packing for winter in Europe, if your trip is mostly in the cities, you just need two things in your boots: they need to be waterproof and have good traction. I first bought a pair of Blondo waterproof leather boots in 2008…  making this my longest-term relationship ever, eek, and one of my favorite travel shoes ever.

Despite many years of abuse and New York winters, I only had to get them resoled once in the last nearly 10 years. I’ve worn these in every European winter and they’ve always held up great – even in the Arctic Circle of Sweden.

If you plan on doing a lot of hiking in the snow, you may want a proper snow boot. The Elsa snow boot by KEEN is waterproof, insulated, and looks super cozy, and comes highly recommended as one of my friend’s favorite hiking boot brands.

Finally, no matter how insulated your boots are, you need proper socks to match –  sad, thin cotton socks won’t do the trick. I bought these excellent Smartwool socks after hesitating because of the price, but I’m glad I did. Although I generally hate wool, the skin on my feet is thick enough that I don’t mind wearing wool socks at all and can get all the lovely warm wool benefits without the itchiness. You don’t need that many pairs – two or three will do – because wool is really odor-absorbent and dry really fast, you can stretch out a few pairs whereas you’d need a fresh pair of cotton socks for each day.

Reusable water bottle

 The tap water in Europe is drinkable almost everywhere so make sure you bring a reusable water bottle. I’ve been to nearly every country in Europe and it’s super rare that I can’t drink the water, even in the Balkans. The only major city I can think of where I wasn’t able to drink the tap water was Kiev, Ukraine.

If you don’t already have one, try one from Klean Kanteen. If you drink a lot of hot beverages like tea or coffee, I recommend bringing a Thermos that will keep your drinks (and hands!) warm during the cold.

Moisturizer with SPF

If there’s one thing you don’t forget to pack for Europe in winter, let it be this. The cold in Europe is brutal on your skin, especially when combined with super-drying heating systems. Make sure you fight back with a heavy duty moisturizer. For the daytime, I use Aveeno moisturizer as I have sensitive skin but also want SPF protection.

Remember you need to use SPF even – if not especially – only cloudy days as UV rays are always lurking, even in the winter, ready to prematurely age your skin. (I’m super melanin-challenged, so perhaps I’m a bit paranoid). I don’t want to wear SPF at night, so I have a thick Olay night cream that I use while I sleep to put some moisture back into my dry skin.

Finally, travel insurance

Yes, I know this isn’t something that you physically pack for Europe – but it is just as essential to consider during the packing process.

Personally, I think it’s extra important to have travel insurance in winter. European winter weather is hard to predict, so it is best to be prepared and protected in case of trip cancellation/delays, lost luggage, illnesses, or accidents. I recommend buying travel insurance as far in advance as you can, as I’ve found it’s always cheaper that way than booking shortly before departure.

I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for years and use them to cover me when I travel. The contract is very clear as to what it covers, the prices are affordable, the excess/deductible is very low, and if you find yourself extending your trip it’s very easy to modify your insurance on the go.

What to Wear in Europe in Winter (Quick Checklist)

In a word (well, three): Layer, layer, layer!

I went into more detail above, but basically, here’s how I dress for winter in Europe. I start with a base layer – for me, that’s my fleece-lined leggings and thermal top, but many people prefer wool base layers. On top of my thermal layers, I usually wear just a simple acrylic sweater and jeans.

To seal in all the warmth, I add wool socks, waterproof leather boots, a scarf, a hat that covers my ears, gloves, and of course – my ridiculously warm parka. That will usually keep me warm enough for just about any winter situation in Europe.

Here’s a quick packing list plus a few product recommendations for what to wear for winter in Europe:

2-3 thermal tops

I use these 32 Degrees thermal layers  – I recommend having a few to swap between as they tend to get kind of sweaty during the day.

3 warm sweaters to layer on top

I love H&M for their non-itchy acrylic sweaters, but wool/wool blends also work great

2 pairs fleece-lined leggings

I am obsessed with my favorite fleece leggings – they are insanely warm!

2 pairs jeans

I wear these as an extra layer over my leggings. You can skip the leggings if it’s not that cold.

1 heavy jacket

Above, I recommended my North Face parka. While that’s my favorite, any warm jacket will do. What to look for: down or synthetic down lining, hood, waterproof, and windproof.

2 bras

 Or however many you want, you do you.

7+ pairs of underwear

This depends on how long your trip is, but I prefer to have a week’s worth of underwear and do laundry on the road.

Bathing suit

 If you plan to go to any thermal baths or saunas or the like while in Europe. If not, skip.

Flip flops

For walking around in your hotel/hostel when you don’t want to put on your boots.

1 or 2 knit hats

Since I’m addicted to fleece in the winter, this fleece-lined knit hats is a favorite

1 pair of gloves

I recommend a pair of touchscreen-friendly gloves so you don’t have to constantly take off your gloves to use your phone.

1 super-warm infinity scarf

I love infinity scarves like this one that you can wrap super close to your face and not have to worry about the wind with.

What to Pack for Backpacking Europe in Winter

There are a few special things you should bring if you are staying in a hostel or dorm in Europe in winter, which you can find below.

1 pair flip flops

I mentioned it above, but it goes double if you staying in a hostel!

1 travel towel

Most hostels in Europe don’t provide towels to guests and charge you to rent one. This can add up quickly if you are staying in multiple cities throughout Europe, so I recommend just bringing your own. Make sure you get the largest size or risk flashing everyone!

1 eye mask

I lived in hostels for the better part of a year and I swear by this contoured eye mask- it completely blocks out light, without putting annoying pressure on your eyes.

Some earplugs or good noise-canceling headphones

I love Hearos — they’re the gold standard for ear plugs. Alternately, if you listen to music to help you sleep, noise-canceling headphones can work wonders at drowning out inconsiderate roommates

Travel-sized toiletries

Most hostels don’t provide shampoo, body wash, etc. so make sure you bring your own. Instead of buying travel-sized toiletries, I recommend buying reusable GoToobs so you can pack your favorites from home.

Combination locks

I always check reviews of hostels to ensure that they have lockers available, as the risk of theft from fellow travelers is not something to take lightly. It’s really easy to just travel with a combination lock in case your hostel doesn’t offer their own locks so you can keep your valuables safe at all times.

Toiletries to Pack for Europe in Winter

Even though it is generally pretty easy for me to find all of my preferred brands in Europe, I do recommend bringing them from home if you can. For one, it’ll likely be cheaper. For another, it’s good to continue using the same products as back home as I find that travel and cold weather really stresses my skin and it’s nice to have continuity in the products that I use.

Here is a basic list of toiletries I typically pack:

When not seeing the Northern lights, dogsledding is a fun way to pass the time
Don’t forget the moisturizer!

ALL THE MOISTURIZER

 Again, winter in Europe will destroy your skin. Even if you think you have oily skin, you will want moisturizer – the cold plus the overzealous heating in many cities means dryness, dryness, dryness. For daytime, I use Aveeno with SPF on my sensitive skin and Olay night cream for replenishing moisture overnight.

Kleenex packets

 I seem to always get a cold when doing winter travel so it’s nice to have these on hand

LUSH solid shampoo

Great at reducing your liquid load when you travel and makes my hair feel amazing – just trust me. Buy online or in store from LUSH and you’ll save serious money over Amazon. As a bonus, it’s totally packaging free, so you reduce your plastic waste.

Menstrual cup or your favorite tampon/pad brand, if applicable

If you have a specific brand allegiance, you may not find it. I switched to a Diva Cup for travel and now I never have to think about stocking up on tampons, which is awesome.

Deodorant

I am not a huge fan of European deodorant. The options have gotten slightly better in the last decade, but I love Secret Clinical Strength and stash up on it every time I’m home… but then again, I am sweatier than most people are. Even in winter.

Basic medicine

You will be able to find all this in Europe, but trust me — you want to have the basics on hand in case you need them on the road.

I carry Pepto-Bismol for standard stomach troubles, Imodium as a nuclear option (i.e. riding the bus when I am sick), some sort of painkiller like ibuprofen for headaches and minor pains, and some sort of motion sickness tablets.

Cold medicine

If you’re prone to getting sick in the winter. be sure to buy some cough or cold medicine – especially if you are traveling to Scandinavia or Germany. I’ve found out firsthand that they are really stingy with some of the ingredients over the counter in Northern Europe. You’ll want to have some as backup if you are used to being able to take cold medicine, as that is not necessarily the case in, say, Germany.

Electronics to Pack for Europe in Winter

The most important thing to remember about traveling in winter is that batteries drain extra quickly. You will want to bring extra batteries for everything — especially your camera — and a portable battery charger for your phone and other electronics. Trust me on this!

If you are serious about your photography, I recommend bringing a tripod as well. Since there are fewer daylight hours in Europe in winter, you’ll likely want to do a bit of night photography (especially if you are visiting around Christmas-time and are around a lot of photogenic Christmas markets!). I travel with a cheap tripod and find it works well enough for most situations.

sweden in winter

Where it not for my tripod, I wouldn’t have been able to capture this!

Laptop, if necessary

I bring my 13″ MacBook Air everywhere but other people may prefer a tablet or an inexpensive netbook. I work on the road so a user-friendly, lightweight laptop is a must.

Kindle Paperwhite

In general, I’ve found that it’s not too hard to find English-langage bookstores in Europe (or at least an English-langauge section), but still – I love having a Kindle so that I can buy any book there is just via WiFi.

Travel camera

For all my photos when I travel, I use a Sony A6000 because it’s lightweight for a professional caliber camera, inexpensive, and a HUGE step up from a smartphone. I’m hoping to upgrade to the Sony A7 III soon, but it’s outrageously expensive so I am struggling with making the plunge. But a few of my friends have this camera and their photos are nothing short of magical!

Travel tripod

There are a few reasons why you might need a tripod for traveling in Europe in winter – if you are going somewhere where you may see the Northern lights or want to do night photography, such as lit-up Christmas decorations. I use a simple, cheap 50″ Amazon tripod and it works just fine and fits in my carry-on sized bag. If you plan to just take daytime photos, there’s no need for a travel tripod.

Portable charger

Your camera and phone lose battery like crazy when in the cold, so be sure you don’t forget a portable charger when you travel in winter.  Anker is a reliable brand and what I personally use. I make sure I buy something that can hold multiple charges, so that if I forget to charge it one night it won’t be a big deal.

Adaptor, if necessary

 The UK, Ireland, and Malta use a different plug than the rest of continental Europe, and Switzerland’s plug is slightly different than the standard European plug. So do a bit of research about where you are going before you get there. I recommend buying it in advance because while adaptors are easy to find everywhere, it can be annoying to try to find one on your first day.

Headphones

I use simple iPhone headphones typically but you may want noise-canceling headphones if you are noise-sensitive.

***

While this sounds like a lot of things on your winter in Europe packing list – and it is – I am typically able to fit it all in a carry-on sized bag by choosing thinner but warmer materials, wearing my heaviest stuff on the plane, and picking my daypack and backpack for travel carefully!

Is there anything I’ve forgotten to pack for Europe in winter? Is there anything else you’re wondering if you should bring? Let me know in the comments!

Backpacking Europe Packing List: The Women’s Survival Guide

If the prospect of packing for Europe long-term has you overwhelmed, don’t worry: you need far less than you think.

I’ve spent a cumulative 10 months of my life backpacking through Europe with nothing more than a 45L carry-on size bag that escapes even the eagle eyes of budget airlines.

You don’t need to pack for Europe like you are leaving for good — trust me, you can find almost everything you’ll need abroad (and I’ll tell you what is annoying to find in Europe so you can be sure to pack it before you leave)

This backpacking Europe packing list is for all my fellow minimalists, though keep in mind that this packing list is made with ladies in mind. So if it offends your sensibilities to see menstrual cups and pretty dresses on the list, make like a Beyonce reject and step to the left.

A church in Albania

Here’s everything you need to know about what to pack for a Europe backpacking trip!

What to Pack Everything In

Take it from someone who’s been traveling for the better part of the last two years: you want to bring as small as you can and make it as organized as humanly possible. Having a well-organized system for packing all your stuff means less frustration, less time spent unpacking and repacking, and far less cursing as you wonder where the hell your phone charger is (again).

Unless you are really embracing slow travel, it is inevitable that you will pack and repack your bag once every 2 or 3 days. Having a system makes the process so much less of a pain, and you will be grateful for it by the end of even your second week backpacking Europe. This boils down to two simple things: a small but easy-to-organize travel backpack optimized for city travel (I love my 45 L carry-on Tortuga Setout backpack – more on this later) plus packing cubes and various bags to organize toiletries and other necessities. This packing list includes a few of the things that I swear by when it comes to organizing my bag as I promise it’ll save you some serious sanity points.

In gorgeous Northern Italy

    • Travel Backpack (I strongly recommend a carry-on size bag to save money while flying, but you can also pick a check-in size backpack): While rolling suitcases are great for short term travel in Europe, backpacking through Europe is another story. You’ll be taking a lot of public transportation, going up and down many stairs, and walking to and from many train stations. The cobblestone that looked so pretty in all the photos is really just hell on earth with a rolling suitcase. While infrastructure is generally good in Europe, trust me – you will be annoyed by having a rolling suitcase if you bring one. I am a light packer, so my Tortuga Backpack does the trick perfectly — I spent two 5 month trips through Europe with it that spanned various seasons, and I never found that I didn’t have enough space.
      • Why do I recommend Tortuga so much? Here’s why: this bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to. It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.
      • Does it pass budget airline requirements? I’ve never once had to check it in on a budget airline flight, and I’ve taken probably 50+ Ryanair and Wizzair flights at this point. I just buy priority boarding so that I have a guaranteed spot on board for my bag (plus a second personal item bag), which adds about $5 onto my total flight cost instead of the $20-40 or so that a heavy checked suitcase or backpack would. This adds up massively over time – with a bigger bag, I would have paid $1,000+ extra in baggage fees over the past few years. That’s massive savings.
      • I haven’t personally ever used a bigger backpack, but I’ve heard excellent things about the Osprey system. If I ever were to upgrade my backpack capacity, that’s what I would choose.
    • Packing Cubes: If you havent used packing cubes before, get ready for me to change your life. These handy-dandy zippable bags help you organize your clothing, keeping everything from bursting out every time you dare open your backpack. Any packing cube will do – look for something zippable with a rectangular shape. I  use these packing cubes and love them like my own child. In a pinch, some gallon size plastic Ziploc bags will do the trick just fine at keeping your clothing seperated and contained. But since plastic will eventually rip and need to be replaced, I prefer to use reusable packing cubes which are easier on the environment.
    • Laundry bag: If you are backpacking Europe for a while, you will need to do laundry, no matter how much you pack. I carry a laundry bag with me to make laundry day easy. Like packing cubes, you don’t need anything fancy at all. I do like having a cute one like this one from Kikkerland though, because I’m impractical and like cute stuff.
    • Hanging Toiletry Bag: You don’t have to leave your make-up behind to backpack through Europe, unlike what every hippie in elephant pants would like you to think. I keep my toiletries in a simple hanging toiletry bag (which fits perfectly in the outer pocket of my Tortuga backpack). It has the perfect number of separators, organizers, and pockets without taking up any excess space. It fits A LOT. It’s the Mary Poppins bag you always needed but never knew existed.
    • Backpack with locking zippers : While backpacking Europe is very safe, pickpocketing is a real issue in the major cities. While wearing a shoulder bag is probably the most secure option, it’s just not comfortable if you carry a lot of stuff with you during the day like I do. I swear by PacSafe products for their security features and high quality construction. I love their PacSafe Citysafe backpack. It’s not horribly ugly like other “security bags,” and the best part is that it has locking zippers that make it virtually impossible for a pickpocket to get into your bag without you noticing.

Top 5 Essential Things to Pack for Backpacking Europe

Again, you don’t need to pack your entire life with you – washing machines and drug stores do exist in Europe, promise. But these 5 things are the most important.

A historic market in London

    • First, travel insurance. Yes, I know this isn’t something that you pack. But it is stupid to leave home without it. An accident in a foreign country could very well bankrupt you, plus you’ll want to be covered in case of theft. I recommend buying travel insurance as far in advance as you can as it’s cheaper. I use World Nomads on every single backpacking trip I do, in Europe, Central America, Asia — anywhere. The contract is very clear as to what it covers, the prices are affordable, the excess/deductible is very low, and if you find yourself extending your trip it’s very easy to modify your insurance on the go.
    • Mosquito repellent: Mosquitos in Europe in the summer are no freaking joke. They are relentless. Buy it before you travel as sometimes I’ve had trouble finding formulations that are as effective as what I can find at home.
    • Reusable water bottle: The tap water in Europe is drinkable virtually everywhere with very few exceptions. I’ve drunk water from the tap from Spain to Czech Republic to Estonia to Albania and never gotten sick once. Unlike the US, it’s rare to be given tap water at restaurants and if you don’t carry a water bottle with you, you will spend a lot of money on bottled water (and waste a lot of plastic or glass, too). You don’t need a fancy one with a filter for Europe, but if it’ll keep you from using a jillion plastic water bottles, go for it. I like Klean Kanteen.
    • Reusable tote bags: Many countries in Europe are phasing out plastic bags and charge you a decent amount to buy a plastic bag, as they should! Keep the surcharges away and the planet clean by saying no to plastic and using reusable bags.
    • Basic medicine: You will be able to find all this in Europe, but trust me — you want to have the basics on hand in case you need them on the road. I carry Pepto-Bismol for standard stomach troubles, Imodium as a nuclear option (i.e. riding the bus when I am sick), some sort of painkiller like ibuprofen for headaches and minor pains, and some sort of motion sickness tablets. Travelers to Germany and Nordic countries may want to buy some sort of cough or cold medicine as they are really stingy with some of the ingredients over the counter in Northern Europe. That usually covers the bases for me — anything else I need I grab on the road.

What to Wear when Backpacking Europe

You don’t need travel clothes – your regular clothes will do. Trust me, you will get laughed at if you show up to travel around Europe’s capital cities in travel pants that zip off at the knee. Bring what you normally would wear in a city, plus some hiking gear if you plan to do some hiking. Here’s what I recommend for warm weather, assuming you travel in summer.

Shoes are the hardest part of deciding what to bring, as they take up the most space and don’t really always work for all seasons. I’ve compiled a list of my 9 absolute favorite travel shoes; definitely don’t bring all 9 (that’d be madness) but pick 2-4 depending on the length of your trip, the activities you’ll do, how big your bag is, and the climate.

My backpacking go-tos in use in Ireland (picked up the hat on the road)

    • 3-5 lightweight summer dresses: Or more if you can manage it. Dresses take so little space and easy to wear. Just pick fabrics that don’t wrinkle when rolled up. I really like maxi dresses for travel.
    • 5+ tees & tanks: Neutral colors are best. European summers are hot so you will sweat a lot – avoid white. I suggest black, navy, and a few bright colors.
    • 1 pair jeans: While it’s too hot many days to wear jeans, you will have the occasional rainy or cool day and be grateful for them. Again, pick a lightweight pair that roll up without taking up a lot of space.
    • 2 pairs shorts: I bring one pair of poly-blend shorts and one pair of denim shorts.
    • 1-2 skirts: I suggest bringing one black skirt and one printed skirt for maximum outfit flexibility. Personally, I loved having a midi-length skirt. Less fabric isn’t always best when it comes to avoiding the heat. The extra fabric around your legs will allow you to trap some cool air, making you feel less hot.
    • 1 pair hiking boots (optional, but recommended if you plan on hiking): If you will do more than one or two hikes, I really do recommend bringing a pair of hiking boots. I love my Ahnu boots but if you have a pair at home already bring those so you don’t have to break them in. If you don’t want to hike much sneakers are fine.

      Hiking boots came in handy hiking to 2500m in Bulgaria
    • 1 pair sneakers: For days when you spend a lot of time on your feet, but aren’t necessarily climbing mountains and traversing difficult ground, these will do the trick. I usually wear a pair of black Nikes as I find they look cute even with my dresses as they are pretty neutral.
    • 1 pair sandals: Having a cute and comfortable pair of sandals is an absolutely essential on any backpacking Europe packing list. I’m obsessed with my Birkenstocks and will never go back to any other kind of sandal, most likely.
    • 1 rain jacket: It rains more in the summer in Europe than you may think, so you’ll be happy you brought it. I love my Marmot rain jacket.
    • 1 cardigan: Nights can get cool sometimes, plus sometimes they go little crazy with the air conditioning in malls, buses, trains, etc. in Europe. Definitely worth bringing.
    • 1-2 bras: I trust you’re all big girls and you know what you need when it comes to bras. I personally brought 1 regular bra and 1 sports bra and switched between the two.
    • 7+ pairs of underwear: The more underwear you bring, the longer you can go between needing to do laundry, obviously. I actually don’t recommend bringing stuff to do your laundry on the road – it’s a waste of time and money, plus are you seriously going to hang up your wet underwear in your hostel? (Please don’t.) Most hostels will have laundry available for you to do yourself or have them do it for you for a very reasonable amount.
    • Bathing suit: If you think you’ll be doing any swimming, visiting the baths of Budapest, etc.
    • Active clothing: Depending on if you’re going to be doing any outdoor adventures while you’re in Europe, you may want to bring specialty hiking clothing or climbing pants.

What to Pack for Staying in Hostels in Europe

Since you’re backpacking through Europe I’ll assume you’re staying in hostels but you may not need this stuff if you are staying at Airbnbs, Couchsurfing, using hotels, etc.

The Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia

    • 1 pair flip flops: Guys. Athlete’s foot is no joke, nor is it an urban legend. I’ve actually dealt with ringworm before (which is basically athlete’s foot on any part of your body that’s not your foot) and I can readily confirm that it is absolutely miserable to get rid of. Save yourself the trouble, trust me. Buy a pair of cheap rubber flipflops. /end PSA
    • 1 travel towelMany hostels don’t provide towels and will charge a surcharge to give you one to borrow. Not worth it. Bring your own to avoid rental fees, which add up quickly. This one is ultra-small and doesn’t take up much room in my bag.
    • 1 eye mask: I swear by this contoured eye mask as it doesn’t put uncomfortable pressure on your eyes but completely blacks out any light. Great for inconsiderate roommates and early nights in when you’re beat but your bunkmates seem to think it’s a great time to hang out in the room talking at high volume with the lights on (can you tell I’m nearly 30?)
    • Some earplugs or good noise-canceling headphones: I love Hearos — they’re the gold standard for ear plugs and are used by several professions that require the use of ear plugs! I’ve also been eyeing these noise-canceling headphones but haven’t made the plunge.

What Toiletries to Pack for Backpacking Europe

Again, you will likely be able to find all you need in any standard drug store like DM. But there are a few things I recommend adding to your Europe packing list

A breezy, summery day in Malta

    • Hand sanitizer: Some countries in Europe are better than others about having soap in the bathrooms. Keep hand sanitizer just in case.
    • Kleenex packets: Like above — public restrooms may be lacking in the toilet paper department (especially at train stations, etc.) so having some Kleenex in a portable sleeve is always good as back-up.
    • LUSH solid shampoo: Life-changing. Just trust me. Buy online or in store from LUSH and you’ll save serious money over Amazon.
    • Sunscreen: My skin is really sensitive on my face, so I use this fancy Japanese sunscreen to prevent acne on my face. I buy a more standard sunscreen when I arrive at my destination but if you have a brand you like buy it at home as Europe’s options are more limited.
    • Face wipesGreat for nights when you’re too lazy to take your make-up properly or for a quick face clean up on a sweaty, sunny day.
    • Menstrual cup or your favorite tampon/pad brand: Again, if you have a specific brand allegiance, you may not find it in Europe. I switched to a Diva Cup for travel and have never looked back. I highly recommend it.
    • Deodorant: I can’t rant enough about how much European deodorant sucks, plus I absolutely hate the smell of the aerosol dedorants that are so popular in Europe. Do yourself, everyone around you, and the planet a favor and buy some decent deodorant from home. I love Secret Clinical Strength and stash up on it every time I’m home, but then again, I am sweatier than most people are.

What to Pack for Safety in Europe

Europe is very safe, despite a recent uptick in random acts of terrorism. There’s no way to predict when or where this will happen, so I don’t even think about it. If it’s my day, it’s my day, and until then I will live a life free of fear. I do always make sure I have travel insurance (I use World Nomads) obviously but aside from that I just follow a few common sense safety precautions. These basics will keep your stuff safe in Europe.

Views for days in Switzerland

  • Combination locks: In Europe, you’re probably at the greatest risk of theft from your fellow travelers. Prevent crimes of opportunity with simple measures like having a combination lock and keeping your valuables locked away. I always check hostels on Hostelworld to ensure they have lockers available because I travel with so many valuable electronic that it’d be idiotic to leave them unlocked.
  • Daypack with locking zippers: Backpacks are easy targets — I wrote above about how much I love my PacSafe Citysafe backpack. After nearly being pickpocketing while wearing a backpack in Vietnam, I now only carry backpacks that have safety features like lockable zippers.

Don’t bother with a money belt. Thieves know about them. You’re better off carrying your wallet deep in a slash-proof backpack (like the one mentioned above) or a tightly zipped shoulder bag.

One important other thing I recommend is to have a second checking account and two debit cards if it’s at all possible. Keep them in different spots in case you get pickpocketed. This way you won’t be screwed while you wait for your bank to send you another card! This can also come in handy if one of your cards gets shut down for fraud. My debit card got duplicated at an ATM in Switzerland of all places and I had to wait a few weeks to get my card sent to me because I was moving around so much it was hard to coordinate with my bank. I was very glad I had another debit card with me during that time!

Electronics to Pack for Europe

There are really no special considerations when it comes to packing electronics for Europe. Bring whatever you’re comfortable bringing. As a travel blogger, I bring my entire life with me on the road, which includes a laptop, camera, multiple lenses, smartphone, GoPro, and more. I always make sure that I stay at hostels with lockers so that I can lock up my valuables. People who are more paranoid/responsible than I am may want to bring a portable safe for peace of mind.

One more of Switzerland, because #Switzerland

  • Laptop, if necessary: I bring my Macbook Air everywhere but other people may prefer a tablet or an inexpensive netbook. I work on the road so a user-friendly, lightweight laptop is a must.
  • Kindle Paperwhite: Europe is usually pretty good with having English-language books available but I still love having my Kindle as I can buy basically any book in the world as long as I have WiFi. Plus it saves weight from your backpack.
  • Travel camera: I use a Sony A6000 because it’s lightweight for a professional caliber camera, inexpensive, and a HUGE step up from a smartphone. You may want to replace this or add a GoPro too, especially good for adventure activities like rafting, diving, etc.
  • Portable charger: You’ll use your phone battery more than you thought while on the road, trust me. Bring a portable charger to save yourself many headaches! Anker is a reliable brand and what I personally use.
  • Adaptor, if necessary: The UK and continental Europe use different adaptors so either use one that has both or buy one of each before leaving to backpack Europe.

***

While this sounds like a lot, I was able to fit it everything on this backpacking Europe packing list into my 44L backpack and my daypack  – mostly because I chose lightweight fabrics, used packing cubes, and packed carefully.

Is there anything I’ve forgotten? Is there anything else you’re wondering if you should bring? Let me know in the comments!

The Only Packing List for 2 Weeks in Europe You Need

All I packed for 6 months in Europe - Find out how here!

I’m sold on the virtues of packing light, having done a five-month trip spanning three distinct seasons. I started off in Southern France, Spain, and Morocco in the summer, made my way through the Balkans in the fall, and ended in snowy Denmark. I did that all in a carry-on, and I’ve since adapted that original Europe packing list for shorter trips. So if you’re wondering what to pack for two weeks in Europe, I’ve got you covered, no matter the time of year.

From this, I’ve mastered the art of packing a carry on — from everything from a months-long backpacking adventure to a short jaunt through Europe. As a result, this packing list for 2 weeks in Europe can be your guide to packing light, no matter what the season, or even for longer trips. Just do laundry every 1-2 weeks as you would at home, and you’re golden.

I’ve created two separate clothing packing lists for Europe, one for spring/summer/fall and the other for winter. Spring and fall aren’t too harsh in Europe, so you can mostly bring the same things as you’d bring for summer, just with a few more layers. Winter, however, can be downright brutal, so I’m coming at you with some tips that helped me out even when I was north of the Arctic Circle (and nope, I’m not joking!). Don’t worry even if you’re packing for Europe the first time – this list is comprehensive and tested and filled with only products I actually use, not just ones I’ve heard about or stolen from other packing lists.

Kiruna Church Sweden - the jumping off place to see the Northern lights
Proof.

Packing List for 2 Weeks in Europe

Backpack and Related Gear

When I total it up, I’ve spent at least a year of my life backpacking across Europe, which is kind of insane to think about. As a result, these products have been tested time and time again, and I’ve eliminated anything that I’ve given up on the road (which is a lot). For the record, I’ve paid for every single item on this list out of pocket – not one thing on this packing list here is sponsored (and even if it were, you could expect my honest opinions, anyway). The only exception is that when I asked to become a Tortuga affiliate, they sent me the newest version of their bag to test out (I had previously purchased their original version out of pocket and loved it), so that I could be sure I’d still recommend it to my readers.

  • Travel backpack: While you certainly can travel with a suitcase, I prefer traveling around Europe with a carry-on sized backpack. When it came time to begin my travels, I chose a Tortuga 45L Backpack because they’re compact, carry-on friendly, and don’t scream “backpacker” as loudly as other bags. I used their original version for 2.5 years before Tortuga recently gifted me their newest version to trial, and I love it even more than the original (which my boyfriend now happily uses – in fact, he was even more excited than I was when I upgraded my Tortuga and he got my old one).
    • Why do I recommend Tortuga so much? Here’s why: this bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to. It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.
    • Does it pass budget airline requirements? I’ve literally taken it on 50+ budget airline flights at this point and never once been asked to check it in. I do tend to fly with priority boarding so that I can also bring my travel daypack as my personal item, but that only adds a few dollars onto my budget airline ticket, whereas adding checked luggage usually more than doubles my ticket cost.
  • Toiletry case: I absolutely love love love my eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit which works kind of like magic – you won’t be able to believe how little space it takes up, yet how much it can fit. It’s kind of like the Mary Poppins bag… just when you think nothing else can come out it, there’s more. It has a ton of separators that help keep my toiletries organized when I travel.  Although it’s flat and compact, it fits virtually all my toiletries, which as a bit of a card-carrying girly-girl I have a lot of! An absolute must-have for your sanity when on a two week trip through Europe.
  • Packing cubes: I keep everything sorted and tidy with my eBags Packing Cubes. No, this post isn’t sponsored by eBags, I just think they make amazing, affordable travel gear! I use my large packing cube for bottoms and dresses, my medium packing cube for tops, and my small packing cube for socks and undies.
  • Laundry bag: Even if you’re only traveling for two weeks in Europe, I like having a separate bag for all my laundry day needs. This travel-themed laundry bag from Kikkerland is beyond adorable!
  • Small, cute travel backpack: Finally, I use a smaller backpack for all my day-to-day needs. I’m absolutely obsessed with my CitySafe backpack – it’s adorable, trendy, but also super secure. It’s slash-proof and has zippers that interlock and fasten, adding multiple levels of security a thief would need to go through in order to successfully pickpocket you. And I can’t stress enough how cute it is! Check it out here (and disregard that Amazon calls it a men’s backpack for some reason – it’s definitely girly-girl approved).

Essential Clothing to Pack for Europe (Spring, Summer, Fall)

Wondering what to pack for Europe for two weeks? Here’s all the things you should cram in your travel backpack (with cubes, naturally) – with girly girl travelers who love shoes and dresses and not checking luggage in mind.

Bucharest in the fall, with some of my wardrobe staples!

  • 3 lightweight tank tops in different colors
  • 1 chambray or other button-up shirt to wear as a light jacket or shirt
  • 1 medium-weight jacket for cool nights (a denim or leather jacket would be perfect here) — you can leave this off if you’re traveling in peak summer, though
  • 2 linen or airy cotton V-necks
  • 1 pair lightweight linen or cotton shorts in black or neutral
  • 1 pair denim shorts
  • 1 large but lightweight scarf(great for too much AC, surprise church visits, or just for varying outfits)
  • 1 light sweater or cardigan
  • 2 pairs black leggings or ponte pants
  • 1 pair skinny jeans
  • 1 or 2 midi skirts, which are surprisingly good in hot weather
  • 1 black mini skirt
  • 2-5 lightweight summer dresses
  • 1 maxi dress
  • 5-7 pairs of socks
  • 7 pairs of underwear (or 14, if you’re determined to make it without doing laundry)
  • 1-2 bikinis/swimsuits
  • 1-2 pairs pajamas or sleeping clothes
  • flipflops or Birkenstocks
  • 1 pair running shoes (I love my black Nikes)
  • 1 pair comfortable ankle boots (I love my Lucky Brand ankle boots)

packing list for europe: All I packed for 6 months in Europe - Find out how here!

This sounds like a lot — it is! But it all managed to fit into two packing cubes (I actually didn’t even need to use the third one, as I kept all my underwear, socks, and sleepwear in pockets that come with my backpack).

Depending on how much you pack and how attached you are to your clothes, it’s always an option to send some of your belongings or souvenirs you bought on the road. You can use an international shipping service like Shiply to compare rates and send home items cheaply.

Packing List for 2 Weeks in Europe in Winter

Packing for winter in a carry-on isn’t that hard — just think smart, wear your heaviest clothes on the plane, and think about layering as much as you can. This will work for even super cold weather, but not for something extreme like a ski holiday.

PSST – Planning a longer winter trip? Here’s my guide to packing for a long-term winter trip in Europe.

Traveling Europe in winter isn’t as bad as it seems

  • 2-3 pairs jeans
  • 2-3 pairs warm leggings leggings (I love these fleece-lined leggings since I’m sensitive to wool and can’t wear it)
  • 1 warm sweater dress
  • 1 super warm, big wrap scarf
  • 1 woven fleece-lined hat that covers your ears
  • 1 pair waterproof gloves or mittens (mittens are usually a bit warmer but more annoying to use, so I’d bring gloves if it’s kind of cold and mittens if its f*#!ing miserable)
  • 2-3 thermal tops (I love the thermal tops from 32 Degres and buy them in bulk from Costco when I’m home)
  • 2-3 warm sweaters (wool if you can stand them)
  • 1 pair waterproof knee-high boots (I have an older version of these ones from Blondo and use them every winter for the last nearly 10 years – I’ve only had to get them re-soled once)
  • 1 pair flat ankle boots (again, my Lucky brand ankle boots come in handy!)
  • 6-7 pairs warm wool socks (I like Smartwool)
  • 7-14 pairs underwear, depending on whether or not you want to do laundry
  • 1 super warm parka-type jacket. I have this one from North Face.
  • 1 medium-warm jacket, like a UNIQLO Ultra Light Down (great for layering under your other jacket in case of extreme cold) or this knockoff ultralight down jacket

Smart Toiletries & Hygiene Supplies

  • 1 Diva Cup (for people with periods): better for the Earth, better for your luggage — the Diva cup is reusable, hygienic, and actually way more convenient than tampons or pads as they need to be changed less frequently. They’re really comfortable once you get used to them and carry a lower risk of TSS or leaking.
  • 1 pack of GoToobs: These reusable, easy-squeeze bottles are great for filling with your need-to-have toiletries that are hard to source on the road.
  • 1 folding toothbrush: I love this so much because those stupid clip-on toothbrush protectors always get lost or broken in my bag!
  • 1 bar Lush solid shampoo with a metal carrying case: I love the Seanik shampoo bar, as it breathes life into my easily greasy, thin hair!
  • 1 dry shampoo: For days when showering is just too hard
  • 1 pack hair ties: For days when getting out dry shampoo is just too hard
  • 1 small hairbrush: The folding hairbrushes always break for me, so I go for a small, sturdy mini hairbush
  • 1 pair Tweezers: Because god forbid I go more than a few days without plucking those random chin hairs that love to pop up overnight.
  • 1 Neutrogena solid sunscreen: Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions
  • 1 razor and pack of favorite razor heads: It can be hard to find my favorite brand abroad sometimes, so I always bring them with me
  • 1 anti-friction stick: Because if you got thick thighs like I do, this is a godsend against fighting the devil that is chub rub. Vaseline also works in a pinch.
  • All your makeup and can’t-live-without toiletries (moisturizer, face wash, etc) — make sure they are travel-sized (less than 100 milliliters/3.3 ounces). If not, put them in a GoToob in a size suitable for a two week trip to Europe.

Travel Medicines & First Aid

  • 1 bottle Pepto Bismol tablets / bismuth salicylate (pill form): Because the last thing you want when you’re having an upset stomach is to try to find a pharmacy that speaks your language
  • 1 bottle Imodium: For real D-Day intestinal emergency days. I try not to take this unless it’s a massive emergency (i.e. I have to travel that day and don’t have a day to dedicate to shitting my brains out).
  • 1 pack Pedialyte rehydration packs: Theoretically it’s for babies with diarrhea; I use it for hangover emergencies, because I’m an adult.
  • 1 bottle Aleve: I can never find Aleve outside of the US and I find that it works better than other painkillers for me personally. 
  • 1 pack Excedrin Migraine if you’re prone to migraines like I am
  • 1 bottle Dramamine if you’re prone to motion sickness like I am (why do I travel, again?)
  • 1 pack Bandaids: Or two if you’re as much of a goddamn clutz as I am
  • 1 small jar Tiger Balm: Great for everything from headaches to hangovers to sore muscles to mosquito bites
  • 1 pack mosquito repellent wipes: I always forget to bring the big bottles with me, so I keep a few wipes in my purse usually

Random Odds & Ends That Make Life Less Terrible

  • 1 sleep mask: This contoured one is total bliss
  • 1 pack earplugs: The best in class, able to withstand even a 12 person dorm
  • 1 set mini padlocks: For securing your valuables in hostels or your daypack on public transit. If you’re prone to losing things, choose ones with a combination instead
  • 1 of your favorite journals: I love Moleskine notebooks, personally, like the hipster wannabe I am.
  • 1reusable water bottle: Make the planet suck less – use less plastic! The water in Europe is drinkable basically everywhere with few exceptions, so save money and plastic and use a reusable bottle.
  • A few reusable shopping bags: Great for separating nasty clothes from tolerable ones, or for shoving random things that won’t fit in your backpack or suitcase at the last minute when checkout is rapidly approaching
  • A large microfiber travel towel: Believe me, get the big one, unless you love running from a shared bathroom to your room with your ass hanging out. Great for impromptu beach days, too!

Electronics & Camera Equipment

  • Laptop, if necessary: I bring my Macbook Air everywhere but other people may prefer a tablet or an inexpensive netbook. I work on the road so a user-friendly, lightweight laptop is a must.
  • Kindle Paperwhite: Depending on where you travel, English-language bookstores can be few and far between. I love the Kindle Paperwhite because the screen is glare-free, making it easy to read even in direct sunlight.
  • Travel camera: I use a Sony A6000 because it’s lightweight for a professional caliber camera, inexpensive, and a HUGE step up from a smartphone. You may want to replace this or add a GoPro too, especially good for adventure activities like volcano boarding and diving (just check to see if you also need an underwater house for your GoPro if you dive, as many of the newer models are only good to 10m — not nearly enough for divers)
  • Portable charger: As an electronics-addict, I’m always running out of juice. Bring a portable charger to save yourself many headaches! Anker is a reliable brand and what I personally use.
  • Adaptor, if necessary: If you are coming from the US or Canada, you will need an adaptor for your electronics. Also, keep in mind that if you are visiting both the UK and continental Europe that they use different plugs (and even within, there are exceptions: for example, Malta uses UK plugs!). Bring auniversal adaptor that you can use on your Europe travels and beyond.


Disclaimer:
 This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something using one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no added cost to you. 

No items were sent to me for this Europe packing list for two weeks; all are products I’ve purchased independently or something as close to it as possible as I could find.

The sole exception is the Tortuga Setout Backpack – I bought the original version with my own money, and when I asked to become an affiliate of their program, they sent me the new one to try out and ensure that I still like it and can recommend it, as the one I carried was discontinued. 


Further reading: 

  • Want more ideas on what essentials to bring on your trip to Europe? Check out this guide to travel gear and resources from Europe Up CloseI backpacked through Europe for six months, summer through winter, with only a carry-on size backpack! Here are the essential things to bring.