Europe Travel Guide

Ultimate Europe travel guide to all the best things to see and do in Europe for culture lovers, history buffs and architecture aficionados.

Europe is a continent rich in history, art and culture. From the ancient ruins of Greece and Rome to the stunning Medieval cathedrals and Baroque palaces, Europe is the dream destination for culture lovers, history buffs and architecture aficionados. Whether you love museums, archeological sites, stunning castles or ornate churches, this Europe travel guide is for you.

Europe Travel Essentials

Europe is a vast continent with many different cultures and landscapes to explore. Europe is divided into several regions, each with its own distinct culture and attractions. The people in these countries speak different languages and have their own histories and customs.

While you might have English spoken in larger touristy areas, don’t automatically expect everyone in Europe to speak English. It’s always a good idea to learn at least some basic words, like please and thank you, in the local language when visiting.

NOTE: Europe’s most popular tourist destinations include Paris, Rome, London, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Prague. When planning a trip to Europe, it’s important to research and decide what areas and attractions you want to visit.

Geography

Europe is the world’s second smallest continent after Australia. Europe covers 10,180,000 sq km or 2% of Earth’s surface and 6.8% of its landmass. Europe borders the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and Asia to the east.

Europe has versatile landscapes, including mountains, plains and stunning coastlines. Some of Europe’s most impressive mountain ranges include the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Caucasus Mountains. The Ural Mountains form a natural boundary between Europe and Asia. Europe’s longest river is the Volga, which flows for 3,692 km through Russia. Europe also has many lakes, including Lake Baikal in Russia, the world’s largest freshwater lake.

Climate & the best time to visit

Europe has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, which makes it a great destination year-round. The weather varies depending on latitude, altitude and proximity to the ocean. Europe’s highest mountains experience an alpine climate, while the Mediterranean region has a warm, sunny climate.

Each season offers something different for everyone. If you want to experience Europe’s sunny beaches and vibrant nightlife, summer is the best time to visit. For stunning scenery and outdoor activities, spring and fall shoulder seasons are ideal. Winter is a great time to visit Europe’s Christmas markets and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Europe experiences summer from June to August, while winter runs from December to February. Central Europe has a temperate climate with hot summers and cold winters. Southern Europe is warmer, with mild winters and long, hot summers.

getting around

Europe has an excellent transportation infrastructure, making it easy to get around whether travelling by train, bus, ferry or plane. If you’re planning on doing a lot of travelling, consider purchasing a Eurail pass, which allows unlimited travel on trains throughout Europe.

If renting a car, keep in mind that driving styles and conditions vary from country to country, so it’s important to research the road rules before you get behind the wheel. Except for the UK, Irish Republic, Malta and Cyprus, most Europeans drive on the right-hand side of the road.

While some countries will require an International Drivers Permit, others might require a translated copy of your license. Most cars in Europe are manual so if you need an automatic, make sure you request it ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Europe travel map with hearts shaped like flags - travel tips for Europe, travel to Europe
Europe travel tips

Tips for Europe Travel

There is a lot more to Europe travel than meets the eye. It can be confusing for beginners to understand the different country entry requirements, currencies, languages and rules. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know.

Ultimate Europe question: how many countries are in Europe?

While answering how many countries are in Europe should be an easy answer, it is, in fact, complicated. The answer depends on who you ask. According to the United Nations (UN), there are 44 countries. The European Union gives you a different number based on its members. The real answer is between 44 and 51 countries. How does that work?

Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey are considered transcontinental countries. This means they are partially located in both Europe and Asia. While Armenia and Cyprus are politically regarded as European countries, they are geographically located in West Asia. It’s also important to note that not all countries recognize Kosovo as an independent country, and it’s not listed as such by the UN.

There are several other destinations that many people count as independent countries, while they are, Dependencies, meaning they belong to another country. These include Greenland (Denmark), the Faroe Islands (Denmark),  Svalbard (Norway),  Gibraltar (UK), the Channel Islands (UK) and the Isle Of Man (UK). While you might also wonder about England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, they all fall under the United Kingdom. Blame history for this confusing situation.

What is the European Union?

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states. The EU was not always as big as it is today. This economic cooperation arrangement was formed in 1951, with Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands as the original members. Over the years, more countries joined the union, and some are currently under consideration. The UK officially withdrew from the EU on January 31, 2020.

So what’s the big deal about the European Union? Well, the arrangement offers freedom of movement for its members. This means citizens of the European countries in the EU can travel, live and work freely in any EU state. For non-Europeans travelling to Eurozone might be tricky; however, Europe travel within the EU is actually quite easy.

What is the Schengen Zone?

Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone covering most European countries. Some countries may also require a visa, depending on your nationality and length of stay. It’s important to check the requirements for your destination country well in advance. If you are a citizen of any of these countries, you must obtain a Schengen visa to enter the Schengen Area.

Those with Schengen visas and non-EU members who are visa-exempt can stay in the EU for up to 90 days within 180 days. The 90/180 rule means that you can stay in the EU for three consecutive months and then have to leave for three months before you can return. Unlike other parts of the world, you can’t just travel to a non-EU country for a few days and come back. Europe will be implementing a new visa waiver by the end of 2023. Here is what you need to know about the upcoming ETIAS visa.

EUROPE TRAVEL HOT TIP: It’s up to you to make sure you keep track of how many days you have spent in the Schengen zone. Overstaying can result in heavy penalties and a potential ban from entering the EU for up to 10 years.

This is probably one of the most confusing aspects of Europe travel. Most people visiting Europe on vacation won’t likely overstay the three months. Some European countries offer a digital nomad visa/long-term visa that allows you to remain legally in that country. Having a temporary visa means you can travel within the EU for the duration of that visa.

Ultimate Europe breakdown for travellers

Here is a quick breakdown of countries to help with your Europe travel planning.

CountryUN recognized as EuropeIn the EUEU Schengen StatesNon-Schengen StatesCurrency
AlbaniaYES


Lek
AndorraYES


Euro
AustriaYESYESYES
Euro
BelarusYES


Belarusian ruble
BelgiumYESYESYES
Euro
Bosnia and HerzegovinaYES


Convertible Marka
BulgariaYESYES
YESLev
CroatiaYES

YESKuna 
Cyprus
YES
YES Euro
Czech Republic (Czechia)YESYESYES
Koruna
DenmarkYESYESYES
Danish krone
EstoniaYESYESYES
Euro
FinlandYESYESYES
Euro
FranceYESYESYES
Euro
GermanyYESYESYES
Euro
GreeceYESYESYES
Euro
Holy See (Vatican City)YES

Open borders with Schengen countries but not members of the visa-free zoneEuro
HungaryYESYESYES
Forint
IcelandYES
YES
Króna
IrelandYESYES
YESEuro
ItalyYESYESYES
Euro
LatviaYESYESYES
Euro
LiechtensteinYES
YES
Swiss franc
LithuaniaYESYESYES
Euro
LuxembourgYESYESYES
Euro
MacedoniaYES


Denar
MaltaYESYESYES
Euro
MoldovaYES


Leu
MonacoYES

Open borders with Schengen countries but not members of the visa-free zoneEuro
MontenegroYES


Euro
NetherlandsYESYESYES
Euro
NorwayYES
YES
Krone
PolandYESYESYES
Zloty
PortugalYESYESYES
Euro
RomaniaYESYES
YESLeu
RussiaYES


Ruble
San MarinoYES

Open borders with Schengen countries but not members of the visa-free zoneEuro
SerbiaYES


Dinar
SlovakiaYESYESYES
Euro
SloveniaYESYESYES
Euro
SpainYESYESYES
Euro
SwedenYESYESYES
Krona
SwitzerlandYES
YES
Swiss franc
UkraineYES


Hryvnia
United KingdomYES

YESBritish Pound
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Essential Europe travel guide – tips for travel to Europe

Europe Travel FAQ

Whether you’re planning a trip to Europe for the first time or are a seasoned traveller, this Europe travel guide will help you make the most of your trip.

There are many ways to travel around Europe, including by plane, train, ferry, bus or car. Rail passes are a popular way to travel between countries as they offer good value for money and can be used on most European trains. When travelling by car, check the driving laws of the country you’re visiting, as they vary greatly.

Most European countries require a valid passport for entry. When you visit Europe, you may also need a visa, depending on your nationality and length of stay. It’s important to check the requirements for your destination country well in advance of your trip.

When and where to go on a European tour? This depends on your travel style and the countries you visit. If you’re planning to visit multiple countries, I recommend spending at least two weeks in Europe. This will give you enough time to explore each destination without feeling rushed. However, you may get by with less time if you’re only visiting one or two countries.

The standard voltage in Europe is 220 volts, which is different from the 110 volts used in North America. You’ll need a voltage converter/adaptor to charge your phone or laptop. It’s also important to note that the plugs and sockets in Europe differ from those used in North America, so you’ll need to purchase a plug adapter before your trip.

If you’re planning to use your cell phone in Europe, you’ll need to ensure that your service provider has international roaming capabilities. You’ll also be charged for any calls, texts or data usage abroad. Make sure to check with your service provider for rates and coverage. Alternatively, you can purchase a prepaid local SIM card when you arrive.

Most credit and debit cards can be used in Europe, but you may be charged a foreign transaction fee by your bank. It’s a good idea to check with your bank about these fees. You can also withdraw cash from ATMs using your credit or debit card, but you’ll usually be charged a fee for this service.

The currency used in Europe depends on the country you’re visiting. For example, the Euro is used in many European countries, such as France, Germany and Spain. However, other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Poland and Switzerland, use their own currency. Be sure to research the country’s currency before your trip.

Planning Guide for Europe Travel

Europe is an incredibly diverse continent with a rich history and culture. Whether you’re a culture, art or architecture lover, you’re sure to find plenty to keep you busy on your trip.

Here are a few Europe travel tips to help you make the most of your trip:

  • Europe is a popular destination, so book your accommodation and transportation in advance. The same goes for popular attractions and sites.
  • Pack comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
  • Take advantage of free walking tours to learn about the history and culture of the cities you visit.
  • Take advantage of free or discounted entry to many of Europe’s attractions including museums.
  • Use a rail pass to travel between destinations.
  • Bring a raincoat or umbrella, as there can be sudden showers even in summer.
  • Don’t forget to pack warm clothes when visiting Europe in winter.
  • Eat local to experience local flavours and culinary offerings.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle, as many European cities have fresh water fountains where you can fill up.

Europe for culture lovers

If you’re a fan of history, art or architecture, Europe is the perfect destination for you. European cities are also great for walking, so you can take your time exploring and soaking up the atmosphere. There are countless museums, galleries and historical sites to explore, and you’ll be amazed by the beautiful architecture everywhere you go. Here are a few to get started:

  • The Louvre in Paris, France: This world-famous museum is home to some of the most iconic works of art, including the Mona Lisa.
  • The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain: This gallery houses an impressive collection of Spanish and European art, including works by Velázquez, Goya and Bosch.
  • The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy: This world-renowned gallery is home to a stunning collection of Renaissance art, including works by Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands: This museum houses a vast collection of Dutch art, including works by Rembrandt and Vermeer.

Europe for history buffs

If you’re interested in European history, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the number of historical sites and monuments to visit. From ancient ruins to medieval castles, there’s something to suit everyone’s interests. You can also learn about Europe’s tumultuous past by visiting museums and memorials dedicated to the World Wars and other significant events. Here are a few that should not be missed:

  • The Parthenon in Athens, Greece: This ancient temple is one of Europe’s most iconic landmarks and is considered one of the finest examples of Greek architecture.
  • The Colosseum in Rome, Italy: This ancient amphitheatre is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe and is a must-see for history buffs.
  • The Alhambra in Granada, Spain: This Moorish palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe.
  • The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands: This moving museum is dedicated to the life of Anne Frank, a Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis during WWII.

Europe for foodies

If you love food, Europe is the place for you. Whether you’re enjoying a fancy meal in a restaurant or grabbing a quick bite from a street vendor, you’re sure to find plenty of delicious food. From French cuisine to Italian pasta and pizza, there’s something to suit every taste. And, of course, no trip to Europe would be complete without sampling some of the local beer and wine.

Europe for nature lovers

If you love being outdoors, Europe is the perfect destination for you. There are plenty of parks and gardens to explore, and you can also find some great hiking and biking trails. And in the winter, Europe’s ski resorts are a mecca for snow lovers from all over the world. The wellness industry is also in full swing, with many spas, saunas and wellness resorts spread throughout Europe.

Safety tips for Europe travel

Europe is generally a safe place to travel. Still, there are a few things to remember to help ensure your safety. Common scams and petty theft are more common in tourist-heavy sites and busy areas. Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings, especially in busy places like airports and train stations.

If you’re carrying valuables, it’s best to keep them hidden away and never leave any valuables in your car. If someone approaches you asking for money or trying to sell you something, it’s best to just walk away.

Always carry a copy of your passport and travel insurance information with you in case of an emergency. Good travel insurance can protect you against theft, cancellations and illness or injury.

Europe travel Destinations inspiration