Ah, to the land of rain, accents, and backpackers from all over the world. Probably my favourite continent to date.
From London to Rome, Amsterdam, to Copenhagen — there’s no shortage of tourists flocking their way to the most popular cities in the world. Even more so since the implementation of the European Union, where you can travel to different cities and countries in a moment’s notice. Or in this case, be a train ride or half hour flight away.
Planning your trip around Europe:
Before anything, make sure you’re eligible for visa-free travel around the continent.
For EU citizens, travelling everywhere wouldn’t be a problem as you can legally stay in any country in Europe for as long as you want. There are two types of visas for those who are not citizens: Schengen and non-Schengen areas.
Many countries in Europe are part of the Schengen area, which is actually 21 out of the 28! So, if you’re planning to go around the continent, getting a visa for these areas would cover more ground.
For the rest, you have 8 countries that aren’t included in the Schengen agreement and therefore, you need a visa to enter. Especially if you’re Filipino.
These countries would include: United Kingdom, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Bosnia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria
Writing your itinerary:
My personal take on this, would have to include all the countries you’d want to visit and for how long. I’m a firm believer of travelling slowly but deeply. This means staying at a city for 3-4 days instead of 2, and exploring its outskirts if you can help it.
However, if that’s not your style and you wanna see where the wind takes you. Or, well, the entire continent, then I recommend going by area.
Since you’ll be granted a good 90 days (3 months) to stay in Europe — visa required or not — you can divide your time by which area suits you better before moving on to the next one. By doing so, makes it easier to commute your way around.
All are about 5-hours away by train ride, a half hour by plane, and even longer if you’re planning to go on a day trip everywhere. For each city, I recommend staying at least 3 days as they’re smaller than most major cities around Europe.
However, if going to the major cities is too expensive, you can also make it a trip to Bordeaux, Heidelberg, and then Florence with a few stops to smaller Tuscan cities.
I’ve yet to step foot in Eastern Europe but have been wanting to go so badly! If only visa restrictions were the same for some countries as they are in the West… But I digress.
The Eastern side of the continent can be so underrated sometimes. Especially with their great history and charming small cities. Plus, if you’re really saving up to go around the continent, Eastern European countries are tons cheaper!
You can start from Prague but an opposite route from your Central Europe trip where you can head over to Riga (Latvia), Kiev (Ukraine), Sarajevo (Bosnia), and Skopje (Macedonia).
When to book:
Since my European escape is still a few months away (September), I made sure to go there around this time because of a.) it’s no longer tourist season, and b.) I wanted to experience Autumn (Sept-Nov) for the first time.
I’ve experienced going to Europe in the height of Spring (Mar-May) which slowly transitioned to Summer (Jun-Aug) during my stay. Prices for hotels were higher than usual since many travellers visit the continent around these months.
A man we met in Prague en route to Vienna, even told me how accommodations typically drop 50% from their usual rates if you book around Winter (Dec-Feb).
After seeing which areas to cover first and where you can go visa-free, it’s finally time to start booking your trip! Admittedly, this is my favourite part of pre-trip stage as I always get a rush or thrill from getting to book hotels, trains, and everything in between.
And as much as I am a planner, I love getting the chance to see all the prices for every rate known to man. Haha! These would include: AirBnB, trains, buses, and flights. It has even reached the point where I’d start making lists about which restaurants, and coffee shops to visit while in the city. Yep.
For this reason, sites like GoEuro have made the planning process simpler as I’ll be able to see all modes of transportation, making it easier to compare prices for my budget. Similarly, I’ve been able to look at many AirBnB rentals in Madrid, and even get to compare them with the ones in Lisbon.
Depending on the city, I normally prefer to stay in AirBnB rentals as they’re bigger in terms of space than a usual hotel room, come at a cheaper rate, and an even better location.
If you’re thinking about taking the train like EuRail, be mindful that it still depends whether you plan to stay Central or West. Take into consideration that the rail system in Eastern Europe is different from other parts of the continent.
Other than that, day trips in nearby cities/countries are also possible especially if you plan to stay in one area. Flights are the usual go-to for many travellers but you don’t get to see much scenery from doing so, even if it saves you time. And well…The countryside is meant to be seen!
Over to you:
Do you have plans of travelling all over Europe any time soon?
If so, which cities are you planning to visit?
If not, when?