Travelling Europe is an exciting and fascinating cultural experience. But with so many countries to visit and such a wide variety of things to do while you’re there, it can be a daunting trip to plan.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy Europe travel guide, helping you make your plans and letting you know the best ways to travel, as well as offering our suggestions of the most essential European destinations. Now you’re ready to enjoy the ultimate Europe trip!
Planning your Europe trip
Before you begin your European vacation, you need to plan it carefully. As you will be travelling through a number of different countries, it is essential to do some thorough research and make sure you have everything in place. Here are some of the things you need to consider:
1. Plan your itinerary
It’s important to have your itinerary worked out well in advance. Think about which aspects of Europe interest you the most – there’s too much to fit into a short trip, so you’ll need to prioritise.
It makes sense to choose a route which doesn’t involve doubling back on yourself. Some people choose to start in Russia and travel west, while others prefer to start in Norway, travel south to the UK and then across to France and the rest of continental Europe.
2. Consider your budget
Living costs vary widely between different European countries. The UK and Scandinavia, for example, have far higher living costs than Croatia or Bulgaria. Learning about this will help you to decide how long to spend in each country if you’re travelling on a budget.
Your budget will also impact on the time of year you want to travel. Remember, June, July and August are the peak summer months in Europe, so your flights and accommodation will be more expensive during these months than at any other time of year.
3. Travel documents
Firstly, and most importantly; your passport. This will need at least six months remaining on it to travel through Europe, so if you need a new passport, it is important to apply well in advance of your trip.
Australians can visit all countries in the Schengen area (much of mainland Europe) for up to 90 days without needing a visa. What's more, you will be able to move freely between all Schengen-area countries during your stay, usually without encountering visa and document checks. Some non-Schengen area countries also allow Australian travellers to visit visa-free for a limited time, including the UK, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania.
You will need a visa to visit Russia, Ukraine or Belarus. If any of these countries are on your itinerary, you need to arrange your visas before you travel.
It is well worth taking out travel insurance, as it will cover your medical costs if you become ill or get injured while travelling in Europe. It will also cover the cost of any personal belongings that get lost or stolen.
All policies have exemptions, however, and some may not cover you for certain sports and activities, so it is important to find a policy which suits your needs. You also need to be in Australia when you take out your cover, so you need to do this before you go.
The Best Way to Travel Europe
You have a number of options when it comes to transport:
If you plan to make most of your journeys by train, it can work out cheaper and more convenient to buy a Eurail pass rather than purchasing separate tickets as you go. The Eurail Global Pass enables overseas visitors to travel by train in 31 European countries. It also covers the Eurostar if you want to travel from mainland Europe to England by train.
In addition, Eurail pass holders can receive discounts on some buses, hotels, museums and activities.
Budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair have made it extremely cheap to fly between European countries. However, they release their best-priced seats months in advance, and these are always snapped up quickly. Flying only makes sense if you are prepared to plan your entire itinerary months ahead of your trip.
This is the cheapest way to travel Europe. Companies such as Eurolines and Ouibus offer bus services between different countries, and their prices don’t fluctuate as much as rail and air tickets, so it enables you to be a bit more spontaneous with your travel plans.
While on your European vacation, you’ll need to be able to get in touch with people easily. This means you’ll need a mobile phone that you can run cheaply and efficiently in all European countries.
The Europe SIM Card from Sims Direct is ideal for this, as it works in 71 different countries and gives you 30 days of usage. As well as unlimited calls and texts to European numbers, you get 12GB of data, enabling you to share your Europe travel adventures with the people who matter to you most.
Top European destinations to visit
Europe is such a diverse and fascinating continent that it is practically impossible to choose the best places to visit. It really all depends on what you are interested in and what you want to see and do most.
To give you some ideas, we have put together a few highlights to get you started.
1. Historic sights
All European countries have their own unique and fascinating histories and cultures, but some are iconic and absolutely have to be visited on any Europe trip. These include:
- The Acropolis, Athens, Greece
- The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
- The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
- The Grand Canal, Venice, Italy
- Stonehenge, Salisbury, England
- Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
- Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
There are also wonderful museums in every country where you can learn more about the history of the region, and this is something well worth doing while travelling Europe, as it gives you a more complete experience.
2. Food and drink
Some European countries are renowned for the excellence of their cuisine, and your Europe trip is the ideal opportunity to sample as much local produce as you can. An authentic Italian pizza will be top of many people’s lists, but there are also paella in Spain, strudels in Austria and Belgian waffles to sample, along with the legendary bread dumplings in the Czech Republic.
The best way to sample European food and drink is to get to know the locals wherever you go. They will be able to point you to the restaurants that local people visit themselves, rather than the more obvious tourist spots.
Ibiza, off the cost of Spain, is renowned worldwide for its clubbing scene, and it attracts top international DJs, particularly during the summer season, when practically every club, bar and café is open all night long. It’s a famous tradition here to watch the sun rise as you dance!
Croatia is also well-known for its nightlife, particularly the island of Hvar in the summer months. However, this spot becomes quieter in the winter, and the action moves to the main Croatian cities of Zagreb, Split and Zadar.
Find out more about travelling connected in Europe
We hope this Europe travel guide is useful and gives you some great ideas for your trip. If you are planning a Europe trip and would like more information about a SIM card which will meet all your needs for the duration of your travels, please contact us and enquire about our Europe Sim Card, and we will be happy to help.