When planning your Europe trip, how long you should plan for each country will really depend on which cities you want to see and which countries you want to visit. Some Europe trip packages break down stays into manageable chunks, but if you’re looking to plan it out on your own, we’ve broken down your Europe trip planner step-by-step to get you started.
Planning Your Europe Trip
Before heading out the door or booking your flight, there are some important planning tips you’ll need to know. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can help you determine how long you’d like to stay in each country, and how to stay safe when you get there. Here are a couple of things to consider before you go.
This is non-negotiable. Have all your travel documents prepared and ready to go when you pack your bags. This includes your passport (valid at least 6 months from the day you arrive), travel itinerary, Europe trip package information, hotel reservations, visas (if necessary), copies of your passport, and an international drivers license if you intend to drive in countries that require one.
Packing For Your Trip
It’s always beneficial to pack light when planning your Europe trip because you can keep better track of your luggage and avoid expensive checked bag fees, especially on Europe’s many budget airlines. Nomatic offers some of the best travel bags on the market, including our 40L travel bag that recently gained over $3 million on Kickstarter. When packing for your Europe trip, you should also consider:
- Local Style—Europeans dress well. Take a moment to learn how people dress in Europe and pack accordingly.
- Pack the Basics—If you need to (or want to) you can always add to your wardrobe once you arrive. Packing a few basic items like jeans, shirts, and sweaters that are versatile will go a long way.
- Go Light—A heavy bag will be no fun to carry around, especially if you are regularly moving from place to place on your trip. Plus, if you save room, you can pick up some fun items while you travel.
The type of bag you choose can really make a difference when it comes to planning your Europe trip. Bags with full zippers and packing cubes can also make packing and unpacking easier.
Best Times to Go to Europe
This really depends on the time you have available as well as your budget. There are three main travel seasons in Europe—High, Low, and Shoulder.
- High Season—from June to August, this is the most expensive time to travel, as well as the most popular. The weather is nice and the days are long, but it can get crowded.
- Low Season—stretching from November to April, the Low Season is cold, but it is also the cheapest time to visit and there are very few tourists running around.
- Shoulder Season—this season falls between April to June and September to November. The weather is nice, if not somewhat unpredictable, and prices aren’t as high as they will be during the High Season.
Find the Cheapest and Fastest Ways to Get Around
Europe has many options for getting to and from your chosen destination when planning your Europe trip. Many Europe trip packages plan out your route for you, but you can also plan to take buses, trains, or budget airlines on your trip. Prices for airlines will depend on how close cities are and which European budget airline you fly with. Train prices may be slightly cheaper if you book them in Europe, but you can also book them ahead of time if you’re worried about navigating the system when you arrive.
Find Your Accommodation
When you only have a few days to spend in a city, you will want to find affordable and central accommodations. This Europe trip planner tip can help you find some of the best options for affordable accommodations. These include Airbnb, hostels—or luxury hostels, hotels, and the cheapest option—Couchsurfing. Each of these types of accommodation will vary in price and location, but you should try to stay as close to the city center as you can afford if you only have limited time in a city. Staying in a central location will make it easier for you to spend the day sightseeing, rather than getting to and from attractions.
How Long Should You Spend in Europe?
Despite the virtues of slow travel, quick trips can benefit travelers in different ways. If you only have two weeks off from work, you probably don’t want to spend it all in one place when you go to Europe. However, you should remember that you’re still on vacation and you don’t want to spend your precious time off work racing from place to place.
A typical trip around Europe can really take as long as you want. However, if you only have 10-12 days, you should keep in mind which cities you want to see during your trip. The general rule is that larger European cities require 2-4 full days (3-5 nights), and smaller cities generally only require 1-2 full days (2-3 nights). We say full days because, on days that you travel to or from a city, you will likely only get a few hours in the morning or evening to explore. The day you arrive in Europe is also pretty much a write-off because of jet lag. Taking it slower will give you time to see what you actually came for.
Here are a few things to consider as you plan your trip around Europe:
- Decide What Sites to See—If you already know you want to see St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and the Eiffel Tower or Louvre in Paris, you already have some idea of where you will go. Think about the main things you want to see and do in each city you’d like to visit. Make a list so you can see it all laid out.
- Plan Your Route—You might have your heart set on London, Amsterdam, Rome, and Istanbul, but if you only have two weeks, you’ll need to reconsider. These places are spread out and you will spend a lot of time traveling that you could spend enjoying Europe. Plan out a route that is close together, and leave other locations for your next visit.
- Budget Your Travel—Aside from planning a route that won’t take up your whole trip, you should also figure out how much it will cost you to get from place to place. If it’s starting to get expensive, you may want to skip a location that would be fun, but just isn’t worth the price for this trip.
- Be Flexible—If you plan your travel around specific dates or events, (like meeting up with friends in London on a specific date) and leave the rest flexible, it will give you the option to spend longer in a place you really enjoy or head out early from a city you don’t find as interesting. It’s your trip, if you don’t like a particular place, don’t be afraid to admit it to yourself and leave early.
- Take Day Trips—As you look at your route on a map, you may discover that some places you want to see are actually pretty close to bigger cities you plan to stay in. Instead of spending a night in a small town, plan a day trip out of the city to check it out. You won’t have to worry about packing up and going to a new hostel, and you can get a break from the city.
If this is your first trip to Europe, think of it as a sampling of all the wonderful things Europe has to offer. Next time you visit, you may decide to take an extended stay in a place you really loved, and skip over a place you may not have enjoyed. Don’t worry, you’ll visit Europe again!
How Long Should You Spend in Each Country?
Which cities you want to visit while planning your Europe trip will determine how long you spend in each country. It’s always a good idea to give yourself more time rather than less so you can explore different places. Here’s a breakdown of each country and how long you should spend there based on the cities you could visit. Keep in mind that these timeframes are just a suggestion, and are meant to represent the absolute minimum recommended amount of time to spend in each location. Some people even choose to do a Europe trip package so they can see all these countries, and have it pre-planned for them.
England (4-7 days)
Assuming you only plan to visit the capital city of London, you should plan to spend at least 3-4 full days or 4-5 nights in this amazing city, preferably more. London has endless attractions, but some of the most popular are the many theatrical productions, shopping at markets like Portobello Road or Borough Market, incredible historical attractions, and beautiful parks to explore. If you plan to visit a city like Oxford or Stratford, you’ll need to add on an extra day or two to your time in England.
Germany (3-7 days)
Depending on how many cities you want to visit in Germany, you should plan a good amount of time to visit this beautiful country. Our time estimate for Germany assumes you might visit one large city like Berlin and two smaller cities like Cologne, Munich, or Rothenburg. Each of these cities offers incredible attractions in their own right and are certainly worth a visit.
As the capital and largest German city, you should plan 2-4 full days in Berlin to see the beautiful museums and explore the vibrant nightlife. Smaller cities, such as Munich, will only require 1-2 full days. Munich is also known as the home of Oktoberfest and beautiful German architecture. Cologne and Rothenburg are smaller cities that only take a day or two to explore, but both are beautiful in their own right.
Netherlands (3-6 days)
Spending 3-6 days (or 4-7 nights) in the Netherlands is a wonderful way to get a feel for the beauty of this incredible country. If you decide to go to the Netherlands, you should make certain to visit the country’s largest city, Amsterdam. While there, hop on your bike and tour the Jordaan, or head over to a park and enjoy a lunch while people watching. Because it is so close, you may even decide to make your home base in Haarlem (just 13 miles from Amsterdam), which features the beautiful Keukenhof gardens in the spring.
France (4-7 days)
Nearly everyone who dreams of traveling around Europe plans to visit Paris. With plenty of art museums to visit (such as Musée d’Orsay and The Louvre), The Eiffel Tower, street markets, incredible food, and dozens of beautiful cathedrals, it’s no wonder people flock to this great city. Visitors to Paris should ideally spend 2-4 full days exploring the city and possibly take a day trip to explore the nearby cities of Nantes and Versailles. Another small town to visit in Nice, which is located on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea and offers a respite from the congestion of Paris.
Italy (7-9 days)
There are so many incredible cities to visit in Italy alone, you could easily spend your whole two-week vacation in this one country. Because there are so many incredible places and several large cities in Italy, we recommend spending a bit longer in this country if you’re able. Some of the larger cities you shouldn’t miss are Rome and Florence, which require 2-4 days each, while smaller cities like Naplesand Venice can be seen in a day or two.
Spain (5-9 days)
Some of the most beautiful destinations in Europe are in Spain and visitors to large cities like Barcelona and Madrid won’t be disappointed by what they find there. Smaller towns like Seville are also worth a day or two. From cooking classes in Barcelona to partying in Madrid, there’s something for everyone in Spain.
A Quick Overview
Here’s a quick breakdown of the minimum amount of time you should consider spending in each location. This chart works under the assumption that you will visit at least one major city and one minor city in each country that you’re planning for your Europe trip.
|Country||Minimum Travel Duration|
|Czech Republic||3-5 days|
Of course, there are more countries than this in Europe, but this is a great place to start when planning your Europe trip. Although you could choose to squeeze in 3-4 countries during a two-week stay in Europe. We’d recommend picking a maximum of three countries (preferably two) so you don’t feel as rushed for time, or you can even opt for a Europe trip package. For more great tips on how to backpack through Europe, check out the Nomatic blog and start your Europe trip planner today.