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Thinking of how to create the perfect Europe trip itinerary?
One of the most overwhelming and yet critical parts of any vacation, is nailing the itinerary.
However, when it comes to a continent as large as Europe, and as diverse as 50 odd countries, one can easily get lost.
After spending the last six years living and travelling here, I have some what nailed this down to an art.
In this post, I hope to help you form your own Europe trip itinerary in 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Figure out your must-see places.
If you are anything like me, you have probably dreamed about certain cities or regions you would love to visit. After all, the only reason you are traveling is to fulfil at least some of those wishes.
When trying to figure out your top must-see places, it’s good to keep in mind that you always have the option to return for another trip.
Trying to scram 45 cities in a two month trip will not only be a logistical nightmare, but will not let you really enjoy the cities you do end up visiting. Once you have shortlisted the top places you would like to visit, you can then go on planning the larger trip.
Step 2: Determine your route and the length of your trip.
The next step in planning your itinerary is to narrow down which places you would like to see. It helps to use a map or a trip planning app so that you can mark places and see what your route would look like.
Plan the length of your trip so that it can accommodate your route. A good formula to plan per city is to spend at least two nights in one place. You may want to push that to three or four nights for big cities such as Paris, London or Rome .
Anything less than two nights doesn’t give you enough time to see the city and really enjoy it, anything more depends on how flexible you are. If you plan to have day trips from your base city, make sure to add an extra day for that.
Step 3: Pick the cities you want to fly in and out of.
One critical aspect of planning an effective trip is to find the best return route. Assuming you are flying in, you need to pick which cities you plan to fly in and out of.
Some of the cheapest airports to plan a return trip are around the big cities, such as London, Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam. These cities give you maximum flexibility when it comes to choosing the best flights and to start your trip.
Naturally, these cities will also be the first and last on your trip, so figuring this out early on is a good idea.
Step 4: Decide the mode of transportation.
Once you have decided your entry and exit ports, the next thing is to decide how you will travel across cities. Each mode of transport has its own advantages and disadvantages and depending on your budget, you can pick a combination of the best options.
If you plan to skip long distances and let’s say go from Spain to Iceland, you may want to consider booking cheap flights for that.
The various ways to travel is by rail, buses or cars. We’ll discuss each aspect in detail in the next section.
Step 5: Plan an itinerary.
At this stage, you have to pen down a rough itinerary with the cities and sights you want to see at every step of the way.
You should also take into account major festivals, holidays or strikes in Europe which can help you avoid a mess when traveling on those days.
Adding in weekends to your travel, will also help you maximise your holidays from work.
We’ll discuss more ideas on sample itineraries in the next section.
Creating a perfect itinerary, at the end of the day, is in your hands. Since you know best, all the moving variables that may be an important consideration for you that may be entirely different for another.
You can feel free to add or remove cities, as best suit your plan. Some of the itineraries provide a return loop which starts back to the place you start.
However, in general if you plan to maximise your travel time and see the most places, it is a good idea to not take a u-turn and head back, especially if you plan to cover more than just one region in Europe.
Fly into London and spend a good solid three to four days here. If you are the type of person who loves big cities, London will not disappoint you.
There is enough to see and do for every type of traveler here. The only consideration you need to have, if you are not from a preferred list of countries, is that London is not included in the Schengen Visa and you may need a separate visa for stopping by here.
If visa constraints, exist simply replace London with other popular cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona or Berlin.
You can spend the remaining days in the city of love, Paris. For a first time-traveler, this is akin to the same feeling as seeing the Taj Mahal, when you visit India. Paris, is large, majestic and romantic, to say the least.
Start your trip by flying into Amsterdam, and fly out of Berlin.
One of my favourite cities in Europe, and definitely a stunner, Amsterdam makes for an excellent stop on a one week itinerary.
Beautiful canals, legalised coffee shops, amazing museums, great beer, beautiful parks, windmills and everything within a biking distance, what is not to like? Walking around in Amsterdam, feels like walking on a beautiful movie set, with the sky as the limit. Pretty much everything forbidden in the rest of the world, can be found here in some form or another, if you know what I mean.
Berlin, on the other hand is a historical and cultural hotspot. Each time I go to Berlin, I discover something entirely new. You can expect to learn a lot about the history of Germany, see a lot of great art, taste amazing international food, see a thriving counter-culture scene and experience, arguably the best techno clubs in the world.
This trip will take you across the best of Spain. Both the cities, are filled with multiple things to do so you can easily spend three to four days in each of the cities.
While you are in Spain, don’t forget to sample the amazing food, Tapas bars, wine and Spanish culture. The city beach in Barcelona is also quite fun on a warm summer day!
Prague → Vienna
Prague, as mentioned earlier is quite a delight. Vienna, on the other hand is a city famous for operas, imperial palaces and baroque streets. If you have a bit of time on your hands you can also make a day trip to Bratislava which is only an hour’s ride away. If you have longer than a week, you can easily add Budapest to your trip as well!
Copenhagen → Stockholm →Tallinn
This route helps you enjoy the best of the Scandinavian cities, with a touch of Baltic charm in Tallinn. Copenhagen and Stockholm are both cities that can be explored in two days each. You can visit this route by using high speed trains, and take the cruise from Stockholm to Tallinn for a unique experience.
I hope this post helps you plan a great Europe trip itinerary!
If you’re looking for a step by step guide on planning a Europe trip, check out my Europe trip planner here.
You may also find these helpful:
- Top 5 Most Beautiful Towns in Bavaria Germany
- Places To Visit In Netherlands- A Quick Guide
- The Ultimate Germany Travel Guide
- Sicily Holidays; 7 Travel Tips To Make The Most Of Your Trip
- Top 10 Cheapest Countries To Visit in Europe in 2019
Looking to book your next trip? Check out the following services I use and love:
- Kayak to find cheap flight deals.
- Rental Cars to hop on your next road trip.
- Booking.com to find a hotel deal.
- Hostel World to find a backpacker hostel.
- World Nomads to insure your travel.
- Viator to find a cool day tour.
- Or shop my Global Packing List.
Shruti’s a digital marketer by day and ninja travel blogger by night. Two years ago, she left her post-MBA life in India to chase some new adventures and now calls Germany home. On this website she shares her tips on how to travel smarter, cheaper and longer. When she’s not working or blogging, she is out exploring new places, mastering yoga challenges or sipping masala chai while scrolling through Instagram.