You might have heard some stories about Europe. Your mind might have climbed the romantic Eiffel Tower, swam in the calm waters of the Mediterranean Sea or followed the traces of Count Dracula in Transylvania. So, why not use this year’s spring break or the summer holidays to turn these stories into your own real experiences.
The continent with more than 50 different countries and an even greater variety of languages and cultures seems far away. Yet, a flight to some western capital cities, like Copenhagen or London, only takes two hours longer than a flight to San Francisco. With modern amenities such as touchscreens, movie selections and game controllers on board, seven or eight hours pass by quickly. Expenses can be kept low as well. Some airlines such as Norwegian or Wow Air provide round trips starting at $300 – if you plan in advance, you can even get cheaper than that.
Once you have crossed the Atlantic Ocean, traveling can be very easy and fast-paced. Some budget airlines like EasyJet or Ryanair connect major cities for less than $25. Additionally, a bus company called FlixBus developed a widespread network across almost all the European countries. This development means you can pass one or more borders over night and find yourself in a completely different culture the next morning without wasting a fortune on rental cars.
Much more challenging than finding a way around is planning which points you want to connect on your individual European map. Depending on the length of the period you want to spend overseas, your personal interests and your preferences in terms of climate, some countries will appeal to you more than others.
For example, southern Europe offers great sand or stone beaches to relax from May until early October. If you do not travel within this period, a historical treasure hunt along the traces of the Roman Empire or ancient Greece is just as tempting. Do not be shy and try some local food or explore the numerous vineyards on your way, especially one-day bike tours which are good methods to enjoy these pleasures.
Middle Europe is mostly defined by its characteristic cities. London, Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam or Prague are only a few of the capitals that impress with their individual charm. However, smaller cities should not be left out on a successful trip since they are the ones that will make the picture of your visit complete. One of the easiest ways to include them in your journey is to choose random intermediate stops between major cities if you go by train or bus.
The most northern region, Scandinavia, is famous for its beautiful landscapes and open-minded population. If you are looking for an adventure in nature, this area is the best place to go, besides the Alps. While it can get quite cold and snowy in winter, renting a van and exploring the home of moose and reindeer from camping site to camping site is a romantic and thrilling experience in summer.
Wherever your heart wants to go, make sure to get some local experience and stay with Airbnb and Couchsurfing hosts. They will teach you more about each place than you ever thought. Also, try not to cover too many destinations within one trip. Europe is closer than you think. You can always come back. Spending a whole month in Ireland and the United Kingdom might be just as intense and satisfying as visiting two or three cities within one week, and you will not have to cope with too many different currencies at once.
With flight, destination and accommodations being set, you are good to go on your European journey. To end with the words of the French writer Andre Gide, “One cannot discover new oceans unless one has the courage to lose sight of the familiar shore.”