If you have stumbled upon this article, then surely you must be planning to visit the land graced by majestic mountain ranges, humbling monuments, and magnificent sculptures – Europe. It is as much of a culture shock as it is a life-changing experience for everyone who is lucky enough to visit this wondrous continent. It is also perfectly normal to be apprehensive when traveling to Europe, more so if you are visiting it for the first time.
So, Here is a List of Important Tips For Travelling To Europe For The First Time:
#1. Pack light, but smart:
There are people who pack a whole summer’s worth of clothes and toiletries, thinking that they might not be able to find them in Europe. If you find yourself engulfed in such a thought process, think how more than half a billion Europeans can live without it.
Also, it is a very healthy practice to pack light as you will have the flexibility to go on that impromptu walking tour with your new friend whom you have just met on your flight. But do pack that extra pair of socks and underwear, you will surely need them.
#2: Learn the language, at least the basics:
Learning the language of the place surely goes a long way in giving you a wholesome experience everywhere you travel to. Basics like thank you, hello, please, good morning will definitely help you to get tips from the locals about where to eat and which places to visit. Saying a simple Danke to that German bartender may not fetch you a complimentary beer, but it surely will bring a smile to his face.
#3: Purchase a Eurail Pass:
The easiest and the most convenient means of traveling in and around the various countries in Europe is by train, and it is also a great way to visit the European countryside. The train system in Europe is very punctual, especially in Germany. If you are planning to visit a number of countries in Europe, getting yourself a Eurail pass will be the best decision that you will make. The price of the pass will work out to be cheaper than the individual tickets, with the added advantage of not having to experience the hassle of buying them over the counter and also being a lot more flexible with your plans.
#4: Beware of touts and pickpockets:
Next on the list of tips for travelling to Europe for the first time is to beware of pickpockets. You will encounter a lot of touts in various spots all over Europe, especially near popular tourist locations. Their favourite targets are obviously and most definitely the gullible first timers. They will try to dupe you into paying extra money by showing you the long queue outside the tourist locations and vouching that if you buy the tickets from them, they will offer a ‘skip the line’ feature. Beware of these empty schemes and offers. There is no harm in standing in line for something as worthwhile as the Louvre or the Musei di Vaticani. Who knows you can indulge in a meaningful conversation with the person in front of you.
On the other hand, if you are on a tight schedule, you can book tickets to some of the popular tourist locations in advance so that you can avoid the long queues. Also, most museums have free admission days, so do check ahead before purchasing the tickets. If you are a student, bringing your ID card will invite some more discounts. So always carry that ID card even if it’s a few months old.
Also, be extra aware of pickpockets roaming around dark secluded back alleys, especially in large cities such as Rome and Paris. Otherwise quite safe, pickpocketing is a major issue quite rampant in Europe, so do keep a wary eye out.
#5. Opt for Airbnb or hostels instead of hotels:
Instead of expensive hotels providing a sterile experience, you can opt for a more wholesome one by staying in an apartment through Airbnb. It can do wonders for you as you can discover a lot of neighborhood cafes and local markets. The added advantage could be that your host may accompany or guide you to many secret places that are away from the prying eyes of tourists.
You can also opt for a hostel in any of the European cities. They are quite centrally located and a lot cheaper than hotels and apartments. Also, hostels organize a number of fun events for their guests and these events are a great place to socialize and meet with fellow travelers.
If you are following a stringent budget, and want to save up on accommodation, you can always opt for couchsurfing. It is a large online community of travelers who share their spare rooms or couches with strangers for free. There are thousands of couchsurfers across Europe willing to host you and provide recommendations.
#6: Wear comfortable footwear:
One of the best ways to properly explore a city is walking around it. Cities like Prague, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam are perfect to explore on foot. Therefore, having a comfortable pair of shoes which can be used in all kinds of terrain – be it the cobblestoned streets of Venice and Paris, or the short hikes around Rome – is a definite must for your Europe vacation. It is needless to say that you would not want to waste a day or two from your vacation in Europe because of leg pains. So a comfortable pair of footwear will allow you to make the most of your Euro Trip.
#7: Take your time and do not over plan:
Last but definitely not the least, on the list of tips for travelling to Europe for the first time is – don’t over plan. Do not try to cramp your schedule in trying to accommodate all the places in a short span of time. It is perfectly normal to not want to visit some of the touristy places. Many people do not want to spend time waiting in line for getting a crash course in how the Heineken beer is brewed or spending an exorbitant amount of time trying to reach the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, to only be disappointed by it. Following the list of must-visit places of a place is not a mandatory task. You can always omit some of the things that do not interest you and spend that time in a nostalgia-inducing bookstore in Paris or a quaint little café in Venice.
Most importantly, enjoy your first experience of Europe and make the most of every moment spent there. A word of advice: take a lot of photos because they are the best souvenirs you can bring back from a place, but also know when to just put down that camera and take in that beautiful sunset over the canals of Venice.
Read how to travel in your budget and avoid over spending.