Europe Travel: The Basics
Europe Travel is designed to help you plan an independent vacation in Europe. If you're not planning a coach tour, we've got lots of travel planning information for you.
Realize, of course, that different folks have different feelings about travel planning. There's no "best" way to plan your travels and no "best" destination. It all depends upon your needs and desires.
I have traveled to Europe at least once a year since 1976. I consider myself a footloose traveler; I only plan what is absolutely necessary. In my world, leaving things to chance is a way of getting close to a culture, you never know who you'll meet or what little unpublicized local festival there might be waiting for you until you're there. Sure, you can get burned and have nothing to do for a while. But you can also have time to visit museums you hadn't planned on, or time to sit at a cafe and meet the locals. If you'd like to see how I do it, see How I Travel.
European Countries covered on Europe Travel
This site, Europe Travel, only covers western Europe, specifically: Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, England, France and Monaco, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland and (for some reason) Turkey. Even the principality of Liechtenstein is represented on Europe Travel. If you're looking for Eastern European destinations, check out Eastern Europe Travel.
New To Traveling Europe? Need advice on traveling for the first time?
If this is your first or second time planning a European vacation and you don't know exactly what you need and how far in advance of your trip you might need it, see our Europe 101 article - Europe Travel 101 - Before you take that first trip to Europe. You'll find a timeline for what you need to plan and when.
Suggestions for People unsure of a Destination
Starting your vacation planning with a clean sheet of paper can be fun, but if you've no idea where you'd like to go maybe it's best to try a whirlwind tour through as much of Europe as you can. Sure, people will laugh at you, "Geez, 12 countries in three weeks, you wanna kill yourself on vacation or something?" but you'll get an overview of your favorite areas. My first trip to Europe lasted almost seven weeks. I spent a week in London, a week in Paris, and then started to really travel (via Eurail pass), going to Tours, Nantes. Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Marseilles, Milan, Florence, Basel, Amsterdam and back to London. It gave me quite a few ideas for further travel and I got my money's worth out of my train pass for sure. You might want to plan a modern version of the European Grand Tour.
Another way to plan is to pick one of Europe's great Summer festivals and plan around it. If it's big and well known, like Sienna's palio, you'll have to make arrangements far in advance, but you'll be rewarded by being part of a fading tradition of life-affirming (and often quite spiritual) ritual with ancient roots.
Even if you like odd things you didn't think you'd find in Europe, say islands with pineapple and tea plantations and a lush, tropical elegance to them, you might find it in places like the Azores.
Perhaps you like specific bits of geography. I prefer a lakeside perch to an oceanside one. Here are some of my favorite lakes to visit in Europe. As I get older, I prefer the quiet and easy living of rural Europe. Here's a categorical list of what I call the Best of Europe, but really they are places I really, really, enjoy and would return to in a flash.
Another way to see a part of Europe is to volunteer. You won't have to just stand there and look at an ancient cathedral, you can help rebuild it! And just about everyone I know wishes they could work on an archaeological dig. Well, why not do it in Europe? It's a great way to learn about local customs, ancient and modern. Yeah, we've got a volunteer page too.
Travel for your health? Yes, Europe has a dusting of spas with healing waters that have been used for well-being since Roman times.
And if you happen to be a visual learner like I am, perhaps you'll want to plan your vacation by looking at pictures in our Europe Pictures Gallery.
Off Season Europe
If you're unsure of the weather when you travel outside the summer tourist season, you might want to consult our Europe - Climate - When to Go links.
Articles on Europe Travel
Each week I write an article or two about different European destinations or things to do on your European vacation. You can check out our Europe Travel Blog frequently, or sign up for our free newsletter and/or rss feeds.
OK, I've read just about everything and I've still got a question on Europe Travel
There are other travel sites here on the About network that are focused on a single European country. If you have questions that aren't answered here about one of them, you might try these sites:Italy Travel
United Kingdom Travel
There are also sites that go into detail about popular Europe travel destinations:Amsterdam
And don't forget the meta-site for Eastern Europe: Eastern Europe Travel
Have fun planning your Europe Travel.