30 Best Europe Itineraries for First-Timers

30 Best Europe Itineraries for First-Timers

This is a great list of 30 Europe itinerary ideas - great for those traveling to Europe for the first time! This list is split up by region (Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Mediterranean, etc.) ranging from simpler itineraries to longer ones! / goseekexplore.com

Europe is without a doubt one of the most popular places for travelers to flock to, and for good reason: the continent is vastly diverse, has ages of history to learn about and experience through first-hand activities, and there are endless amounts of fun activities to do and food to try!

Whether you're up for touring historical sites or down to party and eat some great food, here are 30 great starter itineraries to try if you're headed to Europe for the first time (or have yet to go to these particular places yet)!

This post has some great ideas and itinerary suggestions in Western Europe, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe, based on my own experiences traveling Europe, being a tour guide at a study abroad company, teaching at international conferences in Europe, and selling international tours when I worked at a different travel company for a bit.

While I wouldn’t say I’m an end-all-be-all expert for Europe, I’ve lived and traveled through many amazing destinations over multiple visits so I have some good tips to share with you!

Quick tip: Stick to your must-see cities and must-do activities

 Paris, France

Paris, France

Also, you’ll notice some itinerary suggestions with multiple cities or simply 1-2. Depending on the length of your trip or how in-depth you’d like to be with a city or country, it may be more worth your time to stick around one city or country.

There is plenty to see all over Europe and it’s impossible to do it all in one trip!

Say you want to go wine tasting all over Italy and join local food tours; there’s plenty of that for a full trip without also trying to go to WWII concentration camps, see a show in London, go to the Louvre in Paris, and browse the markets in Istanbul.

It’s tempting to try to cram it all in during one visit, but if your trip is less than a month, stick to the cities you absolutely want to see with activities you for sure don’t want to miss!

Great Itineraries for Western Europe

 Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy

Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy

Western Europe is most popular for travelers from all around the world.

If you’re an English-speaker, you’ll find it easiest to communicate in English in the UK and Ireland, though there are many people all over Europe who speak English as their second (or third, fourth, fifth) language and may see signage translated to English below the main language in some countries. Don’t let the language barrier stop you from visiting non-English speaking countries!

Quick tips for Western Europe:

  • If you choose to go to London for part of your trip, there is the Eurostar underground train/chunnel that connects you to Amsterdam, Brussels, or Paris.

  • If you are flying an airline that has free stopovers in Iceland (such as the popular Iceland Air), then you can stop in Reykjavik and make a trip out of it between North America and Europe.

Here are some fun Western Europe itineraries to consider:

 View from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France

View from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France

1. London and Paris

2. London, Paris, Rome

3. London, Amsterdam, Brussels

4. Paris (because yes, you can spend a lot of time enjoying the city of Paris!)

5. Paris and French Riviera

6. Iceland and Paris

7. Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast

8. Florence and Rome

[Check out my comprehensive Italy Travel Guide here]

9. Norway, Denmark, Sweden (note that Scandinavian countries are pretty expensive)

10. Barcelona

11. Madrid and Barcelona

12. Barcelona, Florence, Rome

Book a Place to Stay in Europe

 View out my hotel window in Paris, France   (here’s the link to the hotel if you’re curious!)

View out my hotel window in Paris, France (here’s the link to the hotel if you’re curious!)

My all-time favorite booking website is the well-known Booking.com - I’ve used it for years all over the world.

It is the easiest way to search and find the best hotels (hostels too!), especially based on reviews. I always check the reviews on Booking, even if it’s a name-brand hotel. You never know! 

Great Itineraries for Central Europe

 View from a balcony at Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

View from a balcony at Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Some people stick to dividing Europe into west and east, though there is a unique flair to Central Europe and plenty of amazing destinations to consider.

What’s great about Central Europe is that you tend to get a taste of both Western and Eastern Europe in these cities, and if you want to go between a city like Paris, connect in Prague, and make your way east to Budapest, it’s quite easy.

Note that you’ll see Venice, Italy on here - Italy is often considered Western Europe even though geographically it is more in the middle, sometimes people consider it to be central. Venice is in the northeast of Italy.

Here are some fun Central Europe itineraries to consider:

 Krka National Park waterfalls, Croatia

Krka National Park waterfalls, Croatia

13. Berlin and Munich, Germany

14. Vienna, Prague, Berlin

15. Prague and Budapest

16. Venice, Slovenia, Croatia

17. Croatian Islands

Great Itineraries for Eastern Europe

 Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Ah, Eastern Europe is incredible yet much less visited than Western and Central Europe. There are some amazing gems out east, far cheaper prices on almost everything (many countries in Eastern Europe are not on the euro and instead use their own currency), and tend to have less tourists. Keep in mind you’ll see even less people speaking English as a second/third language in many parts of Eastern Europe.

Here are some fun Eastern Europe itineraries to consider:

 Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

18. Greece - Athens and the islands

19. Krakow (Poland), Budapest

20. Balkans: Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro (popular with boating/sailing trips)

21. Istanbul

22. Istanbul and other Turkish cities

23. Baltics: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

24. Bucharest (Romania) and castles

Great Itineraries for Mediterranean Trips

 Lemon groves in Sorrento, Italy

Lemon groves in Sorrento, Italy

The Mediterranean Sea - which divides Europe from Africa - is home to some of the most beautiful blue waters and surrounding by stunning coastline. Some of my favorite memories include driving along the winding coastal roads, looking at the sparkling waters below.

Here are some itineraries along the Mediterranean to consider:

25. French Riviera: Nice, Cannes, Eze (this part of France has super easy regional train to get to all of these little towns)

26. Amalfi Coast, Italy: Sorrento, Positano, Capri Island

27. Barcelona, Nice, Cinque Terre and Florence

[Check out my packing guide for traveling Europe in the Spring and Summer!]

Great itineraries for Fall and Winter Europe Trips

 View from the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria region, Germany

View from the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria region, Germany

The fall and winter seasons is one of the best times to go to Europe! Summer tends to have heavy crowds and hot humidity, whereas the fall is cooler and winter has plenty of seasonal activities.

You’ve got Oktoberfest in Germany happening at the end of September-early October, Christmas markets in December in many cities all over Europe (though they originate in Germany), the alps - beautiful mountainous regions in Switzerland, but also parts of Austria, Germany, and Italy, and the potentiality of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland or Scandinavia.

[Check out my packing guide for traveling Europe in the Fall and Winter!]

28. Interlaken (Switzerland)

29. Florence (Italy), Innsbruck (Austria), Bavaria (region in Southern Germany) and Munich

30. Christmas in London

Book a Place to Stay in Europe

 Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

My all-time favorite booking website is the well-known Booking.com - I’ve used it for years all over the world.

It is the easiest way to search and find the best hotels (hostels too!), especially based on reviews. I always check the reviews on Booking, even if it’s a name-brand hotel. You never know! 

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