Figuring out how to put together a Europe travel itinerary is a lot of work - where should you go in Europe, and when should you travel? Which cities make the most sense?
I've put together some sample itineraries for planning travel in Europe ranging from a short trip (2-4 weeks) to a long-ish trip (1-3 months).
These can help you get a sense of where and when to travel and a few of the fun seasonal happenings that occur!
Why are big cities most of the places listed?
More often than not you'll be arriving in one of the larger cities, whether that's through plane, train, bus, etc.
If you choose to venture into the smaller cities or towns, add 'em in! There are some incredible places in Europe beyond the large cities.
For the purpose of these itineraries, I'll mainly focus on the large cities and add a few day trip recommendations in here or there.
Can I travel for shorter or longer periods of time with these itineraries?
Absolutely! You don't have to feel constrained to the itineraries outlined below.
Use these as inspiration for planning your trip.
Once you get moving on the nitty gritty of the trip, you'll get more of an idea of which activities you want to do and the things you want to see so you'll be able to customize it. Make it the trip YOU want it to be!
Helpful posts on travel planning:
Let's get to it!
Ireland, Scotland, England
Dublin - Edinburgh - London
Rainy but radiant in life, culture, history, and people, these major cities in Ireland and the UK are not to miss if you're spending time in this region.
Plus, Irish people are some of the friendliest people I've ever met in my travels.
England, Netherlands, Belgium, France
London - Amsterdam - Brussels - Paris
These cities are diverse yet easy to move between, especially if you're traveling by rail.
Start in London and from Amsterdam make your way down to Brussels, then Paris. Another place to stop? I hear Brugges, Belgium looks like a scene from a storybook.
France, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany
Paris - Amsterdam - Copenhagen - Berlin
Instead of moving south like the previous itinerary suggests, this one moves north through Paris and Amsterdam (plus Belgium if you wish) on your way to Denmark and Germany.
Berlin is one of the coolest cities in Europe, filled with so much history and art! I recommend Berlin to anyone who likes big cities, history, and nightlife.
Porto - Lisbon - Seville - Madrid - Barcelona
Most people I talk to have been to Spain but never Portugal, which is a shame according to many people who have been to both! (I haven't made it to either yet since plans have fallen through on multiple occasions because of flight issues! I know, I know.)
Check out the vineyards in Porto, make your way to the capital, Lisbon, then move through beautiful Southern Spain up to Madrid, and lastly, Barcelona, for a unique spin on Spanish culture.
Venice - Florence/Tuscan region - Rome - Amalfi Coast (depending on season)
Ah, Italy. There is so much to do and see in Italy, and you can easily spend a whole trip there!
The trains are well-connected between Venice, Florence, and Rome, and if you're only able to see two cities in Italy, I recommend Florence and Rome.
While all cities in Italy are filled with incredible food, art, and history, there is nothing like seeing Rome's Colosseum or Roman Ruins in real life, or the historic artwork in Florence...
I added the Amalfi Coast on this itinerary as an option if you're traveling in the spring or summer as it is only a few hours south of Rome by train and is absolutely gorgeous.
(The Amalfi Coast is that beautiful beach destination that you've probably already seen all over Pinterest)!
Spain, Morocco, Portugal
Barcelona - Madrid - Morocco - Lisbon
This is one of my dream trips! Take a break from Europe and head into a completely different culture - Morocco in Northern Africa is very close to Southern Spain.
Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia
Barcelona - French Riviera - Cinque Terre - Amalfi Coast - Malta - Greece - Croatia
Going to Europe in the spring, summer, or early fall? The Mediterranean is where it's at.
Beautiful beach towns, boat cruising and sailing around islands, fresh seafood, lust-worthy hikes overlooking the sea, and summer night parties are what it's all about.
Simply writing the sentence above makes me want to plan a trip back to the French Riviera next summer...
This sample itinerary has MANY destinations so I'd recommend extending your trip to see them all, or choosing just a handful if your trip is short.
Austria, Czech Republic, Germany
Vienna - Prague - Berlin
I've done this route twice now for work! It's an easy way to get to these main cities, and if you're taking a bus or train you'll be in awe of the Czech countryside views out your window.
Vienna is the world capital of classical music as the likes of Mozart and Beethoven have lived in Austria's capital and Prague is just something so fun, cool, and beautiful that you just need to go in person. And you know how much I love Berlin.
Also, if you like to party, Prague and Berlin have plenty to offer for nightlife.
Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania
Berlin - Warsaw - Budapest - Romania
Eastern Europe. YES! So I have only been to Berlin and Budapest out of this trip, but I've heard some pretty awesome things about Poland, and the castles in Romania look like they're straight out of a fairytale...
This route is easy on the wallet, too - Berlin is one of the most affordable cities that's on the euro, and Poland, Hungary, and Romania all have their own currencies where the dollar/euro/pound goes very far.
Scandinavia & The Baltics
Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia
Reykjavik - Oslo - Copenhagen - Stockholm - Helsinki - Tallinn
Scandinavia is notorious for its high cost of living, so make sure you can afford to travel around some of these countries. This is also another longer trip, so feel free to pick a handful of the cities or extend it to get to them all!
Nonetheless, you'll find some of the most gorgeous northern landscapes (fjords, anyone?), saunas, and a lifestyle that sounds wonderful all-around...
One thing that's great about Iceland is that if you're flying between North America and Europe, you can easily do a stopover on your way. It breaks up the flights, plus you get to see a really, really cool country!
Southeastern Europe & The Balkans
Istanbul - Sofia - Bucharest - Budapest - Zagreb - Split - Rome
So I haven't been to all these cities (only Istanbul, Budapest, Split, and Rome), but this would be such a cool (and affordable!) itinerary. You can extend the trip and move from Croatia down the coast if you'd like, but I ended it with Rome if your trip is short and need to fly out of a big airport.
Istanbul itself has so much to offer, as it is literally the bridge between the east and the west. Seeing the blend of east and west in one city is hard to explain..."cool" or "awesome" doesn't do it justice.
Eastern Europe in general is far less expensive than Western and Central Europe, so if you have the time, consider exploring more of this region!
And go to Croatia (Zagreb, Split) and Hungary (Budapest) now - they're highly underrated countries that have been picking up more and more in the tourism industry.
Suggestions for 2-3 month trips in Europe
Traveling for 2-3 months or so?
Seasons are important to consider - not just for packing, but for activities and things to see as well.
Here are two longer-term itineraries I came up with based on whether you're traveling in the spring/summer or fall/winter:
Spring & Summer AdventurE
Western Europe: England, France, Italy, Malta, Spain, Morocco, Portugal
London - Paris - French Riviera - Lake Como, Italy - Florence - Rome - Amalfi Coast - Malta - Barcelona - Seville - Morocco - Lisbon - Porto
Tackle the big cities and soak up the sun on beaches, boats, and during festival season! The warmer months are a wonderful time to travel to Europe.
I'd recommend starting in the spring if you can, as crowds, lines, and prices tend to skyrocket in the summer as most people flock to Europe - especially Western Europe - in the summer months.
Keep in mind that August is a vacation month for many Europeans, and some stores and restaurants will be closed for either part of the month or until they re-open in September.
Sometimes you'll see "summer hours" where businesses close early or are only open certain days). Tourist attractions will typically remain open, though.
Fall & Winter Adventure
Central/Eastern Europe: Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany
Munich (Oktoberfest!) - Prague - Krakow - Budapest - Bratislava - Vienna - Slovenia - Venice - Interlaken - Munich or Berlin (Christmas markets!)
Oktoberfest is a must if you're in Europe during mid-September to the first weekend of October.
Enjoy the changing seasons up north, and closer to the Mediterranean you'll still revel in summer's last warm air until the seasons fully change.
Enjoy mountains, winter adventure sports, and if you're there in December - the Christmas markets! Many cities & smaller towns will have Christmas markets, so you don't have to go back to Germany, though that is where the Christkindlmarkt originated!
Pack layers for the seasons and bundle up in the winter :)
>>> NOTE: TOURIST VISAS: You also want to make sure your travel within your tourist visa timeframe! If you're from the US, you can travel in the Schengen period for up to 90 days. The Schengen area doesn't include all of Europe, so say for example you want to go to Ireland and/or the UK at the beginning or the end of your trip, that wouldn't count toward your 90 days in the Schengen. There's a lot more to it than this so do your research!
Book a Place to Stay in Europe
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!