How to Plan an Epic 2 Week Europe Trip (+ Europe Itinerary Ideas!)Europe
Ready to plan a 2 week Europe trip but not quite sure where to start? We want to help!
Whether it’s your first trip to Europe or your tenth, there’s something simultaneously overwhelming and exhilarating about planning a trip through multiple countries that–for us and most of the readers of this blog post–lie across an ocean from home.
I’ll never forget planning our first 2 week Europe itinerary: I poured over flight schedules, bucket lists, budgets, and maps for months, desperate to pull together the perfect trip.
There were many, many lists involved in planning that first trip, and after months of planning, I emerged with an eclectic but incredible itinerary that kicked our love of travel into high gear.
In the summer of 2015, Jeremy and I spent a little over 2 weeks in Europe exploring Krakow, Budapest, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Zadar, Dublin, and the Cliffs of Moher (I told you it was eclectic!).
We’ve now cumulatively spent well over a year out of the past four or so traveling in Europe, falling in love with world-famous cities and less iconic locations alike, and there’s absolutely nothing we like better than helping people plan their own unforgettable adventures.
We’ve put together this 2 week Europe itinerary guide to help you plan your trip–here’s what you need to know before you go.
(Also, yes–this is an incredibly long post! We recommend using the table of contents right below this paragraph to help you navigate to different sections depending on what you’re hoping to read first.)
How to Use This 2 Week Europe Trip Guide
This 2 week Europe trip guide is designed for someone hoping to see the highlights of a few different European destinations, spread across multiple countries, in only a couple of weeks.
We’ve primarily written it for someone planning their first trip to Europe, but if this is your second trip, third trip, or beyond, hopefully we have some interesting ideas and tips for you, too!
And, of course, given that Europe is home to around 53 countries and is roughly the same size as the USA, no 2 weeks in Europe could hope to cover the entire continent or all of its numerous and distinct cultures, languages, and histories.
For ease of communication, we’ll talk in general terms about traveling in Europe here, but once you pick your destinations, of course you’ll want to follow up with further research on those specific locations.
And of course, once you’re further along in your planning process, we’d love to help you with some of that planning here on Our Escape Clause, too! You can use our Destinations page or the search bar on the top right of the page to find our content about various specific destinations across Europe.
Exciting 2 Week Europe Itinerary Ideas
While the number of possible 2 week Europe itinerary ideas is truly infinite–just look at the odd itinerary that I cobbled together for us in 2015 as an example–these possible itineraries outlined below should give you a good idea of what you can accomplish with around 14 days in Europe!
I truly struggled to narrow down these ideas–I could name off 10 more excellent 2 week Europe trips in an instant–but aimed to keep these mostly focused on destinations that are popular for first-time visitors to Europe, with just a couple of slight curve balls thrown in.
The Classic: London, Paris, Rome
As three of the world’s most beloved and celebrated cities, you can’t go wrong with splitting your 2 weeks in Europe between London, Paris, and Rome.
As the capital of an English-speaking country and home to an enormous airport hub, London makes logistical sense for a first trip to Europe hailing from North America–and, of course, it’s a truly fascinating city.
Visit Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, stroll through Notting Hill, snap photos of Big Ben, check out the Tower Bridge and Tower of London, visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, stop by Piccadilly Circus, ride the London Eye, and tour the British Museum… just to get you started.
The City of Lights is one of our favorite cities in the world and was also the first place we visited on our very first trip to Europe (we spent a week there and then planned our 2 week Europe trip outlined in the introduction of this blog post the following year).
Since then, we haven’t been able to stop going back, and believe that it’s an excellent addition to any 2 week Europe itinerary!
While you’re in Paris, visit the Eiffel Tower, marvel at the beauty of Sainte-Chapelle, tour the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, stroll the picturesque streets of Montmartre and the Latin Quarter, visit the Palais Garnier, discover hidden passages and tiny cafes, and soak up every minute of that Parisian charm.
Ah, Rome–if Paris is the first European city we fell in love with, Rome is probably our deepest love on the continent.
From wonders of Ancient Rome like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon to more recent additions like the Vatican Museums, Trevi Fountain, and winding cobblestone streets of Trastevere, exploring Rome is a captivating, engaging experience that we can’t recommend highly enough.
And, of course, you couldn’t ask for a better cuisine to savor during your 2 weeks in Europe: Rome is home to some of the best pasta in all of Italy!
Southern Europe Charm: Madrid, Rome, Amalfi Coast
Want your 2 weeks in Europe to focus on a delightful combination of history, food, and sunshine? Head directly to Spain and Italy!
While Barcelona gets all the love (and a lot of the crowds), we’re personally smitten with the Spanish capital of Madrid… and excellent flight deals from North America make it almost irresistible on a 2 week Europe itinerary.
In Madrid, you can admire world-class art in the Prado, soak in Spanish culture with a stroll through Retiro Park, eat all the tapas and churros con chocolate you can get your hands on, tour the Royal Palace, check out an Egyptian temple, and take day trips to fairytale towns like Toledo and Segovia.
I described Rome in the first Europe itinerary on this list, so I won’t repeat myself here, but as I sit typing this Europe travel blog post out in a Rome apartment while dreaming of the carbonara I’ll eat for dinner tonight, all I can say is: you won’t regret coming to Rome (and scroll up for more details).
The famed Amalfi Coast, with its dramatic cliffs, chic villages like Positano, delicious lemons, and jaw-droppingly beautiful hikes like the Path of the Gods, is a fabulous conclusion to any 2 week Europe trip–where better to relax than one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world?
While you’re there, be sure to make room for plenty of day trips: iconic locations like Capri and Pompeii, as well as less-popular but equally amazing spots like Ischia, Herculaneum, and Procida, are all at your fingertips.
Regal Central Europe: Prague, Vienna, Budapest
Sweeping boulevards, dramatic architecture, beautiful coffeehouses, and tasty comfort food: a trip to central Europe is an absolute delight.
In my opinion, this region truly shines during the winter months when Christmas markets are in full swing and the hearty cuisine keeps you warm from the inside out.
I’ll try to keep this section quite brief, as I’ve already written a detailed Central Europe itinerary here, but suffice it to say, we love it.
Known as the City of a Hundred Spires (and also for the fact that beer is cheaper than water here–true story), Prague is easily in the running for the most beautiful city in Europe.
The beauty of Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the famed Charles Bridge, and Prague’s well-known astronomical clock will all draw you in. If you have enough time, consider adding a day trip to a smaller Czech town like gorgeous Český Krumlov as well!
Regal and beautiful, all wide avenues and ornate buildings, Austria’s capital city is the perfect place to come to tour grand palaces, see a show in one of the world’s premier opera houses, and to enjoy cafe culture at its finest.
We absolutely adore Vienna’s coffee houses–be sure to try a slice (or several) of Esterhazy Cake while there, as well as Viennese hot chocolate.
As our favorite city in central Europe and one of our top 10 cities in Europe overall, I really can’t say enough about how beautiful Budapest is: it’s somehow, simultaneously, both grand and down-to-Earth, absolutely gorgeous while also remaining accessible, affordable, and fairly simple to visit and explore.
While in Budapest, go for a soak in the famous thermal baths, tour one of the most beautiful houses of Parliament in Europe, check out a castle, visit grand basilicas, take a boat ride down the Danube, and, if you’re up for a bit of adventure, even go on a cave tour!
Europe for Art Lovers: Paris, Florence, Venice
If you’re an art buff at heart, you can’t ask for a better sampling of some of the continent’s most beloved artistic cities than the trifecta of Paris, Florence, and Venice (and it certainly helps that each city is practically an art museum in and of itself).
From the Louvre to the Musee d’Orsay to the Orangerie to the Musee Rodin to the Centre Pompidou, it would probably take a lifetime to enjoy all the art museums in Paris alone–and of course, the city has so much more to offer once you need a break.
Nicknamed the Cradle of the Renaissance, Florence boasts the finest collection of Renaissance art on the planet–and claims many of its most famous artists as locals.
Michelangelo, DaVinci, Botticelli, and more all originally hailed from Florence, and their works are scattered about the city–perhaps most famously, Michelangelo’s David is in the Galleria dell’Accademia and Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus in the Uffizi.
Located an easy train ride away from Florence, Venice may be slightly less well-known for its art than the first two cities on this 2 week Europe itinerary, but there’s no doubt that there’s plenty to find, from the utter masterpiece of St. Mark’s Basilica (don’t miss a chance to go in!), to the incredible Doge’s Palace, to the famous Galleria dell’Accademia (not to be confused with the one in Florence!) that focuses mostly on Venetian artists.
Mix it up by adding a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which holds modern art, and a gondola ride–after all, Venice itself is no doubt one of the best artistic masterpieces in the city, and it deserves to be seen from all its best angles.
Food + History: Athens, Santorini, Istanbul
Feel like heading further east? Greece and Turkey pair very well for a 14 day itinerary–here’s what that might look like.
Start your trip in Athens, marveling at some of the world’s most remarkable ruins, including the famous Acropolis complex and museum.
Be sure to make time to explore non-ancient aspects of Athens as well, including the trendy Plaka neighborhood, Monastiraki Square (and nearby flea market!), and Syntagma Square.
And of course, one of the absolute best things to do after you touch down in Athens is dive into plate after plate of phenomenal Greek food–that alone is worth traveling to Greece for!
Truly, any one of Greece’s amazing islands would fit nicely into this 2 week Europe itinerary, but where better to choose than Santorini, with its iconic blue-and-white color scheme, fantastic caldera views, and excellent flight connections?
While Santorini isn’t best known for its beaches–you’re better off heading to Crete for those–you sure can’t beat the charming villages or stunning nature.
The city of two continents, where thousands of years of history blend together seamlessly with modern life, and where you can eat one of the best breakfasts you’ll ever experience in your life: Istanbul tops bucket lists around the world, and there is nowhere quite like it.
Marvel at the Blue Mosque, step inside the Hagia Sophia, eat your weight in Turkish breakfast (seriously, I can’t emphasize enough how tasty it is), admire the views of the Bosphorus, climb the Galata Tower, and shop your way through the Grand Bazaar.
Since this Europe travel blog post focuses on, well, Europe, I won’t sketch out any other possibilities further east in Turkey in detail–but if you have time, you could easily add a visit to Cappadocia, complete with a sunrise hot air balloon ride, to your trip, or even a visit to the ruins of Ephesus.
How to Get Around During 2 Weeks in Europe
Getting around in each individual city on your 2 week Europe itinerary is a question better suited to blog posts on that particular city, so this section is designed to address getting in between each destination during your 14 days in Europe.
We recommend checking several solutions for each destination, as you never know what will crop up!
Personally, our first 2 week Europe trip involved an overnight train, a budget plane ride, and a couple of rental cars.
Train travel is our absolute favorite way to travel in Europe: it’s much less stressful than traveling by plane, especially once you get the hang of it, far more comfortable, and for those of us hailing from North America, it’s a travel experience in its own right!
We recommend using services like Omio to compare train prices across multiple countries–it works more or less exactly like a car rental aggregate does, searching multiple companies and generating the best routes and prices for your dates.
Keep in mind that train travel is most useful in western and central Europe–once you head into eastern Europe and especially the Balkans, train travel becomes more limited and bus travel more common.
Search train routes and tickets prices in Europe today!
For those traveling on a budget or between two smaller destinations where rail travel isn’t an option, buses can be a very affordable choice.
In addition to standard local buses, companies like Flixbus provide an easy-to-use service, and you can check their prices and availability directly or through Omio as well (that way you can compare train tickets at the same time).
Search bus routes in Europe today!
With plenty of budget airlines and plenty of airports to choose from, if you plan wisely, it’s possible to take flights in Europe that are so inexpensive you wonder how the company pays for the fuel (seriously: 10 Euro flights are possible, though we’ve never actually managed to pay that since we prefer to check our bags).
When looking for flights within Europe, we recommend using Google Flights in order to search the whole continent at once (you can simply put “Europe” in as the destination, and it’ll pull up a map of prices).
With a little flexibility on destination (for example, maybe flying into nearby Bologna is cheaper than flying into Florence?) and even on dates if possible, you just might end up with an excellent flight deal or two during your trip to Europe.
Personally, we recommend avoiding a car rental when possible during your 2 weeks in Europe, especially if you’re following anything resembling a Europe itinerary like the ones I outlined above.
In large cities, rental cars are a hindrance and a liability, not an asset, and they add quite a bit to your bottom line.
That being said, if you’re planning on visiting any rural areas or small towns, road trips in Europe can be a delight–you could consider renting a car for a couple of days in Tuscany, for example, or to visit the villages of Provence.
If you do choose to rent a car, we recommend searching for the best prices through Discover Cars, which will allow you to search multiple companies at once and come up with a great option.
While major international carriers like Hertz and Enterprise are available in Europe, they’re not always the best deal, and searching a combination of local and international companies is best.
Price out rental cars with Discover Cars now!
Important Tips for Planning a 2 Week Europe Trip
Don’t plan to visit too many destinations.
With only around 14 days in Europe, I know it can be incredibly tempting to squeeze in as many destinations as possible (and I have many fevered outlines of ridiculously ambitious trips I planned in my college days to prove it), but your trip will go so much more smoothly if you can resist that temptation.
We recommend an absolute minimum of two full days per major city. Three or four is better and will allow you to potentially squeeze in a day trip from that city to a smaller city or village if you want to mix things up.
Start and end in a major airport hub.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same hub–more on that below–but there are definitely airports that are cheaper to fly into and out of for intercontinental flights than others.
Budapest may be affordable once you’re there, for example, but flying from the US directly to Budapest can hurt the wallet!
For those of you coming from the USA, London, Dublin, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Milan are a few places to check ticket prices for–that’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but there are often flight deals to these cities.
If you can, use an open-jaw ticket rather than a return ticket.
This will allow you to begin and end your 2 weeks in Europe in entirely different destinations, and let you avoid doubling back!
While one-way tickets can be pricier than round-trip ones, if you’re flexible on your dates and destinations (so deciding which cities to start and end in partially based on price), you can usually find excellent deals–that’s how we ended up flying into Krakow and out of Dublin for our first 2 week Europe trip!
You will be exhausted at some point. Plan for it.
Two weeks in Europe may not seem like a ton, but if you’re anything like us or virtually all of the travelers we have talked to, exhaustion will set in during your trip.
Sightseeing in Europe is fabulous, but it’s also tiring. Add in navigating cultural differences, language barriers, and moving countries every few days, and you’re bound to need a break at some point.
We recommend planning a couple of laid-back days without museum visits, tours, or day trips, so that you can catch your breath and avoid burnout.
Try to be flexible with where you go.
As you start pricing train, plane, and bus tickets for your trip to Europe, you’ll likely notice dramatic shifts–is it 4x the money to get to London instead of Amsterdam? Does traveling to Prague require a long flight and 2 layovers but Rome is a quick hop away?
If you can, be flexible when you come upon these challenges: we recommend having 1-2 “must visit” destinations and filling in the rest of your trip based on a combination of logistics and desire–after all, there’s no way you can see it all on a 2 week Europe trip anyway!
Don’t underestimate the time and energy it takes to change destinations.
“Oh, it’s only a 3-hour train ride away! That’s nothing!”
I think we’ve all said that at some point when planning a multi-country trip, but be cautious: 3 hours on the train doesn’t account for packing and unpacking, getting to and from the train station, checking out of and into a hotel… you get the picture.
If you’re looking at a high-level schedule without picking a specific date or time, you may also come to find that sure, there’s one direct 3-hour train between two cities… but it leaves at 10:00 PM or 6:00 AM, and the rest of the trains require layovers.
Or perhaps the direct train only runs 3 days a week.
Or maybe you’re looking at a plane, in which case, be sure to add at least 4 hours to your transit time: getting to and from the airport and security/check-in beforehand.
Long story short, travel days between countries are virtually always more tiring and time-consuming than they look at first glance, so don’t overcommit on those days!
Big cities are more accessible than small towns and nature areas.
For a first trip to Europe especially, big cities are absolutely the easiest to plan for: they’re generally easier and cheaper to get into and out of, and there’s far more information available about them online to help plan your trips.
That’s no reason not to visit other places too, of course–but keep in mind that the more rural the area, the more logistically challenging your trip will be.
Skip-the-line tickets are incredibly useful.
I’m sure it comes as absolutely no surprise that the world’s most iconic monuments and museums tend to get a bit crowded… and that makes skip-the-line tickets absolutely invaluable, especially with only 2 weeks in Europe to squeeze in as much sightseeing as possible.
In some places (like the Arc de Triomphe) they’re available without any additional fee, and in other places (like the Colosseum) they cost a bit extra.
Either way, though, it’s 1000% worth the price and effort to get tickets online beforehand for popular spots, especially if you’re traveling during the high season. We use them all over the continent and always book through Get Your Guide.
Book your hotels and major transportation in advance.
Before kicking off your 2 week Europe itinerary, we recommend having all of your hotels and major transportation (so travel between destinations) booked and ready to go.
This dramatically cuts down on stress levels, makes it easier to budget and plan out your days, and generally helps your trip run more smoothly.
Smaller things, like metro passes or tickets for getting around cities, can be handled once you arrive.
If you can, we recommend taking at least one food tour during your 2 weeks in Europe.
Food tours are one of our favorite ways to get our bearings in a new city while learning about the culture, history, and neighborhood through something we can all appreciate: a tasty meal.
We’ve taken food tours in several countries around the world, including many in Europe, and have never walked away unsatisfied!
Don’t expect to use the restroom for free.
Throughout Europe, public restrooms are generally available for a fee (typically either half a Euro or a Euro), so if you’d like to avoid those costs, be sure to take advantage of available restrooms in restaurants and museums as you sightsee.
Also, toilet paper is far from a guarantee in public toilets–we recommend carrying a small pack of tissues with you just in case.
FAQ For Spending 2 Weeks in Europe
Will I need an adaptor?
Most likely, yes!
Luckily, adaptors are cheap to buy and easy to carry–we recommend picking these up before you go.
Keep in mind that the UK and a few other countries (Ireland, Malta) use a separate plug from the bulk of the continent. If you’re heading to a place that uses UK plugs, you’ll want these adaptors as well.
Is a money belt a good idea?
It depends, honestly.
We used a money belt for our first trip to Europe and for a couple after that. We weren’t used to life in bustling big cities, and though we knew that thieves knew about them (because they definitely do), Jeremy found it comfortable enough to wear and it was an easy way to keep our belongings a bit more secure.
Today, we just leave our valuables in our Pacsafe and watch our pockets when out and about.
If you’re not used to traveling in a big city or watching for pickpockets, I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to use one–this is the one we used and we had no complaints–but I also don’t think it’s entirely necessary, especially if you’re comfortable in large cities.
Is the water safe to drink?
Usually, yes. We drink out of the tap just about anywhere in Europe.
In rare cases where the water is not safe to drink (usually in remote areas of southern and eastern Europe, or in very old buildings with iffy pipes), there will generally be large and obvious signs stating so.
If you’re worried about it, though, you can always ask your hotel concierge or host about it!
How extreme is the language barrier?
It varies significantly, of course, but generally, it’s not nearly as difficult as first-time visitors to Europe worry before they arrive (ourselves included).
We recommend learning basic phrases in the language of the countries you are visiting during your 2 week Europe itinerary, but this is usually more for good manners than out of necessity.
While you can absolutely find monolingual Europeans in virtually any country, especially in smaller cities and towns, the people employed in customer service roles and in the tourism industry in major cities–in other words, where most or all of your 2 weeks in Europe will likely take place–generally speak some English.
When should I tip?
While this is country and industry-dependent, generally speaking, tipping is not nearly as prominent in Europe as it is in the USA, and you’ll virtually never need to tip over 10%.
In some countries, you may also tip 5-10% at restaurants, while in others, you might round up the bill or leave nothing at all. Frequently, a “service charge” will be automatically supplied to the bill which serves the purpose of a tip.
For tour guides, a 10% tip is common.
How far in advance should I book my trip?
For plane tickets, as soon as you can commit to dates!
Not only will this allow you to have more time to plan and budget with a bit of structure, it will spread out your costs a bit more.
During peak seasons, like coastal locations in the summer or popular central European cities during the Christmas markets, you’ll want to book your hotels as far in advance as you can commit to them as well.
What to Pack for 2 Weeks in Europe
We’ve put together detailed packing lists for various seasons in Europe, so be sure to check out our complete suggestions for summer, fall, and winter before you head off on your 2 weeks in Europe, and go into far more detail on what to wear in Europe there–but here are a few essentials that should definitely be at the top of your list!
Travel Insurance — We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen, and it’s better to be safe than sorry during your 2 weeks in Europe. We use and recommend World Nomads for trips to Europe.
Pacsafe — We can’t recommend our Pacsafe enough: this travel safe is affordable, sturdy, easy to pack, and will help keep your valuables safe in your hotel room (not that you should need to worry much about theft from your hotel room during your trip to Europe, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!).
Comfortable Day Bag — We currently use Pacsafe’s sleek anti-theft backpack and love it, but if you don’t want to shell out the cash for this trip, that’s totally understandable. Just aim for something comfortable to wear, not flashy, and medium-sized–we used a Northface Jester backpack for years and loved it as well.
Travel Adaptors for Europe — If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll definitely need adaptors for your electronics. Be sure to check the requirements for any particular countries you visit–the United Kingdom, for example, is well-known for using different plugs than most of the continent.
Portable USB Charger — Don’t stress about your phone dying while you’re sightseeing: add a portable charger to your 2 weeks in Europe packing list.
Purell Hand Sanitizer — We carry this everywhere, and never been sorry to have it floating around in our day bag.
Travel Journal — If you want to keep a travel journal during your 2 week Europe trip but can’t commit to a huge amount of writing each night, I can’t recommend the One Line a Day Journal enough–I’ve been using it for more than two years now and absolutely love it.