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 pored over flight schedules, bucket lists, budgets, and maps for months, desperate to pull together the ultimate Europe trip.
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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 years of our lives 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.
Over the years, we’ve explored the continent in almost every way possible, from backpacking Europe on a budget for 2 weeks to checking into luxury hotels to playing tour guide for family and friends to finally spending more than a year living in Lisbon, Portugal!
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 blog 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 more than 50 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 itinerary, of course, you’ll want to follow up with further research on the specific locations you’ll be visiting.
And, 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!
We’ll link to relevant blog posts throughout this travel guide, but given the hundreds of posts we have on the site, we won’t be able to link them all!
You can use our destinations page or the search bar on the top right of the page (on desktop) or at the top of the pop-out menu (on mobile) to find our content about various specific destinations across Europe or general travel tips.
For example, a few of our most popular guides that might come in handy next include our guide to traveling Europe by train, our 75 best Europe travel tips, and our (biased) guide to the best cities in Europe.
Exciting 2 Week Europe Itinerary Ideas
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.
However, the sample itineraries for Europe 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 10 more excellent 2 week Europe trips in an instant, and still feel like I was leaving so much on the table.
I 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 the Tower of London, visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, stop by Piccadilly Circus, ride the London Eye, and tour the British Museum.
… And that’s 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.
Our full guide to planning your first trip to Paris can help you get started!
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).
And, while I detailed some of Rome’s highlights above, let me also say… don’t forget to get off the beaten path in the Eternal City, either!
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 when staying on the Amalfi Coast.
(Also, if you like page-turning novels about friendship and Italy, I highly recommend reading Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend series before coming or while visiting Europe).
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, full of spacious, wide avenues and ornate buildings, Austria’s capital city is the perfect place to come to tour grand palaces (Schonbrunn is one of the most popular), see a show in one of the world’s premier opera houses, and to enjoy European 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.
The city’s famed Spanish riding school and striking St. Stephen’s Cathedral are also worth adding to your list!
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!
Th city is 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!
Be sure not to miss the great food, either–Budapest’s hearty cuisine is a delight, and one of our all-time favorite wine tastings took place there!
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 is in the Uffizi Gallery.
And of course, no art-focused trip to the Cradle of the Renaissance can overlook Florence’s iconic Duomo, a masterpiece of the era!
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, Venice is an art lover’s dream.
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.
The Incredible Iberian Peninsula: Lisbon, The Algarve, Andalucia
The Iberian Peninsula is dominated by Spain and Portugal, and while I might be biased after spending more than a year living in Lisbon, it makes for an unforgettable Eurotrip!
(The fact that there are often flight deals from the US to Lisbon and Madrid doesn’t hurt, either).
There are infinite ways to craft southern Europe itineraries out of these two countries, but here’s one great option…
Start your trip with a few days in Lisbon, Portugal’s trendy capital city, soaking up beautiful views from its many miradouros, sampling Portuguese food (starting with pastéis de nata), touring the incredible Jerónimos Monastery, and taking day trips from Lisbon to nearby gems like Sintra.
Be prepared to head up and down a lot of hills while you’re there–but Lisbon is worth the climb.
If you’re looking for neighborhoods to wander through, Alfama, Castelo, Chiado, and Bairro Alto are particularly picturesque–keep an eye out for trams, azulejos, and peacocks as you explore!
And, while Lisbon’s top attractions are definitely worth a visit, seeking out some of the many hidden gems in Lisbon will add extra beauty to your trip.
After saying goodbye to Lisbon, head south of Portugal’s Algarve for a dizzying array of whitewashed villages (you’ll find many of the best beach towns in Portugal here) and a picturesque coastline.
Lagos is one of the most popular places to stay, and we can highly recommend it–don’t miss the famous Ponta da Piedade, which photos can’t do justice to.
Nearby attractions (ideally, you’ll want to rent a car in the Algarve) include the famous Benagil Cave and the unmissable Seven Hanging Valleys Trail!
For the second week of your trip in Europe, cross the border into southern Spain (note: there’s no direct train access for this journey, but there are buses).
Split your time between any two of Andalucia’s incredible cities, taking nearby day trips from there.
Seville (with its Alcazar and famous Plaza de Espana), Granada (home of the Alhambra), and Cordoba (home of the Mosque-Cathedral, one of the most unique houses of worship in the world) are all wonderful inland options.
On the coast, options include Cadiz, Malaga, Marbella, Tarifa, and many more.
With a bit more than 2 weeks in Europe or an ambitious schedule, you may be able to squeeze in a day trip to Gibraltar and/or Tangier, Morocco while here!
Food + History: Athens, Santorini, Istanbul
Feel like heading further east–as far east as you can get during a Europe vacation?
Greece and Turkey pair very well for a 14 day European 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 to dive into plate after plate of phenomenal Greek food–that alone is worth traveling to Greece for (our Athens food tour remains one of my favorites that we’ve taken in Europe).
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.
Architecture + Culture: Cologne, Amsterdam, Belgium
With this small triangle of destinations, you can easily visit separate countries via train, with very little travel time between them!
And, if you were particularly motivated to add another, you could even squeeze in a day trip to Luxembourg.
If you’re looking for a winter itinerary for Europe that focuses on cities, this is a fantastic option.
Home to a stunning cathedral and what may just be the best Christmas markets on the planet, Cologne is a gorgeous German city that is a delight to explore on foot.
Don’t miss its soaring Gothic Cathedral while you’re there!
… Though honestly, that would be hard to do, considering you can see it right as you step outside the train station.
As one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe, Amsterdam requires no introduction.
The city of canals, biking, and revelry is somehow even more beautiful in person than in the billions of photos of it.
While you’re there, be sure to take a canal cruise, stroll the 9 Streets, and visit at least a couple of the city’s museums (the Anne Frank House is incredibly moving).
If you visit during winter, you’ll no doubt need to bundle up–but the lack of crowds in this often-packed city is also a treat to experience.
Perhaps it may be slightly unfair to list Belgium entirely while the other destinations are split into cities… but considering Belgium’s two most popular cities, Bruges and Ghent, are located less than an hour apart by train, you can cover quite a bit of the country in a few days!
With stunning architecture, canals, and carbs (bring on the waffles and frites), it’s easy to have a blast in Belgium.
Winter in Belgium brings a lack of crowds and plenty of festivities during the Christmas season!
Alpine Escape: Bavaria, Switzerland’s Jungfrau Region, Milan, and Lake Como
If your dream Europe trip involves plenty of Alpine views with a side of cities, this is the itinerary for Europe in 2 weeks for you.
Start your trip in Bavaria, the land of castles, beer, and outdoor delights.
City lovers will enjoy being based in Munich (don’t miss the opulent Munich Residenz or view from St. Peter’s Church and/or the Town Hall Tower while there).
From Munich, you can easily day trip to more mountainous areas, starting with Fussen, home to Germany’s famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
If you get good weather and want see as many mountains as possible, a day trip to the Zugspite–the highest point in Germany–is also an option.
Really, though, if there’s one thing to prioritize in Munich, it’s to eat and drink all the sausage, pretzels, beer, and beyond you can get your hands on!
Switzerland’s Jungfrau Region
I am convinced that Switzerland’s Jungfrau region–located around (literally, above) Interlaken–is paradise on earth in the summer.
If you’re dreaming of the Alps, check into a hotel in Wengen, Murren, or Grindelwald (for the best views) or Interlaken (for a bit more selection) or Lauterbrunnen (to be in the literal center of the action) and have the trip of your dreams.
Switzerland’s legendarily efficient trains and gondolas mean that wherever you stay, the region is at your fingertips.
Hiking from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidigg, riding the highest train in Europe to Jungfraujoch (aka the “Top of Europe”), eating daily fondue, walking from Murren to Gimmelwald, and riding a historic cogwheel train to Schynige Platte are just a few of the unforgettable experiences you’ll find here.
Milan + Lake Como
End your trip to Milan and Lake Como, two of the most popular destinations in northern Italy!
In Milan, be sure to visit its legendary Duomo, stroll through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, visit Sforzesco Castle, and, if you can get tickets (plan ahead!) see Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
At Lake Como (just an hour north of Milan by train), take a boat tour around the lake and visit delightfully charming towns like Varenna and Bellagio while admiring magnificent Alpine views.
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 (here’s our guide to getting from Lisbon to Porto, for example), 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.
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).
Browse 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 for a combination of local and international companies is best.
Personally, we have absolutely no loyalty to any one rental car company, and book with whoever is most affordable (and we always buy the extra insurance).
Don’t forget boats when it comes to planning a 2 week Europe itinerary, especially over the summer!
While ferries between or to/from islands are obviously the most popular (Dubrovnik to Hvar, for example, or Barcelona to Mallorca), there are longer ferry options as well!
Last summer, we took a ferry from Barcelona to Rome and loved the experience of drifting along the Mediterranean Sea for 24 hours!
Many ferry routes are seasonal, but not all.
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.
By full days, I mean with limited exceptions (like a red-eye flight that lands at 8:00 AM, the day you arrive and the day you depart don’t count as a “day” in a given city–just as a travel day.
Three or four days per city is even 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, Lisbon, Frankfurt, 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 and from 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
This is exactly 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.
Three 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 when planning your ultimate Europe trip!
Big cities are more accessible than small towns and nature areas.
For the first trip to Europe especially, big cities are absolutely the easiest to plan your itinerary for Europe around.
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.
And, in 2023, it’s worth pointing out that given ever-changing capacity limits, it’s a better idea than ever to book in advance–and for some attractions, it’s even required!
In the last few years, many of the most popular museums and monuments in Europe found that life was easier with reservations and online bookings, and have continued prioritizing that system over traditional lines-and-ticket-booths even as crowds returned to “normal”.
We use skip-the-line tickets all over the continent and book them 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.
These days, we book virtually all of our lodging (including apartments, farm stays, houses, and more) through Booking.com.
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!
You do need to pay to use the restroom… sometimes.
Throughout Europe, public restrooms are generally available for a fee (typically either half a Euro or a Euro).
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 guaranteed in public toilets on the street.
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 them 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 necessary, especially if you’re comfortable in large cities.
Is the water safe to drink?
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!
Is it worth going to Europe for 2 weeks?
This is a pretty common question, and honestly, I get it: with long and expensive flights, it’s easy to wonder if flying to Europe for “only” 2 weeks is worth it.
But yes, it absolutely is!
Two weeks in Europe is long enough that you’ll have plenty of time to get past jetlag, visit several destinations, and have a wonderful trip packed with memories.
Now whether or not it’s worth flying to Europe for just one week is a bit more controversial… but we love to travel Europe so much that we still say yes (for some people).
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.
How many European countries should you visit in 2 weeks?
For most travelers, we recommend roughly 3 “base” destinations for a 2 week Europe trip, plus a couple of day trips from there to mix things up.
These can all be in one country (for example, here’s how we recommend spending 2 weeks in Italy), or they can be in 3 separate countries!
There are plenty of exceptions to this standard layout, of course, but it’s a doable but exciting number of destinations to work with for most 14 day Europe itineraries.
When should I tip?
While this is very 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.
What’s the best month to visit Europe?
All of them, except August.
I kid–somewhat–but honestly, every single month in Europe has its perks!
For a concise answer, the late spring (April-May) and early fall (September-October) are considered ideal by most travelers.
August is specifically difficult because it’s not only very hot in many of Europe’s most popular destinations, but most Europeans take vacations then, so many places (especially in the mountains and on the coast) are at their priciest.
If we absolutely had to visit Europe only during one month for the rest of our lives, we’d pick September, though October is a very close second.
What’s the cheapest month to visit Europe?
It depends–trying to spot the northern lights in Tromso would be one exception to this, for example–but for standard first time Europe itineraries like the ones I outlined in this blog post, January and February are often the cheapest months to visit.
When the Christmas markets are over and the gray weather settles in, you can score great deals on vacations in Europe (and have plenty of room to stretch out at iconic monuments).
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, but it will also spread out your costs a bit more.
During peak seasons, like coastal locations in the summer or popular destinations during the Christmas season in Europe, you’ll want to book your hotels as far in advance as you can commit to them as well.
Can you do Europe for $100/day?
This depends a lot on the traveler, group size, etc, but my initial, instinctive answer is:
If you don’t include plane tickets to and from Europe, yes, absolutely, without a doubt–we’ve done it many, many, many times (as a couple).
The key is to shop for deals, visit during the off-season, not shy away from less common destinations (especially in Eastern Europe and the Balkans), and travel slowly.
The fewer destinations you visit, the cheaper a trip generally is!
If you want to stick to Western Europe, southern Spain, southern Portugal, and southern Italy can all be bargains (as compared to places like Paris and London) as well.
Here’s how we manage our travel budget.
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 spring, summer, fall, and winter before you head off on your 2 weeks in Europe.
We go into far more detail on what to wear in Europe there!
To get you started, though, 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.
Check travel insurance policy inclusions and prices for your trip here.
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.
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 5 years now (I’m on my second volume!) and I absolutely love it.
53 thoughts on “How to Plan an Epic 2 Week Europe Trip (+ Europe Itinerary Ideas!)”
Great post! I’m actually working on my own 2 week itineraries through Europe post, but I might wait to publish until next year, when I’ve visited a few more spots. I totally agree that the key is to slow down and not switch cities every day or two. Three nights is perfect and sometimes more for the big cities. And yes, multi-city flights are so helpful so you don’t have to backtrack!
Thanks, Riana! We definitely love to slow down whenever we can. 🙂
This is the BEST post related to Europe Itinerary out of the 1000 other posts that I have checked.
I am from India and I am planning for a trip in February end.
I definitely want to visit FINLAND (so that’s definitely in my list). From there, I am planning for
Bupadest,Croatia OR Budapest, Prague OR Budapest/ Vienna.
Do you think this will be good for 2 weeks?
Waiting for your reply. And thanks a ton for such a beautiful detailed post.
Thank you so much, Akshay, that’s wonderful to hear!
That sounds like a wonderful itinerary. Croatia is a bit further out of the way than the other places, but it’s peaceful and beautiful during the winter and fairly simple to get to via a budget flight.
Hope you have an incredible trip to Europe!
Oh my goodness Kate, thank you so much for this post! This is exactly what I needed for my boyfriend and I to plan our trip to Europe in 2020. We want to visit Italy, Spain, France, and England but Greece and Croatia look amazing too! It’s so hard to decide.
Thank you, Jessica! So glad you found our blog helpful.
It is SO hard to decide, and honestly, it never gets any easier in my experience! All of those places are absolutely amazing, so no matter what you decide I’m sure you guys will have an incredible trip.
Italy, France, and Spain are really easy to pair together if you want to keep logistics simple, but really any combination of those would work.
What about panning around the seasons? Isn’t the Amalfi coast and Italy in general super hot during August?
It’s always nice to plan around the seasons when you can, but it depends on your availability!
Italy can be hot in August but it depends very much on where you go. It averages around 85 F / 30 C on the Amalfi Coast in August, which I have to admit isn’t enough to bother us, but it depends on where you’re coming from. It is high season there, though–very, very generally speaking, August is an expensive and crowded time to visit beaches in Europe because it’s when many Europeans tend to take their vacations and head to the coast!
Planning a trip in 2023-24 for my daughter’s graduation present. I was thinking maybe 2-3 weeks. On this trip, how much did you spend in total? I might end up being more because I usually pay for more luxurious than most, but will help with a little expectation of costs plus COLA increases obviously over the years. I figured I should start planning and saving now. lol
Hi Steven! We put this together based on years of traveling in Europe, so unfortunately I don’t have a specific figure to offer. So much varies, and can be impacted by where you go, how fast you travel (ie, how many times you change destinations), of course luxury as you mentioned, etc, etc. Generally speaking, for two people, I would say that $100/person/day is a good lower-midrange figure to calculate (excluding airfare), $200/person/day starts edging toward luxury territory, and of course, the sky is the limit.
That’s INCREDIBLY general, though. You’d be better off narrowing down which countries you plan to visit and calculating based on how long you plan to spend in each of them.
A few things to look at to give you an idea: price of hotels, price of day tours, projected cost of moving between destinations, and average cost of a meal. Those figures should give you a backbone to estimate a budget from.
What brand are the boots you are wearing in the photo “Comfortable Day Bag.” My wife loves them. Gift idea for when we go to Europe 🙂
Those are Ugg Kesey Motorcycle boots, and I love them too! Just got them out again for fall last week. 🙂
I am planning to visit europe sometime in 2023(may/june) with my wife and son. Could you please guide me with an itinerary for 15 days Or so?? Swiss, italy, France, spain. After that we will go to a friend in England. If possible, the expenses involved as well. Thanks
Hi Abhijit! I’m not a travel agent, so that’s a bit beyond my scope. 🙂 Generally speaking, though, I’d recommend parring your itinerary down to 2 countries, or 3 at the absolute maximum. 4 countries in 15 days is a lot of travel! Luckily, all of those destinations pair well together, so you can mix and match fairly easily. Also very generally speaking, Italy and Spain will be the most affordable, and Switzerland by far the most expensive–but that depends a lot on where you go and what you do!
Hey Kate, All your pictures are amazing! What kind of cameras do you bring with you? And do you edit your photos? If so what do you use for that, they are all really bright, great pictures.
Hi Stefanie! Thank you so much! We’ve used different cameras over the years, but our main camera these days is a Sony A7 rIII. We love it, and yes, all the photos taken with it are edited in Lightroom. 🙂
THANK YOU for the great article! I have booked my flights for a 2 week trip next spring, into London and out of Paris. I’ve been to both cities before, but do hope to get a few days in paris again. It’s stolen my heart.
What do you recommend in terms of getting from London to Rome, fairly quickly, and cheaply? I arrive into London mid-day and had hoped to just figure it out at the airport (Gatwick). Do you think that’s possible?
Thank you so much, Sarah! Your trip sounds fantastic.
I’d definitely plan on flying between London and Rome–it’ll be fastest and most likely cheapest, too. Check budget carriers like Ryanair, etc.
If you’re planning on flying out to Rome the same day you arrive in Gatwick, I’d absolutely recommend booking before you arrive. Be sure to double-check and make sure you’re flying out of Gatwick, too, or have time to change airports.
Hope you have an amazing time!
Love your information. I’m planning a trip to Italy and then we want to go to Salzburg as well in the summer of 2023. Our first time to Europe. We will be 60 in 2023 and we think we can plan this without going through a company. After reading your information, I feel comfortable. Two questions about hotels and transportation. What would you recommend for safe places for hotels in those two countries? We don’t need luxury but just comfort and clean. Would you recommend using rail between cities in Italy and it looks like you can travel from Venice to Salzburg by rail? Thoughts?
That’s great to hear, glad we could help!
Venice to Salzburg by rail is very doable in a day and a scenic journey. You’ll probably have to make a change, but that’s workable. Personally, we’d opt for it over flying in a heartbeat.
For hotels, I have several recommendations in our specific Venice and Salzburg posts (you can use the search bar to pull up everything we have on both cities). The centers of both places are quite safe, I wouldn’t worry much about that in a well-reviewed hotel.
Hope you guys have an unforgettable trip!
Please let me know if you have posted anything similar in 2020 or 2021. My wife and I are bringing our three teenagers and we will likely choose the Food & History trip. We both would like to speak with you if possible as we are planning our trip for December.
Hi guys! We don’t run tours ourselves, just provide information for independent travelers, but we’re always happy to answer a few questions about possible itineraries!
THANK YOU for the amazing Pic ,for now i’m in South Africa Cape Town I’m planning a trip to Italy , France & Austria next year 2022 for 2weeks , Would you recommend using rail or Via Road way .
Thank you in advance & best Regards
En vous remerciant d’avance et cordialement
Sounds like a fabulous trip!
Rail vs car depends entirely on where you’re going. If you’re sticking to cities, I’d recommend going by train. If you want to enjoy the countryside, a car could be helpful.
You can also mix-and-match, and rent a car for only part of your trip if you’re going to be in the countryside only part of the time.
Thank you for this awesome post, Kate! My husband and I are wanting to take our first international trip to Central Europe early spring 2022 and have reviewed your Central Europe post. What type of difficulties have you faced with international travel during COVID-19? Any issues with a country on your itinerary going into lock-down or no longer allowing tourists from the US?
We haven’t personally run into any issues with lockdowns interrupting our plans but of course, it’s always possible and things are changing constantly.
Most, if not all, countries in Europe are accepting vaccinated and/or tested US visitors now and haven’t shut their borders to US citizens again since the initial reopening. All of the countries included on our Central Europe itinerary are currently among them.
In addition to entry, some countries are requiring proof of vaccination in order to do certain things like eat in restaurants or check into hotels. Portugal, where we are now, is among them. It’s a very simple process as long as you have the paperwork in order!
Generally, if you plan to visit Europe from the US in 2022, we recommend arriving with proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test (check regularly for specifications as your flight gets closer), flexibility, and the expectation that you’ll wear a mask indoors and potentially in crowded outdoor areas.
I am not a public health expert, of course, and European countries all set their own restrictions, but in the early stages of planning, that’s what I’d keep in mind!
The reaction that we’ve seen from readers who visited in the second half of 2022 has generally been that it’s easier than they expected, but as we’ve all learned way too much in the last 2 years, none of us can predict the future!
Thanks so much, Kate! It definitely seems like flexibility is key as well as continuously monitoring each country’s individual rules for a multi-country trip. I think right now Hungary isn’t accepting tourists but fingers crossed that will change soon so we can replicate your trip. 🙂
Cheers to more adventures for you in 2022!
Hi Kate, my family is in the beginning phase of planning our first international trip and have decided on Europe! I really liked your recommendation of arriving and departing from different airports and I think departing from London would make sense (we’ll probably want to spend the most time there). All we’ve decided is to vacation for somewhere between 2-3 weeks, and we want to see London and Ireland (oh and I want to stay at least one night in a castle hotel!). Would you have any recommendations on destinations or experiences to share? Thanks!
How exciting–nothing like your first trip abroad. 🙂
We actually still haven’t been to London, which is a huge shame! Fingers crossed that 2022 is the year.
Ireland, on the other hand, is one of our absolute favorites! If you search “Ireland” on the top right corner of the blog (or on the pop out menu on mobile), all of our blog posts will come up, but this is a great one to start with: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/10-day-ireland-itinerary-ireland-road-trip/
We spent a night in this castle (slash manor house) and had a fantastic time: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/belleek-castle-county-mayo-ireland/
Ireland is one of our favorite places for road trips on the planet. You’ll love it!
Great post, thanks!
Need your advice here 🙂 We will be landing in London, staying there 3 days, then train to Paris (staying in Paris for 3 days). We fly back home from Lisbon and have 3 options: night train to Nice (spend some time there and then a few days in Lisbon), fly to Napoli (spend some time there and then fly to Lisbon) or fly to Lisbon and discover a bit more of Portugal… What would you recommend?
Oh and we are travelling with two teens who have never been to Europe… I’m trying to pack as much stuff, but wonder what would be too much :/
That’s a lot of hard choices! Each and every one of those destinations is a delight (and we’re living in Lisbon right now).
I’d opt for Nice if you’re looking for coastal views, picturesque villages, and something logistically simple. Nice is a delightful city and the day trips to nearby villages like Eze as well as Monaco are phenomenal. It is the most formal and pricey of the 3 cities and will have a resort feel near the coast in the summer.
Naples is a much less manicured city, it’s a love-it-or-hate-it place (we love it). I’d argue that it has the best food of the 3 options, but those are fighting words and many would disagree. The day trips are equally stunning but very different. If you or your family has an interest in ancient ruins, Pompeii and Herculaneum are unmatched. Visiting the Amalfi Coast or nearby islands is also doable, but it’s a trek if you’re staying in the city center. Keep in mind that there’s no train service to the Amalfi Coast proper, you will need a bus, car, or ferry to get beyond Sorrento.
Lisbon is delightful but honestly, our favorite parts of Portugal lie outside the city. Porto, in the north, has a much more regal feel while Lisbon is fairly spread out. The Duoro Valley (also in the north) is magnificent for port tastings and views, Sintra’s palaces located just outside of Lisbon are must-sees, and if you want to head to the south, the Algarve is incredibly striking.
Logistically speaking, I’d make sure you have at least 2-3 days in Portugal at the end of your trip before flying out, regardless. With 3 full days, you can spend 2 in Lisbon and take one day trip (probably to Sintra but the coastal town of Cascais is also easy and lovely).
If you have time to do that and add another stop for 3 full days, I would check detailed flight and train schedules and let that guide you–the logistics alone may make the choice for you.
That got a bit long, but I hope it helps! 🙂
Thanks a lot for the precious information!
Hi Kate! I know you said you are not a travel agent but are open to a few itinerary questions! We have recently done a European Cruise which hit almost all of Italy! We are wanting to go back independently. I am highly interested in Ireland, but would also like to see Paris. My husband is interested in Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland. With a 14 day trip wanted, what areas do you think we should do (based on best places to see, with allotted time?)
& Austria! 🙂
That is a lot of very different places, but you’ll definitely be able to pull together a great trip! I’d recommend narrowing it down to around 3 destinations, 4 if you’re comfortable moving quite fast and two of them are close together.
Ireland is definitely the odd one out geographically, but if you use two one-way tickets instead of flying in and out of the same airport, it can work (it’s what we did on our first multi-country Europe trip many years ago).
Since you’ll likely have 1-2 flights in this itinerary regardless, which destinations you pick can come down to a combination of your absolute favorites and what makes logistical sense. Paris is a very popular place to fly in and out of, so it’ll likely be easy to work in.
I’m not sure which parts of Germany your husband is interested in, but parts of western Germany have simple train access to The Netherlands and/or France.
As far as what places I’d personally visit, Ireland and Paris are two of my favorite places on the planet, so I’m biased! Switzerland’s mountain landscapes are truly beyond belief, so if you’re looking for nature (and aren’t concerned about the budget), it’s a winner.
Germany is also gorgeous, both its nature and many of its cities, though it’s quite big and varied–with a big trip like this, you’ll want to choose one small corner of it (Bavaria is a popular first stop, but you can also look at places along the Rhine, which makes more sense if you’re hoping to visit Paris or The Netherlands by train before or after).
The only part of The Netherlands we’ve had a chance to visit so far is Amsterdam, which is visually stunning but will be extremely crowded–probably more so than anywhere else you’ve listed, as there’s less room to spread out there than in, say, Paris.
When it comes to your itinerary, I’d recommend that each of you pick one place that is your absolute first choice, plan on a trip to those, and then fill in the 3rd and possible 4th destination based on what makes logistical sense as far as what planes/trains/buses are available to the spots on your shortlist.
Also, if you do need to book high-speed train tickets, book them ASAP, as prices increase as your trip gets closer.
What a wonderful blog, just when I feel like I’ve read them all I find another really helpful article. Heading to Europe for 1 month in May. Keen on Spain, definitely Italy, and probably 2 days in London and Paris respectively (arrival and departure). Feel like we have space for one more place and can’t figure out which is the better option (Portugal, Croatia or Greece) for potentially 5 days? Any recommendations?
Thank you for sharing all your wonderful insights.
That’s tough, because all 3 are fantastic but very different!
I’d probably recommend (if I had to choose), Greece for beaches/swimming and small towns, Portugal for cities, and Croatia for a combination of all. But we adore each and every one of them, so hard to go wrong!
Portugal fits nicely into your Spain section geographically, so there is that to consider.
Super love your blog. I just booked a trip to Europe for August, was thinking of going to France, Spain, and Italy in 2 weeks. Or should I cut it down to 2 countries? Hope to hear from you!
Less relevant than the countries are the destinations within them–I wouldn’t go more than 4 places in 2 weeks, max.
So if you’re hitting up Paris, Barcelona, and Rome, for example, your plan is fine. If you want to go to 2-3 places within each country, it’s time to cut it down. 🙂
Thanks for the fantastic blog! My husband and I are planning our first trip to Europe from Canada and are feeling quite overwhelmed by all the choices! His family is from Holland, so we are spending one week touring with them for the first week of May, and then will stay an additional 2 weeks after that. What would you recommend? We are not keen on France but everything else looks so great, and it was good to read that you don’t recommend trying to fit everything else in, which is what we might otherwise be trying to do. Any suggestions for the 2 weeks after Holland?
That’s so exciting! You guys are going to have an amazing time.
Without knowing your tastes or the season you’re traveling, the sky is truly the limit when planning your itinerary! Anywhere that sounds exciting to you is going to be worth it. With 2 weeks, I’d opt for 1-2 countries and no more than 4 base destinations (3 would be even better).
I started trying to make a list of some of our favorite countries in Europe for you, but just backspaced the sentence because I was ending up just listing every country, LOL. But Italy is one of our special favorites that we would recommend to just about anyone!
We will be in Holland for the first week of May so we could do the other two weeks either before or after that (or split one before and one after). The suggestion to cut down to less rather than more is helpful – it’s our first time to Europe and everything looks like something we should see! We are 50 and really like most things – some scenery, some castles, etc. Do you think it would be do-able to do Germany and Italy on top of Holland? Any specifics on what you love in Italy? I am really NOT a crowd person, so we’re really going to try and avoid huge crowds or I’ll lose my mind 😉
A week in Germany followed by a week in Italy is definitely doable!
Personally I’d opt for either southwest Germany (Black Forest, Heidelberg, Burg Eltz) or Bavaria.
We love virtually all of Italy, but if you want something somewhat more offbeat that’s in the top half of the country (for geography reasons), I’d recommend looking into Emilia-Romagna.
It’s the region east of Tuscany, and has similar appeal with far fewer tourists. It’s also gorgeous and a culinary dream–Emilia-Romagna is the origin of many iconic foods like parmigiano-reggiano and traditional balsamic vinegar.
A few destinations in the region to poke into as you research: Bologna, Parma, Ravenna, Ferrara, Modena. The micronationa of San Marino is also accessible from there!
Kate-what a remarkably comprehensive, detailed and resourceful blog! I love the considerations offered from different perspectives. My family of 4 (including 2 kids ages 10 and 6) will be traveling to Paris for the second half of August for 2 weeks to visit family. We have already been to Paris a few times so this time around, I would like us to explore more of Europe for some of the time, ideally via trains. I am thinking of staying in Air B&B’s as we have been enjoying that accommodation when we travel locally within the US but would love your perspective on this (vs hotels) considering the cultural and language differences in certain destinations as well as any recommendations for either you may have. Based on some research, some destinations I came cross purely based on travel distance via train from Paris are Switzerland (3 hrs), Barcelona (6.5 hours! would probably have to be an overnight train for the kids), London (2 hrs, have family we can see), and Greece (2 hours), Belgium (1.5 hrs, also some family we can see). My goal is to show my kids/family different cultures, ways of living and experience foods, interesting architecture, beautiful cafe’s etc. Also curios if any of these can be “day trips”. I do not have specific destinations yet to see at these locations and would love your input. From your article, it sounds like limiting to 2 destinations maybe best (outside of Paris) and your thoughts may help me narrow down where to focus. Thanks so much and look forward to reading your insights on this.
So glad you found it helpful, Tez! Sounds like you guys have an amazing trip planned.
I’m sure you already know this, but August is the height of peak season for European travelers visiting the coast and mountains, so some destinations will be quite crowded and expensive (book your hotels and train tickets ASAP, especially in a group of four).
I’m assuming Greece is a typo, so I’ll pass over that one–pretty sure it’s much further than 2 hours even by plane. 🙂
Luckily Paris is a huge train hub for getting across Europe, so you have plenty of options! Most of them will take longer than it looks on the map once you navigate connections, train times, etc. We highly recommend using Omio to search exact routes and dates, and keep in mind tickets will increase in price as you get closer. With kids, you’ll probably want to search by the fastest available routes.
London, Belgium, and Switzerland all jump out at me from your list–simple to access and incredible. The Jungfrau region in Switzerland is pure paradise, though a bit further away.
You may also want to look into Amsterdam, it’s only 3.5 hours from Paris by train.
With the right schedule, you can get as far as Venice in a day from Paris (we’ve done this), so Italy is an option for you as well, as is Germany.
Essentially, the more you stick to major cities, the easier it will be to navigate solely by train. Smaller towns and cities are often connected, but you’ll virtually always need to pass back through the main city of a region to make your way back to Paris.
You may want to take a look at this post as well, we talk a lot more about train travel here: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/travel-europe-by-train/
Love your blog, lots of useful information. My husband and I are planning a 10 day trip to Europe end of April to early May. At the moment we are looking at flying from the US RT to Paris. We’re thinking of possibly going to Amsterdam and Belgium as well. this will be our second trip to Paris. We are open to other suggestions. Do you have any other recommendations?
Happy to be able to help, Daisy!
Paris + Amsterdam + Belgium is an excellent itinerary and doable in 10 days. It’s actually a route we recommend ourselves. We have posts on all those places, but here are our suggestions on spending 3 days in Belgium to give you an idea of what you can cover in a short time frame: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/3-days-in-belgium-itinerary/
Paris is extremely well-connected by rail (you can be in Venice in 9 hours or Munich in under 6, for example), so as far as ideas for other destinations go, the sky is the limit!
If you choose to extend your original itinerary, a few additional places that you might consider along that route are Strasbourg/Alsace, Heidelberg, and Cologne.
Thank you for your blog.. We are travelling to Europe for 14 days the end of May. Flying Calgary to Dublin, doing a couple days at the Isle of Man races then hopefully, London, Paris, Rome. Your blog shares what to pack for clothing in Summer, Fall and Winter, what would you recommend for spring? We are trying to decide if we take the trains or flights from London, Paris and Rome. We aren’t planning any beach time. Also, what do you recommend for luggage? I’m leaning towards a rolly carryon but have every size hard shell case and multiple back country camping packs.
So happy you find it helpful!
Funny you mention spring packing ideas–I’m actually working on a post for that right now. It will hopefully be up next week. But off the top of my head, you’ll definitely want a travel umbrella and to pack in layers. The end of May is a beautiful time to be in much of Europe but the weather could be unpredictable–you may want sundresses on some days and light jackets on some evenings!
As far as luggage, either is completely fine. There are advantages to both backpacks and suitcases, but as long as you’re comfortable carrying your bag up and down staircases, carrying (or rolling) it down the street for 10+ minutes, and loading it into and out of trains and/or cars, you’re good.
As far as trains vs planes–London to Paris can definitely be a train, but do a time and cost-benefit analysis between that and a plane (depending on the dates, your travel style, etc, you may choose either). Paris to Rome is better done as a flight!
Thank you very much for sharing your wisdom. We are really excited.
Thank you so very much. You have provided an AMAZING amount of helpful information.
Can you pretty please help me with the best location to travel to 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th and the best way to get to the locations? (We will NOT be doing any driving).I’m a 55 years old woman. I live in USA.
I’m planning the 1st International trip for me and my husband for either the 1st or 2nd week of September 2023.
My biggest challenge is knowing where to start and end the trip, based on logistically traveling to the different destinations, as well as, the best way to get to each destination.Here are the the things I have planned.
I know you mentioned you’ve never been to London but i’m hoping you can assist based on me providing the area I want to be in.
I’m a theatre/adrenaline junkie person so Theatreland West End of London near (North of the River Thames.
3-Plays (evening events)
2-Hour Sherlock Holmes museum (near West End)
1-Hour Ghost Bus tour (nearest tube stations are Embankment and Charing Cross)
4-Hours-day walking tasting tour (near London Bridge Station)
1-day Harry Potter Studio Tour (Leavesden London)
2 -Nights Theme park “Alton Towers” located Alton, Staffordshire near Manchester and Birmingham. (stay onsite at the parks resort)*PARIS-3 NIGHTS
Moulin Rouge (BD de Clichy area)
L’ATELIER DES LUMINERES -DIGITAL ART MUSEUM
I would like to visit just one of the haunted castles in Paris (depending on recommendation)
Château de Puymartin
Château de Brissac
Château de Chambord
Château de Versailles* GERMANY 3 NIGHTS-Phantasialand Theme park (located Bruhl Germany)
Stay onsite at the parks resortThank you for any advice or suggestions you can provide.
I definitely can’t speak to getting around London in detail, though a combination of the tube and buses will likely be doable! You can add cabs as needed as well.
In Paris, the metro is so dense you should have no issue getting around. Assuming you are planning to do the usual Paris sights (Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc), our Paris itinerary might be able to help you out (and has hotel recommendations): https://www.ourescapeclause.com/3-days-in-paris-itinerary/
For the chateaus, Versailles is by far the closest to Paris and you can get there by RER train. Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley is doable via an organized day trip like this: https://www.getyourguide.com/paris-l16/loire-valley-castles-wines-day-trip-from-paris-t70389/?partner_id=1OI4D21&utm_medium=online_publisher&placement=content-middle
The others are way too far from Paris for day trips, so I’d focus on Versailles and/or Chambord this time.
Hope you have a wonderful time! 🙂
Thank you so very much.