Tips for planning a week, month and six months long trip in Europe

Coimbra, Portugal, central square in old town
Coimbra, Portugal.

Exploring Europe is easier than many travelers realize when planning a trip to the old continent. In many regions, fabulous destinations are only a couple of hours away from one another (by car or train). Nonetheless, time tends to run out because there is so much to see. Here are a few tips for visiting Europe if you have a week, a month or six months time to experience it.

How to plan a week in Europe

You should focus on a few bucket-list destinations to see a glimpse of Europe in a week. Two or maximum three destinations should be enough. It means two nights on average in each place.

Here is some inspiration if you don’t have a bucket list for Europe yet. Read this article that lists top 10 most Instagrammed places in Europe. The most popular regions (not cities) in Europe that attract visitors are listed in this article. If you want to minimize travel costs, read this article for budget-friendly destinations.

If your planned destinations are faraway from one another, a high-speed train is the way to travel. If you fly, you miss the changing landscapes and countries on the way. Particularly in central Europe distances between remarkable sights are not prohibitively long.

Choosing the right season to travel is important particularly on short trips. July and August are the peak seasons when popular tourist destination are crowded in Europe. It is smart to avoid the peak season – you’ll see more, save your nerves and save money. Spring and autumn are excellent seasons to travel anywhere in Europe. Winter is nice in South Europe because of the sun, and also nice in the Nordic countries because of snow.

Wismar, Germany
Wismar in north Germany.

One month in Europe

Four weeks is a common summer vacation period in Europe. Many Europeans pack their family and travel gear to a car and drive away for a few weeks. This is why roads are full in August in Central and Southern Europe (in Nordic countries they are never full of cars).

European Union has made crossing borders within EU countries so easy that in some places, you don’t even realize you have crossed a border. The Euro currency zone is a blessing for travelers as well.

If driving, biking, or cycling is not for you, European railway companies have train tickets, for instance, Eurail Pass that allows you to travel for a week, 10 days or for a month (and many other combinations) at reasonable prices. BlaBlaCar and BlaBlaBus are popular car sharing and bus sharing options for city to city trips, but they are not for short trips like Uber.

Although distances in Central Europe are relatively short, it is good to keep in mind that Germany, France and Spain are large countries – also Italy is vertically long from north to south, as well as the Nordic countries. For instance, it takes about two days to drive across Spain (north-south or vice versa) without sightseeing or extra stops.

The best thing in Europe is that there is something to see in every region of the continent. Do your research, and you can minimize driving or train travel time by focusing on a specific region. For instance, the Riviera (Cote d’Azur in French) is located along the Mediterranean Sea in France and Italy, and features so many towns and villages that there is more than enough to explore during one month.

Le Tour de France in St Girons, start town for a stage on Pyrenees
Tour of France in St Girons.

Six months in Europe

Six months allows plenty of time to travel in Europe all the way from the southern end-of-the-world point Sagres, Portugal, to the northern end-of-the-world point North Cape (Nordkapp) in Norway.

Some Europeans share their life between two or more places. For instance, a number of retirees who live in central and northern Europe follow migratory birds in autumn and drive or fly south to Portugal and Spain for the winter. Next spring, they return to their home countries.

Another group of people I have seen moving from place to place is freelancers and digital nomads who may stay in a destination for a couple of weeks, month or longer. The lowest living and travel costs are in eastern Europe, whereas Switzerland and the Nordic countries have higher costs than other European countries.

A good way to get to know different regions of Europe is to divide six months travel time in one week, two week or one month periods. Find places that interest you, and stay there a little bit longer. Get to know the place and local ways.

Before paying for accommodation for an entire month in a destination you haven’t visited before, stay one or two nights somewhere, and explore the surroundings. Before booking any long-term accommodation online, it is really a good idea to try and contact local real estate agents who list tourist apartments. Ask them to show you places to stay for your budget. If it is a one month stay, they are happy to show you what is available.

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