Which European city tops your bucket list? Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Berlin, Amsterdam and Moscow are all likely candidates. Walk the cobbled streets of their old city centres, admire the fine period architecture, and visit the many prestigious museums and galleries that call these cities home.
Europe offers an unparalleled number of travel options, with something to suit every budget. From fully-guided multi-country coach tours and European river cruises, to rail passes, self-drive trips and back-packing holiday, the choice of ways to explore the continent is mind-blowing.
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Europe travel tips
➲ Only got a limited amount of time to get to know a new city? Our Big Five City Guides can help. We break each destination down into culture, history, dining, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos. Access our city guides here.
➲ Check the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website for travel advisories regarding your chosen destination, and always register your travel plans with Smart Traveller.
➲ Europe is a big continent with huge variations in climate between northern and southern countries. Check the average temperature carefully for your travel dates and pack accordingly.
➲ Earlybird airfares to European cities are generally released in Australia around September and October for the following year. The cheapest times to fly are the shoulder seasons — April/May and October/November. Avoid peak season, school holidays and Christmas/New Year if you can. Look for ‘open jaw’ airfares that allow you to fly into one city and home from another. Ask your travel agent for advice.
➲ Peak season in Europe is generally the summer months of July and August. The key cities can be hot and crowded at this time, particularly in southern Europe. Hotel prices are also significantly higher in summer — in some cases double the cost at other times of the year. The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn can be good times to travel. Hotel prices are lower and the main tourist centres are less crowded.
➲ Travel by Eurail flexi pass if visiting a number of countries within an extended period. Make sure you understand the ‘7pm rule’ — which means that you only use one travel day on your pass when you travel on a direct night train that departs after 7pm and arrives at its final stop after 4am the following day (even if you get off earlier). This effectively gives you extra days on your pass. Advance seat reservations for Eurail pass holders are recommended in peak seasons.
➲ Hotels within main tourist centres in popular European cities such as Paris and Vienna are generally expensive by Australian standards and usually fairly small. For additional space consider apartment-style accommodation where possible. Staying outside the key centres but within easy reach of public transport is a good way of maximising your holiday budget. Look for local dining options that offer a set menu at a fixed price.
➲ While travelling in Europe be vigilant but not paranoid. Be open to experiences but be aware of your surroundings and personal safely at all times, particularly in crowds where petty crime is fairly common. If something feels wrong it probably is. Trust your intuition!
Browse all our Europe destination stories and Big Five City Guides here.
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