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Where To Go For A First Trip To Europe


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Mozelle Govea



Europe, with its rich history, diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cities, is a dream destination for many travelers. It offers something for everyone, from ancient ruins and iconic landmarks to picturesque countryside and world-class cuisine. If you’re planning your first trip to Europe, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.


With so many countries and cities to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. Whether you’re interested in history, art, food, or adventure, Europe has it all. From the romantic streets of Paris to the breathtaking fjords of Norway, the possibilities are endless.


Planning your first trip to Europe requires careful consideration and research. It’s important to choose the right destinations, plan your itinerary, book accommodations, and decide on transportation options. In this article, we’ll guide you through the essential steps to make your first trip to Europe a memorable one.


So, get your passport ready, pack your bags, and let’s dive into the fascinating world of European travel!


Choosing the Right Destination

Europe offers a plethora of captivating destinations, each with its own unique charm and attractions. When choosing the right destination for your first trip, consider your interests, preferences, and the type of experience you’re seeking.


If you’re a history buff, cities like Rome, Athens, and London are must-visit destinations. Explore the ancient ruins of Rome, including the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Athens by exploring the Acropolis and the Parthenon. And in London, visit the British Museum and the Tower of London to dive into centuries of British history.


For art enthusiasts, cities like Florence, Paris, and Madrid are ideal destinations. Admire masterpieces by Michelangelo and Botticelli in Florence’s renowned Uffizi Gallery. Explore the Louvre Museum in Paris, home to iconic works of art such as the Mona Lisa. And discover the vibrant art scene in Madrid, with its world-class museums like the Prado and Reina Sofia.


If you’re craving natural beauty and outdoor adventures, consider destinations like Switzerland, Iceland, and the Scottish Highlands. Marvel at the majestic Swiss Alps, explore the stunning landscapes of Iceland’s Golden Circle, or hike through the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands.


Of course, we can’t forget about the food lovers. Indulge in Italian pasta and pizza in Rome, savor French pastries and wine in Paris, or enjoy tapas and paella in Barcelona. Each European destination has its own culinary delights to offer, ensuring a mouthwatering experience for food enthusiasts.


Keep in mind that Europe is also known for its vibrant festivals and events. If you want to immerse yourself in local culture, consider planning your trip around events like Oktoberfest in Munich, the Carnival of Venice, or the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.


When selecting your destination, consider the time of year and the weather. Certain destinations may be crowded during peak tourist seasons, so it’s worth considering visiting during shoulder seasons for a more relaxed experience. Additionally, be aware of any visa requirements and travel restrictions that may apply to your chosen destination.


Remember, there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to selecting a European destination. With its diverse offerings, Europe is sure to provide an unforgettable experience no matter where you decide to go.


Planning Your Itinerary

Creating a well-structured itinerary is key to maximizing your time and experiencing the best of Europe on your first trip. Here are some tips to help you plan a memorable and efficient itinerary:

  1. Research and prioritize: Start by researching the top attractions and landmarks of your chosen destination. Make a list of the must-see places and prioritize them based on your interests.
  2. Allow for flexibility: While it’s important to have a rough itinerary, leave room for flexibility and spontaneity. Unexpected discoveries and experiences can often be the highlight of your trip.
  3. Consider travel time: Take into account the time it takes to travel between destinations. Europe has excellent transportation infrastructure, but it’s important to factor in travel time to avoid rushing from one place to another.
  4. Balance city exploration and countryside escapades: Europe offers a mix of vibrant cities and breathtaking countryside. Try to strike a balance between urban exploration and immersing yourself in nature.
  5. Allocate enough time for each destination: It’s tempting to try to squeeze in as many cities as possible, but rushing through multiple destinations can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Give yourself enough time to truly experience and appreciate each place.
  6. Consider day trips: If you’re staying in a major city, look into day trips to nearby towns or attractions. It’s a great way to explore beyond the city limits and discover hidden gems.
  7. Be mindful of cultural differences: Consider local customs and cultural practices when planning your itinerary. Be aware of any holidays or events that may impact attractions’ opening hours.
  8. Take breaks: Don’t forget to include some downtime in your itinerary. Traveling can be exhausting, so schedule breaks to relax, recharge, and soak in the local atmosphere.

Remember, your itinerary is a starting point, and it should be tailored to your personal preferences and travel style. Be open to adjusting your plans as you navigate through your European adventure.


Lastly, don’t forget to leave some room for serendipity. Sometimes the most memorable moments occur when we venture off the beaten path and embrace the unexpected.


Booking Accommodation

When it comes to booking accommodation for your first trip to Europe, there are a few factors to consider, such as location, budget, and desired amenities. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect place to stay:

  1. Research different types of accommodation: Europe offers a wide range of accommodation options, including hotels, hostels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals. Research each type to determine which best suits your budget and preferences.
  2. Consider location: Look for accommodation that is centrally located or well-connected to public transportation. This will make it easier for you to explore the city and access popular attractions.
  3. Read reviews: Before booking, read reviews from previous guests to get a sense of the accommodation’s quality and service. Websites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com are great sources for reliable reviews.
  4. Compare prices: Don’t settle for the first accommodation option you come across. Shop around and compare prices to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.
  5. Book in advance: The most popular European cities can get booked up quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons. It’s advisable to book your accommodation well in advance to secure your desired dates and prevent last-minute stress.
  6. Consider alternative accommodations: If you’re looking to save money or have a unique experience, consider alternative accommodations like Airbnb, where you can rent apartments or private rooms from locals.
  7. Check for amenities: Depending on your preferences, look for accommodation with amenities like free Wi-Fi, breakfast, air conditioning, or a kitchenette. These can enhance your overall comfort and convenience.
  8. Be aware of local regulations: Some European cities have strict regulations on short-term rentals, so make sure you are booking accommodation that is legal and compliant with local laws.
  9. Consider safety and security: Prioritize your safety when choosing accommodation. Look for properties with good security measures, such as secure locks, 24-hour reception, or CCTV cameras.

Remember to keep an open mind when searching for accommodation. Staying in different types of properties can add variety and enhance your overall experience. And don’t forget to double-check your booking details before you arrive to avoid any surprises.


With careful planning and research, you can find the perfect place to rest and rejuvenate after your European adventures.


Transportation Options

Europe offers a variety of transportation options that make getting around the continent efficient and convenient. Here are some transportation options to consider for your first trip:

  1. Flights: If you’re traveling long distances or visiting multiple countries, flying can be a time-saving option. Europe has a well-connected network of airports, making it easy to hop from one city to another. Consider budget airlines for affordable fares.
  2. Trains: Train travel is popular in Europe, known for its extensive rail network and efficient services. It offers a scenic way to travel between cities and countries, with high-speed trains connecting major destinations. Consider purchasing a Eurail pass for unlimited travel within a specific time frame.
  3. Buses: Buses are a cost-effective option for traveling within a specific country or region. They are a popular choice for shorter distances or remote areas with limited train connections. Look for reputable bus companies that offer comfortable and reliable services.
  4. Public Transportation: European cities have well-developed public transportation systems, including metros, buses, and trams. Public transportation is a convenient way to explore cities and reach popular attractions. Consider purchasing travel cards or day passes for unlimited travel within a certain period.
  5. Car Rental: Renting a car can provide flexibility and convenience, especially if you’re planning to explore rural areas or venture off the beaten path. Be aware of local driving regulations and parking availability in cities, as well as potential traffic congestion.
  6. Biking: Europe is known for its bike-friendly cities and scenic cycling routes. Consider renting a bike to explore destinations like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or the countryside of Tuscany. It’s an eco-friendly and immersive way to experience the local culture.

When deciding on transportation, consider factors such as travel time, cost, convenience, and the experiences you want to have. It’s often a combination of different modes of transportation that offers the best experience.


Additionally, consider using travel apps and websites to help you navigate transportation options, find the best routes, and purchase tickets in advance. Popular apps like Google Maps and Rome2rio can be valuable resources for planning your journey across Europe.


Finally, be sure to check for any transportation passes or discounts that may be available for tourists, as these can help save money and simplify your transportation arrangements.


With the plethora of transportation options available, getting around Europe is an exciting part of the journey and adds to the adventure of exploring new destinations.


Must-See Attractions

Europe is home to countless iconic and must-see attractions that showcase its rich history, stunning architecture, and natural beauty. Here are some of the top must-see attractions for your first trip to Europe:

  1. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France: No trip to Europe is complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Visit the iconic landmark to enjoy breathtaking views of Paris and capture that perfect Instagram-worthy shot.
  2. Colosseum, Rome, Italy: Step back in time and explore the ancient ruins of the Colosseum in Rome. Marvel at the grandeur and historical significance of this iconic amphitheater.
  3. Acropolis, Athens, Greece: Climb up to the Acropolis and soak in the beauty of the Parthenon, one of the most important architectural landmarks in the world. Explore the ancient ruins and immerse yourself in Greek history and mythology.
  4. Big Ben, London, England: Admire the iconic clock tower, known as Big Ben, which is part of the Palace of Westminster. Explore the surrounding area and take a stroll along the River Thames.
  5. Grand Canal, Venice, Italy: Take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal and experience the enchanting charm of Venice. Marvel at the picturesque architecture and explore the narrow canals and hidden alleyways.
  6. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain: Visit Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, a towering basilica that is still under construction. Discover the unique blend of Gothic and Art Nouveau architectural styles.
  7. Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany: Feel like royalty as you visit the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle. Marvel at its stunning hilltop location and explore the lavish interiors.
  8. Golden Circle, Iceland: Embark on the Golden Circle tour to witness Iceland’s natural wonders. Visit the cascading Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermal geysers at Geysir, and the tectonic rift of Þingvellir National Park.
  9. Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, Netherlands: Learn about the powerful story of Anne Frank and her family as you visit the Anne Frank House. Walk through the secret annex and gain insight into the Holocaust.
  10. Alhambra, Granada, Spain: Immerse yourself in Islamic architecture and intricate designs as you explore the stunning Alhambra. Visit the palaces, gardens, and fortress that make up this UNESCO World Heritage site.

These are just a few examples of the countless must-see attractions throughout Europe. Remember to research and plan ahead for any specific attractions that require advance reservations or timed entry tickets.


Europe’s rich history, diverse cultures, and stunning landmarks offer endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. Prepare to be awestruck by the beauty and grandeur of these must-see attractions on your first trip to Europe.


Exploring European Cuisine

One of the highlights of traveling to Europe is indulging in its diverse and delectable cuisine. Each country has its own culinary traditions and specialties, offering a plethora of flavors and dishes to explore. Here are some tips for exploring European cuisine on your first trip:

  1. Try local specialties: When visiting a new country or city, be sure to sample the local specialties. Whether it’s pasta and pizza in Italy, croissants and escargots in France, or paella and tapas in Spain, these authentic dishes will give you a true taste of the region.
  2. Visit local markets: One of the best ways to experience European cuisine is by visiting local markets. Explore the vibrant stalls offering fresh produce, cheeses, meats, and pastries. Engage with the vendors, pick up some local ingredients, and savor the flavors of the region.
  3. Embrace street food: Street food is a quintessential part of European food culture. Try a traditional bratwurst in Germany, a crepe in France, or a fresh seafood snack in Portugal. These quick bites will not only satisfy your taste buds but also let you experience the local culinary scene.
  4. Indulge in sweets: Europe is renowned for its mouthwatering desserts and pastries. Treat yourself to a slice of creamy tiramisu in Italy, a flaky croissant in France, or a rich chocolate cake in Belgium. Don’t forget to pair it with a cup of local coffee or tea.
  5. Join food tours or cooking classes: To truly immerse yourself in European cuisine, consider joining food tours or taking cooking classes. These experiences will give you insight into traditional cooking techniques, local ingredients, and the stories behind famous dishes.
  6. Be adventurous: Don’t shy away from trying new and unfamiliar foods. European cuisine offers a wide range of ingredients and flavors to explore. From fermented herring in Sweden to snails in France, be open to new tastes and expand your culinary horizons.
  7. Sip local beverages: Europe is famous for its wine, beer, and spirits. Pair your meals with a glass of local wine in Italy or France, sample craft beers in Germany or Belgium, or enjoy a traditional schnapps in Austria. These drinks complement the flavors of the cuisine and provide a unique cultural experience.
  8. Take part in food festivals: If your timing allows, try to attend food festivals or events that celebrate the local cuisine. From Oktoberfest in Germany to truffle festivals in Italy, these gatherings are a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the culinary traditions and customs.

Remember, European cuisine is as diverse as the continent itself. It’s an exciting journey of flavors and traditions. Be open to new tastes, textures, and experiences, and you’ll create lasting memories through the exploration of European cuisine.


Immersing in Local Culture

Traveling to Europe goes beyond just visiting the famous landmarks and trying the local cuisine. To truly appreciate the continent, it’s important to immerse yourself in the local culture. Here are some ways to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Europe:

  1. Learn the language basics: While English is widely spoken in many European countries, taking the time to learn a few basic phrases in the local language can go a long way. It shows respect for the culture and can help you connect with locals on a deeper level.
  2. Engage with the locals: Strike up conversations with locals, whether it’s your hotel receptionist, a shopkeeper, or fellow travelers. Ask for recommendations, seek their insights into the local culture, and be open to learning from their experiences.
  3. Attend cultural events: Check if there are any local festivals, concerts, or cultural events happening during your visit. Participating in these events will expose you to traditional music, dance, art, and customs that are deeply rooted in the local culture.
  4. Explore local neighborhoods: Venture beyond the main tourist areas and explore the local neighborhoods. Wander through residential streets, visit local markets, and spend time in cafes and small businesses frequented by locals. This will give you a glimpse into everyday life and allow you to interact with locals on a more personal level.
  5. Engage in local traditions: Research and embrace local traditions or customs. Whether it’s visiting a sauna in Finland, joining a pub quiz in the UK, or taking part in the siesta culture in Spain, participating in these activities will help you better understand and appreciate the local way of life.
  6. Visit museums and cultural sites: Europe is home to numerous museums and cultural sites that offer insight into its history, art, and heritage. Take the time to visit these establishments and absorb the stories and artifacts that shape the local culture.
  7. Try traditional activities: Engage in traditional activities that are unique to the region you’re visiting. This could involve taking a flamenco dance lesson in Spain, trying your hand at glassblowing in Murano, Italy, or participating in a Viking reenactment in Scandinavia. These experiences allow you to connect with centuries-old traditions and get a taste of the local way of life.
  8. Respect local customs: Research and respect the local customs and etiquette of the country you’re visiting. Familiarize yourself with appropriate dress codes, greetings, and behaviors to show respect for the local culture. By observing and adapting to these customs, you’ll enhance your cultural immersion experience.
  9. Use local transportation: Whenever possible, opt for local transportation methods like trams, buses, or bicycles. This not only provides you with an authentic experience but also reduces your carbon footprint and supports the local economy.

Remember, immersing yourself in the local culture is a continuous learning process. Stay curious, open-minded, and respectful as you explore the unique customs, traditions, and way of life in each European country you visit. Through cultural immersion, you’ll create lasting memories and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich tapestry of European culture.


Safety Tips for First-Time Travelers

While exploring Europe can be an exciting adventure, it’s important to prioritize your safety and take necessary precautions during your trip. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind as a first-time traveler:

  1. Research your destination: Before you embark on your trip, research your destination thoroughly. Familiarize yourself with local customs, laws, and potential safety concerns. Stay informed about any travel advisories or warnings issued by your government.
  2. Secure your belongings: Keep your valuables, such as passports, wallets, and electronic devices, secure at all times. Use hotel safes or secure lockers to store your belongings when you’re out exploring. Be cautious of pickpockets in crowded tourist areas and use a money belt or a secure bag to carry your essentials.
  3. Blend in with the locals: Avoid standing out as a tourist by dressing appropriately and observing local customs. This can help you blend in and minimize the risk of becoming a target for theft or scams.
  4. Stay connected: Ensure that you have a reliable means of communication while traveling. Activate international roaming on your mobile phone or consider purchasing a local SIM card. Share your travel itinerary and contact information with a trusted friend or family member.
  5. Use reliable transportation: Stick to official taxis, licensed ride-sharing services, or public transportation options to ensure your safety during your travels. Avoid accepting rides from unmarked or unofficial vehicles.
  6. Stay vigilant in crowded areas: Tourist hotspots and crowded areas are often targets for theft. Be aware of your surroundings, keep an eye on your belongings, and avoid displaying valuable items in public.
  7. Be cautious with social media: While it’s tempting to share your travel experiences on social media, exercise caution when doing so. Avoid posting specific details about your location or travel plans that could potentially compromise your safety.
  8. Take travel insurance: Purchase travel insurance that covers medical expenses and provides assistance in case of emergencies. Be familiar with the coverage details and ensure it meets your needs.
  9. Know emergency numbers: Familiarize yourself with the local emergency numbers of the country you’re visiting. It’s important to know how to contact local authorities or seek medical assistance if needed.
  10. Trust your instincts: Always trust your instincts and use common sense. If something feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it’s best to remove yourself from the situation and seek assistance.

Remember, while it’s important to be cautious, don’t let safety concerns overshadow your travel experience. With proper planning, awareness, and a proactive attitude towards safety, you can enjoy your first trip to Europe with peace of mind.


Essential Travel Documents

As you plan your first trip to Europe, it’s crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary travel documents to avoid any hassles or complications during your journey. Here are the essential travel documents you’ll need:

  1. Passport: Your passport is the most important travel document you’ll need. Ensure that it is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. Check the entry requirements for the specific countries you’ll be visiting, as some may require a visa in addition to a valid passport.
  2. Visas: Depending on your nationality and the countries you plan to visit, you may need to obtain visas in advance. Research the visa requirements for each destination and allow sufficient time for the application process.
  3. Travel insurance: While not a mandatory document, having travel insurance is highly recommended. It provides coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost belongings, and other unforeseen circumstances. Review the policy details and ensure that it meets your specific needs.
  4. Flight/train tickets: Keep a copy of your flight or train tickets, whether printed or digital. These documents serve as proof of your travel arrangements and may be required at immigration checkpoints or during security checks.
  5. Itinerary: It’s helpful to have a printed or digital copy of your travel itinerary, including your accommodation details, reserved activities, and contact information. This will assist you in case of any queries or emergencies.
  6. Driver’s license and international driving permit (if applicable): If you plan to rent a car and drive in Europe, make sure you have a valid driver’s license from your home country. Some countries may require an international driving permit, so check the requirements beforehand.
  7. Vaccination records: While not a document specific to Europe, it’s important to carry proof of any required vaccinations, especially if you’re traveling from a country with specific health regulations. Check the necessary vaccinations for the countries you plan to visit and consult with your healthcare provider.
  8. Credit/debit cards and cash: Ensure that you have the appropriate payment methods for your trip. Carry a mixture of credit/debit cards and some local currency to cover expenses, as not all establishments may accept cards, especially in rural areas.
  9. Emergency contact information: Keep a list of emergency contact numbers, including your country’s embassy or consulate in the countries you plan to visit. This will be helpful in case of a lost or stolen passport, or any other urgent situation.

Make multiple copies of your important travel documents and store them in separate locations, such as your hotel safe, a secure cloud storage service, or with a trusted companion. This will help in case of loss or theft.


Prioritize organizing your travel documents before your departure to ensure a smooth journey and to avoid any unnecessary stress. With all the necessary documents in hand, you’ll be ready to explore the wonders of Europe.


Budgeting for Your Trip

Creating a budget for your first trip to Europe is essential to ensure that you have a realistic understanding of your expenses and can make the most of your travel experience. Here are some tips to help you plan your budget:

  1. Research the cost of living: Before you go, research the cost of living in the countries you plan to visit. Keep in mind that some cities, like Paris and London, tend to be more expensive than others. This will give you an idea of how much you may need to allocate for accommodation, meals, transportation, and activities.
  2. Plan a daily budget: Determine a realistic daily budget based on your research. Consider factors like the average cost of meals, public transportation fares, admission fees for attractions, and other miscellaneous expenses. Be sure to account for both essential expenses and discretionary spending.
  3. Accommodation options: The cost of accommodation can vary significantly depending on the type, location, and season. Research different options, such as hotels, hostels, or vacation rentals, and compare prices. Consider factors like proximity to attractions and transportation options when making your decision.
  4. Transportation costs: Transportation expenses can be a significant portion of your budget. Research the cost of flights, trains, buses, and local transportation in the countries you plan to visit. Consider purchasing transportation passes or cards for discounts or unlimited travel options.
  5. Meal planning: Dining out for every meal can quickly add up. Consider including some self-catered meals using local produce from markets or grocery stores. This can help you save money while also allowing you to experience local cuisine.
  6. Free and low-cost activities: Look for free or low-cost activities and attractions in each destination. Many museums and attractions offer discounted or free entry on specific days or for certain age groups. Walking tours and exploring public parks are also great options for budget-friendly exploration.
  7. Emergency fund: Set aside some extra money as an emergency fund for unexpected expenses or situations. It’s always better to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise during your trip.
  8. Currency exchange and fees: Be aware of currency exchange rates and any associated fees when exchanging money. Research the most cost-effective ways to access cash abroad, such as using ATMs or travel-friendly credit cards with low foreign transaction fees.
  9. Track your expenses: Keep track of your expenses during your trip to ensure that you stay within budget. Use a budgeting app or simply jot down your expenditures in a notebook. This will help you analyze your spending patterns and make adjustments if needed.
  10. Consider travel insurance: While it’s an additional expense, travel insurance provides valuable coverage in case of unforeseen events, such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost luggage. Evaluate different insurance options and choose a policy that fits your needs and budget.

Remember, everyone has different travel styles and priorities. Adjust your budget based on what matters most to you, whether it’s splurging on fine dining experiences or allocating more funds for special activities or souvenirs.


By creating a comprehensive budget and keeping track of your expenses, you can make informed decisions and ensure that your first trip to Europe is both enjoyable and financially manageable.



Embarking on your first trip to Europe is an exciting and transformative experience. From choosing the right destination to immersing yourself in the local culture, there’s so much to discover and explore in this diverse continent. By following the tips and advice provided in this article, you can make the most of your journey and create lifelong memories.


Remember to plan ahead and research your destination, allowing for flexibility in your itinerary and leaving room for spontaneous adventures. Choose accommodations that suit your budget and preferences, and consider the various transportation options available to get around efficiently.


Take time to visit the must-see attractions, but also venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems and immerse yourself in the local culture. Indulge in European cuisine, try new foods, and savor the flavors that each country has to offer.


Be mindful of safety and security while exploring, but also maintain an open mind and embrace the diversity of experiences that Europe provides. Engage with the locals, learn about their customs, traditions, and language, and participate in cultural events to truly understand and appreciate the unique tapestry of each country.


Lastly, budget wisely, keeping in mind the cost of living, accommodation, transportation, and various expenses. Create a budget that allows you to make the most of your trip while also being prepared for unexpected situations.


With proper planning, an adventurous spirit, and an open heart, your first trip to Europe will be an unforgettable journey that will leave you with cherished memories. So, pack your bags, set off on your European adventure, and let the wonders of this magnificent continent unveil before your eyes.