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How to Plan a Trip to Europe: Frequently Asked Questions

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View to Enipeus Gorge over Prophitis Ilias of Litochoro church at Mount Olympus National Park

Mount Olympus National Park, Greece

Whether you want to spend time on Mediterranean beaches or explore the history and mythology of Italy and Greece, our answers to the most common travel questions can help you plan your Europe trip.

As you consider a summer vacation on European islands or an itinerary off the beaten path to unique destinations in Switzerland and beyond, the information in this guide shares tips to make your travel planning more manageable and your experiences more enjoyable.

We share the best time to visit Europe for your custom trip, ideas on how many days to spend there and if you should visit multiple destinations, insight into the top things to do, and more.

Overview

  1. Can I travel to Europe?
  2. What is Europe?
  3. When is the best time to visit Europe?
  4. How many days should I spend in Europe?
  5. Can I visit more than one country in Europe?
  6. What are the most popular destinations in Europe?
  7. What should I do on my trip to Europe?
  8. What are the best museums in Europe?
  9. What are the most popular islands to visit in Europe?
  10. Does Europe have good beaches?
  11. Is Europe a good place for hiking?
  12. Where can I see wildlife in Europe?
  13. Should I visit Europe for the holidays?
  14. How do I travel around Europe?
  15. Is Europe a good destination for families?
  16. Is Europe suitable for senior travelers?
  17. Is Europe suitable for couples or honeymooners?
  18. What are the most popular places for food in Europe?
  19. What food should I try in Europe?
  20. Is Europe a good place for wine?
  21. Is Europe safe to visit?
  22. What languages do they speak in Europe?
  23. What vaccinations do I need to travel to Europe?
  24. Which airports should I plan for?
  25. Do I need a visa for Europe?
  26. What currency does Europe use?
  27. How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Europe?
  28. Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Can I travel to Europe?

Europe is open to American travelers.

Most of Europe does not require travelers to undergo testing, and restrictions to enter are few and far between. For example, you can freely visit Italy, Greece, and more popular destinations, travel between central Europe or visit the northern Alps on vacation.

For more information on entry requirements or restrictions, which could change should governments deem it necessary, you can visit our guide on Where Americans Can Travel Right Now.

Learn more: Plan Your Trip to Europe

What is Europe?

Europe is a continent comprising 50 independent states, divided into regions and subregions.

The states include island countries like Iceland, central European countries like Austria and Poland, and countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea like Greece, Croatia, and Italy, to name a few. Europe is also home to some of the smallest nations in the world, including Monaco and the Vatican City.

At Zicasso, we serve most of Europe and can help you plan a trip to northern, southern, eastern or western Europe and the Mediterranean.

When is the best time to visit Europe?

The best time to visit Europe is April to May and September to October. These shoulder-season months, falling within spring and fall, offer mild temperatures and fewer crowds than the hot and busy summer months.

Typically, the best time to visit Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece, France, and Croatia is March to August. These months encompass the European spring and summer, offering sunny weather and warm temperatures for beach vacations, sightseeing, hiking, and other outdoor and cultural activities.

Fall, from September to November, is relatively quiet and you can see the aurora borealis or visit ski resorts before they ramp up in winter. During winter, from December to February, you can spend Christmas in Europe embracing the snowfall that covers many cities across the continent. Your Zicasso travel specialist can help you determine the best month for your custom trip with an idea of what you would like to do and how you would like to experience Europe.

Bear in mind that it is a year-round destination and travelers flock to different regions and countries regardless of the season. The type of itinerary you plan, be it a winter skiing trip with your family or a beach vacation for your honeymoon, will determine the best time to visit.

How many days should I spend in Europe?

We recommend you spend at least 10 days in Europe, giving you enough time to experience the highlights of famous cities like Athens or Lisbon, with an unplanned day or two in the countries you visit.

With 10 days in Europe, you could explore London, Paris, and Rome, discover central Europe en route through Germany and Austria, or visit the United Kingdom. These are just several examples of how you can split up your 10-day trip between countries in a specific region. You can also explore our 10 Day Europe Trips & Tours for more ideas.

The more days you spend on the continent, the longer you have to experience the top things to do and the more countries you can cover. Hence, upwards of 14 days is also ideal should you have the time. As there is no set time frame for a European trip, your duration depends on where you visit and how many days you would like to spend touring or exploring at your leisure.

Learn more: How to Spend 10, 14, or 21 Days in Europe

Can I visit more than one country in Europe?

You can easily visit more than one country in Europe in a single vacation.

Our Italy & Greece Tours, France & Italy Tours, and Spain & Portugal Tours are excellent examples of how to explore Europe on a multi-country trip. Our Zicasso travel specialists also plan Europe trips to three or more countries, and our France, Switzerland, and Italy Tours are examples of these.

Some travelers choose to visit a single country and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, regardless of the length of your vacation. Doing so gives you more time to immerse yourself in the local culture or experience that country’s best places, such as visiting the Vatican City, exploring the Tuscan hills, and embracing the romance of Venice on our Italy Tours & Vacations.

Learn more: One Country or Several? How to Decide Where to Go on Your Trip to Europe

What are the most popular destinations in Europe?

With so many options available to travelers, where to visit can be difficult. To help you navigate the possibilities, the list below highlights the most popular destinations and our recommendations for your first-time or return visit to Europe:

Zicasso serves man more than these destinations. You can explore more about these and other ideas about where to visit in our guide on the 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe.

What should I do on my trip to Europe?

The list of things to do in Europe is long, especially considering the differences in activities and experiences between countries. That said, we have compiled a concise collection of top things to do below. It encompasses most major destinations to help you plan your custom itinerary:

  • Explore millennia of history in UNESCO World Heritage sites, famous archeological sites, and historic ruins, including Athens’s Acropolis, Rome’s Colosseum, and Spain’s Alhambra
  • Discover European flavors on high-end culinary experiences, street food tours, and in cooking classes introducing your palate to the Mediterranean, central European, or fusion dishes
  • Partake in grand traditions at castles, strongholds, chateaus, and palaces peppering the countrysides, hilltop villages, and rural regions
  • Savor sumptuous European wines on tasting tours of the continent’s elite estates and cellars in famous wine-growing regions
  • Learn about Europe’s artisanal crafts on tours of ceramic houses, textile stores, fashion boutiques, and handcraft institutions
  • Trace the origins of European art and architecture on tours of world-class museums and galleries, historical art exhibits, and the homes of great European artists
  • Experience Europe’s great outdoors in winter on skiing trips to the alpine slopes
  • Explore European culture through music as you watch exceptional performances in grand theaters and iconic opera houses

This list only scratches the surface of what you can do on the continent and our guide on the Top 10 Things to Do in Europe shares more detail on these experiences and more, as well as the best places and best times for each.

What are the best museums in Europe?

Europe’s history is fascinating and European art expresses the historical and cultural shifts from prehistoric times to ancient Rome and Greece, and modern Europe. You can explore the origins of Europe through the lens of Classical, Byzantine, Medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, and more artistic styles at the following iconic museums and galleries:

  • The Louvre • Paris, France
  • The Prado Museum • Madrid, Spain
  • Tate Modern • London, England
  • Reina Sofía Museum • Madrid, Spain
  • The Uffizi Gallery • Florence, Italy
  • The Vatican Museums • Vatican City, Italy
  • The Guggenheim Museum • Bilbao, Spain
  • The Pergamon Museum • Berlin, Germany
  • The Kunsthistorisches Museum • Vienna, Austria

Learn more: Top 10 Best European Cities for Art Lovers

What are the most popular islands to visit in Europe?

There are many islands to visit in Europe, depending on your chosen country and the type of trip you would like to have. Below are some to consider:

  • Santorini, Greece
  • Mykonos, Greece
  • Corfu, Greece
  • Sicily, Italy
  • Capri, Italy
  • São Miguel Island, Portugal
  • Pico Island, Portugal
  • Mallorca, Spain
  • Ibiza, Spain
  • Hvar, Croatia
  • Vis, Croatia

When choosing a destination or island experience, you could learn more about exploring the Greek islands with our Greek Island Hopping Itineraries or visiting Portuguese islands with our Azores Islands Vacation Packages. You may also prefer more information on cruises, to be found in our Croatia Island Itineraries, or spending time on the Italian island of Sicily with our Sicily Tours & Vacations.

Does Europe have good beaches?

From Mediterranean resort towns to the UK’s windswept coastal cliffs, and Greek islands to the northern shores of Iceland, Europe has expansive coastlines with picturesque beaches. Below, we highlight the best beaches to consider for your trip:

  • Spiaggia dei Conigli • Lampedusa, Italy
  • Ses Illetes • Formentera, Spain
  • En Vau • Calanque, France
  • Banje Beach • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Red Beach • Santorini, Greece
  • Praia da Marinha • Algarve, Portugal
  • Spiaggia di Sansone • Portoferraio, Italy
  • Super Paradise Beach • Mykonos, Greece
  • Bogatell • Barcelona, Spain

European countries in the Mediterranean region boast some of the continent’s best beaches. You can explore several options and find more inspiration in our guide, 15 Best Beaches in the Mediterranean.

Is Europe a good place for hiking?

From alpine slopes to hilly coastal towns, volcanic landscapes to rolling vineyard countrysides, Europe boasts unique environments with great hiking trails and routes for adventurous travelers.

Switzerland is a sensational destination for winter hiking, with challenging treks that ascend snowy summits, while Greek island beaches present pristine seaside backdrops for long strolls along the seaboard. Some trails trace the origins of pilgrims through mythical heritage sites in Rome and pathways that weave through French vineyards, where you can pick grapes.

There are plenty of outdoor adventures in every European country and hiking takes center stage for nature-loving travelers who wish to take advantage of the continent’s fantastic routes.

Best hiking trails in Europe: Corsica's GR20 Trail, France • Cinque Terre trails, Italy • Saalbach to Schmittenhöhe, Austria • Samaria Gorge, Greece • Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia • El Caminito del Rey, Spain

Where can I see wildlife in Europe?

You can spot wildlife in every corner of Europe as you take the trails out of bustling cities to unspoiled regions covering the countryside and coastlines. Below, we highlight several iconic wildlife-viewing destinations and the animals, birds, and marine creatures that call these places home:

  • Azores Islands, Portugal • Dolphins and whales
  • Dörverden, Germany • Wolves
  • Pindos National Park, Greece • Brown bears
  • Spitsbergen, Norway • Polar bears
  • Costa de la Luz, Spain • Orcas
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia • Butterflies
  • Lundey Island, Iceland • Puffins
  • Langenberg Wildlife Park, Switzerland • Alpine marmots

Should I visit Europe for the holidays?

Christmas in Europe erupts with twinkling lights and festive decorations, and most cities and towns treasure Catholic and Christian Christmas traditions and celebrations. Some authentic towns in Italy, Croatia, Germany, and more also have unique Christmas traditions, making the holiday season a spectacular time to visit Europe.

Whether you wish to make snow angels or build snowmen in the Swiss Alps, browse the wooden toys and handcrafts in Europe’s Christmas markets, or escape the holiday crowds to small villages for authentic seasonal experiences, December is a winter wonderland.

You can find Christmas travel inspiration in our Italy Christmas Tours & Vacations or explore other destinations in the 15 Best Places to Travel in December.

Learn more: 12 Best Destinations in Europe for the Holiday Season

How do I travel around Europe?

You can travel throughout Europe on planes, trains, metro systems, subways, buses, private vehicles, rental cars, and more. Depending on where you are, all or several options will be available, as well as other modes of transportation like bicycles and electric bikes.

International airports connect European countries, with domestic flights available for transfers between certain cities or islands within a country or region. Planes are the quickest way to get from one place to another if airports service both destinations. In addition, trains offer an affordable, comfortable, and relatively efficient alternative to getting from one European country to another or between destinations within one country.

Buses, metro systems, subways, private vehicles, and rental cars are the most accessible and comfortable options for European city tours. You could also hire a bicycle or rent an electronic bike to get around European cities where available. The transportation options may be limited in more remote European regions, but your Zicasso travel specialist can provide you with a better idea of how you can travel.

Is Europe a good destination for families?

Explore the origins of Disney fairytales on tours of Notre Dame, enjoy gelato as you wander ancient Roman ruins, or see the inspiration for Frozen up close on trips to Europe, the perfect place to visit as a family.

Family vacations range from outdoor adventures across the alpine slopes of Switzerland to highlight tours of Rome, Paris, and London. You can take photographs with celebrities at wax museums, glide through Venice by gondola, or spot the cuddly-looking puffins of Iceland.

Our European Family Vacations & Tours can open your eyes to the wonders of the continent and the magic that billows from iconic destinations, with exciting activities appealing to families of all ages.

Learn more: 7 Best Cities to Visit in Europe with Family

Is Europe suitable for senior travelers?

With a booming tourism industry that caters to travelers of all ages, Europe’s best countries to visit are ideal for your next senior trip.

You can enjoy the welcome of friendly locals at sidewalk cafés where the aromas of espresso fill the streets of Milan, view art and architecture that catalogs the creative movements of Europe through time, and enjoy the comfort of Greek cruises to the vineyards of Santorini.

Our European Tours for Seniors showcases the breadth of historical, cultural, and natural beauty on the continent, providing days to unwind and explore at your pace or active adventures for outdoorsy senior citizens.

Learn more: Top 7 Things to Do in Europe for Seniors

Is Europe suitable for couples or honeymooners?

Europe is one of the world's most romantic destinations. It is the birthplace of Romanticism, an inspiration for the great artists of our time, and a continent with breathtaking scenery to explore. All these attributes make Europe the perfect place to visit as a couple or for your honeymoon.

On your trip to Europe, you can enjoy each other's company as a gondolier plays Italian folkloric music while gliding through Venice at sunset or indulge in the finest French wines in the private cellar of a chateau. You can uncover Bronze-Age history in Seville, enjoy spa treatments on Greek islands, or get lost in the atmospheric Old Town of Dubrovnik.

Our Europe Honeymoon Packages offer ideas on how to make the most of your romantic getaway in Europe, whether planning for your honeymoon or simply looking for the most intimate ways to spend your days there.

Learn more: Top 5 Countries in Europe for Couples10 Most Romantic Things to Do in Europe for Couples

What are the most popular places for food in Europe?

European cuisine differs from country to country, with regional culinary traditions and cultural influences also creating distinctions between cuisine within each European country. Below, we list the most popular places for food in Europe so you can factor culinary tours into your trip:

  • Tuscany, Italy
  • Bordeaux, France
  • Santorini, Greece
  • Alentejo, Portugal
  • San Sebastián, Spain
  • Istria, Croatia
  • Mosel, Germany
  • Eger, Hungary

While these cities are most popular, there are plenty of other destinations with great culinary history to savor. You can explore our 16 Best Food & Wine Destinations in Europe for a more comprehensive list and information on what makes these places culinary hotspots.

What food should I try in Europe?

On your trip, you can discover Europe's regional and cultural influences in the flavors and authentic dishes. Below, we highlight some of the top foods to try depending on your chosen country and the best places to enjoy them:

  • Escargot • Paris, France
  • Gyros • Mykonos, Greece
  • Cheese fondue • Swiss Alps, Switzerland
  • Paella • Valencia, Spain
  • Neapolitan pizza • Naples, Italy
  • Haggis • Dornoch, Scotland
  • Pastel de nata • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Currywurst • Berlin, Germany

Is Europe a good place for wine?

A large part of Europe’s culinary appeal is wine pairings with authentic European dishes and bite-sized treats. After all, Europe produces the finest wines in the world and there are iconic wine-growing regions to discover. Below, we highlight some of Europe’s most famous wine regions:

  • Douro Valley, Portugal
  • Bordeaux, France
  • Piedmont, Italy
  • Mosel, Germany
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • Catalonia, Spain
  • Santorini, Greece
  • Istria, Croatia

You can explore the wonderful world of European wine on tours of iconic wine-growing regions or with day trips to vineyards in countries with historic or flourishing wine reputations. For inspiration, see our sample Italy Food & Wine Tours and Food & Wine Tours in France, from which you can curate your custom wine experience.

Is Europe safe to visit?

Europe is one of the safest continents to visit. Despite the conflict in some eastern European countries, all destinations Zicasso serves have low crime rates and few threats to international travelers.

First-world Europe, including Italy, Greece, France, and countries in central and northern Europe, is safe as police forces are responsive and active, tourism safety is a priority, and cultures are warm and welcoming. That said, petty crime like pickpocketing occurs in the busiest parts of Europe, like public squares in major cities and at crowded landmarks. For this reason, we recommend being aware of your surroundings and concealing your valuables.

Depending on the type of trip you are planning or the destinations you are visiting, you may have other safety concerns, such as the prevalence of natural disasters or dangerous wildlife. For example, there are active volcanoes in Iceland and dangerous marine creatures like Orcas in Spain. When traveling with Zicasso, your destination expert will ensure you are paired with knowledgeable guides and partake in safe tours, mitigating these risks.

Summer in Europe can get extremely hot, with July its hottest month. For summer trips, we advise applying plenty of sunscreen outdoors and retreating to your accommodation or sheltered areas when the midday sun is at its hottest.

What languages do they speak in Europe?

English is the most widely spoken language in Europe.

French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, and more official languages are prevalent in their respective countries, with dialects in different regions. However, most modern cities and their establishments cater to English-speaking tourists. Therefore, you should have no trouble communicating on your trip. Your guide will be able to translate if any communication barriers arise should you visit rural towns and villages.

What vaccinations do I need to travel to Europe?

Knowing what vaccinations are required or recommended beforehand is essential for international vacations and you can find out more about these suggestions in the ECDC Europe Vaccination Information.

For further advice or information, you can chat with a Zicasso travel specialist or consult your travel nurse or doctor when planning your trip.

Which airports should I plan for?

The airports you choose for your European vacation depend on your itinerary design and destinations. We can, however, recommend some of the most popular and accessible airports for major European cities you might want to visit. Below is a list of our recommendations for international arrivals, departures, and domestic transfers:

  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) • Paris, France
  • Rome–Fiumicino International Airport (FCO) • Rome, Italy
  • Athens International Airport (ATH) • Athens, Greece
  • Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) • Madrid, Spain
  • Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Zurich Airport (ZRH) • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Heathrow Airport (LHR) • London, England
  • Dubrovnik Airport (DBV) • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Munich Airport (MUC) • Munich, Germany

Do I need a visa for Europe?

American travelers can enter Europe and the Schengen Area without a visa on vacations of up to 90 days.

The establishment of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver will continue to allow American travelers to enter Europe exempt from visa requirements. In addition, your Zicasso travel specialist will provide you with further information regarding trips to Europe and your visa exemption status before departure.

What currency does Europe use?

The official currency of countries in Europe that belong to the European Union is the euro (€).

The vast majority of European countries are part of the European Union, allowing travelers to use euros regardless of where they visit. However, there are several exceptions, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and Switzerland. These countries use their own currency and travelers should acquire such.

Most major European cities and establishments accept the euro and sometimes the dollar. You can carry both or pay electronically with Mastercard, Visa, or American Express should an establishment accept these forms of payment. We advise taking cash with you on your trip as you may not find ATMs or access to electronic payments in rural areas or remote towns and villages.

How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Europe?

Zicasso can help you plan every aspect and detail of your trip, from booking accommodation and tours to arranging transfers. To find inspiration for trips, visit our European Tours & Vacations, a collection of customizable itineraries curated by our destination experts. Working with a travel specialist, you can make changes to these or book them as they are.

You can also find more ideas from our 10 Most Requested European Itineraries and 7 Perfect Itineraries for First-Timers to Europe. Your itinerary design is our priority and we can make adjustments until you are completely satisfied.

With an idea of where you want to visit in Europe and the type of experience you would like to have, you can provide us with more information by completing a Trip Request. By highlighting your ideas, stipulating your preferred trip duration, and setting a rough budget, our Travel Care team can match you with a travel specialist capable of fulfilling your request.

Your travel specialist will be available leading up to your trip and for the entire duration of your vacation, readily available to answer any questions you have on the ground in Europe. They can also help make daily changes to your itinerary and are available in the albeit rare case of emergency.

Learn more: How to Plan Your Zicasso Trip in 4 Easy StepsHow to Plan Your Zicasso Trip Budget in 3 Easy Steps

Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Banje Beach in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Banje Beach in Dubrovnik, Croatia

You can browse our European Tours & Vacations for recommendations and itinerary ideas for your trip to Europe. Whether you wish to explore the central European gems like Germany and Austria or spend your summer on Greece, Italy, or Croatia’s Mediterranean beaches, you can find an itinerary that sparks your imagination from this collection or create your own custom trip.

Check out our Europe Travel Guide if you want to learn more about Europe and explore our catalog of articles and guides for inspiration and ideas.

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