Congrats – You booked your first trip to Europe! Hopefully, you have an idea of the cities you want to visit and sites you want to see while you’re there. Check out a few of our favorite cities if you need a bit of guidance! One of our editors went on her first trip to Europe earlier this year, and she’s sharing a few tips and tricks she learned on her travels. Read on for her advice and the 10 things she learned on her first trip to Europe!
1. Book hotels close to the sites you want to visit. This one kind of goes without saying, but don’t book a hotel that’s out of the way from where you want to be just because it’s cheaper! The ability to walk to the Eiffel Tower or to the restaurant on the corner for lunch is worth spending a bit more on your hotel. Another tip is to switch hotels halfway through your time in a city. Plan your activities based on where you’ll be that night!
2. Be aggressive but realistic in what you want to accomplish each day. We had to learn this one the hard way. Since it was my first trip to Europe, I wanted to see and do it all! After the first week of traveling, I was exhausted. We ended up skipping a lot of the sights and museums on the second half of our trip.
3. Plan out meals in advance but be flexible. My travel partner and I are huge planners, so we created a detailed itinerary for our entire trip. I even planned out every restaurant that we wanted to visit! We did make changes while we were there, but I really recommend doing this! Having options already picked out prevents you from wasting time on Trip Advisor in your hotel room.
4. Look into museum passes or cards in each city that will let you visit multiple spots for a flat rate. If you’re like me and you want to see as much as possible, look into museum passes in each city! They’re usually much cheaper than paying at the door at each spot. It also makes you feel less guilty if you breeze through each museum and just see what you want to see. The Louvre was super crowded, so we just popped in to see the Mona Lisa and then headed to lunch!
5. Build in time to relax. Another tip I had to learn the hard way! Give yourself a little time each day to just relax at your hotel or grab a drink at a rooftop bar. It is a vacation after all – You’re going to want time to sit down and enjoy your time away!
6. Take advantage of apps like Lime, Bird, etc. There’s a lot of walking in Europe. Like, a lot. We ended up using Bird to get around Paris, and we got to see way more than we would have seen on foot! Be careful and pay attention to traffic signs and laws, but scooters are a great way to give your feet a break.
7. Use the City Mapper app to navigate public transportation like a pro. Our friends in London got us hooked on this app when we first got to Europe! You can just put in where you want to go (whether it’s a restaurant or museum) and City Mapper will tell you the fastest way to get there. It compares subways, buses, and rideshare services, and you can decide the best option for your timeline and budget.
8. Wear comfortable shoes, even if it means sacrificing your ‘fit. You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again. Wear comfortable shoes! We’re so glad sneakers are in style and go with everything, so heed our words and pack your comfiest shoes. You won’t regret it!
9. Use Apple Pay. A lot of restaurants and spots in Europe use contactless payment, which is super convenient! Even the tube in London takes Apple Pay.
10. Always carry a little cash. While most places take cards or Apple Pay, there are still some spots that are cash-only. We found it helpful to always carry a little cash on us in the local currency to make sure we were always able to pay!
What are your top tips for those on their first trip to Europe? Let us know in the comments!