Let me just start off with saying one week in Europe is just not enough time to do it all (which gives you a great excuse return.) With that being said, don’t feel like you have to see it all in one trip because if you go with that mentality you will be greatly disappointed. While my experiences may be different than others, I can help with some do’s and don’t. Follow these tips and your trip will feel longer and you’ll get to see as much as you can in a week.
1. Number of Countries
When I bought my first plane ticket to Europe I had this dream of me going from country to country seeing anything and everything. Once it came to picking countries we would be traveling to, I had a quick news flash that I wasn’t going to be able to see everything I wanted to see. It’s pretty impossible to see 15 countries in 7 days, but hey, if anyone has done it, leave a comment to tell me how!
So my aunt and I are sitting in the kitchen coming up with a list of things we want to see and places we wanted to travel to. We decided we wanted to travel to 3 countries in 7 days, which didn’t sound that bad at the time. Little did we realize trains had departing times and it’s their world and we’re just living in it. We also didn’t realize how tired we were going to be traveling from place to place.
The first 3 days were spent in Pairs, which was amazing and we were able to see everything we wanted to see. After those 3 days, we took a train to Amsterdam. The train left around 1:00 pm which seems like enough time to explore Amsterdam, but arrived at the train station an hour early to make sure we knew where we were going, from there it was a 2.5 hour ride. When arriving to Amsterdam we had to figure out where to get our tram passes so we could get to our hotel. Once we received the passes we had to check into the hotel and drop our bags off. By the time we were ready to explore, it was 4:30 pm. The whole day had been wasted. This unfortunately was the only time we had in Amsterdam. We walked around Rembrandt Square, the floating flower market, and went to a couple bars and restaurants. This was not enough time to see the things we wanted to see. The next morning we took a train to Ghent, Belgium where we had a repeat schedule. By the time we arrived in Ghent most attraction were closing. We spent the night there and returned to Paris in the morning.
If I could have changed anything about our trip it would be to give yourself at least 2-3 days per country. Your first morning and afternoon will be ruined by traveling so you’ll need that extra day to explore.
The best way and most exciting way to travel Europe is by train. Thalys and the EuRail were the trains we decided to use, although there are other train options. A tip for the trains would be to arrive an hour early to get familiar with your departure site and to try and book over night trains or early trains. This will help you see more of the city.
Last transportation tip would be to do research on the city’s transportation before arriving. You want to make sure you don’t waste time looking for a tram pass to realize it’s easier to use the metro system.
Lastly picking a hotel in or close to the city center will help you get more out of your trip. When you can easily walk to your destination rather than taking a tram, taxi, metro, etc. you save time and money. You also receive a more authentic city feel rather than staying outside the city.
These are just a few tips and tricks that I wish I would have known before traveling. Fill free to leave comments if you have any tips of yourself or questions. Stay tuned for more tips and stories!
–Consumed by Wanderlust