If you are one of the people whose dream is to spend at least 2 weeks in Europe, “Where should I go?” is probably THE question. Unfortunately, you probably realize that Europe is almost the same size as the USA. Unless you want to end up exhausted from constantly rushing around to see every single hot destination in such a short period of time, the best advice is to pick the route that will cover one region and bring together what fits your travelling taste the most.
It all depends on how you plan to travel in the first place. Luckily enough, Europe has great road and rail networks, connecting all the major hotspots with great ease. Depending on your desired means of transportation, you will have to make certain adjustments and pick the locations which seem most fit to explore in that way. If you are traveling on a budget, it’s best to learn about the cheapest countries to travel in Europe. If not, you will have a great many options at your disposal by going just a little bit over the top.
A Trip around the Adriatic
Travelling through the Adriatic region will enable you to cross three countries – Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia, each offering exceptionally good tourist attractions and lots of activities. This makes the Adriatic tour a perfect option to start exploring Europe. You can distribute the 14 days you have at your disposal evenly and spend around 3 days in each of them. Although you can reach all of these countries by travelling on land, the best way to soak in the beauty of the charming Adriatic shore is to cruise down the coastline and make necessary stops according to the itineraries. After you pick the best Adriatic cruise, here is what you shouldn’t miss along the way.
The cruises of the Adriatic side of this boot-shaped peninsula usually incorporate Venice and Trieste. The floating city of Venice is where you will get the chance to ride back in time on a gondola through its intricate canal system, admiring the beauty of Venetian architecture and splendor. Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute are only some of the finest examples of unique Venetian features.
Stretching along mere 47 kilometers, Slovenian coast is densely packed with beautifully preserved seaside towns that should be on every Europe itinerary. Koper is the biggest coastal town of Slovenia. Although this town is actually a marina and doesn’t have extravagant beaches, Koper houses some of the best traditional cuisine restaurants.
Quite similar and yet completely different is Piran, the jewel of Slovene Riviera. You can experience the panoramic view of the city and the sea from St. George’s Church Campanile or get acquainted with the city’s history by strolling along the city walls.
Next off on your waterway voyage are the jewels of Dalmatia – Dubrovnik and Split. Dubrovnik is said to be one of the most perfectly preserved medieval towns in the world, whose baroque buildings and marble streets seem to defy the ravages of time.
After you’ve marvelled at Diocletian’s Palace and Peristil Square, you can take a taxi boat to the island of Lokrum or have a glass of wine in one of the cliff bars. Once in Split, make time to explore Krka National Park, which is only an hour’s drive away from the city and take boat trips or go for a swim in the river Krka.
The Western Quest
One of the epic ways to spend your two-week trip in Europe is to embark on a journey across Western Europe – the UK, France, and Spain. In all probability, you will spend a few days in each of the bustling metropolitan cities – London, Paris, and Barcelona, with occasional stops at other equally compelling destinations along the way.
Comprising Britain, Ireland, and Scotland, it’s not really possible to see all the sites in the UK in just a couple of days. Plenty of travel agencies organize tours in this part of Europe by starting from London. Britain’s capital is a great place to start your exploration of the country. Still, the chances are you won’t get the really far around the country in 3-4 days. Instead, it’s highly recommended that you make the most of your trip by checking out London’s famous attractions – Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and The Tower of London.
In most cases, you will have at least one day at your leisure so make sure to see at least some of the attractions outside London. Oxford is situated only 60 miles from London and you should make the effort to visit one of the oldest universities in the world or even cruise down the river in a punt. Close to London are also Canterbury, Bath, and Whitstable, each with their unique British charm and are a must-see for anyone who decides to travel to Europe.
Read more: Best Places to Eat in London for Every Budget
Paris is always a good idea, right? Not only will you see the metropolis that sets the bar for art, fashion, and architecture but you will also have the chance to venture outside the city, visiting Versailles Palace and Gardens, Claude Monet’s House, the Royal Necropolis, Chartres Cathedral, or the Cellars and Towns of Champagne.
The best part is that all of these sites are no more than a few hours’ drive from France’s capital. What is more, TGV high-speed trains connect over a thousand destinations throughout France and you can take a great trip to the French Riviera. You will have Nice and Cannes at your disposal, with each of these captivating coastal cities offering beautiful beaches and unforgettable sunsets.
The culmination of your western quest has to be Spain – the sun-drenched land of laughter, joviality, splendid beaches, and inimitable architecture. Once again, EuroRail is your lucky charm. The high-speed rail connection between Paris and Barcelona will have you in Spain in the blink of an eye. The price of train tickets seldom exceeds 80 dollars but you can also get a pretty nice bargain if you stay informed about the discounts and pass benefits. In all likelihood, you will have at least 2 days to saunter around Barcelona and even check out the neighbouring attractions. The best place to stay for the first-time comers to Barcelona is the Gothic Quarter.
There are countless AirBnBs, hostels, and hotels around this area and they are all in close proximity to the essential streets and buildings of this metropolis. It is in this quarter that the Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi built one of his very first projects Plaça Reial. Of course, it’s all incomparable to his masterpiece Sagrada Familia. In order to evade waiting for hours to get in this church, don’t forget to book the ticket in advance and skip the line.
Read more: 10 Cheapest Cities in Western Europe
The Nordic Tour
If you prefer to experience Europe with a breath of fresh, chilly breeze in your hair, visiting the Nordic countries is an excellent way to experience Northern Europe. You must be wondering what is the best way for first-time visitors to get the most out of this Nordic adventure in just fourteen days but luckily, there is a handful of ways to cover as many destinations as possible with so little time at your hands.
The Finnish road infrastructure is pretty much the same as in other parts of Scandinavia – almost impeccable and well connected. If you decide to rent a car, you will have a great chance to explore “the land of a thousand lakes” at your own pace. Finland’s capital Helsinki never fails to surprise visitors with its placid charm, jolly local bars, incredible northern lights, and immersive nature.
Renting a bike is an awesome way to move around the city and explore it thoroughly. Still, if you want to get to know Finland inside-out, you should get back in your car and hit the road toward seven Unesco World Heritage sites this country holds so dear. And last, but certainly not least, Finland is home to 40 national parks scattered around the country. Their untouched beauty and breath-taking sceneries are sure to leave you breathless.
Narrowing down the list of reasons to visit Sweden is downright impossible. Still, it’s worth noting that you won’t regret a single minute spent there, no matter how long you stay. Hiding hundreds of lakes, thick pine forests, magnificent mountain ranges, and green pastures, this incredibly captivating country is also the one giving every visitor the freedom to roam. Allemansrätten – also called “everyman’s right” – means that you can visit every single inch of the land and move around freely as long as you pay due respect by not polluting the environment. Sweden is equally captivating all year round. During winter months, you can catch a glimpse of the celestial spectacle known as the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), particularly visible in the “auroral zone” at the right timing.
During the summer, it pays off to visit the bigger cities like Gothenburg and Stockholm for two reasons. One of them is that you will get the chance to enjoy the bustling atmosphere of these extraordinary cities. Another one is that they are just a short ride from the majestic Swedish archipelagos where you can go boating or kayaking.
The land of Vikings and Norse Gods doesn’t cease to impress the visitors with its history and unparalleled natural beauty. Stretched alongside the Arctic Ocean, this magical country is every nature lover’s dream come true. As if torn out of the pages of a fairy tale, Lofoten Archipelago comprises islands dotted around the Norwegian coast and they might as well be the most scenic spots in the whole world.
In case you miss the chance to spot Aurora Borealis in Sweden, Norway is also a great place to catch sight of this unique phenomenon. Perfect to do so are the Northern parts of the country where, apart from Lofoten, you can take a trip to Vega Archipelago or visit some of the smaller cities and coastal towns such as Bodø or Tromsø. Sure enough, Oslo is a must-stop too. With its fresh air almost intoxicating and the famous Oslo Fjord, Norway’s capital will make you wish to stay there for much longer than a few days.
As if the rest of Scandinavia isn’t alluring enough, Iceland emerges from the depths of the North Atlantic with such beauty to make it one of the most enchanting countries in Europe. Once you decide to leave Norway, the best way to save time and money is to book a direct flight to Iceland. It usually takes around 5 hours to get there, including transfers. All the major airports connect these two countries and airlines such as Icelandair, Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle offer flights from Bergen Airport to Reykjavik Keflavik Nas Airport. If you’re a first time visitor to Iceland, seasoned travellers highly recommend that you simply take the Icelandic road trip. This is great advice because the trip won’t last longer than 24 hours (828 miles) if you do it in a single blow. However, it’s best to make your own Ring Road itinerary, split the trip into 2 or 3 days, and find the cheapest car rental.
Some of the best attractions to catch along the Ring Road are the Hekla volcano and Vatnajökull, Europe’s biggest glacier. At just 2 hours drive from Reykjavik are Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls and just a short venture off the Ring Road will lead you to Hallormsstaðaskógur – the largest forest in Iceland.
Read more: The ultimate Iceland packing list
The Benelux Odyssey
Believe it or not, the best way to travel the Benelux countries – Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, is by train. Not only will you get the chance to admire the scenery but you will also use this superb means of transport to customize your journey as you wish. Once you get a hold of the Eurail Benelux Pass, the only thing you have to worry about is picking the most suitable destinations to enjoy your time in Europe to the maximum.
Unrightfully labeled as “a boring country”, Belgium is anything but that. Surely, it owes this reputation to its slow-paced and laid-back atmosphere, but this unruffled ambiance is what makes it so unique. Provided that you have at least 3 days to explore Belgium, it’s best to base yourself in Brussels or other areas to stay close to it. It is from there that you can plan the rest of the itinerary. There are quite a few hot-spots in Brussels you should check, first of them being the Notre Dame Sablon cathedral – a perfect example of Gothic architecture.
After you’ve wandered down the charming little alleyways and gulped all the chocolate you could eat, make sure to stop and admire the splendor of the most famous central plaza – the Grand Place, also known as the Grote Markt. This remarkable square is where the City Hall is situated, along with other guildhalls.
Having left no stone unturned in the capital, it’s time you set out to explore Ghent and the ever-so-popular Bruges. The national train line Belgiantrain.be is a godsend for such occasion. Not only is it fast and cheap but it also connects all three cities, making it the ideal means of transport for such a short period of time. The Venice of the North – Bruges will steal your heart the very moment you lay your eyes on the red-brick Medieval houses and glistening little canals.
Not to mention numerous breweries, the finest Belgium chocolate, and delicious waffles. Just 30 minutes away from Bruges is Ghent. Slightly bigger than its neighbor, this vibrant little city perseveres through the ages. Incredibly well-preserved castles, churches, university buildings, and cathedrals make Ghent a must-see Belgian destination.
Standing in stark contrast to its neighbouring Belgium, the Dutch undertone is one of liveliness, splashing colors, and the inevitable tulips and windmills. If you want to save big on transportation costs, the cheapest way to travel between Brussels and Amsterdam is by bus or train. While bus tickets are fairly cheaper than train fares, it will take you a bit longer to reach Amsterdam. The Netherlands’ capital is, of course, notorious for its nauseatingly good atmosphere and charm.
Drenched in history, it is home to some of the best museums, art galleries, and building in the world. There, you can visit the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings, enjoy the legendary nightlife around the Leidseplein square, and enjoy the 17th-century architecture.
Read more: Guide to Leiden – How to Enjoy Leiden on a Budget
This petite country is an oasis of peace and surprisingly good wines – making it a perfect destination to bring your Benelux trip to a close. Mobility providers such as FlixBus offer extra-cheap bus rides from Amsterdam to Luxembourg, giving you an awesome opportunity to reach this tiny gem pretty fast. With just a little over 2, 500 square kilometers, Luxembourg is still managing to stay off the radar of many visitors to Europe.
Luxembourg City is an ideal mix of old and modern, displaying fantastic stone bridges perfectly blended with modern buildings. The Old Town of Luxembourg brims with heritage buildings, grandiose palaces, and other notable examples of Gothic architecture, landing this picturesque part of the city on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites not to be missed.
Grand Tour around Central Europe
If this is your first time visiting Europe, the countries of central Europe are an ideal vacation combo to spend two weeks constantly admiring the everything you see along the way. This regional trip is something you should plan well in advance, though. From deciding which cities to visit to determining the most cost-effective ways of getting around, the Grand Central Europe tour demands that you do your preparations properly. But don’t worry – it’s absolutely worth the hassle!
Germany is a superb country to start this epic trip. Upon your arrival at a big city of your choice (Berlin, Munich, or Frankfurt), you should make the effort and find the cheapest car hire in Germany. That way you will be ready to get behind the wheel and set off to explore the rest of the country the next day.
Whichever city you base yourself in, set aside that day to explore it properly. In case you are still racking your brains to figure out what that city should be, read the recommendations and make the cut. Additionally, Germany has a tremendously reliable transportation system, so you can download the Eurail planner app and make the most out of your travel.
Read more: 10 Amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Germany
It is from Germany that you can take any of the night trains and arrive at heavenly Switzerland at early dawn. Surprisingly enough, taking the train from Berlin to Basel takes no more than 7 hours and those departing from Frankfurt will have you in Basel in less than 3! Once in Switzerland, it will be hard to decide which way to go. Although you should pick any of the major cities to start your exploration from, Switzerland is all about the splendid sceneries, far away from the city hype.
For a 3-4 day trip around this country, it’s a good idea to get the Swiss Travel Pass. There are 26 cantons in Switzerland but some of them hide stunning sceneries you shouldn’t miss. Nature lovers will surely appreciate Bernese Oberland, Obwalden, Graubünden, and Vaud. These cantons comprise scenic lakes, hills, and villages – mandatory items on your Switzerland bucket list.
Read more: The Drop-IN Series: Jungfrau Ski Region, Switzerland
The trains from Zurich depart for Vienna or Salzburg as frequently as 7 times a day. Now that you’ve traveled this far, it’s time to discover magical Austria. If you base yourself in Salzburg, you can start exploring the Alpine lakes and townlets of the Salzkammergut region. An hour’s drive from Salzburg is the lovely Hallstatt – a small Austrian village crammed with cafes, shops, and an amazing lake view.
It is in this region that you will find some of the most beautiful old castles, green pastures, and the World’s Oldest Salt Mine. Needless to say, Vienna should also be on top of your list during this 2-week trip. Nothing quite compares to Austria capital’s architecture – particularly those of the Opera House, the Town Hall, and the Parliament. In fact, the whole surface of the Inner City is stunning. Still, some sacrifice has to be made because Vienna is such a captivating city to be explored on such short notice. Either way, make sure to pick the best itinerary for a one-day trip to Vienna and enjoy every single moment of it.
The Czech Republic
There can’t be a better place to wrap up your Central Europe voyage than Prague, Czech Republic. The best part is that it only takes about 4 hours to get from Vienna to Prague, regardless of whether you’re travelling by plane or taking a train. The departures are ever so regular so you won’t have much of trouble fitting it in your schedule. When it comes to Prague, there isn’t much of it this city doesn’t have – churches and cathedrals, castles and gardens, boardwalks and cafes – Prague has it all. If time permits, pay a visit to some of the most enchanting châteaux outside Prague, such as Karlstejn, Lednice, Bouzov, and Konopiste.
A large number of Europe itineraries offer big cities simply because Europe is home to so many of them. For this reason, a great many travellers decide to pick one country and spend their long vacation there. When visiting Italy, you may simply stay in Rome and take trips to Milan, Bologne, or Verona. Contrastingly, you may even decide to spend the whole vacation in just one city. The truth is, it would be a shame. Two weeks in Europe could provide you with enough time to see most of the few countries you pick. No matter what your choice is, one thing is certain – you will come back for more sooner or later.