As the weather turns the corner to spring in Canada, a large portion of us start planning ideal spring and summer vacations. That means Europe is on most people’s minds, as they research their first trip to the Old World, or return to check more sights and cultural landmarks. Europe is great, we all love it, but it’s also expensive and crowded, and your vacation will be fleeting. Below we present some of our best tips for getting the most value out of your European vacation, so you can savor the sights without stressing the small things.
1.Stay Longer in One Place
When you find that city or region you love, you will hate leaving after a few days. If you’re planning two weeks or longer trips, research one place and stay there for the duration, taking smaller side trips. For instance, Florence is well positioned to hop on a train to Rome for a couple days, to take day trips into the Tuscan vineyards, hit a beach on the Mediterranean, make use of cheap flights within Europe and maybe even a short trip to Venice. So, book a long stay hotel, or condo-hotel/ airbnb that gives you more flexibility and value to take a few days away for other attractions.
2.Venture Off the Beaten Path
Obviously, visit the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but after you’ve finished that, throw away your map of Paris and just walk around. Book last minute flights with no intent in mind, and you’ll find what you were looking for in the narrow streets and local vendors, even if you weren’t aware you were looking for it. This way, you get more of a local flavor, rather than just the checklist tourist venues.
3.Stay Central and Walk as Much as Possible
One of the greatest things about Europe is the city centres were all built and conceived before the advent of the motor vehicle, so everything that is attracting you to search a flight booking to that location is within walking distance. For instance, in London, if you start at Trafalgar Square you can walk down Whitehall, past Number 10, to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, then down to Buckingham Palace within an easy afternoon. Or you can waste a day on the Tube from your cheaper place in the outer suburbs. So, splurge on a better location, you won’t regret it.
4.Talk to People/ Learn Some Local Phrases
Trust us, everyone knows you’re a tourist. And the locals will be eminently more hospitable if, when you’re visiting their town or country, you are more than just a photo-snapping tourist and try to engage the locals. No one will expect you to be fluent in the local dialect, but learn some obvious, useful phrases and the smiles and hospitality will make your stay that much more pleasant.
5.Know the Seasons in Europe
Peak season is June and September, super peak is July and August. While the weather and beaches are best in super peak times, the traffic in say, the French Riviera, in August will make you grateful for the modern highways of North America. If you’re going in super peak times because you managed to find cheap tickets, do it by train; a car rental is doable in peak times and others. The best of all worlds is April, May, the beginning of June and September: warm weather typer yet smaller crowds and the beaches are still an option for the most part.
Europe is an unforgettable experience; with the above tips, any traveler can make sure the memories are all good, and the frustration is kept to a minimum, or, ideally, left at home altogether.