Europe is one of those dream continents for many. The variety of culture, and romantic landscapes, and ease of travel makes it one of the top destinations to travel.
A total of 44 countries make up Europe — some as big or small as some of the states in India.
However, with variety comes a burden of choice.
Starting from which countries and cities to choose from, planning logistics, stay, and deciding on things to do in each country, it can get overwhelming pretty soon!
Introduction on Planning a Europe Trip from India
Europe is a popular tourist destination, with millions of tourists visiting the major European cities every year. And few popular European cities serve as an introduction to Europe for the majority of the tourists like Paris, Rome, Venice, Prague, Vienna, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Budapest, or London.
Given that Europe has world-class public transport infrastructure, a variety of accommodation options from affordable hostels to swanky 5-star hotels, and a new country only a road-trip away, it’s quite easy and safe to find destinations that will appeal to the explorer in you.
Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Destination & Things to do in Europe
While every European city is unique and appealing in its own way, detailing all the destinations is well beyond the scope of this post. So, I’m going to give a brief lay-down into some of the top cities.
Most people prefer to visit the romantic French city of Paris during their first trip to Europe. Paris is a cornucopia of art, fashion, food, and culture. One of the most popular attractions in Paris is none other than the Eiffel Tower, which is an engineering marvel in itself. Also visit the Louvre museum, Arc De Triomphe, Palace of Versailles, in Paris to start with.
Amsterdam is yet another popular destination among tourists. The capital city of the Netherlands, also known as the city of canals. Canals, beautiful houses, ‘coffee’ shops, and the Red Light District are some of the most apparent reasons why tourists visit the city. But there’s plenty of artistic heritage, rich history, and culture if you decide to explore further. Also, be it summers or winters, cycling acts as the main lifeline of transportation in the city.
Prague (capital of the Czech Republic), also known as the “City of Thousand Spires” is another popular city in Europe. Cobblestone alleyways, colorful baroque buildings, Gothic architecture, makes the city all the more charming and fairytale-like. And also cheap compared to other popular European cities. Stop by at the beautiful Prague castle that overlooks the city, iconic Charles Bridge, Old Towns square, and Astronomical clock, to name a few.
Berlin is growing in popularity every year as a touristic spot, and it’s easy to see why. Rich World War II history makes it a prime attraction among history lovers, a variety of food options makes it the ideal place for foodies, and its fascination towards contemporary and modern art makes it a uber-hip city. East Side Gallery (the longest open-air gallery in the world), Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag building, numerous museums, and expansive parks only scratch the surface of the things to do in Berlin.
Did you know that the capital city of Austria – Vienna has been ranked the most livable city in the world, the 10th year in a row? While that’s just one aspect, Vienna, with its music, art, and cafe culture, only makes it a perfect city for visitors. Do visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schönbrunn Palace, Naschmarkt (outdoor market), House of Music (Haus der Musik) — among other things when in Vienna.
Scandinavia or Nordic Countries
I wanted to specially mention the Nordic countries – Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. While it’s far more expensive and characterized by lower temperatures than the rest of Europe – it has its own charm. If you visit here when the nights are long — that is between November and March, you have a higher chance of witnessing the magical Northern Lights as well.
However, with most of these cities facing overtourism issues like Venice, Rome, Paris — it’s probably is a good idea to either visit these cities during the off-season or finding destinations that are off the tourist radar to get the best out of Europe.
Nyhavn copenhagen Denmark
Things to do in Europe
- Go on a free walking tour, which gives you an introduction into the city — history, culture, food, and its main attractions. While it says free, the tour mostly runs on donations. The idea is that, at the end of the tour, you can make a donation to the tour guide based on how you find it. Typically, around 5-10 Euros.
- Like I mentioned before, public transportation in Europe is top-notch. So, a lot of people go on day trips from the city. So, check out if you’d be interested in any day trips from your city.
- While cities are popular among tourists, the countryside of Europe is picturesque and quite fascinating. Consider staying in the countryside and experience the humdrum of daily life which is much slower-paced than in the cities.
Best Time to Visit Europe
While each season has its own charm and the best time to visit depends on your interest, and the kind of crowd you can handle, the most touristic time in Europe is between June and August.
If you can manage the cold, then try visiting in the winter months between December and March, when you can witness the cities magically clad in snow. It’s a whole different experience altogether, and of course, you end up skipping the tourist crowds. Also, the entrance tickets and stay prices are far more affordable in winters.
Also, Christmas is a big thing in Europe, and you’ll see every significant city decked in lights and local Christmas markets popping up in the Old Town. So, it’s also a fantastic time to be in Europe to bring in the festive spirit. Tallinn, Zagreb, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, and many parts of Germany and France have some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
On the other hand, if you want a compromise between weather and crowd, then the shoulder months of October and April would be ideal for you.
Visa for Europe Trip from India
Most tourists visiting mainland Europe usually apply for a Schengen visa.
Equipped with a Schengen visa, you have access to 26 countries that are part of the Schengen region. Apart from this, 23 countries are not part of the Schengen region. Still, some offer a free visa on arrival with a valid Schengen visa, including Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and so on.
However, the Schengen visa is one of the most elaborate when it comes to applying for a visa. It has quite a lot of paperwork involved. To make it simpler for you, here’s an extensive guide on applying for a Schengen visa from India.
If you are not traveling to the Schengen region, chances are you’d have to apply for a country-specific visa — say Croatia, Romania, Ireland, or the UK.
Flights to Europe from India
You’ll find a reasonable number of flights flying to Europe from major metro cities in India.
Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru are the top places to fly out to Europe. And Paris, Rome, Madrid, Amsterdam, Istanbul, and Vienna are the major flight destinations in Europe from India.
KLM has direct flights to Amsterdam from Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. And AirIndia has direct flights from Delhi to Paris and Air France from Mumbai and Bengaluru to Paris.
The expected duration is about 12-13 hours by flight one way.
On average, flight costs about INR 45,000 for a return ticket. With a little research, you can find flights for about Rs. 30,000 return as well.
Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Accommodation in Europe
Again, accommodation varies based on which city you’re visiting. Starting prices for accommodation can be much higher in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe.
Having said that, here’s what you can expect in major cities in Europe:
Europe is well-known for its backpacking culture thanks to its closely-knit group of budget-friendly hostels. Usually, dorms range from 4-beds to 16-beds dorm — either categorized by gender or mixed. Also, hostel culture allows you to interact with some cool people from all around the world. Also, it offers numerous activities, like group tours and pub hopping. Some hostels offer free breakfast and usually come fully equipped with a kitchen where you can prepare your meals if you like. Hostel accommodation typically ranges between 15 and 25 Euro per night.
More and more people now prefer to stay in Airbnb in a home away from home. Ideal if you are looking for your own space for a private holiday either with friends or family. Airbnb usually comes fully equipped with a kitchen, which makes making dishes all the more convenient. Prices typically start from 20 to 30 Euros per night. Also, check out Airbnb experiences for more exciting experiences with locals.
If neither a hostel or Airbnb is suitable for you, then the next best option would be to stay at a hotel. Hotels usually come with free breakfast, and a concierge service — so it’s quite a convenient means of traveling. Hotel accommodation usually starts at about 35 Euros to 50 Euros per night. Also, prices can vary by where you prefer staying in a city.
Pro Tip: While booking stays for a visa, make sure that your name and all your travel companions’ names are mentioned clearly in the booking to avoid visa problems.
Transportation in Europe
The best part about Europe is that its quite convenient to travel between countries — it’s mostly as easy as traveling domestically.
If you are traveling between countries or cities, plan your itinerary such that you can utilize the extensive public transport network in Europe, either buses or trains. The best and most convenient is to opt for rail pass through services like Eurail.
There are different categories of Eurail Passes based on the countries you are planning to visit, and the number of days of travel. Single country passes are cheaper than multi-country passes. Usually, Eurail Passes costs upwards of 400 Euros for seven days travel in a month per adult on a Global Pass, and around 200 Euros for eight days travel in a month for a single country pass. With Eurail Pass, you have the flexibility of choosing your days of travel, and it’s not fixed like when you book tickets. If flexibility is what you are looking for, then it can’t get any better than Eurail Pass.
If you are looking for a more affordable way to travel across cities, then check out Flixbus, which has bus connections throughout Europe. You can find tickets at around 25 Euros for an 8-hour journey if booked a week or two in advance.
When in Europe, go on road trips whenever possible. It’s a fantastic place to go on road trips between countries and enjoying the beautiful scenery at your own pace. Especially helpful when you are visiting small towns where public transportation may not be frequent. Typically, it costs between 50-100 Euros per day of rental.
As far as traveling within a city is concerned, each city typically has trams, buses, a subway, or a metro network. Either you’d have to buy a transport card before your travel and reload it as much as you want, or buy a single ticket within the city limits. And in most major cities, there are multi-day passes that you can avail from the local tourist office or website. And, use Google Maps for public transport suggestions (trams, buses, or subway/metro) within city limits.
Food & Drinks in Europe
The variety of countries in Europe is reflected in its food culture as well.
Typically, doner kababs are cheaper pretty much everywhere (about 5 Euro). Some of the other more affordable food options include — pizza slice (3-5 Euro), sandwich (4 – 8 Euro), burgers (5 – 8 Euro), or Hummus (5 Euro).
And also, eating out in a fancy restaurant with a couple of drinks will easily set you back by 20 Euros or so.
Also, do try the local food specialty when you can. Usually, a simple google search will bring you recommendations on the best places to eat and drink. Also, check TripAdvisor and Zomato for reviews.
Vegetarian food in Europe
Due to a wave of vegan culture in Europe, vegetarian food is more readily available now than ever. And you usually wouldn’t face many issues in Western Europe. But, in Eastern Europe, it could be a problem as vegetarian food is quite limited there. Even then, you’ll find vegetable burgers, sandwiches, Margherita pizzas, or salad at the least. And also if you don’t have a vegetarian dish on the menu, you can request them to make a dish without meat. Some times, it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But there’s no harm in trying!
Currency in Europe
While the majority of Europe uses Euro, there are quite a few countries which have their own currency as well. Ideally, you can carry Euros from India and then convert it into the local currency in one of the currency conversion centers.
The currency rates differ from one to another, and it could be tricky to find the best and authentic places to convert currencies. Instead, I’d suggest withdrawing cash from your forex card, which dispenses cash in the local currency. Using a debit card would be the next best option to withdraw some money.
Also, for transactions, it’s better to use forex cards over credit cards as credit cards usually levy about 2.5-3.5% extra (currency conversion, and forex charges). You can request a forex card from the bank you have an account with.
Or the best I’ve found so far from India is to signup for a NiYo Global Card – which is a prepaid card, and you can reload money on the card and use it pretty much like a forex card. But the advantage is that the foreign exchange rates are much better than a forex card, and also they don’t have any additional charges signup charges for the same.
Not all places accept card — like transport ticket when you are paying inside the bus or tram, or small shops or markets. So, it’s better to carry some cash along with you.
Europe Trip Cost from India
This is a question that is quite difficult to answer. Keep in mind that Europe is not a country, but a continent that comprises of many countries. Switzerland is way more expensive than Greece and Spain, while Budapest is pretty Cheap.
Also keep in mind that it varies quite a bit based on the places you visit, the kind of accommodation you stay at, the modes you choose for inland transportation (flights, taxis, ferry etc.).
That said a normal 10 day trip that covers 2-3 countries usually costs people about 1 to 1.25 Lakhs per person.
Also, if you will be doing your entire Europe trip backpacking (hitchhiking, staying in hostels etc.), the costs will be substantially different from a regular trip.
I hope this gives you a fair idea about the cost for Europe Trip.
What to wear in Europe
Since the temperatures could be in Europe depending on when you are visiting, it’s essential to plan your travel wardrobe accordingly. Do check the weather forecast to get an approximate idea of the temperatures before visiting.
Spring (March to May)
Most of Europe is pleasant during spring which temperatures typically ranging from 11-19 degrees Celsius. It’s the season when the flowers bloom — so it’s one of the most beautiful seasons to travel in. Pack thermals and jackets depending on the temperatures.
Summers (June to August)
Sunny weather, long days, and flourishing nightlife makes summer the high season among tourists. July and August are the hottest months with temperatures reaching up to 32 degrees Celsius. Wherever you are in Europe during this season, a single layer of clothing would be enough.
Autumn (September to November)
Autumns in Europe are a sight to watch with leaves changing colors to myriad shades between yellow and red. There’s usually a nip in the air during this season — and it could vary greatly based on where you are located. Autumn is usually characterized by positive single degree temperatures and rains, so it might be necessary to pack a raincoat or an umbrella.
Winters (December to February)
This season is mostly about snow and temperatures are usually below 0 degrees. It’s essential to pack extra layers – thermals, sweatshirts, and a winter coat along with your usual item of clothing. Also, carry a winter cap, shawl, gloves, socks, and winter-proof shoes. Very important to cover your extremities so that you don’t fall sick.
Tips While on a Europe Trip from India
- Most of the countries in Europe have their own language, so it would be better if you learn a few words in advance to better interact with locals.
- Europe is pretty much safe for solo travelers, including women. But of course, like always, trust your instincts, and take necessary precaution – like not roaming around in deserted alleys, or going for drinks alone in a bad neighborhood, and such.
- Many people don’t realize that pick-pocketing is quite common in the major cities in Europe. So, be cautious about where you keep your valuables. While you are out sightseeing, don’t carry your original passport preferably unless absolutely necessary — leave it at your accommodation and take a photocopy instead. Also, bring along just enough cash that will last you a day or two. And don’t carry all your money in one pocket.
- Always carry your passport when crossing borders, even if it’s just on a day trip.
Raksha is a travel and adventure blogger at therovingheart.com. She is always collecting experiences. She has spent around 3 months in Europe (most of it solo) after taking a career break.