Nowhere in the world can compete with Europe when it comes to the sheer number of diverse historical sites, world-class cities, and natural beauty spots, all crammed into a relatively small geographical area. This is what makes the continent such a joy to explore. With so much to see and do in such close proximity, it can be a little confusing on how best to approach it, and how best to see as much as possible. To help inspire your European odyssey here are some of the best ways to explore the continent.
Europe by River Cruise
An increasingly popular way to travel, river cruises offer a unique way to discover Europe. Thanks to the continent’s number of long winding rivers, you can easily take in a number cities and countries in a relatively short period of time. From the Seine to the Danube, Europe is blessed with many historical waterways perfect for exploring by boat. Explore Venice and northern Italy, see Paris and Normandy, float along the Rhine, or sail down the Rhône – it is entirely up to you.
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Similar to a typical cruising holiday, river cruise ships tend to be a little more compact – though no less comfortable. In fact, the smaller size of river cruise ships can make them an even more attractive prospect than a trip on a cruise liner, as they offer a more intimate, personal experience.
River Cruises also tend to dock right in the heart of their various destinations, meaning there is no need for long transfers by boat. The scenery is also much more interesting. As you’re rarely on the open water, you always have views of the surrounding coast and countryside to enjoy. Most river cruises also offer all-inclusive options, meaning it is probably the wisest choice for those looking for a luxury break.
Europe by Train
Traveling by trains offers a much more budget conscious way to see Europe. The continent boasts a highly advanced rail network that means it is relatively easy to travel between cities. It is also a more scenic way to travel than simply by road, and of course, you don’t have to worry about driving! As with a river cruise, traveling by train takes you right into the heart of Europe’s capitals, from Lisbon in the west to Budapest in the east.
Multi-country itineraries are easy to purchase and arrange and many tickets let you get on and off the train as you please, giving you excellent flexibility. However, even the nicest trains can’t compete with a river cruise when it comes to luxury and amenities. That being said they offer an unbeatable way to see Europe on a budget, whether it’s along the Mediterranean coast or up the Swiss Alps.
Europe by Air
Flying is the most efficient way to travel Europe. And with the popularity of budget airlines, it also needn’t cost the earth. Thanks to Europe’s small size it takes little time to fly between its major cities. Flights between Berlin and Paris only take just over an hour and a half, and even a flight across most of the continent from Prague to Madrid only takes three hours. I’ve personally snagged a few good deals on flights for as low as 35 Euros one way.
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While flying is, without a doubt, the easiest way to travel between two destinations, for those wanting to take in multiple destinations it may not be the best choice. As many airports are located far from Europe’s city centers, there can be a lot of transfer time, and the journey itself is much less pleasant than traveling by cruise or train, although it is much quicker.
Europe by Car
Want to see more of the European countryside and not just the major cities? If you wanted to get lost in some random medieval village or eat at some rustic rural restaurant then leasing a car might be a good option. You’ll have to lease the car 60 days or more for it to make financial sense. If you’re traveling with a group or partner the costs of leasing the car and the expense toll fees and fuel become less if you split the expenses.
Europe by Bike
If you’ve got the time and gumption, you can tour Europe by bike. This for the avid adventurer who’s up for a good challenge. You’ll have to plan some logistics such as how to get your bike to Europe or just rent it. Do you want to go on the trans-continental bike route or blaze your own trail? Some countries in Europe are safer than others for bikes, you’ll have to take this into consideration. Either way, touring Europe by bike is an exciting endeavor.
Europe by Motorbike
I’ve met a few travelers who’re touring Europe by motorbike and they’ve got amazing stories. It’s now on the top of my bucket list of things to do. I want to outfit my Bobber with saddlebags and mounting equipment to carry all my travel and photography gear. You’ll have to be extra vigilant in some less developed countries in the Balkans due to road conditions and crazy drivers.
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Regardless of how you like to travel, Europe offers a multi-destination trip like no other. So book your flights, train tickets, or opt for that all-inclusive river cruise, and you’ll be enjoying the best of the continent in no time.