Traveling to Europe for the First Time

By Alice Ross | EUROPE

Mar 01
traveling to europe for the first time

You’re reading this because you’re planning a European trip. Congratulations! That is one of the best decisions you probably made in your life! After all, being able to explore a new place is one of the best things in the world.

As expected, things are definitely different in Europe – after all, that’s one of the reasons we travel, to discover new things. However, as a first-timer, you probably have some concerns. It’s normal to worry or be curious about what to expect when you get there. To help you, here are some tips you may want to know if you are traveling to Europe for the first time.

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Tips You may Want to Know

  • Consider visiting off the beaten path. Because it’s your first time, you’d surely want to see the places you normally see on magazines or the ones that influencers posts on their Instagram. However, not because it’s your first time, you should neglect the chance for you to meet the locals and learn the authentic lifestyle.
  • Stay in family-run hotels or B&Bs. Staying at small guesthouses and pensions, you will be able to meet the owner in the flesh and understand the country’s architecture. Generally, 2 or 3-star hotels in Europe are decent enough for a comfortable stay. But then again, make sure that they are located not too far from your point of interest.
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  • Find the best way to get around in the city. Riding a bicycle and trains are probably the best rides you could have when traveling in Europe. You would love the European trains and subways that are almost always on time. They go just about anywhere and offer an amazing way to see the beautiful sceneries. Rail passes in Europe offer great value and must be bought before leaving your country.
  • For going on distant routes, a bicycle would be your best friend. Riding a bicycle is a great and cheap way to get around and they are widely available in many European cities. Most European drivers are very considerate of cyclists and most hotels give space for those who want to park their bikes overnight.
  • Search for free attractions. Yes, you can get a free pass for famous attractions in Europe. Make sure to check out what comes with your rail pass. For instance, the Swiss rail pass comes with free admission to most museums, castles, and a discount on mountain cable cars and railways. Note that each city has different offers so check it out.
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  • Breakfast is included at most European hotels. While you might be used to continental breakfast of coffee, bread, and am, a lot of countries in Europe like Switzerland, Germany, and Italy offer buffet breakfast of cereals, boiled eggs, yogurts, rolls, sliced cold meats, and more... this would be a great way to start your day exploring.
  • Learn the mother tongue. We all wish we could speak all the language, but this is just too hard especially if you don’t have a lot of time to do it. But learning how to speak the basic phrases like “thank you”, “hello”, “how much”, etc. will take you a long way. While most Europeans can definitely speak and understand English, it would still be nice to learn as much as you can.

Best Cities to Visit in Europe for First-Timers

Paris, France

paris night

When we think of European trip, one of the first cities we think of is Paris. There are many things to do in Paris as a first-timer. As a cosmopolitan city, it’s a haven for fashion and culture. It’s also popular for its delicious cuisine, so make a list of what Parisian dishes you want to try before your trip!

One of the most popular things to do here is to visit different museums. Make sure to check out Louvre where you can find the painting of Mona Lisa along with other majestic artworks.

Make sure your feet are ready to walk around Paris. This city is best seen on foot. And of course, have photo ops in front of Eiffel Tower.

Brussels, Belgium

brussels city centre

Brussels is one of the European cities that are easy to miss when traveling to Europe for the first time, but shouldn’t. With many things to offer, doing so would make you miss a lot.

Not only Belgium’s capital, but also the European Union’s capital, Belgium offers man places to visit for tourists like Grand Place where you can find several shops and restaurants. Like Paris, you will also find beautiful paintings in different museums here from different centuries.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

amsterdam

If you think that Amsterdam is limited to the thriving red light district and copious coffee shops that are selling hash brownies, then if you decide to visit, you are in for a surprise.

Amsterdam is no doubt, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. You’ll have your horizons open to what the city is able to offer both socially and culturally. Amsterdam is a lively city that attracts over 4 million visitors annually.

Berlin, Germany

berlin

What used to be a divided city during the Cold War is now cohesive more than ever. However, as marks of its past, you will see how different areas have different architecture and lifestyle between several parts of East and West. And this is one of the best things about this city.

For your first time, you may want to take advantage of Hop-on, Hop-off. This will allow you to see some of the best parts of the city within a short time. For only €20, you will get a hop-on-hop-off pass that you can use for 24 hours from purchase.

Prague, Czech Republic

golden prague

Located in the heart of Central Europe, Prague is a city you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Europe. A lot of attractions are located in the Old Town, but the most popular sight is Charles Bridge, although it can be overcrowded, so make sure to visit as early as you can!

Another thing about this city is that there always happens here all year round. So, check out if there are festivals or cultural events going to take place on the date of your visit!

Budapest, Hungary

budapest

Coined as the "Spa City", Budapest is located between the two banks of the Danube River. Even though it’s a part of the former Eastern Bloc, this city has been a favorite city for those who are visiting Europe for the first time.

Budapest is preferable to be used as your base if you want to explore Hungary even further and for Eurail travelers their trains services different destinations all over Europe.

Vienna, Austria

vienna

Located in the heart of Europe, Vienna is a unique city with unique architecture. From inside out, its influence exceeds the territories of Austria. This means you can expect to see magnificent buildings with golden domes and impeccably sculpted statues.

Try to time your visit during special holidays in the country. In the money of January and February, Vienna hosts more than 400 balls. As long as you follow the dress code and ethics of the event, they will be happy to let you join the celebration.

Rome, Italy

colosseum rome

Visiting Rome is always a great experience for many first time visitors, but you must prepare yourself for encountering crowds. The city offers a lot of wonderful sights and attractions to see.

One of the best ways to see as much as you can in Rome is to join private tours. They can help you set up your itinerary so you can make the most of your time while there.

Barcelona, Spain

barcelona

One of the cultural jewels in the world, Barcelona is a vibrant, beautiful, and romantic city that is definitely known among tourists – even the first-timer ones.

Barcelona is not only popular for its authentic Catalan dishes, but also beautiful beaches, so make sure to pack your bikinis to make sure you can make the most of it!

Europe is definitely a dream destination for many, but going there for the first time can be very overwhelming. Hopefully, this article has given you enough tips for traveling for the first time.

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    About the Author

    Hi, I’m Alice Ross, a long-term traveler who left the corporate world to travel the world. I chose to live life on my own phase and live day by day while immersing myself in new experiences, new knowledge, and new people in a different walk of life I met along the way.

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