Just One Way Around Europe

in Travel Tips

What is the best travel route around Europe? Photo: Marielle K.

Whether you’re thinking about the possibility of a trip to Europe, actively planning one, or actually setting off on your adventure, one question will be constantly lingering in the back of your mind: what is the best route to take around this great old continent?

Travelers have pondered over this ever since Europe became a feasible destination for a long, life-changing vacation. It is a nice quandary to have – not everybody can afford the time or, indeed, money to jet off to another continent – but because of the truly vast number of options available to you, it can occupy more of your time than will the actual trip itself.

Generally speaking, there is no one best route to take around Europe; each traveler has a different set of circumstances and a different set of desires. If you want a bit of sunshine, you might head south through Spain and Portugal for a while, but if you would rather spare yourself the slightly longer journey back up again, you might head east from France through Switzerland and Italy. During the summer months, most countries in southern Europe enjoy a nice hot blast from the sun anyway; it’s up to you how hot you want it to be.

Regardless of the best route around Europe, the most enjoyable, affordable way to see the continent is undoubtedly by rail. You can buy multi-country rail passes that allow you to travel around the continent, as freely as the train services allow, for however long you specify. Some passes have fixed journeys, while some are continuous, meaning that you can either travel on set days or set your travel days yourself.

Rail passes are valid in pretty much every country in Europe, so all you need to do is plan your route to suit your needs. If you’re setting off from the Americas, perhaps the best thing to do is get a return flight to Dublin. This will give you a great place to start and finish your trip. From there, you can get a cheap return flight to London, sample a bit of British culture and get into Europe by train from there. For travelers who take this option, the beautiful city of Paris is usually next on the agenda after London. If you can bring yourself to leave, then Paris becomes the springboard for the rest of your trip. You will have the liberating feeling of choosing whether to head south for the sun in Madrid and Barcelona or north east for the beers of Belgium. If you opt for the latter and go clockwise around Europe, though, you can still cut through the south of France from Italy and dip into north eastern Spain for a flying visit to Barcelona.

Belgium naturally leads onto the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, which are some of the most friendly and cultured countries on the continent. Enrich your experience further by heading south east via the German capital of Berlin and into Poland and the Czech Republic – the homes of yet more beer capitals of the world.

Austria is directly south of the Czech Republic, but the captivating cities of Zagreb and Budapest – among many people’s favorites – are within reaching distance. Head around the northern coast of the Adriatic Sea from either of those places to feast your senses on Italy, where you will find some of the most beautiful food, wine, art and people in the world.

When you’re full of Italian culture, you can either hit the said beaches of Barcelona in sunny Spain, or take the short journey north to Switzerland, which could quite possibly be the best move of your trip. No matter how much pizza you indulged yourself on in Italy, you will always find room for some Swiss chocolate.

The penultimate stop on your journey can then be a return to the City of Lights, for one last wander in the Parisian moonlight. You’ll no doubt already be starting to feel nostalgic on the Eurostar back to London, but you can really make sure you go out with a bang there: a night in Soho is a must. Then, for the perfect way to say farewell to Europe, have a pint of Guinness and an Irish stew in Dublin before you jump on that return flight. Like I mentioned, this isn’t necessarily the best route for everyone, but it is a brilliant one. Maybe next time, you can do the trip in reverse and enjoy a whole different experience of one of the most diverse continents on the planet.

By the end of it all, you’ll appreciate the significance of the phrase ‘journey of a lifetime’ just a little more pertinently. If only it was possible to do a continuous loop of Europe.

A European tour is something that everybody should do once in their life, even if it’s only for a week. So, if you’re not on your way already, order your rail pass, book your travel insurance from moneysupermarket.com and get ready to have your outlook on life changed forever.


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I have done four trips to Europe and all routes had a specific purpose. I tend to try and keep the route in a circle (so it’s easier to get around) or based around countries I haven’t visited. The routes I have taken are:

1. Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, Belgium, UK.
2. Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Austria
3. Turkey, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria
4. UK, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain

Overall, any route is a great route in Europe. Happy travels!

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