Stepping off the plane into a new country can be daunting even for the most seasoned traveller. What should you first? What are the best things to do? How to get around? What to see? What to eat? How to avoid getting ripped off? European cities are great to explore in a couple of days but you need to know how to make the most of your time in Paris, Rome or Amsterdam. As a trip driver I take travellers to the major cities in Europe all the time and my advice is always this…
No we’re not talking about Amsterdam. I mean climb something! The best way to get the layout of a city is to see it from a different perspective. Grab a map and work out where everything you want to see is. Whether it’s Montparnasse tower in Paris or the top of the Vatican, get a birds eye view and work out a plan of attack!
Work out the public transport
Europe is full of wonderfully designed metro systems, tram and bus networks and ferry lines. If you want to get around in a cost effective way and experience the city like the locals do jump on the metro. Always buy a ticket (and validate!) and use Google maps to work out the lines, you can’t go wrong. Unless you end up on the express service to Rome… Let’s not talk about it!
Coffee culture is ripe in many cities around Europe. For me Italy is the king of coffee but there are a few close runners up. Take a caffeine break from ticking off the Eiffel tower. Cool off with a Frappe before the Colosseum. Grab a cappuccino before cruising the canals of Venice. It’s a great way to see the locals relax and try some tasty local treats too.
Know your money
I travel a lot and I’m still not great at this one! Knowing what 10,000 Hungarian Lev equates to might make a difference to getting that taxi in Budapest or trudging around trying to find your obscure back alley air BnB by foot. I use XEs currency converter app to check the rate (often several times a day!). Handy it works offline too! Getting the best rate for your travel money can make travelling all that more affordable. Don’t get ripped off, there are people around relying on your ignorance!
This is the best advice I have ever received from a fellow traveller. Sure you have to see certain UNESCO world heritage sites. You have to get a picture holding up the leaning tower of Pisa or topless at the highest point in Europe if you’re Australian (although I’m still not quite sure why?). But that’s not where you will find truly unique experiences that make travelling the world so rewarding. For that you have to veer off of Las Ramblas or the Champs Elysees. Take a side street that smells like fresh bread or has some cool street art. In some places like Venice and Florence it’s hard not to get totally lost! But that’s half of the fun.
Go left when everyone else is going right.
Get some air
Some of my favourite places to visit in a city are the parks and botanical gardens. A city can have so many smells, noises and faces that sometimes you just need a break from it all. Cities also have some of the friendliest wildlife around as they are more used to people. Spot Pelicans in London’s Hyde park, bears in Bern, Switzerland and cats living amongst the ruins in Rome.
Learn the lingo
It’s surprising how many people don’t do this and then wonder why people aren’t very friendly or patient in Europe. Learn a few words in the language of the country you are going to. A simple Ciao, Hola, Bonjour or Dobrý den can make all the difference to your experience and usually gets a few laughs for your terrible pronunciation! You don’t fit in in Italy unless you’re constantly shouting prego at someone!
Learn a new language
European cities are a culinary explosion of culture and deliciousness. Eat bread. Drink wine. Eat more bread. Have a five course meal in the middle of the day. Eat a bit more bread. Have whatever the local speciality is. Did I mention the bread? We have a phrase; fat, broke and happy. That’s how to do Europe!
One thing you should never leave home without. Things happen on the road and having the safety net of a reputable company to look after you is invaluable. Sure price is important, but this is one travel essential not to skimp on! World Nomads are one of the most trusted travel insurance providers for a reason. Check out more information and get a quote by following this link.
How to travel better for less
These are the companies I use to travel the world for less. The reason long term travel is cheaper than you think is often down to shopping around for a great deal, here I’ve done the hard work for you!
Booking.com – I always book with this site if looking for cheap accommodation as the filters are so easy to use. Become a genius member after five bookings and get great discounts too!
Air BnB – Sometimes you can find great local places to stay on Air BnB. In some countries, like Cuba, it’s the only way to book!
Transferwise – A debit card you can use all over the world and get great exchange rates with no hidden fees. This bank has saved me £100’s in bank fees!
Monzo – A similar travel card to the above with additional features like joint accounts and bill splitting.
World Nomads – Travel insurance is one of the most important things you can have while travelling. Don’t leave home without it! World Nomads provide the very best cover.
What to pack – Here is my ultimate list of what to pack for every trip, available on Amazon. Plus eco friendly alternatives to your toiletries.
Omio – The place to go for all of your public transport needs in Europe. Save a bundle!
G Adventures – A sustainable, fun, responsible travel company. I’ve travelled with them many times and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their amazing trips of a lifetime.
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