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19 Europe Travel Tips For First Time Visitors

19 Europe Travel Tips For First Time Visitors

When you travel to Europe for the first time, you will need some helpful tips before you arrive, as planning a trip to an unfamiliar continent can be pretty daunting.

Europe is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and religions, so each country has its own set of rules that need to be understood. Understanding how things work may leave you feeling confused on your first trip to Europe.

Well, I am here to help you! After living in England all my life and travelling extensively around Europe, I have compiled some helpful tips to help you travel smoothly.

These essential travel tips will help you plan a memorable trip to Europe and put your mind at rest!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Travelling to Europe

When should I visit?

Avoid the peak seasons – this would be one of my most important helpful tips. Avoid the months of June, July and August, and you will avoid the scorching heat and crowds.

Cities such as Seville and Nice will be sprawling with tourists, meaning long queues and busy landmarks. Europeans take their holidays during summer, so most countries will be overflowing with visitors.

Plan your trip for spring or autumn from March, April, and May or September, October, and November when the temperatures are cooler and the crowds are considerably less.

Do I need to pre-book activities?

Yes! Make reservations in advance – Europe and its many wonders get booked up quickly each year, so make sure you aren’t going to miss out on anything and book tours in advance.

Secure your flights, accommodation, tours and train tickets and arrive with peace of mind. Skip-the-Line admission tickets for famous sights are a must and, in my opinion, worth every extra penny they cost. I once turned up at the Vatican and glided straight past a queue of at least 500 people.

How much money will I need?

Take a mix of cash and credit – While you won’t want to carry around a wallet full of notes, it’s advisable to always have a little cash with you, as credit cards aren’t accepted everywhere. Consider topping up a travel money debit card with the currency of the country you are visiting.

Small local tavernas, taxis and markets may only be able to accept cash, and you don’t want to be left unable to buy that unique souvenir or be stranded without a ride home.

One of the less apparent essential travel tips for Europe is to have small denomination banknotes and coins with you for gratuities.

Do most Europeans speak English?

English is such a widely spoken language that most Europeans can speak it very well; however, in remote villages or when talking to elderly locals, don’t be surprised to find they can only speak their native language.

Learning a few basic phrases while on your trip to show you are willing to try is a nice gesture. The local person will appreciate your effort even if your pronunciation isn’t correct.

Phrases such as Where is? How much? and Can I have? are all good to learn.

Where should I stay?

Stay in a centrally located hotel – Over the years I’ve heard many stories of visitors staying outside the city centre for cheaper accommodation.

They then discover that the cost and inconvenience of travelling back to the centre have added considerable time and money to their trip.

Find a hotel in the central area, and you can walk to all the landmarks and restaurants without needing a taxi or bus.

Where should I eat?

Avoid restaurants with plastic menus showing pictures of the meals – they will serve cheap, tasteless food. Instead, look for small family-run tavernas that pride themselves on local home cooking. After all, you didn’t travel to Italy to eat a burger, did you?

When looking for a restaurant, stay away from the main central areas as prices will be inflated for tourists. Try the local wines with your meal; they are generally delicious. One of my all-time favourite white wines was one I tasted in Croatia!

Should I hire a car to get around?

If you plan to travel around Europe, then a car is the best mode of transport because you can stop wherever and whenever you want. Hidden villages and beachside locations will be easy to access.

Another option is to take the train. This mode of transport is quick, easy and reliable. One of my most effortless journeys was from Nice to Monaco, two countries, in less than an hour!

If you think you will use the train often, ask your hotel reception where you can buy a travel pass.

There will be self-serve ticket kiosks at train stations; don’t worry, as there is usually a staff member around to help you with any difficulties.

A view of Monaco from the Prince's Palace

How will I get around the city?

Get a City Pass or walk – most cities have city passes for the days you will be staying and cover travel on public transport, entry to attractions and often discounts on restaurants and activities.

It is worth buying one online before arriving at your destination, as discounts usually apply. If you purchase one on arrival, head to the tourist information or airport kiosk at your destination.

How should I behave in Europe?

Be Considerate of the Local Culture – every European country will have its own culture, and it is worth doing your homework before arriving to see if you need to adapt to it.

Don’t expect to enter some religious buildings if you aren’t wearing the correct clothing. Be aware that taking portrait photographs of particular cultures or religious buildings without permission can be very offensive.

Showing you know and respect your host country’s customs will go a long way.

Is Europe safe?

Yes and No – like anywhere in the world, you must always be vigilant.

Don’t leave personal items or money in back pockets or open bags; this is just the kind of opportunity a pickpocket is waiting to take.

Ensure you know who is around you, and if you think you are being followed, head into the nearest hotel to sit it out. These aren’t master criminals at work; they are just opportunists trying their luck.

It is also worth checking that there is no political unrest in the country you plan to visit. I once turned up in Moscow at the same time as a political rally was in full swing, and I ended up having to stay in my hotel room instead of going out sightseeing.

Unexpected occurrences like this can be frustrating, but personal safety must always come first.

Should I let anyone know where I am?

Yes, Yes and Yes, again! It’s one of the really helpful tips if you are a solo traveller, but it’s a good idea to share your European itinerary with friends and family at home, even if you are travelling with others.

In an emergency, they can get you help from your travel insurance company or the international embassy. Ensure you have the contact details of each country’s embassy you will visit.

If you are arriving from the US, the Smart Traveller Enrollment Program allows the US government to inform you of any problems in the countries you plan on visiting.

What is the best way to see a European city?

Go on a Free Walking Tour – not always entirely free as a tip is appreciated, but this is a brilliant way to see the city you are visiting and hear insider essential travel tips and stories from your tour guide.

I have taken free city walking tours in Prague, Rome, and Venice, to name a few, and they have all given me a good insight into the history, architecture, and fun facts of the places I am visiting.

You can find free walking tours online for almost every location in Europe.

A large group of people on a free walking tour of Venice

Which parts of Europe are the cheapest to visit?

Travel outside the Eurozone to get more for your money – countries not in the European Union but still within Europe don’t use the Euro but instead use their national currency.

Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Denmark and Estonia are a few that retain their countries’ denominations.

They offer some of the more cost-effective destinations to travel to and some of the most beautiful.

Travelling from the United Kingdom to a country using the Euro can be relatively expensive as, since Brexit, the two currencies are of almost equivalent value.

Check out your local currency agency in person or online to see if they have any essential travel tips for monetary conversions once you are in Europe.

A view of Budapest parliament and the Danube river

Which airline should I use?

Use Budget Airlines – EasyJet is probably the most familiar and used budget airline, and it offers incredible deals on travel around Europe.

One of the helpful tips to know is that prices can be even lower if you are prepared to travel at unfavourable times of the day, either very early in the morning or late at night or if you fly in and out of two different airports, i.e. Gatwick and Stanstead if travelling from the UK.

Also, book flights incognito on browsers and search for flights or holidays on Tuesdays; for some reason, prices are lower in search engines on that day.

Should I get travel insurance for Europe?

Travel insurance and visas are necessary – If you only listen to one of my essential travel tips for travelling to Europe, it is to get travel insurance. Please don’t think travel insurance isn’t necessary because it is!

Travel insurance companies will cover health issues, property loss, flight curtailment and other problems during your travels.

You can buy travel insurance for annual or individual trips, but make sure it starts as soon as you book your trip so you are covered against all eventualities from day one.

If you are from a country outside the Schengen area, ensure your international travel insurance can help you get your Schengen visa.

Do I need a travel visa?

Check your country’s government site to see if you will require a visa to travel from your home country to Europe.

As of 2025, certain travellers to Europe will need an ETIAS visa waiver.

How can I find out about the area I am visiting?

Talk to Local People – From the hotel receptionist to the barista in the corner cafe, make sure you talk to locals and get their helpful tips for events in their city.

Are there any events taking place while you are there? When is the best time to visit the city cathedral? Where is the best restaurant to eat for local cuisine? You will pick up so many helpful tips you may end up advising others!

Tallinn spires and roofs.

What should I be aware of before visiting Europe?

Be aware of Siestas, Weekend Closures and Religious Holidays – Europe has protocols for relaxing and spending time with family.

Closures of many offices and banks due to siestas (afternoon naps) will be commonplace. Closure laws in some cities forbid consumerism on Sundays. Of course, Holy Festival holidays result in towns closing down for days.

Do your homework and check if the date you will visit your European destination coincides with a national holiday and whether that will cause you a problem.

Where is the best place to ski in Europe?

Luxury vs. Budget: If you are coming to Europe with large amounts of cash, head to the French or Swiss Alps; prices are high in these areas.

If you are on a budget, I recommend trying out Slovenia, Poland or Scotland in the UK!

You might like to read my post: 17 Best Ski Resorts in Europe for Beginners.

A view of ski slopes with a chair lift taking people up the mountain

What should I wear in Europe?

Most of Europe is cosmopolitan, so anything goes from high-end designer labels to casual shorts and t-shirt attire. However, remember to observe cultures so as not to offend local people.

An essential item of clothing you should pack is a pair of comfortable walking shoes because you will certainly cover many steps exploring the incredible European cities waiting for you to discover!


Above all else, Europe is a fantastic place to visit; from the beaches in the South of France to the hidden gems in Italy and the historic landmarks in London, plenty of exciting adventures await you.

These helpful tips aim to give you all the information you need to help make your trip go according to plan so that all you will be thinking about is where to travel next!

Please Pin for Future Travel to Europe

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Wednesday 8th of January 2020

Definitely. It’s so much better to wander around and get to see things in a relaxed manner rather than battling with the crowds


Tuesday 7th of January 2020

This is such a great post with a lot solid advice, thank you so much :)


Tuesday 7th of January 2020

Very good advice. I used to try and save money by staying outside the city centre but all that extra travelling and taxi fares at night, you end up saving very little, if any.

I also love the tip about learning the local language. A few words at least knowing how to say hello and thank you go a very long way!


Tuesday 7th of January 2020

Thank you Sarah. I am pleased you found some of my tips helpful 😃

Yukti Agrawal

Saturday 14th of December 2019

I love European cities and I too follow many of your tips. I love to go in off peak season to avoid huge crowds. Also booking hotels in advance and in central location is too I do in Europe traveling.


Sunday 15th of December 2019

Glad you enjoyed the post.


Friday 6th of December 2019

Really liked the article, I've been to Europe and I've used some of those tips myself. They can make a big difference in how your vacation turns out.


Friday 6th of December 2019

Glad you liked it. I hope it helps first timers to Europe prepare themselves.