How Long to Spend in Each Country On Your Trip to Europe
By Avana Team
January 27, 2020
Planning a trip to Europe is exciting. It’s also potentially overwhelming. There are so many destinations and experiences to choose from. How can you possibly fit it all in?
Here’s the thing—you can’t, so don’t even try to do everything. Not in one two-week trip, that is. When planning a trip to Europe for two weeks, you’ll have to pick and choose from the places and things that are most important to you.
Deciding how long to spend in each country on your trip to Europe depends on what you like to do. Are you eager to see every monument and attraction? Do you want to taste your way through a country’s cuisine? Are you interested in slowing down and experiencing the local lifestyle? Consider the type of traveler you are—from fast and furious to slow and steady—and the purpose of your trip—seeing and doing as much as possible, or soaking up some R&R—when planning your itinerary.
Guidelines for Planning a Trip to Europe for 2 Weeks
No matter where you end up going on your trip to Europe, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when planning the trip.
- Account for the time required for checking in at airports and transferring to and from airports and train stations by taxi, tram, or bus. A short flight between countries may only take an hour in the air, but the logistics around it may absorb half the day.
- Stay in central locations, even if the accommodations cost a little more. You’ll save valuable time and money on transit, and you’ll enjoy the European experience more when you can walk nearly everywhere you want to go.
- Spend a minimum of two nights in each location—otherwise your trip will be a blur of checking in and out of accommodations. In larger cities, settle in even longer (at least 3-5 nights) to avoid feeling rushed.
- Give yourself a break on the day you arrive. You’re sure to be jetlagged from travel, so don’t plan anything aside from eating, relaxing, and sleeping.
What to Pack for a Trip to Europe
Whether you’re heading to Europe for two days, two weeks, or two months, a few packing rules always apply.
- Pack as light as possible. You may think you’ll want to have all of your favorite outfits on hand, but you’ll be so much happier with a lightweight suitcase when navigating train stations, airports, cobbled streets, and stairs.
- Pick accommodations with laundry facilities a few times during your trip. That way, you can truly keep your luggage light. And because you’ll be traveling around, nobody you meet will have any idea that you’ve been rotating through the same three or four outfits the entire trip!
- Staying hydrated is always important for good health, and especially when traveling to help keep your immune system strong. Carry a reusable bottle like the Avana® Ashbury everywhere you go. You can refill it easily from Europe’s many public fountains.
Europe Trip Planner: Where to Go
Now for the fun part—planning where to go. The options for a two-week trip in Europe are endless. Since we can’t share every possible itinerary, we’ll get you started with these two.
Itinerary #1: All About Italy
A trip to Italy is always an excellent choice, and with this itinerary you’ll savor a wide variety of what makes Italian life and culture so appealing. Easy train rides ranging from 45 minutes to two hours will transport you from place to place.
- Rome, 4 nights: Rome is a gateway airport and you’ll find flights there from most major U.S. cities. While in town, take in the grandeur of the Colosseum, the magic of the Trevi Fountain, and the romance of the Spanish Steps. A visit to the Vatican is also a must in this storied city.
- Florence, 3 nights: Next up is Florence, where you’ll meet Michelangelo’s David, climb the cupola in the Duomo, visit the soulful Oltrarno neighborhood, and see Renaissance masterpieces up close and personal at the Uffizi Gallery. Fuel up on authentic Italian bites at the massive Mercato Centrale.
- Lucca, 2 nights: You’ll love this little fortress of a city, where you can take a break from typical sightseeing and run, walk, or cycle the circular park-like path atop the surrounding ancient walls. Spend part of one day venturing from Lucca to Pisa to see the legendary leaning tower—by train or, for the more adventurous, by bike.
- Cinque Terre, 3 nights: A breathtaking national park populated by five tiny seaside villages, Cinque Terre is not to be missed. Multiple hiking trails and a local train connect the villages, with the routes featuring soaring cliffs, vibrant vineyards, and views like you’ve only imagined.
- Genoa, 2 nights: The birthplace of pesto and home to some of the tastiest focaccia in all of Italy, you’ll love meandering the narrow alleyways of this historic port town after fueling up on local fare. When it’s time to depart, hop a final train to Milan’s international airport for takeoff.
Itinerary #2: Tri-Country Tour
Intent on visiting multiple countries on your two-week Europe trip? Try this itinerary, which includes three countries, three major cities, and a bonus day trip from each. Book four or five nights in each city, and try to set aside one day per destination with no predetermined plans. Simply meander the small streets and alleys, stop in cafés and wine bars, take in the scene in buzzing piazzas, and discover open-air markets and boutique shops. There are plenty of affordable non-stop flights between each of these countries on budget European carriers. From the U.S. you can fly into Lisbon and then out of Paris, or vice versa.
- Lisbon & Cascais: Lisbon is gorgeous and gritty all at once. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see colorful tiled houses and historic architecture. There are plenty of attractions to visit, from the National Tile Museum to the lesser known and slightly bizarre Hospital de Bonecas (Doll Hospital). Be sure to explore the charming neighborhoods of Barrio Alto (best for late-night revelry) and Alfama (where you can catch a traditional Fado music show). In the morning, enjoy your espresso with favorite local delicacy pastéis de nata—we dare you to eat just one!
A day trip to coastal Cascais is well worth the meager fee you’ll pay your Uber driver (you can also take a train or bus, but ride shares are very affordable and convenient in Lisbon). Stroll the promenade alongside stunning sandy beaches and amidst glamorous architecture in this former holiday retreat for the country’s royals. The quaint downtown area is teeming with tasty restaurants to try.
- Barcelona & Girona: Barcelona is the kind of city where you could stay for months on end, luxuriating in the vibrant local scene. People are always out and about, whether enjoying the beachfront in Barceloneta, shopping the multitude of luxe stores and unique boutiques, exploring the artsy neighborhoods of El Born and Gotic, or tasting tapas in a sidewalk café. When you’re not busy indulging in delicious bites, be sure to visit some of renowned architect Antoni Gaudi’s many masterpieces, including Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, and Park Güell.
Just a 40-minute train ride from Barcelona sits Girona, known for its medieval architecture and winding passageways wrapping around the Onyar River in the heart of town. It’s also a hotbed for professional cyclists and endurance athletes, so rent a bike and take a spin around the well-paved roads in the nearby countryside to experience Europe’s beloved cycling culture firsthand.
- Paris & Versailles: Ooh, la la! Paris figures into almost every European travel dream, and for good reason. There’s simply something magical about life along the Seine. Run or walk the riverfront promenade, climb up the Eiffel Tower, and pay homage to the partially burned, yet still beautiful Notre Dame Museum musts range from the legendary Louvre to the funky, modern Centre Pompidou. And no trip to Paris is complete without a daily dose of fresh croissant, baguette, or both!
From Paris, head to Versailles for the day, hitting the majestic Château de Versailles first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds that typically pack the gardens and palace. Then, you’ll have the afternoon to enjoy the less-visited city of Versailles, starting with lunch at the Halles Notre Dame food market.
This is simply a starter package of ideas for your Europe trip planner. One thing you’re sure to learn when planning a trip to Europe for two weeks is that your first trip will be exactly that—the first of many. There are so many wonderful places to explore in Europe, that one trip is surely never enough!