Europe is a vibrant and beautiful continent with huge geographical and cultural diversity. Travelling through each country can offer a unique experience every time you cross a border, but with new rules for travel now you may need to sort a few more documents before you leave.
With the inception of the ETIAS in the Schengen Zone, planning your trip will mean trying to fit all of your must-see-and-do list places into the 90 days allowed under this travel system (to find out more about how an ETIAS works, check here).
As well as documentation, there are also different kinds of holidays you can have when it comes to European travel. We’ve rounded up our favourite cities for food, art, shopping, and nature here. Take a look now to find out more.
What do I need to travel to Europe?
So, what are you going to need to have before you can travel to Europe?
Firstly, all travellers must have a valid passport, or an ID card if they’re already a citizen of an EEA country. Then comes the tricky bit. There are different kinds of documentation depending upon which country you are a citizen of and which country you intend to go to.
If you are coming from a visa-waiver country, you will now need to apply for an ETIAS to travel into the Schengen Zone visa-free. The ETIAS is a new system that allows for visa-free travel into all 26 countries in this area. Once planned for 2022 it is now expected to come into operation in 2024. If you are coming from a non-visa-waiver country after that you will need to apply for a Schengen Visa.
If you are planning to travel to a country outside of the Schengen Zone and you’re coming from a visa-waiver country, you will not need a visa provided you do not exceed the 90-day stay limit. If you are from a non-visa-waiver country, you will have to apply for a visa to enter your destination country.
Where should I go in Europe?
Before you sort any travel documents though, it is probably a good idea to pick where you’re going to go in Europe. We’ve gathered a few ideas here and split them into four ‘great places for’ categories that include; food, art, shopping, and nature.
Foodies travelling to Europe are very rarely disappointed as there is a tonne of variety to pick from. For some incredible Spanish cuisine, head out to San Sebastian (or Donostia to the locals) in Northern Spain to try some of the best seafood around. Indeed, this part of Spain actually has the most Michelin Star restaurants in the world per sqm.
When in Italy, head out to Modena, known for three famous Italian foods; Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto ham, and featuring the food of the magnificent Massimo Botturra.
In the Scandinavian region, Copenhagen in Denmark is renowned for its pastry and boasts quite a few Michelin Star restaurants too, including noma. And in Central Europe, head to Prague for a unique mix of traditional Czech dishes and some brilliant world food options.
Art is abundant in Europe and you’ll find it pretty much wherever you go. Our two top choices for art in Europe are Florence, Italy, and Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Florence, as the heart of the renaissance in Italy, is home to some world-famous and truly beautiful art. From Botticelli’s Birth of Venus to Michelangelo’s statue of David, you’ll be overwhelmed by the artworks on offer.
In Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum is the home to some incredible artworks by artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer. It is also the home of the Van Gogh Museum and is perfect for lovers of this artist’s work.
For fashion lovers, Europe is perfect. Home to some of the best shopping districts in the world, European fashion is diverse and always chic!
Paris is probably the most well-known city for shopping in Europe, with many famous streets including Champs-Élysées – home to the best global designers stores. And moving further north and into Stockholm, not only will you find some fantastic shopping and multiple flagship designer stores, but you’ll also find some of the best-dressed people Europe can offer.
And finally, for nature-lovers Europe can offer lots of different destinations. Our favourites are Madeira in Portugal and Bergen in Norway.
In Madeira, you’ll be greeted by lovely weather and lots of options for hiking, sailing and dolphin watching. In Bergen, a UNESCO World Heritage City, you’ll find stunning vistas in the gateway to the magnificent fjords.
Travelling to Europe for the first time
Europe is a big place and so there is no one way to travel it for the first time. Whether you head to a city full of good food and good wine and spend a week soaking up the atmosphere, or you fill a backpack and city hop for three weeks, you’re going to have a unique experience.
When travelling Europe for the first time, always plan ahead so you don’t miss anything out and ensure you have the correct documentation for your journey so you don’t end up being caught out!