On my first trip to Europe, I made a lot of mistakes as I was trying to see many capital cities as possible in the shortest possible time. Halfway through my Europe trip, I was exhausted and I felt like I had barely seen any nature or small cities.
I’ve been very fortunate to have taken multiple European backpacking trips and I’ve been living in Europe for nearly three years now. I hope that I can help a bit with helping you create your perfect European itinerary that mixes capital cities with cultural centers and stunning nature to show you the best of Europe in two months! You’ll find a downloadable excel to help you plan your own European trip at the end!
What to know about this European itinerary
I’ve crafted this Europe itinerary to make the best use of a Eurail pass. I don’t work for Eurail, so I’ve crafted this itinerary to help you minimize costs on trains. The Eurail pass is not necessarily the best deal if you’re traveling for two months and spending more time within a country. It’s usually cheaper to buy tickets using from that country’s train system.
I crafted this itinerary to take advantage of the 10-15 days within two months Eurail pass. You’ll need to pay a bit out of pocket for some of the other train trips, but trust me on this, if you book the shorter trips yourself, you’ll end up saving a lot of money compared to the two month eurorail pass! I’ve noted where to utilize your Eurail pass for maximal cost benefit.
- Optional: Budapest
- Optional: Villach/Triglav
- Optional: Turin + Mountains
- Optional: Utrecht
- Rhine Valley
I’ve created a free downloadable European itinerary planning spreadsheet to help you plan your European itinerary, keep track of expenses, and see what you still need to book. You’ll find the link to this at the bottom!
Start your Europe trip with three days in Berlin
Why? Berlin is one of the cheapest cities to fly into in Europe. I ended up finding an amazing flight deal to Berlin multiple times! It’s cheaper to use Berlin as a base.
I recommend three days in Berlin. Besides being Germany’s capital, Berlin is rich in culture and has fantastic museums.
- Visit the Holocaust Memorial, which is free to visit.
- Take a free tour of
- Visit Museum Island to visit the Pergamon Museum and to see the Ishtar Gate, which was moved from Iraq.
- Wander around the trendy Kreuzberg to admire its markets and street art.
- Try your luck at Berlin’s infamous clubs (Berghain).
- Admire the stunning Brandenburger Tor.
You’ll find a number of affordable hostels and hotels in Berlin. I stayed at Wombat’s City Hostel in Berlin, a modern hostel that feels more like a hotel with a rooftop bar. Perfect for breaking the ice on a nice summer’s night!
From Berlin, take the train to Prague. It’s worth using your Eurail pass for this journey. The journey will take about 4 and a half hours and you’ll find trains nearly every hour! This is a popular European train journey, so reserve ahead.
Three days in Prague
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe without question. For those on a budget, Prague is one of the best destinations in Europe as beer is cheaper than water, the almost every street is out of a postcard, and it’s possible to stay at a nice hotel for a fraction of the cost elsewhere.
- Tour Prague Castle, one of Europe’s most stunning castles.
- Take a photo at the John Lennon wall.
- Sip on beer with any of your meals. (It’s cheaper than water!)
- Admire the Astrological clock.
- Admire the Charles Bridge. (Best seen at sunrise without people!)
No matter the budget, you’ll find great hotel and hostel options in Prague. On my previous trip, I stayed at a chic design hotel for a fraction of the cost of a hotel elsewhere. A friend of mine stayed at Hostel One Miru and loved it!
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The train journey from Prague to Vienna will take approximately four hours. I recommend using your Eurail pass for this trip and reserving your seat ahead.
Two days in Vienna
For culture and history, Vienna is the perfect stop on your European itinerary! You’ll find some of the most stunning museums in Europe, including
Even walking around Vienna’s historic center, which is immaculate and as pretty as a picture, is one of the most relaxing things to do for free. As a bibliophile, I was immediately drawn to the Austrian National Library, which is the library that I always dreamed of having.
Even walking around Vienna’s historic center, which is immaculate and as pretty as a picture, is one of the most relaxing things to do for free. As a bibliophile, I was immediately drawn to the Austrian National Library, which is the library that I always dreamed of having.
- Admire the stunning Austrian National Library, which will make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale.
- Climb the St. Stephen’s Cathedral views.
- Tour the museums of the former Habsburg residence.
- Visit the Belvedere Palace to view Klimt’s masterpiece The Kiss.
I was recently in Vienna and stayed at Wombat City Hostel. My room was clean, modern, and quiet. I also enjoyed the lively bar downstairs, which made it easy to meet fellow travelers while traveling solo. For those looking for a cozy boutique hotel, consider booking Hotel Altstadt Vienna for free cake and friendly owners in a uniquely luxurious environment.
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It’s only one hour on the train or bus to Bratislava, so you can visit Bratislava on a day trip from Vienna or bring your bag in order to save a little money on your accommodation. Don’t use your Eurail pass here. It’s cheaper not to!
One day in Bratislava
If you’re looking for a taste of Eastern Europe and a way to get your budget ready for Paris, head to Bratislava! Bratislava is Slovakia’s capital. It’s picturesque, affordable, and full of charm. It’s only about an hour from Vienna to Bratislava (save your Eurail pass!), making it an easy trip although budget savvy travelers should take advantage of the affordable hostels in Bratislava that are half the price of hostels in Vienna.
- Admire the beautiful art nouveau Blue Church.
- Take in epic views from Bratislava Castle.
- Admire the beautiful historic city center.
Click for a complete guide to Bratislava written by a local, Karin!
From Bratislava, it’s around 3 hours by bus (Flixbus) or train to Budapest. If you’re looking to cut costs, consider taking a Flixbus between Bratislava and Budapest, otherwise, use your Eurail pass.
If you’re considering skipping ahead to leave Budapest and the Austrian Alps to give yourself five days elsewhere, you can take a long overnight train ride to Venice, Italy and/or take a budget flight from Vienna to Venice (if you prefer).
Optional: Three days in Budapest
Many European itineraries leave Budapest off because it’s a bit out of the way and I understand that if you end up editing this city stop out of your itinerary to head straight to Italy after Vienna, however, I hope that I can inspire you to visit Hungary’s spectacular capital.
Why leave Budapest on your itinerary? Unlike other European capitals, Budapest feels laid-back and lacks the crazy crowds that you’ll find in Berlin, Paris, and Prague.
This laid back feeling combined with Budapest’s electric atmosphere (with lots of innovation), affordable prices, and dazzling architecture make it easily a city that you’ll want to visit (and probably live in). I ended up coming here on my second European trip and I wish that I had included it in my original European itinerary!
You can find some beautiful accommodation in historic hotels around Budapest. My friends and I ended up splitting a cozy apartment in a beautiful historic building. Those looking for the ultimate luxury experience will be blown away by views at the Aria Hotel.
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You can take a night train or a Flixbus from Budapest to Villach, which will take about eight hours. Alternatively, if you want to skip ahead to Venice (the next stop on the itinerary!), you might be able to find a good budget flight to Venice from Budapest and/or take a night train towards Venice. Use your Eurail pass if you decide to take the train.
Optional stop: Two days in Villach, Austria to enjoy the Austrian Alps
You’re probably wondering where is Villach and why!? Bear with me, but I’ve tried to break up this itinerary to minimize your overnight train journeys and to show you some of the most beautiful places in Europe. After a week (ish) of partying in major cities, the mountain air will feel incredible.
Villach Austria is located right on the Austrian-Slovenian border and it’s only thirty minutes from Triglav National Park in Slovenia. This stunning national park has incredible hiking and beautiful views of the mountains. I’d recommend 1-2 days here in case the weather isn’t in your favor. If you’re not into hiking, pass go and skip ahead to use these two days elsewhere although you’ll end up spending more time on a train.
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From Villach, it’s a four-hour train right to Venice although it’s also possible to take a Flixbus if you’re looking to save your Eurail pass for later.
More into smaller cities? Consider stopping off in Salzburg and Hallstatt instead of Villach
Who can resist the charm of Salzburg? Sound of Music lovers will enjoy it although it’s definitely possible to combine seeing Hallstatt with Salzburg if you have two days.
Salzburg has a very cozy city center that is perfect for wandering on foot. On my last trip to Salzburg, we stepped into an Austrian beer garden, admired views (shown above!) from the hills, and browsed the various dirndl shops. I definitely recommend stopping in one of the historic coffee houses for an Austrian coffee! Click to read my tips for Salzburg!
Two days in Venice
Who can resist Venice? Venice is where I had my first date with my husband (really!) and it holds a special place in my heart. That said, it is very touristy and expensive. I recommend limiting your time in Venice to 1-2 days.
It might surprise some of you, but I get agoraphobia (crowd phobia) and Venice was very hard on me as many of the locations were so crowded that I felt that I was a sardine in a can. Venice is still worth visiting,
Venice is still a delight to walk around although it’s so easy to get lost in the main city. Those looking for the ultimate luxury experience can stay in former palaces to explore old-world luxury.
Alternatively, budget travelers will find hostels in the historic center and affordable hotels on the outskirts of Venice in Mestre (only a bus ride away!)
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From Venice to Bologna, you can take the high-speed train, which takes 1.5-2 hours. (There’s also slower trains.) It’s your choice if you want to use your Eurail pass, but I found the Italian trains affordable to book in advance without my Eurail pass.
One day in Bologna
Bologna is the foodie capital of Italy. Although most travelers skip ahead to Rome or Florence, you’re missing out on amazing, well-priced eats in this central Italian city that even Italians rave about. Bologna has the oldest university in Italy and despite the significant history in Bologna, it’s a young city at its heart due to the many students.
I loved climbing the medieval towers to take in the city, exploring the Roman ruins underneath the public library (I know!?), and eating the incredible food that Bologna has to offer.
You’ll find many well-priced hotels within the historic center, including hotels in historic buildings. For those on a budget, you’ll find many hostels as well as cheap hotel rooms walking distance from the city.
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The train journey from Bologna from Florence will take just thirty minutes, so save your Eurail pass for a long train ride where it’s worth it.
Three days in Florence
Florence is truly one of Italy’s gems. As an art and history lover, I spent three idyllic days roaming the picturesque streets of Florence, admiring the Duomo every single time that I passed it, entering every church that I passed as many held museum-quality frescos, and wandering around Florence’s art museums.
Most notably, I said hello to David at the Accademia Gallery, admired Italy’s most stunning frescos at the Uffizi (with getting up early), and ate all the gelato. It’s hard not to be charmed by Florence.
While visiting the many museums in Florence, you’ll want to budget accordingly. I was able to save money by staying at a cozy hostel near the city center and walking everywhere. Those seeking a bit more luxury, you’ll find former palazzos-turned-hotels that won’t break the bank.
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Day trip from Florence: One day in Tuscany
Anyone who loves Italy needs to get a taste of the Tuscan countryside. It’s very easy to take a day tour from Florence to Tuscany. I ended up taking a day trip out to the Tuscan countryside to sample Chianti wine, visit Tuscany’s most beautiful towns, and explore Siena.
I ended up making some fantastic friends on the tour and that day remains one of my favorite moments of my European backpacking trip.
The train from Florence to Rome takes about 1.5 hours although it’s also possible to take a cheaper bus, which will take about double the time (3 hours).
Four days in Rome
Can you visit Italy without visiting Rome? History and food lovers will be entranced by the history of Rome. I initially considered staying longer in Rome, but it wasn’t my favorite Italian city beyond the attractions due to the crowds in summer. Still, I tossed a coin in the Trevi Fountain and imagined myself in La Dolce Vita (with a gelato in hand).
If you visit Rome, you must visit the Vatican to admire the Sistine Chapel and I recommend pre-booking your Vatican tickets as the lines can be sizable. (Note: Women must dress appropriately to get inside the Vatican.
I recommend wearing a long skirt and bringing a scarf to cover your shoulders with.) The lines at the Colosseum can also be very long in peak season, so pre-book your Colosseum tickets if possible. The Roman Forum is truly impressive and I spent a while geeking out about history.
Rome is quite large, so I encourage you to pay attention to the location when booking your hotel in Rome. I stayed at Yellow Hostel after transferring from another one. That said, I’d recommend avoiding the Termini area if possible although most hostels are in this area. Instead, stay in Trastevere, one of Rome’s most charming neighborhoods instead.
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The train from Rome to Torino (Turin) is a bit longer (4 hours) and I’d recommend using your Eurail pass if you end up taking the high-speed train. I ended up missing my train and ended up finding out how much it cost last minute without the Eurail pass….
Two days in Torino (Turin), including red wine tastings or hiking
After the crowds in Florence and Rome, I wanted you to experience a stunning Italian city before you left Italy–and a day of quiet in nature.
Turin is the birthplace of Nutella and a beautiful city right on the way to France. I recommend stopping in Turin to taste some of the best chocolates in Italy and enjoy some wine from the world-famous Piedmont wine region at its source before leaving Italy.
- Click on how to take a day trip out to the Piedmont wine region.
- Click for tips on what to do in Turin.
Turin is at the foothills of the Alps, so if you’re itching for some more hiking, I recommend taking a day to enjoy the mountains, which are visible in the distance from Turin. As Turin is lesser-known, you’ll find affordable hotels in beautiful historic buildings as well as affordable hostels.
From Turin, take an overnight train or bus towards France! I personally struggled to sleep on the bunk that I reserved (for a bit extra) due to the train’s rocking motion, so I’m not sure it’s worth it to splurge on a bunk if you struggle to sleep on trains.
I recommend taking a bus as it may be direct as the train may not be direct (with a transfer in Lyon) depending on your destination in France. The journey should between about four to six hours. (It will be less time if you choose to go to Nice, which has a direct train connection with Turin.)
Two days in Provence (via Avignon)
Have you dreamed of fairytale hilltop villages and fields of lavender!? If you’ll be visiting Provence in spring and summer, you’re in luck. Even if you visit in winter, as my parents did, you’ll find stunning stone villages dating back to medieval times.
Getting around Provence without a car is doable although I’d recommend staying in Avignon, a beautiful city with a rich history. Click for advice for more information on the best things to do in Provence.
Avignon was historically where the Roman Catholic Church had its base and you can view the incredibly massive Papal Palace during one of your days in Provence. As Avignon is not a big backpacking destination, I recommend booking your accommodation in Avignon as early as possible as it’s a popular summer destination.
- Take a day trip to see the beautiful villages of Provence.
- Frolic in the lavender fields of Provence.
- Learn about the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
From Provence (Avignon), you can catch the TGV high-speed train to Barcelona. The journey will take about five hours and I recommend reserving your seat ahead as this train is popular (and expensive). Your Eurail pass is worth using here.
Two days in Barcelona
Who can resist the interesting architecture, tapas, and fantastic nightlife of Barcelona? I ended up switching this European itinerary to give you two days in Barcelona and three days in Madrid as I was so exhausted by this point in my trip that I wasn’t in a mood to party. (I’ve tried to build in down-time into this itinerary for this exact reason!) However, people looking to experience the nightlife of Barcelona will want to switch the days to give themselves more time in Barcelona.
I ended up really loving Gaudi’s fascinating architecture, so much so that I headed up to Park Guell and visited Casa Milà. Of course, you must visit the Sagrada Familia although the line is so long that I recommend prebooking tickets in order to skip the line. Otherwise, I enjoyed walking around the charming Gothic quarter to take in the medieval part of Barcelona.
As someone with friends from Barcelona, I strongly encourage you to not use Airbnb in Barcelona. Its impact has been very tough on residents who have been priced out of their own city as landlords evict people in order to put up tourists.
I stayed at Hostel One Ramblas, which I loved due to the fun atmosphere and friendly staff. You’ll find cozy boutique hotels on a budget as well as reasonable 4* hotels with some of the best views in Barcelona.
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To get from Barcelona to Madrid, you can take the high-speed train, which only takes 2.5 hours! I ended up using my Eurail pass for this journey as it was pricey otherwise.
Three days in Madrid
Madrid is one of my favorite European capitals and I can’t believe that I had almost crossed it off my list as everyone told me that it was boring. Between lounging in the Parque del Buen Retiro, admiring Bosch’s masterpieces at El Prado, and eating tapas, you’ll find something for everyone. Although Barcelona often is praised for its nightlife, Madrid has its own nightlife within the rock and roll bars in Malasaña.
Click for tips on visiting Madrid on a budget!
You’ll find a number of affordable accommodations in Madrid. The Hat is a great option for those on a budget. They also have one of the best views in Madrid. You’ll also find affordable rooms at a 4*-5* hotel if you book ahead.
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To get from Madrid to Seville, you can take the high-speed train, which will take about 2.5 hours. Once again, I used my Eurail pass, but this is a choice.
Two days in Seville
Seville is so nice to visit AFTER Barcelona and Madrid. I finally felt like I could relax once I was in Seville. The slow pace and stunning architecture made it a nice place to decompress.
The Alcázar is a palace dating back to Moorish times that will transport you instantly to another world. Even if you’re entranced by the tessellations within the patterned tiles/wood, you can imagine yourself on the Game of Thrones set.
Similarly, you can visit Plaza de España, one of the filming locations for Star Wars. Architecture lovers will love the modern Parasol while dance lovers will be fascinated by flamenco, which can still be seen at a number of local bars.
For a fraction of the price elsewhere, you can stay in hostels with insane perks like free dinners (like at the hostel that I stayed at). Alternatively, you can stay in boutique hotels in beautiful historic buildings.
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Take the bus to Lagos from Seville. This is easy to book once you’re in Seville. There’s no train connection between Lagos and Seville.
One day in Lagos
Although Lagos was a bit too much of a party destination for me, most people that I know loved Lagos. The main thing to do in Lagos is to lay on the beaches, which you’ll find hidden among the rugged rock formations.
At night, everyone goes out to dance the whole night away at cool outdoor clubs. One day and one crazy night in Lagos were enough for me.
In summer, Lagos’ accommodation fills up, so be sure to book your accommodation early. Check the reputation of your hostel beforehand as I ended up staying at a party hostel by mistake, which was something that I didn’t enjoy. Check prices for hostels and hotels in Lagos now!
To get from Lagos to Lisbon, I took the bus as the train ride was actually longer and more expensive than the train. The journey will take about 3-4 hours.
Three days in Lisbon
For years, people have been saying that Lisbon is a hidden gem of Europe and I have to agree. People are increasingly discovering Portugal’s capital, which is full of charm.
Beyond getting lost in Lisbon’s beautiful streets, lined in colorful tiles, you’ll find castles dating back to Moorish times, lively nightlife, and fantastic museums telling the history of Portugal. Click for tips for visiting Lisbon!
Lisbon is notably affordable though tourism is starting to drive prices up. On my recent stopover with TAP Portugal, I ended up staying at Nest House, a boutique hostel located in the cozy Alameda neighborhood, which is a bit far away from the loudness of Barrio Alto.
As with Barcelona, I recommend staying at hotels rather than an Airbnb as Airbnb is starting to cause housing prices to skyrocket. You’ll find some beautiful boutique hotels in Lisbon!
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It couldn’t be easier to get from Lisbon to Porto. The train takes only 2.5 hours although you can also take the bus if you choose to save money on this journey.
Two days in Porto
Lisbon’s big sister has all the charm and half the crowds. Porto is full of historic buildings, some dating back to medieval times, beautiful bookstores, and fantastic wine.
Most people don’t realize that J.K. Rowling lived in Porto and it’s said that the Livraria Lello bookstore inspired her vision of Hogwarts. Lovers of food and alcohol will enjoy tasting port wine in the cellars along the river. Of course, a trip to Portugal is not complete with pastries although you’re sure to burn them off on the steep hills.
While in Porto, I stayed at Yes! Porto Hostel, a boutique hostel with amazingly friendly staff and a lovely rooftop overlooking the city. You’ll find numerous boutique hotels with innovative features. I recommend looking into Torel Avantgarde, a stunning design hotel with an edge.
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Porto has one of the best budget airports in Europe. Although you could, in theory, take a train from Porto to Paris, it will probably be cheaper to fly with one of the budget airlines from Porto to Paris. I paid about twenty euros for my budget flight. (I see a flight for 23 euros for this week with Transavia!)
I recommend flying into Orly rather than Charles de Gaulle as CDG is quite far away from Paris and Orly is far closer. The flight will take two hours and it’s quite easy to take the train to the Porto airport from the city.
Four days in Paris
Who can resist Paris? The French capital is a classic stop on every European itinerary and I’d recommend ensuring that you have four days in Paris as any less will force you to make hard decisions about what to do in Paris.
Beyond seeing the Eiffel Tower, touring the Louvre, strolling around Montmartre, taking in Paris’ covered passages, exploring Le Marais, eating all the crepes/macarons, and strolling along the Seine, you’ll find that four days is a great amount for a trip.
Hotels in Paris can get quite expensive, even for a basic room. I recommend booking in advance as possible, especially if traveling during spring or summer. Check hotels and hostels in Paris now!
Click for my perfect itinerary for four days in Paris
Day trip from Paris to Versailles
Versailles requires a whole day to itself. The former royal palace is over 721,182 square feet and you truly will understand why generations of tourists and French citizens alike say that you must visit Versailles.
I have to agree and I wish that I had included it in my first European trip. (I skipped it as I thought it was overrated.) After exploring its gardens and Marie Antoinette’s estate, I think that Versailles must be included on your European itinerary.
Click for tips on taking a day trip from Versailles from Paris!
To get from Paris to Brussels, you’ll have a couple of options. I’ve taken the Thalys, which only takes 1.5 hours although you can also take a slower and cheaper train that will take three hours. I recommend using your Eurail pass if you take the Thalys. Similarly, you can also take one of the budget bus journeys for as little as ten euros!
Two days in Brussels
Belgium’s capital is great for a taste of Belgium’s blend of cultures. People in Brussels tend to speak both French and Flemish, so you’ll see a mix of both styles of architecture in Brussels. You can click for my weekend guide to Brussels.
Beyond architecture, Brussels is one of the best destinations to visit in Europe as the Belgians have truly perfected the art of chocolate making. I went on a chocolate tour in Brussels and it was truly an great experience. The beer (the next day) is great.
Brussels can get quite expensive during peak summer. While doing my visa for France, my husband and I ended up visiting Brussels several times. We especially enjoyed Van Gogh Hostel for its atmosphere and central location. The previous time, we stayed in the charming Ixelles neighborhood in a charming boutique hotel.
Check hotels and hostels in Brussels.
To get from Brussels to Bruges, you just need to take the train. which costs less than fifteen euros! The journey is only one hour, so it’s quite easy to visit Bruges on your own.
One day in Bruges
Bruges (Brugge in Flemish) is straight out of a postcard. This charming Belgian city is perfect for a day trip from Brussels although I’d recommend staying the night to be able to stroll along the romantic canals of Bruges. Beyond charming architecture, Bruges is home to De Halve Maan brewery, which is a great stop for learning about Belgian beer. (I’ll be adding a lot about Bruges soon!)
Check hotels and hostels in Bruges.
To get from Bruges to Antwerp, you can take a bus or train, which will take about 1.5 hours. Save your Eurail pass as the Belgian trains are quite cheap.
Two days in Antwerp
I fell in love with Antwerpen (Antwerp) from my first trip to this charming Belgian city. Although many people skip Antwerp, its charm is fully there and you won’t find the insane crowds as you see within Bruges.
The Grote Markt cannot be missed although visiting the Plantin-Moretus Museum is a must for literature lovers. On my last trip, I enjoyed Antwerp’s cozy and quirky beer cafes.
Click to read more about what to do in Antwerp in my one day guide.
To get from Antwerp to Amsterdam, you can take the train, which will take about an hour with the Thalys. It’s also possible to take the bus (Flixbus), which I’ve taken several times. The bus is cheaper, but it takes three hours.
Three days in Amsterdam
I’ve lived in Amsterdam for over two years and I can’t recommend less than three days in Amsterdam during your Europe trip. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, but it takes some time to enjoy its charms.
Beyond taking a canal cruise and exploring Amsterdam by bike (if you dare!), take some time to discover Amsterdam’s secret spots, including historic courtyards. Skip the tourist trap museums and spend your time outside of the Center to experience Amsterdam at its best (and cutest). (You can read an Instagram guide to Amsterdam here.)
Click for your perfect itinerary for Amsterdam.
In spring and summer, Amsterdam accommodation becomes expensive, so be sure to book your Amsterdam accommodation ASAP. If you’re trying to figure out where to stay in Amsterdam, click for my neighborhood guide to where to stay in Amsterdam to help you decide where is best for you!
From Amsterdam to Utrecht, it will only take you forty minutes on the Dutch trains. I recommend saving your Eurail pass if you’re unsure whether to use it.
One day in Utrecht
Utrecht is one of my favorite cities in the Netherlands. It’s also on the way down to Germany, so consider spending a day and a night in Utrecht to see what the Netherlands outside of Amsterdam. Utrecht is a stunning city with lower prices, two-story canals, and an inner-city dating back to medieval times. You’ll fall in love with Utrecht instantly, I promise.
Click for your itinerary for one day in Utrecht
Utrecht is considerably cheaper than Amsterdam, so use this as your chance to save money on your accommodation. Utrecht has a number of stylish hostels although I absolutely loved staying at Hotel Dom, a boutique hotel with incredible views.
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To get from Utrecht to Cologne, you can take the train or the bus. The journey should take about three hours with lots of picturesque Dutch countryside views.
One day in Cologne
Cologne is a charming German city with a Gothic cathedral that you’ll want to see. I especially recommend visiting Cologne in time for Carnival and to browse the Cologne Christmas market. Beyond these events, Cologne has some adorable neighborhoods and a beautiful riverwalk. (More about the riverwalk very soon…)
Check prices for hotels and hostels in Cologne now!
Two days in Rhine Valley
One last hurrah before you leave Europe! Head to Rhine Valley for some of the most beautiful castles in Germany and wine. Although you might associate Rhine Valley with river cruisers, you’ll find hostels within castles in Rhine Valley.
Take this last chance to enjoy European culture, architecture, wine as its best. For those interested in sports, Rhine Valley has some fantastic hiking and biking.
Click for what to do in Rhine Valley.
End of your Europe Trip: One day in Berlin
Didn’t get into Berghain? You got one last night in Europe to live it up. 😉
Download your European Itinerary Excel
I’ve created a free downloadable European itinerary planning spreadsheet to help you plan your European itinerary, keep track of expenses, and see what you still need to book.
I found the hardest part about planning my first European trip was figuring out what I had already booked–and what I hadn’t beyond the flight. I hope this excel helps you.
Wow! This is quite the post! I like how you picked big and small cities. Also, I’ve been so some of these places and would agree with you the amount of time to see each place. This is quite the task to put such a comprehensive itinerary – thank you for sharing!
Wow this itinerary covers amazing places! Definitely includes some places I still need to check off my list haha
what an epic post! Completely agree about Prague – I could have spent so many days photographing it! So many great suggestions, cannot wait to get exploring more of Europe – particularly Amsterdam, so lucky you lived there for two years, it’s been on my bucket list for so long!
Your 2 month itinerary is amazing and has helped me with my planning immensely!! We also wanted to include Poland Turkey Greece England and Switzerland as we have almost 3 months in Europe from NZ. We would really appreciate it if you could please help us include these countries in the itinerary you have done as I am struggling to economically route these extra countries into the existing itinerary- thanks Jan NZ
I’d see if you can add Turkey + Greece + Poland to a leg near the end where you work down from Poland through Eastern Europe then the Balkans down to Greece/Turkey. I think that might be a cool month.
I cut Switzerland out as it’s quite expensive to travel in. The UK is cool, but also expensive. It would be easy to add the UK to your travels in Paris or Amsterdam although you might find cheap flights there from other cities with Easyjet.
Hope that helps and you have a great trip!
Thanks for that Karen,so maybe start in Poland then go to Berlin from there carrying on through the route itinerary you have for the 2 months but deviating from Italy to Greece and from there to Turkey before going back to Italy to Continue the rest of the itinerary to France Spain etc??
I am looking at traveling in December/January by rail with our two kids aged 14 and 11. Will you still recommend your above route? I was looking at spending Christmas in Moscow , wanting to see a few xmas markets along the way.
If you think that your kids can handle the faster pace, maybe. Moscow isn’t close. Look up Cologne on my website for the christmas markets.
Thanks for the awesome blog post. I was wondering how you’re living in Europe currently. I have been fortunate enough to visit Europe a few times now and am currently trying to figure out how to move there. So far, I’m thinking grad school in Germany.
There’s an article about how to work abroad on my blog that discusses it. Grad school is a great way to move abroad. 🙂
Love your post! I was just curious if you could give an idea of about how much this would cost going the same route you took. I was also curious what month you think would be best to start? Thanks!
I’d recommend around $6-8k USD, but more can’t hurt. It really depends how you travel as I minimized museums and I think that I could do it way cheaper today given that I’d take more buses/budget planes instead of doing Eurorail. It was still an amazing trip. Summer is the most expensive time to visit Europe, so if you can visit in September or March, it might be nice as you’ll get cheaper prices. (April is expensive for the Netherlands, but worthwhile for seeing the tulips.)
thank you for your amazing blog. I am planning our trip in Dec, Jan this year. Slow planners. We are heading to England. We start as a family of 4 and meet up with a son in germany at the end of Dec. The essentials of our trip starting around 3rd Dec is to start in London for a few nights, visit friends in Sussex for a few days. My son would love to see a Manchester City football game while in the UK and my actress daughter of course wants to see some theatre. I am thinking we will get to Germany around the 13th December and tour around Germany ending up at a friends house near Nuremburg for approx two weeks where we can do day trips. In that time we would like to see prague. I have booked 3 days from the 30th in Vienna where we will spend new Years. We also want to see Saltzburg, Hallstatt, and I would like to see Switzerland or a day or two (I know its expensive so just a short visit) as we make our way to Vienna where i have booked accommodation and concert on new years day, Milan maybe and then to Paris. As we would like the kids to ski/snow board we have had suggested Zell am See, Filzsmoos, Innsbruck, and others have said skiing in france or even slovakia. We love small village attmosphere. We will have until approx January 26th before returning to Australia. My head is spinning and I don’t want to be exhausted as you mentioned in your post after our first visit.
We are wondering whether with that many people – 5 if it is worth hiring a mini van as a friend suggested. My concern are the icy roads and my husband not really being able to enjoy himself with me navigating. Any suggestions of highlights along the way would be awesome. My children are daughter 28, son 18 and son 16 and love history, adventure and soccer and theatre. Thank you for your spread sheet I will certainly be using it.
I think that a minivan will be considerably cheaper than the trains. I’m not sure what to say given that you’re not comfortable driving. Flixbus and other options might be worth looking into. Your itinerary is quite heavy on major cities, so buses might be worthwhile.
Milan isn’t really on the way, but after Vienna, it might be worthwhile to head south towards Slovenia and Italy until you make your way back to France. I’d recommend taking it slower during this time as you’ll find lots of great skiing in Northern Italy and in the mountains of Slovenia. 🙂
If you are looking for some beautiful towns in Austria, check my recent blog posts.
You can see the main attractions of Hallstatt and Salzburg in about two days. I have a guide about both on my website. You might like St. Gilgen, which I also wrote about, which has a well-known Christmas market, and a lovely small town atmosphere.
I’d recommend going east to Slovakia. Lots of cute towns as well as great skiing at a fraction of what it costs in Austria. You might be really surprised by Eastern Europe in a good way. I’ve heard the skiing in France is great too. The Dolomites in Italy are also very famous for skiing and full of beautiful towns.
Best of luck with the itinerary. I recommend ensuring that you account for travel days as well as try to give yourself a rest here/there. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your itinerary and travel tips Karen. I am planning a trip to Europe beginning in Sept.2019 and had no idea where to start. I love the Excel spreadsheet. I want to travel to Greece and Turkey so may cut out some of the cities. Travelling from Canada so just looking into flights now and finding travel buddies. If it’s just me then so be it 🙂 I did NZ solo 4 years ago without much planning and it worked out fine. I think Europe is much busier though.
I”m so glad to hear that! Be sure to see a bit of the Balkans. I’ve written about Albania, Kosovo, and Serbia here. I love the Balkans and definitely see if you can maybe give yourself a few weeks (to help your budget) within the Balkans. As you’re going in September, it will be a bit less crazy than in peak season, however you still will want to book hostels in popular cities (like Amsterdam). Enjoy the trip and the planning. 😉
Hello! May I know how much you spent into total for your 2 months trip? 🙂
About 100 euros a day if I recall. That was with staying at hostels.
I see 🙂
What do you mean by this? – “….if you book the shorter trips yourself, you’ll end up saving a lot of money compared to the two month eurorail pass! ” Is buying point-to-point tickets cheaper than getting a 2 months eurail pass?
Btw, your itinerary helped me tremendously as I plan my itinerary for my 3 months Europe trip from June to August! I am torn between getting a 15days in 2months Eurail pass or taking buses all the way but I am worried that the bus timing might not be ideal and I would end up wasting too much time on the bus. It’s a risk I don’t know if I should take lol.
I will be visiting these places for my trip –
Venice, Rome, Florence, Nice, Avignon, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon(flying to paris), Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Bremen, Berlin, Prague, Vienna + Bratislava, Budapest, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Salzburg, Munich, Lucerne, Interlaken, Venice
I will greatly appreciate any advises from you! Thanks!
Thanks for your lovely comment! I think you’ll be surprised how affordable Flixbus and Ouibus are in Europe. You can *always* buy train tickets for the longer legs (where you’d be going overnight with the Thalys or another train!) as well as buy train tickets within one country. Many countries have quite affordable trains as long as you buy your tickets in advance through the official website. I did this recently within Austria and I was pleasantly surprised how reasonable the trains were. Hope that helps. I’d recommend just writing down the price for maybe 5-10 of these longer trips by train without the Eurorail pass to compare the costs and I think you’ll find that you will save big with taking buses shorter distances. I personally dislike overnight buses myself. 🙂
Hope that helps. -Karen
Thank you for your prompt reply! I agree, some buses are reaaaally dirt cheap as compared to the trains! Can I also check with you – does the eurail pass covers all or certain train lines? Do I have to make reservations for all the trains? Are the reservation price expensive?
I am so pleased that i found your blog! I am going off travelling with my husband in 1 month and we are starting in europe for 2 months. Its been hard to try and string something together and like you say, i was worried that visiting all of these cities would burn us out! Thank you for sharing 🙂
So glad to hear that April! I hope you have a great trip. Don’t go too crazy with the planning as it really can burn you out!
Just a quick tip to update the post because I just checked airberlin and it seems like it’s out of business. Great post otherwise
Thank you so much for sharing, this is really useful for me to plan my grad trip! Can’t wait to visit all these places. saving up for it right now!
Would like advise about how/where to cut your two month itinerary down from two months to one month. We are looking at flying in and out of Paris (cheapest flight $447) Family of 5 kids 18, 15, 13. June 26 to July 30 2020 Any thoughts?
Hi Liberty, that is a good price from the US. Once you’re in Paris, you can book train tickets in advance for a good price (Amsterdam or London!), take budget airlines (KLM also has a city hopper flight option), or also try out Flixbus for getting between European cities that are not far apart. I’d pick one region or a few cities to focus on with taking a few day or weekend trips to see each country outside of the major cities. I’m not sure what part of Europe interests you the most, but this will be peak season. Starting to plan now is good–and be sure to book hotels early.
Hi i was just wondering what you would estimate the approximate price would be altogether
It depends on you and how you travel. I spent about $6k including everything staying on the budget-side of things, but this was also a couple of years ago.
BRETT A JOHNSON
Thanks a lot for your travel blog. I just got back from europe and had to cut my trip short due to corona virus. I started in London and had to change Rome. Since my next place was Amsterdam, I chose to go to The Hague your hometown. The places you recommended were awesome. Delft, Cafe Vers and Binnenhof were my favorites. You are lucky to live in such a great place. After The Hague I did get to go to Amsterdam and on to Brussels. But Bruseels was basically shut down, do I left yesterday as I dont want to get locked down in a foreign country. Thanks for the blog. Netherlands was an awesome place. I will sure your other blogs when i finally do make it to paris and other areas. My 8 week dream trip was only 2 weeks, but i feel fortuante to be able to see London, The Netherlands, and a half day in Brussels.
So glad to hear that Brett! Glad that your trip was nice despite being cut short and hope we can all travel again soon 🙂
I also loved Antwerp when I visited last year. The Plantin-Moretus was outstanding! Since I’ve been to many of the cities you listed in Western Europe (so glad to see Avignon made the list, and Lagos was unbelievable!), I plan on using your suggestions for the more central locations for my next big trip. Thanks for your post!
Wow, such an amazing post. I love the way you broke everything down. I’m also hoping to back paddle through Europe this summer. I only have one month and not two. I know for sure Paris, Italy and Spain are my main counties that I want to visit. Can you please give me an intinary with just a min time frame.
If you do budget flights, much more is possible, but I’d focus on major cities if that’s your focus 🙂