Europe is always a destination that travelers keep going back to. The region is home to so many different types of places, there is most definitely something for everyone. It has tons of bucket list cities, postcard worthy sites, and is full to the brim with history and culture.
A continent comprised of such a huge variety of destinations can be a little overwhelming if it is your first time exploring. Our experts put together a list of the top information you need to know for your first Europe vacation.
Currency can be a little complicated if you don’t do your research first. A good portion of the countries in Europe use the Euro as their legal tender. A few key exceptions are Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom and Switzerland. Luckily, because of the amount of ATMs all of Europe, it’s never been easier to withdraw money in the local currency. It’s best practice to have a day or two of walking around money with you when you land, but wait until you arrive to withdraw money in the local currency.
Cell Phone Plans
Make sure you call your carrier before heading out of the country so you don’t rack up extra unforeseen charges in Europe. Some cell phone plans include Europe without any extra costs. Other plans will require you to pay for an international plan.
If you decide to shut off your data (also known as ‘airplane mode’) while traveling, make the most of free WiFi. Most tour coach busses have free WiFi for you to check emails or surf the web. The majority of hotels and even some restaurants in touristy areas will have free WiFi. Pro Tip: If the WiFi is password protected, look on the menu or on any chalkboard in the restaurant for the password. If it isn’t posted, always feel free to ask!
Comfort is always key when you’re traveling, so don’t get too nervous about what’s ‘in style’ in Europe. For example, it is better to wear a good walking shoe rather than a pair of trendy boots you can only walk in for a few hours.
There is some local etiquette to be aware of in parts of Europe. Italy is well-known for having a strict dress code in religious areas such as inside churches like St. Marks in Venice, the Duomo of Florence, and St Peters Basilica of the Vatican in Rome. Make sure you dress respectfully, meaning covering your shoulders and knees and don’t wear anything too revealing.
Related: Here’s a list of things not to pack!
Local Food Is A Must
You’ll come across some of the world’s greatest cuisines as you make your way around this continent, and the food is almost always too good to turn down. All cities you visit will have endless restaurant options. Keep in mind Europeans like enjoying good food and good company, so their sit down meals can last a long time. Slow service is a sign of respect so don’t be surprised if you have to ask for your check when you’re ready to leave. Pro Tip: A service charge is almost always included in a European restaurant bill, so locals just leave a few coins on the table.
If you’re looking for a quick bite, there are lots of food markets, stalls, pop ups and street food for you to choose from. Pick up a pastry on the streets of Paris for breakfast, or a slice of Pizza to eat in a park in Italy.
Outlets Are Different
Since cameras, computers, cell phones and all other electronic gadgets are all common travel items, bringing all the chargers is necessary. But in Europe, they use 2 different plug sockets, neither of which are the same as American outlets. Type F is a 2 pin plug that you’ll find in the majority of places you go to, except for the UK and Ireland which use Type G, a 3 pin plug. The best thing to do is to buy an adapter with multiple pins that will accommodate both plugs before your first Europe vacation. Depending on how many electronic items you need to charge, you might want to buy more than one converter.
Try to master a few phrases in the local language before you arrive, even just please and thank you can go a long way! English is widely spoken in the major cities, but people still appreciate travelers making an effort to communicate in their own language. With so many different languages spoken in Europe, it’ll be impossible to learn them all before you go country hopping. You’ll want to bring a pocket dictionary or a translator on your phone so you can easily ask for directions or where the closest bathroom is!
Be open minded and welcoming of new experiences while traveling around Europe. The whole continent has so much to see, it’s tempting to rush around, trying to see as much as possible. Remember to slow down, take your time and savor the experience of your first Europe vacation!