Travel Guide – Exploring Europe in 4 weeks

Europe travel guide

Travelling across Europe, especially in summer, can be an exciting adventure. This is a brief guide on how to do it based on our own real life experience. The guide is primarily geared toward residents from North America but applicable for most travelers flying into Europe. The travels in this guide took place between 2015 and 2019.

Planning

To prepare, you should start planning at least 6-7 months ahead. A helpful resource for planning is Rick Steves Europe Travel Guide and his audio guide and books.

We use hotels.com and AirBnB for accommodation, Kayak for airlines, Duolingo app for foreign language learning, Viator/TripAdvisor for guided tours, Man in seat61 for train connections and Google Search for train, maps and attractions. Make sure you have an international plan with your wireless carrier for your smartphone. Verizon and T-Mobile has the most Europe friendly plans in our experience. For best price and availability, book ahead by at least following timeline:

  • International flights: 3-5 months
  • Long distance Trains: 3 months
  • Flights within EU: 2-3 months
  • Car Rental: 6-8 weeks
  • Hotels/AirBnB: 4-6 weeks
  • Guided Tours: 4-6 weeks
  • Local Trains: 2 weeks

It is better to book the international flight first so you know where to fly in and then plan remaining itinerary.

Places to Visit

The sites visited and the accompanying video blog series are described in my blog Best Of Europe. When in a site, use your smartphone and Google map as much as needed to get the most out of your visit.

The roadmap

Visiting all these sites in a single trip is possible if you have 4-6 weeks in hand. However, you can split it in multiple trips to suit your budget and availability. Below is a suggested itinerary.

1. Fly into Europe via A) London, Then take a flight to Vienna, Austria. Or B) fly to Vienna directly.

2. Take a guided day trip from Vienna to Budapest, Hungary. Explore Vienna as well.

3. Take an OBB train from Vienna to Salzburg for a half day tour. Then a scenic train trip from Salzburg to Munich.

4. Take a day trip from Munich into Bavaria exploring Oberammergau, Linderhof and Newscheinstein. Then head to Zurich via train and enjoy the scenic Rhine river valley and nearby Basel and Rheinfelden.

5. Fly or take train from Zurich to Milan. Take a day tour to Lake Como. Then explore Milan before heading to Venice by train.

6. Explore Venice, then take the train to Florence. Explore Florence. Then take a day trip of Tuscany covering Siena, Pisa and San Giminano.

7a. Head to Genoa by train. Then take a Mediterranean cruise from Genoa or Savona exploring Marseilles, Nice, Monaco and Barcelona. Take day excursions from the cruise ports. Then fly to Marseilles. An alternative to cruise is available in next step.

7b. If skipping cruise then fly from Milan or Florence to Nice. Then explore the Riviera (Nice, Monaco, Ezze, Cannes) by car.

8. Rent the car (preferably automatic and German) from the airport. Then explore Provence by car including Avignon, Arles and Niemes.

9. Fly from Marseilles or Nice to Madrid. Explore Madrid. Then take the train to Seville. Explore Andalusian sites like Ronda, White Villages, Granada via guided day tours. Then head back to Madrid via Cordoba in Train. Spend half or a full day in Cordoba to explore. From Madrid take a flight to Paris.

10. In Paris explore the beautiful city as well as nearby Versailles. Take guided tour to nearby Champagne region or Normandy.

11. Then fly or take the train to London. Explore London. If your entry to Europe was in Vienna then fly back to Vienna. Finally, head back home!

Travel – Best of Europe

Travel 50+ sites in Europe in this playlist!

This video blog series is a trip across Europe compiled over a few years. It is also a roadmap for travelling all these sites in a single trip if you have 4-6 weeks available. For details on preparation and a suggested itinerary for such a trip check out this blog .

Places to visit

We start in Budapest, Hungary and head west across the Alps visiting Vienna and Salzburg in Austria. Then tour Munich, Linderhof and Newscheinstein in picturesque Bavaria, Germany and end up in Switzerland visiting Zurich, Basel and Rheinfelden.

We then head south to Northern Italy visiting lake Como and Milan before reaching historic Venice by the Adriatic sea. We then crisscross across Italy visiting Florence, Siena, San Giminano and Pisa in sunny Tuscany. Our Italian tour continues west through Genoa and Savona and into Ventigmilia of the Italian Riviera.

Moving onto the French Riviera we visit Nice, Eze, Villafranca and Monaco. Driving further west we explore beautiful French villages and towns of Lacoste, Cavallion, Arles and Avignon ending up in the port city of Marseilles.

Their we embark on a cruise exploring the Mesiterranen including Barcelona, Spain! Heading deeper into Spain we explore Madrid and the Andalusian cities and villages of Seville, Zahara, Grazalema and Ronda. We then fly north to romantic Paris and royal Versailles before ending our journey in London, England!

The video blog

Basilica di San Fedele, Como

Video blog about the oldest church in Como, Italy

The Basilica of San Fedele is the oldest church in Como, Italy . It is located in the city center and is dedicated to Saint Fidelis martyr. It derives from an earlier Christian church from the 7th century, dedicated to Euphemia.

We visited this ancient church as part of a walking tour in 2017 on a trip to Lake Como. The square facing the church is the oldest surviving area of the city dating back to Roman times in the 5th century.

Como was the birthplace of many historical figures in Roman times, including the poet Caecilius mentioned by Catullus in the 1st century BCE and writers Pliny the Elder and the Younger. The image below shows some of these historical figures depicted in the impressive front facade of the Como Cathedral, built in later medival period.

Later famous historical figures from Como include Pope Innocent XI, scientist Alessandro Volta, and Cosima Liszt, second wife of Richard Wagner and long-term director of the Bayreuth Festival.

Taste of Italy

Italian cuisine in pictures

Here is a collection of pics of the delicious cuisine we experienced on our trip to Italy in Fall of 2017.

Breakfast in Como

Dessert after lunch on a ferry trip

Seafood appetizer at Plaza San Vidal

Dinner in Venice: Pasta in Cuttlefish ink

Brunch by Plaza San Marco, Venice

Tuscan Appetizers at a farm near Siena

Lunch in Milan by the Duomo

Breakfast in Florence by Academia Gallery

Dessert with Coffee by Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Lake Como

Exploring beautiful lake como

We took a boat trip on the beautiful lake Como in the fall of 2017. The lake is located in the Northern part of Italy in the Lombardy region.

Our trip started from the picturesque city of Como, Italy. We arrived there on an early morning bus trip from Milan. The city itself has a history dating back to Roman times. It is also the starting point for most trips on the lake due to many available ferries that provides hop-on hop-off service to many towns around the lake.

Notable sites around the lake includes the beautiful hillside town of Tavernola, celebrity houses like those of George Clooney and Madonna, the gorgeous villa and terrace used in the Star Wars movie and the lovely town of Bellagio with its charming gardens.

We took the below pictures as we explored the lake from the comfort of our boat while enjoying an Italian lunch with dessert and wine – all for under 20 Euros!

In my other blogs under Lombardy, I will have more details of the individual sites around the lake. Click on this link – Lake Como Tour to see a YouTube video clip of the trip.

Hope you enjoy the video and pics and get to visit there as well!