Europe is a patchwork of cultures, languages and customs. One day you could be walking along an Italian beach slurping an ice cream, the next you could be snuggled up in an igloo in Norway, watching the northern lights dancing above you. Part of the beauty of this area of the world is that while each country offers an individual and unique experience, there is so little distance between each one. This is why Europe is such a popular area with travellers from far and wide.
In general, European countries have excellent transport services both within and across their borders. And, travellers have numerous options for travelling throughout the continent, from cycling to sailing. If you are planning a trip to Europe this year, here are the best ways to cover ground and see the sights of this diverse continent.
Trains are at the top of this list because they are considered to be the easiest and best ways to traverse through Europe. The rail lines that connect the many cities of Europe create a spiderweb of travel opportunity. Travelling by train also provides opportunities to window-gaze at breathtaking scenery and to converse with the locals. The majority of European countries run a high-quality rail service, making it one of the most reliable ways to get about. The trains are generally comfortable and clean, and standard class is affordable and above average. If you can afford it, however, travelling by train in first class offers a truly luxurious experience.
If you plan to take trains as you go, ensure you do some research into timing, routes and prices beforehand and pick up a train map of Europe. You may find it easier and cheaper to invest in a rail pass that will allow you to hop on and off trains throughout the continent as you please. These tickets are usually restricted to a certain number of countries. So be sure to choose a package that includes your must-see European destinations.
Imagine riding along the flat roads that intertwine with canals in Netherlands or the seesaw routes through Alpine landscapes in France. Cycling in Europe can be a magnificent and unforgettable way to experience this continent. However, unless you have months to spare, cycling should be done in conjunction with public transport in order to cover the most ground in a short space of time. Bicycles are popular in many countries in Europe, and so cycle paths are, generally, well maintained throughout the continent.
If you don’t want to spend your time fussing over maps and choosing routes, you may wish to book a guided or self-guided cycling tour as part of your trip. These tours operate throughout Europe. For example, you may want to explore hooked on cycling holidays in Italy.
If you are limited in time, have a look online for recommended cycle routes in Europe to help you come up with interesting and manageable routes. Even in notoriously flat countries, like Belgium, cycle ways can contain many ups and downs, so do plan ahead to ensure you pick routes that you will enjoy.
Sailing in the waters surrounding Europe is one of the most enjoyable ways to visit the coastal countries of this continent. Whether it’s sailing along the Amalfi Coast or island hopping in the Dalmatian Coast, this will no doubt be an incredible experience.
If you are an experienced sailor there are plenty of opportunities to skipper your own boat. Alternatively, you may wish to hand over control to a professional on a skippered voyage so that you can concentrate on soaking up the scenery and the sunshine. For sociable travellers, there are many cruise options where you sail around the area as part of a large group.
Some of the finest sailing experiences can be had in the Mediterranean where you can stop of at well-known luxurious port cities like Cannes and Barcelona. Additionally, the little harbour villages that welcome sailors in the Ionian, Aegean and Adriatic Seas are also delightful.
The Alps is one of the biggest mountain ranges in Europe and stretches across eight countries including France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Despite its enormity, it is more than possible to visit the ski regions of Italy, France and Switzerland in one weekend. You can cross the Swiss border into the Italian Alps from Zermatt to Cervino. At other parts of your journey, you will need to take a car or bus. However, it will only ever be a short drive, and it will be through some remarkable landscapes. This is a unique and thrilling way to travel through this magnificent part of Europe.
Of course, this way of seeing these Alpine countries is largely based on an interest and experience in skiing. However, for non-skiers, most ski resorts in Europe offer other winter activities, indoor sport options and a range of shops, bars and restaurants.
Buses and coaches offer an affordable way to see and travel through Europe. Due to the rise in backpackers and budget travellers across the continent, this mode of transport has increased in popularity and efficiency. Travelling by bus provides a more relaxed pace journey than a train and allows you to see plenty of the countryside en route. It also opens up plenty of opportunities to meet and greet other travellers.
There are many bus companies operating throughout Europe from budget to luxury. If you are embarking on a long journey by bus, for example from Spain to France, it might be worth forking out a little extra for a more plush coach. The conditions on budget buses can be cramped and uncomfortable.
These have been our best ways to see Europe. The way you choose to travel has a big impact on how you enjoy your trip. Of course, which one or combination, you choose will depend on your budget, time allowances and the kind of trip you want to have. We hope that you find the perfect mode of transport to enjoy this diverse part of the world.