Deciding the length of your trip to Europe is one of the most important decisions you can make. Short trips don’t allow you to spend enough time in each city, and longer trips can ware you out. The length of the trip will have a massive impact on your itinerary, so it’s important that you get this right. In this article, I’ll explain some tips to ensure the length of your stay matches your needs.
How Long Should a Trip to Europe Be?
Visits to larger European cities will require a minimum of 3-4 days to be able to see every sight and get a feel of the environment. Smaller cities will only require 1-2 days. There are so many places to go in each city, that anything shorter would mean you didn’t get the full experience.
A lot of people act surprised when I suggest that they should spend at least 3 days in the larger European cities. I don’t blame them, who wouldn’t want to see as much as they could during a once in a lifetime trip? But sometimes would-be travelers get overexcited when planning their itinerary, and try to jam in as many destinations as possible. While this is an attitude I can sympathize with, there just simply isn’t enough time to enjoy the experience when you are cramming in as many cities as you can. 1-2 days in a big city like Paris, London, or Rome will leave you exhausted, and you will miss out on the majority of popular attractions. 3 days is the shortest amount of time you can spend in a large city without feeling burnt out.
I’m an example of a person who has both rushed through cities and planned a trip that was far too long. When I went on my first solo trip to Europe I made the mistake of trying to jam pack as many stops as I possibly could. I spent a maximum of 4 days in each city, and I often spent just two nights and then moved on to the next town. By the end of my trip I was exhausted, and I missed out on a lot of things that I wouldn’t have if I had taken my time.
The chart below lists the minimum length of time you should spend in each European city. I took into account the size of each city, as well as how busy you can keep yourself.
Please keep in mind that this chart represents the minimum amount of time you will need in each city. You could very well spend over a week in some of these cities and still have a fantastic trip.
At the end of the day, the length of your trip is all up to you. Our preferences vary, as do the style of the trips we take. Some travelers enjoy a fast paced adventure, while others just want some time to relax. Below I’ll explain the pros and cons of different trip lengths.
One or two weeks in Europe is a great amount of time to visit a few cities that you are really interested in. You might choose to spend your time in just one city, or split your time between two or three other cities. If you are only going to be in Europe for a couple of weeks, then I definitely recommend you take your time. A few weeks isn’t enough time to see all of Europe, so it’s better to pick a few cities that are close by so you aren’t wasting time traveling. If you try to visit cities that are spread far apart, then you could spend a lot of your time traveling on trains, planes, or buses. If you want to see anything other than the inside of a train, then it’s best to keep your trip small. Situate yourself in one region of Europe, and go from there.
Cities like London, Paris, and Amsterdam are close enough together that traveling between them wouldn’t be too exhausting. Train travel between these cities is easy and affordable, and you won’t feel worn out. It could also be smart to stick to one one country. 2 weeks in Italy is a great amount of time to visit Florence, Venice, and Rome. Each city in Europe is so different from one another that you don’t have to travel across the continent to have a new experience.
This is also a great amount of time to travel with a group. It will be easier to plan and coordinate with the people you are traveling with, which will lead to less arguments and headaches. It’s also a great amount of time for families. You won’t have to pull the kids out of school for too long, and it won’t require you to take too much time off from work.
But since you won’t have enough time to bounce around the map, make sure that you visit the region that you are most interested in.
Anywhere between two and four weeks will give you just the right amount of time to have a memorable European experience. There’s enough time to do some map hopping, so you could conceivably travel to different regions of Europe and visit plenty of cities. Your trip will feel more like an adventure than a vacation, and you will definitely feel like a proper traveler. You’ll see more, do more, learn more, and experience more.
However, once you get closer to 4 weeks the trip can start to feel like a grind. A whole month of travel is a lot for most people, so you will need to be in shape and ready to plan a complicated itinerary. When I went on my first solo trip to Europe, I was there for four weeks. I visited 6 countries and 8 cities and was constantly on the move. Towards the end, I was exhausted and ready for the trip to be over. If I could do it over again, I would have went for a few days shorter and taken my time.
Also, this is the length of time when traveling starts to get seriously expensive. You might have to consider staying in hostels to reduce the price of your trip. If you are staying in hotels every night then you will rack up a massive bill. However, hostels will not provide much in the way of luxury, so if that’s what you’re looking for then consider reducing the length of your trip.
While there are some downsides, I certainly think this is the perfect amount of time in Europe for people who want to get a little bit more serious about traveling. But just be aware that this may not be the right time to travel with a larger group. Traveling with more than 3 people can be difficult, and it can be a headache to make plans while trying to keep everyone happy. On a trip this long, those headaches will be exacerbated and your itinerary will be even more complicated.
But this is a great length of time to travel with a significant other or a close friend. Traveling with just one other person allows you to avoid the headaches that come with group travel. On a trip this long, it’s easier to travel with just one other person because you don’t have to plan an itinerary that includes a large group.
For a trip of this length, traveling alone is another viable option. A lot of solo travelers like to spend about 3 weeks in Europe because it allows them to visit multiple cities without feeling burnt out or home sick. You can make your own rules, make friends, and experience things that you wouldn’t have if you had went with a group. Take a look at this article to decide if solo travel is right for you.
If you don’t have a problem staying in hostels and traveling with a smaller group, then spending 2-4 weeks in Europe is right for you.
This is when things start to get serious. This length of time is for people who want to go on a life changing adventure where they can visit as many cities and as many regions of Europe as they want. You will definitely need to pinch pennies to make this happen, because spending upwards of two months traveling through Europe will put a serious dent in your bank account.
This length of time is really only for seasoned vets or people who don’t mind a complete life style change. Being in Europe for this long will force you to make some sacrifices. You will have to stay in hostels, pack light, and be prepared for any difficult situations that might crop up. You will be living out of a backpack for weeks on end.
But honestly, a trip like this is worth it. This will be a truly profound experience that will force you outside of your comfort zone. Everyday life can get boring, and going on a trip this long can be an exciting adventure that gets you away from the repetitiveness of life back home.
If you don’t have friends to travel with, don’t let that deter you from going on a longer trip. This is another great length of time for traveling solo, and you might even have a better time then if you went with friends.
If you are serious about travel and really want to change things up, then this is the right length of time to spend in Europe.
Over 3 months
If you want to spend over 3 months in Europe then you will have to become an expert traveler. You will need to be comfortable with being away from home for a long time, and being thrust outside your comfort zone. You’re also going to need to figure out how to make the timing work.
Being away from home for 3 months will require you to make some serious changes. You might need to quit your job or look for remote work. You also might have to say goodbye to your close friends or loved ones if you are planning to go it alone.
However, a trip of this magnitude will be profoundly vivid. There’s no way around it, your life will change. The people you meet and the places you go will shape who you are for years to come. If you’re ready for that, then you might be ready to spend several months in Europe.
Be sure that you take some time to think about this decision, because things will change when you decide to go. However, any trip like this is always worth it. The experiences you will have during a trip of this length will be worth any sacrifice you have to make.
Spending an extended period of time in Europe is a consequential decision, but it’s one that will be well worth it. However, it’s important that you consider what type of trip you want to have.
The more time you spend in Europe, the more sacrifices you will have to make and the more money you will spend. However, spending more time in Europe will allow you to see more, do more, and experience more.
Take a moment to consider what you think the Best length for a Trip to Europe is. Once you decide, it’s time to plan your itinerary.
Hopefully, the next time you ask the question, how long should a trip to Europe be? You will have the answer.