Are you overwhelmed by the endless options available when considering a trip to Europe? You’re not alone. Our savvy Travel Experts have experienced Europe by train, rental car, ocean cruise, river cruise, guided tour, bicycle... you name it! Check out our top tips to help you decide which type of travel best suits your vision of the perfect European getaway.
If you have a week or two and would like to see as many countries as possible, it’s best to book an escorted tour, where all the planning has already been done for you, with flights, accommodations, transport and sightseeing mostly all prepaid and organized by the tour company. Coach tours offer exceptional value, especially when you figure in the time you’d spend researching, organizing and booking everything yourself.
There are many different tour styles to choose from, too. From small groups and active itineraries to trips with a specific focus, like cycling, regional cuisine or a religious pilgrimage. All tours will give you some free time to go off and do your own thing, and evenings are generally completely up to you. Tours are a great way to see lots, to find what you like and don’t like, and to choose where to return to next time for a longer, more focused stay.
Seeing Europe from the luxurious confines of a cruise ship is another way of visiting multiple destinations in a single trip, and is also worth considering. Itineraries can include the Atlantic Ocean or the Baltic, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, and even many iconic rivers, like the Danube and Rhine.
European cruises are perfect for those who enjoy a resort experience with a new port-of-call daily while unpacking only once. Cruising also makes family travel to Europe easier, with plenty of onboard activities for the kids when you’re not out exploring. Most cruise lines will offer a range of available shore excursions tailored to guests of all ages, catering to just about every taste and touring style.
If Greece and Croatia are on your radar, cruising should be top of mind. Both countries are perfect examples of destinations better visited by a ship. Island hopping using planes can get expensive and ferries can be inefficient if you’ve only got a week or two to enjoy. Overall, cruises are easy to book and can be packaged with flights for one value-packed European holiday.
Europe by Train: Best for Your Wallet
If you’re looking to travel around a country or two once there, buying a rail pass before leaving Canada is a great option. Single, two and three or more country passes are good value and offer travel in both 1st and 2nd Class. These passes are only sold to non-residents of Europe and MUST be purchased before leaving Canada.
If you do find yourself in Europe without a pre-purchased rail pass, point-to-point tickets are always an option. While they don’t offer the value of a pass, they are still often the most cost-effective way of getting from A to B. If you are looking at travelling by train in the summer, seats can book out fast, especially around a long weekend or holiday. Book early.
Europe by Car Rental: Best for Flexibility
Get the insurance. Always.
While many find even the idea of driving around Europe frightening, nothing quite compares to screaming down the autobahn in the latest Audi. Driving offers the utmost in flexibility, allowing you to completely own your schedule.
Most European countries are fine with your Canadian driver’s license but do note the surcharge many rental companies charge for younger drivers (sometimes 26 and under!), as well as one way drop fees, if you’re wanting to drop the car off in a place other than where you picked it up.
Of course, there are the more practical items to consider, too, like driving on the other side of the road, street signs in foreign languages or mastering a stick shift, sometimes half the cost of an automatic rental in Europe. If you think you’re up for the challenge, renting a car in Europe can be a completely exhilarating experience.
But, again, do get the insurance offered by the car rental company. Whether you have the coverage on your own personal credit card or not, it is always best to be covered by who you are renting from - trust me.