You could spend your entire life living in Europe and never seeing every bit of this beautiful continent. Most people have one country in mind for a trip to Europe. Maybe you want to see Spain, maybe Italy. For my latest trip to Europe, it was about packing in as much as possible into a short amount of time since vacation days were limited and it was my boyfriend’s first trip to Europe. If this sounds like the trip you’re after, keep reading for my recos on how to fit four countries into just under two weeks. And be ready, it’s not the most relaxing of vacations when you’re traveling between cities so much, but if your goal is to see as much as possible and you’re of the “I can sleep on the plane” mindset, here’s an itinerary for you!
Hotel Tip: all four of our hotels were incredible – reasonably priced, perfectly located near all the main attractions but in areas that felt more “local” and less touristy, and had a nice boutique hotel feel. For more info on each, you can check this post or the specific city posts.
Ideally you’d have more time and could give yourself at least 2 weeks to see four cities. There are always day trips that you can use to fill additional time, but those wont be covered within this 12-day itinerary, just what you can do to make the most of the four cities themselves.
Transportation Tip: for the sake of this itinerary, I’ll be covering London, Amsterdam, Prague, and Paris. You could really substitute any four European cities that seem interesting to you, but we chose these as it gave us good variety of European architecture and culture, and the travel between cities was relatively easy (all under 2 hours via flight). We booked our internal flights between cities separately from our international flight to save money – there are plenty of European airlines with better rates to be found. Also, check to see if your cities are close enough that you could travel via train instead of flying. Our international flights were significantly less expensive if we flew into London and out of Paris, but that lost us the option of being able to take the train between Paris-London and Paris-Amsterdam. Check all of the options when you’re booking, and see what works best for your travel preferences (i.e. air vs train) and budget.
City 1: LONDON (Days 1-3)
Most likely you’ll arrive in London in the morning if you’re traveling from the US. Most likely your room wont be ready yet, but drop your bags at your hotel and set out to the make the most of your day. For specific recommendations on what to do in London, check out this London-specific post.
City 2: AMSTERDAM (Days 4-6)
Amsterdam is stunning, and trust me, you’ll never want to leave this beautiful city on the canals. Plan to spend at least 2 full days in Amsterdam, though 3 would be ideal if you can spare the extra day. For those of you with more time (or those of you who want to try to squeeze another country into the mix), Amsterdam Centraal train station has regular trains to cities like Brussels and Antwerp so you can experience the beauty of Belgium as well, and trains to both are under 2 hours. For more on Amsterdam, check here.
City 3: PRAGUE (Days 7-9)
Prague is incredible, and most people don’t go because flights are so expensive when flying from somewhere like the US. But if you can add it onto an existing European trip, internal flights from other European hubs tend to be very well priced, making this Eastern European city much more accessible. It’s also a great option if you’re looking to give your wallet a break after visiting cities like London and Paris. For more on what to do in Prague, check here!
City 4: PARIS (Days 10-12)
Probably goes without saying that you should really spend at least a week in Paris, if not more, but not everyone has that much time to stay in one place. If you don’t, you can definitely see a lot in 3-4 days. We had about 3.5 and even got a day trip to Versailles in, so trust me, you can still see a lot if you’re willing to be out and about most of the day. For more specifics, read this post.
Lastly, here are some additional tips regarding visas/passports that you may find helpful when planning your trip to Europe:
- US citizens don’t need a visa to visit any of the 26 Schengen Zone countries (for a list of those countries, check here). You are allowed to remain up to 90 days so long as you have a US passport that is valid for at least 6 months following your trip
- While you may or may not have to show your passport to an official border control agent when traveling between Schengen countries (which means sadly, you wont get separate stamps for each country unless you travel outside the zone), it’s best to carry your passport with you at all times just in case. This goes for any international travel, but maybe people think they’re safe without it so long as their within the Schengen countries – best to play it safe here and keep your passport on you at all times
- Also note that some countries are within the EU bot not part of the Schengen agreement (like Ireleand) and others are not part of the EU but are part of the Schengen Area (like Norway and Switzerland)
I always like to know where the US embassies are when i’m traveling internationally, so here are the embassies (current as of July 2018) for the above cities:
24 Grosvenor Square
+44 20 7499 9000
+31 20 575 5309
+420 257 022 000
2 Avenue Gabriel
+33 1 43 12 22 22
Planning a trip to Europe and need help figuring out what the right amount of time is for each city? Or need help planning how to get between cities? Drop me a line if you have any questions!