Why not make the most of your trip home and do a couple of short side trips while you’re there? But if you're a first-timer to Europe, it’s time to start planning the itinerary of a lifetime. If you're wondering where to go in Europe, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Enjoy the best of the ancient Baltic States in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where medieval castles and bountiful beaches sandwich a hip entertainment scene.
- Head to the UK and Ireland for castles, palaces and sensational scenery, not forgetting friendly pubs stocked with warm ales, Guinness and whisky. Jump over to Iceland from here for volcanoes and geysers!
- If you’re a food lover, head to Italy and France, where Michelin-starred cuisine is second to none, with wine regions from Bordeaux to Tuscany.
- Climb the peaks of the Pyrenees in Spain, ski at the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps or head to the eastern reaches of Europe to the Russian Urals and the Asian border.
- Wrap up to see Scandinavia, and fly into beautiful Stockholm before wandering down to Copenhagen to see the Little Mermaid. Head far north to Lapland to see the Northern Lights.
- Venture east to Turkey for cosmopolitan Istanbul and the majestic ancient site of Ephesus and surreal landscapes of Cappadocia. Neighbouring Greece has islands and beaches galore, including the black sands of Santorini and sparkling waters of Corfu.
- Enjoy the canals and cobbles of Amsterdam, before heading to Germany for beers in beautiful Berlin and even more beers at Munich's Oktoberfest.
- Explore the Balkan States, starting in the medieval town of Dubrovnik in Croatia and get to the heart of Bulgarian history in Sofia.
We've hardly scraped the surface here – it could take you a lifetime to travel Europe – and we don't have that sort of cover in a travel insurance policy yet! However, we do have cover for that special visit to family and old friends back home, that first timer gap year or that meandering adventure of a lifetime.
Make sure you are adequately insured if something happens to you on your trip. Here are some tips and advice for your trip:
When to go to Europe
Summer is busiest from June to August, and winter (November to March) can be busy too with the ski season. It really depends on where you're going and what you want to do. Shoulder seasons are a good time to go as crowds thin out and accommodation is cheaper. Europeans escape to Madeira, Cyprus and the Canary Islands when cold winters hit although, conversely, some hit the Alps!
Getting around by rail
Travelling by train is a fantastic way to get around Europe and there's heaps of in-country and multi-country rail passes you can access, depending on what you want to see. Seat 61 has a wealth of information on rail travel around Europe.
Driving in Europe
Rental cars and campers are a popular way to see the continent and, depending on where you are, you may be driving on the left or the right – it's a bit confusing! In some countries, road conditions are excellent, but in others, not so much, so be prepared! For heart-in-your-mouth roads, take the Trollstigen in Norway and you'll encounter 11 hairpin bends; the Grimsel Pass in Switzerland has an uncountable amount of hairpins; and then there's the mind-boggling Transfăgărăşan Highway in Romania! Don't miss driving over the vertigo-inducing Millau Viaduct in France too.
Unlock your phone and pick up a SIM card when you're at your destination – if you're staying put in one country, pick a local telco. If you're travelling around there's a few brands that will work in more than one country.
Learn some local phrases
Wherever you're headed, whether it be to sip a rakija (brandy) in Serbia or a jenever (gin) in Belgium, learn a few local phrases. The locals will appreciate your effort, even though you might end up using lots of hand signals or pointing at the menu.
Drinking tap water
In most countries in Western Europe, the water is fine to drink, although it tastes awful in London. For many other countries in Eastern Europe, it's not safe to drink tap water – best check the Smart Traveller website for up-to-date information.
Western and Northern Europe are generally safe, but there are parts of Eastern Europe, such as areas of Russia and the Ukraine that are unsafe to visit. In Kosovo, Macedonia and Turkey, in Southern Europe, the government advises exercising a high degree of caution. Before you head off, check the government's Smart Traveller website for current travel warnings for Europe.
Visit your doctor at least 8 weeks before you set off and let them know the countries you plan to visit. For most of Europe no vaccinations are required, but for some there are recommended vaccinations, such as rabies, hepatitis A and typhoid.
Choose CGU travel insurance for your trip to Europe
It's important to get travel insurance that has you covered for the types of activities you'll enjoy in Europe.
If an emergency happens when you're in Europe you can contact us at anytime on our hotline +61 2 8895 0698. You can even reverse the charges.
If something happens that's not an emergency, for example your laptop is stolen, give us a call when you get home on 13 24 80, at any time. We'll set you up with your own claims specialist who'll support you throughout your claim.