Have you always wanted to go to Europe? From Spain and Italy to France and Germany, European countries are full of vibrant cities known for their museums, culture, restaurants, and nightlife. But where do you start? With so many countries to choose from, there is something perfect for everyone’s budget and taste! Here is a list of the 8 best trips to Europe this year!
Best Trips to Europe in the Summer 2020
Top Summer Vacation in Europe – Paris
Summer in Paris is the busiest time of the year. This season brings tons of free entertainment including outdoor movie experiences, festivals and concerts. Apart from visiting the Louvre and seeing the Eiffel Tower, you can sunbathe at a beach along the Seine. What’s more, France’s biggest holiday, Bastille Day, takes place on the 14th of July. It commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Thousands of people come to Paris to watch the oldest and largest military parade in Europe and enjoy the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower at night.
Tip: If you go to Paris in July, remember to grab an umbrella and a light rain jacket, as it usually rains a lot that time of the year.
Paris Summer Events in 2020
- Fete de la Musique (the Paris Street Music Festival, June)
- Tour de France (Bicycle race, July)
- Rock en Seine (3-day rock festival, August)
Unfortunately, summer is also the most crowded time in Paris – and the most expensive. Three-star hotels starting at $120 per night.
See Also: Ultimate Europe Packing List
Budget Summer Vacation in Europe – Porto to Lisbon
For a more affordable but exciting vacation to Europe this summer, I recommend taking a trip from Porto to Lisbon.
Start out in the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. Explore the winding medieval streets of Alfama, Lisbon’s most ancient neighborhood, ride the tram 28 through Lisbon’s most beautiful and iconic streets or sunbathe at one of many Lisbon’s beaches. The best time to visit Lisbon in the summer is the beginning of June, the weather is great and you would catch the city in the middle of the largest celebrations, Festas Santos Populares. During these festivities, Lisbon is decorated, while at night there are street parties with music and dancing.
The culmination of the Festas Santos Populares is on the 12th June, with a carnival and the street parties until sunrise.
- Lisbon Summer Events in 2020
- Festas Santos Populares (3rd -14th June)
- Bullfighting – until September (most Thursdays/Sundays)
- Jazz em Agosto – (Jazz Festival, August)
The bus ride between Lisbon and Porto is just a few hours and can be as cheap as $7 with FlixBus. That’s why I recommend visiting both of these amazing cities in one trip when you go on you summer vacation to Europe.
Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon, it is located in the Douro River region, and is known for its fantastic wines. In Porto, you can public markets like Mercado do Bolhao, contemporary art galleries along Rua Miguel Bombarda, and playful architecture such as Casa da Musica concert hall, designed by Rem Koolhaas. Hit the Ribeira neighborhood for fun restaurants and nightlife, and then navigate the city’s old winding streets in search of the sculpture of Henry the Navigator by the harbor. Affordable lodging in Porto starts around $80per night.
Porto Summer Events in 2020
If you like to attend events and festivals when you travel, Porto has a lot to offer during the summer months:
- Festa de São João (St John Festival, June 22)
- São Pedro da Afurada (Saint Peter, the patron Saint of fishermen festival, June 29th)
- Porto Wine Fest (July)
* Summer is the most popular time for any European vacations, so be prepared to pay a little more on accommodation and flights wherever you go in Europe. For lower travel rates and shorter lines at attractions, plan a visit in early Fall or Spring.
Best Fall Trips to Europe
Top Pick Vacation in Europe – Italy: Rome
While there are so many incredible places to visit in Italy, Rome is the most iconic city that you must go to! And, if you have more time, you can always hop on a bus and take a little day-trip to other cities you wish to see! I recommend also visiting Naples and Florence, they are just a couple of hours away!
Fall is a much better time to visit Rome as it gets really hot during the summer and overcrowded with tourists. Fall still offers warm weather and much more reasonable prices on flights and accommodation. When in Rome, see the iconic Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain. Also, visit the Vatican museums to see its amazing treasures. Go to the Sistine Chapel, where new Popes are elected, view Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment and his famous ceiling paintings.
Rome Fall Events in 2020
- Sagra dell’Uva (Festival of the Grape, September)
- Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October)
- The Roma Europa Festival (November)
Budget Fall Vacation in Europe – Greece
Autumn holidays in Greece is a chance to get truly immersed in the Greek culture. Early September to mid October is a great time to go swimming and enjoy the beaches without as many tourists around. It is also a great time to visit the Greek islands for a lot less. If you are going to Greece in September, you can attend some of the wine and olive festivals happening across the country. Visit some of the wineries, participate in the Harvest Festivals, and enjoy the true nature of Greece! What can be better than that? Some cities you must visit – Thessaloniki and Athens, also islands including Santorini and Crete if you have time! Great hotels in Thessaloniki can be as low as $70 per night or lower during this season.
- Thessaloniki Fall Events in 2020
- Anhiolos Wine Festival (September)
- The International Trade Fair (October)
- he Song and Film Festival (October)
Best Winter Trips to Europe
Top Winter Trips to Europe – Berlin, Germany
Germany is where the Christmas traditions are kept alive and that’s why it’s so fun to visit Germany in the winter. When going to Germany, Berlin should be your first stop, but cities like Dresden and Munich also should be on your list. Germany’s Christmas markets are not only festive and fun, but also a great way to learn more about the county’s cultures and traditions. Enjoy some Glühwein, a drink made from red or white wine, oranges, lemons, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar, and then left to slowly bubble away in a steamy cauldron for most of the day.
While Berlin has about 80 Christmas markets to enjoy, you should head to the Botanical Gardens, for a long trail that takes you a dream forest, where magical figures and light shows will take your breath away.
Another great way to spend time and stay warm is to go to one of the opera houses or theaters in Berlin or go shopping in one of the city’s shopping streets. Hotels start at $100 per night in early December, but you can find much lower prices, too!
Budget Winter Vacation in Europe – South of Spain
Christmas is a very important holiday in Spain. And my favorite region to spend the winter in Andalucia. The weather is usually really warm and could be even hot some days. With almost 365 days of sunshine, the region has an incredible culture with unique traditions, celebrations and food in different towns.
You must visit Granada and Seville if you are looking for ancient architecture with a fun nightlife and unique culture. In Seville and Granada you will see amazing nativity scenes, called Belens (Bethlehems), which may surprise you with its popularity and can be quite impressive. In Granada, you will also enjoy holiday concerts, Christmas markets, and more. While in Granada, don’t forget to visit the Alhambra and book your tickets in advance! On the 5th January most cities have parades for the Reyes Magos day.
If you have more time, head to the beach to Malaga or Cadiz, beautiful beach cities and enjoy the sunshine!
Best Spring Trips to Europe
Top Spring Trips to Europe – Barcelona
Spring is my favorite time in Barcelona. There is a festival or event almost every weekend, including Sant Jordi Day on April 23. It’s my favorite holiday and it is often called “the Day of Books and Roses” or “the Valentine’s Day of Catalonia”. Couples and friends exchange books and roses and streets are filled with performances and people around. Needless to say, it’s a sight to see and if you can schedule your time to arrive on this holiday, you will have a great time! Also, the Easter week is a great time to be in Barcelona with processions going on and fun traditions that you will find only in Spain.
While in Barcelona, see the famous architecture by Gaudi, including the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, get lost in the Gothic Quarter, see the Magic Fountain at Plaza Espana and spend a day at Barceloneta, a beach really close to the city center. As long as you check off this Barcelona bucket list, you will have an amazing vacation in Barcelona.
Barcelona is becoming more and more popular every year, so the hotel prices can still be pretty high in the spring, starting at about $100 per night.
Barcelona Spring Events in 2020
- Carnestoltes (Barcelona Carnival, February)
- Santa Eulalia Festival (February)
- Sant Jordi Day (April 23)
Budget Spring Vacation in Europe – Prague
Visit Prague in Spring, it’s one of the less expensive, but amazing cities in Europe. By going to Prague in the earlier months of the spring, you can beat the heat, crowds and high season costs while getting to know Prague more personally. Plan your trip to see the Bohemian Carnival, Prague’s Easter markets, or the Prague Spring Music Festival. While you are in Prague, be sure to try a Trdelnik filled with Nutella, stroll across the Charles Bridge, visit the Prague Castle and the Jewish Quarter. Prague is a great city for a budget tourist with hotels starting as low as $60 per night in the spring.
Unfortunately, it can still be quite cold in Prague in the spring, so you will probably need to bring a warm jacket. Use my Europe Packing List to pack more efficiently and have everything you need for your next European adventure!
Prague Spring Events in 2020
- The Bohemian Carnival (February – March)
- Easter Celebrations (April)
- Night of Witches (April 30th)
- The Prague Festival of Czech Beer (May)
- Prague’s Night of Churches (May)
- Prague Spring Music Festival (May)
How to Book Cheaper Flights to Europe
Compare, compare, compare…
I always check a few websites and airports to find the best prices on my trips to Europe.
- I start with Google flights, it compares flights from all companies. Use the date grid if you can be flexible and put a time limit to avoid long layovers.
- Check flights to nearby airports, too. For example, you can start your trip in Madrid instead of Barcelona and take a train or a bus from there.
- Check Studentuniverse, it has saved me hundreds of dollars on flights, especially when I fly to Europe.
- If I see anything I like, I go to the website of the airline and compare prices and deals on the airline directly.
- A couple of other great websites to check are Skyscanner.com and SecretFlying.com.
Finding the best deals on hotels in Europe:
- Booking.com – it seems to always offer the best prices on hotels. And, if you use this link and register, you will get $20 off your first booking!
- Airbnb – you have to be lucky, but if you are, you can score a really cheap place on Airbnb.
- Bonus tip: Look for smaller apart hotels with a kitchen in the room. They seem to be cheaper and you can cook food yourself and instead spending money on eating out!
Is it your first trip to Europe? See more Europe Travel Tips and Hacks in my post!