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Tackling Europe: 6 tips for building the perfect itinerary

Stay in style in Europe’s most iconic destinations – or discover hidden secrets that haven’t made your list yet.

Tapas crawling in Barcelona or cacio e pepe in a Roman trattoria? A perfectly poured pint of Guinness in Dublin or a stein of Pilsener in a Bavarian beer garden? Before packing your bags or getting to the airport in time comes the biggest challenge of them all: creating your itinerary.

These decisions can’t be taken lightly. Here are our six key ingredients for cooking up the perfect European itinerary, to ensure that your next European trip ticks all the boxes on your hitlist!

1. Pick an iconic city

No trip to Europe would be complete without a few days in a city abuzz with all that makes Europe great. Think London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Stockholm, Berlin, Athens – there are a lot to choose from.
Each one will bring something unique to your trip, and no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll always a wide range of things to see and do (as well as any given number of bucket-list sights). Wandering the streets of Paris, visiting London’s street markets, experiencing Berlin’s vibrant nightlife: each European capital provides its own brand of adventure. Throw in the added convenience of international airports and terrific train links: just choose which iconic city you want to start your European odyssey.

2. Go somewhere off the tourist trail

Sure France, Italy, England, Greece and Spain offer an infinite number of things to see and do, but is there more to Europe? Are there places you should check out before everyone else catches on? The answer is a resounding YES.
While certain spots in Europe are suffering the effects of over-tourism, there are many up-and-coming destinations with plenty of charm that provide a unique experience with smaller crowds and more of the magic of discovery.
Consider some of Europe’s newer destinations while you’re building your itinerary. Hike Bulgaria’s untamed landscape and discover its gilded palaces and Roman bathhouses. Wander along the leafy banks of the Ljubljanica River in Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana – one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Or head to Braga to see why the oldest city in Portugal, with its elegant squares and hillside churches, made it to the top three of Forbes’ Cities to Visit in 2019.

3. Spend some time in the slow lane

Visiting Europe on a tight itinerary can mean early morning rises to beat the crowds, late nights to enjoy the atmosphere, and yes – sore feet. Days and nights of exploration can lead to the feeling that you need a holiday from your holiday, and a key ingredient in any itinerary is a bit of time to sit back and take it all in.
Keep a few days up your sleeve for relaxation: book a romantic villa in the Tuscan countryside, a castle hotel in Ireland or a seaside retreat in Montenegro, or retreat to French wine country for a château stay.
With Europe’s endless array of stunning landscapes and atmospheric locations, there’s no shortage of options. Pack a book, take your foot off the accelerator and kick back the European way.

4. Take a tour

Planning your Europe trip can feel overwhelming – so why not outsource some of the stress? Even if you normally wouldn’t take a tour, by adding a tour as part of a bigger trip you can let the experts take over while you take a break, still ensuring you see the highlights you’ve set your heart on seeing. Tours give you the opportunity to travel with like-minded people while having unique, insider experiences that independent travellers often miss out on.

5. Don’t try to do too much

With so much to do, see, eat and drink, one can be forgiven for trying to squeeze too much in on a trip to Europe. Don’t feel pressured to see and do everything in one trip: having a few extra days immersing yourself in a specific location is often more satisfying than a daily grind of jumping on trains, busses and planes.
Sometimes less is best: pick one country and visit it all from city to mountains or coast to coast. Or pick three iconic cities and live like a local for a while in each one.

6. Leave on a high

When you’re on the home stretch and your time in Europe is coming to an end, there’s no better way to finish your trip than splurging on a little luxury.
Maybe it’s an incredible experience you’ve always wanted to try – think driving a supercar through the streets of Barcelona, living like royalty in a Scottish Highlands castle, indulging in a multiple-Michelin-starred meal or spending two nights in an ultra-luxury palace hotel. This is the time to indulge yourself and leave Europe on a high.

No matter where your itinerary leads you, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect match on Luxury Escapes. Stay in style in Europe’s most iconic destinations – or maybe discover hidden secrets that haven’t made your list yet.

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