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Advice for Americans Traveling to Europe

Advice for Americans Traveling to Europe

With its diverse culture, excellent gastronomic offering and fascinating history, Europe is a popular tourist destination for U.S. citizens.

Furthermore, as English is widely spoken across the continent and there is relatively little culture shock, Americans can enjoy a hassle-free trip.

Travelers can find advice below to help with choosing which European countries to visit, booking attractions, and packing luggage, as well as essential information about the ETIAS visa waiver for U.S. citizens.

Changes in European Visa Policies

U.S. citizens should be aware that changes are being made to European visa and immigration policies. These updates mean that, from 2021, American travelers will be required to obtain an ETIAS visa waiver to visit Schengen area countries.

Travelers will apply online for the ETIAS, in a simple process taking just a few minutes to complete. Once approved, the visa waiver is sent to the applicant by email to be printed at home.

With short processing times, the visa waiver can be applied for in the weeks leading up to the trip but.

Choosing What Countries to Visit in Europe

With so many interesting countries to choose from, it can be difficult to decide on an itinerary. Some of the top European destinations amongst American travelers are:

  • Italy
  • France
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Greece

Each of these nations has a rich culture and unique lifestyle, very different from what U.S. travelers will find back home. Mediterranean countries in particular are known for their relaxed, outdoor lifestyle and healthy diet.

When deciding which countries to visit, tourists should keep in mind the timing of the trip and weather conditions. As the climate of the southern European area differs greatly from that in the north of the continent, very different conditions should be expected.

If traveling during the winter, it is best to favor southern countries with milder climates such as Italy and Portugal. Temperatures in northern European nations are frequently sub-zero during winter.

How long to spend in each country?

If traveling to various European destinations during the same trip, visitors should plan how long they will spend in each member state.

Although it is possible to see the top tourist attractions in major cities in a day, to really get a feel for a place, its people and culture it is a good idea to spend at least 2 or 3 days in each place.

With so much to see and do in large cities such as Madrid and Paris, some tourists plan to spend up to a week exploring.

Buy Tickets for Top Attractions in Advance

To avoid lining up at Europe’s most popular tourist attractions, it recommendable to purchase tickets online and organize guided tours in advance.

Some of Europe’s most visited sites with online ticket sales are:

  • The Eiffel Tower, Paris
  • The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
  • The Colosseum, Rome
  • Duomo Cathedral, Milan

Tourists can also take advantage of the free walking tours which take place in many European cities. These tours are reserved online and, although there is no charge, participants are expected to leave a tip.

What to Take When Traveling to Europe

Clothing: The required clothing depends greatly on the country and the time of year. It is advisable to check the average day and night time temperatures for each country to be visited. Comfortable footwear is essential for exploring on foot.

Travel adaptors: A type C adaptor is suitable for most European destinations, however, as this is not correct for countries such as the UK, it is a good idea to check travel adaptor requirements for different destinations online.

Currency: It is important to note that not all European countries use the Euro. The following countries have their own currency:

  • Bulgaria: Bulgarian lev (BGN)
  • Croatia: Croatian kuna (HRK)
  • Czech Republic: Czech koruna (CZK)
  • Hungary: Hungarian forint (HUF)
  • Macedonia: Macedonian denar (MKD)
  • Poland: Polish zloty (PLN)
  • Romania: Romania leu (RON)
  • Serbia: Serbian dinar (RSD)
  • Turkey: Turkish lira (TRL)

If traveling to any of these destinations, it is a good idea for Americans to convert some dollars to the local currency before going.

Advice for Booking Accommodation in Europe

Accommodation is an important consideration for American travelers and a large proportion of a tourist’s budget is dedicated to lodging.

For this reason, it is important to research the different accommodation options available and opt for one which offers all the required services such as WiFi, leisure facilities and dining options.

Most European cities have accommodation catering to a range of budgets and necessities including budget hostels, self-catering apartments, and luxury hotels.

Location is another important factor when selecting a hotel or other accommodation, it can be more convenient to stay in a central location however prices are also usually higher.

It is best to reserve accommodation in advance, especially in the most popular tourist locations and when traveling during peak season.

Online portals are extremely useful for searching for and booking accommodation online. For help with making the right choice, online reviews by previous guests provide a realistic idea of the lodging.