10 Underrated Cities in Europe You Need to Visit ASAP

There are countless cities in Europe, but I bet only a dozen or so pop into your mind when you start dreaming about your next European vacation. The most popular cities in Europe are popular for a reason, but you should also consider visiting some underrated cities in Europe.

Especially the underrated cities in Europe on this list because they are set to explode with tourists once more people learn about them.

In fact, some of the cities on this list have already started to become up and coming destinations, so you better visit them quickly!

I’ve travelled extensively through Europe, but I haven’t visited everywhere. So, this list is based on the cities I’ve visited and think are underrated.

I haven’t made it to Georgia yet (sad face), but if I had, I’m sure a city from there would make a list.

What I’m trying to say is this is by no means a comprehensive list of underrated cities in Europe, but it should get you pointed in the right direction.

There are cities in Wester, Central, and Eastern Europe, so no matter where your European trip takes you, you should be able to stop into one of these underrated cities in Europe alone the way!

And please tell my your favourite underrated cities in Europe in the comments! I’d love to hear them, and the community would love to hear them as well. 🙂

10 overrated cities in Europe (& where to go instead)

1. Tallinn, Estonia

I’m going to start with what I think is the most underrated capital city in Europe.

Granted it is more popular now than it was when I visited for the first time in 2017, but it still isn’t on most people’s radar.

Tallinn has everything you could ever want in a European city.

It has one of the most gorgeous old cities in Europe, lots of fun things to do outside the old city (which most people ignore), and is super affordable.

You can visit Tallinn as a day trip from Helsinki, Finland, but I recommend spending at least two or three days to get a full sense of the city and what it has to offer.

If there is a performance during your time in Tallinn, I highly recommend you go to the City Theatre for a play or ballet performance.

Tickets are very affordable, and the inside of the building in spectacular.

You’ll likely fall in love with Estonia on your visit to Tallinn and may want to explore more of the country. If that’s the case, I highly recommend you visit Tartu.

It is actually my favourite city in Estonia!

Tallinn, Estonia

Top 3 Things to do in Tallinn

  • Visit the old city
  • Explore Toompea Castle
  • Wander around Kadriorg Park

Important Information

CurrencyEuros
Best Time to VisitMay-September
Days Needed2-3

2. Timișoara, Romania

Now it is time to move on to what I think is the most underrated city in Europe (in my own personal opinion).

I adore Timișoara and find myself dreaming of going back more than any other Romanian city.

Romania as a whole is widely underrated and a country I recommend to all my friends and family. But even within Romania, Timișoara doesn’t get as much love as it deserves.

Not only is it stunningly beautiful, calming, and idyllic, but it also has a very interesting history and is where communism started to fall in Romania.

There are other cities in Romania with important communism histories as well, but Timișoara’s is extra interesting. You’ll understand it more once you get there and start learning about the history.

Timișoara is one of the most vibrant cities I’ve visited. The sights and colours are intoxicating, and if you’re anything like me, you want to spend all your time walking around or sitting at a café soaking up the atmosphere.

Be sure to bring your camera and lots of extra batteries!

Plus the food in Timișoara (and all of Romania) is to die for. Pack your stretchy pants because you’ll be eating a lot!

Timișoara, Romania

Top 3 Things to do in Timișoara

  • Visit Victory Square
  • Tour the Communist Consumer Museum
  • Walk through Roses Park

Important Information

CurrencyRomanian Leu
Best Time to VisitMarch-June
Days Needed2-3

3. Kaunas, Lithuania

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Kaunas before. Ah, yes, I’m not surprised most of you haven’t!

I guess that’s why it made the list of top underrated cities in Europe!

I honestly hadn’t heard of Kaunas until a few days before I arrived in the city. I was backpacking through the Balkans and wanted to see more of Lithuania than just Vilnius.

A short Google search later, and I found myself booking a hostel in Kaunas, and it was one of the best hidden gems I visited on that entire three-month trip.

Kaunas is located in central Lithuania and is only 1.5 hours away from Vilnius by bus.

It is a fairly quiet town, but there is still lots to see and do.

There is one long promenade in the old part of town where most tourists flock to. It is full of life, and is a must-do for anybody visiting the city.

But it isn’t the only thing to do in Kaunas.

A lot of tourists miss the heart and soul of Kaunas because they stick to the old part of town and don’t venture out to the more local areas.

There is a ton of great artwork painted on the buildings around town. Even just wandering around aimlessly for a few hours will result in you finding more than one piece of artwork to snap a picture of.

You can (and should) also explore the historical part of Kaunas by visiting the old castle and fortress.

And, of course, there are a few churches you can wander through and marvel at.

However, I must admit my favourite part of Kaunas was the Devil’s Museum. It is a museum dedicated to just collecting artwork, sculptures, and trinkets that depict the devil.

When I was there, it boasted that it was the only devil museum in the world. I visited in 2017, so I’m not sure if it is still the only devil museum in the world, but it was certainly the first.

I know this is an odd thing to recommend to you, but it was honestly so much fun. The museum is multiple stories tall, and it is just so wonderfully odd that you can’t not visit.

I would 100% go again the next time I’m in Kaunas.

But, if devils aren’t your thing, there is still plenty to keep you occupied while you’re in Kaunas.

Kaunas, Lithuania

Top 3 Things to do in Kaunas

  • Visit the Devil’s Museum
  • Explore Kaunas Castle
  • Tour the Ninth Fort of Kaunas Fortress

Important Information

CurrencyEuros
Best Time to VisitMay-September
Days Needed1-2

4. Brighton, England

Brighton is one of the most underrated cities in Europe for sure. It is popular with people in the UK, but I’ve never met anybody else in my personal life who has visited Brighton.

Even though it is only 1.5 hours away from London by train!

Brighton couldn’t be more different than London, and it gives you a completely new peak inside what England has to offer.

The city is super laid back, and you get out of the hustle and bustle of London for a while.

The weather is delightful, the food is outstanding, and you can walk to pretty much any tourist attraction you want to visit.

And they have world class tourist attractions!

The whole city is a breath of fresh air compared to London.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore London, but it is nice to get outside the capital city and explore a different part of England.

You can visit Brighton as a day trip from London, but I personally recommend spending at least two days there.

There is plenty to see, do, and eat. You don’t want to be rushed or feel like you’re missing out on what Brighton has to offer.

Just be sure you try out the food! There are plenty of fresh seafood restaurants along the seafront, but my personal favourite is going to The Lanes to eat.

The Lanes is an old section of the city where narrow streets twist and turn. You walk around and get lost in the streets.

There are plenty of small spots, cafés, but, more importantly, the best restaurants in the city. You can eat at pretty much any restaurant and be guaranteed a good meal!

41 things to do along the Brighton seafront

Royal Pavilion Brighton

Top 3 Things to do in Brighton

  • Visit the Royal Pavilion
  • Get an unbeatable view of Brighton at the British Airways i360 Viewing Tower

Important Information

CurrencyPound Sterling
Best Time to VisitJune-September
Days Needed1-3

5. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo was a travel experience unlike any other. You immerse yourself in the history and tragedy of the Bosnian Muslims during the Bosnian War, and you can’t help but be emotional during your entire trip to Sarajevo.

It is without a doubt one of the most underrated cities in Europe. There is so much modern history that everybody should experience in the city, and you should definitely add it to your bucket list.

Not only does Sarajevo teach you a lot about the Bosnian War and what people went through, but it also teaches you a lot about resilience.

The city is vibrant and full of life. If you weren’t aware of the city’s past, you would think it was like any other city in the region.

One of my favourite things to do is stand outside around noon to listen to the church bells and the Adhan (the sound that notifies Muslims it is time to start praying) sounding off at the same time.

It is the perfect representation of what the city of Sarajevo has become.

The city is welcoming to everybody and anybody.

Not only does Sarajevo have an interesting (and tragic) modern history, but you can also stand on the bridge where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated and where WWI began.

There are certainly still some issue with corruption, which is the big reason why BiH hasn’t been allowed in the EU yet, but it is slowly but surely getting better.

In a few years, I’m sure Sarajevo will not longer be one of the most underrated cities in Europe and tourists will be flocking to it.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Top 3 Things to do in Sarajevo

  • Visit Gallery 11/07/95 and learn about the tragedy of Srebrenica
  • Walk along the 1984 Winter Olympics bobsleigh track 
  • Wander through the Old Bazaar

Important Information

CurrencyBosnia and Herzegovina Convertible Mark
Best Time to VisitMay-June and Early September
Days Needed3-4 (if you want to make a day trip to Mostar)

6. Sofia, Bulgaria

There is so much to see and do in Sofia. It is an unassuming capital city, but it is definitely one of the most underrated cities in Europe.

It has an interesting mix of modern culture and history. You want see street artwork right next to old ruins.

The city is truly unbeatable, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Sofia during a holiday, you’ll experience the history and culture of Bulgaria that locals still take seriously.

No trip to Sofia is complete without taking a day trip to Rila Monastery.

It is the largest and most well known Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, and you can even crawl inside a cave where the St. Ivan of Rila spent 20 years of his life praying in solitude.

It is an experience you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world!

To top it all off, the food in Sofia is incredible! I doubt you could find a bad meal in the whole city even if you were trying to.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Top 3 Things to do in Sofia

  • Visit Rila Monastery
  • Tour Alexander Nevsky Cathedral 
  • Visit the Museum of Socialist Art

Important Information

CurrencyBulgarian Lev
Best Time to VisitApril-May or September-October
Days Needed2-4

7. Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, but people tend to focus on the coastal towns and completely ignore Zagreb.

I love Zagreb and was blown away by the city.

When I visited Croatia in 2015, every single blog I read about where to go in the country said don’t bother visiting Zagreb. It is boring and not worth visiting.

Well, there was one specific thing I really wanted to do in Zagreb, so I ignored the advice of all the blogs I read and spent three days in Zagreb.

Let this be a reminder that you shouldn’t take what bloggers say (even me) as the absolute word of truth. We’re all just sharing our own opinions. Do lots of research and make the travel decisions that suit you best!

Zagreb is colourful, full of life, yet homey and small at the same time.

You can walk pretty much anywhere in the city within half an hour and be treated to beautiful sights along the way.

One of the most popular things to do in Zagreb is take a day trip to visit Plitvice Lake. It is a gorgeous lake, but I prefer Krka National Park.

Krka National Park is located just outside the small town of Šibenik and is a short bus ride from Zadar, which is where I recommend staying if you want to visit Krka National Park.

In any event, Plitvice Lake is well worth visiting, but you should spend a few days exploring the city as well.

You’ll be thankful you did. I know you’ll fall in love with Zagreb!

What I wish I knew before backpacking Europe alone

Zagreb, Croatia

Top 3 Things to do in Zagreb

  • Spend an afternoon exploring Mirogoj Cemetery
  • Wander around Upper Town and take a million photos

Important Information

CurrencyCroatian Kuna
Best Time to VisitApril-September
Days Needed2-4

8. Lviv, Ukraine

Lviv is a city I wasn’t planning on visiting but used it as a transfer point from Ukraine to Poland.

Unfortunately, I was only in the city for a day and a half, but it was long enough for me to fall in love with it!

I was debating whether I should include Lviv or Odessa on my list of underrated cities in Europe, but Lviv won out by a hair because I think there is more to do there.

But, if you’re in Ukraine, you can’t go wrong with visiting Odessa as well.

Lviv is by far the brightest and most vibrant city I visited in Ukraine. It feels like a small town but is actually quite a large city.

Even as a tourist, when you walk around the centre of Lviv, you can’t help but feel comfortable and at home.

But be sure to get outside the centre of the city and explore everything else the city has to offer!

And please, please, please come with an empty stomach.

As I’m sure you can guess, the food in Lviv (and everywhere in Ukraine) is outstanding. You’ll want to eat and eat and eat until you’ve made yourself sick and can’t stuff another bite into your mouth.

Yes. I’m speaking from experience.

A lot of people don’t think to visit Ukraine while they’re in Europe. Whether it is misinformation that Ukraine is unsafe or they don’t realize how much the country has to offer.

Either way, you’re missing out on a lot of amazing sights and experiences if you don’t visit Ukraine.

Kyiv is outstanding, but you should also visit Lviv while you’re there.

Lviv, Ukraine

Top 3 Things to do in Lviv

  • Climb city hall for the best views of the city
  • Visit the Armenian Cathedral
  • People watch at Rynok Square

Important Information

CurrencyUkrainian Hryvnia
Best Time to VisitMay-September
Days Needed1-3

9. Dundee, Scotland

Dundee is overlooked and is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Not many people know about it, but it is the perfect addition to any Eastern Scotland road trip.

It is in an ideal location and the best city to spend a few days between the lowlands (a.k.a. Edinburgh or Glasgow) and the highlands.

I mean technically Dundee is part of the highlands, but it isn’t too north and isn’t what people picture when they think of the highlands.

Dundee is the perfect mixture of a modern town with deep historical roots.

I’ll admit that the only reason I planned to spend a few days in Dundee the first time I was in Scotland was because I wanted to visit the RRS Discovery.

Anybody else weirdly interested in Shackleton’s expeditions or is it just me?!

But, I’m so glad I planned three days in the city as a way to break up the driving and moving from hotel to hotel every day or two.

The city is so much more than just the RRS Discovery, and I wasn’t bored for a moment the three days I spend in Dundee.

The city is young and hip, which I didn’t expect. It has a great vibe, wonderful pubs and restaurants, and tourist attractions that suit anybody’s interests.

If you’re planning a road trip in the eastern part of Scotland, Dundee is a must on your itinerary.

Dundee, Scotland

Top 3 Things to do in Dundee

  • Learn about Arctic expeditions on the RRS Discovery
  • Visit The McManus Art Museum
  • Tour Glamis Castle (a short drive or bus ride outside Dundee)

Important Information

CurrencyPound Sterling
Best Time to VisitMay-August
Days Needed2-4

10. Wrocław, Poland

Just like Lviv, I used Wrocław as a transfer point. I was in northern Poland and had to get to Prauge.

I didn’t want to go all the way from the north of Poland to Prague and decided to find somewhere to stop along the way, and that place was Wrocław.

For a city I didn’t think much of when I booked my stay, it ended up blowing me away.

It is such a unique city.

Wrocław has the same architecture as the rest of Poland, but it quirky.

There are over 400 statues of gnomes all over the city. Most of the are small, but a few of them are larger.

The gnomes started popping up around the city in the 1980s as a satirical and funny protest against communism.

Since them, gnomes have been popping up all over the city, and many of them are wearing unique and silly costumes or props.

It is weirdly addicting to spend hours wandering through the twisting streets of Wrocław trying to find as many gnomes as possible.

I have pictures of dozens of different gnomes, and it makes me giggle every time I go through my photos from my trip to Wrocław.

In addition to gnomes, Wrocław has what is known as the Cathedral Island. It is the oldest part of the city that is home to a number of different cathedrals and churches. The island is accessible by three different bridges and is surrounded by water.

Other than the gnomes, Cathedral Island is the most unique part of Wrocław. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything like it anywhere else in Europe.

Be sure to check out Hala Targowa when you’re in Wrocław. It is the best place to find fresh food, unique gifts, and cheap treats to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Wrocław, Poland

Top 3 Things to do in Wrocław

  • Go gnome hunting
  • Explore Cathedral Island
  • Visit the The Royal Palace and the Historical Museum of Wrocław

Important Information

CurrencyPolish Złoty
Best Time to VisitMarch-May
Days Needed2-4

A Friendly Reminder About Internet Safety While Travelling

You rely extensively on public wifi when you travel. Unless you have your own pocket wifi, you’ll 100% be relying on free wifi.

Public wifi is great because it allows you to connect to the internet without spending any money, but it comes with its risks.

Public wifi is just that. It is public, so anybody can connect to it.

And before you tell me that your hotel wifi has a passcode, it is still considered public wifi because anybody can access the passcode!

With so many people using public wifi, it puts you, your devices, and your privacy at risk.

All it takes is one person with bad intentions, and your European vacation is ruined because someone stole your banking information.

You do not want to have to go through the hassel of canceling debit and credit cards while you’re abroad.

It takes a lot of the fun out of your trip, and it leaves you in the difficult situation of trying to fund the rest of your trip without your normal cards.

I’ve had a few banking issues while abroad, and I can tell you that it is a major headache to deal with. I haven’t had my information stolen, but I can only imagine how much worse that would make it!

The only way you can protect your online data and information when using a public wifi network is installing a VPN on your devices.

A VPN essentially puts a forcefield around your devices that makes it impossible for anybody else to access your information.

A VPN makes using public wifi just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the passcode.

My Favourite VPN

As you can imagine, I’ve used a lot of different VPN providers during my years of travel. Honestly, I hated all of them and cancelled my subscription after the first year.

VPNs are notorious for slowing your phone down, and I would often find myself putting my privacy at risk by not using my VPN just because my internet access was so slow.

That all changed when I discovered NordVPN.

I’ve been using them since 2018 and have no plans of ever switching to a different VPN provider.

The reason I love them so much (and why I recommend them to my fellow travel lovers) is because they are the fastest VPN on the market.

You can’t notice a change in your internet speed when you’re using your NordVPN, which is basically unheard of in any other VPN.

One subscription protects up to six devices, so you can protect all your devices (and possibly the devices of a friend or family member) for one low, low price.

Seriously! The cost of a two-year subscription is less per month than the cost of a single latte.

It is a tiny price to pay to protect your online data and have peace of mind when travelling.

My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online data and privacy.

Conclusion

Are you inspired to check out any of the underrated cities in Europe on this list?!

Again, this isn’t an extensive list. There are countless other cities and towns in Europe that are underrated.

I wanted to add cities to this list that had a little something for everybody and were easy to get to.

Use it as inspiration for your next trip. Even if you don’t visit any of the cities on this list, find a hidden gem in the part of Europe you’re travelling to and take the time to visit that city.

You’ll never be disappointed that you stepped off the normal tourist trail and experienced something that most tourists don’t get to!

What I Wish I Knew Before Backpacking Europe Alone

Backpacking Europe alone after high school is one of the biggest clichés out there.

I’m proud to say that I avoided that cliché and travelled Europe alone for the first time right after University. 😉

Cliché or not, there is a reason why backpacking Europe alone is one of the most popular things for young people interested in travel to do.

Hell. I travel Europe alone as often and as frequently as I can even though it has been years since my first solo trip to Europe!

Europe is my favourite place on the planet, and the best part is it is super easy for solo travellers to explore Europe.

However, there are a few things I wish I knew before backpacking Europe alone.

These things would have saved me a lot of anxiety, money, and a few tears along the way.

If you’re planning your first backpacking trip through Europe, this is the post for you!

Hopefully you’re a little bit more prepared than I was!

Tips for planning your first solo trip

You Don’t Have to Stay in Hostels

When I was researching before my first solo trip to Europe, every blog I read said that solo travellers stay in hostels.

The fact that I had to stay in hostels, and there were no other affordable options was beat into my head.

There were other reasons, such as the social aspect, that people were recommending hostels. But those reasons didn’t resonate with me as an extreme introvert.

The biggest thing I wish I knew before backpacking Europe alone is that I didn’t have to stay in hostels.

They’re a great, affordable option.

But they’re not the only option.

I spent months staying in hostels and hating it. They’re just not my jam.

If you’re like me and don’t love hostels, know that there are tons of affordable options out there!

I highly recommend you try to find guest houses to stay in or Airbnbs.

A lot of the time they are less expensive to stay in than a budget hotel and aren’t much more expensive than a hostel.

They’re a great option for people like me who don’t enjoy staying in hostels but also don’t want to spend a ton of money on lodging.

Of course, there are limits to how well this works.

If you’re in an expensive city like London, you’re going to be paying a pretty penny no matter where you stay.

Including hostels.

So, figure out what your budget is and research all your options before automatically searching and booking a hostel.

backpacking Europe alone

Don’t Take Internet Safety Lightly

Not enough people take internet safety seriously when they travel, and that is a mistake.

In fact, being internet safe is one of the most important travel safety tips I can give you!

As a traveller, you connect to public wifi networks on a daily basis, and this puts your devices at risk of being hacked.

And, yes, even hotel and café wifi networks that have a password are considered public wifi networks!

Anybody can access public wifi networks, and you’d be surprised at how easy it is for someone to steal your online data without you even knowing it.

I can’t imagine a worse scenario than backpacking Europe alone and having someone steal my banking information.

The hassle of canceling all your banking cards and then trying to figure out a way to fund the rest of your trip is not the type of thing you want to deal with when you’re on a solo trip.

The only way you can protect your devices when using a public wifi network is by installing a VPN on your devices.

A VPN essentially puts a forcefield around your devices and makes it impossible for prying eyes to access your online information.

It makes using a public wifi network just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.

In my mind, installing a VPN on your devices is a non-negotiable.

It is the responsible thing to do, and there are no excuses for not protecting your online information and data when you travel.

My Favourite VPN

I’ve used quite a few different VPNs over my years of travel, and, to be frank, most of them suck.

They slow your phone down to a snail’s pace. It is so frustrating to use most VPNs that you end up turning them off and exposing your online information.

Which totally defeats the purpose of having a VPN!

The only VPN I use and trust now is NordVPN.

I’ve been using them since 2018 and have no plans change provider.

They are the fastest VPN on the market, which is why I recommend them to my fellow travel lovers.

We need our internet to be quick, and if you’re like me, you don’t have the patience to deal with lagging internet.

That is never an issue with NordVPN.

You hardly notice a difference in the speed of your internet. You can use your devices and be safe without sacrificing any internet speed.

Plus a NordVPN subscription is super affordable.

It costs less than a latte per month, and you can install a VPN on up to six devices with on subscription.

There are no excuses not to protect your online information and data when backpacking Europe alone.

My motto is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online information and date!

Get Off the Beaten Path

One of the biggest mistakes most people backpacking Europe alone make is not getting off the beaten path and visiting less popular tourist destinations.

This includes what cities you choose to visit and what you choose to see and do in those cities.

Even if you only visit the most popular cities in Europe, there are still less common things you can do to experience a different side of the city.

Now that I’m an experienced traveller, there is nothing I love more than finding lesser known cities and exploring them.

They give you a different taste of what life in that country is like without all the tourists swarming around.

There is nothing wrong with visiting the most popular tourist sights and cities.

They’re popular for a reason!

I just think you should also go out of your way to see a different part of the place you’re travelling.

Taking a day trip to a nearby town or village is one of the easiest ways to get off the beaten path and see more of a country.

I personally like to spend three or four days in three or four different cities when I visit a country, but I know not everybody has time for that.

All I’m asking is that you do at least one thing on your backpacking trip through Europe that can’t be found on the first page of every guide book ever written.

Overrated cities in Europe

solo travel in Europe

Set a Realistic Budget

This is one of the biggest mistakes I made the first time I was backpacking Europe alone.

I read a ton of blogs that said you should only spend $50/day in Europe. That’s all you need.

It created this image in my mind that $50 is what I should spend a day, and if I spent more than $50, I wasn’t a very good traveller.

Now I know that is absolute rubbish, but I didn’t back in 2015 when I went on my first solo trip to Europe.

I also failed to take into consideration the exchange rate. The blogs were referring to $50 USD/day. I was budgeting $50 CAD/day, which came out to about $32 USD/day!

If there is only one tip for backpacking Europe alone on this list you listen to, let it be this one.

Do not blindly listen to anybody on the internet who tells you how much it costs to travel anywhere.

That is their experience. You can use it is a guide, but do not take it as a hard fact.

Instead, think about what your travel style is. How you imagine your backpacking trip to Europe looks and go from there.

You’re travelling alone, so if you underestimate how much money you need, you’re kind of screwed.

There is nobody travelling with you that you can potentially borrow money from, and you need to figure out how to make too little money stretch your entire trip.

It is not a fun place to be!

So, set a realistic budget and have a little extra money saved just in case some things are more expensive than you anticipate.

You don’t want to have to skip meals or stay in terrible accommodation just because you didn’t set a realistic budget!

Digital nomad jobs for beginners

Travel Planning

Backpacking Europe Alone Isn’t Glamorous

Backpacking Europe alone is over glamorized in the media.

Images of meeting an Italian man and falling in love, finding your true self, and becoming an influencer are attached to the idea of travelling Europe aline.

While all those things are possible, I’m here to tell you that they are not the norm.

Backpacking Europe alone is amazing- don’t get me wrong- but it isn’t quite as romantic as you might think it is.

I guarantee that you’ll shed a few tears, your clothes will stink (and you’ll hate doing laundry), you’ll get lost more times than you can count, and I see a number of cheap grocery store meals in your future.

It’s all part of backpacking Europe alone, and it also might be some of the best parts of it!

If you’re going into Europe with your rose coloured glasses on, you’ll be disappointed.

One of the fun parts about backpacking Europe alone is figuring out how to solve the little problems that pop up along the way.

Because trust me no trip goes 100% to plan!

And, in my opinion, the best way to make sure your solo trip to Europe is amazing is to have realistic expectations and know that what you see in the media probably isn’t how your trip is going to go.

But it will undoubtably be an amazing trip though!

Undeniable benefits of travelling alone

Currency Can be a Pain in the Butt

A lot of people think of Europe and see it as one big economic zone where everything is the same.

While a lot of European countries use the Euro, there are many who don’t. And that makes currency a bit of a pain.

Not only do you have to figure out how to get the different currencies you need, you also need to keep the currency conversion straight in your head.

Again, it isn’t much of an issue if you only visit countries that use the Euro, but most people visit countries with different currencies.

When you’re backpacking Europe alone, you need to have a plan on how you’re going to handle all the different currencies you need.

My recommendation is to get convert some of your money into the currency of the first country you’re visiting before you leave.

You’ll have money to pay for whatever transportation you need to take when you land and buy food.

You do not want to deal with converting currency after a long flight when you’re tired and just want to get to your accommodation!

After that, I like to use ATMs to the currency I need for the rest of my trip.

Eating alone

Beware of ATMs in Europe

ATMs can cause a bit of confusion in Europe.

The most important thing you need to remember is to never select the option that does the currency conversion for you and removes money from your bank account in your local currency.

Always select the option to have the money withdrawn in the local currency and let your bank do the conversion.

ATMs in Europe are notorious for giving you a horrible exchange rate, and you’ll waste a lot of money if you remove money in your home currency rather than the local one.

No matter what option you choose, you will receive money in the local currency. I know that section may sound confusing, but it will make sense once you get to Europe.

Another major tip I can give you is don’t take too much money out at one time.

I’ve been in situations where I’ve overestimated how much money I’ll need and then have a bunch of left over currency that isn’t accepted in the next country I’m visiting.

It is a fine line to walk between getting enough money versus getting too much money.

Finally, be sure you have a currency conversion app on your phone. It helps you keep track of what the local currency is doing based on your home currency.

This is a huge help for staying on budget and understanding what you’re paying for things while backpacking Europe alone.

Transportation is a Breeze

I was a bit nervous about getting around Europe on my first backpacking trip. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and didn’t want to spend a ton of money and fly from place to place.

It didn’t take long before I learned that Europe isn’t like other parts of the world (like Asia) where it can be a challenge to get from city to city and country to country.

There are trains and buses that take you pretty much anywhere you need to go.

Even across international borders!

The last time I was in Europe for an extended period of time, I took a total of four flights in three months!

From London to Dublin and back. From London to Finland. And Prague to Paris more due to needing to be in Paris quickly for an event rather than there not being a way to overland between the two cities.

The only thing you need to be aware of is there are some countries where the price of train tickets steeply rise the closer you get to the day of departure.

The biggest culprits of this price hike are the UK and France.

If you’re travelling within or between these two countries, be sure you book your train ticket as early as possible.

Tickets go on sale three months in advance, and you want to buy your tickets as shortly after that as possible.

If you’re not a planner, the bus may be a better option than the train. Bus ticket’s don’t see a price increase the same way train tickets do.

But, transportation is not something that should hold you back from backpacking Europe alone.

It is super easy to use, and even a beginner traveller can breeze their way around Europe without too much sweat.

A solo traveller’s guide to London

A solo traveller’s guide to Paris

Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy

Don’t Ignore Eastern Europe

Okay. So, this is one thing I did know before backpacking Europe alone, but I feel like not enough people know it!

Eastern Europe is amazing and doesn’t get enough love!

I’m talking the Baltic States, the Balkans, Central Europe, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, everything outside Western Europe really.

Most of my favourite European countries are outside of Western Europe and along the road less travelled.

They are beautiful, full of history, and are home to some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

And as a bonus for people backpacking Europe alone, they are extremely affordable.

I once got a plate of pierogi, a salad, steamed vegetables, a drink, and a piece of cake for about $10 USD in Ukraine! Where else are you going to find such great value in Europe?!

I fully understand the desire to tour Western Europe. It is home to some of the most iconic sights in Europe.

But that doesn’t mean that Eastern Europe deserves to be ignored.

I highly, highly, highly recommend you arrange your itinerary so you spend at least a third of your trip in Eastern or Central Europe.

Not only will your wallet thank you, but I have a feeling it will also result in some of the best memories that come out of your trip.

A solo traveller’s guide to Prague

Prague, Czechia

Take Your Time

I’m seeing a trend here, and it is following bloggers blindly.

Says the person who is now a travel blogger writing this post.

But the blogging content put out in 2014/2015 when I was planning my trip and backpacking alone in Europe is vastly different from what is online now.

Back then, I saw post after post after post saying you should never stay in a city more than 3 days.

Yes. That includes major cities like London and Paris!

The sentiment online at that time was you have to keep moving and see as much as possible as quickly as possible or you’re not travelling properly.

Thankfully the travel blog world has change a bit, and now there is more of a focus on slowing down and getting a more in-depth taste of a city or country.

I spent the first month and a half of my backpacking trip to Europe rushing around. I was exhausted from never settling in anywhere and never having a break to people watch in a café.

Don’t be like me!

Thankfully I figured out that it is worthwhile to slow down and spend more time in each city.

It is much more enjoyable, relaxing, and it gives you a better appreciation for the place you’re visiting.

I mean it is ridiculous to think that you can get a true taste of a major European city in three days or less. That’s nonsense.

I’m not going to tell you how much time to spend in each place.

That’s super personal and changes based on what city you’re visitng.

I am going to tell you to do your research and figure out a reasonable time to stay to see everything you want to do.

I also like to add on an extra day just in case the weather is bad, I’m tired one day, or I discover something else I want to do.

Plus, you can always take a day trip if you don’t need that extra day!

Eating alone

Backpacking Europe Alone is Safe but Know the Local Scams

Before I went on my first solo trip to Europe, I had people in my life telling me it wasn’t safe for solo female travellers.

Or that certain countries (like Ukraine) I planned to visit weren’t safe.

I didn’t listen to them and went on my trip anyways, but I would be lying if I wasn’t a bit nervous at the start of my trip.

Especially when I got to some of the lesser travelled countries in the Balkans.

Now I know that it wasn’t something I ever had to worry about, and you don’t have to either!

Europe is very safe.

Even in less financially rich countries you don’t have anything to worry about.

You can start backpacking alone in Europe and know that you’re safe and don’t have to stress over your personal safety.

The one thing you do need to worry about though is knowing local scams.

Every country and city in the world has local scams.

These can range from something as simple as pick pocketing to something much more elaborate like people not giving you the proper change or giving your counterfeit money.

You need to be aware of what the local scams are wherever you’re going.

This will help you know what to look out for.

As a solo traveller, you are solely responsible for your safety. You don’t have a friend to watch your back, so it is even more important you familiarize yourself with local scams.

But, aside from scams, Europe is super safe. Even for solo female travellers.

Overcome your fear of solo travel

Eiffel Tower Paris France

Best European Countries for Solo Travellers

Conclusion

There you have it. You’re now in the know and are more prepared for your first solo trip to Europe than I was!

Europe is one of the best and easiest places for solo travellers. Even if you’re a complete beginner, you can successfully backpack Europe alone.

If I can do it, you can do it. I was a horrible traveller when I first backpacked Europe alone.

It is so important to understand that not everything is going to be perfect and know that you’ll have to problem solve along the way.

Backpacking Europe alone is one of the best experiences you’ll have in your life.

The continent is so full of life, food, and beauty. And no two countries are the same!

So, book that ticket, strap your backpack on, and have the time of your life!

5 Reasons to Visit Disneyland Paris

If you’re a Disney fanatic like I am, then visiting Disneyland Paris is probably already on your bucket list, and you don’t need any further convincing to visit Disneyland Paris.

If you’re teetering on the edge of whether you should visit Disneyland Paris or not, this is the post that will convince you that you need to go!

Disneyland Paris is the only Disney park in Europe, which makes it the perfect addition to any Europe trip. The park is centrally located, so it is easy to get from London to Disneyland Paris as well as from other major European cities such as Brussels.

The park is also easily accessible using the Paris metro and only takes 30-45 minutes to get to from central Paris! It really is one of the best day trips from Paris!

If Disneyland Paris being central and easy to access from all over Europe isn’t enough of a selling feature, then read on. I bet you’ll be convinced to visit Disneyland Paris once you’re done reading this post.

1. Disneyland Paris Has One of the Best Attractions in Any Disney Park in the World

You read that right! Disneyland Paris has one of the best attractions in any Disney park in the world, and you can only find this attraction at Disneyland Paris.

The attraction I’m talking about is Crush’s Coaster! I love this attraction so much and wish it was at other Disney parks around the world, but you’ll have to go to Disneyland Paris if you want to ride it!

Crush’s Coaster starts off as a slow-moving, relaxing ride until you enter the East Coast Current and go for a wild ride through the ocean. The slow-moving ride turns into a rollercoaster in this section of the attraction.

To make it even more fun, not only is it a rollercoaster, but your ride vehicle (which is adorably designed to look like a turtle shell) independently spins as well! The combination of the rollercoaster mixed with a spinning ride vehicle is what makes Crush’s Coaster one of the best Disney attractions in the world.

It is a crowd favourite and always has a long wait so get there early if you want to ride it! There is also the option to ride as a single rider. This queue is often shorter, but you won’t get to ride with your friends and family. You will be used to fill an empty seat when a group in the normal queue has an odd number of people.

There are a number of other unique Disneyland Paris attractions, but Crush’s Coaster is by far my favourite!

A Note of Caution for Anybody who Suffers from Motion Sickness:

There is a lot of spinning, and there is the possibility that the rollercoaster could turn in one direction, and your ride vehicle could spin in the opposite direction at the same time.

But if you don’t suffer from motion sickness, this ride should be at the top of your must-ride list for Disneyland Paris. Trust me. It’s amazing! I wish I could ride it every time I went to a Disney park and not just in Paris.

Crush's Coaster

2. The Castle is Stunningly Beautiful

Disneyland Paris’ castle is unlike any other Disney castle. It is pink with blue and gold accents. I love it so much!

Although I can’t decide though whether I like Disneyland Paris’ castle or Shanghai Disneyland’s castle better. It is a tough choice I keep going back and forth on. They’re both so beautiful in their own way.

Anyways, the castle is another reason you should visit Disneyland Paris. I know you’ll be in awe when you see it. It is absolute perfection.

In addition to being beautiful, the castle also has a sneaky reason why it is so special. You can go underneath the castle and see an animatronic dragon!

You walk into a dimly lit “cave” under the castle and get to watch a dragon sleeping. Every couple of minutes the dragon “wakes up” and starts moving its head around and puffing smoke out of its nose.

It is a really cool experience and completely unique to Disneyland Paris. You can’t go under the castle at any other Disney park.

How to Get Under the Disneyland Paris Castle to See the Dragon

It is quite easy to get under the castle to see the dragon! There are entrances from both Main Street USA and Fantasyland. There are also entrances on both the left and right sides of the castles from both areas of the park.

You can enter and exit the dungeon from any direction, and it is a fun way to get from Main Street USA to Fantasyland. The only thing you can’t do is exit from the right if you entered from the left and vice versa.

Disneyland Paris Castle

3. You Can Visit Both Parks in One Day

There are technically two parks at Disneyland Paris: Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios. Both parks have a lot of attractions and shows, so you could easily spend two or more days at Disneyland Paris.

But you can also strategize and see most of what Disneyland Paris has to offer in a single day. You need to know what attractions you want to ride and shows you want to see in order to get the most out of a single day at the parks, but it is very doable.

You’ll want to make use of the Fastpass system at Disneyland Paris to get the most out of your day at both parks. A Fastpass allows you to get a ticket with a return time on it. When it is your return time, you simply go to the attraction, enter through the Fastpass queue, and get on the ride with little to no wait time!

Not every ride has the option to get a Fastpass so be sure to do your research beforehand in order to make the most of your time.

Here is a handy one-day Disneyland Paris itinerary to help you plan your perfect day in Disneyland Paris! I never follow one-day itineraries exactly, but they are a good starting point to get inspiration on how to plan your day.

Even if you don’t have a firm plan and like to play things by ear, you’ll be able to see Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios in a single day.

But Should You Visit for Only One Day?

No matter how much or how little you plan there will still be things you have to miss out on if you only visit the parks for one day. You won’t be able to ride every single ride, watch all the shows and parades, or meet many characters.

I recommend visiting Disneyland Paris for two days in order to get the most out of your trip to the parks.

P.S.- If you’re planning on visiting both parks in one day, don’t forget you need to purchase the park hopper ticket!

Walt Disney Studios

4. Disneyland Paris is More Affordable than the US Disney Parks

Disneyland Paris is significantly less expensive to visit than Disney parks in the United States (excluding airfare of course). It is the perfect Disney park to visit if you need a little Disney magic, are in France, and don’t want to have the outrageous expense of visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland California.

For comparison, a one-day park hopper ticket costs the following in each park (at the time of writing):

  • Walt Disney World: $172 USD plus taxes
  • Disneyland: $179 USD plus taxes
  • Disneyland Paris: $86 USD plus taxes

It is nearly $100USD less per adult to visit Disneyland Paris for one day than it is to visit a US park. That’s a huge difference! Those savings really add up.

You most likely will be spending fewer days at Disneyland Paris than you would at either Disneyland or Disney World, so the cost of food and accommodation should be lower as well.

Food and accommodation are comparable, but since you’ll only be at Disneyland Paris for one or two days, the cost for these won’t be as high as if you spent three or four days at Disneyland or a week at Disney World.

All in all the expense of visiting Disneyland Paris is much less than visiting the US Disney parks. The money you save in ticket prices alone will probably be able to pay for all your meals and a few extra souvenirs.

I mean who doesn’t want to have a great time at a Disney park for significantly less money? It sounds like the perfect combination to me!

Disneyland Paris France A Complete Guide to Disneyland Paris Attractions

5. It Makes a Great Conversation Starter

Co-Worker: “How was your trip to Paris? What cool things did you do?”

You: “It was great! I saw all the major sights and went to Disneyland Paris.”

Co-Worker: “Wow! That sounds so cool. I didn’t even know there was a Disney park in Paris. I’m jealous.”

That could be you if you plan a day trip (or more) to Disneyland Paris! You’ll be surprised how many Disney nerds you uncover when you casual mention you visited a Disney park while on vacation.

People love talking about Disney even if they aren’t the biggest fans. It has a nostalgia factor to it that people love.

A lot of people dream of getting to visit an international Disney park but never get the opportunity to. The fact that you got to visit Disneyland Paris will make a lot of people wish they had the same experience as you.

Even if the people you’re talking to aren’t Disney fans, they will still be interested in hearing about your trip to Disney in Paris!

Disneyland Paris is a unique experience that many people don’t know exist. They’ll been keen to hear about the parks and what there is to do there.

Trust me, people will be interested in hearing about your trip to EuroDisney (as it was formally called).

Disneyland Paris France A Complete Guide to Disneyland Paris Attractions

Final Thoughts

Are you convinced yet? Are you frantically scribbling Disneyland Paris on your bucket list?

I wouldn’t be surprised if you were!

There are so many reasons to visit Disneyland Paris. From experiencing a Disney park with a French twist to comparing similar attractions in both the Parisian park and the US parks to trying all the French snack, and so much more, there are so many reasons to visit Disneyland Paris next time you’re in France.

I could have included a lot more reasons to add Disneyland Paris to your bucket list. But I thought these were the five most convincing reasons to visit the parks next time you’re in Paris.

I promise you’ll have a great time!

5 Reasons You Should Visit Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in not only Germany but Europe withe approximately 1.3 million visitors per year! With that many people visiting the castle each year, it must be pretty spectacular, eh.

But if the number of tourists who visit each year isn’t enough to convince you to visit Neuschwanstein Castle when you’re in Germany, then keep on reading. This post will give you 5 reasons why you shouldn’t miss out on seeing this castle.

1. It is the Perfect Day Trip from Munich

Neuschwanstein Castle is less than 3 hours away from Munich. This makes it the perfect day trip from Munich! The trip from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle is super quick and easy. It is perfect for anybody with any amount of travel experience.

Getting from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle

Most people taking a day trip from Munich jump on the 9:52am train to Füssen. Taking this train allows you to save money by using the Bayern ticket. A Bayern ticket allows you to use intercity trains and buses in Germany an unlimited number of times during a specified period of time.

The Bayern ticket is valid from 9am to 3am on weekdays and from 12:01am to 3am the next day on weekends. The cost of the ticket is only €25, so it is worth it to wait until the 9:52am train to take advantage of the deal!

Once you get off the train at Füssen, you take a short bus ride (bus 78) to Neuschwanstein Castle.

It is also worth stopping to see Alpsee Lake. It is just a few kilometres away from F and is one of the most beautiful lakes in Germany.

Neuschwanstein Castle Munich Germany Solo Travel

Why You Should Take a Day Trip

I always think that it is important to take day trips when travelling. This is especially true when you’re staying in a major city like Munich.

Taking a day trip allows you to see something other than the metropolis that you’re staying in and see more of the country. There is always a big difference between large urban areas and less urban and more rural areas.

While in this instance you are taking a day trip to a major tourist attraction, you are still seeing a different part of the country and learning more about it. The tour at Neuschwanstein Castle is full of history, and I guarantee you will leave with new knowledge you didn’t previously have.

Plus who doesn’t like taking a day away from the city and breathing in some fresh mountain air?

2. Neuschwanstein Castle was the Inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

This fact may not be a huge selling point to people who aren’t huge Disney nerds, but it is still really cool. Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration behind the Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. You know, the iconic structure at the end of Main Street.

Neuschwanstein Castle is a bucket list item for many Disney enthusiasts. It is really special for Disney nerds like me to be able to visit a place that inspired Disneyland (much like visiting Tivoli in Denmark is a bucket list item for many Disney nerds).

It is fun to analyze Neuschwanstein Castle and try to see the similarities between it and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. You also can’t help but imagine Walt standing and looking over the castle and being inspired. It really creates a moment of fantasy and wonder for Disney nerds.

It may not make sense to non-Disney people, but it really is a selling point to us! Neuschwanstein Castle should really market their produce more heavily in the Disney community.

3. You Get to Learn All About Mad King Ludwig

Ludwig II of Bavaria is one of the most eccentric figures in German history. He succeeded to the throne at just 18 years of age and ruled for 22 years before his death in 1886.

Ludwig II of Bavaria is the man responsible for Neuschwanstein Castle, and you will learn all about him while on your tour of the interior of the castle. His castles were extremely extravagant and expensive. While he paid for his building projects with his own money, the Bavaria people were suffering and did not appreciate that their King was spending his money on castles rather than helping him.

The extravagance of Neuschwanstein Castle and Ludwig II’s other castles were used as a way to declare him insane. This declaration has come under criticism, and people no longer actually believe he was mad.

On the tour you will hear about his mysterious death. I won’t ruin that story for you, but it is a good one!

Neuschwanstein Castle

4. You Get to See the Stunning Interior of Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle has one of the most stunning interiors of any castle I’ve ever been to. Only 14 of the rooms were completed before Ludwig II of Bavaria’s death, but the ones that were completed are immaculate.

All of the rooms are over-the-top and took years to complete. The fact that it took multiple years to complete each year is one of the reasons the construction was so expensive and time consuming. Every detail in the rooms are chosen for a reason to enhance the room.

Ludwig II spared no expense when constructing Neuschwanstein Castle, and you can see the wealth and extravagance dripping from each room when you’re touring the castle.

You’re not allowed to take photos of the interior of the castle unfortunately. That would definitely slow down the tours! You are able to purchase prints of the interior or a little book that has various pictures of Neuschwanstein Castle along with pictures of the interior.

The exterior of Neuschwanstein Castle is breathtaking, but it is nothing compared to how incredible the interior is.

Taking the tour of the interior is essential for anybody visiting Neuschwanstein Castle .

5. It Has a Nazi Connection

This may not be a selling point to a lot of people, but for people who come to Germany to learn about World War II and pay their respects to the people who suffered during that period of history, the fact that Neuschwanstein Castle has a connection to the Nazis is a selling point.

Neuschwanstein Castle is in an isolated location, which made it an ideal place for the Nazis to hide. The castle was chosen as the headquarters for Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (a German art-looting organization during WWII).

Neuschwanstein Castle was used to store stolen artwork throughout the Nazi’s reign. Most of the artwork stored in Neuschwanstein Castle was stolen from nearby France, and this is what led to US troops storming the castle to retrieve the stolen artwork.

US troops stormed the castle in 1945 and discovered index cards listing of 21,000 items the Nazi’s were storing in the castle. The items were not only pieces of art but also included jewelry and furniture.

The US was tasked in restoring and refurbishing the items they recovered from the castle, and in 1951 the items were repatriated in Germany.

Many pieces of stolen art are still thought to be missing, and people are still searching for them.

That’s a pretty cool connection! While the tour doesn’t go into too much detail about the Nazi connection, it is something to keep in the back of your mind when you visit Neuschwanstein Castle .

Castle Neuschwanstein

Conclusion

How could you not want to visit Neuschwanstein Castle after reading that list?!

The castle has a unique and long history and is an important part of German history. I love when a tourist attraction is both beautiful and has an interesting history I can learn about. Neuschwanstein Castle is the best of both world!

It is honestly the most beautiful castle I’ve ever visited. When you pair that with all the other weird and surprising facts about it, Neuschwanstein Castle should be on the top of your to-do list when you’re in Germany!

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Iceland

Iceland is an amazing country, and it is getting more attention from travellers of all kinds- budget, luxury, adventure, and active travellers. Iceland is a unique country where travel is a bit different than most other European countries. I did a lot of research before I went to Iceland for the first time, but there was still a lot I didn’t know.

I’m going to share the 10 things I wish I knew before I went to Iceland. Hopefully they will help you not make the same mistakes I made and be more prepared than I was.

1. Iceland is Bloody Expensive

We all know that Iceland is expensive. They have to import nearly everything, so it makes sense that things cost more than in North America or other parts of Europe. But it is a bit shocking how expensive things are, and it can lead to problems if you don’t budget enough money.

To give you an idea of how expensive it can be, my travel companion and I stopped at Subway to get dinner before flying back home, and our two subs came to $32USD! I don’t frequent Subway at home, but I am certain that is a lot more expensive than it would be in North America.

Pro Tip: Bring some snacks from your hometown. It will save you a lot of money, and you will be able to snack whenever you’re hungry rather than waiting until you come across the next gas station that has food.

You know what the price of hotels and your rental car is before you leave, so it is easy to budget for that. But you should be sure to have a very generous budget for food and gas. I would recommend bringing at least 25% more than you think you will need just to be safe. The small purchases really add up.

You’ll want to be smart and save as much money as you can on your road trip to keep your costs down in Iceland.

2. Nearly All the Tourist Attractions are Free

Iceland is expensive, but one of the best parts of Iceland is that most of the tourist attractions are free to visit! This makes it a lot easier to swallow some of the higher prices.

Outside of the Blue Lagoon, all of the nature-related tourist attractions are free- all you have to do is get to them either by taking a tour or driving yourself.

You can see incredible waterfalls, geysers, canyons, volcanoes, hot springs, and hike countless trails all without an entrance fee. It is a really neat experience to simply walk up to a waterfall and not have to worry about pulling out your wallet. Iceland could easily charge tourists to visit the sights, and it is a nice gesture that they don’t.

So be sure to take advantage of the free sights and visit everything you are able to! Iceland has a unique and diverse landscape, so it is worth it to drive around and see it all.

Iceland Waterfall 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Iceland

3. Gas Stations are Few and Far Between

It makes sense that there aren’t many gas stations outside of Reykjavik, but, as a tourist driving across the country, I wasn’t prepared for how few gas stations there were.

There were so few gas stations in the rural areas that whenever we came across one, we would fill up the tank even if we had a nearly full tank just to ensure that we made it to the next gas station. Of course we were never at risk of running out of gas, but it wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.

It is always smart to stop in and get some gas when you see a station. It may save you a headache in the long run!

4. Foreign Credit Cards Don’t Work at Gas Stations in Iceland

Speaking of gas stations, be prepared for your foreign (a.k.a. North American) credit card not to work. You must insert a credit card into the gas pump and pre-pay in order to pump gas in Iceland. This is a pretty standard practice all over the world. However, it will cause you problems if you have a North American credit card.

For some reason the gas pumps in Iceland will not accept foreign credit cards. It is a pain and a slight inconvenience.

You have to go inside the gas station, buy a pre-paid card, and then insert that into the pump to get your gas. Some stations will simply open the pump for you and let you pay at the end, but most of them require you to purchase a pre-paid card.

You have to guess at how much money you’ll need on the pre-paid card and them load it up again if it isn’t enough or get a refund if it is too much. It can take a few trips in and out if you’re filling the tank to drop your rental car back at the airport.

This credit card situation also means that you can’t use the unattended gas stations that are becoming more and more popular in Iceland. Your credit card won’t work, and you won’t be able to ask an employee to open the pump for you. So just keep driving past these gas stations.

A tip for when you’re returning your rental car:

When you rent your car, you will likely be told to fill up at the gas station with the yellow pumps right before the airport. This station is an unattended station, so you may not be able to use it. There is another attended gas station before the traffic circle in the complex with the Subway and grocery store that is a better option.

Southern Iceland Europe

5. The Icelandic Weather is Never What You Expect

The weather in Iceland is fickle, and it can change suddenly and without warning. I’ve been to Iceland twice. Once at the beginning of May and the other at the end of June.

The first time many of the waterfalls were still frozen, the wind was unruly, and there was a lot of rain. The second time the wind was once again unruly, and it snowed every day I was there. I had to purchase warm clothing in Iceland in order to stay warm enough.

No matter what the internet tells you the weather will be like, you need to pack warm clothing. You will most likely need a jacket and maybe gloves nearly all year around. You won’t regret shoving some warm clothing in your bag!

Even if the weather says it is supposed to be reasonably warm, Iceland is often windy. The wind cuts through you, and you get cold extremely quickly. A lot of the sights in Iceland are outside, and you will be miserable if you don’t have the appropriate clothing. Trust me one that one- I’ve made that mistake one too many times!

6. The Distances are Further than They Look

It is easy to look at a map of Iceland and think that everything is relatively close, but that isn’t the case. The driving time between one sight to the next or one part of the country to another can be deceivingly long. The country is a lot larger than it looks.

People tend to overplay and try to get too much done because they think it will be quick to drive from point A to point B. This leads to being rushed and not appreciating the sights.

You should do your best to not over plan. Picking a few activities per day in the same area of the country is more than enough. You will be happy to be able to have the time to appreciate the nature you’re seeing rather than rushing the experience.

Iceland Black Beach of Vik

7. You’ll Come Across Sights You Didn’t Know About

You will without a doubt come across sights that you didn’t know about as you drive across the country. There are attraction posts all throughout the country alerting tourists to tourist sights that they are able to visit.

There are a lot of really cool sights you didn’t know about that are marked along the side of the road. You will without a doubt find yourself stopping at a few along the way. This is another reason on why you shouldn’t over plan your holiday. It would suck to have to keep driving and not stop just because you have too much planned!

A lot of the sights that are marked along the road don’t take long to visit, but they are worth stopping for! There are always signs in both English and Icelandic explaining the significance of the sight. It is a great way to learn more about Iceland and understand the history of the country.

8. The Roads in Iceland are Very Narrow

The roads in Iceland are quite narrow, don’t have railings on the side, and have a sharp drop-off. This made it a bit difficult to get used to driving on- especially in the rain, wind, and snow.

The roads are normally very quiet, so you can drive in the middle of the road, but it can get a little nerve-wrecking when you see oncoming traffic and have to start hugging your side of the road.

The roads are in good condition and safe to drive, but the narrowness of them can make people a bit nervous. It becomes easier once you get used to them!

9. Gas Stations in Rural Iceland Have Everything

I’m not kidding when I say gas stations in rural Iceland are a one-stop shop. The communities are so small that the gas station is often the only store in town.

They have gas (obviously), groceries, household products, car products, souvenirs, and often have a quick-serve window that sells sandwiches, pizza, and hotdogs.

You’ll be able to find everything you need in a gas station, and they are often the only source of food in some of the very small towns.

If you’re looking for a more substantial meal than gas station fare, you should be sure to stop at a restaurant in a larger town as you pass it. This will prevent you from having to backtrack just to get some food.

Iceland Waterfall

10. The Food in Iceland Isn’t the Greatest

I personally found the food in Iceland to not be that great. I found it was pretty standard fare with nothing special to offer. Everything was average.

That being said, I don’t eat meat or seafood. I imagine the seafood in Iceland is above-average. PSA: Don’t eat whale!! However, outside the potential for good, fresh seafood, you shouldn’t expect much from the food.

Reykjavik, unsurprisingly, has the most selection for food, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has the best food. Some of the smaller towns have decent food that is superior to a lot of the food you can find in the capital.

The fact that the food isn’t great doesn’t take anything away from Iceland, but it is something to be aware of when you’re planning the trip. Foodies may not be impressed.

Conclusion

Iceland is an amazing country that I would recommend to anybody who is looking for a unique European holiday. It is full of adventure and beauty, but it is easy to get caught up in planning your holiday and overlook the 10 things on this list.

These first-timer mistakes don’t hinder your trip. However, your trip will benefit from you being aware of these 10 things. They will help you tour Iceland like a pro and not be blindsided by some of the small things.

If I could give only a few pieces of advice, I would recommend:

  • Bringing warm clothes, gloves, and a headband all year round
  • Having a generous budget
  • Booking your accommodation early
  • Having low expectations for food
  • Enjoy where the trip takes you rather than planning every minute of it!

Trakai Island Castle: A Day Trip from Vilnius, Lithuania

Trakai Island Castle is an incredibly unique castle in Lithuania, and it is the perfect day trip from the Vilnius! I’ve been to countless castles, and I have to admit that Trakai has one of the most beautiful backdrops (Castle Neuschwanstein still has it beat though). The castle sits in the middle of Lake Galvė and makes for the most stunning photographs.

The castle was built in the 14th Century and restored to its original state in the 19th Century before it was eventually opened to tourists.

The best part of Trakai Island Castle is that it is extremely close to Vilnius, so you can easily see it on a day trip from Lithuania’s capital city. In fact, it is so close that if you wanted to, you could go to the castle in the morning and be back in Vilnius in the early afternoon.

Trakai Island Castle Vilnius, Lithuania

How to Get to Trakai from Vilnius

Trakai is only 28km from Vilnius! You need to take a bus from the main Vilnius bus terminal to Trakai. The ride takes approximately 30-45 minutes depending on traffic, and you get off at the last stop. Or the stop where the rest of the tourists get off.

The buses run every 20-30 minutes throughout the day. Between 9am and 10am they run more frequently leaving every 10-15 minutes.

You can show up at the bus station whenever you are ready to leave and not have to worry about waiting a long time for the next bus. The first bus leaves at 5:40am and the last bus leaves Trakai at 9:45pm.

You purchase your tickets onboard in cash, and they cost €1.80 each way, which is a pretty good price! You can’t purchase a return ticket, so you will need enough cash to purchase another ticket on your way back to Vilnius.

There are multiple bus companies that have a route from Vilnius to Trakai and back. They are all basically the same, so you can get on whatever bus shows up first and know you’re in good hands.

How to Get From the Bus Stop to Trakai Island Castle

Obviously the bus doesn’t drop you off at the castle, so you need to know how to get from the bus station to the castle. Luckily for you it is extremely easy!

It is a short 10-20 minutes walk depending on if you stop to take pictures or look around the town.

There is a large map at the Trakai bus station that you can take a picture of for a reference point while you walk. Trakai is a small town, so it is difficult to get lost. It is nice to have a picture of the map just in case though.

To get to the castle you turn right after you get off the bus. You know you’re going the right way if you pass a grocery store a few blocks away or you’re going the direction of all the other people that got off the bus.

Once you are on the path, you just keep following it through the town. You will come to a point where you have to turn, but there is a sign that tells you where to turn. Once you turn, you’ll be able to see the water. You can’t get lost from there!

You need to follow the same route to get back to the bus station when you’re ready to go back to Vilnius.

Inside Trakai Island Castle

You can go inside and explore Trakai Island Castle. The entrance fee is €7 for adults. The castle offers discounts for seniors and students so be sure to about reduce pricing if you fall into one of those categories!

Trakai Castle is a mix of open air and covered areas. The middle portion is open air and doesn’t have a lot to see. Once you get away from the centre, there is more to see. You can explore the main level, parts of the second level, and parts of the underground level.

The exhibits explain the history of the castle and the area as well as its importance. They speak about why this location was chosen and the battles that were fought. The exhibits are interesting, but they aren’t terribly high quality.

Trakai Island Castle Vilnius, Lithuania

Is it Worth it to Pay to Go Inside the Castle?

I don’t personally think it is worth spending €7 to see the inside of the castle. I was underwhelmed by the experience and felt like I would have been happy just admiring the castle from the outside.

The inside of the castle is quite plain. It doesn’t offer any beautiful architecture or artifacts. The exhibits and information you learn are interesting, but you could also Google it.

For me, I was in awe of the outside of Trakai Castle and the surrounding landscaping, and I lost that enchantment when I walked inside the castle.

If you want to go inside Trakai Castle, you may want to do that first before you explore the outside of the castle. That will prevent you from being underwhelmed when you go inside.

What to do Around Trakai Island Castle

Photographs

The most obvious and most common this to do is walk around and take pictures from all the different angles. Your friends will be envious of your trip to the castle once they see them- especially if you’re there on a day with a clear, blue sky! You can easily spend an hour or two walking around taking pictures of the castle from different areas.

Take a Boat Ride Around the Lake

You can take a 30-minute boat ride around the lake for only €5! The boat trip lets you get a unique perspective of Trakai Island Castle. You will get to experience the castle in a way unlike you are able to while on shore.

You can walk up and book your boat tour. There are a number of people offer them along the pier, and there is no need to book in advance.

Trakai Island Castle Vilnius, Lithuania

Visit the Market

There is also a small market near the castle. The vendors sell various knick-knacks and souvenirs. The market isn’t large, and you won’t find anything spectacular there. But it is always fun to stroll through some vendor stalls and look at what they offer.

Eat with a View

There are a number of restaurants you can eat at along the water. They offer a great view of Trakai Castle! The downside is that they are very expensive, so you’re definitely paying for the view.

I recommend skipping those restaurants and heading back into town if you’re looking for something to eat. You will have a better meal at a significantly lower cost.

Trakai Island Castle Vilnius, Lithuania

Conclusion

Trakai Island Castle should be on your radar if you’re visiting Vilnius. It is the only island castle in Eastern Europe, and it is well worth the visit!

It is extremely easy to get to Trakai from Vilnius, and even an inexperienced traveller will be able to make the trip without getting overwhelmed. You don’t have to transfer on the bus, and it is a short walk straight through town to get to the castle. It can’t get any easier than that!

Admittedly, the most difficult part of the trip is getting from where you’re staying in Vilnius to the bus station. You can easily arrange for a taxi to take you, or it is only a short walk from the centre of Vilnius.

Visiting Trakai is one of my fondest memories of my time in Lithuania. I hope you get to explore its beauty and make your own memories there!

5 Things to Know for Your Visit to Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge is sight of one of the most historic battles of World War One. Canadian forces and German forces fought each other at Vimy Ridge. There were over 10,000 casualties between the two forces.

The Canadian forces gained control of Vimy Ridge after four days of battle. Germany didn’t attempt to regain control of Vimy, and the battle of Vimy Ridge is cited as the beginning of the end of WWI.

You can easily visit Vimy Ridge as a day trip from Paris, so it is easily accessible and doesn’t require you to relocate to a different French city to visit the sight.

It is an easy day trip, but there are a number of things you should know, so you are able to plan a well-organized trip and know what to expect before getting to Vimy Ridge.

1. You Will Have to Take a Taxi to and from Vimy Ridge

You will have to take a taxi from the Arras train station to the Vimy Ridge battle sight and back again. There is no public transportation that goes from the train station to the battle sight.

This is unfortunate because there are enough tourists that visit Vimy Ridge that it would be beneficial to both the bus company and the tourists to have a bus run between the two locations.

That, however, isn’t a reality at the moment, so taking a taxi is your only option if you don’t have a car.

The taxi ride costs approximately €20 each way, so it is quite affordable if you have multiple people taking the same taxi. There are always taxis outside the train station, so you can easily pick one up when you get off the train.

Your taxi driver will probably give you their card to call them when you are ready to return to the train station. The employees at Vimy Ridge are more than happy to call you a taxi when you are ready to return to the station.

You can either have them call the same taxi driver who drove you to the battle sight, or they can call one of the other taxi drivers in the area. They have a huge stack of taxi driver cards they can use to make sure you get a taxi back to town as soon as possible.

It is a bit of an inconvenience to have to take a taxi to Vimy Ridge rather than public transportation, but it really isn’t too much of a hardship. Many tourists do this everyday, so it is pretty standard practice.

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

2. It is Free to Visit Vimy Ridge

You don’t have to pay an admission fee to visit Vimy Ridge. It is completely free to tour the sight. They do accept donations, but it is not necessary.

You are able to tour the war trenches, the museum, and the war monument all for free. This makes up for having to spend money on a taxi to get there!

You have access to a lot of information about this historic sight, so there could easily be an admission fee. Your donations go a long way in helping operate Vimy Ridge, so you should consider donating a few Euros if you have the means to.

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

3. All the Employees are Canadian University Students

Vimy Ridge is operated by the Canadian War Museum. The land the battle sight is on was gifted to the Canadian government, and it was turned into a memorial sight.

All of the employees are Canadian university students. They take a leave from university to work a four month shift at Vimy Ridge. The selection process is intense, and there is a lot of competition for the jobs.

All of the guides are bilingual. They are required to be fluent in both English and French, so they can easily answer any questions tourists and locals have. They are highly knowledgeable on WWI and all of the political and military aspects of the war.

The students love engaging with guests, so you should ask them any questions you have! It is amazing how much they know. They also offer a Canadian perspective on the issues, so it is a perspective you don’t often get to hear unless you’re a Canadian or visit Canada.

Even though the students are there to teach you about the battle, you should ask them about their professional and academic lives as well. They are always incredibly accomplished and inspiring young adults.

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

4. There is a Free Guided Tour

The highlight of your trip to Vimy Ridge will be the guided tour. You tour the trenches and the underground tunnel where Canadian forces stood silently for 24 hours before the battle began.

You can’t access these areas on your own, so you will have to take the tour to see them. The tour is offered in both English and French. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes.

You can ask an employee where the tour starts. There is a limited number of people allowed on each tour for safety reasons, so you will want to queue up a few minutes before the tour begins on busy days.

You are given a lot of information on this short tour. The tour guides do an incredible job of explaining the importance of the battle and what lead up to it. They also explain the hardships the soldiers faced and why WWI was unlike any other war.

You should not miss taking the tour- especially because it is free!

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

5. Visit Arras if You Have Time to Spare

Arras is a beautiful city. It has a gorgeous town square. There are a lot of restaurants around the square, so it is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before you go back to Paris. There is outdoor seating in the spring and summer, which makes it even more enjoyable.

Arras is a small town. You can easily walk around the centre of it in an hour or two. It is easy to visit the important parts of the town if you have a couple of hours to spare before your train leaves.

You can visit a church, the main shopping street, and the town square in a fairly short amount of time. The town is small, so you can easily walk everywhere including to the train station.

Arras France

Conclusion

Vimy Ridge is the perfect day trip from Paris for people who love history. You get to tour an actual battlefield while learning about its history. You learn about what happened while standing where it happened, so it is a very unique experience.

Vimy Ridge is an important part of history. The Canadian government has worked hard at creating a sight that tourists are able to visit to learn about WWI. It is well managed and makes for an educational experience. Europe is filled with history, but there aren’t too many places where you can stand in a battlefield.

You won’t regret visiting Vimy Ridge. You should definitely consider it as a day trip if you have extra time in Paris.

5 Things to Know Before You Visit Giverny

Giverny is known as the home to Monet’s gardens, but it is so much more than that. Giverny is a beautiful part of France that is home to different museums, sights, restaurants, and things to see.

You are guaranteed to have a good trip to Giverny if you keep these 5 things in mind. Some things have to do with Monet’s gardens and the others will help you explore other activities the area has to offer.

1. Don’t Book a Tour from Paris

The biggest mistake you can make when visiting Giverny is to book a guided tour from Paris. A guided tour is expensive, and it often isn’t as convenient as taking the train.

Most guided tours use a bus as the mode of transportation. The freeways in France can get very busy, so if there is a traffic jam, you lose precious time you could have spent in Giverny stuck in traffic.

It is incredibly easy to get to Giverny from central Paris. If you want to learn how easy it is, check out the Giverny section of this post.

Guided tours are also extremely expensive whereas purchasing a train ticket and doing a self-guided tour is not. You won’t miss anything by skipping the guided tour from Paris.

Monet's Gardens Giverny France 5 Things to Know Before You Visit Giverny

2. Book a Guide in Advance

You decided to opt out of a guided tour from Paris, but you are still interested in learning more about Monet’s gardens than you would be able to doing a self-guided tour.

Well, you’re in luck. You are able to reserve a guide through the Claude Monet Foundation that is licensed to tour you through the gardens and teach you about their history. You will want to book your guide in advance because they can be quite popular- especially during the peak summer season.

Reserving a guide through the Foundation allows you to get the in-deth knowledge a guided tour from Paris would give you, but you have a level of personal freedom you wouldn’t have if you booked a guided tour through a travel agency.

Monet's Gardens Giverny France 5 Things to Know Before You Visit Giverny

3. Explore Vernon

Vernon is a small town close to Monet’s gardens. Monet actually frequented it while he was alive.

It has a number of great restaurants with patios where you can sip wine and be inspired by the beautiful scenery. You can also take in the sights it has to offer. The Old Mill and Collégiale Notre-Dame church are two points of interest. Monet painted both of them, so you know they must be beautiful.

One of the most beautiful things you can do in Vernon is have a picnic lunch by the Seine. The views are breathtaking, and it is the perfect way to get away from the rest of the tourists.

Monet's Gardens Giverny France 5 Things to Know Before You Visit Giverny

4. April and May are the Best Months to Visit Giverny

Giverny is a popular tourist destination. Many guide books and online articles state Giverny is one of the most underrated tourist attractions in France, but it is still extremely busy.

People come from all over the world to see Monet’s gardens, and it is especially busy from the beginning of June through the beginning of September. If you can avoid those months, you will have a more pleasant and less crowded experience at Giverny.

April through May are, in my opinion, the best time to visit Giverny. The weather is decent, the flowers are in bloom, and it is during the shoulder season. You will not have as many crowds if you visit during a shoulder season, and this will allow you to enjoy the gardens more.

Monet’s gardens are open from the end of March to the 1st of November. If you can’t visit the gardens in April or May, October would be the next best time. The weather won’t be as nice in October, but the flowers will still be in bloom and the crowds will be minimal.

Monet's Gardens Giverny France 5 Things to Know Before You Visit Giverny

5. You Can Book a Hot Air Balloon Ride

If you want a more unique experience in Giverny, you can take a hot air balloon ride. This gives you a bird’s eye view of the region and an experience that you won’t soon forget.

There are a number of companies you can book a hot air balloon ride through. You will want to book the ride early to ensure you get a spot because most balloons only have enough space for 3-4 passengers.

Booking a hot air balloon ride while in Giverny is perfect for couples looking for a romantic outing while in France. The only downside to this experience is the price tag. A hot air balloon ride can cost a couple hundred Euros per person, so you will need to evaluate how much you want to do it. But it would sure make a great story!

Monet's Gardens Giverny France 5 Things to Know Before You Visit Giverny

Conclusion

Giverny is famous for Monet’s gardens, and you should not miss touring them when you visit Giverny. They are stunning, relaxing, inspiring, and humbling. The amount of work the Foundation does to upkeep the plants is astonishing, and they do an amazing job.

However, Giverny deserves to be explored beyond Monet’s gardens. It is a special part of France that is often overlooked when people are creating their French travel itineraries. The best part of Giverny is that it can be explored in just one day from Paris, so there is no excuse not to go see it.

10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

Europe is the perfect destination for solo female travellers. No matter how experienced of a traveller you are, you will be able to navigate most of Europe with no trouble.

The Schengen Area makes it extremely convenient to travel between countries in Europe. If you are travelling from one country in the Schengen Area to another Schengen country, you don’t need to show your passport when you cross the border.

The only countries on this list that is not part of the Schengen Area are numbers 1, 6, and 7. But you shouldn’t rule them out just because you will have to get your passport stamped. I mean who doesn’t love getting a new passport stamp?!

1. England

England is a great place for first-time solo female travellers. You will most likely go to London if you are exploring England for the first time. London is an extremely easy city to navigate for solo female travellers.

London has 5 major airports, so it is a hub for people arriving to Europe. This normally means a shorter and somewhat cheaper flight to Europe, so that is a huge plus!

London itself has enough sights that you can spend 7-10 days there and still not see everything. It has a mixture of free and paid sights and sights that will appeal to you no matter what your interests are. There are also a lot of day trips you can take from London. Bath is a very popular choice!

It has dozens of world class museums, churches, theatre, palaces, parks, markets, trendy neighbourhoods, movie filming locations, and oodles of history. If you’re in London in the summer, you can even tour Buckingham Palace!

London is an easy place for solo female travellers to explore because everybody speaks English. You don’t have to worry about not understanding what people say to you or reading any of the signs or restaurant menus.

The city also has an incredible Underground transportation system. You should get an Oyster card to save money on public transportation in London. For solo female travellers that have never used a public transportation system and are nervous to do so, the Underground is a great place to start because it is extremely user-friendly and there are lots of people who can help you if you have questions about where to get off.

London has a reputation for being expensive. While it can be an expensive city, it doesn’t have to be.

There are plenty of tourist attractions, restaurants, and hotels that are budget friendly. For example, most of the museums in London are free. This is incredible because most of the museums are world class. You will definitely want to check one (or more) out while you’re there.

PS- Learn all about wifi in London (it isn’t as easy to access as you might think)

Tower Bridge London England 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

2. Germany

Germany is a great country for solo female travellers because it has a lot of different areas to visit, so it will appeal to everybody. The country has countless historical and cultural sights in every major and minor city. There is so much history in Germany that you don’t want to skip it!

Nearly every German young and old speaks English, so you don’t have to worry about a language barrier. This makes it easier for new travellers to navigate the country with ease.

The transportation system in Germany is extremely user friendly. Whether you are travelling to the heart of the city from the airport or between cities, you will easily be able to navigate the train system.

If you’re going to one of the major cities like Munich or Berlin, you should consider taking a day trip to a smaller town. Germany has so much to offer outside the major cities that it is worth budgeting some time to explore smaller parts of the country as well.

Places like Neuschwanstein Castle, Cologne, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber should be on everybody’s bucket list. You can also take a day trip from Munich to Dachau to tour the concentration camp and learn more about how the camp was run. It is an emotional day, but it is important to learn about and remember the past to stop it from happening again.

Wherever you choose to go in Germany, you will have a great time as a solo female traveller. The entire country is traveller friendly, the people are extremely nice, and the food is delicious!

Castle Neuschwanstein Munich Germany 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

3. France

France is a popular destination for solo female travellers. It is full of iconic sights, is tourist friendly, and, like London, is a European hub. It is also centrally located making it easy to travel from one country to another from France.

If you’re going to France, you’re most likely stopping in Paris. It has so many bucket list sights to see from the Eiffle Tower, to the Louvre, to Notre Dame, Disneyland Paris, and countless others. It is easy to spend 7-10 days (or more!) exploring Paris alone.

Paris has a lot of amazing day trips, so you will want to make time to go on one or two. Most day trips are a short train ride from Paris (like Giverny that is less than an hour away), so it is a great way to explore more of France!

There is truly something for everybody! From historical sights like Vimy Ridge and Normandy a train ride away, wine tasting, world class museums and churches, and a food lover’s dream.

Paris has a great public transportation system, so it is incredibly easy for you to get from one tourist sight to another!

Paris does have a lot of petty theft and pickpocketing, but it is very safe as long as you keep a close eye on your purse when at tourist sights and restaurants.

Parisians have a bit of a reputation for being rude to tourists. I personally have only had great interactions with Parisians. They are nice and willing to help if you need it.

Parisians appreciate when tourists make an attempt to speak French, so it is helpful to know a few basic phrases before you leave. Knowing how to say hello, goodbye, and thank you in French will help you a lot!

Menus, signs, and tourist attractions are all in English, so you will be able to read everything you need to. Nearly everybody speaks English as well, so communication won’t be a problem when you’re travelling in Paris.

PS- read my full post on solo travel in Paris

Eiffel Tower Paris France

4. Poland

Poland is one of my favourite European countries. There is so much to see and it is inexpensive compared to Western European countries, which is the perfect combination for solo female travellers.

Krakow is the most popular Polish city to visit. It has an adorable old town, and you can visit Auschwitz from Krakow. There is also a salt mine that is worth a day trip as well!

While Krakow is the most popular tourist destination, the country has so many other cities that are worth visiting. Warsaw, Gdansk, and Wrocław are some of my favourites. Each city has its own WWII history and story as well as a vibrant modern history.

Poland has an impressive train and bus system that makes it easy to get from one city to the next. The high-speed trains are quite expensive compared to how much other things in the country cost, but regular trains and buses are very affordable.

Poland is also a very safe country and has a very low crime rate. This means as a solo female traveller, you don’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable or unsafe while on vacation.

English is widely spoken in Poland- especially in the tourism industry. You won’t have a problem communicating with people while you’re there. Even small, family-owned restaurants have an English menu for you to order from.

One thing that Poland does better than any other country I’ve been to is free walking tours. They are incredibly informative and well-organized. Free walking tours are especially beneficial to solo travellers because you get to interact with other people while learning about a city from a local and seeing sights you may not have known about before.

Gdansk Poland 10 Best Countries for Solo Female Travellers

5. Denmark

Denmark is a great country for solo female travellers that only have a short vacation. It is compact, modern, and sophisticated. Like many of the other countries on this list, you will probably be visiting the country’s capital city: Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is a modern city with a variety of sights to visit. There are historic and modern palaces, museums, restaurants along the water, and an amusement park right in the heart of the city.

Denmark has a great rail system to get you to other cities within Denmark or to Sweden. It is easy to take the train to Malmo for a day trip, and I would recommend you doing so. You will need to take your passport even though you are going to another Schengen country. Sometimes Swedish customs go through the train to check everybody is allowed in the Schengen Area.

Denmark does have a downside though. It is probably the most expensive country on this list, so it isn’t friendly for budget travellers. You can find hotels for $100/night but most will cost you $200+/night.

Denmark is a very safe country for solo female travellers. There is a very low crime rate. Even if you’re walking home later in the evening after Tivoli closes, you will be and feel safe.

The Danes are very well educated, and most of them speak perfect English, so you won’t have a problem with translation or communication. Menus and signs are all in English, so you will have zero problem understanding what is going on around you.

Overall, Denmark is a great place for solo female travellers looking for an upscale European vacation in a country that is very safe and has a lot of different sights to see as well as a relaxed vibe.

PS- take a day trip from Copenhagen to Sweden!

Copenhagen, Denmark

6. Romania

Romania is an EU member, but it is not a Schengen country. This means you will have to show your passport and get it stamped when you enter and exit the country. If you are a citizen of an EU country, you can use your national identity card rather than your passport to enter the country.

Now that we have that bit of technical information out of the way, let’s talk about why you should visit Romania.

Romania is a gorgeous country. It has natural sights, castles, museums, amazing food, and stunning architecture. It is also inexpensive, so it is perfect for solo female travellers on a budget.

Romania is accessible by bus or train from many Eastern and Central European countries. It also has a number airports, so you are able to fly into the country as well. Flying will require a stop over or two because many of the airports are small, so you will most likely fly to Bucharest then onto any other city you are visiting.

If you are travelling within Romania, taking the bus or train is your best option. The buses and trains are affordable, clean, and normally direct, so you most likely won’t need to transfer when going from one city to another. Taxis are also affordable if you’re going short distances.

Romania has many different cities worth visiting. Timișoara is an amazing city in the eastern part of the country near Serbia. It is picturesque with lots of trees and a beautiful river. But is also has an important history. The Romania revolution and communist uprising was started in Timișoara. It is the perfect city for history buffs.

Be sure to visit Transylvania!

Transylvania is the most well known part of Romania. This region of Romania is associated with Dracula because of Bran Castle (a short day trip from Brasov).

Transylvania is, in my opinion, the best region of Romania. It has breathtaking mountains, lots of history, amazing food, and one of the best castles I’ve ever visited.

Brasov is the perfect home-base while exploring Transylvania. It is centrally-located, and you are able to take day trips to some of the best sights in Romania. Peles Castle and Sighisoara are my two favourite day trips.

Just like every other country on this list, Romania is very safe, English is widely spoken, and it is friendly to solo female travellers. You won’t have any issue navigating your way through the country!

Peles Castle Brasov Romania 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

7. Scotland

Scotland is an amazing country. It has so much history and natural beauty to offer tourists that it should be on everybody’s bucket list. It is perfect for solo female travellers because English is the primary language, so you don’t have to worry about communication, translation, or any other anxiety related to going to a country where English isn’t the primary language.

The only downside to Scotland (and why it is so low on this list) is that you have to rent a car to see anything outside the main cities. It is more difficult to navigate driving in a new country alone than it is with someone else in the car.

Even if you don’t rent a car and only stick to the main areas, Scotland has a lot to offer. It has a unique terrain and natural landscape that you will be able to snap spectacular pictures. Scotland also offers castles, monasteries, modern royal sights, and museums.

If you only go to one city in Scotland, it should be Edinburgh. Edinburgh has the most to offer for sights, is the most bustling city in Scotland, and it has a better public transportation system than Glasgow.

Scotland also has a lot of royal sights, so it is a great place for people who enjoy the royal family.

Scotland can be expensive, but it isn’t any more expensive than England, France, or Germany. You are able to find affordable hotels, food, and things to do. Solo female travellers should definitely consider Scotland when deciding where to go on their next trip.

Dunnottar Castle Scotland 10 Best Countries for Solo Female Travellers

8. Estonia

This small Baltic country packs a pretty big punch. You can easily spend 2 weeks travelling throughout Estonia and still not see everything.

Estonia is often overlooked by solo female travellers (and travellers in general), but is shouldn’t be.

It is a great option for solo female travellers because it is less expensive than many countries on this list, is very safe, English is widely spoken, and a good inter-city transportation system.

Estonia is so much more than Tallinn and its old town. Parnu and Tartu are worth a visit as well! It is easy to get to both cities from Tallinn via bus. There are direct buses to both cities, and you are able to walk to your hotel from the bus stop.

If you’re going to Estonia in the summer, Haapsalu is a great option. It is a resort town with a stunning lake and great summer activities. I was there in the winter, and I would not recommend going at that time of year. However, it should be on your to-so list if you’re Estonia during the summer (and can easily be a day trip from Tallinn).

Everything in Estonia is affordable, which makes it perfect for solo female travellers on a budget. You can easily get a nice hotel for $75/night and meals for $10-15. You can go on a nice vacation without being worried about overspending!

PS- be sure to visit Tartu if you have time! It is my favourite city in Estonia

Tartu Estonia 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

9. Italy

Italy is on nearly everybody’s European bucket list. It is a great place for solo female travellers because Italy is so used to having tourist from all over the world that it has built a great tourism infrastructure.

Italy has a well-designed transportation system that makes it easy to travel throughout the country, iconic historical sights, and delicious food and wine. Everybody speaks English because of the tourist industry, so you won’t have a problem communicating with locals.

Venice, Florence, Milan, Rome, and Northern Italy are the obvious cities to visit in Italy, but you should take the time to visit smaller towns as well. Smaller towns like Cortona have a lot to offer and are often more authentic and less touristy than the major cities. Visiting smaller towns will give you a more authentic Italian experience than staying in major cities the entire time.

Even though Italy is a major tourist destination, it is an affordable country. Food is reasonably priced, and you are given large portions (leftovers!). The one thing that is consistently more expensive in Italy is the price of a train ticket. Trains were by far my biggest expense in Italy so make sure to budget a little more for transportation.

Italy is a safe country for the most part. Similar to Paris, you have to be aware of pickpockets. You should always keep an eye on your personal belongings when in public.

There are also a number of scams in the larger cities like Rome. Never buy your tickets from someone on the street. Buy your tickets either online in advance (recommended) or at the authorized ticket office. This way you will never fall victim to overpriced or counterfeit tickets. Use your common sense, and you will be fine!

PS- check out these overrated cities in Europe

The reason Italy is so low on this list is because it is such a popular destination. There are a lot of people, and the experience doesn’t feel as authentic as it is in the other countries on this list.

Venice Italy 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

10. Ireland

Last up is Ireland. This is another country with native English speakers, so it is perfect for solo female travelers.

Ireland has an interesting history with its separation from the British Empire and The Troubles. You will learn a lot about Ireland’s history no matter where in Ireland you go.

Ireland has a lot to offer. It has a number of great museums, castles, and natural sights. There is a good bus system in Ireland, so you will be able to take the bus from one city to the next.

Ireland is a great choice for solo female travellers that enjoy beer and learning about it. In Dublin, you are able to tour the Guniesse Factory and learn about how the iconic beer is brewed. After that, you can go to Temple and sample a pint or two (just don’t drink too much because that becomes a safety issue!).

Ireland can be expensive, but it isn’t more expensive than any of the other Western European countries on this list. Hotels are by far the most expensive part of your Ireland trip. Hotels in the centre of Dublin can be extremely expensive, so you may want to consider staying outside the city centre and taking public transportation.

Ireland is a safe, easy to navigate country that has English as its primary language. These factors combined with the array of sights it offers is why Ireland is a great European country for solo female travellers.

Galway Ireland 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

You Need to be Internet Safe

It is important to be internet safe every time you travel, but it is even more important when you’re a solo traveller.

You do not want to deal with your personal information (especially banking information) being stolen just because you weren’t internet safe.

You have no choice but to rely on public wifi when you travel, and this puts you at risk of being hacked.

Anybody who has access to that network can access your personal data if they know how and want to.

Scary right!

The only way you can be internet safe is by installing a VPN on your devices.

This makes a public wifi network as safe and secure as your personal home wifi system where only you know the password.

It essentially puts a forcefield around your device that keeps unwanted prying eyes out of your personal information.

My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can spend a few extra dollars to instal a VPN on your devices and protect your online data.

There is no excuse!

Watch the Video!

Conclusion

Europe is the best continent for solo female travellers with little to no travel experience. It is extremely easy to navigate between and within countries.

Most Europeans speak English, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with a language barrier while travelling. This makes it so much easier and less stressful for novice and experienced travellers alike.

Each of the countries on this list are accessible, have great transportation systems, and offer a number of unique tourist sights. This makes them ideal for solo female travellers.

Travelling solo as a female is a great experience. It allows you to travel on your terms, do what you want when you want, and it helps you learn about yourself and build confidence. Solo female travellers are badass, so pick a country on this list and go out and explore the world (you badass).

Where to Stay in London, England

It can be difficult to decide where to stay in London. The city is huge, and there are sights to see in every neighbourhood.

Having a general idea of where to stay in London when booking your accommodation is a huge help. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the choices because there are so many great options to choose from.

My Favourite Neighbourhood

I always stay in Earls Court when I go to London. To me, it is the perfect London neighbourhood for tourists. It is along the Piccadilly line on the London Underground, so it has easy access to central London and Heathrow Airport.

Earls Court London transport zones 1 and 2, so you are charged the cheapest fare when travelling within zone 1 from Earls Court and charges a zone 2 fare when travelling to Heathrow. It is a great way to optimize your money while in London. Don’t forget to get an Oyster card to save money on public transportation in London!

Earls Court itself is a great neighbourhood. It is filled with great local places to eat, and it is far enough away from the centre of London that it isn’t busy.

The hotel prices in Earls Court are extremely reasonable for central London hotels. You can often book a room for $100-150/night.

You get the best of everything in Earls Court. It is central, less expensive than other neighbourhoods, safe, and is more relaxed and quiet than other neighbourhoods.

Earls Court is a great neighbourhood in the heart of London that also has a local, quiet feeling. You will love staying here on your next trip to London.

Great Earls Court Hotels

Stay Along the Piccadilly Line

If you don’t stay in Earls Court, I recommend staying along the Piccadilly line. The Piccadilly line basically runs diagonally through central London.

You are guaranteed to be staying in a central location if you get a hotel close to an Underground station on the Piccadilly line in transport zone 1.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park is a great area to stay in. It is very central and walking distance to nearly every major London tourist attraction. It is a smart neighbourhood, so it is generally more expensive than Earls Court.

This neighbourhood is filled with amazing parks, great pubs, and high-end shops. It is great for people who want an upscale trip to London without being in a super touristy area.

The Hyde Park area has a great combination of tourist attractions while not feeling overly touristy. You walk a few blocks away from the parks, and you start to feel like you are experiencing an authentic part of London.

Hyde Park London, England Where to Stay in London England

Great Hyde Park Hotels

Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square

The Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square area is the place to stay if you want to be in the heart of London’s tourist attractions. You won’t get an authentic London experience if you stay here because you will be surrounded by tourists and businesses.

This is a great location if you have a short time in London and want to walk everywhere, but it is quite expensive. You will be able to find lots of places to eat and do if you stay in this neighbourhood.

This location is right in thee heart of the West End theatre district, so it is prefect for people wanting to see a lot of shows while in town. You won’t have to worry about taking public transportation home because you will be able to walk.

Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square Hotels to Consider

West End Theatre London England Where to Stay in London England

King’s Cross/St. Pancras

King’s Cross is one of London’s busiest train stations. It has an Underground station as well as domestic and international trains departing from it. Just like Earl’s Court, it is on the edge of transport zone 1.

King’s Cross is close enough to the heart of London that getting around is easy, but it far enough away that it is quieter. It is still busier than Earl’s Court because of the major train station, but it is less busy than the Piccadilly area.

This is a great location for people that are taking early morning trains that leave from Kings Cross or the Eurostar to another part of Europe. It saves you a commute on the underground if your hotel is walking distance from the train station you depart from.

The Kings Cross area has a number of great restaurants. You can find both independently-owned restaurants as well as chains.

Kings Cross is my second choice for location behind Earl’s Court. It is the perfect mix of being close to tourist attractions while still being able to have some quiet.

Great Kings Cross Hotels

Victoria Station

Victoria station is another great location even though it is not located along the Piccadilly line. It has access to 3 Underground lines and is a busy coach (bus) terminal.

Victoria station is close to Westminster, so you can easily walk to the majority of central London’s most popular tourist sights. Since it is such an important transportation hub, you are guaranteed to find lots of great restaurants and coffee shops.

It is also a great location if you’re looking for a less expensive location in central London. The Victoria station area has prices similar to Earl’s Court, so it is a great location to get a great hotel in the middle of the city without paying as much as you would in the Piccadilly or Hyde Park areas. It is slightly more expensive than Earl’s Court, but you can normally find a good deal.

Great Victoria Area Hotels

St. James' Park London England Where to Stay in London England

Conclusion

London has an amazing transportation system. No matter where you stay you will be able to easily travel from place to place and sight to sight either by the Underground or the bus system.

If you choose to stay in one of the neighbourhoods I’ve suggested, you will be ideally stationed in the city to have easy access to all of the top sights London has to offer.

For a central hotel that still has an authentic London vibe and is relatively quiet, consider Earl’s Court or Kings Cross.

If you’re only in the city for a few days and want to walk to all the sights, Piccadilly/Leicester Square is the place for you.

People who are looking to stay in a high-end neighbour hood will love the Hyde Park neighbourhood.

London is an amazing city, and where you stay has an impact on what type of experience you have while on your vacation. No matter where you choose to stay be sure to research what the neighbourhood has to offer and explore it while you’re there.