European Capitals You Must Visit at Least Once

Push pins on a world map.

There is a reason why most people place European capitals on their wish lists! Each and every capital city in Europe presents an intriguing combination of rich history, mesmerizing architecture, friendly people, tasty food, incredible nightlife, exquisite artwork, and many more. No matter which city you decide to visit, be sure that you will fall in love as soon as you arrive. You will fall in love not with another person but with small pathways, quirky stores, flowery balconies, and roads leading to the beach. Or, who knows – maybe you do fall in love with a local too! So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bag, buy that ticket and start exploring! But, if you don’t know where to go first, we got you! We prepared a list of European capitals you must visit at least once! Thus, keep on reading.

London, England

Without a doubt, one of the European capitals you must visit at least once is London – the capital of England! This capital is host to several million tourists every year. Some tourists see the fantastic London architecture, some learn about the United Kingdom’s rich history, and some just want to have fun in a city full of posh shops and restaurants.

The best way to experience all of the things mentioned above is to hop on a New Routemaster – a double-decker bus that will take you to all of London’s hotspots and allow you to take some Insta-worthy photos. For instance, it will take you to the Tower of London, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, and many more.

Moreover, when it comes to London, we have to give you some essential tips for essential travel – get yourself an umbrella as soon as you arrive. Rain is a common sight here, so if you don’t want to be disturbed by it, have a small umbrella by your side at all times.

A picture of Big Ben and London Bridge.
London will forever be one of the European capitals you must visit at least once.

Paris, France

Welcome to the City of Light. Or, let us say, welcome to the City of Love and one of the best European destinations for singles! Just like London, Paris is also one of the European Capitals you must visit at least once in your life! Or, if you are really lucky, visit it a couple of times as one trip is not enough to see everything this beautiful city has to offer.

Some of the sights you simply can’t miss out on while in Paris are Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Arc de Triumph, Place de la Concorde, etc. But, don’t just look at these sights – learn about them! Find a tour guide who will explain these sights’ role in history. Moreover, while here, don’t forget to sit in one of those famous Parisian cafes and order an espresso and a chocolate croissant. And, check out the street vendors and buy a beret too!

Also, don’t hesitate to visit Paris in winter! The city lights will leave you breathless! And, when you get tired of all the walking and exploring the city, why not go to some of the famous ski resorts in and around Paris, such as Montmartre or Les Trois Vallées. Trust us, there are many reasons for a ski trip to Europe, that is, to Paris and France, but we will leave it up to you to find out. 

A view of Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Going to Paris must be on your bucket list!

Rome, Italy 

Ahh, Italy! There is not a person in this world who wouldn’t like to visit this sunny county where everything smells like pasta and wine and where everybody wants to be your friend. But, to understand the true spirit of Italy, one must go to its capital – Rome. Rome is, above all, a city telling Roman Empire’s history. You can see that when through the Roman Colosseum, Vatican City, Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, etc. And you can see that when just walking through the streets of Rome.

We assure you – once you start exploring the city, you will get an instant wish to move here. And why wouldn’t you? Just hire movers and let them relocate you. If you want to avoid stress when packing, the key is starting early. But, we wouldn’t worry about stress here – Rome is just naturally peaceful. 

Moreover, movers are not the only ones who can help you relocate – Trevi Fountain also can. Namely, it is believed that if you toss one coin into this fountain, you are destined to return to the Eternal City (Rome). And, if you want to return and also find the love of your life here, you must toss two coins. So, be careful what you wish for!

Trevi Fountain in Rome.
One thing is for sure – you will want to come back to Rome!

Athens, Greece 

We simply cannot talk about the European capitals you must visit at least once without mentioning Athens – the capital of Greece. Athens is, without any doubt, the oldest capital of the world. Historical landmarks stretched throughout the city for as long as the eye can see. Acropolis, Parthenon, Plaka, Herod Atticus Odeon, Panathenaic Stadium, Agora, etc., are just some of the must-see places in Athens. 

Moreover, while here, don’t forget to go to one of the many museums and galleries. This is where you will be able to learn the most about Greek history and culture. And, when you get tired of all the sightseeing (which will doubt will happen), sit in some local greek restaurant and try some authentic food and drinks. The Greeks will welcome you with amazing hospitality and, if you are lucky enough, they may play some music or let you break some plates to celebrate your trip. 

There are many European capitals you must visit at least once. We mentioned just four of them, but you already know that there are many more with visiting. So, do your own research. Maybe you will find a capital that suits your preferences more. But don’t hesitate to visit the ones we mentioned either – they are on top of all traveler’s lists for a reason. 

How to Be a Traveler instead of a Tourist

Person in the airport

Travelers and tourists both like to travel and visit places. However, depending on the cause of travel, you can only use one of the terms to describe a person who travels. For instance, a tourist travels for pleasure while a traveler goes on a journey. Also, tourists are considered amateurs, but at the same time, you can’t become a traveler before being a tourist first. You can learn how to be a traveler instead of a tourist by following some simple steps. So let us see how you can improve your traveling experiences and learn how to blend in as a traveler instead of sticking out as a tourist.

Research your destination

Before visiting any new place, you should first research it. And not just on the map. That is one big difference between travelers and tourists. While tourists seek out the major attractions of their destination, travelers seek out the culture and history of the place. Additionally, travelers study the local customs to communicate and connect with the locals more easily. Furthermore, research can also keep you safe during solo travel. If you know where you are heading, you know how to avoid problematic neighborhoods or conflict areas, for instance.

As a result, research your destination on travel blogs and guidebooks, look for local newspapers, and watch documentaries. Know as much as you can about your destination, and you will be one step closer to being a traveler instead of a tourist.

Live like a local

While most tourists choose to stay in a hotel, travelers prefer to be closer to the locals by staying at an Airbnb, a hostel, or even Couchsurfing. That way, their experience is more authentic and personalized. You can even look for a voluntary homestay if you want to be in the heart of the community and be helpful. There, locals will be grateful for your help and warmly welcome you. However, if you are uncertain about where you will be staying or how secure the place will be, you should leave your valuables at home. You can, for instance, rent a storage unit where you can store your belongings until you return from your travel. Storage units are a safe and secure place where your valuables will be in good hands for as long as you need.

Forget your camera

One thing that reveals that a person is a tourist is the camera in their hand or the obnoxious selfie stick. All locals despise tourists for snapping hundreds of photos per minute, posing for the perfect selfie in the wrong place, and using the flash when they shouldn’t. If you want to be a traveler instead of a tourist, forget about your camera from time to time. Sure, you can photograph special moments or places that will make great memories. Nobody will tell you otherwise. However, be careful about how and when you do it. For instance, always get permission before photographing people, monuments, graves, or works of art. Also, make sure that when you are trying to take a picture, you are not blocking the way or the view of others. Be polite, and nobody will hold a grudge against you for taking pictures.

Put away your map

Another thing specific to tourists is the map in their hands. You can always see a confused tourist sitting in the middle of a road, checking a map for directions. So if you don’t want to end up in the same situation, put away your map. Or, better yet, get lost in the city. Travelers are known for spontaneity and not so much for planning. Also, you will never know what hidden jewel you can find in the small neighborhoods of a city. It can be a valuable painting tucked away in a local church, a beautiful monument, or impressive street architecture.

In addition, when you get lost in the city, you will also see the daily life of locals. You will see where children like to play, where the elderly meet to socialize, and where and how locals relax. And, after you see how locals live, you can get a bit more personal and socialize.

A woman looking at a map
If you want to be more like a traveler than a tourist, don’t be afraid to explore your destination without a map.

Learn the language and socialize

You have to get to know a place firsthand if you want a true sense of it. And that you will achieve by meeting the locals and doing what they are doing. Ask them where the best food is, what you can do for fun, or where to go for hikes. Locals will always tell you the little secrets of their city that don’t appear in guidebooks. Of course, you should first learn at least a few words in their language. Learn how to greet politely, how to say thank you and please, yes and no, and how to say that you don’t understand. Any local will be thrilled about your effort to learn their language, even if it’s just a few words. Furthermore, you can even expect your effort to be rewarded with a special tour of the city or a great travel tip.

Avoid cheap souvenirs

You will undoubtedly come across several small yet crowded souvenir shops wherever you go. They are full of noisy tourists that are looking for a bargain. Most tourists, however, are unaware that those shops are often a rip-off, and the items they buy are not authentic. That is why, if you want to be a traveler instead of a tourist, take your time and find the most original souvenirs to take home. For instance, you can visit local stores and markets and find handcrafted or locally made products. And the best part is that you can, most of the time, negotiate the price for what you buy from a producer. However, you should always be polite and know when there is space for bargaining or when you should pay the price listed. Even if some vendors are trying to empty your wallet, it is not the case with all of them.

Be a traveler instead of a tourist

The main difference between tourists and travelers will always be time. Tourists usually have limited time on their hands to visit and explore a destination. For that reason, they move with the crowd, pay higher prices for everything, and return home more tired than when they left. Travelers, on the other hand, have time to get lost in the surroundings, meet the locals, learn the language, and most of all, relax. That’s why it will pay off to be a traveler instead of a tourist.

12 Smart Tips To Improve Your Traveling Experience

Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Pexels.com

Like most areas in life, you are not born a savvy traveler; smart travel comes with experience and with making a lot of travel mistakes! Some traveling mishaps can be avoided and some of them are just a part of traveling. You cannot plan for everything, however, keeping a few things in mind will make your travels more enjoyable and make you a better traveler.

Now that things are opening up once again, I want to start booking trips and visiting new places. These smart tips to improve your traveling experience will enable you to save money, sleep better, and be safe.

1. Do Your Research

When you are planning a holiday, you are going to want to find the best deal when it comes to flights and accommodation. The best way to do that is to investigate deals from different travel companies as well as independent travel sites.

When traveling, research can significantly impact your time for the better. Researching prior to setting off can give you deep insights into the area, telling you places to avoid and places that you must go.

When you have settled on a destination, here are some things that you should research:

  • What are the country’s visa requirements?
  • What’s the weather/climate going to be like?
  • Are there any public holidays going on?
  • What is the tipping etiquette?
  • What clothing is culturally appropriate?

As well as being completely relaxed before you even leave, being prepared to travel in advance will make your time in-country a more joyful experience as you will have reduced any potential risks. Here are 5 things you should research when you have chosen a destination:

  • Currency and exchange rates
  • Mode of transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Culture – what is acceptable and what is not

2. Get Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can give you extra protection if our holiday doesn’t go ahead as planned especially when it comes to the COVID pandemic. It is particularly important to take out travel insurance if you are traveling independently because you may find yourself stranded due to unforeseen traveling problems.

If you are planning to engage in holiday activities such as water sports, it is vital that you check that your insurance policy covers you for activities like diving for example.

3. Make A Packing List

Before your trip, you should make a list of everything you need to pack. Writing a packing list is a great way to stay organised whilst traveling. It is important to write a list so that you do not forget vital travel documents and essentials that you will need. Using a list when you are getting ready to pack can save you time as well as reduce stress.

4. Stay Near Or At The Airport The Night Before

If your funds allow staying overnight either at or near the airport, you’ll start your holiday a little earlier! Instead of rushing to the airport on the day of your flight, you can relax and have a slower start to your day. You will be able to eliminate the stress and worry of being stuck in traffic or missing your train.

5. Take A Credit Card For Emergencies

Disasters can happen. It is always a good idea to have a backup in case you lose your card or even worse, you are robbed. You do not want to be stuck somewhere without access to your funds. It is important that you check your bank when it comes to withdrawing money abroad to ensure that you do not incur any fees. Also, let your card company know that you are traveling and where you are going before you leave. This will enable them to track any fraudulent activity on your account.

6. Take The Correct Plug Adapters

Different countries have different plug sockets, so ensure that you have the right one – do your research! Better still, invest in a universal adapter (covers all sockets worldwide), so that you don’t need to worry. You don’t want your camera, phone, or electric toothbrush to run out of charge!

7. Make Extra Copies Of Your Passport And Important Documents

Don’t forget to email yourself a copy as well. You never know when you might need to have some sort of documentation with you as you may not want to carry the originals. Additionally, if your passport is stolen, having a copy will be helpful for your police report and any trips to the embassy that you may need to make.

Photo by Spencer Davis on Pexels.com

8. Don’t Forget An Extra Camera Battery

You never want to reach for your camera to take a photograph of a memorable moment and realize that your camera battery is dead. By bringing an extra battery, you can always ensure that you have one on charge and you can alternate. That way, you’ll always be ready to capture those favorite moments!

9. Roll Your Clothes!

The best way to prevent creases and make the most of your space is to roll your clothes. Lay tops face down, fold in the sleeves, and roll from the bottom up. For trousers, put the legs together and roll from the waist down. Place your shoes and heavier items in first and place your clothes around them. Alternatively, once you’ve rolled your clothes, put them in packing cubes – another space saver.

10. When You Go Out, Take Only What You Need

You should limit the amount of cash and bank cards you carry with you, so if something does go wrong, you can easily recover.

11. Drink Responsibly

This has to be one of the most important safety tips for travelers. There is nothing wrong with exploring the local nightlife. However, keep in mind that it’s even more important to drink responsibly when abroad. When you are away from home, you are more likely to get lost or end up in a dangerous neighborhood. Keep an eye on your drink at all times and don’t accept any from strangers.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

12. Make Sure That You Know The Phone Number For The Emergency Services

Be sure to look up the emergency services number for your destination, even before you get there. It is also a good idea to look up the number for your home country’s nearest embassy before you leave. Save them in your phone, so you will have easy access to them in the event of an emergency.

What Are Your Travel Tips?

These are my top 12 travel tips to help you have a safe, enjoyable, and stress-free holiday. What is one travel tip you would give? I’d love to hear in the comments.

This post was written by Lauren, Bournemouth Girl. She is a creative and personal development blogger from Bournemouth, England. Lauren is a lover of travel among other things.