Planning my big fat trip to Europe four years ago was so amazing. Since it was my first trip outside Asia, I had to do extensive groundwork. It took me almost an entire month to plan and budget properly, which is a lot for a traveler who usually leaves without any prior planning. Feel free to copy my itinerary to create your own epic adventure around Europe!
As always, I picked one unique place where I really wanted to go. In this case, I chose Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, coupled with a bunch of touristy destinations. You know the saying, “It’s better to visit a destination once than to hear about it a thousand times”? I kept that quote and my own personal preferences in mind as I added the mighty Colosseum in Rome, the stunning Eiffel Tower in Paris, the gondolas of Venice, Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona, partying in Ibiza, Disneyland Paris, the exotic Swiss Alps, and coffee shops in Amsterdam to my itinerary.
After checking for the lowest airfare, I finally started booking my flight connections. Eventually, I ended up with 10 days in Holland, four days in Italy, six days in Spain, nine days in France, six days in Switzerland, and five days in Croatia.
Adorable cottages in Giethoorn, Holland
In Holland, I stayed with my Dutch friend in The Hague and visited other amazing places, including Rotterdam, Geithoorn, Delft, and Amsterdam. Traveling to these cities gave me a good taste of Holland. I loved how well-organized, clean, and punctual everything was.
Peace Palace, The Hague
My next stop was Italy, where I quickly covered the top spots in Rome and Venice. I enjoyed the Roman architecture but wasn’t very impressed by Italy overall. I know I probably saw two of the most touristy spots, so I plan to revisit to discover Florence and other prettier parts. I’ll spend at least a week or two and let the Italian charm win me over.
Park Güell Barcelona
Spain was a wonderful experience. I saw the awe-inspiring architecture of Gaudi, went on shopping sprees in Barcelona, and then caught some vitamin sea on the beaches of Ibiza.
View from the top of the Eiffel Tower
During my nine days in France, I spent all my time in and around Paris. I saved three days for Disneyland Paris, which was a great decision. It was an absolutely delightful experience and a highlight of visiting France. The Eiffel Tower at night was right up there, too, as a top experience in France.
The mighty Matterhorn
Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe, and I was a bit lost planning this part of the trip on my own. This is one country where I thought it would just be easier to book a tour instead of chalking out all of the details myself. During this part of the trip, I was traveling with my folks and wanted only the best. We took a tour that covered all of the highlights, and we were able to experience Switzerland from Geneva to Lucerne and from Zurich to Zermatt. We did the touristy route and loved it! Swiss beauty is just unreal.
Finally, the last leg of my journey was Croatia, where I spent two unimpressive days in Zagreb and three near Plitvice Lakes National Park. After all, that was my sole reason for traveling all the way from Western Europe to Croatia. Imagine 1,000 waterfalls all in one exotic place. Yes, I loved it. Croatia was simply wonderful. If I had another chance, I’d return without a second thought.
Glacier Express offers stunning scenic views of Switzerland
I booked all of my flights with low-cost carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet. Booking flights was the most time-consuming part of planning my trip, as I checked at least three or four airports in and around any city I wanted to visit. I also checked to see if any buses or trains served each route and compared prices between plane and train tickets. I easily spent two weeks working this part out.
I wish I’d known about GoEuro’s awesome travel booking website at that time, and my trip would’ve been so much easier to plan. You can check flights, buses, and trains all at once here. How cool is that? I just saved myself two weeks of planning for my next Euro trip!
When my folks were visiting, I made them spend some time in Holland and booked them on a train to Paris to meet me. In addition to those modes of transport, we rented a car from Hertz for our Croatian leg. This was another great decision, as driving around the Croatian coastline was breathtaking to say the least. There was a slight learning curve related to learning to drive on the left side of the car and getting lost without GPS in a new country, but overall, I would totally recommend renting a car in Croatia.
Finding accommodation in Europe wasn’t hard. I used Hostelbookers for hostel reservations, Airbnb for cozy and cheap rooms, Homestay for my awesome homestay in Ibiza, and Booking.com for luxury hotels at incredible deals when traveling with my folks.
Cute Airbnb in Rome
Tell me about your DIY Euro trip in the comments. If you haven’t planned one yet, hopefully this piece will give you some ideas and inspiration.