40 Days in Europe – My DIY Euro Trip

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!

Destinations

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.

Holland

Adorable cottages in Giethoorn, Holland

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

Peace Palace, The Hague

Italy

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

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.

Spain

Park Güell Barcelona

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.

France

View from top of Eiffel

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.

Switzerland

The mighty Matterhorn

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.

Croatia

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.

Transportation

Glacier express offers stunning scenic views of Switzerland

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.

Accommodation

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

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.

13 Comments

  1. Looks like you had a great time and your planning paid off. Too bad Italy didn’t give you a good impression but I know it can get way too crowded during high season. Happy travels in 2017!

  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed Croatia! It’s one of our favourite destinations- so much so that we’ll be going back again in the spring this year. I’m a huge fan of airbnb too

  3. Wow this sounds so amazing! I’ve been to Disneyland Paris and loved it! I would love to visit Switzerland. What beautiful pictures!

  4. My home base in Central Europe and within 3,5, 6 hours by car i can be in many capitals / popular placesfor a weekend trip, so I havent planned any big Eurotrip. Looks like I am saving my European travels for retirement:) But Croatia beats them all..

  5. I did a much shorter DIY Eurotrip this past November (my first time to Europe!). I did 2 days in Scotland, 7 in England, and 2 in Holland (Amsterdam only). I wish I had more time to explore Holland 🙁 I’ve had the musical steps in Croatia on my bucket list for the longest time (since even before I realized that I love to travel lol). Did you get to see them?!

  6. What an awesome DIY trip! Sounds like you got to spend a fair amount of time in each place and I like that you chose a diverse set of countries – I really want to get to Croatia someday!

  7. Good work orchestrating such an epic trip on your own – my first trip out of Australia traveling myself was through Europe, I had a base in the UK as a school assistant for my gap year, and organized a couple of trips back and forth – low cost airlines like you – it was great! Yes it’s a lot of planning and preparation in the lead up, but the reward is worthwhile 100 times!

  8. Travelling on a long trip like this is really tough – sounds like you did a great job! Its hard to cram so much into a tight itinerary, I usually prefer to visit fewer places & spend longer there to get a real feel of it – but at least this way you get to try a bit of everything, and decide where to go back to!

  9. Probearoundthe Globe January 12, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    I live in the Netherlands (not Holland) but never been to Giethoorn myself, but it must be lovely. I do want to visit the Palace, also something I have never done before.

  10. These are some great tips – especially with the accommodation. It always amazes me how most people assume Europe is too costly.

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