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My name is Olivia! I love traveling and planning fairytale vacations. Book your vacation package with me to take advantage of all of the complimentary services I have to offer.

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  • Olivia Van Buskirk

Europe for First Timers: The 3 Best Ways to See Europe

Unless you have a friend in Europe who has volunteered to be your tour guide, it probably isn't wise to just show up and figure things out as you go. Don't get me wrong, it can be done. If you are on a mission to guide yourself through Europe, you go for it. But in general, I don't recommend this method. Europe is a vast, diverse place, and even in places where you speak the language (such as the U.K.), small differences can really trip you up, especially when it comes to getting from one place to another.


In fact, this is probably the most serious barrier when it comes to Americans traveling to Europe. Most people avoid it because going somewhere foreign can be a little intimidating, as well as costly and research intensive. But have no fear! You can still have a grand European adventure. Here are the top 3 ways for first-timers to see Europe, stress-free and worry-free.


Method #1: Guided Tour


There are lots of reliable tour companies that will take care of everything for you. Hotels? Check. Meals? Check. Transportation? Check. Premier sight-seeing activities & attractions? Check. Built in free time for exploring? Check. Expert recommendations and advice? Check.


A guided tour is kind of like a field trip for adults. Allow the tour company to transport you (usually by bus) from one major attraction to the next. No hassle, and no wasted time trying to figure out how to get from one place to place. If you want to see a lot of Europe in a short period of time, this kind of tour is totally recommended.


You may be thinking, "But this is my European adventure! I don't want to be carted around by a bus!" I was thinking the same thing. But trust me, the bus is awesome. It felt so great to not have the responsibilities of navigating or time-managing. Plus, Europe is exhausting! It felt so nice to sit on the bus and watch the beautiful European landscapes pass by. In fact, it was nothing short of magical.


I work with lots of reliable companies that provide guided European tours. Some of my favorites to work with are:

  • Adventures by Disney for a memorable, immersive, and VIP European tour experience

  • Gate 1 Travel for an affordable tour

  • Brendan Vacations for an authentic Irish and/or Scottish adventure

Out of the three methods listed here, this method is probably the most exhausting and least relaxing, but is also the method that will let you maximize how much you see in Europe. You can choose an itinerary that goes in depth in one place, or an itinerary that takes you on a whirlwind tour of many destinations. This method is best for go-getters and for people who aren't afraid to tire themselves out on vacation.



Method #2: Cruise by Sea


This method is pretty awesome. Sail with familiar American brand names, such as Royal Caribbean, Disney, and Carnival, and relax in luxury as you sail from one grand European city to the next. The price of these cruises are pretty reasonable, and of course all of the food is included.


Itineraries vary. You can take a cruise to Norway, sail among the fjords, and wake up in a different Norwegian village every morning for a grand total of 8 Norwegian villages (Swoon! I choose this one)! Or you can take a Mediterranean cruise, and see a little bit of France, Portgual, Spain, Italy, and Greece all in one trip.


You won't get much time at each stop, but with some planning (courtesy of me), you can see so many amazing cities, landscapes, beaches, and more.


If you are the kind of person who believes every vacation should be relaxing, or if you are a little nervous about going to Europe for the first time, this method is for you.


Bonus Tip:


If you sail in the Spring, you can actually catch a trans-Atlantic cruise from America to Europe as the companies are transporting some of their cruise ships to Europe for the summer. This will give you some tropical Caribbean ports of call as well as some European ports of call, plus the cruise is super-long and is usually a pretty remarkable deal! If you are able to sail in the fall, you can also catch a trans-Atlantic cruise from Europe back to America. A trans-Atlantic cruise saves money on airfare since you only need a one-way ticket to or from a European destination!

Method #3: Cruise by River


This method is on my bucket-list. Board a small boat and cruise down a European river. Watch the beautiful landscape roll by from your balcony, and get ample time in each town or city you stop in. Is there anything more romantic, dreamy, or fairytale-like?


Your itinerary depends on the river you choose to cruise on, but whatever river you choose, you are bound to see lots of countryside, towns, and landscapes. This sounds like nirvana to me.


This option is definitely quality over quantity. Depending on your itinerary, you may not see a lot of different places, but instead you can have an in-depth look at fewer places at a more relaxing pace.


This method is best for people with a larger budget, as this is often the least economical (but most dreamy) way to explore Europe. It typically attracts an older crowd (and often, kids aren't allowed), but honestly, a quiet, peaceful trip like this sounds like an absolute dream to me.


To Summarize:


Are you a go-getter (or afraid of the water)? Take a guided tour.


Do you believe every vacation should be relaxing? Or do you prefer all the comforts of an American cruise ship? Take a cruise by sea.


Do you want some peace, quiet, and beautiful countryside? Take a cruise by river.


Whatever your travel style is, I'll personally hand-craft your fairytale European vacation if you book with me. Contact me for a free quote! I'll provide you with all the information you need to know, and present you with the best options to fit your travel style.