Choose your own adventure

Whether it’s wandering through romantic cobblestoned streets in France, or relishing fresh tapas in Spain, summer in Europe offers many travel adventures to choose from.

Want to go hiking in the mountains? Europe's most extensive mountain range, the mighty Alps, traverses eight countries, including France, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy.

If you’re a history buff, you might enjoy soaking up the rich cultural history of cities like Athens, Rome, Berlin and Prague. 

If you’re after an island holiday, Greece has many picturesque options to choose from. Just keep in mind tourist hotspots like Mykonos and Santorini can get pricey during peak season. Fortunately though, there are also more affordable alternatives, like Naxos and Kythira.

As many in northern Europe tend to venture south during the summer months, it can be a good opportunity to explore the north. Enjoying the live music scene in London or Manchester, or the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe, may be more up your alley. Or, you may want to discover for yourself why people in Scandinavian countries are often ranked among the happiest on earth.

What to expect during European peak season

One thing to be aware of is that summer is the busiest time of year to visit Europe. This means the idyllic locations you may have seen on your social media feed could be a lot more crowded than you may expect. Popular destinations like Rome, Venice, and the Amalfi Coast in Italy; Barcelona in Spain; and Paris in France; are often packed with travellers during European peak season (usually from June to August).

So, it might take you a little more time to get around and gain entry into popular sites like museums or cathedrals. If you want to avoid the worst of the crowds, it might be worth looking into some less popular destinations.

Alternatively, you may want to head to these popular destinations just before peak season starts, or towards the end of peak season, when they’re likely to be less crowded and the weather is still likely to be pleasant.

If you can’t avoid peak season, try visiting the famous tourist hotspots like the Trevi Fountain in Rome early in the morning. That way, you can experience them without the crowds, particularly the tourist buses that tend to arrive from mid-morning onwards.

What’s more – if you want to avoid potential airport chaos during peak season, Europe has an extensive rail network. So you can travel between many cities – like Paris and Barcelona, or Berlin and Brussels – by train, without the stress often associated with air travel.

Preparing for your trip

1. Create a realistic itinerary

Needless to say – one European holiday is hardly enough to experience all that this historic continent has to offer. So, it’s important to be realistic about what you can fit into your trip. Overbooking yourself might turn a relaxing vacation into a hectic and stressful experience. So, first, decide what kind of holiday you're looking for. This can help you prioritise your destinations and decide how much time to spend in each.

2. Book ahead

During peak season, it’s a good idea to book ahead as much as possible – not just flights, but also accommodation, attractions, transport and bucket-list activities. Many popular restaurants get booked out quickly too, so contact them well ahead for reservations, especially if you're travelling in a group.

3. Consider travel insurance

Anything can happen during your travels, particularly in a post-pandemic world. So, for peace of mind, it can be helpful to take out travel insurance. That way, you know you’re covered and may be able to claim back some of your expenses should something unexpected happen.

4. Check any travel and visa requirements

Australians generally don’t need a visa to visit Europe as tourists if they’re travelling to countries within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days. However, European countries outside of this area may have other visa requirements.

Once you’ve planned your trip, be sure to check the entry and visa requirements for each country you’re visiting to ensure a smooth journey.

5. Set a travel budget

It’s easy to get carried away and forget all about your budget when you’re on holiday. A Travel Money Card lets you load and lock in an exchange rate for up to 13 currencies on one card, so you always know how much you have to spend while you’re on holiday. You can also reload your card for free anytime via NetBank or the CommBank app if you need to top up.