1. Best Time to Visit
From April to June, and September to October for nice weather, less crowds and cheap accommodation. From November to March are low season for tourists. July and August are the most expensive months to visit Europe. Actually visiting Europe is suitable for all year around. Even Iceland located within the Arctic Circle, but Iceland is not too cold during the winter months, usually temperature above zero. The most popular slogan from Iceland Tourism Office is "Do you know Iceland's winter is warmer than New York City"? I recommend two to three weeks is adequate for an excellent European vacation.
2. Travel Budget
The foods and cosmetics in Europe are much cheaper than North America due to retail competition and low transportation cost. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Greece and all East European countries are extremely affordable for travellers. Travelling in these countries are much cheaper than USA and Canada. Most churches, museums and galleries are free or with low entrance fees. No restaurant service fees or tip in Northern European countries which can help with your budget. Norway, Denmark and Sweden are the most expensive countries for hotels in Europe.
Flights within Europe are extremely affordable due to competition. Two-hour flight can be as low as 9 Euros. Majority flights within Europe are around 20s Euros or less for one-way ticket including taxes. Budget airlines (such as EasyJet, Ryanair, etc.) running all year around in Europe. These airlines are true budget airlines unlike those ones in North America charging carry-on suitcase fees. For international flights to Europe, usually ticket sale flights between October and Mid-June. For Western Canada/USA, cheap return flight fares are under $600 CAD/$450 USD. For Eastern Canada/USA, cheap return flights are around $500 CAD/$350 USD. The flights from USA to Europe can be even cheaper due to lower taxes than that of Canada. Last minute flight is usually more expensive, so plan your trip ahead of time.
List several cheap flights that I flew for the past few years:
- May (KLM): Calgary to Amsterdam for $639 CAD return flight including taxes.
- February (Iceland Air): Seattle to London for $371 CAD return flight including taxes
- October (British Airway): Calgary to London for $324 CAD return flight including taxes.
4. Hotel vs. Airbnb
Many travellers ask this question whether should stay at a hotel or Airbnb apartment. Rent an apartment or house is usually cheaper than a hotel room in Europe. If you travel with a big family or more than 1 child or plan for a longer trip, Airbnb apartment or house would be a better choice. You will be able to cook, enjoy larger space (e.g., living room, two or three-bedroom) with lower price than hotels. Always check the review before booking. I have incredibly positive experience for Airbnb apartments in Europe. Book Airbnb from the link below will save you $62 CAD/$43 USD instantly for your first stay anywhere around the world:
For hotel booking, best strategy is to book as early as possible to lock a good room rate. When travel date becomes closer, the hotel room rate will rise quickly.
I cannot believe the large variety and good quality of foods in Europe. They are extremely affordable and delicious. Cooked take-out foods are sold everywhere (e.g., train stations, subway, attractions and all major streets, etc.). For example, big sliced pizza for 2 - 3 Euro, deep fried seafood for 5 - 8 Euro, cooked pasta for 5 - 10 Euros, large portion of gelato for 3 - 4 Euro, all you can eat Asian buffet as low as 7.5 euros, cooked German sausage with hotdog bun for 1.5 Euro. Whole BBQ chicken at grocery store is only 5 Euros. Enjoy a tour, walk around while eating on the street is wonderful experience. Hungary and Czech Republic have very good Michelin star high-end restaurants for two people with three-course dinner under $95 CAD/$66 USD including tip and taxes.
6. Credit Card vs. Foreign Currencies
I recommend travelers to bring credit cards without foreign transaction fees (e.g., Rogers World Elite MasterCard, Scotia Bank American Express Platinum, HSBC World Elite Premier MasterCard, etc.) and small amount of foreign currencies. Normally credit card company will charge 2.5% transaction fees. Credit Cards are well accepted in most European countries, except in Greece and some East European counties. In UK and Germany, credit cards are accepted everywhere even on the bus.
Click Country's Name Below To Read My Travel Tips and Experiences
Austria: Hallstatt, Salzburg, Vienna
Belgium: Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Melsbroek, Ostend, Tournai
Czech Republic: Cesky Krumlov, Prague
Germany: Berlin, Bruhl, Cologne, Dresden, Fussen, Munich, Potsdam
Greece: Arachova, Argos, Athens, Corinth, Delphi, Kalambaka, Mycenae, Nafplio, Santorini,
Iceland: Keflavik, Reykjavik, Seljaland, Skogar, Vik
Ireland: Doolin, Dublin, Galway, Kinvara, Liscannor,
Italy: Bologna, Cinque Terre, Fiumicino, Florence, La Spezia, Milan, Pisa, Rome, Turin, Venice
Netherlands: Amsterdam, Lisse
Norway: Bodo, Geirange, Oslo,
Switzerland: Ascona, Bellinzona, Bern, Interlaken, Lausanne, Locarno, Lucerne, Lugano, Zurich,
UK: Amesbury, Bath, Canterbury, Dover, London, Maidstone,