Recommended route to go to Europe for the first time with itineraries for 15 and 20 days.
Europe has it all. History that goes back many centuries of history and includes the Romans, the Arabs, the different kingdoms within the continent, up to the most recent era during World War I and World War II.
Also, its monuments are emblematic of the world and include imposing churches, towers, squares and modern buildings.
If this is your first trip and you want to know the most beautiful cities in Europe, here are the must-see places in Europe to visit for the first time. It is an itinerary designed to cover Europe in two or three weeks.
Things to do in Europe in 15 days if you are a first-time traveler
Paris, the city of light (3 days)
We begin our route through the places to see in Europe with the majestic Paris. The French capital enchants everyone and is one of the most important cultural cities on the continent. The Eiffel Tower is the central point to see the whole city from above.
If you are a culture lover, you should not miss the Louvre Museum, with the famous paintings of the Mona Lisa or the Venus del Milo, the Musée d’Orsay and the modern art museum Pompidou Center. Among the churches, the Sacré Coeur Basilica on the hill of Montmartre is one of the great attractions to see in Paris, in addition to the Notre Dame Cathedral.
And there is room for a boat trip on the Seine River, a visit to the Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of the city and much more. There is so much to do in Paris that you probably won’t have enough time.
📷 Book your boat trip on the Seine here and see Paris from a different perspective.
🔝 Check out this article on things to do in Paris in three days.
Cosmopolitan Barcelona (2 days)
Barcelona is one of the two most important cities in Spain and one of the must-see places in Europe if you are planning a trip to the Old Continent. Its cosmopolitan atmosphere with nationalities from many countries is one of the characteristics of the city along with its marked Catalan stamp.
An artist who has left his mark on Barcelona is Antoni Gaudí. Parc Güell and the Sagrada Familia are two of the works that showcase his architectural design based on non-traditional figures.
📷 Book here the visit to the Sagrada Familia with ascent to a tower. It includes entrance without queues, a guide so you don’t miss anything and the ascent to one of the towers.
If you want atmosphere, shopping and bar area, then you should go to Paseo de Gracia, one of the main arteries of the city and where are the Casa Miro or La Pedrera and Casa Batló, also works of Gaudi. At the end of the street is Plaza Cataluña and the beginning of the promenade that leads to the sea.
Do not forget that Barcelona is on the shores of the Mediterranean and this allows you to enjoy long beaches and gentle waves. Barceloneta is the most central beach area with lots of young people, but there are also places further away and even nudist beaches.
Soccer also has a strong presence, with Barcelona being the city’s main team. Its stadium, Camp Nou, can be visited with a tour. Here you will see the green grass where a certain Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona have displayed their talent.
📷 Book the Camp Nou Tour here. Includes access to the locker rooms, playing field and museum.
🔝 Check out this article about things to do in Barcelona.
Rome, its Colosseum and the Vatican (3 days)
If you are visiting Europe for the first time, the Italian capital, Rome, is a must on your itinerary. The good thing is that all the attractions to see in Rome are very close to each other, so it can be done on foot. Of course, it is necessary to stay in the city for at least three days to see all the sites.
Rome has many emblematic monuments, but among them there are two that stand out, the Colosseum built during the Roman Empire and the Trevi Fountain where you have to stop to throw a coin and make three wishes with the longing to visit it again on another trip.
During the walk, do not forget to stop at three of the main squares of Rome: Piazza Spagna with the mythical staircase and fountain, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Navona, surrounded by bars, ice cream parlors and many street artists.
🔝 Check out this article on things to do in Rome in three days.
Crossing the Tiber River you reach the Vatican, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church in the world, with the figure of the Pope as its highest exponent. Here you can visit St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum, with the imposing Sistine Chapel inside.
📷 Book here the Colosseum, Palatine and Roman Forum Guided Tour, with tickets included to avoid endless queues. Reserve your place.
Combine and save by visiting the Vatican, in addition to the above. Includes Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and entrance fees.
🔝 Check out this article on what to visit in the Vatican.
The beauty of Florence (1 day)
Florence is another of the most beautiful cities in Europe, which leaves the visitor speechless. It only takes a day or two to see all that this city has to offer. The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its shining marble in pink, white and green colors, gives a very elegant look to the Duomo square.
As for cultural offerings, Florence is known for the sculpture of Michelangelo’s David, present in the Accademia Gallery. The Uffizi Gallery is another cultural center worth visiting as it houses paintings by Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.
At sunset, cross the Arno River over the beautiful Ponte Vecchio to reach Piazza Michelangelo, located on a hill. From here, the orange sky is reflected in the river, the monuments and the bridge, giving rise to a simply wonderful natural spectacle.
📷 Book your guided tour of Florence here.
🔝 Check out this article on things to do in Florence.
Venice, another of Europe’s cities to visit (1 day)
A city to visit in Europe is Venice, surrounded by its canals. In truth, it is a small island full of buildings and connected to the mainland by a bridge. Strolling through the narrow pedestrian streets, crossing several bridges over canals until you reach St. Mark’s Square is one of the things you have to do.
📷 Book here gondola ride along the canals of Venice, an experience you have to live.
The Grand Canal is the “main street” of the city and where you find most of the attractions, including the legendary Ponte Rialto. The postcards from here are really wonderful, with the gondolas passing by and the gondoliers singing, along with the small boats of the locals.
📷 Book here the visit to the picturesque islands of Burano and Murano and get to know the art of glass.
But Venice also has other sites to visit, including St. Mark’s Basilica next to the bell tower, from where you have beautiful views of the city and the lagoon surrounding Venice. Being a city where the carnival has its old tradition, do not leave without seeing the masks that are used for the celebrations during carnivals.
London, a European classic (3 days)
There are so many places to see in London that it is worth spending three to four days. Starting with Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Queen of the United Kingdom, passing by one of the symbols such as Big Ben Tower, perhaps the most famous clock in the world, and Westminster Abbey.
If you are looking for atmospheric areas to make a stop, Picadilly Circus is a kind of New York’s 5th Avenue with its illuminated signs, restaurants and great cultural offer. Covent Garden is another area that has been transformed and is now a meeting point for young English people.
📷 Book the must-see London free tour here and learn about the history of the main sites with a specialized guide.
As for museums, the British Museum is a must, with pieces of incalculable historical value from all over the world. It is so big that touring it can take you a whole day. If you want to relax, Hyde Park is the great green space in central London.
📷 Admission to the British Museum is free, but there’s so much history inside that you might want someone to tell you all about it. In this case, you can book a guided tour of the British Museum.
Finally, on the banks of the River Thames is the London Eye, a Ferris wheel with views of the city, the Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern Museum and Tower Bridge. A few meters away is St. Paul’s Cathedral.
🔝 Check out this article on things to do in London in three days.
Madrid, one of the best cities for your first time in Europe (2 days)
The Spanish capital is another of the places to see in Europe in three weeks. Madrid has a special charm and a lot of atmosphere that is reflected in the surroundings of Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, La Latina neighborhood and San Miguel market. It is also a place to enjoy the outdoors in the Retiro Park, the main green space in the center of Madrid.
If we refer to history, Madrid has the official residence of the kings in the Royal Palace of Madrid, which along with the Sabatini gardens and the Plaza de Oriente are the places you have to see in Madrid. A few meters away, the Almudena Cathedral is another icon to visit.
📷 Book your guided tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid here. You will see all the luxuries and architectural details of the place.
As for museums, you should visit the Prado and the Reina Sofia museums, with works by renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. The painting Guernica is the protagonist of this last museum.
Finally, don’t forget to visit the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid’s stadium, and take a tour of its facilities, which include the dressing rooms, the stands, the playing field and the museum with the trophies.
📷 Book your tour of the Santiago Bernabéu, the home of Real Madrid, here. You will feel like a soccer player when you step onto the field.
🔝 Check out this article on things to do in Madrid if you are visiting for the first time.
Map with the 15-day Europe route if you are visiting Europe for the first time
Buy your travel insurance and travel safe!
🚑 Take a look at these tips for choosing the best travel insurance (updated to 2023 and with juicy discounts) for the type of traveller you are, and they will also help you clear up the most common doubts. Travel safe!
Things to do in Europe in 20 days for first time travelers
In addition to the must-see cities to visit in Europe for the first time in 15 days detailed above, in a 20-day Europe itinerary we recommend adding the following cities:
Berlin, a mix of past and present history (2 days)
Berlin was a protagonist of the two great world wars and was able to rebuild itself as a city after the fall of Nazism and the subsequent Cold War between the communism of the Soviet Union and the capitalism of the United States, England and France, which divided the city in two for more than 30 years with the well-known Berlin Wall.
Today it is a renewed city that reminds us at every step of the horrors experienced by the inhabitants of Berlin, both during Nazism and because of the wall that divided entire families. A visit to the remains of the wall and the Holocaust memorial is a must on a tour of the city.
📷 Tour the city from another point of view with the sightseeing boat on the river Spree, passing places like the Parliament or the Museum Island.
There are also monuments that have managed to survive the wars, among them the imposing Brandenburg Gate. If you like art, you will surely spend a good time or whole days in the Museum Island that holds relics from many centuries ago. Finally, the legendary Alexanderplatz square awaits you with its more than 350-meter high television tower with majestic views of the city.
📷 Discover the most emblematic places of the city with this full day tour of Berlin.
Visiting Prague, a must if it is your first time in Europe (1 day)
Prague is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. The capital of the Czech Republic has many charming sites that can easily be seen in one day. The Vltava River divides the historical part of the city in two, the Old Town on one side and the Lesser Town on the other. The Charles Bridge is one of the bridges linking the two areas and the most outstanding, with its voluminous sculptures on both sides.
📷 Book here the complete tour of Prague in one day. A specialized guide will show you the main attractions of the city.
In the “Old City” you should not miss the main square with the Town Hall building where the curious Astronomical Clock is located. A few meters away, the low medieval houses with beautiful facades mingle with the gothic style Pólvora tower.
Crossing the Charles Bridge you reach the gigantic Prague Castle, inside which you will find palaces, churches, streets and alleys. A real city inside the castle! Don’t miss the views of the city from the castle’s lookout point.
📷 Book the free tour of Prague Castle here. It’s free!
Amsterdam, canal tour (2 days)
The city of canals or the so-called Venice of the North is one of the essential cities in Europe to visit for the first time. The center of Amsterdam replaces the typical streets with the coming and going of boats on the canals. Here you will not cross the street on the pedestrian path, but you will pass the canals through the many bridges.
📷 Enjoy a boat ride on the canals to see Amsterdam from the water.
Many young people and tourists visit Amsterdam to see the red light district. This downtown area is characterized by the presence of storefronts where prostitutes legally offer their services. In addition, it is a place where you can consume marijuana without any problem, as long as you do it in the coffee shops and in small quantities.
From a cultural and historical point of view, the two main museums in Amsterdam are the Amsterdam Museum of Fine Arts and the Amsterdam Museum of Fine Arts. Van Goghwhich exhibits works by this famous Dutch artist, and the Anne Frank Museumwhere the then child wrote the well-known diary and her family was hiding during the Nazi occupation of the city.
📷 Book the Jewish quarter tour here to learn about the story of Anne Frank and the relationship between Jews and the local people during the Nazi occupation.
Dam Square is another of Amsterdam’s icons, a central meeting point for young people and surrounded by a large number of bars. In the surroundings you will see a lot of bicycles parked on the bridges or streets. It is the preferred means of transport for the Dutch.
Map with the 20-day Europe route if you are visiting Europe for the first time
🚊 Buy your Interrail and Eurail pass! This pass is a train ticket with which you can travel on almost all trains in Europe. With it you have access to 40 rail and ferry companies in 33 countries. Absolute freedom to discover Europe at your own rhythm. See our Interrail and Eurail Guide here.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
- Cheap flights with Skyscanner
- Rent a car with Auto Europe
- Interrail Pass
- Eurail Pass
- Train Tickets with OMIO
- Bus tickets with OMIO
- Ferry tickets with OMIO
- Asia tickets with 12Go
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