I often read weblogs about Europe and a lot of those are written by people planning or reviewing their first trip to Europe. Some are visiting on package tours, others go on a honeymoon. Others are coming to Europe as part of a RTW trip or for study. All these people are confronted with a common enemy – Europe simply has too much to offer. Sure, its a small continent, but its geographic location makes it host to a wide range of climate zones, and with over 50 countries (by my count) its second only to Africa in number of states. No wonder travellers to Europe, especially those coming to the old granny for the first time have a hard time choosing.
The question most often asked by people planning a trip to Europe is “what’s the best itinerary?”. (Un)Fortunately, there’s an infinite number of answers to this question, depending on several factors, like when are you going, how long will you be staying, what is you budget and what are your preferences. There is no “best” itinerary, only what’s best for you. So what to do? If you’re going to Europe just for a week or two, then I’d say it makes no sense to rush around. Choose a big country, like France, Germany or Italy, and stick with it – there’s plenty of choices within these big boys to keep you busy.
But what if you’re coming for longer, and want to explore the endless variety of European customs, cuisine and climate? My tip to you is – regionalize. In the geographical and political maze of (small) European countries, national borders increasingly lose their meaning and the regional ties, formed by common history, language and geography are becoming (again) more defining. Staying within a region for several weeks will allow you to get a taste of several (small) countries with relatively little travel hustle, and if you’re staying longer, hop on to another region for a radically different setting.
There are, of course, numerous possible divisions of Europe into regions – for example, the classic division into North, East, South and West (and perhaps Central) Europe. Most of these divisions create regions that are way too big for travelling itinerary purposes. So I’ve decided to create my own regional map of Europe. I am not running a travelling guide, but as there’s an obvious need for qualitative inside information on reasonable travel planning in Europe, I will be kind enough to shine a light on this topic. Obviously, it will take me some time to produce quality articles on the topic, but to give you a hint of what’s to come, here is my division of Europe into bite-size travel regions:
Disclaimer: The regional division shown above is chosen for travel convenience. The names of the regions are for illustration purposes only and do not reflect any political concepts or beliefs.