How Many Countries to Visit and Which Countries in Europe?

lucerne switzerland

How many countries do you like to visit in Europe?

Let me tell you about the rookie mistake I did when I started planning the first trip in 2014.

I wanted to see all the European countries and top attractions in within 20 days!

Boy! I was so wrong.

Third time, I was very clear from the get go with my family. After deciding on duration of the trip (14 days), we started working on where each member of the family wanted to visit. It came down to three counties – Switzerland, Norway and Germany. But, Norway was way out there and we decided to do a Scandinavian countries trip later.

We ended up with following countries: France, Germany and Switzerland. 

Why did Paris come into picture, when we decided to visit only Switzerland and Germany?

When you are traveling as a group, $200 difference in price per flight ticket adds up to the trip expense.

We should fly either to Frankfurt, Berlin or Zurich and fly out from one of the cities. Unfortunately, from Chennai, India the cost of round trip flight ticket to Paris was cheaper than Frankfurt, Zurich and other cities.

Now, you have answered the two most important questions before planning your Europe trip.

  • What is the total duration of the trip?
  • How many countries do you like to visit?

Please resit the temptation to visit one city per day and cover multiple counties. Here’s the lessons I learned from our travel:

  • Don’t be a tourist, be a traveller.
  • Assume, you will return
  • Plan for a rest day for trips more than 7 days (vacation within a vacation)

PS:

Same two questions apply if you are planning your trip to Europe from the USA or elsewhere. From the USA, adjust the plan based on availability of direct flights or cost of air ticket from your home base airport.

If you are flying from the Raleigh Durham (RDU) for instance in North Carolina, there are direct flights from RDU to Paris and London. But, other cities require connecting flights from Paris or London (like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, etc). We will get into flight planning in the next article.

Which Countries to Visit?

With Schengen Visa, one can visit 26 countries.

What countries to visit depends on your interest and what you wanted to visit. Maybe you got inspired to visit the Colosseum in Rome after watching the movie Gladiator or Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Germany after reading about it in your History books.

Perhaps, you wanted to just spend 10 full days in Switzerland to visit Geneva to Zermatt to St. Mortiz and everything in between.

Or you may be new to Europe trip planning and don’t have a good starting point to pick the list of countries. Let me suggest Rick Steves Best of Europe Guide Book.

“What! I need study 100’s of pages about European cities before I can even start a trip?”

You will have to do a lot reading to have an enriching experience. Once you know the history of a city, place, it makes your visit lot more interesting and memorable.

Our Europe Trips

  • 9 Days – Switzerland and Italy
    • Geneva, Bern, Interlaken Area, Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome
  • 14 Days – Paris, Switzerland and Germany
    • Paris, Geneva, Interlaken Area, Bern, Lucerne, Fussen, Munich, Rothenburg, Frankfurt
    • Geneva was stopover town
    • Bern was quick 3 hour side stop
  • 3 Days – Belgium
    • Brussels and Bruges

One of my co-worker did a 45 days long solog, backpacking trip by staying in hostels. Are you up for it?

Summary:

  • Don’t plan for one day per city
  • 7 Days – 1 or 2 countries
  • 10 Days – 2 to 3 countries
  • 14 Days – 2 to 4 countries
  • Use a guide book to learn more about each countries.

Featured Image – Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland. The oldest wooden bridge in the Europe.

Leave a Comment