It comes as no surprise that world tourism is concentrated in Europe, with 58% of tourists visiting the continent. The second highest continent attracting tourists in Asia, far behind Europe with 19.5% world tourists visiting the continent. Almost 80% of the top countries for tourism are European. Undoubtedly, Europe is home to some of the world’s most historical attractions and breathtaking destinations. But what are the factors that make Europe an easy, rather the first pick for international travellers?
Here’s decoding the list of reasons:
Why Travelling Across Europe Is Easy:
1. Schengen Visa: 1 visa | 28 states
First and foremost, the key factor in international tourism is the visa and paperwork. While many passports enjoy the incredible power and visa-free access to more than half the world, most don’t. We, Indians don’t have visa-free or e-visa access to the Schengen states. Hence, the paperwork and visa play a crucial role.
But the fact that one Schengen visa gives you access to over 28 countries in the European subcontinent, makes Europe an easy choice.
An important point to note is that a Schengen Visa also gives you access to some non-Schengen states for a short duration. In such cases, you’re due for passport checks at border control/ airport.
Since the visa looks into access to all Schengen states, it the comes to flights. And inter-city/ inter-state flights in Europe are extremely cheap. Thus, making air travel affordable and multiple distances accessible on a single trip.
3. Connectivity- Rail | Bus | Road
Beyond flights, there are also additional means of transport which are cheap and accessible to all.
Rail: Just like a multi-entry Schengen visa, a Eurail Pass can provide access across all 28 countries on a suitable pass making travel across Europe extremely easy. In many cases, you do not require a prior reservation for taking a train journey. In some high-on-demand, high-speed trains require a prior reservation that comes at a minimal cost if you already own a valid Eurail pass.
Alternatively, you can always get yourself a reservation from the train station just before your journey. The reservations, in any case, are subject to availability and rush.
Bus: There are many local and international companies that have long-distance buses. Some routes are to the nearest cities across the border. Some routes can be longer, surpassing multiple states. Flixbus and Eurolines have a presence across all major routes. However, the bus journey brings limitations on luggage. The travel time by bus is also longer.
Road: In Europe, you can always take a road trip across Schengen states without much paperwork or hassle. The biggest winning point for road trips is the quality of roads available and the lack of traffic. Thus, making a road trip a smooth and enjoyable experience.
4. Euro usage
Euro is one of the most powerful currencies in the world. Mainland Europe (except Switzerland/ Czechia/ Hungary/ Scandinavia) carry out all transactions in the Euro. The uniformity of currency makes the monetary transactions easy to keep up without exchanging currencies for transactions.
5. Short Travel Time
The flights and high-speed trains make travel time between cities and states within Europe extremely quick. Most journeys take no more than 2-3 hours. Thus, making day trips to countries possible. This also provides sufficient time to explore a new destination on the day of arrival.
Hostels play a key role in making travel across Europe easy.
- Cheap Accommodation: For solo travelers or small groups, hostels are the go-to option for cheap accommodation. You can book yourself a bed in a dormitory of your preference at almost 10 euros a night. This most often includes common rooms, a common kitchen, and other amenities of a hostel
- Meet travelers from across the world: Unlike a hotel, a hostel brings together the traveler community. You’re likely to be sharing rooms with people from different parts of the world. This is a great opportunity for making friends and cultural exchange. It’s always good to find friends during your travels!
- Community Events: Many hostels host community events in their premises. Our hostel in Barcelona had a community dinner and football watching sessions. During our stay in Prague, we treated our inmates with some Indian food. We were fed a lot of local Napoleatan dishes in Naples. In Rome, we attended an interactive session! This helped us meet new people, exchange ideas and cultures. It made our travels more meaningful, even without us realizing it.
- Discounts: Most hostels are affiliated with tour companies/ host tours of their own. You’re likely to find many discounts, offers and options for local tours to explore the city. This also includes free walking tours which give you a great insight into the city as you start off.
- Free Breakfast: Majority hostels offer free breakfast with your bookings. The breakfast spread depends from hostel-to-hostel. But it’s always a good way to stuff in some heavy breakfast to be able to explore the city better.
- Common Kitchen: Since we spoke of breakfast, it’s essential that we mention what a blessing common kitchens can be. Especially for those traveling on a budget, this one’s a savior. You can simply stock cheap raw/ ready-to-eat foods that require minimum cooking from supermarkets. You can cook, heat, store this food/ leftovers in the common kitchen and the fridge. What’s better? Every common kitchen has a Free Food rack which basically has the unused leftovers by other travelers. You too can drop your bread/ noodle packets while leaving from your trip. (PS. We’ve found treasures like wine, beer and pasta in the free food section!)
- Storage: Finally, coming to storage! For every reservation/ room, there is a locker and storage facility available. You can also ask the staff for extra storage in their storage room if you have more bags. The cherry on the cake is that you can leave your luggage for close an entire day, even after you check out. This way you can explore the city without your luggage, only to collect it in time for your flights.
- Paid Amenities: Paid facilities like cycle rentals, locks, towels, airport transfers, parking, laundry are available at the hostel.
7. Round-The-Year Tourism
Thanks to the weather variation across the continent, Europe calls for round-the-year tourism. European summers are peak tourist seasons for Europeans and tourists around the world. The months preceding and succeeding the summers are popular among tourists who rather stay away from the crowds (mostly international tourists). Winters bring in tourists for Christmas and Christmas markets. Tourism peaks in Scandinavian states for viewing the Northern Lights, a popular phenomenon. In the winters, the southern European states of Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal are relatively warmer inviting tourists for beach vacations. Thus, adding a round-the-year aspect to Europe’s tourism opportunities.
8. Tourist Friendly Countries
A key factor that makes Europe easy to travel is the very fact that it is tourist friendly. Over the years, Tourism has been an integral factor in contributing to the European economy. It is overwhelming to see the preparedness of these countries in tourism. City maps, Information centers, city cards for tourists, tour companies, multi-cuisine restaurants, accessibility for all kinds of tourists account for a major win.
The highlight of traveling across Europe is the ability to be able to do what you need, explore and discover on your own and get through all situations on your own. It’s empowering!
9. Safety Standards
For most tourists- solo, couple, family, groups, safety is always a major concern! It would be unfair to say that any corner of the earth is completely safe. Europe isn’t either. And as a tourist, you’re likely to encounter discrimination, theft, loss, mugging, assault, etc. But in the majority of situations, you can walk to wearing what you like, exploring the way you do.
Another major highlight is that the health and hygiene standards in Europe are pretty high. Ensuring safety from any unwanted epidemic, health issues.
You sure don’t have to live in fear and focus on enjoying your vacation. However, the thumb rule of traveling is to STAY ALERT!
This will fend any kind of unwanted situation. At the same time, always prepare yourself with essential measures in case such a situation arises. Know all about the embassy of your country, keep back-ups, locks and emergency contacts!
Traveling across Europe is easy, relaxing and enriching. As a tourist, you couldn’t ask for more when you’re looking to step out for your little break.