Europe is one of the most charming places on earth. When I think of Europe I think of sweet music on the streets of Paris, drinking wine in Italy or celebrating at one of the many fabulous festivals celebrated on this vast continent.
I could spend forever in Europe, exploring its rich history, stunning coastlines and picturesque countrysides, but unfortunately my time here is often limited. After reflecting on my time here I’ve put together a great guide on how to get away and spend three weeks exploring a few countries in Central Europe.
Paris, France | 4 Days
The best way to begin a trip to Europe is by flying into Paris. This is a bucket-list city for most people and you won’t want to skip it!
Day 1: Arrival
Arrive in Paris. Check into your hotel then head out on the town for an evening stroll through its winding, hectic streets. Have dinner near the Eiffel Tower and watch it light up as the sun goes down.
Day 2: Top Sights
This day is dedicated to history. Start your day off by grabbing a croissant and a cappuccino at a bakery next to Notre Dame. Walk over to the Lourve next and fill your afternoon with famous works of art like the Mona Lisa. make sure you explore the Tulleries Gardens while you’re here! Ride the Ferris Wheel for the best view of the city. End the day by walking up Avenue Des ChampsS Elysees for some elite shopping and a view of the Arc de Triomphe.
Day 3: Montmartre
Enjoy your last full day in Paris in the Montmartre neighborhood. You can’t miss the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, a gorgeous church with a grand view of Paris. Shop down Rue de Steinkerque, wander through the gardens of Place St. Pierre, and have a macaroon at Biscuiterie de Montmartre. End the night at Moulin Rouge.
Day 4: Travel Day
Sleep in this morning and enjoy your last few hours in Paris. Grab a cappuccino, buy a post card and just enjoy where you’re at. Explore a bit of the neighborhood you’re staying in. Paris is a huge city! You’ll also want to note where the Gare du Nord train station is and make your way there. You’re going to take about a 3-hour train ride to your next destination: Brugge, Belgium!
Reminder: There is a train transfer in Brussels, so be prepared to hop off and find the next platform. If you have more time to spend in Europe, check out this cool city while you’re here!
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Brugge, Belgium | 2 Days
You’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time when you enter the medieval city of Brugge.
Day 5: Top Sights
Start off your time here with a canal tour. I swear it’s the best way to see the city. Then locate some historic sights like the St. John’s Hospital and the Church of Our Lady. Wander through the Old Town stopping at the local flea market and spot the Belfry of Brugge. Stroll through the Minnewaterpark and admire the lake and castle. End in the famous Alter Markt, a beautiful square with colorful buildings.
Day 6: Beer & Food
Start your morning off right with a delicious Belgium Waffle! From here you have an array of fun museums the choose from. Go to the frietmuseum to learn about French Fries (which actually originated here in Belgium!). Try Choco-Story if you’re into chocolate museums. My personal favorite is the Brugge Beer Experience. This is an interactive beer museum with a tasting at the end! You can’t leave Belgium without trying some of their craft beer. If you really want to learn about the food culture, take a food tour!
Read More: Brugge in a Day
Amsterdam, Netherlands | 3 Days
This vibrant, culturally-rich and inclusive city is unlike any other I’ve been in the world. It’s full of bars, good food, tons of museums and people who express themselves freely every single day.
Day 7: Farms of Amsterdam
Pack up your bags this morning and hop on the 4-hour train ride to Amsterdam! Arrive in the city, drop off your bags and get on local bus 170 or 174 until the stop “Zijdelweg.” The Clara Maria Cheese & Clog farm is something you can not miss during your time in Amsterdam. Learn how to make wooden clogs and delicious Dutch Cheese. Just reserve a guided tour ahead of time and enjoy the visit!
Day 8: Historic Amsterdam
We’re starting off the day with something you need to book far in advance – the Anne Frank House. After this stop by the Homomonument, another Holocaust-related site for gay victims who were forced to wear a star on their uniform declaring their sexuality. Make sure to check out De Oude Kerk, the oldest church in the city, as well as Dam Square & the Rijksmuseum.
Day 9: Fun Amsterdam
Get up and get going over to the Van Gogh museum. This world-famous painter is from the Netherlands! The IAMsterdam sign is nearby too! Then hop on an hour-long canal ride through this beautiful city. Check out the Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market, or simply wander the canals and narrow streets. Make sure to try a Heineken, whether it’s at the Heineken Experience or just at a local bar. There are other cool attractions like an Ice Bar, wax museum and the Amsterdam Dungeon. Just make sure to end your night exploring the Red Light District and educating yourself about legalized prostitution at the Red Light Museum.
Read More: What to Book in Amsterdam in Advance
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Munich, Germany | 5 Days
Germany is an awesome country! There is so much to do here, but we are going to focus on the southern state of Bavaria. It’s beautiful and known for its food, culture, history and outdoor adventures.
Day 10: Travel Day
Get ready for the long travel day ahead! Most trains take between 7-10 hours, depending on train company, departing times and layovers. We’re traveling from Amsterdam to Munich. Grab some baked goods from the train station and a water bottle then sit back and enjoy the ride.
Reminder: If you’re looking for budget travel, there will be a few layovers and change in trains. Make sure to note which stations you have to transfer.
Day 11: Top Sights
If you’re coming in late September you can’t miss the home of Oktoberfest! It’s the biggest beer festival in the world. Otherwise, spend your day spotting the top sights like Marienplatz (and the bell tower show at noon), the English Gardens, and the museum in the old Royal palace. There is a cool beer hall called Hofbräuhaus München, and tons of churches and markets to wander through. Try some local German foods like bratwurst, doner and spaghetti ice!
Day 12: Dachau Concentration Camp
This was the very first Nazi concentration camp to open during WWII in the 1930’s, and it’s located just 30 minutes from Munich. There are tons of travel companies that take guided tours from Munich to Dachau for a half or full day, so you don’t have to worry about transportation. You’ll literally step back in time to these preserved ruins of one of the most tragic times in modern history.
Day 13: Neuschwanstein Castle
This world-famous castle may be the most iconic spot in all of Germany! Just under two hours south of Munich it is a great day trip. Find a guided tour and jump on it! Here you get to the the famous, Walt-Disney-inspired Neuschwanstein Castle as well as the royal family’s summer palace, Hohenschwangau Castle. It is just absolutely beautiful here and you can relax by the Alpsee lake and eat a picnic lunch.
Day 14: Berchtesgaden National Park
On our last day in Germany we are heading to a great place in Bavaria called Berchtesgaden. This area has so much to do! Spend an entire day in the national park hiking, swimming & camping overnight (or staying in a local lodge if that’s more your speed).
Read More: Biggest German Festivals
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Salzburg, Austria | 3 Days
The time I spent in Austria included some of the best moments of my trip to Europe. A little piece of my heart will always be here!
Day 15: Konigssee & Salt Mines
Right next to Berchtesgaden is Lake Konigssee. Start here and take the ski lift up into the mountains. You’ll have a great view of the little village on the way up and then you’ll pass through clouds! Then take a two-hour boat ride around the lake, listening to the echos of a trumpet and spotting St. Barthalomew’s Church on the floating island. End the day by taking the local bus 840 to the Salt Mines. Go underground and learn all about how salt is made! End the night by riding bus 840 thirty minutes to Salzburg.
Day 16: Sound of Music
Salzburg is famous for being the setting of the hit musical The Sound of Music. This charming city has all of the must-see sights from the movie! While I wandered around on my own, I recommend jumping on a guided tour to see everything from the palace gardens to the famous steps and the church where Maria and the Captain got married. If it’s warm, sign up for a bicycle tour and you can ride all around town!
Day 17: Old Town
Today get up and get ready to explore the heart of the city. Grab a croissant and a cappuccino and then make your way over to the lock & key bridge. You can cross it for a great view of Salzburg and leave your mark on the city. If you want to do some shopping head to Grain Lane, the busiest shopping street in Austria, and then you’ll wind up in the main town square. See the Mozart statue, the cathedral & the entrance to the castle. Ride the lift up to the top to explore the oldest, fully-preserved castle in all of Central Europe! End the night trying some Austrian beer and local cuisine.
Read More: A Weekend Getaway in Salzburg, Austria
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Zurich, Switzerland | 4 Days
This is hands-down the cleanest and prettiest old cities I have ever visited. Lake Zurich is absolutely beautiful and the town that sprawls around it is thriving!
Day 18: Travel Day
This is another semi-long travel day, depending on how much money you’re willing to spend. If you want a bit of luxury and faster time, you can get to Zurich from Salzburg in about 5 hours. Otherwise you’re looking at 7-9 hours by train. Whichever you choose, enjoy your last morning in Austria and then soak up the views as you ride through the countryside all the way to Zurich.
Day 19: Old Town
You can’t come to Zurich without exploring the Old Town! It is a beautiful city, perfect for walking around to all of the sites. Make sure to walk along the lake and explore gardens and local restaurants, hit the Lindt factory and make your way to the river. From here you can loop around both sides of the river and visit beautiful churches, Lindenhof Park, and open plazas. Grab cheese fondue for lunch, it’s famous here! End the evening with a dinner cruise on Lake Zurich.
Day 20: Bernese Oberland
If you know anything about Switzerland, you probably know about the Swiss Alps. If you want to get out in nature and explore this mountain range, head to the Bernese Oberland. The Jungfrau massif is here and it’s filled with snow-capped mountains! Take the cog railway up the mountain for picturesque views of the mountain range. I recommend purchasing a guided tour that will take you all the way up to the ice palace carved into the mountain.
Day 21: Home Bound
It’s your last day in Europe! You probably can’t believe how fast it’s gone by. This whirlwind trip took you through six countries in three weeks, hitting some of the best local sights and leaving you with memories you’ll never forget. Enjoy your last morning in Zurich with a nice brunch and then head off to the airport.
Auf wiedersehen, Europe!