If you’re wondering what to pack for Europe you’re not alone. We struggled with packing for our first trip to Europe. It took a lot of trial and year, but now I’ve spent 17 months of my life traveling around Europe.
We often get asked by readers what should be on their Europe packing list. I wanted to touch on what is great for traveling all around the continent and items that you should bring regardless of time of year.
What Do You Wear In Europe?
It’s important to determine when and where you will be traveling before you decide what to pack in your suitcase. Don’t forget to take into account seasons in Europe and regional climates. For instance, having a thick down jacket in Mediterranean may be overkill in the winter.
Always be sure to:
Check the forecast before you pack your suitcase!
Many places in Europe can get hot during the summer, only to turn to freezing temperatures in the winter months. Northern Europe can be a bit milder. I’ll never forget to get cold on the streets of London in the middle of their summer. That’s why I always suggest packing in layers and bringing at least one warm weather outfit wherever you go.
Europeans are stylish, so no hiking clothes please unless you want to be pegged as a tourist. Somewhere along the line, the idea came about that backpacking in Europe means you’re some adventurer tackling mountains, not cities. Take that into consideration when you are planning for dinner and night dates out. Find clothes that are versatile, comfortable, and look good.
And don’t forget:
Black is always in season!
I would also always pack a few pairs of shoes for any trip to Europe. Good walking shoes are essential, as well as flip flops if you’re staying in hostels, flats or heels for women, and a pair of loafers or something similar for men. You’ll be walking around cities quite a bit so always take that into consideration.
Don’t Bring This To Europe!
- Tons of Cash: Travel to Europe with enough cash to get you by for a day or so. We don’t recommend you travel with an excessive amount of cash in your luggage. ATM’s are prevalent and often give a flat exchange rate. This saves you the liability of walking around with cash. So, forget the stupid travel wallet and carry a normal one in a front pocket.
- Flashy Jewelry: When you travel anywhere we suggest leaving the valuable jewelry at home. When you do travel with expensive items make sure to save it for special occasions and store in the hotel safe. Sometimes, we store large sums of cash or expensive items in the hotel’s master safe, just ask the front desk.
- Bright Neon Colors: Before I left for my first trip around the world I colored my hair brown to “blend in.” While I was wanting to blend in I still brought hot pink and lime green shirts to Denmark, Germany, and Holland. Needless to say, I stuck out like a sore thumb. Neutral colors work best.
- Sweats and baseball caps: They scream American…and not in a good way.
What’s great about this Europe packing list is that it’s a good base packing list for two weeks in Europe, as well as a fantastic Europe packing list for winter, spring, fall, and summer!
Europe Packing list
Essential Items You Need:
A good pair of comfortable walking shoes is important for getting around European cities. Ever since we lived in New York we’ve been big on walking around cities. Hitting the sidewalk and letting the city unfurl around you is one of the best ways to get familiar with a city in Europe.
I love to throw these women’s walking shoes in my luggage because of their style and comfort. While Cameron loves these boots for men because they look great with any pair of jeans. Check out more of our favorite travel shoes here!
We like to look online and at other travel blogs for inspiration on what to do in Europe. However, sometimes it’s nice to take your eyes off a screen. We always have a Lonely Planet or Rick Steves guide book in our bags.
You will definitely need an adaptor for your electronics while traveling around Europe. We always keep one handy in our carry-on bags, that way we can charge electronics on arrival or in the airport.
The exception is if you’re going to Switzerland where you may need the Type J Adapter.
Backpack or Suitcase:
Whether you’re backpacking around Europe, skiing in the Alps, or traveling for business you will be need something to keep some form of luggage. I travel with the Osprey Farpoint and love it for its durability and ability to zip up into hand luggage. Cameron has converted to a stylish duffel bag and hasn’t looked back since.
Quick Dry Towel:
Quick dry towels are GOLD for traveling, and after five years of traveling around the world, I have learned to never travel without one. For one they are light and fold up small, and two the towels can dry within one hour. We have the Youphoria towel and it works well. This is essential if you are camping or staying anywhere, but hotels where you will be expected to have your own towel. We break down more of the best quick dry towels here.
Camera and memory card:
You’ll want a good travel camera if you’re going on vacation to Europe! I travel with the Fujifilm X-T10 which I love for walking around cities. The camera is lightweight and doesn’t scream HEY LOOK AT ME I’M A TOURIST. I’ve traveled all around Africa and Europe with it and I think the quality is top notch! (Check out our photography). You’ll also want to make sure you have a memory card to store all your photos in. I have a 64 GB memory card since I take lots of photos and video.
Laptop and Hard Drive:
As a blogger, my laptop is my life. It’s one of the few possessions that I own so of course, I travel around Europe with one. I’m a Apple person so naturally, I have a Macbook Pro to get me around. If you’re in the market I’d suggest reading up on our favorite travel laptops. Cameron and I travel with three (yes three)Seagate external hard drives to house all our photos and videos. That may be excessive, but we take a lot of photo and video. Most travelers will just need something simple like a thumb drive for storage.
This is helpful for extending the range of the WiFi in your guesthouse, hotel, or hostel. You’ll never have to fight for hours with WiFi again!Check the price here!
Cliff jumping in Cyprus? Sailing in the Mediterranean? You’ll want some nice beach essentials! Even if it’s not summertime in Europe it never hurts to have a swimsuit in your suitcase. I to travel with both a one piece and a two piece in case I want to be more conservative. Cameron likes these men swim trunks.
No matter the season a rain jacket is never a bad outerwear item to bring.Check out this one on Amazon!
At least one nice outfit:
I would suggest bringing a chic black dress for the ladies and a nice dress shirt and pants for the men. Or Cameron now travels with a tailored suit. Most Europeans are pretty stylish, especially in the cities. You’ll want to make sure you have at least one nice outfits for nights out.
Make sure to bring at least one pair of athletic/hiking clothes to Europe for outdoor activities and to motivate you to work out. A good pair of yoga pants, quick dry shirt, and at least one sports bra for the ladies is ideal. My favorite hiking shoes are the Merrell Moab Ventilators for women and men.
Packable Down Jacket:
This is an essential travel item that everyone should throw in their bag. One of the best packable down jackets is one of the most versatile travel items on the market. When layered it can handle cold winter weather, but it’s also light enough to be worn on a cool evening.
For More Comfort
This one is for the ladies, and I wanted to note. If you’re coming from America the makeup in Europe can be expensive in comparison to prices in the states. My first trip to Europe was almost a year long so I made sure I had enough mascara, eyeliner, and face powder to get me through that year without spending a fortune for my favorite brand.
We’ve suffered through enough red-eye flights to never forget to pack a travel pillow for international flights. My favorite travel pillow is the Cabeau Evolution Pillow, but we break down more of our favorite travel pillows here.
We’ve never ever had a problem with the tap water in Europe, and I hate wasting money and creating waster through plastic water bottles everyday. Our favorite water bottle to travel with is the Lifestraw Go since it filters out bacteria. Here are our reviews on the best travel water bottles.
Packing cubes are great in any backpack or suitcase. They keep all of your clothes and toiletries organized. I’ve had these Eagle Creek cubesfor three years now and think they were worth the investment to stay organized and create space in my luggage.
Small Purse or Passport Holder:
For the women, I suggest traveling with a theft-proof purse that is black and stylish to hold belongings. Cameron has a great passport wallet that holds his passport and credit cards so he never leaves it anywhere, like this one!
These are crucial in getting rest for anyone! Where you’re flying in business class or sleeping in a hostel a good pair of ear plugs will help you sleep.
Sometimes we wander around for hours without eating so we like to travel with a view healthy protein bars to keep full. They’re also great after a run through a city park or when stuck in an airport. Granted airport food is slowly getting better these days!
What to know before your trip to Europe
What’s the best way to travel Europe in 2 weeks?
Europe is a small continent, so it’s very easy to get around. If you are short on time and want to hit a lot of cities and the countryside we would recommend renting a car to get around. If you are only going to a few pre-planned places in Europe then flying is obviously the quickest. RyanAir and EasyJet are budget airlines used to get around Europe so we would recommend checking out Skyscanner for cheap flights.
Train travel in Europe is fast and efficient as well. If you are short on time in Europe the only method of transport we would not recommend are buses. They are a great way to get around but can be slow.
I’m traveling to Europe for the first time, where should I go?
This is a tough question as everywhere in Europe is different. From the food to the landscapes I believe every country has something valuable to offer visitors (Check out where we’ve been in Europe). It is really all about where you have dreamed about going and making it happen. If it’s about prices and flying, I usually try to find the cheapest international flight to get me onto the continent. Once on the continent I know I can easily get where I want to go via train or bus.
What’s the best time to visit Europe on a budget?
Summer and Christmas in Europe are the most popular times of year to visit. I recommend traveling during the off season if you are on a budget. This would be from January to May and from September to November.
Who are the best English speakers in Europe?
Native English speakers like the British, Scots, Welsh, and Irish obviously speak English very well. Outside of those countries, we have found that most Europeans, especially the younger generation, can speak English. However, just about anyone in Scandinavia can speak perfect English.
What are the best city breaks in Europe?
Paris, London, Florence, Dublin, and Berlin are great weekend breaks in Europe. Europe holds some fantastic cities that are great for getaways and offer visitors plenty of restaurants and activities in a foreign country.
Is it worth getting a Eurail pass?
I’ve traveled around Europe with and without a Eurail pass and think they are a great value. Here is a more detailed post about Eurail passes here, but the long story short is Eurail passes are great if you want to visit many places in Europe in a short amount of time. However, if you have the time or you’re traveling in one particular region they may not be a good value.
Is tipping in Europe common?
Depends on the country! While tipping is nowhere near as expected and prevalent as North America, it can be expected in some countries. In many restaurants leaving 10% of the total bill is common in Europe. In countries like Italy, a service charge is automatically applied to your bill. Check out our guide to tipping in Europe!
I’m traveling Europe on a budget, how much per day should I expect to spend?
Spending in Europe depends on your lifestyle and where in Europe you are going. Eastern Europe is cheaper than Western Europe, and virtually all of Europe is cheaper than Scandinavia. If you are being modest with spending and staying in a shared room you can easily get by in many European countries for less than $50/day. If you are eating out and staying in the best hotels then your prices will go up to around $500+ a day. We’ve talked about how much it costs to travel Europe here.
Plan Your Trip to Europe
We rely on a few trusted websites that help save us money and time when booking hotels, flights, and car rentals. Check out some of our preferred partners below:
- Accommodation: We like to use Hotels.com to and make sure we are getting the best possible deal. To feel more at home we use Airbnb. Here is a coupon for your first stay!
- Flights: Compare airlines, dates, and prices all in one place with Skyscanner.
- Train Travel: The best way to travel around Europe in our opinion is by train. You can buy a Eurail Pass check timetables, and purchase individual tickets on Rail Europe.
- Travel Insurance: We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. We ALWAYS travel with travel insurance. Natasha is a bit of a worry wart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads offers incredible flexible and great plans!