When it comes to diverse culture, history, and scenic landscapes, there’s no place quite like Europe. From the vineyards of rural Tuscany to the vibrant city life of London, Europe has a seemingly endless number of sites that entice travelers from all walks of life. But as a first-time visitor, it can be difficult to know which places to visit. That’s because due to language barriers and ease of getting around, some countries in Europe are more “beginner-friendly” than others.
While every country in Europe has something to offer, there are certain places we want to recommend for your first international trip.
Table of Contents
Which Country is Best for Your First International Trip?
For your first international trip, we recommend visiting England, France, Germany, Greece, or Italy. These destinations are popular amongst international travelers, especially those who have never been abroad before. As such, you can expect plenty of tourist attractions, a variety of accommodation options, and a well-developed infrastructure for foreign visitors.
There are many advantages to each of these countries, which can make planning your trip a little challenging. To help you decide where to go first, let’s explore each of these destinations in more detail.
If it’s your first time traveling abroad, England should be at the top of your bucket list. Not only is the country brimming with history and fascinating sites, but the native language is also English! That means you won’t have to worry about dealing with a language barrier in restaurants, hotels, or anywhere else you visit.
Start your trip in London, England’s buzzing capital city. Here, you can visit iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Eye. Or, hit up the culturally rich neighborhoods of Camden, Marylebone, and Covent Garden for a day of shopping and dining.
After London, you can choose to explore one of the many other unique cities in England. Manchester is a must for sports enthusiasts, while Bristol is a popular destination for art, live music, and nightlife.
And don’t forget about the charming rural villages! There’s nothing like enjoying a cuppa (British slang for tea) in a local pub or garden cafe in the middle of the English countryside.
France is the most visited country in the world – and it’s easy to see why. The historic architecture, stunning scenery, and delectable cuisine are unlike anywhere else on earth. And due to the high number of tourists, France has a well-developed tourism industry that caters to first-time European travelers. So even if you don’t speak French, you won’t have to worry too much about getting around.
No trip to France would be complete without a visit to Paris. This romantic capital has something for every type of traveler. Art lovers will be overwhelmed by the number of world-class museums and galleries, while shoppers will relish the sheer number of fashion boutiques and retail shops.
And history buffs will have dozens of landmarks, monuments, and buildings to admire as well (the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe are two of the most iconic attractions to visit).
But France isn’t just about the glitz and glamour of Paris. You can also enjoy the tranquility of rural Provence, the sun-soaked beaches of the Côte d’Azur, or the majestic castles of Bordeaux. Best of all, the well-connected railway system makes it easy for travelers to visit all of these destinations and more during their trip.
With fairytale-like castles, bustling metropolitan cities, and awe-inspiring scenic landscapes, Germany is an excellent choice for your first international trip.
It’s one of the most powerful countries in Europe, which means English is widely spoken in most major cities (although the outskirts and small towns may be more difficult to get around). The living quality is also relatively high, with a robust education system and top-tier medical facilities.
You can make it a strict city trip by visiting Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, and Munich. Each of these destinations has an array of sights and attractions to entertain anyone interested in history, culture, and art. Or you can choose to visit some of the smaller towns (Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fan favorite) to see a slice of authentic German life.
Germany is also known for its landscapes, especially in the southern part of the country. Go skiing or hiking in the Bavarian Alps or simply enjoy a quiet getaway in the Black Forest. There are also several picturesque lakes within a short drive from Munich, like Königsee or Chiemsee, where you can go swimming or boating in the late spring and summer.
If you’re craving a bit of sun and relaxation, then there’s no better place to go in Europe than Greece. In addition to the beaches on the mainland, Greece is also home to over 6,000 different islands (although only 227 of them are inhabited).
You can’t go wrong with any of them, although Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu are some of the most popular destinations for tourists.
Although most travelers come here for the islands, the mainland of Greece is not to be overlooked. The capital of Athens is a historical treasure chest, with numerous structures and monuments that date back to the 5th century BC. After all, Greece is considered to be the birthplace of western civilization!
However, the best parts of Greece are in the places you’d least expect. Venture away from the main tourist path and immerse yourself in the local life. The charming villages (on the mainland and on the islands) are known for their delicious tavernas, lively squares, and friendly locals.
Many first-time travelers fall in love with Italy the second they step foot in the country. The cities are filled with architectural masterpieces, like the colosseum in Rome or the Duomo in Milan, although the smaller towns are also equally enticing with their narrow alleys and cobblestone piazzas.
And the food! You can’t talk about Italy without mentioning its cuisine. Pasta, pizza, gelato – this country is a gastronomic delight for practically every palette.
The big cities of Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan are must-see stops on your first trip to Italy. While you could easily spend the entire time in the cities themselves, the reliable railway system makes it easy for you to explore the smaller towns in the outskirts too.
Sienna, Bologna, and Verona may not be as well-known as the major cities, although they are worthy competitors in terms of culture, history, and food.
Italy also has a few notable natural attractions if you’re looking for a break from the bustle of city life. Head to the north to spend a weekend on Lake Garda or Lake Como. The Italian Alps are also close by if you’re looking for top-notch skiing or hiking opportunities. If you’re in the south, you can visit the Amalfi Coast for some of the best coastal views of the Mediterranean.
Although this may be your first time to Europe, we know it surely won’t be your last. This continent has something worth exploring around every corner. So get out there and see what this amazing planet has waiting for you!