First Trip to Europe - Travel Tips, Advice & Necessities (5 weeks)

It's my first time travelling in Europe and I'm reaching out to the OzB world for any tips, advice and necessities from your previous experiences.

*I apologise in advance or any/all stupid questions.

Route we plan to travel is as follow: (5 weeks from the start of August)

  • Croatia
  • Venice
  • Rome
  • Florence
  • Nice & Cannes
  • Barcelona
  • San Sebastian - (Flying from San Seb to Berlin)
  • Berlin
  • Amsterdam

I'll be traveling with friends for the first 3 weeks and then alone the last week in Berlin & Amsterdam.

Starting in Croatia, we're on Croatia Sail for the first week and making our way to San Sebastian (3 or so weeks travel), where we will spend a few days before I fly to Berlin and Amsterdam for a week before heading home.

What's the best mode of transport from Croatia to Spain? We're thinking trains at this point in time, so we're able to stop at certain places along the coast and also go inland, time permitting (train thought is due to speed and not having to and waste a full day on buses).

If by train, what's the best way to travel by train? E.g. is it worth getting a pass for the month or individual trips?

I have a portable charger, thanks OzB & Xiaomi! I assume 10,000mAh will be enough for my needs.
Can anyone recommend a decent and inexpensive travel adaptor? Possibly a fast charging one or one with both power and USB?

What necessities would you recommend for the plane & train travel? (Both from Aus & around Europe).

Mainly staying in Hostels to save money, any advice on staying in hostels over there? We're thinking of always getting a double/quad room (there will be 4 of us) so we're able to be a little lenient, obviously not with electronics & expensive items.

Any more tips & advice you can think of would be very helpful!

TLDR - 4 weeks from the start of August around Southern Europe, 1 week in Berlin & Amsterdam. Any advice would be helpful!

Thank you!

Comments

  • +1

    When you will be in San Sebastian,
    Try to go and visit Bilbao and the beautiful museum
    Take the train to France and visit Espelette, CIboure, St Jean de Luz and Bayonne. You can also stop at Biarritz.
    Hendaye is also a beautiful beach in France and makes the border with Spain with Irun and Fontarrabia.

    Have some typical jamon, piquillos and some macarons from Adam, in France.
    Also, in St Jean de Luz, every wednesday there is the "torro de fuego", it's a really nice experience, everyone is outside and have fun.
    I am not sure but St Sebastian is also hosting the international festival of fireworks, so that is also very cool to see.

    Take the train to go at the top of the Rhune Mountain and you can walk to come downstairs, beautiful view across France and Spain.
    Visit as well Pampelune, a beautiful city. Go as well to Getaria and have some tuna fried, it's amazing there.

    And as usual, some tapas restaurant just at the immediate around of the Cathedral in the old city, it's truly amazing.

    Have fun in the Basque Country, one of my favorite place when I was living in France.

    • Thibaultn, great tips.
      I'm from Bidart so I would had it to the list,
      Also, take the train and avoid the RN10 in August!!!!

      • Also, if you are in the Bask country (French or Spanish) drink Sagarno, and go for a Txotx (No RSA there…)
        The one in Ascain is awesome, and the owner is fluent in English

        • That's all good points too !!!
          I am French and lived in the Basque Country. I really miss this place.
          However, going back there for holidays in a month !!!!! ;)

  • Saving money and San Sebastian won't happen, food wise. How much are you budgeting for food per day?

    • I'm assuming San Seb is quite expensive? I've heard very good things and will only be there a couple of days so if it's worth blowing the budget for a night or two there we'll make do! Much like Nice & Cannes, they'll be on the higher end of the budget.

      Haven't broken down the food budget as it'll depend on which country we're in (still trying to lock down specific dates, want to keep it semi open in case we want to move on sooner/later) but somewhere around $40 a day on average, too little or not enough? Obviously there will be some nice dinners and drinks thrown in from time to time.

      • +1

        Good :), as long as you are prepared to splurge a bit when necessary. The whole point of San Sebastian is getting charged way too much for amazing seafood in a stunning place.

  • +2

    https://www.seat61.com/

    This website should answer all you questions regarding trains. All the countries around Croatia are worth a visit.

  • +1

    Pastificio Guerra for a great/authentic cheap pasta lunch in Rome - near the spanish steps - they serve beer and wine in plastic cups alongside your bowl of freshly made pasta.

    • Thanks! Will be sure to check this out.

  • +4

    Keep an eye on your personals. Pick pocketing is rampant across Rome.

  • +2

    https://www.jbhifi.com.au/bose/bose-quietcomfort-35-ii-wirel...

    This is the best advice I have for your travels.

    • Definitely going to grab myself a pair after reading multiple reviews on here. I'll wait for a deal and try snatch up a pair at a decent price, cheers!

    • +1

      You could also look at the Sony ones as well, look for the best deal.

      https://addictedtoaudio.com.au/products/sony-wh-1000xm3-blue...

      Personally I have blockout ear buds, as well, I find them better for sleeping.

      • +1 for the buds.

        I have a headset that works amazingly, but I can't sleep as it's so bulky. The earbuds aren't invisible, but definitely make it easier!

  • Do you have bankwest zero/28 Degrees + Citibank Plus/ING/Macquarie Platinum Debit for you purchasing needs?
    As others have said, NC headphones will be nice for the flight/travelling.
    You don't need a 'travel' charging adaptor, just bring whatever you have and pick up some plugs off ebay or something.
    Bring a 4 or 6 plug power strip for your laptop, headphones etc.

    Have fun!

    • I don't have any of those cards, I'll obviously have to do a little research on them. Which do you recommend?
      I'll try and get a set of NC headphones at a decent price before I head off, so many to choose from but the Bose QC ii's look the goods.
      When you mean plugs I assume you mean something like this? https://www.officeworks.com.au/shop/officeworks/p/outbound-e...
      I'll be sure to bring a board with me, thanks for the idea!
      Cheers!

      • +1

        I've got the Bankwest zero - that's a cc so if you don't want one the Citibank plus/ing/Macquarie are debit cards. I have the Citibank and Macquarie but I think the ing is the best one from what I hear, as it refunds your overseas ATM withdrawals although it has some hoops to jump through.
        Check this out for more info
        And yep that's what I meant. I didn't realise Officeworks sold them so cheap, most places sell them for like $12.

  • +1
    • Thanks, been through a few of these. Just wanted some updated info, advice, must haves/do's/see's etc. for the upcoming trip.

  • Europe, by train, is great but you need the time to travel and flying is often cheaper for long distances. I agree with using the man in seat 61 for travel tips. The time of day you travel can change the cost of the ticket quite dramatically. The Europass is good if you are travelling in expensive countries but less so for cheap ones. When we travelled in Switzerland it saved us a fortune. If you have multiple people you could also look at hiring a car for some parts of the travel, try to hire cars on the outskirts to avoid driving in big cities and there can be extra charges for dropping off in a different place.

    Personally I would look at stopping off in Sienna for a day, it is stunning. Florence needs 2/3 days and pre book the Uffizi. For Rome the hop on/hop off takes you to the major sites but it is a tad crowded and hard to get on. The vatican museums and St Peters are spectacular, go up on the roof. You will be hot so take a water bottle, paying bottled water prices is horrific. The Spanish steps are a dud but the Trevi fountain is worth the trip.

    It is worth looking at air bnb prices; if there are a few of you.

    Look for SIM cards that do multiple countries.

    • Thanks for the info!

      We're thinking trains would be the easiest as we will be definitely stopping in Sienna, Florence, Tuscany, I only put main cities but we'll do some exploring throughout.
      Trying to plan our trip after Croatia from Rome to Barcelona/San Seb following the South Coast, I understand this may be a little difficult especially if we want to stay a few days in certain places, may have to re-think going to Spain, 3 weeks is probably a bit of a rush.
      100% flying from either Barcelona or San Seb to Berlin for the final week of the trip.

      There will be 4 of us so I'll weigh up the costs of an airbnb.

      I'll hunt OzB reviews for an international sim before I head off.

      Thanks!

      • We’re doing Belgium, Netherlands, Paris, Spain, Portugal in June/July so we are currently planning ourselves. Most of our accomodation is Air bnb; but we are a tad beyond hostels :). We will be hiring cars in Spain/Portugal. We, previously, hired a car to do the Tuscany region, it was just an easier way to get around to the various smaller towns. I wouldn’t have a car whilst in the bigger cities, no parking. You will have a fabulous time just be cognisant of exchange rates to ensure you are getting a bargain. There is a saying don’t eat on anything moving or with a view, you will be ripped off. Venice is notorious. Make sure you know the pricing before ordering, there are some horror stories out there. Watch out for scams and pick pockets, they are everywhere. Enjoy.

  • +1

    I’ve been lucky enough to visit Europe three times, once on a Topdeck tour and twice self-organised. The best tips i have are:
    - Make the most of sandemans free walking tours in the cities where they are available. They’re a great way to spend a few hours, get your bearings in a new city, tick off some must sees and also get good tips for bars, restaurants etc. they are free with optional tip at the end, usually 5 or 10 euro is the going rate for a 2-3 hour tour
    - Always carry a water bottle… table water is not free (and often not cheap!) at restaurants like it is here in Aus
    - The wombats hostel in Berlin is fantastic
    - Take the time to visit the museum underneath the murdered Jews of Europe site, it is approx two hours to go through but a worthwhile place to spend time while in Berlin
    - Visit a concentration camp if you have the opportunity to
    - dampkring cafe in amsterdam is a reliable and central often if you’re looking to sample the special local baked goods
    - if you want to visit Anne Frank Huis, book it online in advance or you will not be going at all
    - generally always go at least one street back from the main strips/squares to avoid being completely ripped off for meals, souvenirs etc
    - don’t overpack, there is a H&M or Zara on every corner
    - magnets are a great souvenir to collect in each place due to being cheap and taking up minimal bag space, plus something you will use/look at every day when back at home
    - the catacombs in Rome and Paris are pretty cool
    - flixbus is a super cost effective option for travel between most cities. If you time it right, you can arrive in most places around check in time and then get on with your afternoon
    - google translate app is invaluable for menus when there is not English option available

    • Thank you! I'll be sure to remember these tips when travelling and see if we're able to fit in the flixbus option to save a few dollars.
      Did you book everything before you got to Europe? As in hostels & train/bus tickets. I have heard so many different opinions on pre/post arrival.

      • I like to book as much as I can in advance when I know for sure where I’ll be on what dates, and major attractions that can get booked out / need allocated timeslots.
        There is definitely money to be saved in booking accommodation in advance where possible, prices go up as it gets closer and you also have less options to choose from, so it’s a compounding effect. Consider you will be travelling over the summer, peak season, so may end up in expensive rooms booked at short notice. Also some hostels aren’t even that cheap, if there is a pair or group, sometimes you can get a reasonable hotel for similar price to multiple dorm beds in a hostel. Booking.com is great to compare your options.
        I always try and find accomm relatively close to the central train station in European cities, makes it so easy to get in, out and around the city, plus it’s usually near everything else in the city you’d be looking to see or do. It’s a good point to find on a map when booking accommodation in any unfamiliar city, aside from any major sites you might be looking to stay near for views etc.
        Flixbus is super easy book online or through their app, but I’m sure you could play it a bit by ear and book them at short notice too.
        Another common tip but definitely recommend ING cards for eftpos transactions and cash out with no fees.

        • Also if you do end up using flixbus, double check the stops at the end of the journey when you are booking. Often they will use the central bus terminal, but sometimes they do use more obscure stations slightly away from the centre of the city. It’s usually no big deal with access to metros or worst case an Uber, but worth checking stop options against your accomm address so you can pick the best one and google map any extra transit you might need. Berlin is a good example of this where the flixbus ended at a suburban bus depot, we jumped on the S-Bahn for 15 minutes and popped up right out of the front of Wombats hostel. I guess it’s how they keep their costs down and no big deal, but good to be aware it can happen.

  • +1

    I usually get t shirts as souvenirs. It gives you more clothing as you are travelling and It is a reminder that is also practical. There is also a certain smugness when you can say “well, actually, I bought it in …”.

  • Its your call of course but if starting in Croatia I would think about giving Spain a miss as too far for the allotted time. Maybe instead, spend a little time in the cheaper Eastern countries eg Poland,Czech, Hungary which can be a ball for a lot less and plenty to see. Instead of hostels and making your own meals, better accommodations and eating out. So much cheaper.