Planning my UK and Europe itinerary was both the most fun and most stressful part of my trip. It’s such a privilege to be stressed about picking the best places to visit in Europe! When I left Canada, I had my first month planned in the UK and Europe. After that, I basically mapped my route a couple of weeks beforehand. In the end, it was such a fantastic trip.
It could have gone in a few different directions (I was contemplating Portugal and Spain), but I believe it worked out just as it was meant to. Because if I did go to Spain, I would have missed Lake Bled, and we all know how much of a life highlight that was. So if you’re in the same position and trying to plan a solo journey through Europe, here’s my 10 weeks/13 countries in Europe itinerary.
I will continue to update this post as I publish more on my European adventure.
London to Bristol (five nights)
Firstly, I flew from Vancouver to London. I got a bus directly from London to Bristol, where I spent a few days with my dad’s cousin. I got to see the main Bristol sights, and we visited both Bath and the Cotswolds. This is such a beautiful part of England. I highly recommend you check it out.
Dublin (three nights)
I took a 1.5-hour flight from Bristol to Dublin on a teeny Aer Lingus plane. In Dublin, it was easy for me to get a bus into the city centre and walk five minutes to my hostel. Read my posts below for more information on what I got up to in Dublin.
Where I stayed: Abbey Court Hostel
Cork (three nights)
There are several buses and trains departing daily from Dublin to Cork, but I chose the train for this particularly journey. My hostel was about a 10-minute walk from the station and I found Cork to be a very walkable city. I also did a half day trip to Cobh, which is a 30-minute train ride away. Although a lot of people skip Cork when visiting Ireland, I really enjoyed my time there.
Where I stayed: Sheilas Cork Hostel (probably my least favourite hostel of the trip)
Galway (three nights)
I got a bus from Cork to Galway, which is another compact city you can easily walk around and see most of the best sights in a day. Don’t miss out on doing a Cliffs of Moher day trip while based in Galway too.
Where I stayed: Kinlay Eyre Square Hostel (one of my favourites)
Related post: Cliffs of Moher day trip
Belfast (three nights)
To get from Galway to Belfast without a car, I had to get a bus to Dublin and then another bus to Belfast. It was one of my longer travel days, but I am so glad I visited Belfast. I did a Giant’s Causeway/Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge day tour and a political walking tour in Belfast too, which I booked through Irish Tour Tickets when I arrived.
Where I stayed: Vagabonds Belfast
Glasgow (three nights)
Then it was onto Scotland. Instead of flying, I decided to get a ferry from Belfast to Scotland, and then a bus from the terminal in Cairnryan to Glasgow. It was another long travel day, but the ferry was so comfortable, I’d definitely do it again. I did a Highlands tour with Rabbie Tours while in Glasgow and it was one of the best days of my trip. I basically fell in love with Scotland immediately.
Where I stayed: Euro Hostel (cheap private rooms).
Edinburgh (three nights)
Oh, Edinburgh, how I loved you so. Please add Edinburgh to your UK/Europe itinerary. It’s absolutely beautiful and so walkable. It’s also less than 1.5 hours from Glasgow by bus.
Where I stayed: Budget Backpackers
London (three nights)
I would return to London four times on this trip and I didn’t mind at all. It’s such a fantastic city with so much to do. Even after nearly a week of exploration, I still have plenty of places still on my London bucket list.
Where I stayed: Wombats Hostel
Related post: London at Christmas (a.k.a the best time of year to visit).
Brittany (four nights)
I got the Eurostar from London to Paris, and then the regional train service to Brittany. Stepping off the train into my first non-English speaking country of the trip was both nerve-wracking and exciting. But stepping off a train into Paris is also just magical. I headed to Brittany to visit my mum’s cousin, who lives in a beautiful home in the French countryside. It was every bit as amazing as it sounds. We went for coastal walks, visited the local markets and ate some amazing French food.
Paris (four nights)
Can it even be a Europe itinerary without Paris? I loved the time I spent in Paris. I visited different neighbourhoods every day and ate a variety of pastries every morning. I also think Paris is a great place for solo travellers, as the metro is easy to use, people speak English (even if it’s begrudgingly) and there’s so much to do.
Where I stayed: Le Village Hostel
Brussels (three nights)
Belgium was a surprising addition to my Europe itinerary. So surprising that I visited twice within the month! I decided to get the bus from Paris to Brussels (before getting the bus to Amsterdam) and I am so glad I did. Not only did I stay in one of the nicest guest houses imaginable, I ended up spending most of my time with a couple of girls in my dorm room. We did a day trip to Bruges and it was a very fun weekend. I pretty much exclusively used FlixBus on this trip as well.
Where I stayed: Captaincy Guesthouse
Related post: Things to do in Brussels
Amsterdam (four nights)
When I first visited Amsterdam 10 years ago, I thought it was a wild place. But fast forward a decade and my opinion of Amsterdam has completely changed. Today, I found Amsterdam to be this really beautiful and hip city with friendly locals, amazing architecture and so much good food.
Where I stayed: Generator Amsterdam
Related post: Where and what I ate in Amsterdam
Prague (four nights)
I fell in love with Prague when I first visited, so I knew I wanted to return. I flew with Easyjet from Amsterdam to Prague, which ended up being relatively inexpensive. I also caught up with an Australian friend and a couple I met in Vancouver while in the city. The things I love about Prague include the food, the architecture, the attractions and how cheap everything is. Prague and Zagreb are tied for the cheapest places I visited in Europe.
Where I stayed: Sophie’s Hostel (Highly recommend. Their female dorm was basically an apartment).
Vienna (three nights)
Vienna is another place I had visited on my previous Contiki trip around Europe waaaay back in 2007. It didn’t impress me much back then, but I thought I would give it another go. I got the train from Prague to Vienna, for something different. Guys, Vienna still underwhelms me. It’s expensive and there isn’t a lot to do compared to other European cities. If there’s one thing you do in Vienna, eat one of the bigger-than-your-head schnitzels at Figlmüller. While I was in Vienna, I did do a day trip to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. This was such a great day and a quick journey. I recommend doing a free walking tour around Bratislava. It allowed me to see a lot of the sights in a limited amount of time.
Where I stayed: Wombats – The Naschmarkt
Budapest (four nights)
Another FlixBus ride later, I was in Budapest. It was at the top of my list of places to visit in Europe and it did not disappoint. There’s a surprising amount of attractions in the city. I did two free walking tours and spent an unhealthy amount of time at the Christmas Fair. You must try langos when in Budapest.
Where I stayed: Wombats (again)
Zagreb (two nights)
Another day, another country. I decided to have a bit of a stopover in Zagreb before heading to Slovenia. This was one of my longer bus journeys at five hours. As it turns out, Zagreb is a cool city. It’s cheap and there’s plenty of things to keep you entertained for a day or two. Seeing the rest of Croatia is now high on my bucket list.
Where I stayed: Dots Hostel
Related post: 24 hours in Zagreb
Ljubljana (four nights)
The final new stop and new country on my Europe itinerary was Slovenia. Man, am I glad I visited this stunning country. Firstly, doing a day trip to Lake Bled was one of the best days of my life. Secondly, Ljubljana is a very walkable and pretty city. You probably only need a couple of days in the city to see the major sights too.
Where I stayed: Vila Veselova
From Ljubljana, I flew to Brussels again with WOW Air and stayed at the same guest house for three nights. I then got the Eurostar back to London and spent four more nights there as well, seeing ALL of the Christmas sights. Finally, I headed back to Bristol to pick up the rest of my life (a.k.a my second suitcase) before I flew out of London to Singapore and then home to Australia.
Slow and solo travel around Europe
As I was working part-time on the road, writing for The Culture Trip, I didn’t want to be constantly moving from one place to the next. After doing only three nights in most places around the UK, I decided I needed at least four nights in the places I visited on mainland Europe. This was the best decision for me, as I got to slow down and see a lot more of each city. I was at risk of burning out, which is not what you want when spending over two months in Europe. But I say adapt this Europe itinerary to suit your own personal travel style.
I also skipped Italy and Germany, two popular European countries, as I had visited them 10 years ago. I wanted to focus more on seeing countries in Eastern Europe I hadn’t been to previously, like Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia.
My visual Europe itinerary
Finally, I made this quick Google Map as a reference as well, if you wanted to visualise my Europe itinerary instead. What an experience! I hope this guide helps you decide where to go in Europe. I know just how difficult it can be to choose between Paris and Portugal or Venice and Vienna 😉
• My favourite solo travel destinations around the world
• My top hostelling tips for fellow solo female travellers