I went on a 10 day tour, which was my first time abroad without my family! So exhilarating to get to see a piece of the world that they haven’t seen yet.
I joined a tour with EF Ultimate Break during my sophomore year of college with my best friend! They do endless tour options all over the world, but I decided to see Germany, Italy, Austria, & Switzerland.
I love to travel on my own because I am an obsessive itinerary planner and love to customize everything. But my first trip abroad, and on a budget, I decided to give the tour life a try!
When to go?
I went in late May and it was absolutely beautiful. The crowds were minimal in comparison to the high seasons of June-August, and the weather was ranging from 60-80 degrees (depending on the country).
Tour v. No Tour?
I think it depends on your budget and if you are traveling with someone. I didn’t feel comfortable driving in Europe at 19 so the only other way to see multiple countries would be to take trains or fly, which can add up quick!
I loved this tour group because it was all college age students. I made friends from all over the world and we did a lot of excursions people my age group would do. Also, this tour company gave us soooo much free time so even if the tour doesn’t see everything you want, you still have the time to see it.
What to Pack for Summer in Europe?
I keep a list of all my summer essentials and favorite finds on this guide here. I am constantly updated it after every warm destination – tried, true & tested!
Also, I have a list of my 10 travel essentials I can’t live without, you can read those here!
Day 1: Overnight Flight
Hopefully your flight won’t be as long as mine. Plus I can’t sleep on planes so a red-eye felt extra long. Is anyone else as dorky as me and get too excited to sleep before a vacation?
Day 2: Arrive in Munich
We arrived at 7am in the morning.. yes. 7am. It was a rough first day because the time zone difference from Las Vegas was a whopping NINE HOURS. The entire day will be spent keeping yourself as busy as possible to fight that jet lag!
Spend your free day in Munich seeing street performers, watching surfing competitions at The Eisbachwelle, strolling through the cities English Garden, and enjoy lunch and German beer at the Hofbrauhaus!
End your first day in Germany with a
Beer Garden Biergarten dinner at Zum Flaucher.
Day 3: Neuschwanstein Castle
My favorite day out of the entire trip! This castle is unbelievably breathtaking. The Neuschwanstein (say that ten times fast) Castle is located less than 2 hours from Munich in a town called Hohenschwangau (now say that 20 times fast).
Everything about this town just screams Disneyland. The adorable German Cottages (that people actually live in, oh my gosh!), glistening blue lake, horse and carriage rides, and a real life sleeping beauty castle nestled up on the mountain.
Seriously though, this castle is the real life inspiration of the Disney movie, Sleeping Beauty. When you either walk or take your horse carriage ride to the top, you can take a tour of the castle and walk along the bridge to the castle viewpoint. From the viewpoint you are hanging on a bridge over a river that looks right at the castle and valley behind it. I have no words to explain how pretty this was.
After your castle tour, rent a paddle boat and enjoy the rest of the day on the lake! If you’re going with your significant other, grab picnic items from a local store and have lunch on your private boat. Or if you don’t have a significant other, a bff date will do just fine!
End your night going out to German clubs – which if your from Las Vegas like me, will find hilarious! They’re all like little disco bars where everyone is dancing the night away to old American music.
Day 4: Drive to Venice
There’s no sugar-coating that the drive from Munich to Venice is long and brutal. But, the scenery is out of this world and will make the 6 hour drive go by a lot faster!
On your way into Venice, the perfect pit-stop is Salzburg, Austria. You can see this colorful town filled with cobblestone streets, that is located along a river in the middle of the Austrian Alps!
We stayed in a small beach town outside of the actual island of Venice. I would highly recommend this because you get away from the touristy side of Venice to experience local restaurants and beaches.
End your night indulging in pasta and pizza from the smallest hole in the wall you can find! And don’t forget about Italian gelato on the beach for dessert, because you’re in Italy! You’ve GOT TO have gelato everyday!
Day 5: Venice
The city that’s on everyone’s bucket list, Venice! I’ve dreamed about riding a gondola down the grand canal since, well, forever.
TIP: Dress appropriately for the churches or else you’ll be forced to buy paper ponchos and skirts to wear inside, ha!
Spend your day taking a gondola ride (or two), getting MORE gelato, wine tasting, eating, souvenir shopping, and more eating. Calories don’t count on vacation, right?
TIP: Don’t mix wine tasting and souvenir shopping or else you’ll come home with empty pockets and no room in your suitcase, ha!
Day 6: Drive to Switzerland
Another long drive but it doesn’t count as a drive when you are winding through the Swiss Alps. This is 100% the prettiest drive in the world, don’t @ me.
Before you head into Switzerland though, you will stop in the town where Romeo and Juliette called home – Verona, Italy. Stop for some Italian street food under Romeo and Juliet’s balcony. What better pit-stop than that?!
From Verona to Lucerne, it will be about 4 1/2 hours of pure beauty! You will wind up the mountains passing through tunnels carved into mountains. After every tunnel pass, the scenery will be completely different and even more beautiful.
Check into your hotel and head into town for some dinner. We spent an actual hour hunting down fondue for dinner, apparently fondue isn’t a thing in the summer!? People were making fun of us but who cares! WERE TOURISTS AND WERE PROUD!
Day 7: Switzerland
Today you’ll be getting a little bit of everything. From adventure to beautiful scenery! Take the ferry over lake Lucerne to the gondola entrance for Mt. Pilatus. You’ll take the gondola up 7,000 ft (2132 meters) to get expansive views of the Swiss alps and Lake Lucerne.
I know the weather is unpredictable, but really try to do this on a clear day so you can get unobstructed views from the top! On the way down comes the fun part… the steepest railroad in the world has a seat with your name on it. I promise it doesn’t go too fast and doesn’t feel too old.
TIP: Don’t wear sandals to Mt. Pilatus because at the halfway point, there’s a type of “adventure park” with an alpine slide down the mountain, zip line and rope park. They are very strict at the zip line/rope park and will not let you on if you don’t have closed toe shoes!
Spend the afternoon hunting down some Swiss Chocolate for your loved ones back home, which is also very hard to find. I learned that everything I thought was stereotypical to Switzerland was just that, a stereotype.
Day 8: Drive to Frankfurt
Another day of driving and today’s pit stop will be the charming German village, Heidelberg. Are you all castled-out yet? Of course not! You’ll get to visit another older castle that is home to the world’s largest wine barrel!
Once you arrive in Frankfurt you’ll soon see that it is a big city with lots of nightlife! Spend your night going out the local bars and enjoy one of your last nights in Europe.
Day 9: Frankfurt
We had a free day before our farewell dinner home. Some fun things to do in Frankfurt would be the Museumsufer (a cluster of 12 museums), Frankfurt Cathedral, Romerburg (a square with medieval homes), Palmengarten & more!
Day 10: Fly Home
I can never sleep on planes mostly because I’m always too excited for the destination. I slept the entire 12 hour flight home, so that’s saying something about how “excited” I was to be going home!
Until next time Europe!
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