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[[Image:Tour_Eiffel_Wikimedia_Commons.jpg|thumb|250px|Eiffel Tower in [[Paris]] ]]
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[http://www.visiteurope.com '''Europe'''] encompasses an area of 10,180,000km² (3,930,000 square miles), stretching from Asia to the Atlantic, and from Africa to the Arctic. European countries welcome more than 480 million international visitors per year, more than half of the global market, and 7 of the 10 most visited countries are European nations.
  
'''Europe''' [http://www.visiteurope.com] encompasses an area of 10,180,000 km<sup>2</sup> (3,930,000 square miles), stretching from Asia to the Atlantic, and from Africa to the Arctic. European countries welcome more than 480 million international visitors per year, more than half of the global market, and 7 of the 10 most visited countries are European nations. It's easy to see why - a well preserved cultural heritage, open borders and efficient infrastructure makes visiting Europe a breeze, and rarely will you have to travel more than a few hours before you can immerse yourself in a new culture, and dive into a different [[List of phrasebooks|phrasebook]]. Although it is the world's smallest continent in land surface area, there are profound differences between the cultures and ways of life in its countries.
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It's easy to see why - a well preserved cultural heritage, open borders and efficient infrastructure makes visiting Europe a breeze, and rarely will you have to travel more than a few hours before you can immerse yourself in a new culture, and dive into a different [[List of phrasebooks|phrasebook]]. Although it is the world's smallest continent in land surface area, there are profound differences between the cultures and ways of life in its countries.
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The eastern border of Europe, for instance, is not well defined. The Caucasus states are sometimes considered part of Asia due to geography, and much of Russia and almost all of Turkey are geographically Asian. The UK, Ireland and Iceland all manage to sneak in.
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Must-visits include [[France]], [[Italy]], [[United Kingdom]], [[Germany]] and [[Spain]]. Don't let your sense of adventure fail you by missing out on [[Scandinavia]], [[Poland]], [[Portugal]], or the tiny microstates of [[Andorra]], [[Lichtenstein]] and [[Luxembourg]].
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Many European countries are members of the European Union (EU), which has its own currency (the Euro) and laws. There are no border controls between signatory countries (only at the outside borders). Note that not all EU members adopted the Schengen Agreement (open borders) or the Euro, and not all countries that adopted Schengen or Euro are European Union members. Confusing? Just wait!
  
 
==Regions==
 
==Regions==
 
Europe consists of a diverse set of countries that each have their own identity, language and culture. Below is a rough grouping of these countries into regions:
 
  
 
{{Regionlist
 
{{Regionlist
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|regionmap=Europe_regions.png
 
|regionmap=Europe_regions.png
 
|regionmaptext=Map of Europe's regions
 
|regionmaptext=Map of Europe's regions
|regionmapsize=500px
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|regionmapsize=upright=3
 
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|region1name=[[Balkans]]
 
|region1name=[[Balkans]]
 
|region1color=#69999f
 
|region1color=#69999f
|region1items=[[Albania]], [[Bosnia and Herzegovina]], [[Bulgaria]], [[Croatia]], [[Republic of Macedonia|Macedonia]], [[Moldova]], [[Montenegro]], [[Romania]], [[Serbia]], [[Turkey]], & [[Greece]]  
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|region1items=[[Albania]], [[Bosnia and Herzegovina]], [[Bulgaria]], [[Croatia]], [[Republic of Macedonia|Macedonia]], [[Moldova]], [[Montenegro]], [[Romania]], [[Kosovo]], and [[Serbia]]
 
|region1description=The Balkans have a rich, though often turbulent, history with wonderful nature, charming multicultural towns, impressive monasteries and citadels dotting the hillsides, mighty mountains sprinkled with a liberal dose of beautiful forests and pleasant lakes.
 
|region1description=The Balkans have a rich, though often turbulent, history with wonderful nature, charming multicultural towns, impressive monasteries and citadels dotting the hillsides, mighty mountains sprinkled with a liberal dose of beautiful forests and pleasant lakes.
 
  
 
|region2name=[[Baltic states]]
 
|region2name=[[Baltic states]]
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|region4items=[[Guernsey]], [[Ireland]], [[Isle of Man]], [[Jersey]], [[United Kingdom]]
 
|region4items=[[Guernsey]], [[Ireland]], [[Isle of Man]], [[Jersey]], [[United Kingdom]]
 
|region4description=Britain is a diverse patchwork of native and immigrant cultures, possessing a fascinating history and dynamic modern culture, both of which remain hugely influential in the wider world. Ireland has rolling landscapes and characteristic customs, traditions and folklore.
 
|region4description=Britain is a diverse patchwork of native and immigrant cultures, possessing a fascinating history and dynamic modern culture, both of which remain hugely influential in the wider world. Ireland has rolling landscapes and characteristic customs, traditions and folklore.
 
|region5name=South [[Caucasus]]
 
|region5color=#ac5c91
 
|region5items=[[Armenia]], [[Azerbaijan]], [[Georgia (country)|Georgia]]
 
|region5description=Caucasus is a mountain range lying between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, considered part of the natural boundary between Europe and Asia. The South Caucasus is a dense, warm, friendly and generally safe travel region. It is better to avoid visiting the frozen conflict zones ([[Nagorno-Karabakh]], [[South Ossetia]] and [[Abkhazia]]). There are some incredibly diverse landscapes and an exceptional wealth of ancient churches, cathedrals and monasteries.
 
  
 
|region6name=[[Central Europe]]
 
|region6name=[[Central Europe]]
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|region7description=The world's most popular tourist destination and geographically one of the most diverse countries of Europe. Some of its tourist attractions include Paris, the French Riviera, the Atlantic beaches, the winter sports resorts of the Alps, the castles of the Loire Valley, Brittany and Normandy, and the rural landscape of the Provence. The country is also known for its gastronomy (particularly wines and cheeses), history, culture and fashion.
 
|region7description=The world's most popular tourist destination and geographically one of the most diverse countries of Europe. Some of its tourist attractions include Paris, the French Riviera, the Atlantic beaches, the winter sports resorts of the Alps, the castles of the Loire Valley, Brittany and Normandy, and the rural landscape of the Provence. The country is also known for its gastronomy (particularly wines and cheeses), history, culture and fashion.
  
|region8name=[[Turkey]] and [[Cyprus]]
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|region8name=[[Greece]], [[Cyprus]] and [[Turkey]]
 
|region8color=#8a84a3
 
|region8color=#8a84a3
 
|region8items=
 
|region8items=
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|region9description=The Iberian countries are great destinations for their rich and unique cultures, lively cities, beautiful countryside and friendly inhabitants.
 
|region9description=The Iberian countries are great destinations for their rich and unique cultures, lively cities, beautiful countryside and friendly inhabitants.
  
|region10name=[[Italian Peninsula]]
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|region10name=[[Italy]]
 
|region10color=#d09440
 
|region10color=#d09440
 
|region10items=[[Italy]], [[Malta]], [[San Marino]], [[Rome/Vatican|Vatican City]]
 
|region10items=[[Italy]], [[Malta]], [[San Marino]], [[Rome/Vatican|Vatican City]]
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|region12items=[[Denmark]], [[Faroe Islands]], [[Norway]], [[Finland]], [[Iceland]], [[Sweden]]
 
|region12items=[[Denmark]], [[Faroe Islands]], [[Norway]], [[Finland]], [[Iceland]], [[Sweden]]
 
|region12description=Spectacular scenery of mountains, lakes, glaciers, geysers, waterfalls and volcanoes. Finland is culturally distinct as it has a language unlike the Scandinavian languages.
 
|region12description=Spectacular scenery of mountains, lakes, glaciers, geysers, waterfalls and volcanoes. Finland is culturally distinct as it has a language unlike the Scandinavian languages.
 
 
}}
 
}}
  
{{seealso|European microstate}}
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==Top cities==
 
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Politically, some countries are a member of the European Union, a supranational and intergovernmental union that aims to integrate the states of Europe in a common political framework.
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How do you choose a few cities to represent a continent full of deep history and profound culture? This will change over time; but here's our "top ten":
However, Europe is a diverse region and countries have varying ideas of potential membership — some with no intention of joining at all. The eastern border of Europe is ill-defined. Parts of Russia, Turkey and the Caucasus are sometimes considered to be a part of [[Asia]] due to culture, history and geography.
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*[[Amsterdam]] — canals, Rembrandt, hashish and red lanterns, the epicentre of liberal attitudes   
 
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==Cities==
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* [[Amsterdam]] — canals, Rembrandt, hashish and red lanterns, the epicentre of liberal attitudes   
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*[[Athens]] - the Acropolis, ancient temples, medieval churches, early modern neoclassical mansions; the birthplace of Western civilization with a history of 3,400 years
 
*[[Athens]] - the Acropolis, ancient temples, medieval churches, early modern neoclassical mansions; the birthplace of Western civilization with a history of 3,400 years
* [[Barcelona]] — Gaudi's cosmopolitan home on Mediterranean coast
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*[[Barcelona]] — Gaudi's cosmopolitan home on Mediterranean coast
* [[Berlin]] — the capital of reunited Germany since 1990, it was divided by force for 45 years during the Cold War and has emerged as a international cultural centre and an area of rapid development since the fall of the Berlin Wall
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*[[Berlin]] — the capital of reunited Germany since 1990, it was divided by force for 45 years during the Cold War and has emerged as a international cultural centre and an area of rapid development since the fall of the Berlin Wall
* [[Budapest]]- The capital of Hungary, with its architecture, cuisine and buzzing nightlife is the 14th most visited place on Earth.River Danube adds to the romantic value of the city. Sometimes called Paris of East
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*[[Istanbul]] — the only major city to span two continents and a fascinating melting pot of East and West
* [[Copenhagen]] - The fairytale city with the old gardens of Tivoli and Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid. Also known for it's royal palaces and new scandinavian cuisine. Scandinavia's coolest capital and most important urban area.
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*[[London]] — Britain's vibrant capital, a true 'global city'
* [[Istanbul]] — the only major city to span two continents and a fascinating melting pot of East and West
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*[[Moscow]] — Europe's largest city is famous for its nightlife and the iconic Kremlin  
* [[London]] — Britain's vibrant and truly multicultural capital
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*[[Paris]] — the capital of romance (and France) on the banks of the Seine
* [[Moscow]] — Europe's largest city is famous for its nightlife and the iconic Kremlin  
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*[[Prague]] — magical city with its renowned bridges spanning the Vltava River
* [[Munich]] — One of Germany´s most popular destinations. Don´t miss the largest beer festival - the Octoberfest
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*[[Rome]] — the eternal city of seven hills and two thousand seven hundred years of history
* [[Paris]] — the capital of romance (and France) on the banks of the Seine
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* [[Prague]] — magical city with its renowned bridges spanning the Vltava River
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* [[Rome]] — the eternal city of seven hills and two thousand seven hundred years of history
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==Other destinations==
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==Other notable destinations==
 
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*'''[[Granada (Spain)#The Alhambra|Alhambra]]''' — part fortress, part palace, part garden, and part government city, a stunning mediaeval complex overlooking the city of [[Granada]] in [[Spain]]
* [[Granada (Spain)#The Alhambra|Alhambra]] — part fortress, part palace, part garden, and part government city, a stunning mediaeval complex overlooking Granada
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*'''[[Alps]]''' — very popular mountain range for skiing/snowboarding and mountaineering, with [[Mont Blanc]] as its highest peak
* [[Alps]] — very popular mountain range for skiing/snowboarding and mountaineering, with [[Mont Blanc]] as its highest peak
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*'''[[Cinque Terre]]''' — a gorgeous national park, which connects five picturesque villages in [[Italy]]
* [[Cinque Terre]] — a gorgeous national park, which connects five picturesque villages
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*'''[[Białowieża National Park]]''' in [[Poland]] — the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once spread across the European Plain
* [[Białowieża National Park]] — the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once spread across the European Plain
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*'''[[Blue Lagoon]]''' — amazing geothermal spa with the water temperature around 40°C all year round, even in [[Iceland]]'s freezing conditions
* [[Blue Lagoon]] — amazing geothermal spa with the water temperature around 40 °C all year round, even in freezing conditions
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*'''[[Meteora]]''' — six [[Greece|Greek]] Orthodox monasteries built on natural sandstone rock pillars
* [[Meteora]] — six Eastern Orthodox monasteries built on natural sandstone rock pillars
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*'''[[Füssen#See|Neuschwanstein Castle]]''' — the well-known fairy-tale castle in the Bavarian Alps in [[Bavaria]]
* [[Füssen#See|Neuschwanstein Castle]] — the well-known fairy-tale castle in the Bavarian Alps in Germany
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*'''[[Plitvice National Park]]''' — beautiful turquoise-coloured lakes surrounded by a large forest complex in [[Croatia]]
* [[Plitvice National Park]] — beautiful turquoise-coloured lakes surrounded by a large forest complex
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*'''[[Stonehenge]]''' — the well-known Neolithic and Bronze Age stone monument located on Salisbury Plain, [[England]]
* [[Stonehenge]] — the well-known Neolithic and Bronze Age stone monument located on Salisbury Plain
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===History===
 
===History===
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[[Image:Giotto%27s_Tower.JPG|thumb|upright=1.7|Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance with an astonishing cultural heritage]]
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The earliest concrete signs of written European culture can be found in [[Greece|Hellenic Greece]]. Homer (c. 800&nbsp;BC), Hesiod (753&nbsp;BC) and Kallinos (728&nbsp;BC) are three of the oldest poets in Europe. The Romans believed that their city was founded in 753&nbsp;BC, while modern archaeologists and historians believe that the area of modern day Rome has been inhabited since at least 1000 to 800&nbsp;BC.
  
[[Image:Giotto%27s_Tower.JPG|300px|thumb|Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance with an astonishing cultural heritage]]
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From 300&nbsp;AD Christianity in Europe started to spread. Around 500 the Roman Empire collapsed, with France at that time coming under the rule of the Merovingians, Spain coming under occupation from [[North Africa|North African]] Berber Muslims and other countries essentially invaded by various barbarian groups. In 714, the Carolingian empire was founded and lasted until 911 occupying large parts of Western Europe. The period after this date is often called the high-middle ages and lasted until around 1300 which saw a shift to urbanisation across Europe, initiating in Western Europe, and gave rise to universities. This was followed by the late middle ages which ended around 1500, giving birth to a period of European history normally referred to as the '''Renaissance''' or the re-birth. The people of this period actively rediscovered classical Greco-Roman culture and it was followed by a reformation of Christianity, with the rise of new sects in Europe, most notably Protestantism.
  
The earliest concrete signs of written European culture can be found in [[Greece|Hellenic Greece]]. Homer (800 B.C.?), Hesiod (753 B.C.) and Kallinos (728 B.C.) are three of the oldest poets in Europe. The Romans believed that their city was founded in 753 B.C. Modern archaeologists and historians believe that the area of modern day Rome has been inhabited since at least 1000 to 800 B.C.
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Between 1492 and 1972 many European nations (like [[Great Britain]], [[Spain]], [[Portugal]], [[Russia]], [[France]] and the [[Netherlands]]) ruled or had ruled over most of the known world, with the exception of parts of [[Asia]], [[Japan]], [[Thailand]] and [[Tibet]]) and [[Antarctica]].  
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[[File:Eu27fancytransparent.png|thumb|The European Union]]
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Europe, prior to the conclusion of World War II, was a region ravaged by large-scale "total war". National leaders realized after World War II that closer socio-economic and political integration was needed to ensure that such tragedies never happened again. Starting with humble beginnings, the EU's first inception was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951. The founding group of nations were [[Belgium]], [[Germany|West Germany]], [[Luxembourg]], [[France]], [[Italy]] and the [[Netherlands]]. Impressed with the results of the union, the six countries pressed on and in 1956 signed the Treaty of Rome, with the ultimate goal of creating a common market — the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1967, the union was formalised further with a the creation of a single European Commission, as well as a Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
  
From 300 A.D. Christianity in Europe started to spread. Around 500 A.D. the Roman Empire collapsed, with France at that time coming under the rule of the Merovingians, Spain coming under occupation from [[North Africa|North African]] Berber Muslims and other countries essentially invaded by various barbarian groups. In 714, the Carolingian empire was founded and lasted until 911 occupying large parts of Western Europe. The period after this date is often called the high-middle ages and lasted until around 1300 which saw a shift to urbanisation across Europe, initiating in Western Europe, and gave rise to universities. This was followed by the late middle ages which ended around 1500, giving birth to a period of European history normally refered to as the '''Renaissance''' or the re-birth. The people of this period actively rediscovered classical Greco-Roman culture and it was followed by a reformation of Christianity, with the rise of new sects in Europe, most notably Protestantism.
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From 1945 to 1990 Western Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain from Eastern Europe. In 1989 protests across Eastern Europe led to primarily non-violent revolutions and in 1991 the Soviet Union was dissolved and the Cold War ended.
  
Between 1492 - 1972 many European nations (like [[Great Britain]], [[Spain]], [[Portugal]], [[Russia]], [[France]] and the [[Netherlands]]) ruled or had ruled over most of the known world, with the exception of [[East Asia]] (Mainland [[China]], [[Japan]] and [[Tibet]]) and parts of [[Antarctica]]. This was called colonialism and was stopped after WWII in favour of a more humane, liberal and cost-effective method called globalism.
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Post-1967, the EU continued to rapidly grow; [[Denmark]], [[Ireland]] and the [[United Kingdom]] joined in 1973. [[Greece]] joined in 1981, [[Spain]] and [[Portugal]] in 1986 and [[Austria]], [[Finland]] and [[Sweden]] in 1995. To date, Norway and Switzerland have resisted membership for historical and economic reasons though both have close relations with the EU. The EU pressed on with economic integration and launched the euro (€) across several nations on 1 Jan 2002. Currently, 18 nations use the euro as their official currency. In addition, San Marino, the Vatican, Monaco, Andorra and Montenegro, which are also not EU members, have been granted official permission to use the euro.
  
[[Image:Eu27fancytransparent.png|thumb|right|The European Union]]
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In 2004, a further 10 countries joined the EU. These were: [[Cyprus]], the [[Czech Republic]], [[Estonia]], [[Hungary]], [[Latvia]], [[Lithuania]], [[Malta]], [[Poland]], [[Slovakia]] and [[Slovenia]]. In 2007, [[Bulgaria]] and [[Romania]] joined; Croatia joined in July 2013, while Albania, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are all official applicants.
 
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Europe, prior to the conclusion of World War II, was a region ravaged by large-scale "total war". National leaders realized after World War II that closer socio-economic and political integration was needed to ensure that such tragedies never happened again. Starting with humble beginnings, the EU's first inception was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951. The founding group of nations were [[Belgium]], [[Germany|West Germany]], [[Luxembourg]], [[France]], [[Italy]] and the [[Netherlands]]. Impressed with the results of the union, the six countries pressed on and in 1956 signed the Treaty of Rome, with the ultimate goal of creating a common market — the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1967, the union was formalised further with a the creation of a single European Commission, as well as a Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
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Post-1967 the EU continued to rapidly grow; [[Denmark]], [[Ireland]] and the [[United Kingdom]] joined in 1973. [[Greece]] joined in 1981, [[Spain]] and [[Portugal]] in 1986 and [[Austria]], [[Finland]] and [[Sweden]] in 1995. To date, Norway and Switzerland have resisted membership for historical and economic reasons. The EU pressed on with economic integration and launched the euro (€) across several nations on 1 January 2002. Currently, 18 nations use the euro as their official currency. In addition, San Marino, the Vatican, Monaco, Andorra and Montenegro, which are also not EU members, have been granted official permission to use the euro.
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In 2004, a further 10 countries joined the EU. These were: [[Cyprus]], the [[Czech Republic]], [[Estonia]], [[Hungary]], [[Latvia]], [[Lithuania]], [[Malta]], [[Poland]], [[Slovakia]] and [[Slovenia]]. In 2007, [[Bulgaria]] and [[Romania]] joined the EU, and as of 2011, Croatia, Iceland, Macedonia, and Turkey are official applicants.
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===Geography===
 
===Geography===
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[[File:Europe map topography en.png|upright=2.2|thumb|Topographical map of Europe]]
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[[Image:Mont_Blanc.JPG|thumb|upright=1.3|[[Mont Blanc]]]]
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Europe makes up the western one fifth of the Eurasian landmass. It's bounded by bodies of water on three sides: the [[Arctic Ocean]] to the north (the [[Nordkapp]] being its most northerly point), the [[Atlantic Ocean]] to the west and the [[Mediterranean Sea]] to the south. The [[Mediterranean Sea]] is a popular beach destination because of its climate. Europe's eastern borders are ill-defined and have been moving eastwards throughout history. Currently, the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian and Black Seas and the Bosporus Strait are considered its eastern frontier, making [[Istanbul]] the only metropolis in the world on two continents. [[Cyprus]] is also considered a part of Europe.
  
Europe makes up the western one fifth of the Eurasian landmass. It's bounded by bodies of water on three sides: the Arctic Ocean to the north (the [[Nordkapp]] being its most northerly point), the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The Mediterranean Sea is a popular beach destination because of its climate. Europe's eastern borders are ill-defined and have been moving eastwards throughout history. Currently, the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian and Black Seas and the Bosporus Strait are considered its eastern frontier, making [[Istanbul]] the only metropolis in the world on two continents. [[Cyprus]] is also considered a part of Europe.
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Europe is a geographically diverse continent. Europe's highest point is Russia's Mt. Elbrus in the [[Caucasus|Caucasus Mountains]], which rises to 5,642m (18,510&nbsp;ft) above sea level. Western Europe's highest point is the [[Mont Blanc]] in the [[Alps]] with 4,810m (15,771&nbsp;ft) above sea level. Other important mountain ranges include the [[Pyrenees]] between France and Spain and the [[Carpathians]] that run through Central Europe to the Balkans. Most regions along the North and Baltic Seas are flat, especially the Low Countries, Northern Germany and Denmark. The coasts of the North and Baltic Seas feature hundreds of miles of sandy beaches and resorts, albeit in colder climates.
  
Europe is a geographically diverse continent. Europe's highest point is Russia's Mt. Elbrus in the [[Caucasus|Caucasus Mountains]], which rises to 5,642 m (18,510 ft) above sea level. Western Europe's highest point is the [[Mont Blanc]] in the [[Alps]] with 4,810 m (15,771 ft) above sea level. Other important mountain ranges include the [[Pyrenees]] between France and Spain and the [[Carpathians]] that run through Central Europe to the Balkans. Most regions along the North and Baltic Seas are flat, especially the Low Countries, Northern Germany and Denmark. The coasts of the North and Baltic Seas feature hundreds of miles of sandy beaches and resorts, albeit in colder climates.
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Europe's longest river is the Volga, which meanders 3,530km (2,193&nbsp;mi) through Russia, and flows into the Caspian Sea. The Danube and the Rhine formed much of the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, and have been important waterways since pre-historic times. The Danube starts in the [[Black Forest]] in Germany and passes through the capital cities [[Vienna]], [[Bratislava]], [[Budapest]], and [[Belgrade]] before emptying in the Black Sea. The Rhine starts in the Swiss Alps and caused the [[Schaffhausen|Rhine Falls]], the largest plain waterfall in Europe. From there, it makes up the French-German border flowing through Western Germany and the Netherlands. Many castles and fortifications have been built along the Rhine, including those of the [[Rhine Valley]].
 
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Europe's longest river is the Volga, which meanders 3,530 km (2,193 mi) through Russia, and flows into the Caspian Sea. The Danube and the Rhine formed much of the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, and have been important waterways since pre-historic times. The Danube starts in the [[Black Forest]] in Germany and passes through the capital cities [[Vienna]], [[Bratislava]], [[Budapest]], and [[Belgrade]] before emptying in the Black Sea. The Rhine starts in the Swiss Alps and caused the [[Schaffhausen|Rhine Falls]], the largest plain waterfall in Europe. From there, it makes up the French-German border border flowing through Western Germany and the Netherlands. Many castles and fortifications have been built along the Rhine, including those of the [[Rhine Valley]].
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===Climate===
 
===Climate===
 
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[[Image:Gelidonia.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|The lighthouse on the Cape Taşlık (Gelidonia), which juts out towards the [[Mediterranean]] south of [[Antalya]]]]
Europe's climate is '''temperate'''. It is milder than other areas of the same latitude (e.g. northeastern U.S.) due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. However, there are profound differences in the climates of different regions. Europe's climate ranges from subtropical near the Mediterranean Sea in the south, to subarctic near the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean in the northern latitudes. Extreme cold temperatures are only found in northern Scandinavia and parts of Russia in the winter.
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Europe's climate is '''temperate'''. It is milder than other areas of the same latitude (e.g. northeastern US) due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. However, there are profound differences in the climates of different regions. Europe's climate ranges from subtropical near the Mediterranean Sea in the south, to subarctic near the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean in the northern latitudes. Extreme cold temperatures are only found in northern Scandinavia and parts of Russia in the winter.
  
 
Average annual precipitation diverges widely in Europe. Most rainfall takes place in the [[Alps]], and in a band along the Adriatic Sea from Slovenia to the west coast of Greece. Other regions with plenty of rainfall include the northwest of Spain, the British Isles and western Norway. [[Bergen]] has the most amount of rainfall in Europe with 235 rainy days a year. Most rain takes place in the summer, due to westerly winds from the Atlantic that hit the British Isles, the Benelux, western Germany, northern France and southwestern Scandinavia.
 
Average annual precipitation diverges widely in Europe. Most rainfall takes place in the [[Alps]], and in a band along the Adriatic Sea from Slovenia to the west coast of Greece. Other regions with plenty of rainfall include the northwest of Spain, the British Isles and western Norway. [[Bergen]] has the most amount of rainfall in Europe with 235 rainy days a year. Most rain takes place in the summer, due to westerly winds from the Atlantic that hit the British Isles, the Benelux, western Germany, northern France and southwestern Scandinavia.
  
The best time to visit Europe is in the summer. In August, the British Isles, Benelux, Germany and northern France have average highs of around 23-24°C, but these temperatures cannot be taken for granted. That's why in the summer many flights go from northern to southern Europe as northerners flee the rain and possible lower than average temperatures. The Mediterranean has the highest amount of sun-hours in Europe, and the highest temperatures. Average temperatures in August are 28°C in [[Barcelona]], 30°C in Rome, 33°C in [[Athens]], 37°C in [[Budapest]] and 39°C in [[Alanya]] along the [[Turkish Riviera]]. A general rule is that the further south and east one goes, the warmer it becomes.
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The best time to visit Europe is in the summer. In August, the British Isles, Benelux, Germany and northern France have average highs of around 23-24°C, but these temperatures cannot be taken for granted. That's why in the summer many flights go from northern to southern Europe as northerners flee the rain and possible lower than average temperatures. The Mediterranean has the highest amount of sun-hours in Europe, and the highest temperatures. Highest average temperatures in August are 26°C in [[Budapest]], 28°C in [[Barcelona]], 30°C in Rome, 33°C in [[Athens]] and 39°C in [[Alanya]] along the [[Turkish Riviera]]. A general rule is that the further south and east one goes, the warmer it becomes.
  
 
Winters are relatively cold in Europe, even in the Mediterranean countries. The only areas with daily highs around 15°C in January are [[Andalucia]] in Spain, some [[Greek Islands]], and the Turkish Riviera. Western Europe has an average of around 4-8°C in January, but temperatures drop below freezing throughout the winter. Regions east of [[Berlin]] have particularly cold temperatures with average highs below freezing. [[Russia]] is an exceptional case as [[Moscow]] and [[Saint Petersburg]] have average highs of -5°C and lows of -10°C in January. Some activities are best done in the winter, such as winter sports in the [[Alps]]. The highest peaks of the Alps have perpetual snow.
 
Winters are relatively cold in Europe, even in the Mediterranean countries. The only areas with daily highs around 15°C in January are [[Andalucia]] in Spain, some [[Greek Islands]], and the Turkish Riviera. Western Europe has an average of around 4-8°C in January, but temperatures drop below freezing throughout the winter. Regions east of [[Berlin]] have particularly cold temperatures with average highs below freezing. [[Russia]] is an exceptional case as [[Moscow]] and [[Saint Petersburg]] have average highs of -5°C and lows of -10°C in January. Some activities are best done in the winter, such as winter sports in the [[Alps]]. The highest peaks of the Alps have perpetual snow.
  
The Network of European Meteorological Services has a useful website [http://meteoalarm.eu/?lang=en_UK] providing up-to-date information for extreme weather, covering most of the EU countries.
+
[http://meteoalarm.eu/?lang=en_UK The Network of European Meteorological Services website] provides up-to-date information for extreme weather, covering most of the EU countries.
  
 
===Countries===
 
===Countries===
 
 
Europe is a continent of many wildly different countries. A subset of these countries are in the slow and painful process of coming together as the '''European Union''' (EU).
 
Europe is a continent of many wildly different countries. A subset of these countries are in the slow and painful process of coming together as the '''European Union''' (EU).
  
Not all EU countries have adopted the '''euro''' (&euro;), the European Union single currency (see [[#Buy|Buy]]), while a few countries outside the EU have adopted it.  Likewise, most &mdash; but not all &mdash; EU members and a few non-EU countries have joined the '''Schengen agreement''', which abolished border controls between them (see [[#Get in|Get in]]).  Here is a handy reference table, up to date as of 2009:
+
Not all EU countries have adopted the '''euro''' (&euro;), the European Union single currency (see [[#Buy|Buy]]), while a few countries outside the EU have adopted it.  Likewise, most &mdash; but not all &mdash; EU members and a few non-EU countries have joined the '''Schengen agreement''', which abolished border controls between them (see [[#Get in|Get in]]).  Here is a handy reference table, up to date as of 2013:
  
{| cellpadding="3" cellspacing="0" style="border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; background-color:  #ddf; text-align: center; " width="600"
+
{| cellpadding="3" cellspacing="0" style="border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; background-color:  #ddf; text-align: center;"
 
|- style="background-color: #ddd"
 
|- style="background-color: #ddd"
 
!width="130" align=left| Country || Symbol || Currency || EU member ||Schengen<br>implemented||Time zone&sup3;||[[Eurail]]||[[Rail_travel_in_Europe#Inter_Rail|InterRail]]
 
!width="130" align=left| Country || Symbol || Currency || EU member ||Schengen<br>implemented||Time zone&sup3;||[[Eurail]]||[[Rail_travel_in_Europe#Inter_Rail|InterRail]]
Line 182: Line 165:
 
|align=left| [[Bulgaria]] || BG, .bg ||BGN||'''2007'''||n||EET||'''y'''||'''y'''
 
|align=left| [[Bulgaria]] || BG, .bg ||BGN||'''2007'''||n||EET||'''y'''||'''y'''
 
|-  
 
|-  
|align=left| [[Croatia]] || HR, .hr ||HRK||n&sup1;||n||CET||'''y'''||'''y'''
+
|align=left| [[Croatia]] || HR, .hr ||HRK||'''2013'''||n||CET||'''y'''||'''y'''
 
|- style="background-color: #f3f3ff"
 
|- style="background-color: #f3f3ff"
 
|align=left| [[Cyprus]] || CY, .cy ||'''EUR'''||'''2004'''||n||CET||n||n
 
|align=left| [[Cyprus]] || CY, .cy ||'''EUR'''||'''2004'''||n||CET||n||n
Line 208: Line 191:
 
|align=left| [[Italy]] || I, .it ||'''EUR'''||'''1958'''||'''y'''||CET||'''y'''||'''y'''
 
|align=left| [[Italy]] || I, .it ||'''EUR'''||'''1958'''||'''y'''||CET||'''y'''||'''y'''
 
|- style="background-color: #d0d0d0"
 
|- style="background-color: #d0d0d0"
|align=left| [[Latvia]] || LV, .lv ||LVL||'''2004'''||'''y'''||EET||n||n
+
|align=left| [[Latvia]] || LV, .lv ||'''EUR'''||'''2004'''||'''y'''||EET||n||n
 
|-  
 
|-  
 
|align=left| [[Liechtenstein]] || FL, .li ||CHF||n||'''y'''||CET||n||n
 
|align=left| [[Liechtenstein]] || FL, .li ||CHF||n||'''y'''||CET||n||n
Line 241: Line 224:
 
|- style="background-color: #f3f3ff"
 
|- style="background-color: #f3f3ff"
 
|align=left| [[Serbia]] || SRB, .rs (.yu)||RSD<sup>2</sup>||n<sup>1</sup>||n||CET||n'''<sup>7</sup>'''||'''y'''
 
|align=left| [[Serbia]] || SRB, .rs (.yu)||RSD<sup>2</sup>||n<sup>1</sup>||n||CET||n'''<sup>7</sup>'''||'''y'''
|-  
+
|- style="background-color: #f3f3ff"
 +
|align=left| &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;''[[Kosovo]]''<sup>6</sup> || RKS, ''none'' ||'''EUR'''||n||n||CET||n'''<sup>7</sup>'''||n
 +
|-
 
|align=left| [[Slovakia]] || SK, .sk ||'''EUR'''||'''2004'''||'''y'''||CET||n||'''y'''
 
|align=left| [[Slovakia]] || SK, .sk ||'''EUR'''||'''2004'''||'''y'''||CET||n||'''y'''
 
|- style="background-color: #f3f3ff"
 
|- style="background-color: #f3f3ff"
Line 268: Line 253:
 
'''<sup>5</sup>''' Officially not a Schengen member, but Schengen visa holders are generally allowed entry.
 
'''<sup>5</sup>''' Officially not a Schengen member, but Schengen visa holders are generally allowed entry.
  
'''<sup>6</sup>''' Independence disputed, claimed by [[Serbia]].
+
'''<sup>6</sup>''' Independence disputed.
  
 
'''<sup>7</sup>''' Certain EuRail passes cover these countries (and only the Germany-Poland pass covers Poland), but the general 21-country pass does '''not'''.
 
'''<sup>7</sup>''' Certain EuRail passes cover these countries (and only the Germany-Poland pass covers Poland), but the general 21-country pass does '''not'''.
  
 
==Get in==
 
==Get in==
 
 
{{infobox|Schengen Area|The following countries are members of the Schengen Area: [[Austria]], [[Belgium]], [[Czech Republic]], [[Denmark]], [[Estonia]], [[Finland]], [[France]], [[Germany]], [[Greece]], [[Hungary]], [[Iceland]], [[Italy]], [[Latvia]], [[Liechtenstein]], [[Lithuania]], [[Luxembourg]], [[Malta]], [[Netherlands]], [[Norway]], [[Poland]], [[Portugal]], [[Slovakia]], [[Slovenia]], [[Spain]], [[Sweden]], and [[Switzerland]].
 
{{infobox|Schengen Area|The following countries are members of the Schengen Area: [[Austria]], [[Belgium]], [[Czech Republic]], [[Denmark]], [[Estonia]], [[Finland]], [[France]], [[Germany]], [[Greece]], [[Hungary]], [[Iceland]], [[Italy]], [[Latvia]], [[Liechtenstein]], [[Lithuania]], [[Luxembourg]], [[Malta]], [[Netherlands]], [[Norway]], [[Poland]], [[Portugal]], [[Slovakia]], [[Slovenia]], [[Spain]], [[Sweden]], and [[Switzerland]].
 
}}
 
}}
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Rules for entering Europe depend on where you are going.  EU/EFTA citizens can travel freely throughout the continent (except [[Russia]], [[Belarus]] and the [[Caucasus]]), so the following applies only to non-EU/EFTA citizens.
 
Rules for entering Europe depend on where you are going.  EU/EFTA citizens can travel freely throughout the continent (except [[Russia]], [[Belarus]] and the [[Caucasus]]), so the following applies only to non-EU/EFTA citizens.
  
If you are entering '''a Schengen country''' ''and'' you plan to visit only other Schengen countries, you need '''only one Schengen visa'''. {{Schengen-visalist}}
+
If you are entering '''a Schengen country''' ''and'' you plan to visit only other Schengen countries, you need '''only one Schengen visa'''. Please see the article [[Travel in the Schengen Zone]] for more information. <br> {{Schengen-visalist}}  
  
The 90 days visa-free stay applies for ''the whole Schengen area'', i.e. it is not 90 days per country as some assume. Citizens of the above countries who wish to travel around Europe for longer than 90 days must apply for a residency permit. This can be done in any Schengen country, but Germany or Italy are recommended, because many other countries require applicants to apply from their home countries.
+
The 90 days visa-free stay applies for ''the whole Schengen area'', i.e. it is not 90 days per country as some assume. Citizens of the above countries who wish to travel around Europe for longer than 90 days must apply for a residency permit. This can be done in any Schengen country, but Germany or Italy are recommended, because many other countries require applicants to apply from their home countries.
  
 
'''Non-Schengen countries''', on the other hand, maintain their own immigration policies. Consult the country article in question for details.  If you wish to visit a non-Schengen country and return to the Schengen area, you will need a multiple-entry visa.  Bulgaria, Romania, Ireland, and the United Kingdom are EU members, but they are not part of the Schengen Area. To add confusion [[Switzerland]], [[Liechtenstein]], [[Iceland]] and [[Norway]] are not EU members but part of the Schengen area.
 
'''Non-Schengen countries''', on the other hand, maintain their own immigration policies. Consult the country article in question for details.  If you wish to visit a non-Schengen country and return to the Schengen area, you will need a multiple-entry visa.  Bulgaria, Romania, Ireland, and the United Kingdom are EU members, but they are not part of the Schengen Area. To add confusion [[Switzerland]], [[Liechtenstein]], [[Iceland]] and [[Norway]] are not EU members but part of the Schengen area.
  
The implications of this are simple: countries in the EU maintain similar customs controls. Therefore, you do not need to pass through customs when travelling to a non-Schengen EU country, but you may need to pass through immigration controls. The converse is true for non-EU Schengen countries: you must pass through customs, but not immigration.
+
The implications of this are simple: countries in the EU maintain similar customs controls. Therefore, you do not need to pass through thorough customs when travelling to a non-Schengen EU country, but you may need to pass through immigration controls. The converse is true for non-EU Schengen countries: you must pass through customs (sometimes twice), but not immigration. If ever customs checks are carried out when travelling between two EU countries, the priority of customs officers in such instances is to prevent prohibited and controlled items (i.e. those that pose a threat to public safety, security and health) from crossing the border. 
  
 
===By plane===
 
===By plane===
 
+
The largest air travel hubs in Europe are, in order, '''[[London]]''' (LON: LCY, LHR, LGW, STN, LTN), '''[[Frankfurt]]''' (FRA, HHN), '''[[Paris]]''' (CDG, ORY), '''[[Madrid]]''' (MAD), '''[[Brussels]]''' (BRU) and '''[[Amsterdam]]''' (AMS) which in turn have connections to practically everywhere in Europe.  However, nearly every European city has direct long-distance flights at least to some destinations elsewhere, and other smaller airports can make sense for specific connections: for example, '''[[Vienna]]''' (VIE) has a very good network of flights to the [[Middle East]] and Eastern Europe, while '''[[Helsinki]]''' (HEL) is the geographically closest place to transfer if coming in from [[East Asia]].
The largest air travel hubs in Europe are, in order, '''[[London]]''' (LON: LCY, LHR, LGW, STN, LTN), '''[[Frankfurt]]''' (FRA, HHN), '''[[Paris]]''' (CDG, ORY), '''[[Madrid]]''' (MAD), and '''[[Amsterdam]]''' (AMS) which in turn have connections to practically everywhere in Europe.  However, nearly every European city has direct long-distance flights at least to some destinations elsewhere, and other smaller airports can make sense for specific connections: for example, '''[[Vienna]]''' (VIE) has a very good network of flights to the [[Middle East]] and Eastern Europe, while '''[[Helsinki]]''' (HEL) is the geographically closest place to transfer if coming in from [[East Asia]].
+
  
 
===By train===
 
===By train===
 
+
The '''[[Trans-Siberian Railway]]''' from [[Beijing]] and [[Vladivostok]] to [[Moscow]] is a classic rail journey. Also after the finalized construction of a railway link between [[Kazakhstan]] and [[China]], the '''[[Silk Road|Historic Silk Road]]''' is becoming increasingly popular with adventurers, trying to beat down a new path, this new [[Almaty]] - [[Urumqi]] service runs twice per week, and Almaty is easily reached from Moscow by train. Other options include several connections to the middle east, offered by the [http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/tcdding/ortadogu_ing.htm Turkish Railways (TCDD)]. There are weekly services from [[Istanbul]] via [[Ankara]] to [[Tehran]] in [[Iran]], and [[Damascus]] in [[Syria]], as well as a sketchy service to [[Baghdad]].
The '''[[Trans-Siberian Railway]]''' from [[Beijing]] and [[Vladivostok]] to [[Moscow]] is a classic rail journey. Also after the finalized construction of a railway link between [[Kazakhstan]] and [[China]], the '''[[Silk Road|Historic Silk Road]]''' is becoming increasingly popular with adventurers, trying to beat down a new path, this new [[Almaty]] - [[Urumqi]] service runs twice per week, and Almaty is easily reached from Moscow by train. Other options include several connections to the middle east, offered by the Turkish Railways (TCDD) [http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/tcdding/ortadogu_ing.htm]. There are weekly services from [[Istanbul]] via [[Ankara]] to [[Tehran]] in [[Iran]], and [[Damascus]] in [[Syria]], as well as a sketchy service to [[Baghdad]].
+
  
 
===By ship===
 
===By ship===
It is still possible, but expensive, to do the classic transatlantic voyage between the United Kingdom and the United States. The easiest option is by the historic, and only remaining Ocean Liner operator, Cunard Line[http://www.cunard.com/], but expect to pay 1000-2000 USD for the cheapest tickets on the 6 day voyage between Southampton and New York done around 10 times per year in each direction. If your pockets are not deep enough for this price range, your only other options of crossing the North Atlantic are pretty much limited to [[Freighter travel]].  
+
It is still possible, but expensive, to do the classic transatlantic voyage between the United Kingdom and the United States. The easiest option is by the historic, and only remaining Ocean Liner operator, [http://www.cunard.com/ Cunard Line], but expect to pay USD1,000-2,000 for the cheapest tickets on the 6 day voyage between Southampton and New York done around 10 times per year in each direction. If your pockets are not deep enough for this price range, your only other options of crossing the North Atlantic are pretty much limited to [[Freighter travel]].  
  
Most major cruise ships that ply the waters of Europe during summer (June - September) also do cruises in [[Latin America]] and [[Southeast Asia]] for the rest of the year. That means those ships have a transatlantic journey twice per year, at low prices when you consider the length of the trip (at least a week). These are often called ''positioning cruises''. [http://www.cruisenetwork.com/msc-transatlantic-cruise.jsp MSC] has several ships from the [[Caribbean]] to Europe at April and May.
+
Most major cruise ships that ply the waters of Europe during summer (June - September) also do cruises in [[Latin America]] and [[Southeast Asia]] for the rest of the year. That means those ships have a transatlantic journey twice per year, at low prices when you consider the length of the trip (at least a week). These are often called ''positioning cruises''. [http://www.cruisenetwork.com/msc-transatlantic-cruise.jsp MSC] has several ships from the [[Caribbean]] to Europe in April and May.
  
 
There are several lines crossing the Mediterranean, the main ports of call in North Africa is [[Tangier]] in [[Morocco]] and [[Tunis]] in [[Tunisia]] (See [[Ferries in  the Mediterranean]] for more details), but there is also a little known option of going via [[Cyprus]] where you can use [http://www.louiscruises.com Louis Cruises] crossings to [[Port Said]] in [[Egypt]] and [[Haifa]] in [[Israel]] as a regular ferry service. Keep in mind though, that you can only do this on routes out of Cyprus, and it requires special arrangements - [http://www.varianostravel.com/Cruises/ferry_service.htm Varianos Travel] in [[Nicosia]] seem to be the only tour agency offering this option.
 
There are several lines crossing the Mediterranean, the main ports of call in North Africa is [[Tangier]] in [[Morocco]] and [[Tunis]] in [[Tunisia]] (See [[Ferries in  the Mediterranean]] for more details), but there is also a little known option of going via [[Cyprus]] where you can use [http://www.louiscruises.com Louis Cruises] crossings to [[Port Said]] in [[Egypt]] and [[Haifa]] in [[Israel]] as a regular ferry service. Keep in mind though, that you can only do this on routes out of Cyprus, and it requires special arrangements - [http://www.varianostravel.com/Cruises/ferry_service.htm Varianos Travel] in [[Nicosia]] seem to be the only tour agency offering this option.
  
 
==Get around==
 
==Get around==
 
+
[[Image:Ryanair.b737.750pix.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost carrier]]
There are virtually no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the '''[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_in_the_European_Union Schengen Agreement]''', except under special circumstances during major events. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen Agreement signatory country is valid in all other countries that signed and implemented the treaty.  Be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen treaty countries are members of the European Union.  See the [[#Countries|table above]] for the current list.
+
There are virtually no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the '''[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_in_the_European_Union Schengen Agreement]''', except under special circumstances during major events. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen Agreement signatory country is valid in all other countries that signed and implemented the treaty.  Be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen treaty countries are members of the European Union.  See the [[#Countries|table above]] for the current list and the article [[Travel in the Schengen Zone]] for more information.
  
 
Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere.  If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear passport control in the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. However, if travelling within the Schengen Area to or from one of the Schengen countries outside the EU, customs controls are '''still''' in place.
 
Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere.  If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear passport control in the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. However, if travelling within the Schengen Area to or from one of the Schengen countries outside the EU, customs controls are '''still''' in place.
  
Travel to and from a Schengen Agreement country to any other country will result in the normal border checks.  Note that, regardless of whether you traveling within Schengen or not, at some airports, airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.
+
Travel to and from a Schengen Agreement country to any other country will result in the normal border checks.  Note that, regardless of whether you travelling within Schengen or not, at some airports, airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.
  
 
As an example of the practical implications on the traveller:
 
As an example of the practical implications on the traveller:
*Travel from Germany to France (both EU, both Schengen): no controls
+
*Travel from Germany to France (both EU, both Schengen): no controls(*)
 
*Travel from Germany to Switzerland (both Schengen, Switzerland ''not'' in EU): customs checks, but no immigration control
 
*Travel from Germany to Switzerland (both Schengen, Switzerland ''not'' in EU): customs checks, but no immigration control
*Travel from France to the United Kingdom (both EU, UK ''not'' in Schengen): immigration control, but no customs check
+
*Travel from France to the United Kingdom (both EU, UK ''not'' in Schengen): immigration control, but no customs check(*)
 
*Travel from Switzerland to the United Kingdom: immigration ''and'' customs checks
 
*Travel from Switzerland to the United Kingdom: immigration ''and'' customs checks
 +
 +
'*Whilst in theory the EU means no customs checks for the movement of goods for trading, you may still encounter customs officers when travelling between two EU countries.  When such happens, their priority is to prevent illegal or controlled items (i.e. items that pose a safety, security, health or environmental risk) from crossing the border. 
  
 
===By train===
 
===By train===
: ''Main article: [[Rail travel in Europe]]''
 
 
 
[[Image:ICE.JPG|thumb|A German high-speed ICE train]]
 
[[Image:ICE.JPG|thumb|A German high-speed ICE train]]
 +
:''Main article: '''[[Rail travel in Europe]]'''''
 +
Especially in Western and Central Europe, the trains are fast, efficient and cost-competitive with flying.  High-speed trains like the Italian Frecciarossa,the French TGV, the German ICE, the Spanish AVE and the cross-border Eurostar and Thalys services speed along at up to 320km/h (200mph) and, when taking into account travel time to the airport and back, are often faster than taking the plane.  The flip side is that tickets bought on the spot can be expensive, although there are good discounts available if you book in advance or take advantage of various deals.  In particular, the [[Inter Rail]] (for Europeans) and [[Eurail]] (for everybody else) passes offer good value if you plan on travelling extensively around Europe (or even a single region) and want more flexibility than cheap plane tickets can offer. Beware, however, that it is necessary to make reservations for all high speed trains in many countries and the number of seats for rail pass holders is very limited, and in addition to having to make these reservations in person at the station in certain countries it is often times difficult to go where you want on high speed train using your pass, especially on the weekends.
  
Especially in Western and Central Europe, the trains are fast, efficient and cost-competitive with flying.  High-speed trains like the Italian Frecciarossa,the French TGV, the German ICE, the Spanish AVE and the cross-border Eurostar and Thalys services speed along at up to 320 km/h (200 mph) and, when taking into account travel time to the airport and back, are often faster than taking the plane. The flip side is that tickets bought on the spot can be expensive, although there are good discounts available if you book in advance or take advantage of various deals.  In particular, the [[Inter Rail]] (for Europeans) and [[Eurail]] (for everybody else) passes offer good value if you plan on traveling extensively around Europe (or even a single region) and want more flexibility than cheap plane tickets can offer.
+
Unfortunately there is no single international on-line source of information, especially one that includes new privately run competitors and pricing. One of the most extensive and reliable train travel planners for Western Europe is [http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en DB German railways].
 
+
The most extensive and most reliable train travel planner for all of Europe is the one belonging to the German railways (DB), which can be found [http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en here] in English.
+
  
 
===By plane===
 
===By plane===
{{infobox|EU Passenger Rights|European Union (EU) Regulation 261/2004 of 17. February 2005[http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air_portal/passenger_rights/index_en.htm] gives certain rights to passenger on all flights, schedule or charter and flights provided as part of a Package Holiday. It only applies to passengers flying from an EU airport by whatever carrier, or from an airport outside the EU to an EU airport on an EU carrier.
+
{{infobox|EU Passenger Rights|European Union (EU) [http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air_portal/passenger_rights/index_en.htm Regulation 261/2004 of 17 Feb 2005] gives certain rights to passenger on all flights, schedule or charter and flights provided as part of a Package Holiday. It only applies to passengers flying from an EU airport by whatever carrier, or from an airport outside the EU to an EU airport on an EU carrier.
  
 
'''Denied Boarding'''
 
'''Denied Boarding'''
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Then you are entitled to a compensation, which is:
 
Then you are entitled to a compensation, which is:
  
* '''€250''' if the flight is '''shorter than 1500 km'''  
+
* '''€250''' if the flight is '''shorter than 1500km (932 mi)'''  
 
:* but '''only €125''' if it is delayed '''less than 2 hours'''
 
:* but '''only €125''' if it is delayed '''less than 2 hours'''
* '''€400''' if the flight is '''between 1500 km and 3500 km'''
+
* '''€400''' if the flight is '''between 1500km (932 mi) and 3500 km (2174 mi)'''
 
:* but '''only €200''' if it is delayed '''less than 3 hours'''
 
:* but '''only €200''' if it is delayed '''less than 3 hours'''
* '''€600''' if the flight is '''longer than 3500 km'''
+
* '''€600''' if the flight is '''longer than 3500km (2174 mi)'''
 
:* but '''only €300''' if it is delayed '''less than 4 hours'''
 
:* but '''only €300''' if it is delayed '''less than 4 hours'''
  
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If your flight is delayed 5 hours or longer you can get a refund of your ticket (with a free flight back to your initial point of departure, when relevant).
 
If your flight is delayed 5 hours or longer you can get a refund of your ticket (with a free flight back to your initial point of departure, when relevant).
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
Like the US, All flights within and from the European Union limit '''liquids, gels and creams''' in carry-on baggage to 100mL (3.4 US Fl Oz) containers, carried in a transparent, zip-lock plastic bag no larger than 1L (33.8 US Oz). The bag must be presented during security checks and only one bag per passenger is permitted.
 
+
All flights within and from the European Union limit '''liquids, gels and creams''' in hand baggage to 100 mL/container, carried in a transparent, zip-lock plastic bag (1L or less). The bag must be presented during security checks and only one bag per passenger is permitted.
+
  
 
====Discount airlines====
 
====Discount airlines====
: ''Main article: [[Discount airlines in Europe]]''
+
: ''Main article: '''[[Discount airlines in Europe]]'''''
 +
Dozens of budget airlines allow very cheap travel around Europe, often much cheaper than the train or even bus fares for the same journey, Currently the cheapest flights are offered by [[Discount_airlines_in_Europe|low cost airlines]] such as AirBerlin, Germanwings, EasyJet, Tuifly, Ryanair and WizzAir. All of these flights should be booked on the internet well in advance, otherwise the price advantage may become non-existent. Always compare prices with major carriers like British Airways, Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa! Only in very few cases prices are higher than €80 on any airline when booking a month or more ahead of time (except on very long routes e.g. Dublin - Istanbul). You should also make sure where the airport is located, since some low cost airlines name very small airports by the next major city, even if the distance is up to two hours drive by bus (eg Ryan- and Wizzair's [[Hahn|Frankfurt-Hahn]], which is not Frankfurt/Main International).
  
Dozens of budget airlines allow very cheap travel around Europe, often much cheaper than the train or even bus fares for the same journey, Currently the cheapest flights are offered by [[Discount_airlines_in_Europe|low cost airlines]] such as AirBerlin, Germanwings, EasyJet, Tuifly, Ryanair and WizzAir. All of these flights should be booked on the internet well in advance, otherwise the price advantage may become non-existent. Always compare prices with major carriers like British Airways, Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa! Only in very few cases prices are higher than € 80 on any airline when booking a month or more ahead of time (except on very long routes e.g. Dublin - Istanbul). You should also make sure where the airport is located, since some low cost airlines name very small airports by the next major city, even if the distance is up to two hours drive by bus (e.g. Ryan- and Wizzair's [[Hahn|Frankfurt-Hahn]], which is not Frankfurt/Main International).
+
===By bus===
 +
For very long distances, travelling by bus may actually be more expensive than travelling by plane. However, bus travel is generally advantageous for shorter trips, trips on short notice, if wish to see the countryside you are travelling through, if you have heavy luggage, or if you are a proponent of [[Ecotourism]]. New bus services are being permitted based on the EU privatization scheme, offering point-to-point services between major cities on new, very comfortable buses with internet connections, reclining seats, etc at very low rates.
  
=== By bus ===
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====Eurolines====
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[http://www.eurolines.com/ Eurolines] connects over 500 destinations, covering the whole of Europe and [[Morocco]]. Eurolines allows travelling from [[Sicily]] to [[Helsinki]] and from [[Casablanca]] to [[Moscow]]. Eurolines buses make very few stops in smaller cities and are generally only viable for travel between large cities.
  
For very long distances, travelling by bus may actually be more expensive than traveling by plane. However, bus travel is generally advantageous for shorter trips, trips on short notice, if wish to see the countryside you are traveling through, if you have heavy luggage, or if you are a proponent of [[Ecotourism]].  Fernbus and some other new bus services are offering point to point service between major cities on new, very comfortable busses with internet connections,reclining seats,etc at very low rates.  
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Eurolines offers several types of passes. Each individual journey must be booked in advance of its departure date/time. That means that, depending on availability, you may or may not be able to simply arrive at the bus terminal and board any available bus. The pass works well for travellers who either prefer only to see major cities, or who intend to use the pass in conjunction with local transport options.
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Pass-holders can travel between the following cities: [[Alicante]], [[Amsterdam]], [[Barcelona]], [[Berlin]], [[Bordeaux]], [[Bratislava]], [[Brno]], [[Brussels]], [[Bucharest]], [[Budapest]], [[Cologne]], [[Copenhagen]], [[Dijon]], [[Dublin]], [[Edinburgh]], [[Florence]], [[Frankfurt]], [[Geneva]], [[Gothenburg]], [[Hamburg]], [[Kaunas]], [[Kosice]], [[Lille]], [[London]], [[Lyon]], [[Madrid]], [[Marseille]], [[Milan]], [[Montpellier]], [[Munich]], [[Nancy]], [[Nantes]], [[Nice]], [[Oslo]], [[Paris]], [[Prague]], [[Rennes]], [[Riga]], [[Rome]], [[Stockholm]], [[Strasbourg]], [[Stuttgart]], [[Toulouse]], [[Tours]], [[Vienna]], [[Venice]], [[Vilnius]] and [[Zurich]].
  
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Through fares are available to destinations on the national networks of some companies, including [http://www.eurolines.de/ '''Touring'''] in Germany and [http://www.nationalexpress.com National Express] in the UK.
  
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====Other long-haul companies====
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* [http://uk.megabus.com '''Megabus'''] - serves various destinations in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Often has the cheapest fares - prices start at GBP/€1.50 if booked far ahead in advance. Through fares are available from continental Europe to destinations on the company's UK domestic network and vice versa.
  
'''Eurolines''' [http://www.eurolines.com/] connects over 500 destinations, covering the whole of Europe and [[Morocco]]. Eurolines allows travelling from [[Sicily]] to [[Helsinki]] and from [[Casablanca]] to [[Moscow]]. Eurolines buses make very few stops in smaller cities, and is generally only viable for travel between large cities.
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* [http://uk.idbus.com/ '''iDBUS'''] - owned by the SNCF, the French state railway company, iDBUS serves various destinations in France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.  
  
Eurolines offers several types of passes [http://www.eurolines-pass.com]. Each individual journey must be booked in advance of its departure date/time. That means that, depending on availability, you may or may not be able simply arrive at the bus terminal and board any available bus. The pass works well for travelers who either prefer only to see major cities, or who intend to use the pass in conjunction with local transportation options.
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* [http://www.polskibus.com/en '''PolskiBus'''] - operates buses from Poland to Berlin, Prague, Bratislava and Vienna.
Pass-holders can travel between the following cities: [[Amsterdam]], [[Madrid]], [[Barcelona]], [[Marseille]], [[Berlin]], [[Milan]], [[Bordeaux]], [[Montpellier]], [[Bratislava]], [[Munich]], [[Brno]], [[Nantes]], [[Brussels]], [[Oslo]], [[Bucharest]], [[Paris]], [[Budapest]], [[Perpignan]], [[Cologne]], [[Prague]], [[Copenhagen]], [[Riga]], [[Dublin]], [[Donegal]], [[Inishowen]],[[Rome]], [[Edinburgh]], [[Siena]], [[Florence]], [[Stockholm]], [[Frankfurt]], [[Strasbourg]], [[Gdansk]], [[Stuttgart]],
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[[Geneva]], [[Tallinn]], [[Gothenburg]], [[Toulouse]], [[Hamburg]], [[Venice]], [[Krakow]], [[Vienna]], [[Lille]],
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[[Vilnius]], [[London]], [[Warsaw]], [[Lyon]], [[Zurich]]
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* [http://www.studentagencybus.com/en '''Student Agency'''] - based in Prague, serves destinations across Europe.
  
'''Touring''' [http://www.eurolines.de/] (German variant of Eurolines), '''Sindbad'''[http://nettur.rst.com.pl/11503/] (Polish), '''Lasta'''[http://www.inishowen.com/Donegal] (from Donegal, Inishowen)''' [http://www.lasta.co.yu/eng/] (from Serbia), '''Linebus''' [http://www.linebus.com] (Spanish) and '''National Express'''[http://www.nationalexpress.com] (from the UK) are other options.
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* Various Eastern European bus companies operate trans-European bus services that are orientated towards Eastern European nationals; many of these companies come and go.
 
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=== By ship ===
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: ''Main articles: [[Baltic Sea ferries]], [[Ferries in the Mediterranean]], [[Ferry routes to British Mainland]]''
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===By ship===
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:''Main articles: '''[[Baltic Sea ferries]], [[Ferries in the Mediterranean]], [[Ferry routes to British Mainland]]'''''
  
The '''Baltic sea''' has several lines running between the major cities (for example [[Gdansk]], [[Stockholm]], [[Helsinki]], [[Tallinn]], [[Riga]] etc). Most ships are very large, parallelling Caribbean cruise liners in size and in service.  
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The '''Baltic sea''' has several lines running between the major cities (for example [[Gdansk]], [[Stockholm]], [[Helsinki]], [[Tallinn]], [[Riga]] etc). Most ships are very large, and parallel Caribbean cruise liners in size and in service.  
  
In the '''Atlantic''', Smyril Line [http://www.smyril-line.com] is the only company sailing to the rather remote North Atlantic islands; [[Iceland]] and the [[Faroe Islands]] It sails from [[Denmark]], which also host numerous lines to Norway and Sweden. From the British isles a huge number of lines still cross the English channel to France, despite the opening of the channel-tunnel. And there are also numerous services to [[Denmark]], the [[Benelux]] and even across the Biscay to [[Spain]]. Further south there is a weekly service from [[Portimão]] to the [[Canary Islands]] via the remote volcanic [[Madeira]] island.
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In the '''Atlantic''', [http://www.smyril-line.com Smyril Line] is the only company sailing to the rather remote North Atlantic islands of [[Iceland]] and the [[Faroe Islands]]. It sails from [[Denmark]], which also host numerous lines to Norway and Sweden. From the British Isles a large number of lines still cross the English Channel to France, despite the opening of the Channel Tunnel. There are also numerous services to [[Denmark]], the [[Benelux]] and even across the Bay of Biscay to [[Spain]]. Further south there is a weekly service from [[Portimão]] to the [[Canary Islands]] via the remote volcanic [[Madeira]] island.
  
In the '''Mediterranean Sea'''  a large number of ferries and cruise ships operate between [[Spain]] [[Italy]] and Southern [[France]]. And across the Italian peninsular ferries also ply across the Adriatic sea to [[Croatia]] and [[Greece]], with [[Bari]] as the main terminal (out of many).   
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In the '''Mediterranean Sea'''  a large number of ferries and cruise ships operate between [[Spain]], [[Italy]] and Southern [[France]]. And across the Italian peninsular ferries also ply across the Adriatic sea to [[Croatia]] and [[Greece]], with [[Bari]] as the main terminal (out of many).   
  
 
And finally '''The Black Sea''' also has several ferries plying across it's waters, albeit service can be fairly sketchy at times. [[Poti]], [[Istanbul]] and [[Sevastopol]] are the main ports, but nearly all the Black Sea ports has a ferry going somewhere, but rarely anywhere logical - i.e. often along the coast.   
 
And finally '''The Black Sea''' also has several ferries plying across it's waters, albeit service can be fairly sketchy at times. [[Poti]], [[Istanbul]] and [[Sevastopol]] are the main ports, but nearly all the Black Sea ports has a ferry going somewhere, but rarely anywhere logical - i.e. often along the coast.   
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There are also various ferries on the larger lakes and for crossing rivers. Furthermore, there are several regularly running cruise-lines on the larger rivers like the [[Rhine]], [[Danube]] and the [[Volga Region|Volga]]. And boating excursions within Europe, particularly along the scenic rivers and between many of the islands in the Mediterranean , are an excellent way to combine travel between locations with an adventure along the way. Accommodations range from very basic to extremely luxurious depending upon the company and class of travel selected. Another famous line is the ''[[Hurtigruten]]'' cruise-ferries which sails all along [[Norway]]'s amazing coastline and fjords.
 
There are also various ferries on the larger lakes and for crossing rivers. Furthermore, there are several regularly running cruise-lines on the larger rivers like the [[Rhine]], [[Danube]] and the [[Volga Region|Volga]]. And boating excursions within Europe, particularly along the scenic rivers and between many of the islands in the Mediterranean , are an excellent way to combine travel between locations with an adventure along the way. Accommodations range from very basic to extremely luxurious depending upon the company and class of travel selected. Another famous line is the ''[[Hurtigruten]]'' cruise-ferries which sails all along [[Norway]]'s amazing coastline and fjords.
  
=== By car ===
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===By car===
 
<div style="float: right;"><gallery widths="50px" width="275px" heights="50px" perrow="3">
 
<div style="float: right;"><gallery widths="50px" width="275px" heights="50px" perrow="3">
Image:Speedlimit.png|Speed limit
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Image:Speedlimit.png|Speed limit (In km/h except in the UK, where it's in mph)
 
Image:Endofspeedlimit.png|End of speed limit
 
Image:Endofspeedlimit.png|End of speed limit
 
Image:Stop.png|Stop
 
Image:Stop.png|Stop
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Image:Prioritystreet.png|Priority Street
 
Image:Prioritystreet.png|Priority Street
 
Image:Prioritystreetend.png|Priority Street ends
 
Image:Prioritystreetend.png|Priority Street ends
Image:Noovertaking.png|No overtaking
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Image:Noovertaking.png|No overtaking/passing
 
Image:Noparking.png|No parking
 
Image:Noparking.png|No parking
 
Image:E55.png|European route
 
Image:E55.png|European route
 
</center></gallery></div>
 
</center></gallery></div>
The ease of driving on the continent varies greatly, and as a general rule east and west of the old iron curtain are two different worlds. Western Europe for the most part have good road conditions and an extensive and well developed highway network, whereas Eastern Europe are still working hard on the great backlog left behind from communist days. During vacations, especially during summer and Christmas vacations, driving on the highways can be hellish, particularly in Germany (listen for the word ''Stau'' in the automated traffic broadcasts).  
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The ease of driving on the continent varies greatly, and as a general rule east and west of the old iron curtain are two different worlds. Western European countries for the most part have good road conditions and extensive and well developed highway networks, whereas Eastern European countries are still working hard on the great backlog left behind from communist days. During vacations, especially during summer and Christmas vacations, driving on the highways can be hellish, particularly in Germany (listen for the word ''Stau'' = traffic jam in the automated traffic broadcasts).  
  
==== Road rules ====
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====Road rules====
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[[File:Europabruecke von osten tiny.jpg| thumb|Europabrücke (Europe's bridge)is a 777m (2,549.2&nbsp;ft) long bridge spanning the Wipp valley just south of [[Innsbruck]], [[Austria]].]]
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There are no uniform speed limits across the union, the fabled limitless German autobahn is now limited to mostly rural sections. The majority of '''motorways/freeways''' have a 110-130km/h (70-80mph) speed limit, while the limit on undivided highways varies between 80 and 100km/h (50-65mph). For North Americans, a major difference is the left lane on highways where traffic drives on the right, which are not the "fast lane" you're used to, but rather the "passing lane" and it's illegal to overtake on the right, so you should only occupy the outer lane when you are overtaking someone; stay there, and you will have other vehicles tailgating while flashing their lights in annoyance and traffic police eager to fine you. Remember to use turn signals when changing lanes.
  
There are no uniform speed limits across the union, the fabled limitless German autobahn is now limited to mostly rural sections. The majority of '''motorways/freeways''' have a 110-130 kph (70-80 mph) speed limit, while the limit on undivided highways varies between 80 and 100 km/h (50-65 mph). For North Americans, a major difference is the left lane on highways, which are not the "fast lane" you're used to, but rather the "passing lane", it's illegal to overtake on the right, so you should only occupy the outer lane when you are overtaking someone; stay there, and you will have other vehicles tailgating while flashing their lights in annoyance and traffic police eager to fine you. Remember to use turn signals when changing lanes.
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Except for priority streets (check the symbol in the table) there is a general duty to give way to traffic from your right in crossings and intersections that are not marked, and other drivers have every expectation you adhere to this. This also applies to unmarked T-intersections, unlike in North America where the ending road should normally yield to the through road even if unmarked. But in the ubiquitous roundabouts (circles) you find everywhere across the continent, cars already in the circle have the right of way when indicated by triangular give way signs aimed at drivers approaching the roundabout (check the symbol in the table), this is practically always the case. Remember to indicate when you're leaving a roundabout. Don't do right turns on red lights (unless the light features a green right arrow sign, in which case right turns on red are permitted), it's illegal, and because it's not common practice, also dangerous. Bicycles have the same status as cars, though this may vary a bit per country, a cyclist coming from the right for example has right of way.
 
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Except for priority streets (check the symbol in the table) there is a general duty to give way to traffic from your right in crossings and intersections that are not marked, and other drivers have every expectation you adhere to this. This also applies to unmarked T-intersections, unlike in North America where the ending road should normally yield to the through road even if unmarked. But in the ubiquitous roundabouts (circles) you find everywhere across the continent, cars already in the circle always have the right of way, don't give way to incoming drivers while in the roundabout, or you will mess up the system, potentially causing some nasty accidents. Finally, don't do right turns on red lights (unless the light features a green right arrow sign, in which case right turns on red are permitted), it's illegal, and because it's not common practice, also dangerous.
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Markings and signs are similar throughout Europe but variations in design and interpretations exist so it may be very practical to research each country individually before you travel  
 
Markings and signs are similar throughout Europe but variations in design and interpretations exist so it may be very practical to research each country individually before you travel  
  
'''Avoid large cities''' if you are not used to driving in Europe. Most city centres were built long before the introduction of the auto-mobile, and were not meant to cope with the levels of traffic common these days. So for the most part it may be a slow, frustrating and potentially dangerous experience, and even then, finding a parking spot can potentially take a long time and cost an arm and a leg when you find it. Streets in the old city centres also tend to be very narrow and difficult to drive on. In addition, Instead Park at the outskirts of town, where it is often free, and use the, usually extensive public transit system instead. If you are renting, try to work around having a car while visiting large cities.  
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'''Avoid large cities''', for example [[London]], [[Paris]], [[Rome]], [[Athens]], [[Belgrade]] and [[Moscow]], if you are not used to driving in Europe. Their centres were built long before the introduction of the automobile, and were not meant to cope with the levels of traffic common these days. The streets are often narrow and difficult to drive on. So for the most part it may be a slow, frustrating and potentially dangerous experience, and even then, finding a parking spot can potentially take a long time and cost an arm and a leg when you find it. Instead, park at the outskirts of town, where it is often free, and use the typically extensive and efficient public transit system to reach the centre. In some cities, there are good parking spaces near major public transport stations marked P+R or Park and Ride for free or a symbolic price when you have a valid public transport ticket (however they are also often full during work hours). If you are renting, try to work around having a car while visiting large cities.
  
 
* '''Age''': Almost everywhere, especially in the EU, you need to be 18 years old to drive, even supervised, and in countries with Learning schemes, it's usually an exhaustive procedure to get a permit, and rarely applicable to foreign citizens anyway. Exceptions include Portugal, Ireland and the UK.
 
* '''Age''': Almost everywhere, especially in the EU, you need to be 18 years old to drive, even supervised, and in countries with Learning schemes, it's usually an exhaustive procedure to get a permit, and rarely applicable to foreign citizens anyway. Exceptions include Portugal, Ireland and the UK.
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** A black and white, 1-3 letter country identity sticker is compulsory for cars without EU license plates.  
 
** A black and white, 1-3 letter country identity sticker is compulsory for cars without EU license plates.  
 
** International driving permit, while it's not compulsory for certain nationalities in some European countries, it's cheap, and could potentially save you from nasty incidents with authorities.
 
** International driving permit, while it's not compulsory for certain nationalities in some European countries, it's cheap, and could potentially save you from nasty incidents with authorities.
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** A vignette is required for highways in some countries; this is usually marked on border crossings but NOT on entrance ramps
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** If you want to cross a border with a borrowed car, in most countries you need to have a written consent with you. This applies to rented cars as well as cars borrowed from your friend if that friend is not travelling with you.
 
* '''Safety'''
 
* '''Safety'''
 
** Most european countries require all passengers to wear seat belts at all times.
 
** Most european countries require all passengers to wear seat belts at all times.
 
** In many countries children under 12 years of age have to use a child safety seat.
 
** In many countries children under 12 years of age have to use a child safety seat.
  
If you plan on '''renting a car''' for driving across Europe, it often makes sense to check the rates in different countries rather than just hire a car in the country of arrival. The price differences can be very substantial for longer rentals, to an extent where it can make sense to adjust your travel plans accordingly. I.e. if you plan on travelling around Scandinavia by car, it will often be much cheaper to fly into Germany and rent a car there. Compared to North America, you should be prepared for smaller, but more efficient cars, and most of them have manual transmission, so don't expect an automatic without requesting one while placing your order (and often paying extra).  
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If you plan on '''renting a car''' for driving across Europe, it often makes sense to check the rates in different countries rather than just hire a car in the country of arrival. The price differences can be very substantial for longer rentals, to an extent where it can make sense to adjust your travel plans accordingly. I.e. if you plan on travelling around Scandinavia by car, it will often be much cheaper to fly into Germany and rent a car there. Beware that you usually need a written consent before you can cross a border with a rented car and some rental companies do not provide that (and their insurance is not valid abroad!) while others charge extra. Compared to North America, you should be prepared for smaller but more efficient cars, and most of them have manual transmission, so don't expect an automatic without requesting one while placing your order (and often paying extra).  
  
In any case driving in Europe is an '''expensive''' proposition, gas prices hovers around €1.30-1.50 per litre ($7-8 per US gallon) in much of Europe, while often somewhat cheaper in Russia. Rentals are around 2-3 more expensive than in North America. Highway tolls are very common, city centre congestion charges increasingly so, and even parking can work up to €50 ($70) per day in the most expensive cities. Driving can be an enjoyable and feasible way to see the countryside and smaller cities, but most Europeans would find a vacation to say, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, in a rented car completely laughable.
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In any case driving in Europe is an '''expensive''' proposition, gas prices hover around €1.30-1.80 per litre (USD7-8 per US gallon) in much of Europe, while often somewhat cheaper in Russia. Rentals are around 2-3 more expensive than in North America. Highway tolls are very common and a variety of systems is being used, city centre congestion charges increasingly so, and even parking can work up to €50 (USD70) per day in the most expensive cities. Driving can be an enjoyable and feasible way to see the countryside and smaller cities, but most Europeans would find a vacation to say, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, in a rented car completely laughable.
  
 
==== By bike ====
 
==== By bike ====
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European cycle route network [http://www.eurovelo.org/routes/ '''Eurovelo'''] consists of 14 routes linking virtually every country on the continent. Some of these routes are not finished yet, plan is to have 60,000 km of bike lanes, now around 45,000 is in place.
  
European cycle route network '''Eurovelo''' [http://www.eurovelo.org/routes/] consists of 14 routes linking virtually every country on the continent. Some of these routes are not finished yet, plan is to have 60,000 km of bike lanes, now around 45,000 is in place.
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[http://www.eurovelo6.org/ '''Eurovelo 6'''] - Rivers Route.
 
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'''Eurovelo 6''' [http://www.eurovelo6.org/] - Rivers Route.
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==== By thumb ====
 
==== By thumb ====
 
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[[Image:Bernhard_Hitch.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|Liftplaats at Prins Bernardplein]]
 
[[Hitchhiking]] is a common way of travelling in some parts of Europe, especially in former eastern bloc countries. It can be a pleasant way to meet lots of people, and to travel without spending too many euros. Don't forget to check out the [[tips for hitchhiking]].
 
[[Hitchhiking]] is a common way of travelling in some parts of Europe, especially in former eastern bloc countries. It can be a pleasant way to meet lots of people, and to travel without spending too many euros. Don't forget to check out the [[tips for hitchhiking]].
  
Note that in the former eastern bloc, you may run into language problems while hitchhiking, especially if you speak only English. It is not advisable to hitchhike in former Yugoslavia, for example between Croatia and Serbia, because you could run into big problems with nationalists. Between Croatia and Slovenia it's usually not a problem. In Moldova and Ukraine, it's better to take train or bus. In western Europe, especially in the Netherlands and Germany, it's easy and fast to hitch-hike.
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Note that in the former Eastern bloc, you may run into language problems while hitchhiking, especially if you speak only English. It is not advisable to hitchhike in former Yugoslavia, for example between Croatia and Serbia, because you could run into big problems with nationalists. Between Croatia and Slovenia it's usually not a problem. In Moldova, Romania and Ukraine, hitchhiking is a common way of transport (you might even have to queue up). It's easier to take train or bus because of the low rates and the fact that drivers usually expect to be paid. In Western Europe, especially in the Netherlands and Germany, it's highly uncommon (the Dutch and many German county governments issue free public transport to students enrolled in local universities) but easy and fast to hitchhike. In most countries it is forbidden to hitchhike on highways.
  
 
==Talk==
 
==Talk==
English proficiency varies greatly across the continent, but tends to increase the further north you get, in the [[Benelux]] and particularly [[Scandinavia]] most everyone is able to communicate in English with varying degrees of fluency, while in the south and east you'll often be out of luck, especially outside major cities. German-speaking areas are also good bets. Speaking one of the Romance languages will likely help you a great deal in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Romania, while the same is true if you speak one of the Slavic languages in the East.
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English proficiency varies greatly across the continent. In the [[United Kingdom]], [[Ireland]], [[Gibraltar]], [[Cyprus]], [[Malta]], the [[Netherlands]] and [[Scandinavia]], nearly everyone is able to communicate in English with varying degrees of fluency. German-speaking areas (particularly in [[Austria]], [[German]] provinces of [[Switzerland]] and the former West Germany) and the [[Flanders]] region of [[Belgium]] are also good bets for English, though you may need to bear with heavy accents. Outside these areas, English proficiency will primarily be a function of age, educational attainment (i.e. those who are currently studying at or have recently graduated from university will likely be more proficient), proximity to the city centre and whether they work in tourism-related industries.
  
If you need assistance, look for someone young, under the age of 40 or even better under the age of 30, as this greatly increases your chances of locating an English speaker, although in Scandinavia English is spoken by nearly everyone regardless of age, and many older German,- or Dutch speakers know some English as well. Alternatively hotel staff can be another option, especially in areas where few locals speak English, even if you don't stay at their hotel.
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A bit of German and Russian may be known by older generation of people who grew-up in the former Eastern Bloc. If you can read German reasonably well, you may also be able to understand the writings in Dutch and Scandinavian languages.
  
Hiring a tour guide will also help you overcome the language barrier so arrange for one while preparing a trip, especially if you're travelling in groups.
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Speaking or reading Latin or one of the Romance languages will likely help you a great deal in [[Portugal]], [[Spain]], [[France]], [[Italy]] and [[Romania]], while the same is true if you speak one of the Slavic languages in the East. 
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If you need assistance, look for someone young, under the age of 40 or even better under the age of 30, as this greatly increases your chances of locating an English speaker, although in Scandinavia English is spoken by nearly everyone regardless of age, and many older German and Dutch speakers know some English as well. Alternatively, hotel staff can be another option, especially in areas where few locals speak English, even if you don't stay at their hotel.
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Hiring a tour guide will also help you overcome the language barrier so arrange for one while preparing a trip, especially if you're travelling in groups and visiting far flung rural areas where English or your preferred language will be more unlikely to be understood.
  
 
==See==
 
==See==
The all too common concept of trying to "do Europe" is pretty unrealistic, and will most likely, if not ruin your trip, then at least make it less enjoyable. While it ''is'' true that Europe is compact and easy to get around with efficient infrastructure set up everywhere, as previously mentioned, it also has more preserved history packed into it than virtually anywhere else. There are more than 400 world heritage sites on the continent, and that is just the very tip of the iceberg. So instead of running a mad dash through Europe in an attempt to get the ritual photos of you in front of the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben etc. over and done with, the key is prioritise, pick 2-3 sights you really want to see per week, and plan a route from that, there are likely to be some amazing, world class sights and attractions, that you haven't even thought about, somewhere in between two given cities, and finding those will - in all likelihood - be infinitely more rewarding than following the beaten down post card route.  
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The all too common concept of trying to "do Europe" is pretty unrealistic, and might make it less enjoyable for some. While it ''is'' true that Europe is compact and easy to get around with efficient infrastructure set up everywhere, as previously mentioned, it also has more preserved history packed into it than virtually anywhere else. There are more than 400 world heritage sites on the continent, and that is just the very tip of the iceberg. So, depending on your travel style, you might consider foregoing the mad dash through Europe in an attempt to get the ritual photos of you in front of the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben etc. over and done with. The key is to prioritize, pick 2-3 sights you really want to see per week, and plan a route from that. There are likely to be some amazing, world class sights and attractions that you haven't even thought about somewhere in between two given cities, and finding those will be infinitely more rewarding than following the beaten down post card route if that's what you prefer. Use your best judgment.  
  
 
===Historical and cultural attractions===
 
===Historical and cultural attractions===
 
 
Europe was home to some of the world's most advanced civilisations, which has led to an astonishing cultural heritage today. '''Ancient Greece''' has been credited with the foundation of Western culture, and has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and arts of the European continent. Ancient Greek structures are scattered over [[Greece]] and [[Turkey]], including [[Delphi]], [[Olympia (Greece)|Olympia]], [[Sparta]], [[Ephesus]], [[Lycia]] and of course the '''Parthenon''' in [[Athens]].
 
Europe was home to some of the world's most advanced civilisations, which has led to an astonishing cultural heritage today. '''Ancient Greece''' has been credited with the foundation of Western culture, and has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and arts of the European continent. Ancient Greek structures are scattered over [[Greece]] and [[Turkey]], including [[Delphi]], [[Olympia (Greece)|Olympia]], [[Sparta]], [[Ephesus]], [[Lycia]] and of course the '''Parthenon''' in [[Athens]].
  
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* [[Cruising the Baltic Sea]]
 
* [[Cruising the Baltic Sea]]
  
== Do ==
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==Do==
=== Music ===
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Despite an ever growing competition from the United States and nations with new found wealth, Europe is still the spiritual home of classical music and Opera, and the various European capitals are home to some amazing 'old world' opera houses, where the hundreds of years of history, often enhances the experience into something otherworldly. But if opera singers give you a headache, and you would much rather head-bang, fear not, Europe has more music festivals than your liver will ever hold up to; the '''Roskilde Festival''' [http://www.roskilde-festival.dk] in [[Roskilde]], '''Sziget fesztivál''' [http://www.sziget.hu/fesztival/?language=en] in [[Budapest/Buda|Budapest]] and finally reigning champion '''Glastonbury''' [http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/] weighing in at 195.000 drunk souls, are widely considered the 3 big ones, but many other ones are not the slightest bit small. Alternatively, there is the revival '''Woodstock''' festival in Poland, [http://www.en.wosp.org.pl/] while it doesn't boast the star-studded line-up of some commercial festivals, is great for those who want to do it on the cheap (there is no ticket to buy) and attracted 700,000 music fans in 2011.
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=== Sports ===
+
===Music===
Perhaps no other field has seen stronger European integration than sports, most '''professional sports''' has Europe wide leagues in place, and nearly every sport has a bi-annual European Championship.
+
Despite an ever growing competition from the United States and nations with new found wealth, Europe is still the spiritual home of classical music and Opera, and the various European capitals are home to some amazing 'old world' opera houses, where the hundreds of years of history, often enhances the experience into something otherworldly. But if opera singers give you a headache, and you would much rather head-bang, fear not, Europe has more music festivals than your liver will ever hold up to; the [http://www.roskilde-festival.dk Roskilde Festival] in [[Roskilde]], the [http://www.sziget.hu/fesztival/?language=en Sziget fesztivál] in [[Budapest/Buda|Budapest]] and, finally, the reigning champion [http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/ Glastonbury] in [[England]] weighing in at 195,000 drunk souls, are widely considered the 3 big ones, but many other ones are not the slightest bit small. Alternatively, there is the revival festival in Poland, [http://www.en.wosp.org.pl/ Woodstock] while it doesn't boast the star-studded line-up of some commercial festivals, is great for those who want to do it on the cheap (there is no ticket to buy) and attracted 700,000 music fans in 2011.
* '''Football''' If you are already a football fan the game hardly gets any better than watching your favourite team battle it out against the world's greatest football clubs in the ''Champions League'' [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/ucl] or the ''Europa League'' [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/]. Games in the pan European leagues usually takes place mid-week to allow for games in the national leagues to take place during the weekend. For the popular teams the tickets are often sold out weeks in advance.
+
* '''Basketball''' The pan European ''Euroleague'' [http://www.euroleague.net/] is the highest tier of professional basketball in Europe, featuring teams from 18 different European countries and some of the best basketball you'll find outside the NBA. The regular season runs Oct-Jan and play-offs takes place between Jan-May.
+
* '''Handball''' Also sees a annual pan European tournament, the ''Champions League'' [http://www.ehfcl.com/] taking place every year. While the sport is little known outside Europe, it's one of the most popular sports on the continent. Two teams with seven players each pass and bounce a ball to throw it into the football-style goal of the opposing team.
+
* '''Cycling''' Is another sport the enjoys much wider popularity in Europe, than virtually the rest of the world. Hundreds of competitions takes place every year, but the 3 unrivalled events of the year is the ''Tour'' de France [http://www.letour.fr], the ''Giro'' d'Italia [http://www.ilgiroditalia.it/] and the ''Vuelta'' a España [http://www.lavuelta.com/], where thousands of thousands of spectators line up along the often hundred kilometre plus routes. The whole season is managed in a league like format called the ''Protour'' [http://www.uciprotour.com].
+
  
==== Skiing & Snowboarding ====
+
===Sports===
 +
Perhaps no other field has seen stronger European integration than sports, most '''professional sports''' have Europe wide leagues in place, and nearly every sport has a bi-annual European Championship.
 +
* '''Football''' (always means soccer in Europe) If you are already a football fan the game hardly gets any better than watching your favourite team battle it out against the world's greatest football clubs in the [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/ucl ''Champions League''] or the [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/ ''Europa League'']. Football fans gather together in pubs or at home to watch the games, often wearing scarves of their favourite teams. Games in the pan European leagues usually takes place mid-week to allow for games in the national leagues to take place during the weekend. For the popular teams the tickets are often sold out weeks in advance.
 +
* '''Basketball''' The pan European [http://www.euroleague.net/ ''Euroleague''] is the highest tier of professional basketball in Europe, featuring teams from 18 different European countries and some of the best basketball you'll find outside the NBA. The regular season runs Oct-Jan and play-offs takes place between Jan-May.
 +
* '''Handball''' Also sees a annual pan European tournament, the  [http://www.ehfcl.com/ ''Champions League''] taking place every year. While the sport is little known outside Europe, it's one of the most popular sports on the continent. Two teams with seven players each pass and bounce a ball to throw it into the football-style goal of the opposing team.
 +
* '''Cycling''' Is another sport the enjoys much wider popularity in Europe, than virtually the rest of the world. [[File:Parapanoramic.jpg|thumb|upright=1.8|paragliders view in Praia a Mare, Italy]]Hundreds of competitions takes place every year, but the 3 unrivalled events of the year is the [http://www.letour.fr ''Tour'' de France], the [http://www.ilgiroditalia.it/ ''Giro'' d'Italia] and the [http://www.lavuelta.com/ ''Vuelta'' a España], where thousands of thousands of spectators line up along the often hundred kilometre plus routes. The whole season is managed in a league like format called the [http://www.uciprotour.com ''Protour''].
 +
* '''Volleyball''' is also a very popular sport with [http://www.cev.lu/ European Volleyball Championship] organized biannually.
 +
* '''Paragliding''' Europe is home to some of the most popular paragliding sites in the world. Oludeniz in Turkey, Interlaken in Switzerland, Praia a Mare in Italy just to mention a few.
  
[[Image:Ski Matterhorn.jpg|thumb|250px|Skiiing with the iconic ''Matterhorn'' as the backdrop]]
+
American football is almost non-existent in Europe, the closest popular sport being rugby.
  
Europe is home to some fantastic ski resorts; the [[Alps]] are home of some of the best ski resorts in the world, and there are more here then anywhere else. Austria and Switzerland, contain hundreds of resorts alone. Other Alpine ski destinations include, France, Italy, Slovenia, Germany (Bavaria) and even tiny Liechtenstein. The largest area is '''Les Portes du Soleil''' [http://www.portesdusoleil.com/], made up of 13 linked ski resorts in Switzerland and France, boasting over 650 km of marked runs.  
+
====Skiing & Snowboarding====
 +
[[Image:Ski Matterhorn.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|Skiiing with the iconic ''Matterhorn'' as the backdrop]]
 +
Europe is home to some fantastic ski resorts; the [[Alps]] are home of some of the best ski resorts in the world, and there are more here then anywhere else. Austria and Switzerland, contain hundreds of resorts alone. Other Alpine ski destinations include, France, Italy, Slovenia, Germany (Bavaria) and even tiny Liechtenstein. The largest area is [http://www.portesdusoleil.com/ '''Les Portes du Soleil'''], made up of 13 linked ski resorts in Switzerland and France, boasting over 650km of marked runs.  
  
But the fun doesn't stop in the Alps; The [[Scandinavia|Scandinavian]] Mountains features some of the worlds most civilized and family oriented Skiing areas, but the lower altitude also means it's a trade-of for shorter runs - '''[[Åre]]''' is the biggest, while way up north '''Riksgränsen''' [http://www.stromma.se/en/Riksgransen/] allows skiing well into the summer. [[Scotland]] is home of 5 ski resorts, '''Nevis Range''' [http://www.nevisrange.co.uk/] has the highest vertical drop at 566 meters, while '''Glenshee''' [http://www.ski-glenshee.co.uk/] is the largest. A surprising option is '''[[Sierra Nevada (Spain)|Sierra Nevada]]''' in [[Spain]], fairly large, just hours drive from the Mediterranean coast, and with a season often running into May - you can ski in the Morning, and chill on the beach in the afternoon. To the North the [[Pyrenees]] shared with [[France]] and [[Andorra]] also offers excellent skiing in up to 2,700 meters (8,000 ft) altitude, '''Domaine Tourmalet''' [http://www.n-py.com] is the largest resort in the area with over 100 kms of pistes.
+
But the fun doesn't stop in the Alps; The [[Scandinavia|Scandinavian]] Mountains features some of the worlds most civilized and family oriented Skiing areas, but the lower altitude also means it's a trade-of for shorter runs - '''[[Åre]]''' is the biggest, while way up north [http://www.stromma.se/en/Riksgransen/ '''Riksgränsen'''] allows skiing well into the summer. [[Scotland]] is home of 5 ski resorts: [http://www.nevisrange.co.uk/ '''Nevis Range'''] has the highest vertical drop at 566 metres, while [http://www.ski-glenshee.co.uk/ '''Glenshee'''] is the largest. A surprising option is '''[[Sierra Nevada (Spain)|Sierra Nevada]]''' in [[Spain]], fairly large, just hours drive from the Mediterranean coast, and with a season often running into May - you can ski in the Morning, and chill on the beach in the afternoon. To the North the [[Pyrenees]] shared with [[France]] and [[Andorra]] also offers excellent skiing in up to 2,700m (8,000 ft) altitude, [http://www.n-py.com '''Domaine Tourmalet'''] is the largest resort in the area with over 100km of pistes.
  
Eastern Europe is seeing increasing popularity since prices are much lower than elsewhere on the continent, the downside is that facilities are not as expansive or modern as elsewhere in Europe, but things are rapidly improving. [[Slovenia]] is cheap alternative in the ueber- expensive Alps, '''[[Kranjska Gora]]''' is the largest resort in the country. The Carpathian mountains with the higest runs at almost 2200 meters (7200 ft) is another popular area; '''[[Poiana Brasov]]''' (Romania, 20 km, 11 lifts [http://www.poiana-brasov.com/]) '''[[Zakopane]]''' (Poland, 30 km, 20 lifts [http://www.zakopane.pl/]) and '''Jasna''' (Slovakia, 29 km, 24 lifts [http://www.jasna.sk/en/]) are the largest and most popular areas in the respective countries.
+
Eastern Europe is seeing increasing popularity since prices are much lower than elsewhere on the continent, the downside is that facilities are not as expansive or modern as elsewhere in Europe, but things are rapidly improving. [[Slovenia]] is cheap alternative in the über- expensive Alps, '''[[Kranjska Gora]]''' is the largest resort in the country. The Carpathian mountains with the highest runs at almost 2200m (7200 ft) is another popular area; '''[[Poiana Brasov]]''' (Romania, 20km, 11 lifts [http://www.poiana-brasov.com/]) '''[[Zakopane]]'''[http://www.zakopane.pl/] (Poland, 30km, 20 lifts) and  [http://www.jasna.sk/en/ '''Jasna'''] (Slovakia, 29km, 24 lifts) are the largest and most popular areas in the respective countries.
  
 
===National Parks===
 
===National Parks===
There are more than 360 national parks [http://www.europarc.org] on the continent, which is not a surprise since Europe is the world's second-most densely populated continent. Many parks are small, some less than a single km², but there are also some expansive national parks to explore. The [[Vatnajokull National Park]] on Iceland is the largest, covering around 12,000 km² (7,500 sq miles), and the fascinating national parks of the Arctic [[Svalbard]] are not far behind, while [[Komi Republic#Other destinations|Yugyd Va National Park]] in the [[Russia|Russian]] Urals is largest on the mainland itself. In total the national parks of Europe encompass an area of around 98,000 km² (37,000 sq miles).
+
There are more than 360 national parks [http://www.europarc.org] on the continent, which is not a surprise since Europe is the world's second-most densely populated continent. Many parks are small, some less than a single square kilometre, but there are also some expansive national parks to explore. The [[Vatnajokull National Park]] on Iceland is the largest, covering around 12,000km² (7,500 square miles), and the fascinating national parks of the Arctic [[Svalbard]] are not far behind, while [[Komi Republic#Other destinations|Yugyd Va National Park]] in the [[Russia|Russian]] Urals is largest on the mainland itself. In total the national parks of Europe encompass an area of around 98,000km² (37,000 sqare miles).
  
 
===Outdoor activities===
 
===Outdoor activities===
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==Buy==
 
==Buy==
 +
<div style="float:right;padding:10px;">
 +
<!-- begin conversion table -->
 +
<table style="background-color: #f3f3ff; border: 1px solid #9866FF; background-color: #f3f3ff; border-collapse: collapse;">
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: center; border-bottom: 1px solid #C9AFFF; background-color: #ddddff; padding: 2px;" colspan="3">Euro Currency conversion table  (July 2013)</td></tr>
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px; font-weight: bold;">'''Foreign currency'''</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px; font-weight: bold;">'''Either one'''</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px; font-weight: bold;">Euro</td></tr>
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: left; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">&pound;0.86 Pound Sterling</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">1</td><td style="text-align: right; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">1.16</td></tr>
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: left; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">CHF 1.24 Swiss Franc</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">1</td><td style="text-align: right; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">0.81</td></tr>
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: left; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">NOK 7.84 Norwegian Krone</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">1</td><td style="text-align: right; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">0.13</td></tr>
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: left; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">SEK 8.61 Swedish Krona</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">1</td><td style="text-align: right; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">0.12</td></tr>
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: left; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">DKK 7.46 Danish Krone</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">1</td><td style="text-align: right; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">0.13</td></tr>
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: left; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">PLN 4.24 Polish Zloty</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">1</td><td style="text-align: right; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">0.24</td></tr>
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: left; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">CZK 25.92 Czech Koruna</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">1</td><td style="text-align: right; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">0.04</td></tr>
 +
<tr><td style="text-align: left; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">TRY 2.52 Turkish Lira</td><td style="text-align: center; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">1</td><td style="text-align: right; border: 1px solid #C9AFFF; padding: 2px;">0.40</td></tr>
 +
</table>
 +
<!-- end conversion table -->
 +
</div>
  
[[Image:Eurozone.png|300px|thumb|Eurozone (light-blue unilaterally adopted the euro)]]
+
[[Image:Eurozone.png|upright=1.7|thumb|Eurozone (light-blue unilaterally adopted the euro)]]
 
+
 
[[Image:Euro banknotes.jpg|noframe|right|300px]]
 
[[Image:Euro banknotes.jpg|noframe|right|300px]]
 
 
[[Image:Euro coins.jpg|noframe|right|250px]]
 
[[Image:Euro coins.jpg|noframe|right|250px]]
  
The [http://www.euro.ecb.int euro] (Symbol: &euro;; ISO 4217 code EUR) is the common currency of many countries of the European Union. One euro equals 100 cents; sometimes referred to as 'euro cents' to differentiate them from their US and other counterparts. Established in 1999 and introduced in cash form on January 1st, 2002, the euro removes the need for money exchange. As such it is not only a boon to pan-European business, but of course also to travellers.  
+
The [http://www.euro.ecb.int euro] (Symbol: €, ISO 4217 code: EUR) is the common currency of many countries of the European Union. One euro is divided into 100 cents; sometimes referred to as 'euro cents' to differentiate them from their US and other counterparts. Established in 1999 and introduced in cash form on 1 Jan 2002, the euro removes the need for money exchange. As such it is not only a boon to pan-European business, but of course also to travellers.  
  
It is interesting that each member nation has a unique design at the back of the euro coins minted in their country. Rest assured that regardless of the origin of the designs at the back, the euro coins are legal tender anywhere throughout the euro zone.
+
It is interesting that each member nation has a unique design at the back of the euro coins minted in their country. Rest assured that regardless of the origin of the designs at the back, the euro coins are legal tender anywhere throughout the Eurozone.
  
The euro has ''not'' been adopted by all EU countries. Those countries which have replaced their own national currencies are commonly called the '''Eurozone'''. By law, all EU countries (except Denmark and the United Kingdom) have to eventually adopt the euro.
+
The euro has ''not'' been adopted by all EU countries. Those countries which have replaced their own national currencies are commonly called the '''Eurozone'''. By law, all EU countries (except [[Denmark]] and the [[United Kingdom]]) have to eventually adopt the euro. In practice, though, plans for this in the remaining newcomer EU states are often put on hold pending the outcome of the current economic crisis facing Europe.
  
Outside the EU [[Montenegro]] has unilaterally adopted the euro, but all other countries still retain their own currencies. Euros are widely accepted in European countries outside the Eurozone, but not universally, and at shops and restaurants the exchange rate is rarely in your favor. (Many hotels, though, price and accept payment in euros.Money changers will generally give good to excellent exchange rates for the euro, and in a pinch they will be accepted by nearly everybody.
+
Outside the EU, [[Andorra]], [[Kosovo]], [[Monaco]], [[Montenegro]], [[San Marino]] and the [[Rome/Vatican|Vatican]] have unilaterally adopted the euro. All of these nations, except Kosovo and Montenegro, are allowed to mint a limited amount of national Euro coins. Because these are so rare, they are often worth more than their face value, so are prized by collectors. Andorra was due to release its own Euro coins in July 2013, but this has since been delayed.
 +
 
 +
All other other countries in Europe still retain their own currencies. Euros are widely accepted in European countries outside the Eurozone, but not universally, and at shops and restaurants the exchange rate is rarely in your favour. Many hotels, however, price and accept payment in euros. Also, a large number of filling stations and motorway service areas in European countries outside the Eurozone accept the euro, and both [[Croatia]] and [[Serbia]] allow payment of highway tolls in euros. Money changers will generally give good to excellent exchange rates for the euro, and in a pinch they will be accepted by nearly everybody.
  
 
'''Do not''' accept any of the obsolete currencies. While several countries' banks will still change them into euros, it's a lot of hassle and there is no guarantee that this will be possible everywhere or on short notice. You should also expect to leave your personal information with the bank as a precaution against money laundering.
 
'''Do not''' accept any of the obsolete currencies. While several countries' banks will still change them into euros, it's a lot of hassle and there is no guarantee that this will be possible everywhere or on short notice. You should also expect to leave your personal information with the bank as a precaution against money laundering.
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European ATMs do not usually have letters on the keypad. PINs longer than 4 digits are generally no longer a problem.
 
European ATMs do not usually have letters on the keypad. PINs longer than 4 digits are generally no longer a problem.
  
===Credit cards===
+
===Credit/debit cards===
Credit card acceptance is not as universal as in the United States, especially in Eastern Europe, but growing steadily. Some countries mandate that merchants check your ID for purchases of as little as &euro;50, and many shops will insist on ID for ''any'' credit card transaction.
+
Credit/debit card acceptance is not as universal as in the United States, especially in Eastern Europe, but growing steadily. In mainland Europe, most merchants, if they accept credit cards, will require you to spend a minimum amount. Even if you see a card machine at the till, it doesn't mean that an internationally-recognised card like VISA or MasterCard will be accepted; a number of merchants in mainland Europe only accept local cards (ie without the AmEx, MasterCard or VISA logo). Some countries mandate that merchants check your ID for purchases of as little as &euro;50, and many shops will insist on ID for ''any'' credit card transaction.
  
An increasing number of European countries, notably the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Nordic countries, have moved to a '''chip and PIN''' system, where credit cards all have a chip built in and you have to punch in your PIN code instead of signing a receipt.  Any store that displays Visa, Mastercard, Amex etc logos is ''required'' to accept "traditional" sign-and-swipe cards, so be persistent if they initially refuse, although you may need to escalate to the manager. (With most terminals, swiping your card and simply waiting 20 seconds without entering the PIN will cause them to print out the signing slip.) However, with self-service like gas pumps and ticket vending machines, you may be out of luck.
+
An increasing number of European countries, notably the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Nordic countries, have moved to a '''chip and PIN''' system, where credit cards all have a chip built in and you have to punch in your PIN code instead of signing a receipt.  Any store that displays Visa, MasterCard, Amex etc logos is ''required'' to accept "traditional" sign-and-swipe cards, so be persistent if they initially refuse, although you may need to escalate the problem to the manager. (With most terminals, swiping your card and simply waiting 20 seconds without entering the PIN will cause them to print out the signing slip.) However, with self-service like gas pumps and ticket vending machines, you may be out of luck.
  
=== Exchange ===
+
===Exchange===
 
With 50 intricately linked countries and 28 currencies squeezed into an area roughly the size of Canada or China, the planet's largest diaspora due to the continent's colonial ties with virtually the entire world, and more tourism arrivals than anywhere else, currency exchange is a fact of life in Europe, and the market is probably better established than anywhere else in the world, and readily available nearly everywhere. Banks will nearly without exception exchange all European currencies, and within the European Union banks will accept nearly any currency that is legally traded abroad. Specialized currency exchange companies are also widespread, especially in major tourist destinations, and are often slightly cheaper than banks. However, with ATM's accepting all major credit and debit cards available everywhere, many visitors simply withdraw money electronically to get as close to the real exchange rate as possible.
 
With 50 intricately linked countries and 28 currencies squeezed into an area roughly the size of Canada or China, the planet's largest diaspora due to the continent's colonial ties with virtually the entire world, and more tourism arrivals than anywhere else, currency exchange is a fact of life in Europe, and the market is probably better established than anywhere else in the world, and readily available nearly everywhere. Banks will nearly without exception exchange all European currencies, and within the European Union banks will accept nearly any currency that is legally traded abroad. Specialized currency exchange companies are also widespread, especially in major tourist destinations, and are often slightly cheaper than banks. However, with ATM's accepting all major credit and debit cards available everywhere, many visitors simply withdraw money electronically to get as close to the real exchange rate as possible.
  
=== Costs and Taxes ===
+
===Costs and taxes===
 
The EU is generally expensive for most visitors.   
 
The EU is generally expensive for most visitors.   
  
 
When buying souvenirs, it costs substantially less to purchase from smaller stalls than the stores affiliated with  to larger establishments.   
 
When buying souvenirs, it costs substantially less to purchase from smaller stalls than the stores affiliated with  to larger establishments.   
  
As for dining, most service items that are complimentary in your home country (e.g. water, bread) may not be so in the continent.   
+
As for dining, most service items that are complimentary in your home country (e.g. water, bread) may not be so in this continent.   
  
However most goods and services offered in the region are required to include value added tax (VAT) in their published prices, especially the large print.  The VAT is refundable if you are a non-resident and intend to export the good you purchased outside the EU, just make sure you request for a voucher from the store and show them to customs at your exit point.  To be safe, be on the lookout for a VAT refund sticker at the door or window of the store.
+
However most goods and services offered in the region are required to include value added tax (VAT) in their published prices, especially the large print.  The VAT is (at least partially) refundable if you are a non-resident, spend a minimum amount in a particular shop in one day, and intend to export the goods you purchased outside the EU; just make sure you request for a voucher from the store and show them to customs at your exit point.  To be safe, be on the lookout for a VAT refund sticker at the door or window of the store and bring your passport (sometimes a photocopy will suffice) during shopping trips.  In some cases, tax free agents such as Global Blue and Premier have in-town offices where you can 'advance' your tax refund in cash: have a credit card, passport and vouchers ready, and you still need to have paperwork processed at your airport of departure from the EU (otherwise, your credit card will be charged accordingly).
  
 
==Eat==
 
==Eat==
  
 
==Drink==
 
==Drink==
 
+
[[Image:Europe_alcohol_belts.png|upright=1.7|thumb|Traditional alcohol belts in Europe; red indicates wine, brown indicates beer, and blue indicates vodka or other spirits]]
[[Image:Europe_alcohol_belts.png|350px|thumb|Traditional alcohol belts in Europe; red indicates wine, brown indicates beer, and blue indicates vodka or other spirits]]
+
Europeans generally have liberal attitudes towards drinking, with the notable exception of [[Scandinavia]] (excluding Denmark). The legal drinking age varies between 16-18 in most countries, often with differentiated limits for beer and spirits. In most places in western Europe drinking in public is both legal, and a common warm weather activity, and police are more likely to give you a warning and send you on your way to bed, than issue fines for drunken or rowdy behaviour. In most Eastern European countries drinking in public is forbidden, although still pretty common. Except on the British Isles, the nightclubs rarely gets going until past midnight, head for the bars and restaurants to find people until then.  
 
+
Europeans generally have liberal attitudes towards drinking, with the notable exception of [[Scandinavia]] (excluding Denmark). The legal drinking age varies between 16-18 in most countries, often with differentiated limits for beer and spirits. In most places drinking in public is both legal, and a common warm weather activity, and police are more likely to give you a warning and send you on your way to bed, than issue fines for drunken or rowdy behaviour. Except on the British Isles, the nightclubs rarely gets going until past midnight, head for the bars and restaurants to find people until then.  
+
  
 
===Wine===
 
===Wine===
 
+
Europe is by far the biggest wine producing region in the world, France is the biggest and most famous, but 5 of the 10 largest wine exporters are European Nations; France is followed by [[Italy]], [[Spain]], [[Germany]] and [[Portugal]], and nearly all European nations have wine production of some scale. Wine production was started 4000 years ago by the Minoan civilization in present day Greece, and was spread across Europe by the Phoenicians and later the Romans. Unlike other regions, European wine producers place much more emphasis on tradition and ''terroir'' than on the grape variety, and wines in Europe will typically be labelled by region rather than by its grape variety (such as Chardonnay), unlike the common practice elsewhere. This is because European wine producers claim that their long history have allowed them to adapt production techniques to the unique conditions of their particular region, and things like the soil composition for a region also has much influence on the taste of the wine. Some of the best and most famous wine regions of Europe includes '''[[Bordeaux]]''', whose name is as synonymous with its wines as the large city. Another famous French region producing excellent wines is '''[[Burgundy]]''' (''Bourgogne'') around the city of [[Dijon]], it produces both red and whites - the most famous ones, often referred to as Burgundies, are red wines made from Pinot Noir or white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Further north, the '''[[Alsace]]''' region close to the Germany, and '''[[Rhineland-Palatinate|Mosel]]''' across the border - grown on some of the continents most dramatic wineyards on very steep hills, are above all known for their excellent white wines. Further to the south, '''[[Tuscany]]''' in Italy is famous for its '''[[Chianti]]''' wines made from Sangiovese grapes, while '''[[La_Rioja_(Spain)|La Rioja]]''' is arguably the most popular, and certainly among the best, Spanish wine regions.
Europe is by far the biggest wine producing region in the world, France is the biggest and most famous, but 5 of the 10 largest wine exporters are European Nations; France is followed by [[Italy]], [[Spain]], [[Germany]] and [[Portugal]], and nearly all European nations have wine production of some scale. Wine production was started 4000 years ago by the Minoan civilization in present day Greece, and was spread across Europe by the Phoenicians and later the Romans. Unlike other regions, European wine producers place much more emphasis on tradition and ''terroir'' than on the grape variety, and wines in Europe will typically be labelled by region rather than by its grape, e.g. Chardonnay, unlike the common practice elsewhere. This is because European wine producers claim that their long history have allowed them to adapt production techniques to the unique conditions of their particular region, and things like the soil composition for a region also has much influence on the taste of the wine. Some of the best and most famous wine regions of Europe includes '''[[Bordeaux]]''', whose name is as synonymous with its wines as the large city. Another famous French region producing excellent wines is '''[[Burgundy]]''' (''Bourgogne'') around the city of [[Dijon]], it produces both red and whites - the most famous ones, often referred to as Burgundies, are red wines made from Pinot Noir or white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Further north, the '''[[Alsace]]''' region close to the Germany, and '''[[Rhineland-Palatinate|Mosel]]''' across the border - grown on some of the continents most dramatic wineyards on very steep hills, are above all known for their excellent white wines. Further to the south, '''[[Tuscany]]''' in Italy is famous for its '''[[Chianti]]''' wines made from Sangiovese grapes, while '''[[La_Rioja_(Spain)|La Rioja]]''' is arguably the most popular, and certainly among the best, Spanish wine regions.
+
  
 
In fact, many wine names indicate the place where the wine comes from, with EU laws forbidding use of the name unless it is from a specific place. Examples include Champagne, which has to come from the [[Champagne]] region of France, Port which has to come from [[Porto]], [[Portugal]], Sherry which has to come from [[Jerez de la Frontera]], [[Spain]], as well as Tokaji which has to come from [[Tokaj]], [[Hungary]].
 
In fact, many wine names indicate the place where the wine comes from, with EU laws forbidding use of the name unless it is from a specific place. Examples include Champagne, which has to come from the [[Champagne]] region of France, Port which has to come from [[Porto]], [[Portugal]], Sherry which has to come from [[Jerez de la Frontera]], [[Spain]], as well as Tokaji which has to come from [[Tokaj]], [[Hungary]].
  
 
===Beer===
 
===Beer===
 
+
While wine is the most popular alcohol in Southern Europe, beer is the national drink for much of Western Europe. [[Germany]], the [[Netherlands]], [[Belgium]] and the [[Czech Republic]] makes some of the finest brews in Europe and maybe the world.  Visitors from many countries, especially those from East Asia or North America will find that European lagers have a richer stronger taste, and often a higher alcohol content than found at home.
While wine is the most popular alcohol in Southern Europe, beer is the national drink for much of Northern Europe. [[Germany]], the [[Netherlands]], [[Belgium]] and the [[Czech Republic]] makes some of the finest brews in Europe and maybe the world.  Visitors from many countries, especially those from East Asia or North America will find that European lagers have a richer stronger taste, and often a higher alcohol content than found at home.
+
  
 
* In Europe as elsewhere, the most popular beers are '''lagers''', also known as '''Pilsner'''  after the Czech city of [[Pilsen]] that originated the style.
 
* In Europe as elsewhere, the most popular beers are '''lagers''', also known as '''Pilsner'''  after the Czech city of [[Pilsen]] that originated the style.
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* '''Stout''' (porter) is a British and Irish speciality, with Guinness available around the continent.  Made from roasted malts, stout is dark and strong in both taste and alcohol content, hence the name.
 
* '''Stout''' (porter) is a British and Irish speciality, with Guinness available around the continent.  Made from roasted malts, stout is dark and strong in both taste and alcohol content, hence the name.
  
Most European nations have a national brand; like Carlsberg, Heineken or Stella, sold most everywhere - but the really good beers are often the smaller brands, which doesn't try to appeal to everyone. In recent years microbreweries have had a huge revival shooting up everywhere around the continent. If you really want to indulge, try one of the October fests, held in many German cities, the most famously [[Munich]] (where they start drinking already in late September!).
+
Most European nations have a national brand; like Carlsberg, Heineken or Stella, sold most everywhere - but the really good beers are often the smaller brands, which doesn't try to appeal to everyone. In recent years microbreweries have had a huge revival shooting up everywhere around the continent. If you really want to indulge, try one of the beer festivals, held in many German cities, the most famously [[Munich]] Oktoberfest (where they start drinking already in late September!).
  
 
Another northern European favorite is '''cider''', most commonly brewed from apples and sold both bottled and on tap in pubs.  Taste and alcohol content can vary widely, from dense, cloudy and strong (8% or more) to light, weak (under 4%) and occasionally even artificially flavored.
 
Another northern European favorite is '''cider''', most commonly brewed from apples and sold both bottled and on tap in pubs.  Taste and alcohol content can vary widely, from dense, cloudy and strong (8% or more) to light, weak (under 4%) and occasionally even artificially flavored.
  
 
===Spirits===
 
===Spirits===
 
 
Like elsewhere on the planet; Vodka, Rum and Gin is available everywhere. Scandinavia (except Denmark), Eastern Europe and Russia especially have an affection for '''Vodka''', and if you've so far only tried the usual suspects like Smirnoff or Absolut; you should try the Vodka there, you may just end up surprised at how tasty the stuff can actually be. Elsewhere, most regions have a local speciality that local drinking comrades will happily fill in you, and eagerly wait for your funny faces when your throat and taste-buds screams in agony. Most likely it will be '''Slivovitz''' (also called Rakia) in South-eastern Europe and the Balkans (especially in Serbia), a strongly tasting and fruity brandy, usually made from plums. Other forms of brandy, made from grapes instead, such as traditional '''Brandy''', '''Cognac''' or '''Port wine''' are popular in the UK and South-western Europe. Greece and Italy makes the popular '''Ouzo'''/'''Sambuca''' which along with the related, resurgent '''Absinthe''', is made from star anise and sugar, giving it a liquorice like taste - watch for the many party fire tricks related to those drinks. In northern Europe you'll likely be served '''Schnapps''' (or Snaps, Aquavit), usually made from fermented hops or potatoes accented by traditional herbs like dill or sloe, be careful, it suddenly kicks in without much warning. Finally, it will hardly come as a surprise to many that '''Whiskey''' (or '''Whisky''') is popular with the Scots and Irish. While all these drinks have strong regional roots, you'll generally find one or two types of each, in virtually any bar on the continent.
 
Like elsewhere on the planet; Vodka, Rum and Gin is available everywhere. Scandinavia (except Denmark), Eastern Europe and Russia especially have an affection for '''Vodka''', and if you've so far only tried the usual suspects like Smirnoff or Absolut; you should try the Vodka there, you may just end up surprised at how tasty the stuff can actually be. Elsewhere, most regions have a local speciality that local drinking comrades will happily fill in you, and eagerly wait for your funny faces when your throat and taste-buds screams in agony. Most likely it will be '''Slivovitz''' (also called Rakia) in South-eastern Europe and the Balkans (especially in Serbia), a strongly tasting and fruity brandy, usually made from plums. Other forms of brandy, made from grapes instead, such as traditional '''Brandy''', '''Cognac''' or '''Port wine''' are popular in the UK and South-western Europe. Greece and Italy makes the popular '''Ouzo'''/'''Sambuca''' which along with the related, resurgent '''Absinthe''', is made from star anise and sugar, giving it a liquorice like taste - watch for the many party fire tricks related to those drinks. In northern Europe you'll likely be served '''Schnapps''' (or Snaps, Aquavit), usually made from fermented hops or potatoes accented by traditional herbs like dill or sloe, be careful, it suddenly kicks in without much warning. Finally, it will hardly come as a surprise to many that '''Whiskey''' (or '''Whisky''') is popular with the Scots and Irish. While all these drinks have strong regional roots, you'll generally find one or two types of each, in virtually any bar on the continent.
  
 
==Sleep==
 
==Sleep==
 +
There are 4 major types of accommodation:
 +
* Apartments
 +
* Small private hotels
 +
* Two- and three-star hotel resorts, for typical mass tourism
 +
* Five-star luxury hotels
  
 
==Stay safe==
 
==Stay safe==
 +
For emergencies you can dial '''112''' in any EU member nation as well as most other European countries - even when it is not the primary number for emergency services. All 112 alarm centrals within the EU are legally required to be capable of patching you through to an English speaking operator. 112 can be dialled from any GSM phone, even locked phones or, in most countries, phones without a SIM installed.
  
For emergencies you can dial '''112''' in any EU member nation as well as most other European countries - even when it is not the primary number for emergency services. All 112 alarm centrals within the EU are legally required to be capable of patching you through to an English speaking operator. 112 can be dialled from any GSM phone, even locked phones or ones without a SIM installed.
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The biggest risks to your safety in Europe like in any major tourist area are [[pickpockets]] and muggings. Using common sense and being aware of your surroundings can help to greatly reduce the risk of these occurrences. Remember alcohol is an integral part of many European cultures but overuse can lead to violence and poor judgement! In general, bars and pubs are not a place where alcohol causes these problems in Europe but it can end up being a big problem on the roads.  
  
The biggest risks to your safety in Europe like in any major tourist area are [[pickpockets]] and muggings. Using common sense and being aware of your surroundings can help to greatly reduce the risk of these occurrences. Remember alcohol is an integral part of many European cultures but overuse can lead to violence and poor judgment! In general, bars and pubs are not a place where alcohol causes these problems in Europe but it can end up being a big problem on the roads.  
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Most European countries have very low levels of violence compared to the [[United States]]. The main issues are drug use and gang related violence which is most likely in [[United Kingdom|Britain]] and [[France]], but it's virtually unheard of for any tourists to be involved in such issues. The few "trouble areas" that should be avoided are the run-down suburbs of certain urban areas (particularly in Europe's largest cities) and some places in eastern and southern Europe do have much higher violent crime rates, and can be very dangerous for non locals, but these areas shouldn't be of interest to the average tourist. Central and Western Europe are generally the safest regions.  
  
Most European countries have very low levels of violence compared to the [[United States]]. The main issues are drug use and gang related violence which are most prone in [[United Kingdom|Britain]] and [[France]], but it's virtually unheard of for any tourists to be involved in such issues. The few "trouble areas" that should be avoided are the run-down suburbs of certain urban areas (particularly in Europe's largest cities) and some places in eastern and southern Europe do have much higher violent crime rates, and can be very dangerous for non locals, but these areas shouldn't be of interest to the average tourist. Central and Western Europe are generally the safest regions.
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Europe may be very urban and densely populated in general but as always when travelling in rural and forested / mountainous areas take the proper precautions. All it takes is one wrong turn down a ski piste and you are stranded. Time to take out the mobile phone. Did you bring one?
 
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Europe may be very urban and densely populated in general but as always when traveling in rural and forested / mountainous areas take the proper precautions. All it takes is one wrong turn down a ski piste and you are stranded. Time to take out the mobile phone. Did you bring one?
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For more information see [[Common scams]] which contains many Europe-specific scams.
 
For more information see [[Common scams]] which contains many Europe-specific scams.
  
 
==Stay healthy==
 
==Stay healthy==
 
 
There are no specific precautions required for staying healthy in Europe as most restaurants maintain high standards of hygiene and in the majority of countries tap water is safe to drink. However, for more precise details on these matters as well as for general information on emergency care, pharmaceutical regulations and dentistry standards etc, please consult the 'Stay safe' section on  specific country articles.  
 
There are no specific precautions required for staying healthy in Europe as most restaurants maintain high standards of hygiene and in the majority of countries tap water is safe to drink. However, for more precise details on these matters as well as for general information on emergency care, pharmaceutical regulations and dentistry standards etc, please consult the 'Stay safe' section on  specific country articles.  
  
 
EU/EEA citizens should apply for (or bring) the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which grants you access to state-provided healthcare within the European Union as well as Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein either at reduced cost or free of charge, under the same terms as a resident of the country you are visiting. If you are used to free healthcare in your own country, remember that some member states expect patients to pay towards their treatment, and you may be expected to do the same. And do remember that the EHIC does not equal a travel insurance; it doesn't cover private healthcare, the cost of mountain rescues or repatriation to your home country. Neither does it allow you to go abroad specifically to receive medical care.
 
EU/EEA citizens should apply for (or bring) the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which grants you access to state-provided healthcare within the European Union as well as Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein either at reduced cost or free of charge, under the same terms as a resident of the country you are visiting. If you are used to free healthcare in your own country, remember that some member states expect patients to pay towards their treatment, and you may be expected to do the same. And do remember that the EHIC does not equal a travel insurance; it doesn't cover private healthcare, the cost of mountain rescues or repatriation to your home country. Neither does it allow you to go abroad specifically to receive medical care.
  
If you are not a EU/EEA citizen, remember to buy a travel insurance policy, while some countries do provide free emergency care for visitors, any follow-up treatment and repatriation is your own responsibility, and some countries expect you to foot the entire bill for any treatment yourself - the fabled universal healthcare system does not equal free treatment for non EU citizens.
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If you are not a EU/EEA citizen, remember to buy a travel insurance policy, while some countries do provide free emergency care for visitors, any follow-up treatment and repatriation is your own responsibility, and some countries expect you to foot the entire bill for any treatment yourself - the fabled universal healthcare system does not equal free treatment for non EU citizens.  Those who need a Schengen visa are required to get travel insurance that covers the entire Schengen zone for the duration of the trip and coverage for emergency care and medical repatriation must be a minimum of €30,000.
  
 
==Contact==
 
==Contact==
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[[WikiPedia:Europe]]

Latest revision as of 21:27, 17 December 2014

Contents

Europe encompasses an area of 10,180,000km² (3,930,000 square miles), stretching from Asia to the Atlantic, and from Africa to the Arctic. European countries welcome more than 480 million international visitors per year, more than half of the global market, and 7 of the 10 most visited countries are European nations.

It's easy to see why - a well preserved cultural heritage, open borders and efficient infrastructure makes visiting Europe a breeze, and rarely will you have to travel more than a few hours before you can immerse yourself in a new culture, and dive into a different phrasebook. Although it is the world's smallest continent in land surface area, there are profound differences between the cultures and ways of life in its countries.

The eastern border of Europe, for instance, is not well defined. The Caucasus states are sometimes considered part of Asia due to geography, and much of Russia and almost all of Turkey are geographically Asian. The UK, Ireland and Iceland all manage to sneak in.

Must-visits include France, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. Don't let your sense of adventure fail you by missing out on Scandinavia, Poland, Portugal, or the tiny microstates of Andorra, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg.

Many European countries are members of the European Union (EU), which has its own currency (the Euro) and laws. There are no border controls between signatory countries (only at the outside borders). Note that not all EU members adopted the Schengen Agreement (open borders) or the Euro, and not all countries that adopted Schengen or Euro are European Union members. Confusing? Just wait!

Regions[edit]

Map of Europe's regions
Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Kosovo, and Serbia)
The Balkans have a rich, though often turbulent, history with wonderful nature, charming multicultural towns, impressive monasteries and citadels dotting the hillsides, mighty mountains sprinkled with a liberal dose of beautiful forests and pleasant lakes.
Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)
Three fascinating states that have glorious beaches along an extensive coastline, mediaeval old towns, and beautiful natural scenery. Estonia has linguistic and cultural ties with Finland.
Benelux (Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands)
These supposedly flat states have a lot to offer the traveller. The Netherlands is known for its clogs, cheese, tulips and windmills, and for its liberal attitudes and painters. Belgium is a multilingual country with beautiful historic cities, bordering Luxembourg at the rolling hills of the Ardennes.
Britain and Ireland (Guernsey, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, United Kingdom)
Britain is a diverse patchwork of native and immigrant cultures, possessing a fascinating history and dynamic modern culture, both of which remain hugely influential in the wider world. Ireland has rolling landscapes and characteristic customs, traditions and folklore.
Central Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland)
Straddling east and west, Central Europe is the region where Germanic culture meets Slavic culture. It is home to innumerable historic towns, fairy-tale castles, beer, forests, unspoiled farmland, and plenty of mountain ranges, including the mighty Alps and Carpathians.
France and Monaco
The world's most popular tourist destination and geographically one of the most diverse countries of Europe. Some of its tourist attractions include Paris, the French Riviera, the Atlantic beaches, the winter sports resorts of the Alps, the castles of the Loire Valley, Brittany and Normandy, and the rural landscape of the Provence. The country is also known for its gastronomy (particularly wines and cheeses), history, culture and fashion.
Greece, Cyprus and Turkey
Counting the most amount of sun-hours in Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean is a haven for beach-goers, party-people and cultural enthusiasts alike.
Iberia (Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal, Spain)
The Iberian countries are great destinations for their rich and unique cultures, lively cities, beautiful countryside and friendly inhabitants.
Italy (Italy, Malta, San Marino, Vatican City)
Rome, Florence, Venice and Pisa are on many travellers' itineraries, but these are just a few of Italy's destinations. Italy has more history and culture packed into it than many other countries combined.
Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus
Russia is a country of vast, empty expanses that spans all the way east to the Pacific Ocean. Ukraine is a diverse country that has a lot to offer, from the beach resorts of the Black Sea to the beautiful cities Odessa, Lviv and Kiev. North of Ukraine lies Belarus, a country unlike anywhere else in Europe.
Nordic countries (Denmark, Faroe Islands, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden)
Spectacular scenery of mountains, lakes, glaciers, geysers, waterfalls and volcanoes. Finland is culturally distinct as it has a language unlike the Scandinavian languages.

Top cities[edit]

How do you choose a few cities to represent a continent full of deep history and profound culture? This will change over time; but here's our "top ten":

  • Amsterdam — canals, Rembrandt, hashish and red lanterns, the epicentre of liberal attitudes
  • Athens - the Acropolis, ancient temples, medieval churches, early modern neoclassical mansions; the birthplace of Western civilization with a history of 3,400 years
  • Barcelona — Gaudi's cosmopolitan home on Mediterranean coast
  • Berlin — the capital of reunited Germany since 1990, it was divided by force for 45 years during the Cold War and has emerged as a international cultural centre and an area of rapid development since the fall of the Berlin Wall
  • Istanbul — the only major city to span two continents and a fascinating melting pot of East and West
  • London — Britain's vibrant capital, a true 'global city'
  • Moscow — Europe's largest city is famous for its nightlife and the iconic Kremlin
  • Paris — the capital of romance (and France) on the banks of the Seine
  • Prague — magical city with its renowned bridges spanning the Vltava River
  • Rome — the eternal city of seven hills and two thousand seven hundred years of history

Other notable destinations[edit]

  • Alhambra — part fortress, part palace, part garden, and part government city, a stunning mediaeval complex overlooking the city of Granada in Spain
  • Alps — very popular mountain range for skiing/snowboarding and mountaineering, with Mont Blanc as its highest peak
  • Cinque Terre — a gorgeous national park, which connects five picturesque villages in Italy
  • Białowieża National Park in Poland — the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once spread across the European Plain
  • Blue Lagoon — amazing geothermal spa with the water temperature around 40°C all year round, even in Iceland's freezing conditions
  • Meteora — six Greek Orthodox monasteries built on natural sandstone rock pillars
  • Neuschwanstein Castle — the well-known fairy-tale castle in the Bavarian Alps in Bavaria
  • Plitvice National Park — beautiful turquoise-coloured lakes surrounded by a large forest complex in Croatia
  • Stonehenge — the well-known Neolithic and Bronze Age stone monument located on Salisbury Plain, England

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance with an astonishing cultural heritage

The earliest concrete signs of written European culture can be found in Hellenic Greece. Homer (c. 800 BC), Hesiod (753 BC) and Kallinos (728 BC) are three of the oldest poets in Europe. The Romans believed that their city was founded in 753 BC, while modern archaeologists and historians believe that the area of modern day Rome has been inhabited since at least 1000 to 800 BC.

From 300 AD Christianity in Europe started to spread. Around 500 the Roman Empire collapsed, with France at that time coming under the rule of the Merovingians, Spain coming under occupation from North African Berber Muslims and other countries essentially invaded by various barbarian groups. In 714, the Carolingian empire was founded and lasted until 911 occupying large parts of Western Europe. The period after this date is often called the high-middle ages and lasted until around 1300 which saw a shift to urbanisation across Europe, initiating in Western Europe, and gave rise to universities. This was followed by the late middle ages which ended around 1500, giving birth to a period of European history normally referred to as the Renaissance or the re-birth. The people of this period actively rediscovered classical Greco-Roman culture and it was followed by a reformation of Christianity, with the rise of new sects in Europe, most notably Protestantism.

Between 1492 and 1972 many European nations (like Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Russia, France and the Netherlands) ruled or had ruled over most of the known world, with the exception of parts of Asia, Japan, Thailand and Tibet) and Antarctica.

The European Union

Europe, prior to the conclusion of World War II, was a region ravaged by large-scale "total war". National leaders realized after World War II that closer socio-economic and political integration was needed to ensure that such tragedies never happened again. Starting with humble beginnings, the EU's first inception was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951. The founding group of nations were Belgium, West Germany, Luxembourg, France, Italy and the Netherlands. Impressed with the results of the union, the six countries pressed on and in 1956 signed the Treaty of Rome, with the ultimate goal of creating a common market — the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1967, the union was formalised further with a the creation of a single European Commission, as well as a Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

From 1945 to 1990 Western Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain from Eastern Europe. In 1989 protests across Eastern Europe led to primarily non-violent revolutions and in 1991 the Soviet Union was dissolved and the Cold War ended.

Post-1967, the EU continued to rapidly grow; Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined in 1973. Greece joined in 1981, Spain and Portugal in 1986 and Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995. To date, Norway and Switzerland have resisted membership for historical and economic reasons though both have close relations with the EU. The EU pressed on with economic integration and launched the euro (€) across several nations on 1 Jan 2002. Currently, 18 nations use the euro as their official currency. In addition, San Marino, the Vatican, Monaco, Andorra and Montenegro, which are also not EU members, have been granted official permission to use the euro.

In 2004, a further 10 countries joined the EU. These were: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. In 2007, Bulgaria and Romania joined; Croatia joined in July 2013, while Albania, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are all official applicants.

Geography[edit]

Topographical map of Europe

Europe makes up the western one fifth of the Eurasian landmass. It's bounded by bodies of water on three sides: the Arctic Ocean to the north (the Nordkapp being its most northerly point), the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The Mediterranean Sea is a popular beach destination because of its climate. Europe's eastern borders are ill-defined and have been moving eastwards throughout history. Currently, the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian and Black Seas and the Bosporus Strait are considered its eastern frontier, making Istanbul the only metropolis in the world on two continents. Cyprus is also considered a part of Europe.

Europe is a geographically diverse continent. Europe's highest point is Russia's Mt. Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains, which rises to 5,642m (18,510 ft) above sea level. Western Europe's highest point is the Mont Blanc in the Alps with 4,810m (15,771 ft) above sea level. Other important mountain ranges include the Pyrenees between France and Spain and the Carpathians that run through Central Europe to the Balkans. Most regions along the North and Baltic Seas are flat, especially the Low Countries, Northern Germany and Denmark. The coasts of the North and Baltic Seas feature hundreds of miles of sandy beaches and resorts, albeit in colder climates.

Europe's longest river is the Volga, which meanders 3,530km (2,193 mi) through Russia, and flows into the Caspian Sea. The Danube and the Rhine formed much of the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, and have been important waterways since pre-historic times. The Danube starts in the Black Forest in Germany and passes through the capital cities Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade before emptying in the Black Sea. The Rhine starts in the Swiss Alps and caused the Rhine Falls, the largest plain waterfall in Europe. From there, it makes up the French-German border flowing through Western Germany and the Netherlands. Many castles and fortifications have been built along the Rhine, including those of the Rhine Valley.

Climate[edit]

The lighthouse on the Cape Taşlık (Gelidonia), which juts out towards the Mediterranean south of Antalya

Europe's climate is temperate. It is milder than other areas of the same latitude (e.g. northeastern US) due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. However, there are profound differences in the climates of different regions. Europe's climate ranges from subtropical near the Mediterranean Sea in the south, to subarctic near the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean in the northern latitudes. Extreme cold temperatures are only found in northern Scandinavia and parts of Russia in the winter.

Average annual precipitation diverges widely in Europe. Most rainfall takes place in the Alps, and in a band along the Adriatic Sea from Slovenia to the west coast of Greece. Other regions with plenty of rainfall include the northwest of Spain, the British Isles and western Norway. Bergen has the most amount of rainfall in Europe with 235 rainy days a year. Most rain takes place in the summer, due to westerly winds from the Atlantic that hit the British Isles, the Benelux, western Germany, northern France and southwestern Scandinavia.

The best time to visit Europe is in the summer. In August, the British Isles, Benelux, Germany and northern France have average highs of around 23-24°C, but these temperatures cannot be taken for granted. That's why in the summer many flights go from northern to southern Europe as northerners flee the rain and possible lower than average temperatures. The Mediterranean has the highest amount of sun-hours in Europe, and the highest temperatures. Highest average temperatures in August are 26°C in Budapest, 28°C in Barcelona, 30°C in Rome, 33°C in Athens and 39°C in Alanya along the Turkish Riviera. A general rule is that the further south and east one goes, the warmer it becomes.

Winters are relatively cold in Europe, even in the Mediterranean countries. The only areas with daily highs around 15°C in January are Andalucia in Spain, some Greek Islands, and the Turkish Riviera. Western Europe has an average of around 4-8°C in January, but temperatures drop below freezing throughout the winter. Regions east of Berlin have particularly cold temperatures with average highs below freezing. Russia is an exceptional case as Moscow and Saint Petersburg have average highs of -5°C and lows of -10°C in January. Some activities are best done in the winter, such as winter sports in the Alps. The highest peaks of the Alps have perpetual snow.

The Network of European Meteorological Services website provides up-to-date information for extreme weather, covering most of the EU countries.

Countries[edit]

Europe is a continent of many wildly different countries. A subset of these countries are in the slow and painful process of coming together as the European Union (EU).

Not all EU countries have adopted the euro (€), the European Union single currency (see Buy), while a few countries outside the EU have adopted it. Likewise, most — but not all — EU members and a few non-EU countries have joined the Schengen agreement, which abolished border controls between them (see Get in). Here is a handy reference table, up to date as of 2013:

Country Symbol Currency EU member Schengen
implemented
Time zone³ Eurail InterRail
Albania AL, .al ALL n n CET n n
Andorra AND, .ad EUR n n5 CET n n
Armenia ARM, .am AMD n n +4 n n
Austria A, .at EUR 1995 y CET y y
Belarus BY, .by BYR n n EET n n
Belgium B, .be EUR 1958 y CET y y
Bosnia and Herzegovina BIH, .ba BAM n n CET n y
Bulgaria BG, .bg BGN 2007 n EET y y
Croatia HR, .hr HRK 2013 n CET y y
Cyprus CY, .cy EUR 2004 n CET n n
Czech Republic CZ, .cz CZK 2004 y CET y y
Denmark DK, .dk DKK 1973 y CET y y
Estonia EST, .ee EUR 2004 y EET n n
Finland FIN, .fi EUR 1995 y EET y y
France F, .fr EUR 1958 y CET y y
Germany D, .de EUR 1958 y CET y y
Greece GR, .gr EUR 1981 y EET y y
Hungary H, .hu HUF 2004 y CET y y
Iceland IS, .is ISK n y WET n n
Ireland IRL, .ie EUR 1973 n WET y y
Italy I, .it EUR 1958 y CET y y
Latvia LV, .lv EUR 2004 y EET n n
Liechtenstein FL, .li CHF n y CET n n
Lithuania LT, .lt LTL 2004 y EET n n
Luxembourg L, .lu EUR 1958 y CET y y
Macedonia MK, .mk MKD n¹ n CET n y
Malta M, .mt EUR 2004 y CET n n
Moldova MD, .md MDL n n EET n n
Monaco MC, .mc EUR n n5 CET n n
Montenegro MNE, .me (.yu) EUR n CET n7 y
Netherlands NL, .nl EUR 1958 y CET y y
Norway N, .no NOK n y CET y y
Poland PL, .pl PLN 2004 y CET n7 y
Portugal P, .pt EUR 1986 y WET y y
Romania RO, .ro RON 2007 n EET y y
Russia RU, .ru (.su) RUB n n MSK4 n n
San Marino RSM, .sm EUR n n5 CET n n
Serbia SRB, .rs (.yu) RSD2 n1 n CET n7 y
   Kosovo6 RKS, none EUR n n CET n7 n
Slovakia SK, .sk EUR 2004 y CET n y
Slovenia SLO, .si EUR 2004 y CET y y
Spain E, .es EUR 1986 y CET y y
Sweden S, .se SEK 1995 y CET y y
Switzerland CH, .ch CHF n y CET y y
Turkey TR, .tr TRY n EET n y
Ukraine UA, .ua UAH n n EET n n
United Kingdom GB, .uk GBP 1973 n WET n y
Vatican City V, .va EUR n n5 CET n n

¹ Official EU applicant countries.

³ Winter time. In summer (last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October): WET → WEST (UTC+0 → +1), CET → CEST (+1 → +2), EET → EEST (+2 → +3)

4 Russia uses multiple time zones. EET in Kaliningrad Oblast, MSK (UTC+4) in Moscow, up to UTC+12 on Chukotka and Kamchatka.

5 Officially not a Schengen member, but Schengen visa holders are generally allowed entry.

6 Independence disputed.

7 Certain EuRail passes cover these countries (and only the Germany-Poland pass covers Poland), but the general 21-country pass does not.

Get in[edit]

Schengen Area
The following countries are members of the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.


Rules for entering Europe depend on where you are going. EU/EFTA citizens can travel freely throughout the continent (except Russia, Belarus and the Caucasus), so the following applies only to non-EU/EFTA citizens.

If you are entering a Schengen country and you plan to visit only other Schengen countries, you need only one Schengen visa. Please see the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information.
Only the nationals of the following non-EEA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area: Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan*** (Republic of China), United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.

These non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors may not stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a whole and, in general, may not work during their stay (although some Schengen countries do allow certain nationalities to work - see below). The counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa. However, Australian and New Zealand citizens may be able to stay for more than 90 days if they only visit particular Schengen countries—see the New Zealand Government's explanation.

Note that

  • while British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar are considered "United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes" and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area,
  • British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general do require visas.

However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.

Further note that

(*) nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel,

(**) Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (residents of Kosovo with Serbian passports) do need a visa and

(***) Taiwan nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.


The 90 days visa-free stay applies for the whole Schengen area, i.e. it is not 90 days per country as some assume. Citizens of the above countries who wish to travel around Europe for longer than 90 days must apply for a residency permit. This can be done in any Schengen country, but Germany or Italy are recommended, because many other countries require applicants to apply from their home countries.

Non-Schengen countries, on the other hand, maintain their own immigration policies. Consult the country article in question for details. If you wish to visit a non-Schengen country and return to the Schengen area, you will need a multiple-entry visa. Bulgaria, Romania, Ireland, and the United Kingdom are EU members, but they are not part of the Schengen Area. To add confusion Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway are not EU members but part of the Schengen area.

The implications of this are simple: countries in the EU maintain similar customs controls. Therefore, you do not need to pass through thorough customs when travelling to a non-Schengen EU country, but you may need to pass through immigration controls. The converse is true for non-EU Schengen countries: you must pass through customs (sometimes twice), but not immigration. If ever customs checks are carried out when travelling between two EU countries, the priority of customs officers in such instances is to prevent prohibited and controlled items (i.e. those that pose a threat to public safety, security and health) from crossing the border.

By plane[edit]

The largest air travel hubs in Europe are, in order, London (LON: LCY, LHR, LGW, STN, LTN), Frankfurt (FRA, HHN), Paris (CDG, ORY), Madrid (MAD), Brussels (BRU) and Amsterdam (AMS) which in turn have connections to practically everywhere in Europe. However, nearly every European city has direct long-distance flights at least to some destinations elsewhere, and other smaller airports can make sense for specific connections: for example, Vienna (VIE) has a very good network of flights to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, while Helsinki (HEL) is the geographically closest place to transfer if coming in from East Asia.

By train[edit]

The Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing and Vladivostok to Moscow is a classic rail journey. Also after the finalized construction of a railway link between Kazakhstan and China, the Historic Silk Road is becoming increasingly popular with adventurers, trying to beat down a new path, this new Almaty - Urumqi service runs twice per week, and Almaty is easily reached from Moscow by train. Other options include several connections to the middle east, offered by the Turkish Railways (TCDD). There are weekly services from Istanbul via Ankara to Tehran in Iran, and Damascus in Syria, as well as a sketchy service to Baghdad.

By ship[edit]

It is still possible, but expensive, to do the classic transatlantic voyage between the United Kingdom and the United States. The easiest option is by the historic, and only remaining Ocean Liner operator, Cunard Line, but expect to pay USD1,000-2,000 for the cheapest tickets on the 6 day voyage between Southampton and New York done around 10 times per year in each direction. If your pockets are not deep enough for this price range, your only other options of crossing the North Atlantic are pretty much limited to Freighter travel.

Most major cruise ships that ply the waters of Europe during summer (June - September) also do cruises in Latin America and Southeast Asia for the rest of the year. That means those ships have a transatlantic journey twice per year, at low prices when you consider the length of the trip (at least a week). These are often called positioning cruises. MSC has several ships from the Caribbean to Europe in April and May.

There are several lines crossing the Mediterranean, the main ports of call in North Africa is Tangier in Morocco and Tunis in Tunisia (See Ferries in the Mediterranean for more details), but there is also a little known option of going via Cyprus where you can use Louis Cruises crossings to Port Said in Egypt and Haifa in Israel as a regular ferry service. Keep in mind though, that you can only do this on routes out of Cyprus, and it requires special arrangements - Varianos Travel in Nicosia seem to be the only tour agency offering this option.

Get around[edit]

Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost carrier

There are virtually no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the Schengen Agreement, except under special circumstances during major events. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen Agreement signatory country is valid in all other countries that signed and implemented the treaty. Be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen treaty countries are members of the European Union. See the table above for the current list and the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information.

Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear passport control in the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. However, if travelling within the Schengen Area to or from one of the Schengen countries outside the EU, customs controls are still in place.

Travel to and from a Schengen Agreement country to any other country will result in the normal border checks. Note that, regardless of whether you travelling within Schengen or not, at some airports, airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.

As an example of the practical implications on the traveller:

  • Travel from Germany to France (both EU, both Schengen): no controls(*)
  • Travel from Germany to Switzerland (both Schengen, Switzerland not in EU): customs checks, but no immigration control
  • Travel from France to the United Kingdom (both EU, UK not in Schengen): immigration control, but no customs check(*)
  • Travel from Switzerland to the United Kingdom: immigration and customs checks

'*Whilst in theory the EU means no customs checks for the movement of goods for trading, you may still encounter customs officers when travelling between two EU countries. When such happens, their priority is to prevent illegal or controlled items (i.e. items that pose a safety, security, health or environmental risk) from crossing the border.

By train[edit]

A German high-speed ICE train
Main article: Rail travel in Europe

Especially in Western and Central Europe, the trains are fast, efficient and cost-competitive with flying. High-speed trains like the Italian Frecciarossa,the French TGV, the German ICE, the Spanish AVE and the cross-border Eurostar and Thalys services speed along at up to 320km/h (200mph) and, when taking into account travel time to the airport and back, are often faster than taking the plane. The flip side is that tickets bought on the spot can be expensive, although there are good discounts available if you book in advance or take advantage of various deals. In particular, the Inter Rail (for Europeans) and Eurail (for everybody else) passes offer good value if you plan on travelling extensively around Europe (or even a single region) and want more flexibility than cheap plane tickets can offer. Beware, however, that it is necessary to make reservations for all high speed trains in many countries and the number of seats for rail pass holders is very limited, and in addition to having to make these reservations in person at the station in certain countries it is often times difficult to go where you want on high speed train using your pass, especially on the weekends.

Unfortunately there is no single international on-line source of information, especially one that includes new privately run competitors and pricing. One of the most extensive and reliable train travel planners for Western Europe is DB German railways.

By plane[edit]

EU Passenger Rights
European Union (EU) Regulation 261/2004 of 17 Feb 2005 gives certain rights to passenger on all flights, schedule or charter and flights provided as part of a Package Holiday. It only applies to passengers flying from an EU airport by whatever carrier, or from an airport outside the EU to an EU airport on an EU carrier.

Denied Boarding

If:

  • you have a valid ticket
  • you have a confirmed reservation
  • you have checked in by the deadline given to you by the airline

Then you are entitled to a compensation, which is:

  • €250 if the flight is shorter than 1500km (932 mi)
  • but only €125 if it is delayed less than 2 hours
  • €400 if the flight is between 1500km (932 mi) and 3500 km (2174 mi)
  • but only €200 if it is delayed less than 3 hours
  • €600 if the flight is longer than 3500km (2174 mi)
  • but only €300 if it is delayed less than 4 hours
  • and a refund of your ticket (with a free flight back to your initial point of departure, when relevant)
  • or alternative transport to your final destination.

The airline also have to cover the following expenses:

  • two telephone calls or emails, telexes or faxes
  • meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time.
  • hotel accommodation if you are delayed overnight.

Usually they will give you a prepaid phone card, and vouchers for a restaurant and a hotel.

Refund for delayed flight

If your flight is delayed 5 hours or longer you can get a refund of your ticket (with a free flight back to your initial point of departure, when relevant).

Like the US, All flights within and from the European Union limit liquids, gels and creams in carry-on baggage to 100mL (3.4 US Fl Oz) containers, carried in a transparent, zip-lock plastic bag no larger than 1L (33.8 US Oz). The bag must be presented during security checks and only one bag per passenger is permitted.

Discount airlines[edit]

Main article: Discount airlines in Europe

Dozens of budget airlines allow very cheap travel around Europe, often much cheaper than the train or even bus fares for the same journey, Currently the cheapest flights are offered by low cost airlines such as AirBerlin, Germanwings, EasyJet, Tuifly, Ryanair and WizzAir. All of these flights should be booked on the internet well in advance, otherwise the price advantage may become non-existent. Always compare prices with major carriers like British Airways, Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa! Only in very few cases prices are higher than €80 on any airline when booking a month or more ahead of time (except on very long routes e.g. Dublin - Istanbul). You should also make sure where the airport is located, since some low cost airlines name very small airports by the next major city, even if the distance is up to two hours drive by bus (eg Ryan- and Wizzair's Frankfurt-Hahn, which is not Frankfurt/Main International).

By bus[edit]

For very long distances, travelling by bus may actually be more expensive than travelling by plane. However, bus travel is generally advantageous for shorter trips, trips on short notice, if wish to see the countryside you are travelling through, if you have heavy luggage, or if you are a proponent of Ecotourism. New bus services are being permitted based on the EU privatization scheme, offering point-to-point services between major cities on new, very comfortable buses with internet connections, reclining seats, etc at very low rates.

Eurolines[edit]

Eurolines connects over 500 destinations, covering the whole of Europe and Morocco. Eurolines allows travelling from Sicily to Helsinki and from Casablanca to Moscow. Eurolines buses make very few stops in smaller cities and are generally only viable for travel between large cities.

Eurolines offers several types of passes. Each individual journey must be booked in advance of its departure date/time. That means that, depending on availability, you may or may not be able to simply arrive at the bus terminal and board any available bus. The pass works well for travellers who either prefer only to see major cities, or who intend to use the pass in conjunction with local transport options. Pass-holders can travel between the following cities: Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Bratislava, Brno, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dijon, Dublin, Edinburgh, Florence, Frankfurt, Geneva, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Kaunas, Kosice, Lille, London, Lyon, Madrid, Marseille, Milan, Montpellier, Munich, Nancy, Nantes, Nice, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Rennes, Riga, Rome, Stockholm, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Toulouse, Tours, Vienna, Venice, Vilnius and Zurich.

Through fares are available to destinations on the national networks of some companies, including Touring in Germany and National Express in the UK.

Other long-haul companies[edit]

  • Megabus - serves various destinations in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Often has the cheapest fares - prices start at GBP/€1.50 if booked far ahead in advance. Through fares are available from continental Europe to destinations on the company's UK domestic network and vice versa.
  • iDBUS - owned by the SNCF, the French state railway company, iDBUS serves various destinations in France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.
  • PolskiBus - operates buses from Poland to Berlin, Prague, Bratislava and Vienna.
  • Student Agency - based in Prague, serves destinations across Europe.
  • Various Eastern European bus companies operate trans-European bus services that are orientated towards Eastern European nationals; many of these companies come and go.

By ship[edit]

Main articles: Baltic Sea ferries, Ferries in the Mediterranean, Ferry routes to British Mainland

The Baltic sea has several lines running between the major cities (for example Gdansk, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga etc). Most ships are very large, and parallel Caribbean cruise liners in size and in service.

In the Atlantic, Smyril Line is the only company sailing to the rather remote North Atlantic islands of Iceland and the Faroe Islands. It sails from Denmark, which also host numerous lines to Norway and Sweden. From the British Isles a large number of lines still cross the English Channel to France, despite the opening of the Channel Tunnel. There are also numerous services to Denmark, the Benelux and even across the Bay of Biscay to Spain. Further south there is a weekly service from Portimão to the Canary Islands via the remote volcanic Madeira island.

In the Mediterranean Sea a large number of ferries and cruise ships operate between Spain, Italy and Southern France. And across the Italian peninsular ferries also ply across the Adriatic sea to Croatia and Greece, with Bari as the main terminal (out of many).

And finally The Black Sea also has several ferries plying across it's waters, albeit service can be fairly sketchy at times. Poti, Istanbul and Sevastopol are the main ports, but nearly all the Black Sea ports has a ferry going somewhere, but rarely anywhere logical - i.e. often along the coast.

There are also various ferries on the larger lakes and for crossing rivers. Furthermore, there are several regularly running cruise-lines on the larger rivers like the Rhine, Danube and the Volga. And boating excursions within Europe, particularly along the scenic rivers and between many of the islands in the Mediterranean , are an excellent way to combine travel between locations with an adventure along the way. Accommodations range from very basic to extremely luxurious depending upon the company and class of travel selected. Another famous line is the Hurtigruten cruise-ferries which sails all along Norway's amazing coastline and fjords.

By car[edit]

The ease of driving on the continent varies greatly, and as a general rule east and west of the old iron curtain are two different worlds. Western European countries for the most part have good road conditions and extensive and well developed highway networks, whereas Eastern European countries are still working hard on the great backlog left behind from communist days. During vacations, especially during summer and Christmas vacations, driving on the highways can be hellish, particularly in Germany (listen for the word Stau = traffic jam in the automated traffic broadcasts).

Road rules[edit]

Europabrücke (Europe's bridge)is a 777m (2,549.2 ft) long bridge spanning the Wipp valley just south of Innsbruck, Austria.

There are no uniform speed limits across the union, the fabled limitless German autobahn is now limited to mostly rural sections. The majority of motorways/freeways have a 110-130km/h (70-80mph) speed limit, while the limit on undivided highways varies between 80 and 100km/h (50-65mph). For North Americans, a major difference is the left lane on highways where traffic drives on the right, which are not the "fast lane" you're used to, but rather the "passing lane" and it's illegal to overtake on the right, so you should only occupy the outer lane when you are overtaking someone; stay there, and you will have other vehicles tailgating while flashing their lights in annoyance and traffic police eager to fine you. Remember to use turn signals when changing lanes.

Except for priority streets (check the symbol in the table) there is a general duty to give way to traffic from your right in crossings and intersections that are not marked, and other drivers have every expectation you adhere to this. This also applies to unmarked T-intersections, unlike in North America where the ending road should normally yield to the through road even if unmarked. But in the ubiquitous roundabouts (circles) you find everywhere across the continent, cars already in the circle have the right of way when indicated by triangular give way signs aimed at drivers approaching the roundabout (check the symbol in the table), this is practically always the case. Remember to indicate when you're leaving a roundabout. Don't do right turns on red lights (unless the light features a green right arrow sign, in which case right turns on red are permitted), it's illegal, and because it's not common practice, also dangerous. Bicycles have the same status as cars, though this may vary a bit per country, a cyclist coming from the right for example has right of way.

Markings and signs are similar throughout Europe but variations in design and interpretations exist so it may be very practical to research each country individually before you travel

Avoid large cities, for example London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Belgrade and Moscow, if you are not used to driving in Europe. Their centres were built long before the introduction of the automobile, and were not meant to cope with the levels of traffic common these days. The streets are often narrow and difficult to drive on. So for the most part it may be a slow, frustrating and potentially dangerous experience, and even then, finding a parking spot can potentially take a long time and cost an arm and a leg when you find it. Instead, park at the outskirts of town, where it is often free, and use the typically extensive and efficient public transit system to reach the centre. In some cities, there are good parking spaces near major public transport stations marked P+R or Park and Ride for free or a symbolic price when you have a valid public transport ticket (however they are also often full during work hours). If you are renting, try to work around having a car while visiting large cities.

  • Age: Almost everywhere, especially in the EU, you need to be 18 years old to drive, even supervised, and in countries with Learning schemes, it's usually an exhaustive procedure to get a permit, and rarely applicable to foreign citizens anyway. Exceptions include Portugal, Ireland and the UK.
  • Equipment
    • A warning triangle is compulsory nearly anywhere, and so is using it in case of breakdowns.
    • Hi-Visibility (reflective) vests are compulsory in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Spain and gaining popularity elsewhere.
    • Headlamp Adjusters are also compulsory equipment in most countries, but in the U.K. and Ireland only if you are driving a continental car.
  • Paperwork
    • Original Registration Document is compulsory
    • Motor vehicle insurance certificate is compulsory
    • A black and white, 1-3 letter country identity sticker is compulsory for cars without EU license plates.
    • International driving permit, while it's not compulsory for certain nationalities in some European countries, it's cheap, and could potentially save you from nasty incidents with authorities.
    • A vignette is required for highways in some countries; this is usually marked on border crossings but NOT on entrance ramps
    • If you want to cross a border with a borrowed car, in most countries you need to have a written consent with you. This applies to rented cars as well as cars borrowed from your friend if that friend is not travelling with you.
  • Safety
    • Most european countries require all passengers to wear seat belts at all times.
    • In many countries children under 12 years of age have to use a child safety seat.

If you plan on renting a car for driving across Europe, it often makes sense to check the rates in different countries rather than just hire a car in the country of arrival. The price differences can be very substantial for longer rentals, to an extent where it can make sense to adjust your travel plans accordingly. I.e. if you plan on travelling around Scandinavia by car, it will often be much cheaper to fly into Germany and rent a car there. Beware that you usually need a written consent before you can cross a border with a rented car and some rental companies do not provide that (and their insurance is not valid abroad!) while others charge extra. Compared to North America, you should be prepared for smaller but more efficient cars, and most of them have manual transmission, so don't expect an automatic without requesting one while placing your order (and often paying extra).

In any case driving in Europe is an expensive proposition, gas prices hover around €1.30-1.80 per litre (USD7-8 per US gallon) in much of Europe, while often somewhat cheaper in Russia. Rentals are around 2-3 more expensive than in North America. Highway tolls are very common and a variety of systems is being used, city centre congestion charges increasingly so, and even parking can work up to €50 (USD70) per day in the most expensive cities. Driving can be an enjoyable and feasible way to see the countryside and smaller cities, but most Europeans would find a vacation to say, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, in a rented car completely laughable.

By bike[edit]

European cycle route network Eurovelo consists of 14 routes linking virtually every country on the continent. Some of these routes are not finished yet, plan is to have 60,000 km of bike lanes, now around 45,000 is in place.

Eurovelo 6 - Rivers Route.

By thumb[edit]

Liftplaats at Prins Bernardplein

Hitchhiking is a common way of travelling in some parts of Europe, especially in former eastern bloc countries. It can be a pleasant way to meet lots of people, and to travel without spending too many euros. Don't forget to check out the tips for hitchhiking.

Note that in the former Eastern bloc, you may run into language problems while hitchhiking, especially if you speak only English. It is not advisable to hitchhike in former Yugoslavia, for example between Croatia and Serbia, because you could run into big problems with nationalists. Between Croatia and Slovenia it's usually not a problem. In Moldova, Romania and Ukraine, hitchhiking is a common way of transport (you might even have to queue up). It's easier to take train or bus because of the low rates and the fact that drivers usually expect to be paid. In Western Europe, especially in the Netherlands and Germany, it's highly uncommon (the Dutch and many German county governments issue free public transport to students enrolled in local universities) but easy and fast to hitchhike. In most countries it is forbidden to hitchhike on highways.

Talk[edit]

English proficiency varies greatly across the continent. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Malta, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, nearly everyone is able to communicate in English with varying degrees of fluency. German-speaking areas (particularly in Austria, German provinces of Switzerland and the former West Germany) and the Flanders region of Belgium are also good bets for English, though you may need to bear with heavy accents. Outside these areas, English proficiency will primarily be a function of age, educational attainment (i.e. those who are currently studying at or have recently graduated from university will likely be more proficient), proximity to the city centre and whether they work in tourism-related industries.

A bit of German and Russian may be known by older generation of people who grew-up in the former Eastern Bloc. If you can read German reasonably well, you may also be able to understand the writings in Dutch and Scandinavian languages.

Speaking or reading Latin or one of the Romance languages will likely help you a great deal in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Romania, while the same is true if you speak one of the Slavic languages in the East.

If you need assistance, look for someone young, under the age of 40 or even better under the age of 30, as this greatly increases your chances of locating an English speaker, although in Scandinavia English is spoken by nearly everyone regardless of age, and many older German and Dutch speakers know some English as well. Alternatively, hotel staff can be another option, especially in areas where few locals speak English, even if you don't stay at their hotel.

Hiring a tour guide will also help you overcome the language barrier so arrange for one while preparing a trip, especially if you're travelling in groups and visiting far flung rural areas where English or your preferred language will be more unlikely to be understood.

See[edit][add listing]

The all too common concept of trying to "do Europe" is pretty unrealistic, and might make it less enjoyable for some. While it is true that Europe is compact and easy to get around with efficient infrastructure set up everywhere, as previously mentioned, it also has more preserved history packed into it than virtually anywhere else. There are more than 400 world heritage sites on the continent, and that is just the very tip of the iceberg. So, depending on your travel style, you might consider foregoing the mad dash through Europe in an attempt to get the ritual photos of you in front of the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben etc. over and done with. The key is to prioritize, pick 2-3 sights you really want to see per week, and plan a route from that. There are likely to be some amazing, world class sights and attractions that you haven't even thought about somewhere in between two given cities, and finding those will be infinitely more rewarding than following the beaten down post card route if that's what you prefer. Use your best judgment.

Historical and cultural attractions[edit]

Europe was home to some of the world's most advanced civilisations, which has led to an astonishing cultural heritage today. Ancient Greece has been credited with the foundation of Western culture, and has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and arts of the European continent. Ancient Greek structures are scattered over Greece and Turkey, including Delphi, Olympia, Sparta, Ephesus, Lycia and of course the Parthenon in Athens.

Ancient Greece was followed by the Roman Empire, one of the greatest civilisations in the world that took hold of large swathes of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Visiting Roman ruins in Rome is a no-brainer, with the magnificent Colosseum, Pantheon and the Roman Forum. Many Roman ruins can also be found in Spain, such as the remains at Merida, Italica, Segovia, Toledo and Terragona. With 47 sites, Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites of any country in the world, directly followed by Spain with 43.

Rail[edit]

Itineraries[edit]

Do[edit][add listing]

Music[edit]

Despite an ever growing competition from the United States and nations with new found wealth, Europe is still the spiritual home of classical music and Opera, and the various European capitals are home to some amazing 'old world' opera houses, where the hundreds of years of history, often enhances the experience into something otherworldly. But if opera singers give you a headache, and you would much rather head-bang, fear not, Europe has more music festivals than your liver will ever hold up to; the Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, the Sziget fesztivál in Budapest and, finally, the reigning champion Glastonbury in England weighing in at 195,000 drunk souls, are widely considered the 3 big ones, but many other ones are not the slightest bit small. Alternatively, there is the revival festival in Poland, Woodstock while it doesn't boast the star-studded line-up of some commercial festivals, is great for those who want to do it on the cheap (there is no ticket to buy) and attracted 700,000 music fans in 2011.

Sports[edit]

Perhaps no other field has seen stronger European integration than sports, most professional sports have Europe wide leagues in place, and nearly every sport has a bi-annual European Championship.

  • Football (always means soccer in Europe) If you are already a football fan the game hardly gets any better than watching your favourite team battle it out against the world's greatest football clubs in the Champions League or the Europa League. Football fans gather together in pubs or at home to watch the games, often wearing scarves of their favourite teams. Games in the pan European leagues usually takes place mid-week to allow for games in the national leagues to take place during the weekend. For the popular teams the tickets are often sold out weeks in advance.
  • Basketball The pan European Euroleague is the highest tier of professional basketball in Europe, featuring teams from 18 different European countries and some of the best basketball you'll find outside the NBA. The regular season runs Oct-Jan and play-offs takes place between Jan-May.
  • Handball Also sees a annual pan European tournament, the Champions League taking place every year. While the sport is little known outside Europe, it's one of the most popular sports on the continent. Two teams with seven players each pass and bounce a ball to throw it into the football-style goal of the opposing team.
  • Cycling Is another sport the enjoys much wider popularity in Europe, than virtually the rest of the world.
    paragliders view in Praia a Mare, Italy
    Hundreds of competitions takes place every year, but the 3 unrivalled events of the year is the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, where thousands of thousands of spectators line up along the often hundred kilometre plus routes. The whole season is managed in a league like format called the Protour.
  • Volleyball is also a very popular sport with European Volleyball Championship organized biannually.
  • Paragliding Europe is home to some of the most popular paragliding sites in the world. Oludeniz in Turkey, Interlaken in Switzerland, Praia a Mare in Italy just to mention a few.

American football is almost non-existent in Europe, the closest popular sport being rugby.

Skiing & Snowboarding[edit]

Skiiing with the iconic Matterhorn as the backdrop

Europe is home to some fantastic ski resorts; the Alps are home of some of the best ski resorts in the world, and there are more here then anywhere else. Austria and Switzerland, contain hundreds of resorts alone. Other Alpine ski destinations include, France, Italy, Slovenia, Germany (Bavaria) and even tiny Liechtenstein. The largest area is Les Portes du Soleil, made up of 13 linked ski resorts in Switzerland and France, boasting over 650km of marked runs.

But the fun doesn't stop in the Alps; The Scandinavian Mountains features some of the worlds most civilized and family oriented Skiing areas, but the lower altitude also means it's a trade-of for shorter runs - Åre is the biggest, while way up north Riksgränsen allows skiing well into the summer. Scotland is home of 5 ski resorts: Nevis Range has the highest vertical drop at 566 metres, while Glenshee is the largest. A surprising option is Sierra Nevada in Spain, fairly large, just hours drive from the Mediterranean coast, and with a season often running into May - you can ski in the Morning, and chill on the beach in the afternoon. To the North the Pyrenees shared with France and Andorra also offers excellent skiing in up to 2,700m (8,000 ft) altitude, Domaine Tourmalet is the largest resort in the area with over 100km of pistes.

Eastern Europe is seeing increasing popularity since prices are much lower than elsewhere on the continent, the downside is that facilities are not as expansive or modern as elsewhere in Europe, but things are rapidly improving. Slovenia is cheap alternative in the über- expensive Alps, Kranjska Gora is the largest resort in the country. The Carpathian mountains with the highest runs at almost 2200m (7200 ft) is another popular area; Poiana Brasov (Romania, 20km, 11 lifts [1]) Zakopane[2] (Poland, 30km, 20 lifts) and Jasna (Slovakia, 29km, 24 lifts) are the largest and most popular areas in the respective countries.

National Parks[edit]

There are more than 360 national parks [3] on the continent, which is not a surprise since Europe is the world's second-most densely populated continent. Many parks are small, some less than a single square kilometre, but there are also some expansive national parks to explore. The Vatnajokull National Park on Iceland is the largest, covering around 12,000km² (7,500 square miles), and the fascinating national parks of the Arctic Svalbard are not far behind, while Yugyd Va National Park in the Russian Urals is largest on the mainland itself. In total the national parks of Europe encompass an area of around 98,000km² (37,000 sqare miles).

Outdoor activities[edit]

Many cities in Europe are great for cycling. Europe has several places for whitewater sports and canyoning.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Euro Currency conversion table (July 2013)
Foreign currencyEither oneEuro
£0.86 Pound Sterling11.16
CHF 1.24 Swiss Franc10.81
NOK 7.84 Norwegian Krone10.13
SEK 8.61 Swedish Krona10.12
DKK 7.46 Danish Krone10.13
PLN 4.24 Polish Zloty10.24
CZK 25.92 Czech Koruna10.04
TRY 2.52 Turkish Lira10.40
Eurozone (light-blue unilaterally adopted the euro)
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The euro (Symbol: €, ISO 4217 code: EUR) is the common currency of many countries of the European Union. One euro is divided into 100 cents; sometimes referred to as 'euro cents' to differentiate them from their US and other counterparts. Established in 1999 and introduced in cash form on 1 Jan 2002, the euro removes the need for money exchange. As such it is not only a boon to pan-European business, but of course also to travellers.

It is interesting that each member nation has a unique design at the back of the euro coins minted in their country. Rest assured that regardless of the origin of the designs at the back, the euro coins are legal tender anywhere throughout the Eurozone.

The euro has not been adopted by all EU countries. Those countries which have replaced their own national currencies are commonly called the Eurozone. By law, all EU countries (except Denmark and the United Kingdom) have to eventually adopt the euro. In practice, though, plans for this in the remaining newcomer EU states are often put on hold pending the outcome of the current economic crisis facing Europe.

Outside the EU, Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican have unilaterally adopted the euro. All of these nations, except Kosovo and Montenegro, are allowed to mint a limited amount of national Euro coins. Because these are so rare, they are often worth more than their face value, so are prized by collectors. Andorra was due to release its own Euro coins in July 2013, but this has since been delayed.

All other other countries in Europe still retain their own currencies. Euros are widely accepted in European countries outside the Eurozone, but not universally, and at shops and restaurants the exchange rate is rarely in your favour. Many hotels, however, price and accept payment in euros. Also, a large number of filling stations and motorway service areas in European countries outside the Eurozone accept the euro, and both Croatia and Serbia allow payment of highway tolls in euros. Money changers will generally give good to excellent exchange rates for the euro, and in a pinch they will be accepted by nearly everybody.

Do not accept any of the obsolete currencies. While several countries' banks will still change them into euros, it's a lot of hassle and there is no guarantee that this will be possible everywhere or on short notice. You should also expect to leave your personal information with the bank as a precaution against money laundering.

ATMs[edit]

Throughout Europe, automatic teller machines are readily available. They will accept various European bank cards as well as credit cards. However, be prepared to pay a fee for the service (usually a percentage of the amount withdrawn, with a minimum of few euro) which may be in addition to the fees your bank already imposes on foreign withdrawals. Read the labels/notices on the machine before using.

European ATMs do not usually have letters on the keypad. PINs longer than 4 digits are generally no longer a problem.

Credit/debit cards[edit]

Credit/debit card acceptance is not as universal as in the United States, especially in Eastern Europe, but growing steadily. In mainland Europe, most merchants, if they accept credit cards, will require you to spend a minimum amount. Even if you see a card machine at the till, it doesn't mean that an internationally-recognised card like VISA or MasterCard will be accepted; a number of merchants in mainland Europe only accept local cards (ie without the AmEx, MasterCard or VISA logo). Some countries mandate that merchants check your ID for purchases of as little as €50, and many shops will insist on ID for any credit card transaction.

An increasing number of European countries, notably the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Nordic countries, have moved to a chip and PIN system, where credit cards all have a chip built in and you have to punch in your PIN code instead of signing a receipt. Any store that displays Visa, MasterCard, Amex etc logos is required to accept "traditional" sign-and-swipe cards, so be persistent if they initially refuse, although you may need to escalate the problem to the manager. (With most terminals, swiping your card and simply waiting 20 seconds without entering the PIN will cause them to print out the signing slip.) However, with self-service like gas pumps and ticket vending machines, you may be out of luck.

Exchange[edit]

With 50 intricately linked countries and 28 currencies squeezed into an area roughly the size of Canada or China, the planet's largest diaspora due to the continent's colonial ties with virtually the entire world, and more tourism arrivals than anywhere else, currency exchange is a fact of life in Europe, and the market is probably better established than anywhere else in the world, and readily available nearly everywhere. Banks will nearly without exception exchange all European currencies, and within the European Union banks will accept nearly any currency that is legally traded abroad. Specialized currency exchange companies are also widespread, especially in major tourist destinations, and are often slightly cheaper than banks. However, with ATM's accepting all major credit and debit cards available everywhere, many visitors simply withdraw money electronically to get as close to the real exchange rate as possible.

Costs and taxes[edit]

The EU is generally expensive for most visitors.

When buying souvenirs, it costs substantially less to purchase from smaller stalls than the stores affiliated with to larger establishments.

As for dining, most service items that are complimentary in your home country (e.g. water, bread) may not be so in this continent.

However most goods and services offered in the region are required to include value added tax (VAT) in their published prices, especially the large print. The VAT is (at least partially) refundable if you are a non-resident, spend a minimum amount in a particular shop in one day, and intend to export the goods you purchased outside the EU; just make sure you request for a voucher from the store and show them to customs at your exit point. To be safe, be on the lookout for a VAT refund sticker at the door or window of the store and bring your passport (sometimes a photocopy will suffice) during shopping trips. In some cases, tax free agents such as Global Blue and Premier have in-town offices where you can 'advance' your tax refund in cash: have a credit card, passport and vouchers ready, and you still need to have paperwork processed at your airport of departure from the EU (otherwise, your credit card will be charged accordingly).

Eat[edit][add listing]

Drink[edit][add listing]

Traditional alcohol belts in Europe; red indicates wine, brown indicates beer, and blue indicates vodka or other spirits

Europeans generally have liberal attitudes towards drinking, with the notable exception of Scandinavia (excluding Denmark). The legal drinking age varies between 16-18 in most countries, often with differentiated limits for beer and spirits. In most places in western Europe drinking in public is both legal, and a common warm weather activity, and police are more likely to give you a warning and send you on your way to bed, than issue fines for drunken or rowdy behaviour. In most Eastern European countries drinking in public is forbidden, although still pretty common. Except on the British Isles, the nightclubs rarely gets going until past midnight, head for the bars and restaurants to find people until then.

Wine[edit]

Europe is by far the biggest wine producing region in the world, France is the biggest and most famous, but 5 of the 10 largest wine exporters are European Nations; France is followed by Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal, and nearly all European nations have wine production of some scale. Wine production was started 4000 years ago by the Minoan civilization in present day Greece, and was spread across Europe by the Phoenicians and later the Romans. Unlike other regions, European wine producers place much more emphasis on tradition and terroir than on the grape variety, and wines in Europe will typically be labelled by region rather than by its grape variety (such as Chardonnay), unlike the common practice elsewhere. This is because European wine producers claim that their long history have allowed them to adapt production techniques to the unique conditions of their particular region, and things like the soil composition for a region also has much influence on the taste of the wine. Some of the best and most famous wine regions of Europe includes Bordeaux, whose name is as synonymous with its wines as the large city. Another famous French region producing excellent wines is Burgundy (Bourgogne) around the city of Dijon, it produces both red and whites - the most famous ones, often referred to as Burgundies, are red wines made from Pinot Noir or white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Further north, the Alsace region close to the Germany, and Mosel across the border - grown on some of the continents most dramatic wineyards on very steep hills, are above all known for their excellent white wines. Further to the south, Tuscany in Italy is famous for its Chianti wines made from Sangiovese grapes, while La Rioja is arguably the most popular, and certainly among the best, Spanish wine regions.

In fact, many wine names indicate the place where the wine comes from, with EU laws forbidding use of the name unless it is from a specific place. Examples include Champagne, which has to come from the Champagne region of France, Port which has to come from Porto, Portugal, Sherry which has to come from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, as well as Tokaji which has to come from Tokaj, Hungary.

Beer[edit]

While wine is the most popular alcohol in Southern Europe, beer is the national drink for much of Western Europe. Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic makes some of the finest brews in Europe and maybe the world. Visitors from many countries, especially those from East Asia or North America will find that European lagers have a richer stronger taste, and often a higher alcohol content than found at home.

  • In Europe as elsewhere, the most popular beers are lagers, also known as Pilsner after the Czech city of Pilsen that originated the style.
  • The United Kingdom, Ireland and partly the Belgian abbey breweries, on the other hand have strong brewing traditions in ale, which is brewed using quickly fermenting yeast giving it a sweet and fruity taste.
  • Wheat beers are very popular in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, and come in many varieties of their own. Traditional German hefeweizen is unfiltered and cloudy, while kristall is filtered and looks much like lager. Belgian witbiers like Hoegaarden are often gently flavored and popular in summer, sometimes with a slice of lemon on the side. And in a class of their own are spontaneously fermented lambics, which are very sour and not to everyone's taste!
  • Stout (porter) is a British and Irish speciality, with Guinness available around the continent. Made from roasted malts, stout is dark and strong in both taste and alcohol content, hence the name.

Most European nations have a national brand; like Carlsberg, Heineken or Stella, sold most everywhere - but the really good beers are often the smaller brands, which doesn't try to appeal to everyone. In recent years microbreweries have had a huge revival shooting up everywhere around the continent. If you really want to indulge, try one of the beer festivals, held in many German cities, the most famously Munich Oktoberfest (where they start drinking already in late September!).

Another northern European favorite is cider, most commonly brewed from apples and sold both bottled and on tap in pubs. Taste and alcohol content can vary widely, from dense, cloudy and strong (8% or more) to light, weak (under 4%) and occasionally even artificially flavored.

Spirits[edit]

Like elsewhere on the planet; Vodka, Rum and Gin is available everywhere. Scandinavia (except Denmark), Eastern Europe and Russia especially have an affection for Vodka, and if you've so far only tried the usual suspects like Smirnoff or Absolut; you should try the Vodka there, you may just end up surprised at how tasty the stuff can actually be. Elsewhere, most regions have a local speciality that local drinking comrades will happily fill in you, and eagerly wait for your funny faces when your throat and taste-buds screams in agony. Most likely it will be Slivovitz (also called Rakia) in South-eastern Europe and the Balkans (especially in Serbia), a strongly tasting and fruity brandy, usually made from plums. Other forms of brandy, made from grapes instead, such as traditional Brandy, Cognac or Port wine are popular in the UK and South-western Europe. Greece and Italy makes the popular Ouzo/Sambuca which along with the related, resurgent Absinthe, is made from star anise and sugar, giving it a liquorice like taste - watch for the many party fire tricks related to those drinks. In northern Europe you'll likely be served Schnapps (or Snaps, Aquavit), usually made from fermented hops or potatoes accented by traditional herbs like dill or sloe, be careful, it suddenly kicks in without much warning. Finally, it will hardly come as a surprise to many that Whiskey (or Whisky) is popular with the Scots and Irish. While all these drinks have strong regional roots, you'll generally find one or two types of each, in virtually any bar on the continent.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are 4 major types of accommodation:

  • Apartments
  • Small private hotels
  • Two- and three-star hotel resorts, for typical mass tourism
  • Five-star luxury hotels

Stay safe[edit]

For emergencies you can dial 112 in any EU member nation as well as most other European countries - even when it is not the primary number for emergency services. All 112 alarm centrals within the EU are legally required to be capable of patching you through to an English speaking operator. 112 can be dialled from any GSM phone, even locked phones or, in most countries, phones without a SIM installed.

The biggest risks to your safety in Europe like in any major tourist area are pickpockets and muggings. Using common sense and being aware of your surroundings can help to greatly reduce the risk of these occurrences. Remember alcohol is an integral part of many European cultures but overuse can lead to violence and poor judgement! In general, bars and pubs are not a place where alcohol causes these problems in Europe but it can end up being a big problem on the roads.

Most European countries have very low levels of violence compared to the United States. The main issues are drug use and gang related violence which is most likely in Britain and France, but it's virtually unheard of for any tourists to be involved in such issues. The few "trouble areas" that should be avoided are the run-down suburbs of certain urban areas (particularly in Europe's largest cities) and some places in eastern and southern Europe do have much higher violent crime rates, and can be very dangerous for non locals, but these areas shouldn't be of interest to the average tourist. Central and Western Europe are generally the safest regions.

Europe may be very urban and densely populated in general but as always when travelling in rural and forested / mountainous areas take the proper precautions. All it takes is one wrong turn down a ski piste and you are stranded. Time to take out the mobile phone. Did you bring one?

For more information see Common scams which contains many Europe-specific scams.

Stay healthy[edit]

There are no specific precautions required for staying healthy in Europe as most restaurants maintain high standards of hygiene and in the majority of countries tap water is safe to drink. However, for more precise details on these matters as well as for general information on emergency care, pharmaceutical regulations and dentistry standards etc, please consult the 'Stay safe' section on specific country articles.

EU/EEA citizens should apply for (or bring) the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which grants you access to state-provided healthcare within the European Union as well as Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein either at reduced cost or free of charge, under the same terms as a resident of the country you are visiting. If you are used to free healthcare in your own country, remember that some member states expect patients to pay towards their treatment, and you may be expected to do the same. And do remember that the EHIC does not equal a travel insurance; it doesn't cover private healthcare, the cost of mountain rescues or repatriation to your home country. Neither does it allow you to go abroad specifically to receive medical care.

If you are not a EU/EEA citizen, remember to buy a travel insurance policy, while some countries do provide free emergency care for visitors, any follow-up treatment and repatriation is your own responsibility, and some countries expect you to foot the entire bill for any treatment yourself - the fabled universal healthcare system does not equal free treatment for non EU citizens. Those who need a Schengen visa are required to get travel insurance that covers the entire Schengen zone for the duration of the trip and coverage for emergency care and medical repatriation must be a minimum of €30,000.

Contact[edit]






This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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