Planning a vacation can be a difficult task. Between booking flights, researching hotels, and creating daily itineraries, planning a successful trip takes a lot of work. This is especially true for foreign countries when logistics become even more grueling due to customs, language barriers, time differences, exchange rates, and other factors.
Travelers who want their vacations to be as stress-free as possible can find value in vacation packages. Many companies offer a variety of vacation packages throughout Europe that take care of all the logistics. As a result, travelers can have a vacation guaranteed to go smoothly. Here are the five best vacation packages offered in Europe.
What Packages Are There for Beach Vacations?
Due to its excellent geographical diversity and ancient history, Europe attracts all kinds of vacationers after a wide range of experiences. However, one of Europe’s best offerings is its wide range of seaside paradises.
Throughout Europe, especially in the Mediterranean region, vacationers can find year-round sunshine, warm beaches, and some of the best coastal views in the world.
Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, and Central Crete
Costco Travel offers an enticing package perfect for island hoppers. The Greek islands of Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete boast some of the best beaches in the world.
Vacationers flock from around the world to enjoy their constant sun, white sand beaches, and warm Mediterranean water. Lounging, sailing, and dining are just a few activities visitors to the Greek islands enjoy.
Athens, the Greek capital city, often neglected by island vacationers, is an excellent addition to this itinerary. History in Athens reaches back to the fifth century BC, from which much of its architecture remains. One of the most popular sites is the Acropolis, the ruins of an ancient citadel.
Costco’s vacation package offers the following itinerary:
- Private ground transportation from the airport to the hotel or ferry dock and return
- Three nights in an Athens hotel
- Ferry between Athens and Mykonos
- Two nights in a Mykonos hotel
- Ferry between Mykonos and Santorini
- Two nights in a Santorini hotel
- Ferry between Santorini and Central Crete
- Three nights in a Central Crete hotel
- One night in an Athens hotel
Like most vacation packages out there, the package does not include flights. Costco more than made up for this by offering additional luxuries, such as daily breakfast and discounts at the variety of hotels and resorts at the traveler’s disposal.
Seven Days in Split, Hvar, and Dubrovnik
Croatia is becoming one of Europe’s most popular summer destinations, and there’s no wonder why. Situated alongside the Adriatic Coast, an inlet of the Mediterranean Sea, tourists can access nearly 4,000 miles of stunning coastline and a network of over 1,000 islands.
This makes Croatia a paradise for boaters, divers, and beach loungers. This package offered by TourRadar ensures that visitors receive the best Croatian experience possible. Hvar, Split, and Dubrovnik are Croatia’s must-see destinations, and this package is an excellent way to ensure no stone is unturned.
On day one of this trip, travelers arrive in Split, where they are met by their private assistant and taken to a 4-star hotel. After two days in Europe, they travel via Catamaran to Hvar, where they will have a tour of the island.
The next day they will head to Dubrovnik, stopping at an oyster bar where they will experience an oyster and wine tasting. They will have the next two days to explore Dubrovnik and enjoy more special tours and free time.
Additional luxuries of this package include:
- Stays in 4-star hotels
- Complimentary breakfast every morning
- Complimentary dinner on the first and last nights
- Private assistant at the airports
- Private local guide in Hvar and Dubrovnik
- Transportation between islands
What Are the Packages for Outdoor Adventurers?
While Europe is a beach bum’s paradise, it is also a mecca of outdoor adventure. Due to the Alps mountain range and Nordic fjords, there are endless options for those who want to experience the boundless nature of Europe first-hand.
Highlights of Scandinavia
Nordic Visitor offers this unbeatable tour of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. While this package includes more urban days in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo, there are plenty of opportunities to experience Scandinavia's wild side.
Norway’s fjords are on every naturalist’s bucket list. Fjords are long, narrow, and deep inlets of the sea situated between high cliffs. Cruises often traverse between the fjords, while hikers climb the overlooking cliffs, earning some of the best views in Scandinavia. The northern lights are another one of Scandinavia’s must-sees, but travelers must elect for a winter tour.
Highlights of the Nordic Visitor’s package include:
- Accommodation for eight nights
- Daily breakfast
- Group dinners
- A cruise along the Norwegian fjords
- Privately guided sightseeing tours of the major cities
- Outdoor tours of breathtaking landscapes
- A tour of Rosenborg Castle
- A ride on Flåm railway, one of the world’s steepest railway line
- Tours of such scenic attractions as Tivoli, Bryggen, and Gamla Stan
- A designated tour leader accompanying the group throughout the journey
There’s no greater intersection between adventure and luxury than Switzerland. Widely regarded as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Switzerland is also home to one of the most renowned sections of the Alps mountain region.
People flock to Switzerland to dine at the finest restaurants and experience some of the greatest alpine terrains. Great Value Vacations offers a tour that encapsulates just that.
In addition to the luxury of Swiss culture, tourists under this vacation package will also be able to experience the dramatic landscape of the Swiss Alps.
Included in this package are:
- Round-trip economy class airfare to Zurich (ZRH)
- Automatic, economy-sized rental car for seven nights, including unlimited mileage, air conditioning, and mandatory insurances
- Pick up and drop off at Zurich Airport
- Seven nights' accommodation in the following hotels or similar:
- One night in Zurich at the Hotel Sternen Oerlikon
- Two nights in Lucerne at the Altstadthotel Krone
- Two nights in Interlaken at the City Hotel Oberland
- One night in Bern at the Hotel Kreuz
- One night in Zurich at the Hotel Sternen Oerlikon
- Breakfast daily
While this package does not include many of the tours and high-touch service of many other packages, the rental car more than makes up for it. Having access to a car gives tourists free rein to explore anything they want. From lake-hopping in Lucerne to hiking the foothills of Bern, travelers will have all of Switzerland at their fingertips.
What Are the Packages for Site-Seeing?
Europe is a wondrous destination for natural beauty. That said, beaches and mountains aren’t up everyone’s alley.
Fortunately, Europe is perhaps best known for its history, culture, and architecture. There are endless sites in Europe, and vacation packages offer efficient ways to see them all.
Prague and Budapest by Train
Well-known for their incredible cityscapes of medieval architecture, cultural hubs, and affordable prices, Romania and the Czech Republic are two of Eastern Europe’s most popular destinations. History buffs, artists, and foodies alike will enjoy everything the cities of Prague and Budapest have to offer.
Offered by Trip Masters, this affordable package includes many perks:
- Flight into Prague and out of Budapest
- Hotel for three nights in Prague
- Train from Prague to Budapest
- Hotel for three nights in Budapest
While this more barebones vacation package doesn’t offer exclusive tours or complimentary meals, it does include flights and hotel stays, which is often not the case for vacation packages. Additionally, exclusive tours and events in cities like Prague and Budapest wouldn’t have much value. With so much to do and see in these cities, tourists will want as much free time as possible.
One of the best activities in either of these cities is roaming. Prague and Budapest feature beautiful architectural designs, with original buildings from the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. Because of this, many travelers enjoy taking long walks and admiring this architecture from the historic streets.
Other Great Visits in Europe
While these packages are great, there are a few cities we would be remiss not to mention. Here is a list of other honorable mentions for travel in Europe:
- London, England
- Paris, France
- Rome, Italy
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Barcelona, Spain
- Madrid, Spain
- Florence, Italy
- Berlin, Germany
Do I Need a Visa To Visit Europe?
Currently, non-EU citizens from 62 countries can travel visa-free throughout Europe’s Schengen Area. With the incoming implementation of ETIAS, this will change.
As early as 2023, travelers from 59 of the 62 countries above, including the United States, will need to register online before entering Europe. This new system is called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and aims to make Europe safer for travelers and tourists alike.
Will ETIAS Make Travel More Difficult?
ETIAS adds a step that wasn’t there before for many travelers. As a result, many may view ETIAS as a burden. That said, ETIAS has been designed to be as efficient as possible.
The application process is quick, approval is nearly instant, and authorization is automatically linked to the traveler’s passport. Authorization also lasts for three years, so there is no need to re-apply within that window.
One of the most crucial scopes of ETIAS is improved security, something Europe needs now more than ever. However, ETIAS will also make travel more efficient.
ETIAS effectively creates an online database accessible to customs agents. Each day agents will know who they’ll be encountering, enriching and expediting the identity verification process. As a result, lines will move faster, and travelers will spend much less time at the airport.
Which Countries Does ETIAS Apply To?
ETIAS applies to all countries part of the Schengen Area and European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA). These countries include:
- Czech Republic
- Iceland (EFTA)
- Liechtenstein (EFTA)
- Norway (EFTA)
- Switzerland (EFTA)
Currently, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are not part of the Schengen Area, despite being members of the EU. They are currently in the process of joining the Schengen Area, though, and can join before ETIAS is implemented. This will leave Ireland as the only EU member country not part of the Schengen Area.
Next Steps for Traveling to Europe
Vacation packages can provide a lot of value to many travelers. While you may find lower prices by booking travel independently, many view higher prices as a trade-off for the reduced legwork and logistics. As a result, vacation packages can be an ideal way to see Europe and all it has to offer.
Before booking a vacation package, travelers should look into ETIAS and how it applies to them. With the incoming implementation of ETIAS, many travelers will face a system that wasn’t there before. While this system is hassle-free and ultimately beneficial to travelers, it should be accounted for ahead of time.