Europe Destination Overview
A journey through the continent of Europe is equal to traversing through a gold mine, where richness is measured not in terms of shiny golden lustre, but in terms of heritage. Home to a whooping 50 diverse countries, each having a distinct identity and culture of its own, Europe deserves at least one visit in your lifetime. Take a Grand Tour across the continent or just hop around one country at a time, you will find the experience quite enriching. Read More
- Destination Overview
If you want to experience all of Europe in one go, avail our Grand Tour packages. Compiled by our travel experts, we have handpicked unique and diverse destinations just for you. Or if you are the kind who likes to enjoy one place at a time, choose your pick and we will do the rest for you.
Flanked by three immense water bodies – the Mediterranean Sea in the south, Arctic Ocean in the north and the Atlantic Ocean in the west, Europe holds a mere 2% of the surface of the Earth. Yet, this tiny base of Western civilization made its presence known to the world as early as the 15th century. The landscape of this place is delightfully varied and a pleasure to traverse for nature lovers ” zig-zag mountains, challenging snow-white Swiss Alps, lush green valleys, the Great European Plain, pristine lakes and rivers, and a lot more.
The continent also harbors a diverse culture. From Byzantine and Greek influences to Moorish remnants, Germanic traditions, and Christian Latin culture, Europe is a playground of teeming lifestyles – sometimes easily juggled through, sometimes complicated. Either way, it is something that has to experienced first-hand, and not just through literature and travel books.
With a heavy tourist influx and world class infrastructure, getting in Europe is not a difficult task. You can easily access the continent by air, train or sea. Transportation by air is the easiest, and the most hassle-free with well equipped airports established in all major cities of Europe.
RLT offers one of the best travel packages for Europe. With more than a decade of corporate experience, we promise end-to-end services and customized trips so that you can enjoy a carefree holiday in Europe.
When to go
Europe has a high season in summer and another in winter. Crowding is the main difficulty in the warmest months of June, July and particularly August. In some countries, such as France and Italy, many shops and restaurants close in August while locals take their own holidays, meaning that some cities can feel rather dead.
Global warming has meant a later start to the skiing season; often, decent snowfalls aren’t recorded until January (or even February). December is always busy in locations such as Paris, Prague and any Austrian or German city with a quaint Christmas market. Easter is another busy time.
You can find bargains by visiting traditionally ‘summer’ destinations such as Greece in winter, but be aware that public transport might be less frequent. In some northern locations such as Scotland and Scandinavia, it might not run at all as heavy snow and ice mean services are seasonal.
For all the above reasons, by far the best months to travel in Europe are May, June and September.
Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK need only a valid passport to enter all countries of the EU. Two Eastern European countries, Belarus and Russia, require a prearranged visa before arrival and even an ‘invitation’ from (or booking with) a tour operator or hotel. Visas to these countries are seldom available at the border.
Several types of visa exist, including tourist, transit and business permits. Transit visas are usually cheaper than tourist or business visas but they allow a very short stay (one to five days) and can be difficult to extend.
If you require a visa, remember it has a ‘use-by’ date and you’ll be refused entry afterwards. It might not be checked when entering a country overland, but major problems can arise if it is requested during your stay or on departure and you can’t produce it.
In some cases it’s easier to get visas as you go along, rather than arranging them all beforehand. Carry spare passport photos (you may need from one to four every time you apply for a visa).
Visas to neighbouring countries are usually issued immediately by consulates in Eastern Europe, although some may levy a 50% to 100% surcharge for ‘express service’. When regulations are confusing (say in Belarus or Russia) it’s simpler and safer to obtain a visa before leaving home. Visas are often cheaper in your own country anyway. Consulates are generally open weekday mornings (if there’s both an embassy and a consulate, you want the consulate).
THE SCHENGEN ZONE
Twenty-five European countries are signatories to the Schengen Agreement, which has effectively dismantled internal border controls between them. The countries in question are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Citizens of the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK only need a valid passport to enter these countries. However, other nationals, including South Africans, can apply for a single visa – a Schengen visa – when travelling throughout this region.
Non-EU visitors (with or without a Schengen visa) should expect to be questioned, however perfunctorily, when entering the region. However, later travel within the zone is much like a domestic trip, with no border controls. (Although some countries, such as France, have made noises about reimposing stricter internal Schengen checks since the bombings in Madrid and London).
If you need a Schengen visa, you must apply at the consulate or embassy of the country that’s your main destination, or your point of entry. You may then stay up to a maximum of 90 days in the entire Schengen area within a six-month period. Once your visa has expired, you must leave the zone and may only re-enter after three months abroad.
If you’re a citizen of the US, Australia, New Zealand or Canada, you may stay visa-free a total of 90 days, during six months, within the entire Schengen region. Shop around when choosing your point of entry, as visa prices may differ from country to country.
If you’re planning a longer trip, you need to inquire personally as to whether you need a visa or visas. Your country might have bilateral agreements with individual Schengen countries allowing you to stay there longer than 90 days without a visa. However, you need to talk directly to the relevant embassies or consulates.
While the UK and Ireland are not part of the Schengen area, their citizens can stay indefinitely in other EU countries, only needing paperwork if they want to work long-term or take up residency.
European languages mostly fall within three Indo-European language groups: the Romance languages, derived from the Latin of the Roman Empire; the Germanic languages, whose ancestor language came from southern Scandinavia; and the Slavic languages.
Romance languages are spoken primarily in south-western Europe as well as in Romania and Moldova, in Central or Eastern Europe. Germanic languages are spoken in Northern Europe, the British Isles and some parts of Central Europe. Slavic languages are spoken in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.
Many other languages outside the three main groups exist in Europe. Other Indo-European languages include the Baltic group (that is, Latvian and Lithuanian), the Celtic group (that is, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton), Greek, Armenian, and Albanian. In addition, a distinct group of Uralic languages (Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian) is spoken mainly in Estonia, Finland, and Hungary, while Kartvelian languages (Georgian, Mingrelian, and Svan), are spoken primarily in Georgia. Maltese is the only Semitic language that is official within the EU, while Basque is the only European language isolate. Turkic languages include Azerbaijani and Turkish, in addition to the languages of minority nations in Russia.
Multilingualism and the protection of regional and minority languages are recognized political goals in Europe today. The Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages set up a legal framework for language rights in Europe.
- Escape into the awe-inspiring Swiss landscape. Explore the beautiful valleys and mountains of Jungfrau, the gorgeous city of Basel and indulge yourself in Swiss cheese, yummy chocolates and Swiss-made watches.Journey into the fiery heart of Spain. Get lost in the historical city of Seville, enjoy the Mediterranean bound city of Barcelona, and get as wild as the Spaniards by participating in the heart-racing festival of Running with the Bulls and the fun-filled La Tomatina.
Hop around the other-worldly landscape of Ireland. Escape the constricting environment of city life, and hop around the rolling lush green countryside of Ireland. Explore its quaint castles; enjoy the vibrant streets, nightlife, unique culture and architecture of the capital city of Dublin.
Wander through the romance-inducing streets of France. Do your own Midnight Through Paris, explore its unique architecture, get to know about the latest fashion trends, soak in the the charming lavender plantations of Provence, and indulge in some great wines.
Explore the rich cultural heritage of UK. Explore this diverse land where native and immigrant cultures coexist to create one of the most delightful cultural cocktails of the world.
Experience the nuances of Italy. Savor the enigmatic Mediterranean culture of Italy, explore the artistic legacy of Tuscany, colorful villages of Positano and repose along the unspoiled Lake Como.
Get lost in the fairy tale environment of Germany. Explore the black-forest region, follow the fairy tale route with the Grimm brothers, drown yourself in beer, and gorge on some delectable chocolates.