Multi country trips are my favorite kind of adventure.
Why stop at one country when the world has nearly 200 that beg to be explored?!
On the best multi country trips you’ll lounge on beaches, bushwhack through jungles, get lost in cities and explore world wonders. I’m always amazed at how much you can see in a short amount of time – I’ve done some of these trips in as little as 3 weeks!
Before I get ahead of myself I’d better throw in a little disclaimer: jetting between different countries isn’t everyone’s style of travel. Some prefer to spend weeks in one country and soak up everything that it has to offer. There are some strong pros and cons to both. Long trips are ideal for immersing yourself in a country’s culture, customs and cuisine. You get to explore all the nooks and crannies that tourists tend to miss out on. During multi country excursions, you’ll likely see less of each country on your itinerary, but you can still hit the major highlights and explore the best parts of each region you visit.
I’ve done multi-month stays as well as quick jaunts that include stops in 5-7 countries. Both experiences are incredible, but multi country trips are by far my favorite. If you feel the same way, read on to get some inspiration for your next adventure, and don’t forget to check out these multi destination flight hacks!
Trip 1: Wonders of Western Europe
Time needed: Roughly 4 weeks (depending on how much you’d like to see)
Countries: Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland
This is a modified version of a trip I took with my family earlier this year. It also includes a few spots that we didn’t visit (London and Ireland), so I’ll rely on suggestions from others about the best things to see and do in those cities 🙂 As you can tell, this itinerary includes a stop in one city per country, but you can easily modify it to include additional stops – your trip, your rules!
For the most part, I’ll talk about my experiences in each spot, but I’ll be sure to throw in suggestions for anything I might have missed that’s worth seeing.
Stop 1: Lisbon, Portugal (3-5 days)
Lisbon is an excellent gateway to exploring Western Europe. After sleeping off our jet lag we headed to Parque Eduardo VII, one of the best places to relax in the downtown area. A sprawling expanse of grass crisscrossed with a massive hedge maze overlooks a distant ocean view. Monuments dot the landscape and the area is surrounded by cute cafes and fun shops.
We spent several days exploring the streets of Lisbon, wandering between ornate, Spanish-style buildings, traveling along cobblestone paths and hanging out among the locals. The ocean side square (the Praça do Comércio) was one of my favorite spots. There were tons of street performers, lots of merchants selling toys, souvenirs and knick-knacks and plenty of people hanging out in the warm afternoon sun. The square is surrounded on all sides by colorful colonial buildings. If you have kids, it’s a great place for them to wander and expend some of their pent-up energy. We spent several evenings there and loved the fun, lively atmosphere!
While in Lisbon don’t forget to check out the Torre de Belem, or Belem Tower. This 16th-century tower overlooks the Tagus River. Visitors can even explore the interior of the tower, although it wasn’t open when we visited. Nonetheless, the view from outside is serene and it wasn’t too packed with tourists.
After spending several days in Lisbon we took a day trip to Sintra. It’s the perfect spot to escape the city – lush hillsides, whimsical bright-colored buildings and meandering paths await you in this beautiful town. The best part is that it’s only about an hour away from Lisbon by train. For someone who loves to walk, hike and live in the outdoors, Sintra was the perfect getaway!
Other Lisbon Highlights
If you’ve got time, check out these other incredible spots in Lisbon:
- St. George’s Castle – enjoy unparalleled views of the city from above and bask in the company of colorful peacocks
- Parque Das Nacoes – see Europe’s longest bridge and enjoy this modern oasis of a neighborhood nestled among Lisbon’s classic old neighborhoods
- Sao Roque Church – it’s the most expensive chapel in the world, so it’s bound to be gorgeous. This stunning architectural masterpiece is worth a visit while in Lisbon
Other Portugal Highlights
It goes without saying that there’s much more to Portugal than its capital city. If you want to venture beyond Lisbon, consider traveling to these beautiful spots:
Porto: Located on the coast, Porto is a colorful, traveler-friendly city that has cobblestone streets and expansive ocean views. Visit beaches, see the local bookstore that was the inspiration for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and take a river cruise over to the country’s best wine growing region.
Faro: At the heart of the Algarve region is Faro, a beach town with plenty of beautiful spots to explore. Visit the local cathedral, cruise along the coastline and take a dip in the sparkling blue waters that surround the outer islands.
Madeira Island: It’s a bit of a trek to get to Madeira Island – it’s actually closer to Africa than Portugal. But you won’t be disappointed when you see the rugged mountains and explore the local hiking trails. Madeira is known as the “island of eternal spring” because of its temperate year-round weather.
Stop 2: Barcelona, Spain (3-5 days)
There’s so much to see and do in Barcelona – it was a tough city to condense in a short trip. But even with a few days, you can experience some of the fantastic things that this Spanish city has to offer. The best part? It’s easily accessible from Portugal and quite affordable to visit.
When we visited Barcelona we spent a lot of time walking from site to site and enjoying the energy of the city. Many of the most impressive landmarks in the city were designed by Antoni Gaudi, the Catalan architect with an unmistakable style. His creations with brightly colored tiles, whimsical shapes, and grandiose facades dot the city.
One of our favorite spots to explore was Park Guell. Snug in the heart of the city, Park Guell is a great place to escape for the afternoon. It’s filled with Gaudi’s unique designs so you’ll have plenty of picture-worthy moments.
In addition to Park Guell, you can’t miss Sagrada Familia, an inner-city temple that remains unfinished more than 130 years after construction began. When we visited the building was flanked by scaffolding but it was stunning nonetheless. You can also take a guided tour of the inside of the basilica to learn more about its history.
Casa Batllo and Casa Mila are a couple of other Gaudi landmarks worth seeing. His world-famous style is on display throughout the city, so you’re bound to run into a few of his most famous creations while exploring Barcelona.
In addition to the Gaudi landmarks, we enjoyed an afternoon at Palau de la Musica Catalana, a stunning performance hall. We walked around the grounds and enjoyed views of the city from above.
We packed a lot into our short time in Barcelona – there was just so much to see and do! If you still have time after checking out some of the most well-known sites, rise above the hectic city with a trip to Mount Tibidabo and/or Montjuic. Montjuic is accessible via cable car and features stunning views, a sprawling cathedral, a massive fountain and lots of walking trails. Mount Tibidabo is similarly beautiful with city vistas and an amusement park. Locals and visitors alike flock to both of these relaxing mountain spots.
Other Spain Highlights
Go beyond Barcelona to experience more of this spectacular country. We jetted right off to our next stop after seeing the city, but I intend to return and soak up more of this special place. It’d probably take months to see everything worth exploring in Spain. If you have extra time on your trip, don’t miss these neat highlights:
Madrid: In Spain’s capital city you’ll find vibrant neighborhoods, eclectic buildings, a bounty of museums, shops, and cafes and plenty of things to do. The city has a reputation as a party spot but even low-key travelers enjoy the city’s fun atmosphere and interesting attractions.
Valencia: Classic charm merges with modern style in Valencia, another popular Spanish tourist spot. This coastal city draws in travelers with its beaches and interesting landmarks, like the City of Arts and Sciences and the Seu Cathedral. Best of all, costs in Valencia are a bit lower than in Madrid and Barcelona.
Granada: Granada is an Andalusian getaway infused with Arabic influence. Here, you’ll find grand palaces shouldered by jagged mountaintops, centuries-old neighborhoods lined with cobblestone streets and a rich selection of different cuisines. Granada is the gateway to the country’s largest national park and draws in travelers from all around the world.
The Canary Islands: they’re a bit far from mainland Spain, but I have to include islands on my list of must-sees because I’m island-obsessed. The Canary Islands are famous for gorgeous beaches and opulent resorts. It’s a classic beach destination with windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkeling and a host of other water activities as well as plenty of “land entertainment” for those who prefer staying dry. Visit Lanzarote or Fuerteventura for some truly incredible scenery.
Stop 3: Nice, France (3-5 days)
Our best multi country trips list would not be complete without a stop in France – especially Nice, a jewel along the Mediterranean Coast. We visited in January, which isn’t exactly the high season. The area wasn’t teeming with tourists but we still had plenty to see and do, and the weather was lovely for sightseeing. By contrast, back home our poor cabin was icing over in sub-zero temperatures. Although we weren’t dipping in warm seas and basking under the hot sun, we were glad to escape the snow!
People are flabbergasted when I say I went to France but didn’t see Paris. It’s true; we skipped Paris on our trip. Not because we didn’t want to see it, we just had different plans in mind. I always build itineraries around spots I want to see; spots that speak to me specifically. And I go into my trips assuming I’ll have an opportunity to the countries I’m visiting someday (which may not always be the case, but I like to think it’s a possibility!)
Anyway, back to Nice, France. This was one of my FAVORITE stops on our Western Europe tour. We spent almost every evening strolling along the Promenade des Anglais, a walkway that seems to stretch for miles along the coastline. Beachgoers, families, lovey-dovey couples, lone travelers, bikers, locals and tourists; the Promenade sees them all. We rented city bikes and rode for several miles under the late afternoon sun.
We also walked to the Parc de la Colline du Chateau (wow that’s a mouthful), which is high above the city. We enjoyed the ocean views and the interesting fountains throughout the park.
If you tire of walking along the Promenade, the beach is just steps away. The water was a beautiful cobalt blue when we visited in January.
Back in the city, you’ll find the Nice Cathedral, a whimsical building with towering domes and spires. The facade of the lavish building doesn’t give away the enormity of the inside, which holds 10 separate chapels. The cathedral is housed in Vieille Ville, a colorful tangle of ancient buildings at the city’s edge. Vieille Ville as a whole is worth exploring since you’re bound to find delicious creperies, cute little shops, and fun alleyways to walk through. Like many parts of Europe, walking around the city is exciting even without a particular destination in mind.
Another benefit of visiting Nice is its proximity to a couple of other interesting spots, like the medieval village of Eze and the glitzy, rich micronation of Monaco. Eze is perched high on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. When we visited, it was quiet and calm – not overrun by tourists like I’d been expecting. We hiked to the top of the hill and soaked in beautiful views along the way.
Eze was an ideal afternoon trip – it’s close to Nice, easy to explore and totally worth seeing.
Monaco is another must-do day trip (or an overnight trip, if you don’t mind spending some cash) if you’re staying in Nice. Get a glimpse of the uber-rich lifestyle by visiting this micronation, which is rife with luxury yachts, flashy cars, high-end apartments and plenty of other eye candy. You can explore most of the country on foot within an afternoon.
After several days exploring Nice, visiting Eze and touring around Monaco, we jetted out of France to our next destination.
Other France Highlights
Obviously there’s much more to France than Nice – Nice, while beautiful, isn’t even the main spot that tourists flock to in this lovely country. Be sure to check out the following places:
Paris: Obviously Paris is on this list, even though we didn’t go there during our trip (oops haha). You could easily spend days sightseeing in this fantastic city. Visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe and scores of other incredible landmarks.
Toulouse: Experience more of France’s rich history in Toulouse, a city on the banks of the Garonne River. Tour Saint-Sernin Basilica – which is known as one of the largest Romanesque churches in Europe, visit Cite de l’Espace, a theme park dedicated to space exploration and don’t forget to check out all the local museums.
Mont Saint-Michel: Located off the coast of Normandy, Mont Saint-Michel is an island topped by an impressively beautiful abbey. The island may be small, but it’s one of the most popular places to visit in France.
Stop 4: Berlin, Germany (3-5 days)
Still with me? Great! Germany is the next stop on our European adventure. Berlin, Germany’s capital, has a long history of division and reunification. Landmarks throughout the city reference some of the country’s most defining and challenging moments. Even though the city has been through a lot since its 13th-century founding, it stands out today for having a vibrant art and culture scene. We enjoyed seeing some of the sights on the outskirts of the city and learning more about Germany’s history.
As with any European capital, you can see plenty of interesting sights on foot or by taking public transport — I’ve highlighted some of the most unique ones below (in no particular order).
Snag an excellent photo opportunity at the Brandenburg Gate, a towering gate commissioned by King Frederick Wilhelm II. The gate is historically significant and draws crowds of locals as well as visitors.
Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another spot worth exploring. Bordered by the scenic River Spree, this spot contains several impressive museums. See royal relics at the Old Museum, marvel at Egyptian antiquities at the New Museum and check out Asian art at the Humboldt Museum, which opened in 2019. The city’s most popular museum, the Pergamon, has an extensive collection of Islamic art.
After you’ve had your fill of museums, head to the Berliner Fernsehturm (Berlin Television Tower). This staggeringly-tall structure was built in 1970 and continues to attract millions of visitors. Gaze out over the city from the observation deck or grab a meal at the restaurant during your visit.
The Charlottenburg Palace and Park was the home of Germany’s royal family for decades. The restored palace features stunning decor and a sprawling garden. It’s an ideal spot for walking and relaxing. In winter, the Charlottenburg Park comes alive with a festive Christmas market.
The next stop is a solemn one, but it commemorates a crucial chapter in history that must not be forgotten. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe features nearly 3,000 concrete slabs as well as a collection of writings and photographs from the Holocaust. Every year thousands of visitors walk among the nondescript slabs and ponder the atrocities of the past.
We haven’t even covered half of the visit-worthy sites in Berlin yet – I’ll just touch on a few more places that you won’t want to miss during your stay.
For some vibrancy and color, head to the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Museum and Garden. More than 20,000 plant species reside in this 120+ acre garden. Known for being one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe, it’s a popular spot for walking and sightseeing.
The DDR Museum is the last stop on this list. It’s relatively new as far as museums are concerned, but its in-depth look at life under communist rule draws large and curious crowds. The museum highlights life in East Berlin through hands-on exhibits, interactive experiences, and digital simulations.
Other Germany Highlights
Neuschwanstein Castle: this incredible castle is the stuff of fairy tales. Situated on a hillside that overlooks beautiful lakes and cozy hamlets, Neuschwanstein is regarded as one of the most stunning castles in the world. This popular tourist site is about 130 kilometers away from Munich. Speaking of which…
Munich: if fast-paced city life, delicious food, and ever-flowing beer appeals to you, Munich is the spot to be. While in town, visit Munich’s gothic-style city hall, check out Englischer Garden – a breathtakingly large swath of green in the heart of the city and see Marienplatz, the quaint town square in front of the city hall.
The Rhineland: this famed region of Germany boasts idyllic vineyards, historic churches, small villages, and the meandering Rhine River. Bounce between cute towns while taking in lots of stunning scenery.
Berchtesgaden: Germany has plenty of other cities that I haven’t included on this list, but the real charm of Europe lies in its Medieval villages and gorgeous mountains. The dreamy village of Berchtesgaden, perched near the border that Germany shares with Austria, is overshadowed by the towering Bavarian mountains. This quintessential German hamlet is definitely worth a visit.
Stop 4: London, United Kingdom (5-7 days)
So I have to confess something: I’ve been to more than 20 countries in Europe but still haven’t visited London. Looking back I’m not really sure how I’ve managed to bypass it so many times despite visiting all of its neighbors! My suggestions here will be based on research and the spots that I would choose to see while planning a London vacation – but feel free to let me know if I’ve missed anything in the comments!
I’m also allotting some extra time for London since there are so many things to see and do in the city. After all, it’s one of Western Europe’s main hubs!
Start off your London adventure with a visit to Westminster. A lot of important decisions are made here at the heart of the city. See the Parliament building, look skyward for impressive views of Big Ben and walk around the well-kept grounds that surround the area.
For nice views, head over to Hampstead Heath, a 790-acre park that overlooks the city below. Stroll around the grass hills, relax near tranquil ponds and catch a few rays of sunshine (or perhaps some famous London fog) during your visit. If you’re up for another natural attraction, catch a cruise along the River Thames. The Thames is a strategic river that’s been central to London’s history for hundreds of years. A leisurely cruise is a great way to experience this special part of the city.
While you’re hitting the main political and cultural sites in London, pay a visit to Buckingham Palace. Get a taste of the royal lifestyle during a tour and see what’s like to live in a home with nearly 800 rooms.
If you’ve got money to burn, head to Oxford Street – it’s the shopping hub of the city and houses all kinds of designer stores. Over half a million people peruse the shops on this street every day. A few other streets worth seeing are Electric Avenue – the first street in London to be lit by electricity, Brick Lane, a spot in the city that’s known for its diversity and tasty foods and Bond Street, a high-end shopping spot frequented by the rich and famous.
Done strolling the streets? You could easily fill a day (or more) with museum visits in London. The best part is that many of these exhibits are free to the public. See everything from ancient dinosaur skeletons to mummified remains in these fascinating museums.
Lastly, Harry Potter fans can’t end a visit to London without a stop at platform 9 3/4. See King’s Cross, one of the busiest parts of the city, and snap a photo in front of the famous train platform.
Chances are that I missed a lot of noteworthy sites in this quick London itinerary – feel free to let me know the must-sees in the comments since I haven’t visited yet!
Other England Highlights
If you’re keen to keep exploring England, consider checking out the following spots:
Malvern Hills and Commons: Bask in spectacular natural scenery while exploring Malvern Hills and Commons. Covering nearly 3000 acres of open land, this beautiful area is a prime spot to relax and unwind. The area gets plenty of visitors because of its unique geological history and traveler-friendly atmosphere.
Stratford-upon-Avon: if you love the works of Shakespeare don’t miss the chance to visit his home. Tour his large living quarters and see relics from his life and career.
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire: See a real-life medieval castle in Warwickshire. Built by William the Conqueror, Warwick Castle dates back to 1068 and has a fascinating history.
The Lake District National Park: I enjoy interesting historical sites and bustling cities as much as the next traveler, but nothing compares to the beauty of nature. The Lake District epitomizes natural beauty with lofty peaks, rolling foothills and of course, lakes.
Stop 5: Dublin, Ireland (3-5 days)
This is it, guys…our Western Europe trip is nearly over! This itinerary wraps up with a stop in Dublin, Ireland, an interesting city in its own right as well as a jumping-off point for other spectacular spots. Like England, I haven’t been to Ireland yet, but it’s high on my list. Here are some of the highlights of Dublin!
Dublin is known as a drinker’s hub with plenty of bars, distilleries and pubs (non-drinker question: are bars and pubs the same thing? 🤔) If you’re into that scene you won’t want to miss The Church, a cathedral-turned-bar that’s one of the most popular social spots in the city. Also stop by the Guinness Storehouse Factory, which is home to the Guinness Brewing Museum and has the distinction of being one of the most visited spots in all of Ireland. Apart from these attractions, there are dozens of other unique pubs to check out in the city.
Change gears with a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland. This breathtaking cathedral was built in 1191 and unsurprisingly attracts large crowds. While you’re checking out historical sites at Dublin Castle to your list. It’s situated on 11 acres and there are plenty of things to see and do on the grounds. And don’t forget to stop at Christ Church Cathedral, another striking historical spot. This cathedral still operates as a church and visitors have to pay a nominal fee to visit.
Continue your Irish adventure with a visit to the largest library in Ireland – Trinity College Library. Thousands upon thousands of books are housed in cavernous rooms at this impressive building. Only certain parts are open to tourists, but you’ll still enjoy a visit to this famous library.
Get your fill of greenery with visits to the city’s most popular parks. There are plenty of paths to walk and bike in St. Stephen’s Green and you’re bound to enjoy a visit to Dublin’s free botanical gardens.
Other Ireland Highlights
Ireland is renowned for its natural beauty. It’s one of those places that has so many beautiful things to see that you won’t know where to start. No matter where you choose to go, add these highlights to your list:
Dingle: National Geographic once referred to Dingle as one of the most beautiful places in the world…that’s a pretty high honor to receive from the greatest magazine ever. Walk along endless beaches, stare out at the sea from breathtaking lookout spots and soak in unparalleled views of lush valleys while traveling on this gorgeous peninsula.
Giant’s Causeway: If you miss Giant’s Causeway chances are you won’t see anything like it ever again. This unique coastline contains thousands of hexagonal-shaped rock pillars shaped by eons of erosion.
The Cliffs of Moher: Over a million people come to the Cliffs of Moher every year; it has the distinction of being Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction. And it’s no surprise why – the panoramic views from this spot are known to be shockingly beautiful.
The Blarney Stone: the Blarney Stone is located at beautiful Blarney Castle, close to the city of Cork. Follow tradition and give the Blarney Stone a kiss to endow yourself with eloquence and wit.
Aaaaand there you have it! The Wonders of Western Europe trip is complete. This is hands down one of the best multi country trips to take if you love culture, history, nature, and fascinating historical sites.
How much will it cost?
Now it’s time for the big question…how many stacks will you have to burn to embark on this amazing trip?
Truthfully, I don’t set a budget before I travel. I’ve done enough traveling and I know my own spending habits well enough that I can usually name a number that “sounds” right and end up spending that amount. However, I realize that’s not a satisfying answer for readers, so we’ll dig into the numbers to see what this trip might cost.
Here is roughly what I’d budget for a month of travel in the countries I’ve listed above:
- Round-trip flights: $1500-$2000, depending on the time of year and where you’re traveling from
- Daily accommodation costs per person: $30-$60 per night depending on where you stay
- Daily food costs per person: $20-$30. This could easily be much higher if you eat out for every meal, get drinks, etc.
- Inter-country travel (flights, buses, etc): $1000 per person. Again, this can vary dramatically depending on where you go and how you travel.
- Activities (optional tours, entrance fees, museums, etc): $500 per person
- Miscellaneous expenses: $300 per person
TOTAL: $4800 on the lower end, $6500 on the higher end
These are total ballpark figures that can vary a ton depending on your travel style. But this is a good starting point! In future posts, I’ll talk about how I save for multi country trips and how I find great travel deals 💸
Did you enjoy this post? If so, keep an eye out for part two (where I’ll share another one of the best multi country trips), leave me a comment or share this post with your friends. Thanks for reading and happy travels!
August 2020 update: well, needless to say, I don’t think anyone is taking multi country trips in 2020! I’ll (hopefully) have to revisit this post with the best multi country trips for 2021! Until then – stay safe and healthy 🙂