Are you planning a trip to Europe and wonder what you need to pack?
A place as diverse as Europe, from the sun-drenched south to the year-round cooler areas of the Nordic countries means it can become a daunting task to pack the right stuff. Especially when you are planning to visit more than one destination on the same trip.
In addition to typical weather conditions, you also need to keep in mind that you will need suitable clothes when visiting specific places like churches, cathedrals or monasteries.
With so many different destinations, it is impossible to put together one packing list for Europe that could possibly fit all purposes. What you pack depends on your itinerary, the time of the year as well as the activities you are planning like visiting a city, hiking in the mountains, spend time on the beach or exploring the vast European countryside.
So to help you to pack the right stuff when travelling to Europe, I have put together a list to fit the different eventualities you need to cover.
Rather to simply put together a list of items to pack, I have compiled this list to highlight specific things to pack based on particular places, events and other important circumstances all of which require you to have the appropriate items in your luggage.
Please note, I do not cover things like your passport, visa, insurance and so on as I consider these to be legal requirements that can also significantly vary depending from where you come and where you are travelling to in Europe. Make sure you get all the needed information on entry requirements to Europe, boarder controls, etc. well ahead of your trip.
What to pack when travelling to Europe
When travelling to Europe, there are a couple of general things you need to consider independently of the destination or multiple destinations.
- Universal adapter: This is quite essential. Plugs in Europe are different from those used oversees; and they can be different in different European countries. Thus having an adapter that covers all different European plug types is quite essential.
- A credit card or savings bank card that allows you to withdraw money from ATMs. Why if that important since you could pay directly with your credit or savings bank card? Well, you can’t everywhere. Though there are several countries, in particular in the north, that are well on their way to a cashless nation, you will quickly find out that paying cash is the way to go in many destinations. Even more so if you plan to visit the smaller towns and countryside. But do not count on that even in the big cities you can pay everything with your card.
What clothes to pack for a European holiday
Again, this depends very much on the time of year and your itinerary.
The weather in Europe can vary significantly. Not only are there different climatic conditions from the south to the north. In some locations, the weather can change quickly and sometimes quite significantly. You might experience fairly hot days and significantly cooler days at the same destination in the range of only few days.
Furthermore, depending on the destination, evenings can get chilly even in the heights of summer.
Thus independently from the season you travel, you will need a layer of clothes to cover you for all eventualities.
Except for the southern regions, there’s a chance it might rain even in summer whilst spring and winter months can get wet any time nearly everywhere in Europe. Autumn is typically the most stable anywhere but again it is not completely rain-free. Hence whenever you travel to Europe, don’t forget to pack an umbrella.
When you plan a city trip, be aware that more and more cities across Europe are starting to implement stricter rules, and this includes what you wear.
This is not going as far as telling you what to wear or out-rightly ban certain items. But more cities are becoming stricter in banning certain behaviour. Wearing bikini tops (women) or go bar-crested (man) is something more and more places are not tolerating any longer.
Even without severe regulations, in many European cities it is seen as rude walking around in attire that is most obviously designed for the beach even during a hot summer day.
If you want to visit historic or religious sites, like churches or cathedrals, you will also find increasingly minimum requirements like not wearing hot pants, super short miniskirts or tank tops. Or otherwise you might be denied entry.
Should you head to the mountains, in particular the higher Alps and Dolomites, keep in mind that your trip might include a multitude of different heights like going from the valley on top of a mountain. This means sometimes quite significant differences in temperatures. Thus make sure to bring a jacket and appropriate shoes on the trip.
Clothes to pack for a trip to Europe:
- pack clothes that you can layer, even in summer
- blouses/shirt and long trousers or a midi-sized skirt for visits to historic/religious sites
- something nice for an evening out
- t-shirt, sweater and jeans
- waterproof / wind-resistant jacket or coat
- scarf, gloves and cap (year-round except summer)
- light scarf for summer
- flip-flops and beachwear for beach holidays
What shoes to pack for a trip to Europe
First thing first. Shoes can take a lot of space, especially if you need to pack for cooler times of the year when you need heavier shoes.
My advice would be, wear a pair of comfortable sneakers (year round) or boots (autumn / winter) when travelling to Europe. This is essential because wherever you go, you are likely doing a lot of walking. So you need comfortable shoes.
Pack one or two more pairs. One again for walking around and one nicer pair for the evening, covering you in case you want to go out for dinner.
What type of shoes you need to pack will once again depend on the location and time of year you travel to Europe. However, some general thoughts:
- If you want to explore historic cities or towns or the countryside, make sure you have a pair of shoes that allow you to walk on slippery or uneven surfaces; many of the historic European towns spot cobble-stone streets and many are located on a hill so you might have to walk up and down on sometimes steep alleys.
- The weather can be quite unpredictable even during the summer months. Hence bring shoes that allow you to walk in the rain like a pair of sneakers.
- If you travel during the winter months, depending on the location it can be either fairly wet (in the south and southeast) or really cold with any level of snow depending on how far north you will travel. Thus you should pack a pair of boots with non-slippery soles.
If you go to the mountains either for hiking or skiing, you should a pair of water-proof hiking boots and obviously appropriate shoes for your skis. These are typically heavy and will take up a lot of space. However, the good news is: You do not need to bring them with you. When you head to the mountains, you should be able to rent both hiking shoes and our ski in most of the sports shops there.
So this is my packing list for Europe. I hope you will find it useful.