If you're an expat in Europe, you have so many places that you can travel to on your doorstep. If you're unsure where to go, what to do when you're there or what to take with you, I've covered some ideas in this article. 

The Best Time for Expat Travel in Europe

The best time for expat travel in Europe depends on your preferences for weather, crowds, and activities. Spring and autumn are ideal for nice weather and have less tourists than the summer months. These shoulder seasons offer mild temperatures, blooming landscapes, and more of an authentic local experience as you can connect with the locals more due to less people on tours etc.  

Summer (June to August) is perfect for those who enjoy warm weather and a lively atmosphere. However, be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices. Popular destinations like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona buzz with tourists, while coastal regions like the Mediterranean are perfect for beach lovers.

Winter (November to March) caters to expat travellers seeking festive holiday markets, winter sports, and a quieter ambience. Cities like Vienna, Prague, and Munich are magical during the holiday season, and the Alps are ideal for skiing and winter sports. 

The Best Places to Go for Expat Travel 

Europe has many incredible destinations perfect for expat travel, each with a different vibe, culture and charm. 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

A Croatian luxury holiday is a perfect choice for your travels as an expat. Dubrovnik is especially popular among expats, with its stunning Adriatic coastline, medieval architecture, and Mediterranean climate. It provides a unique and enriching experience for those who visit. The friendly locals and vibrant expat community make it easy to feel at home. You can also go sailing afterwards and explore the Dalmatian Coast and other Croatian islands. 

Barcelona, Spain

I love Barcelona. There's a reason that I used to live there for two years! This vibrant city is known for its stunning Gaudi architecture, lively arts scene, and beautiful beaches. Its cosmopolitan vibe and welcoming atmosphere make it ideal for expats. There is so much to do here and its buzzing at night too. It's ideal for solo travel.

Additionally, the food scene is incredible, with tapas bars and local markets offering a taste of authentic Spanish cuisine. The city's rich history and cultural heritage are reflected in its museums and historic sites. Plus, the metro and the bus are efficient, making it easy to explore every corner of this iconic city. 

Lisbon, Portugal

With its affordable cost of living, and friendly locals, Lisbon is a favourite among expats. Visiting Lisbon is a fantastic experience due to its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture. The city's picturesque neighborhoods, like Alfama and Bairro Alto, offer charming streets and traditional Fado music.

Lisbon's delicious cuisine, featuring fresh seafood and famous pastéis de nata, delights every palate. The scenic views from its many miradouros (viewpoints) provide breathtaking panoramas of the city and the Tagus River, making Lisbon a perfect destination for expat travellers. 

Prague, Czech Republic

Known for its historical charm and modern amenities, Prague, Czech Republic, stands out as an ideal destination for solo travellers, offering a unique mix of historical allure and modern conveniences. Its affordability and central European location make it accessible and perfect for exploring the rest of the continent.

The city's rich cultural heritage, from its breathtaking architecture to vibrant arts scene, provides endless opportunities for solo exploration and discovery. With a welcoming atmosphere and bustling social scene, solo travelers can easily connect with locals and fellow adventurers while enjoying the city's charming streets and lively cafes. 

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany, stands as a beacon of progressive culture and diversity, drawing expatriates worldwide to its vibrant streets and rich history. Renowned for its eclectic blend of tradition and innovation, Berlin offers a dynamic job market and a welcoming atmosphere for newcomers.

The city's resilience and creativity resonate through its arts scene, tech hubs, and multicultural neighbourhoods, making it a hub where the past intertwines with a forward-looking spirit, attracting adventurers and professionals alike to experience its unique blend of old-world charm and modern dynamism.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Famous for its picturesque canals, excellent quality of life, and open-minded culture, Amsterdam is a top destination for expat travellers seeking a balanced lifestyle. Its liberal culture fosters a vibrant atmosphere, appealing to those seeking a balanced lifestyle.

The city's historic charm merges seamlessly with modern amenities, offering a unique blend of old-world charm and progressive attitudes. Whether indulging in canal-side strolls, exploring cultural treasures, or enjoying a thriving culinary scene, Amsterdam promises an enriching experience for residents and visitors alike.

The Best Things to Do During Your Expat Travel

There are so many diverse activities that you can do, depending on your travelling style. As an expat you're probably into cultural and learning about the city that you're travelling to. Here are some ideas for activities on your expat travel. 

Immerse in the local culture – Visit world-renowned museums like the Louvre in Paris, the Prado in Madrid, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Immerse yourself in local art, history, and traditions. Delve into exhibitions that span centuries, from classical masterpieces to contemporary works, offering profound insights into Europe's cultural evolution and artistic heritage.

Explore historic landmarks – Embark on a journey through iconic landmarks such as the Colosseum in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens, and the Berlin Wall in Germany. These sites stand as enduring symbols of Europe's tumultuous history, offering poignant reflections on ancient civilizations, medieval kingdoms, and modern revolutions. Each stone and monument tells a story of resilience and transformation.

Savour local cuisine – Indulge in authentic dishes in their home country. Taste the vibrant flavors of tapas in Spain, handmade pasta in Italy, delicate pastries in France, and fresh seafood in Portugal. Engage in food tours guided by passionate locals or participate in cooking classes to uncover the secrets behind each culinary masterpiece, creating unforgettable gastronomic memories.

Participate in festivals and events – Immerse yourself in cultural festivities like Oktoberfest in Munich, La Tomatina in Spain, and the Venice Carnival. These vibrant celebrations bring communities together in joyous revelry, showcasing centuries-old traditions through music, dance, and elaborate costumes. Experience the pulsating rhythms of local life during these lively spectacles.

Embark on outdoor adventures – Traverse the majestic Alps on exhilarating hikes, pedal through the picturesque landscapes of the Netherlands on cycling expeditions, or sail along the crystalline waters of the Croatian coast. Europe's diverse terrain offers many opportunities for outdoor lovers to connect with nature and enjoy the warmer months on the continent. 

Enjoy sightseeing – Meander through the enchanting streets of Prague's Old Town, Barcelona's bustling boulevards, and Dubrovnik's medieval walls. Stroll through the charming streets of Prague's Old Town, the busy boulevards of Barcelona, and the ancient walls of Dubrovnik. Enjoy the mix of buildings, from tall Gothic cathedrals to modern designs, each showing Europe's rich architectural history. 

Visit the local markets – Explore busy markets like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the Mercat de Sant Josep in Barcelona, and Borough Market in London. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, where you can see, smell, and touch a variety of goods. Experience the local culture with fragrant spices, handmade crafts, and the sounds of people chatting. Find unique foods and items that show the daily life of each place.

Important Documents To Take

One important thing to remember before you embark on your solo expat adventure is to make sure you have all the necessary documents for a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here's a checklist of important documents to bring:

  • Passport – Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay and has enough blank pages for entry and exit stamps. I
  • Visa – Check the visa requirements for each country you will visit. Obtain the necessary visas in advance and keep copies of your visa documents.
  • Travel insurance – Regular travel insurance is essential but consider expat travel insurance for extended stays. This specialised insurance covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unexpected events during long-term travel, perfect for expats.
  • Health Insurance – Besides expat travel insurance, carry proof of health insurance that covers you internationally. It is especially crucial for accessing medical care.
  • Driver's license – If you plan to drive, bring your home country driver’s license and consider obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP).
  • Financial documents – Bring credit/debit cards and ensure they work internationally. Contact information for your bank is also a good idea, just in case they block your card during your trip. I also carry a money travel card such as Revolut too. 
  • Emergency contacts – List of emergency contacts, including family, friends, and local embassy or consulate details.

What to Pack for Expat Travel

If you're not sure what to pack, here's a list that may help too. 

  • Versatile clothing layers
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Weather-appropriate outerwear
  • Casual and formal outfits
  • Swimwear and accessories
  • Travel-sized toiletries
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Basic first-aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Smartphone with charger
  • Portable power bank
  • Universal travel adapter
  • Laptop/tablet
  • Headphones
  • Passport with copies
  • Visas and travel insurance documents
  • Wallet with credit/debit cards and cash
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Travel guidebooks or maps
  • Travel pillow and eye mask
  • Small backpack/daypack
  • Packing cubes
  • Reusable shopping bag
  • Laundry bag
  • Travel-sized sewing kit
  • Money belt or hidden pouch
  • Portable door lock/security alarm

Wherever you choose to travel to in Europe, you're bound to have a great time. And who knows, you may even decide to move there for the next part of your expat journey!