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3 Week Europe Itinerary: 10 Perfect Ideas

Are you looking for the best 3 Week Europe Itinerary? You’ve come to the right place.
Whether you are looking for classic Europe routes, driving itineraries, options for travel by train, or off-the-beaten path discoveries, we have you covered. 

These amazing European Itineraries cover everything from fairytale towns to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and everything in between.

Ready to find your dream 3 week Europe itinerary? Let’s go!

10 Incredible 3 Week European Itineraries - Kids Are A Trip

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Table of Contents

Unforgettable Europe in 3 Weeks – 10 Itineraries

1. Where is the Best Place to Visit in Europe for the First Time? – England, France, The Netherlands, and Belgium

If this is your first visit to the European continent, this is the ideal introduction.

Embarking on your maiden voyage to Europe? What better way to initiate your experience than through these four captivating countries? Each one offers a rich history, cultural variety, and culinary wonders.

This itinerary promises diverse and rich encounters during this 3-week adventure. These are some of the most popular destinations in Western Europe, so be sure to plan your trip early.

Hitting the Highlights – London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels

  • Day 1-5: London, England
  • Day 6-10: Paris, France
  • Day 11-15: Amsterdam, The Netherlands 
  • Day 16-21: Brussels, Belgium 

DAY 1-5: London, England

Kick off your 3-week European adventure in England’s capital, London. A city steeped in history, here you will find some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, elegant squares, and vibrant neighborhoods.

National Portrait Gallery Trafalgar Square London

Explore the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben in your first couple of days.

For a bird’s eye view of the city head to the London Eye, Sky Garden, or the Shard. Be sure to catch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and spend time relaxing in Hyde Park.

For a true taste of British culture, we recommend a traditional afternoon tea experience at one of the city’s luxury hotels or the Brigit’s Bakery Bus tour offering tea and scones on wheels.

DAY 6-10: Paris, France

On Day 6, take a train ride or catch a quick flight from London to Paris. There are plenty of direct flights on budget airlines like easyJet or Ryanair. Spend the next few days immersed in the romantic capital of France.

No visit to Paris would be complete without ascending the Eiffel Tower or exploring the world-renowned Louvre museum. Stroll through the cobblestone streets of Montmartre and treat yourself to a delicious croissant from a local boulangerie.

At night, take a cruise along the Seine where you can admire the beautifully lit buildings and their reflections upon the water.

DAY 11-15: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

On Day 11, catch a train from Paris to Amsterdam. Wander aimlessly through the city’s streets, crossing over canals and exploring the neighborhoods.

There are so many fun and unique things to do in Amsterdam. Don’t miss a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, and the Rijksmuseum.

Jordaan District Amsterdam-Kirsten Maxwell
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Spend some time in Vondelpark and try traditional Dutch pancakes.

Some of our favorite day trips from Amsterdam include:

  • Rotterdam to see the Cube Houses and explore the charming area of Delfshaven
  • Volendam where you can learn how to make clogs and sample some cheese
  • The Hague is home to Dutch Parliament and Mauritshuis where you can see the painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring”

DAY 16-21: Brussels, Belgium

On Day 16, travel from Amsterdam to Brussels, the final stop of this 3 week Europe itinerary. Experience Belgium’s vibrant history and architecture at the Grand Place, and don’t miss a chance to taste some famous Belgian chocolates and waffles.

Plan a day trip to Bruges and Ghent to experience some of Belgium’s most beautiful towns. Take a canal ride in Bruges and go back in time at Gravensteen Castle in Ghent.

What is the Best Time for this Itinerary?

The mild months of May, June, and September are perfect. The weather is usually comfortable and tourist crowds are manageable.

2. Timeless Journey through Classic Europe: France, Italy, Greece

If you are looking for a classic Central Europe vacation, why not take on this itinerary that hits the major highlights?

This tour offers an unmatched experience, covering three monumental countries. Each destination is uniquely steeped in ancient history, brimming with vibrant culture and culinary delights, promising a multifaceted tour through Europe.

Visiting the Classical Capitals of Europe

  • Day 1-7: Paris, France
  • Day 8-14: Rome, Italy
  • Day 15-21: Athens, Greece

DAY 1-7: Paris, France

Begin your 3-week European holiday in France’s capital, Paris. The city captures hearts with its iconic landmarks, artistic heritage, and culinary sensations.

Paris offers plenty of unique tours that appeal to families. Step back in time and visit the Palace of Versailles (don’t forget to spend a little time in Versailles – the town!). Take a bike tour at Versailles, learn how to make macarons with a local chef, or dig into the city’s history on a Context Travel tour.

Versailles Gardens - Kids Are A Trip
Photo: Jason Maxwell

Ascend the Eiffel Tower, a timeless symbol of Paris, for a panoramic view of the city. Don’t miss the opportunity to stroll down the historic Champs-Élysées and visit the famous Notre Dame Cathedral (note – you can’t access the inside until December 2024, but it is still worth a visit).

With extra days you can taste your way through the Champagne Region of France, or take day trips from Paris. Head to Normandy to learn about World War II history or visit the chateaux and wine estates of the Loire Valley.

DAY 8-14: Rome, Italy

On Day 8, embark on a flight from Paris to Rome. Dedicate the following week to discovering Italy’s capital, also known as the Eternal City.

Visit the historic sites in Rome. Explore the Colosseum, wander through the Roman Forum, and marvel at the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Unleash your inner foodie with a traditional pasta or gelato-making class.

Don’t forget to explore the cobblestone streets of Trastevere, known for its vibrant nightlife and traditional Italian cuisine.

Explore the ancient ruins at Ostia Antica, visit two World Heritage sites in one day at Tivoli, and throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain.

If you have extra days, you can spend a day at the beach in Ostia, take in the art and architecture of Florence, or discover the lost city of Pompeii.

DAY 15-21: Athens, Greece

On Day 15, you’ll fly from Rome to Athens, the culmination of this classic European route. Athens is known as the cradle of Western civilization and democracy.

History unfolds as you step into the Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home the Parthenon, Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike.

The archaeological richness continues at the Ancient Agora, the nucleus of political and public life in ancient Athens.

Greece vacation with teens
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

The National Archaeological Museum is a must-visit, with artifacts spanning 5,000 years of Greek history.

Complete your Athens experience with a walk around the old neighborhood of Plaka, nestled at the foot of the Acropolis. Make plans to enjoy the sunset and breathtaking city views from Mount Lycabettus. 

Discover the temple of Apollo at Delphi and enjoy the island life away from the hustle and bustle of Athens in Aegina.

If you want to explore other islands, we recommend Crete, Santorini, Naxos, and Paros. Grab this Greece itinerary if you want everything planned for you!

When is the Best Time to Visit?

Enjoy this timeless journey during the Spring (April to June) and Autumn (September to October). During these months, the weather is typically pleasant and tourist crowds are fewer, ensuring a more relaxing trip.

3. Nordic Adventure: Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark

If you want to soak up Scandinavian and Baltic cultures, head to these Nordic countries. Here you will be met with unbelievable natural beauty and unique adventures.

This trip to Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark allows you to dive into their different cultures and create a 3-week experience you won’t soon forget.

The Best of the Nordic Countries

  • Day 1-6: Oslo, Norway
  • Day 7-11: Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Day 12-16: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Day 17-21: Helsinki, Finland

DAY 1-6: Oslo, Norway

Begin your Nordic journey in Norway’s capital, Oslo. The city seamlessly blends urban life with outdoor fun. Oslo boasts a range of must-see landmarks.

Visit the expansive Vigeland Park, delve into the Viking history at the Viking Ship Museum, and enjoy panoramic city views from the Holmenkollen Ski Jump.

Make time to travel the Norway in a Nutshell route to see the country’s breathtaking scenery.

DAY 7-11: Copenhagen, Denmark

On day seven make your way from Oslo to Copenhagen by train (7.5 hours) or plane (1 hour 10 minutes). The vibrant Nyhavn harbor, the enchanting Tivoli Gardens, and the iconic Little Mermaid statue await you in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen 3 week Europe itinerary
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Our favorite day trips include Frederiksborg Castle, a quick 40-minute train ride to Hillerød, where you can explore the town, castle, and its gardens. For those who want to learn about Viking history, head to Roskilde where you can visit the Viking Museum and even head out on a Viking ship.

We highly recommend using a Copenhagen card for discounts on attractions and transportation. Wrap up your journey with Danish smørrebrød, cinnamon snails (kanelsnegl), and a local beer.

DAY 12-16: Stockholm, Sweden

On Day 12, make your way from Stockholm to Helsinki. It’s an easy flight with Norwegian, SAS, or Finnair. If you prefer the long route, there are ferries available.

The next five days are filled with Swedish splendor, from the streets of Gamla Stan to the impressive Vasa Museum, and the tranquil setting of Djurgården Island.

We also recommend the Skansen living history museum, learning about Swedish royalty at The Royal Palace, and visiting the city’s ICEBAR.

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DAY 17-21: Helsinki, Finland

This last leg of your journey lets you explore Finland’s capital city of Helsinki with its avant-garde architecture, the historic Suomenlinna sea fortress, and the bustling Market Square.

Helsinki finland port
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Don’t forget to unwind in a traditional Finnish sauna and plunge into the ocean. If you would like to squeeze in one more country board a ferry for a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia. (And here’s what to do in Tallinn when you get there).

When is the Best Time to Visit Scandinavia?

The perfect window for this Nordic Adventure is during the summer months, from June to August. The weather is at its best, offering endless daylight due to the Midnight Sun, providing ample time to explore the stunning landscapes of the North.

4. Fairy Tale Road Trip: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and Hungary

Want to explore the far-away lands depicted in fairytales? Prepare for an enchanting 3-week journey through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. 

Each country has its own vibrant history, breathtaking landscapes, and fascinating architecture. A trip to these countries takes you straight to the land of fairytales.

A Classic Trip through the land of stories

  • Day 1-6: Munich, Germany 
  • Day 7-11: Prague, Czech Republic
  • Day 12-16: Vienna, Austria
  • Day 17-21: Budapest, Hungary

DAY 1-6: Munich, Germany

Start your fairytale journey in Munich, Germany. A city renowned for its historic charm, Munich offers stunning palaces, an automobile museum, and world-famous beer halls.

Marienplatz Munich-Kids Are A trip

Explore the scientific artifacts at the Deutsches Museum, enjoy a traditional beer at the famous Hofbräuhaus, learn about automobile history at the BMW Museum, and soak up the cultural atmosphere in Marienplatz.

Take a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, known for its striking beauty that inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.

Don’t forget to sample the hearty local cuisine, including pretzels, weisswurst, and strudel.

Of course, if you are in town at the end of September join in the largest beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest!

DAY 7-11: Prague, Czech Republic

On Day 7, travel from Munich to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic and one of the cheaper cities in Europe for those on a budget. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant nightlife, Prague is a city that never ceases to amaze. 

Explore Prague Castle, stroll across the Charles Bridge, and enjoy a traditional Czech meal accompanied by a pint of their world-renowned beer.

Take a day trip to Cesky Krumlov to see one of the most beautiful places in the Czech Republic and explore the most quaint town you will ever visit.

DAY 12-16: Vienna, Austria

On Day 12, continue your journey to Vienna, Austria. The Austrian capital, synonymous with imperial palaces, musical heritage, and stunning architecture, promises a wealth of experiences.

Visit the opulent Schönbrunn Palace, stroll through the historic city center (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and enjoy a classical music concert at the Vienna State Opera. These are both some of the most beautiful places in Austria.

We recommend a guided walking tour, bicycle tour, or Segway tour that explores the famous sites in Vienna.

DAY 17-21: Budapest, Hungary

On Day 17, set off to Budapest, the final stop on this fairytale journey. The Danube River divides the city into Buda and Pest, and each one offers unique attractions and experiences. Don’t miss the imposing Buda Castle or the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath.

Budapest night time river cruise Kirsten Maxwell
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

As night falls, witness the city’s iconic structures light up, such as the Chain Bridge and Hungarian Parliament building. We recommend taking a river cruise at night to see everything in its splendor.

We recommend taking a food tour to try lángos, strudel, and Hungarian wine.

Best Time to Visit the Magical Cities

To fully enjoy the outdoor adventures and stunning landscapes of this route, the best time to visit is during the spring (April to June) or autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller.

Germany Christmas Markets guide

5. Discovering Hidden Gems: Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Delve into the European countries that were once one country – Yugoslavia. Head away from the well-traveled tourist routes on this 3-week Europe itinerary. You’re about to discover the underrated countries of Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Each country has its unique allure. You will find vibrant cityscapes, idyllic landscapes, and an array of historical and cultural treasures. It’s a destination you’ll want to return to time and time again.

The Gems of Former Yugoslavia

  • Day 1-6: Ljubljana and Bled, Slovenia
  • Day 7-11: Zagreb and Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
  • Day 12-16: Sarajevo and Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Day 17-21: Kotor and Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

DAY 1-6: Ljubljana and Bled, Slovenia

Begin your unique journey in the picturesque city of Ljubljana, one of the most beautiful places in Slovenia. Get lost in Old Town, peppered with vibrant cafés and marked by the distinct Ljubljana Castle dominating the city skyline.

Take a leisurely cruise on the Ljubljanica River, flanked by lush green banks and elegant bridges, like the famed Triple Bridge and Dragon Bridge.

A day trip to Lake Bled is a magical experience. Nestled in the Julian Alps, this emerald-green lake, with a small island home to a 17th-century church and an imposing medieval castle perched on a hill, is nothing short of a fairy-tale scene.

Don’t miss the chance to ring the church bell on the island and make a wish!

DAY 7-11: Zagreb and Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

On Day seven, make your way to Croatia’s lively capital, Zagreb. Explore the historic Gornji Grad, home to the brightly tiled St Mark’s Church, and visit the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships.

Delight in local dishes like “strukli” in the bustling Dolac Market.

Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

A trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park is an absolute must for nature enthusiasts.

The park is a magical world of 16 interconnected lakes, cascading waterfalls, and lush woodland home to diverse wildlife, including bears and wolves.

DAY 12-16: Sarajevo and Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

On day twelve, head to the captivating city of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital. Explore the historical Bascarsija old bazaar, visit the Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque, and learn about the city’s recent history at the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum.

Savor local delights like cevapi, a grilled dish of minced meat, and burek, a meat-filled flaky pastry.

Mostar Bosnia bridge
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Make sure to spend a day in the historic city of Mostar, known for its iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), quaint cobbled streets, and lively marketplaces.

DAY 17-21: Kotor and Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

End your European vacation in the town of Montenegro, Kotor. Walk the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, lined with medieval stone buildings, and visit the remarkable Kotor Cathedral.

Kotor Montenegro Old Town
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

The strenuous but rewarding hike up to the ancient San Giovanni Fortress rewards you with panoramic views over the Bay of Kotor.

Extend your Montenegro experience with a visit to Durmitor National Park. Explore its dramatic landscape featuring towering peaks, deep canyons, dense pine forests, and the enchanting Black Lake.

Best Time to Visit These Hidden Gems

 Experience these destinations in all their glory during the mild seasons of spring (April to June) or early autumn (September to October). During these times the weather is pleasantly warm and the crowds are smaller.

6. Time for Sunshine: Greece, Spain, Portugal, and France

Want to soak up the sunshine on your European journey? This route is the ultimate combo for beach lovers.

The Europe trip itinerary moves you through Greece, Spain, Portugal, and France – countries celebrated for their stunning coastlines and unique food and drink.

Your 3-week Europe trip is set to offer an eclectic blend of sunbathing, swimming, and adventure.

Beach Lovers Europe Itinerary

  • Day 1-5: Athens, Greece
  • Day 6-10: Nice, France
  • Day 11-15: Barcelona, Spain
  • Day 16-21: Lisbon, Portugal

DAY 1-5: Athens, Greece

Your beach tour kicks off in Athens, Greece. From the historic Parthenon to the mesmerizing beaches of the Athenian Riviera, there’s a wealth of experiences waiting.

Soak up the sun at Astir Beach Club, go shopping in the Plaka district, or learn about Ancient Greece at the National Archaeology Museum.

DAY 6-10: Nice, France

Catch a flight to the glamorous city of Nice, France. The city’s stunning beaches on the French Riviera, such as Blue Beach or Opera Plage, are an ideal spot to unwind.

Nice France beach

DAY 11-15: Barcelona, Spain

Next, head to Barcelona, a city renowned for its urban beaches and Gothic architecture. Head to Barceloneta Beach in the city center, explore La Boquería market, and marvel at Gaudi’s famous works.

DAY 16-21: Lisbon, Portugal

End your trip in the fabulous city of Lisbon. There are beautiful beaches in the surrounding region, perfect for day trips.

Perfect Weekend in Lisbon visit Sao Jorge Castle-Kids Are A Trip
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Head to the Belém district where you can learn about famous Portuguese explorers, wander the courtyard of a 16th-century monastery, and sample the famous custard tarts at Pastéis de Belém. Climb to St. George’s Castle for stunning city views.

Visit Cascais, Costa da Caparica, or Sintra for some time at the beach.

Best Time to Visit Mediterranean Beaches

The summer months, from June to August, are ideal for this itinerary, ensuring sunny weather for the ultimate beach relaxation. However, for smaller crowds, opt for late spring (May) or early fall (September).

7. The Baltics: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

Are you an adventurous traveler that loves exploring lesser-known destinations? The Baltic route, traversing through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, could be your ideal itinerary.

Each of these Northern European countries boasts a unique character, abundant with medieval charm, unspoiled natural landscapes, and a distinct cultural vibrancy.

Embarking on this 3-week journey offers you a chance to uncover Europe’s hidden gems.

Best of the Baltics

  • Day 1-5: Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Day 6-10: Riga, Latvia
  • Day 11-15: Tartu, Estonia
  • Day 16-21: Tallinn, Estonia

DAY 1-5: Vilnius, Lithuania

Begin your journey in the captivating city of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital. The city’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is filled with Baroque architecture set against the backdrop of cobblestone streets.

Vilnius Lithuania aerial view

While here, explore the grandeur of Vilnius Cathedral, climb the Gediminas’ Tower for a sweeping view of the city, and pay a visit to the Bohemian neighborhood of Užupis.

Round off your Lithuanian adventure by tasting traditional dishes like cepelinai (potato dumplings) and kibinai (pastries filled with mutton and onion).

DAY 6-10: Riga, Latvia

Set course for Riga, Latvia’s capital, next. Riga’s skyline is dotted with spires reflecting its rich Art Nouveau heritage.

Wander through the picturesque Old Town, stand in awe of the Riga Cathedral’s beauty, and explore the bustling Central Market. Be sure to sample local specialties such as rye bread and smoked fish.

For a refreshing break, head to the pristine beaches of Jūrmala, just a short trip from the city center.

DAY 11-15: Tartu, Estonia

The next stop is Tartu, Estonia’s second-largest city, renowned as the country’s cultural and intellectual hub.

Visit the University of Tartu, the oldest university in Estonia, and stroll around Toome Hill Park, the city’s green heart.

Tartu’s Old Town is a blend of historical buildings and a vibrant street culture. Treat yourself to the local cuisine, particularly the Sült (jellied meat) and Kama (a traditional dessert).

DAY 16-21: Tallinn, Estonia

The final leg of your journey brings you to Tallinn, one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe.

Tallinn Estonia Baltic itinerary
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Stroll the Old Town and admire the old buildings and stone towers, and be sure to visit the grand Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Explore the seafaring history at the Maritime Museum in the Seaplane Harbour, and relax in one of the city’s many parks.

Best Time to Visit The Baltic Capitals

To enjoy the Baltics in all their glory, consider visiting between May and September. The weather is typically mild and the landscapes are in full bloom. Summer days extend into long, light-filled evenings, perfect for exploring.

8. Christmas Market Tour: Germany, France, Switzerland, and Austria

Nothing encapsulates the magic of the holiday season quite like the traditional Christmas markets of Europe

This specially curated tour takes you through the heart of four countries that really celebrate the holiday season – Germany, France, Switzerland, and Austria. 

Each of these destinations boasts its own unique festive traditions, tantalizing local delicacies, and colorful markets, transforming your 3-week journey into a dreamy holiday extravaganza.

Christmas Market Highlights

  • Day 1-5: Frankfurt, Germany
  • Day 6-10: Strasbourg, France
  • Day 11-15: Zurich, Switzerland
  • Day 16-21: Innsbruck, Austria

DAY 1-5: Frankfurt, Germany

Begin your holiday journey in Frankfurt, home to one of Germany’s largest and oldest Christmas markets.

Held in the historic Römerberg Square, this market comes alive with over 200 beautifully decorated stalls offering a variety of gifts, from intricate Christmas decorations to handmade crafts.

Treat yourself to traditional German holiday specialties, such as lebkuchen (gingerbread), stollen (fruit bread), and a warm glass of apple wine.

Don’t miss a chance to enjoy the view of the market from above by climbing up the tower of St. Nicholas Church.

Related
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DAY 6-10: Strasbourg, France

Board a train to Strasbourg, lovingly known as the “Capital of Christmas.” Its Christmas market, dating back to 1570, now extends beyond the area surrounding Strasbourg Cathedral into the rest of the city.

Strasbourg Christmas market

As you wander through the 300 stalls, sample traditional Alsatian Christmas delicacies, including bretzels (pretzels), spiced biscuits, and vin chaud (mulled wine).

Take a stroll through La Petite France, the city’s historic district, adorned with decorations and lights. It’s a romantic place to explore any time of day or night.

DAY 11-15: Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich‘s Christmas markets transform the city during the holiday season. Not-to-miss markets include the Christkindlimarkt at the main train station and the Wienachtsdorf near the water.

Zurich Switzerland sunset
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Another favorite is the singing Christmas tree and market that offers various performers throughout the season sharing their favorite Christmas carols.

Don’t miss a stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse, one of the world’s most exclusive shopping avenues. Climb Lindenhof Hill or the steps of Grossmünster Cathedral for beautiful city views. Be sure to sample Swiss fondue and chocolate during your visit.

DAY 16-21: Innsbruck, Austria

In the heart of the Austrian Alps lies Innsbruck, a true winter wonderland. With twinkling lights, snow-covered roofs, and majestic mountains, it’s an idyllic setting for the city’s Christmas markets.

Families should explore historic landmarks like the Golden Roof and St. Anne’s Column. For those wanting adventure, the nearby Nordkette mountain range offers winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing. The breathtaking panoramic views from the cable car are sure to take everyone’s breath away.

Innsbruck Austria winter

Be sure to indulge in traditional Austrian delights like freshly baked strudel, warm chestnuts, and gingerbread cookies.

Innsbruck’s Christmas markets create a magical backdrop for families exploring Europe during the holiday season.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Christmas Markets 

The best time to visit Europe’s Christmas markets is from the end of November through December. During this time the markets are in full operation, and the European cities are filled with holiday spirit.

9. Highlights of the British Isles: England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland

Culturally and geographically diverse, a three-week itinerary through these cities and their surroundings is an unforgettable experience. This trip appeals to history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone who loves the blending of the past and present that the British Isles have to offer. UK family holidays are made for all types of travelers.

These nations have a common history but each has a unique story to tell.

This 3-week exploration through England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland promises to delight every member of the family.

Best of the British Isles

  • Day 1-5: London, England
  • Day 6-10: Cardiff, Wales
  • Day 11-15: Dublin, Ireland
  • Day 16-21: Edinburgh, Scotland

DAY 1-5: London, England

We think London is the perfect blend of history, culture, and entertainment. It won’t be a struggle to spend 5 days in this gorgeous city.

Visit iconic landmarks like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, explore the British Museum, and find time to relax in Hyde Park or Regents Park.

The West End delights with kid-friendly shows like Matilda and The Lion King.

Day trips to the Harry Potter Studio Tour or Windsor Castle shouldn’t be missed. It’s easy to navigate London transportation or explore on foot.

DAY 6-10: Cardiff, Wales

Day 6 you’ll head to Cardiff, a vibrant city in Wales, just under 3 hours by train.

Begin with Cardiff Castle, where kids can be enchanted by the fairy-tale towers and explore all of its nooks and crannies. Bute Park offers tranquil walks and St. Fagans National Museum of History will teach everyone about Welsh heritage.

If you want to explore beyond Cardiff, we recommend day trips to Castle Coch and Caerphilly Castle.

DAY 11-15: Dublin, Ireland

There are a few options for traveling from Cardiff to Dublin. One is to travel to the northern part of Wales where you can catch a ferry from Holyhead to Dublin. It takes about 2.5 hours. If you don’t want to make the drive, there are non-stop flights between Cardiff and Dublin on Ryanair.

Dublin Castle Dublin with kids

Dublin offers history, culture, and a lot of green space. Don’t miss the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum and the national museums which are all free.

Take a stroll through Phoenix Park or St. Stephen’s Green. Learn about Ireland’s political history at Kilmainham Gaol. Kids and adults alike will also enjoy a tour of Guinness Storehouse where you can grab a bite to eat, sample draft beer, and take in city views from the Gravity Bar.

DAY 16-21: Edinburgh, Scotland

Finish this itinerary in Edinburgh, an easy one-hour flight from Dublin. The city has a rich history, stunning architecture, and amazing summer festivals. Be sure to explore Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace to learn about British royalty and their Scottish connections.

Edinburgh Castle Princes Garden
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Shop along the Royal Mile, hike up Arthur’s Seat for panoramic views or take a city ghost tour. No matter what you choose, Edinburgh is sure to please all ages.

What is the Best Time to Visit the British Isles?

To fully enjoy this itinerary, we recommend visiting from April to June or September to October. During these times the weather may be cold and rainy, or warm and sunny. It’s very unpredictable, but you will enjoy fewer crowds, which is always a bonus.

10. Eastern Europe Route: Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Romania

Embark on an unexplored journey to Eastern Europe, where history comes alive in the stunning architecture, ancient cities, and rich cultural traditions of Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Romania. 

This 3-week journey offers an authentic, immersive experience that breaks away from the typical tourist paths.

Eastern Europe Explorer

  • Day 1-5: Berlin, Germany
  • Day 6-10: Warsaw, Poland
  • Day 11-15: Budapest, Hungary
  • Day 16-21: Bucharest, Romania

DAY 1-5: Berlin, Germany

First up on this itinerary is Berlin, a city that has witnessed pivotal moments in modern history. Reflect on the Cold War era as you explore remnants of the Berlin Wall. Visit the Brandenburg Gate, an iconic symbol of European unity and peace.

Explore Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site housing five of Berlin’s most important museums. The Pergamon has a vast collection of antiquities, and the Neues Museum has the famous bust of Nefertiti.

Round off your stay in Berlin with a visit to the historic Alexanderplatz and the Berlin Cathedral.

DAY 6-10: Warsaw, Poland

Next up is Warsaw, the resilient capital of Poland. Walk along the Royal Route, witnessing centuries-old palaces, churches, and statues. Tour the meticulously restored Royal Castle, home to numerous works of art. 

Warsaw Poland Old Town

Visit Wilanów Palace, a pearl of Polish Baroque architecture surrounded by magnificent gardens. 

Learn about the city’s wartime past at the Warsaw Uprising Museum and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Indulge in traditional Polish dishes, from comforting pierogi dumplings to the hearty hunter’s stew, bigos.

DAY 11-15: Budapest, Hungary

From Warsaw head to Budapest, Hungary’s illustrious capital, known for its thermal baths and art nouveau architecture. 

Visit Buda Castle, situated on Castle Hill, with fabulous views of the Danube and the Pest side of the city. 

Explore Gellért and Széchenyi Thermal Baths for a relaxing, quintessential Budapest experience. 

DAY 16-21: Bucharest, Romania

Finish your Eastern European odyssey in Bucharest, Romania. Visit the colossal Palace of the Parliament, the world’s heaviest building created by the notorious former dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Families will be pleasantly surprised by all of the fun things to do in Bucharest with kids.

Explore the historic Lipscani district, where cobblestone streets are lined with bustling cafes, bohemian boutiques, and vibrant nightlife. 

Bucharest Romania itinerary
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Spend time in Herastrau Park, or take a trip to the Village Museum showcasing traditional Romanian village life. 

If you have time, take a day trip to Transylvania to see a different side of Romania.

What is the Best Time to Visit Eastern Europe?

We recommend exploring this Eastern European route during the shoulder seasons, specifically between April and June or September and October. These periods promise pleasant weather and fewer crowds, making it the perfect opportunity to explore these unique destinations.

How to Plan a 3 Week Europe Itinerary

1. Decide where you want to go

Define what you want to get out of the trip. Is your group interested in history, art, food, adventure, relaxation, or a mix of these? Your interests will guide your choice of destinations

2. Choose your destinations wisely

Research various countries and cities to find ones that match your interests. Aim for a balance between popular spots and lesser-known destinations for a well-rounded experience.

3. How many countries should I visit in Europe in 3 weeks?

This is a personal choice. How often do you want to move accommodation? For three weeks in Europe, we recommend 3 to 4 different locations. Note that travel time between locations can significantly reduce the actual time you have for exploration.

Snaefellsness Peninsula day trip from Reykjavik
Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

If it is your first time visiting Europe be sure to leave enough time to make connections. Opt for destinations that are closer together or well-connected by efficient transport networks.

4. How Much to Pack for 3 Weeks in Europe

For such a long trip we recommend liming luggage to the essentials. Choose items that mix and match and pack layers.

The weather can vary greatly across Europe, so be sure to check the weather during your trip and pack appropriately.

If it’s an option, book accommodation with a washer and/or dryer so you can pack fewer clothes. Remember, you’ll probably pick up a few souvenirs along the way.

5. Don’t over plan your trip

While it’s tempting to try and see everything, cramming too many activities or cities into your itinerary can lead to burnout. Allow for downtime and spontaneous exploration, especially when traveling with younger kids. Flexibility is key.

6. Research Visa Requirements

Some countries may require visas for entry, so ensure that you’re aware of these requirements and prepare accordingly.

*Note: Starting in 2024, Americans will need authorization through ETIAS to visit 30 European countries. For more information, we recommend this website.

7. How Far in Advance to Book a Trip to Europe

This really depends on your schedule and availability. It also depends on the time of year you plan to travel.

We recommend booking flights and accommodations at least 6 months in advance to get your first choices. Be sure to book your intercity train or plane tickets at the same time.

If there are any must-see attractions or experiences on your list, be sure to book those in advance to prevent disappointment.

8. Purchase Travel Insurance

I’ve had to file two claims in the last two years and I wouldn’t recommend traveling without insurance right now. Travel insurance can provide coverage for unexpected situations such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost luggage.

9. How to Stay Connected in Europe

Consider your options for staying connected, such as getting a local SIM card or portable WiFi. Each carrier offers different coverage. T-Mobile offers an international calling plan, whereas Verizon and AT&T offer a daily rate. Another option is to set phones to airplane mode and use Wi-Fi when available.

Recently we discovered eSIM cards which are very easy to use. Just download the app to your phone and connect through it. We used Airalo and felt it was a great option.

10. How much should I budget for 3 weeks in Europe?

Unfortunately, it’s not a set number. Nordic countries are typically more expensive than the rest of Europe. Southern countries like Greece, Portugal, and Spain are relatively inexpensive as are the former Yugoslavian countries, Bulgaria, and Romania.

Tips for family travel on a budget

Depending on your travel style and how many people are traveling with you, I think it’s safe to plan on $1000 minimum per week.

Research and plan your budget carefully. You’ll need to be sure to account for transportation, accommodation, food, attractions, and tours at a minimum. We recommend you always carry emergency cash just in case.

Wrap-Up: 3 Week Europe Itinerary

Planning your three-week European adventure can be as exciting as the journey itself.

Whether you’re drawn to the allure of famous landmarks or the charm of hidden gems, there’s an itinerary to fit your interests. Relax in small towns or soak up big-city energy. Europe is a great place to learn about a variety of cultures, sample some amazing cuisine, and check some highlights off your travel bucket list.

Remember to plan thoroughly yet stay flexible, savor each moment, and embrace the unexpected. The memories you’ll create are sure to be priceless. 

This continent’s beauty is unmatched, its heritage profound, and its allure is irresistible. 

About the author: This article was co-written by Kirsten of Kids Are A Trip and Fiona, an Australian Travel Blogger at Travelling Thirties. She has spent the last 13 years traveling Europe extensively and discovered the best ways to spend 21 days in Europe. Kirsten has traveled throughout Europe annually for the last 30 years.