Going to Europe This Summer? You’re Not Alone. (2024)

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After three years of pandemic restrictions, travelers are flocking to Europe in record numbers, despite high airfares,limited accommodations and crowded sites. Here’s what you might encounter.

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Going to Europe This Summer? You’re Not Alone. (1)

By Ceylan Yeginsu,Anna Momigliano and Joe Orovic

Between the time that Aiden Judson and his wife, Laura, picked Sicily as their honeymoon destination and their actual trip in early June, something significant happened: the second season of “The White Lotus.”

The New York couple had imagined a quiet getaway, hiking across the nearby Aeolian Islands and plunging into the crystal turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, far from crowded Italianbeach destinations like Capri and the Amalfi coast.

But then HBO released the second season of its hit show, set mainlyin San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons hotel and former Dominican monastery in the cliff-top town of Taormina. While the luxury hotel may be out of reach for tourists on a budget, the show’s idyllic Sicilian setting made the Italian island one of the most sought-after destinations in 2023.

“When we watched the show, we were so excited, like ‘wow, that’s going to be us,’ and didn’t realize that it would mean everyone and their mom would be going to Sicily this summer,” said Mr. Judson, 37, who returned from the island earlier this month. “It was still stunning and we had some special moments, but it was crazy busy with loud and sweaty tourists packed into narrow streets. It made it difficult to feel the Italian charm.”

Sicily isn’t the only European destination bustling with tourists ahead of the peak summer seasonin July and August. After three years of pandemic restrictions, travelers are flocking to Europe in record numbers, despite high airfares, limited accommodations, sweltering heat and crowded sites.

Among American travelers, Europe is the most popular destination this year, according to Hopper’s “Summer Travel to Europe” report. Demand has already outpaced 2019 levels, according to the report,even as hotel prices surge and airfares are the highest in five years. London, Paris, Rome, Lisbon and Athens are among the most booked cities on the Hoppertravel app, and the Sicilian city of Palermo, which isalso featured in “The White Lotus,” is among the top trending destinations.

“We have to make up for the lost time,” said Elizabeth Hughes, 44, an occupational therapist from Chicago, who made a scrapbook of places she wanted to visit in Europe during the height of the pandemic. She is currently in London, starting a four-week itinerary in eight countries, including France, Italy and Greece. “I had to sell my car to pull this off, but if I’m traveling this far, I’m going to see everywhere,” she said.

Demand has been so high that many travel advisers have had to turn away clients looking to book vacations in popular European destinations in July and August because of a lack of availability.

“Two weeks ago I had a last-minute request for Greece and I reached out to my suppliers to see if there was any way to accommodate them. But there was nothing, so, unfortunately, I had to turn down business,” said Abby Lagman, the founder of the Blissful Travel Company, a U.S.-based travel agency.

Ms. Lagman has been encouraging her clients wanting to visit European hot spots to postpone to the fall, when there is more availability and fewer crowds.

International tourists aren’t the only ones behind the spring and early summer rebound. This year, most Europeans are planning to travel before August, the busiest vacation month, to get ahead of rising travel costs and extreme weather conditions, according to a survey carried out by the European Travel Commission. Attractions such as the Louvre in Paris and the Vatican in Rome are already teeming with tourists who had to wait an hour or more in line to get inside. Many hotels are already full, according to online booking sites, and cafes and restaurants in popular cities are overflowing.

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In June, Italy saw an estimated 8.6 percent growth in the number of foreign visitors arriving by plane, compared to the same period in 2019 (one of the busiest years ever for Italian tourism), with Americans making up the largest nationality among international visitors, according to the country’s Ministry of Tourism. Italians celebrating a series of national holidays in recent months contributed to the pre-summer frenzy; overall they account for half of the country’s tourists.

Stephanie Geddie, a 36-year-old nurse from Tulsa, Okla., visited Italy with her husband during the shoulder season in late April. She had hoped to dodge the summer crowds, but Florence and Rome were even more packed than they were in the summer of 2008 when Ms. Geddie studied in Italy.

She knew the Colosseum would be crowded, but made sure to prebookto avoid waiting in line. But when they actually got in, they could barely move through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. “It was a sea of people and any picture you took had 75 strangers in it,” she said. “It was a bit disheartening.”

Venice, which attracts large numbers of tourists year round, is even more crowded than usual, according to local travel industry members. What has been most striking is that areas outside of tourism hot spots like St. Mark’s Square are now filling up with visitors.

On a recent day, the Ponte de San Paternian — a lesser-known bridge in the St. Marks area — was packed with tourists taking selfies. The two-euro (just over $2) gondolasknown as traghetti,one of Venice’s last-kept local secrets, had a line of tourists waiting to board in the San Polo district.

“Venice is used to mass tourism, but what I’m seeing right now is something new — places that hardly used to be crowded are now crowded. Weekdays that used to be quiet are now busy almost like the weekends,” said Guido Moltedo, who has lived in Venice 12 years and manages the local magazine Ytali.

“There are places like Campo San Giacomo that are packed with tourists drinking spritz,” he said, referring to the square that is known to locals as the “campo of the Venetian people” for its lack of tourists. “Venice is close to saturation, if it’s not saturated already,” he added.

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The Croatian city of Dubrovnik, its white ramparts best known as King’s Landing in the HBO show “Game of Thrones,” is another destination that is grappling with the issue of overtourism. In the first five months of 2023 it saw a 46 percent increase in arrivals compared to the same period last year. It recently surpassed Venice as the most “over-touristed” city in Europe, according to a report published by Holidu, the online vacation home rental agency.

Marija Grazio, a 58-year-old pianist and occasional tour guide, lives next to St. Blaise’s Church within Dubrovnik’s old city walls, one of the most popular tourist areas.

“It’s impossible to create a normal, organized life,” she said, recalling a time two years ago when her mother fell sick, and the emergency services were unable to get to her apartment.

“It’s as if you are in the jungle, you wonder if you will stay alive,” she said. “Imagine 8,000 tourists, what if something happens? Dubrovnik needs to be looked at like a stadium hosting a major event. There are only two emergency exits.”

She also complained about the noise, saying that she had invested in triple-paneled wooden windows and shutters in the last two years to help keep out the racket. “I live like a hamster. I can’t sleep with the window open at night,” she said.

Tourists have also been flocking to the Croatian city of Split and its surroundings, known for its azure shores. The return of crowds means Croatia’s southern Dalmatian coast has restarted its ongoing battle with young and sometimes reckless partygoers. Recent headlines showcase various incursions into local life, from climbing onto public monuments to drunk guests stumbling along cobblestone streets and relieving themselves in public. In response, Split’s City Council has passed a slew of fines. Disorderly behavior — drinking close to schools, climbing on monuments, bathing in fountains, defecating and sleeping in public areas — now carry a 300-euro fine, about $327. Vomiting on public surfaces costs half as much.

Yet despite the issues that overcrowding and reckless behavior can bring to local communities, many people across Europe are happy and relieved to have tourists back.

“The city was so dead and depressing without tourists, the energy was completely off,” said Melissa Cruz, a bag designer and tour guide in Lisbon. “I’ve never seen the streets as full as they are now, the city is completely alive.”

While some tourists have been surprised and frustrated by the crowds, especially those who tried to beat them by coming in the spring or early summer, others are grateful for the opportunity to travel again, with or without throngs of visitors.

“When you visit London, you have to expect crowds at the Tate, or the British Museum or the London Eye,” Ms. Hughes, the occupational therapist from Chicago, said, referring to some of the city’s main attractions. “But there’s also a lot of opportunities to find the lesser-known places. It’s a huge city, you just need to budget some time to explore.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation.

Ceylan Yeginsu is a travel reporter. She was previously a correspondent for the International desk in Britain and Turkey, covering politics; social justice; the migrant crisis; the Kurdish conflict, and the rise of Islamic State extremism in Syria and the region. @CeylanWrites Facebook

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Going to Europe This Summer? You’re Not Alone. (2024)

FAQs

Should I be traveling to Europe right now? ›

European Coronavirus Travel Restrictions for US Visitors

The EU is recommending that Americans should be allowed to enter the bloc without travel restrictions based on health. Member states now permit U.S. passport holders to enter for non-essential purposes, including tourism, without additional health paperwork.

Is it cheap to go to Europe right now? ›

Overall, Europe is relatively cheap when it comes to travelling. Of course cities like Paris, Berlin and London hike up the prices but a lot of countries and smaller towns are relatively budget-friendly. Just make sure to choose the right destinations!

Is it safe to travel solo in Europe? ›

Europe is known to be one of the most popular and safe tourist destinations for solo travelers for good reason. With an advanced public transportation system, varying regions, and rich cultures, a solo backpacking trip around Europe is a life changing experience.

How is air travel in Europe right now? ›

Can tourists travel to Europe right now? The short answer is — yes. Though there are some Europe Covid travel restrictions in place, many countries have already opened up to foreign tourists, especially if you've been fully vaccinated.

Is it safe to travel to Europe this summer? ›

Before we even get started, it can't be stressed enough that Europe is an incredibly safe place to travel. European countries dominate any list of the safest countries in the world and each year, millions of Americans visit Europe and have the time of their lives without so much as a minor incident.

Is Europe safe to travel 2023? ›

Europe is an overwhelmingly safe place to visit, with the biggest dangers to tourists being pickpockets around major tourist sights or on public transportation. It's rare, but it can happen.

What month is cheapest to go to Europe? ›

Key Takeaways. The late fall and winter months—from mid to late October through mid-to-late March—are often the cheapest time to fly to Europe (though fares can spike in December).

How much will 3 weeks in Europe cost? ›

If you plan a more extended vacation and need to know how 3 weeks in Europe budget look like, we'd say you're looking at spending about 850 per week, making it 2,550 euros total. To quickly recap, if you are traveling to Europe, you are looking at spending around 120 euros per day on average.

How much euro do I need for 2 weeks? ›

Here is an estimate of what 2 weeks in Europe might look like for a traveler with a mid-range budget: Accommodation: 40 Euros per night for 14 nights = 560 Euros. Food: 40 Euros per day for 14 days = 560 Euros. Transportation: 10 Euros per day for 14 days = 140 Euros.

Can US citizens travel freely in Europe? ›

As a U.S. citizen, how long can I stay in the Schengen area without a visa? With a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period. Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area.

Should I travel to Europe alone as a woman? ›

There are two main risks that women traveling solo to Europe need to be aware of: petty theft and intoxication. You need to be ready to keep your belongings close while out and about, and you should drink much less than you do at home. Read on for more tips on both of those.

Where in Europe is best for solo travel? ›

8 Best Solo Travel Destinations in Europe
  • Paris, France. First up on our list of the best solo travel destinations in Europe we have Paris, France. ...
  • Rome, Italy. ...
  • Barcelona, Spain. ...
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands. ...
  • Lisbon, Portugal. ...
  • Vienna, Austria. ...
  • Florence, Italy. ...
  • Prague, Czech Republic.
Mar 9, 2023

Which airline has the best seats to Europe? ›

Which airline has the most comfortable seats to Europe? When it comes to comfortable seats for a long-haul flight to Europe, one airline stands out above the rest: Emirates. This Dubai-based carrier is known for its luxurious cabin interiors and spacious seating.

Is flying over Europe turbulent? ›

Transatlantic flights are renowned for experiencing bouts of light to moderate turbulence thanks to unpredictable weather over the ocean caused by the strong jet stream. And five of Europe's most bumpy short-haul flights originate in Zurich according to the Turbli data, possibly because they cross mountain ranges.

Where is the cheapest place in Europe to fly into? ›

The Cheapest Airports to Fly Into in Europe
  • Dublin Airport (DUB), Ireland.
  • Rome–Fiumicino International Airport (FCO), Italy.
  • Barcelona El-Prat Airport (BCN), Spain.
  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), the Netherlands.
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), France.
Feb 14, 2023

Should I cancel travel to Europe? ›

Whether you should cancel your trip to Europe or not, it depends on several factors. You are highly suggested to reconsider any non-essential travel to Europe's most touched areas by the novel Coronavirus, if: Your journey will take place in an area where an outbreak has occurred.

Is Europe crowded this summer? ›

Europe has seen a real post-covid travel boom. Trips that were postponed because of the pandemic have been rearranged, and the result is that Europe is busy and crowded. A new report from CNN has found that the number of Americans traveling to Europe this summer is expected to be 55% higher than last summer.

Is it safe for an American to travel to Europe? ›

Much of Europe is open to Americans, including more than two dozen countries without any COVID restrictions at all. However, it's important to double-check before traveling in case requirements change. If you're vaccinated, most countries are open to you as long as you can show proof of vaccination.

Where is the riskiest place to travel 2023? ›

Afghanistan has been identified as potentially the most dangerous country in the world to visit in 2023 according to recently published Risk Map 2023. Medical and security specialist International SOS named Syria the second-most dangerous destination to visit this year, followed by Ukraine, Mali and Iraq.

Will Americans need to register to travel to Europe in 2023? ›

An ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is an electronic screening system for passport holders granted visa-free access to the European Union (EU) and Schengen Area. Once implemented in 2023, each and every traveler entering Europe without a visa will need one.

What is the safest country in Europe? ›

According to a recent study by Gamblino.com, Switzerland ranks as the safest country in Europe, echoing findings from an earlier study by Forbes Adviser which also named Switzerland as the safest European country for holidays in summer 2022.

Is $5000 enough for a month in Europe? ›

For most people, $5,000 is enough to travel Europe for a month. If you stick to a budget of $161 per day, including flights, a budget of $5,000 will last you exactly a month. Here's a cost breakdown for a month-long trip to Europe with a budget of $5,000: Flights- $1,000 (average)

How much does it cost to go to Europe for 4 weeks? ›

I usually allow between $1000 and $1500 per week to cover meals, groceries, fuel, road tolls/vignettes, sightseeing, souvenirs, etc. On my recent trip, the amount budgeted of $1250 per week was more than enough to cover all our daily expenses including a few fancy dinners.

What month is the most crowded in Europe? ›

Generally speaking, the high season for travel in Europe is from June until late August, with peak crowds around July. And although this is a great time of year to visit a lot of European destinations from a weather perspective, it can also mean the attractions become ridiculously overcrowded.

How much cash should you bring to Europe? ›

A good rule of thumb is to carry $50-$100 a day in the local currency while travelling. Remember, though, that cash may not be the best option to pay for travel expenses. Credit cards offer great rewards, lower transaction fees, and can help you get a better exchange rate.

How big of a bag do I need for 3 weeks in Europe? ›

I recommend a backpack around 40L-50L. Personally, I wouldn't go over 65L, but some people like a bigger bag. You can always go smaller, but I wouldn't recommend anything smaller than 35L — unless you're into minimalist travel.

How much cash do you need for a week in Europe? ›

How Much Spending Money for One Week in Europe? This is so entirely dependent on your own travel preferences that it's tough to estimate but we recommend putting aside roughly €700 to €1700 for spending money for one week in Europe.

Should I exchange money before I travel to Europe? ›

Resist the urge to buy foreign currency before your trip.

Some tourists feel like they just have to have euros or British pounds in their pockets when they step off the airplane, but they pay the price in bad stateside exchange rates. Wait until you arrive to withdraw money.

Should I bring cash to Italy? ›

Italy's currency is the Euro (€). We recommend that you take a mixture of cash along with currency on a pre-paid currency card. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, shops and autostrada tollbooths.

Is 50 euros a day enough? ›

A good budget would be between 40 – 70 Euros for food in a day if eating all your meals out (and how much you eat). You should also have some leftover for gelato. Drinking is a favourite past time for many of us, and for those coming from Australia, the good news is that alcohol is MUCH cheaper in Europe.

What do Americans need to enter Europe? ›

What Documents Do Americans Need to Enter the Schengen Area?
  • A US Passport. ...
  • ETIAS Authorization (starting from 2024).
  • Evidence on their purpose of entry. ...
  • Proof of sufficient financial means.

What countries do not accept U.S. passport? ›

The US passport is recognized by all countries in the world, and while the majority of nations accept US passports for entry, there are a few exceptions and limitations. Some countries that have restrictions on US passport holders are North Korea, Iran, Syria, Yemen, and Libya.

Do you still need to be vaccinated to go to Europe? ›

Travellers should be allowed to enter the EU if they meet one of the following conditions: they have completed the full primary vaccination series of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the EU or the World Health Organization (WHO) and fewer than 270 days have passed since the completion of that series.

Is it awkward to travel alone? ›

Even the most experienced travelers can feel solo travel anxiety before packing their backpack and taking a flight alone. Yes, there are awkward moments and uncomfortable situations, but the benefits and thrills of solo travel far outweigh the fear of traveling alone.

Why would a woman want to travel alone? ›

The most common response women give when asked is “to do what I want, when I want.” Women also travel solo to express their sense of identity, part of the trends of individualism and independence bubbling up in the 1960s and '70s, and part of every generation of women since then.

Is Paris safe as a solo female Traveller? ›

Paris is a vibrant city with so much to offer visitors in terms of its history, culture and cuisine. It's also a pretty safe city to visit, even for solo travelers. With the right safety precautions, you can explore and enjoy your solo Paris trip with peace of mind.

Which European country is friendliest to tourists? ›

Ireland. Countless global reports have continually dubbed the people of Ireland as some of the friendliest and most welcoming to visitors in the world, and our readers feel the same; voting it into the top spot for the friendliest countries in Europe.

What is the best country to visit in Europe for the first time? ›

1) Italy. Italy is full of ancient wonders, delicious food, coastal villages, and beautiful hilltop towns. While most folks visit Rome or Venice, there are plenty of other wonderful places to visit such as Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Amalfi Coast, Florence, and other areas in southern Italy.

Which airline has the best seats for fat people? ›

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is the best airline for plus-sized passengers. On top of being one of the most friendly airlines, Delta also has one of the largest average seat width figures in the industry.

Which airline has the widest economy seats international? ›

JetBlue. JetBlue is America's trailblazer when it comes to the most spacious aircraft seats. Although seats vary between different aircraft types, the airline offers up to 38 inches of legroom in their standard economy class.

What time of year is most turbulent to fly? ›

Summer and winter are the worst seasons for turbulence. Winter has strong winds and blizzards, and summer's hot heat can create unstable air, thunderstorms, and tropical storms. That means flying during the holidays often means more turbulence than other times of the year.

What is the most turbulent month to fly? ›

Winter and summer are the most turbulent months to fly. During winter, there are strong winds and blizzards. During the peak of summer when it is very hot, convection turbulence occurs, especially when flying over cities and mountains during midday.

What is the smoothest plane to fly on? ›

However, generally, the larger the plane, the better it is at absorbing turbulence. For example, due to the sheer size, aircraft like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 are said to be two of the best planes for coping with turbulence.

What is the cheapest European city to fly out of to us? ›

Most affordable European airports for US travelers
1Dublin, Ireland (DUB)$620
2Orly, (Paris) France (ORY)$694
3Capodichino, (Naples) Italy (NAP)$694
4Malpensa, (Milan) Italy (MXP)$694
5Warsaw Chopin, Poland (WAW)$706
20 more rows

What is the cheapest city to fly into in Europe from the US? ›

Reykjavik, Iceland

For most people in the US, this is the cheapest European city to fly to. Depending on the time of year and where you're flying from, you can expect to pay anywhere between $260-$550 roundtrip on Icelandair.

What is the most expensive place in Europe to fly to? ›

As you probably already know, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and Zurich stands out as the most expensive city in Europe. What is this?

Is it safe to stay in Europe right now? ›

Generally, the answer is yes; most countries in Eastern Europe remain safe, and your planned trip is very likely to go ahead. However, it's understandable that some have expressed concern about entering countries near to Russia or Ukraine.

Is it safe to travel internationally now with Covid? ›

You can then travel more safely within the U.S. and internationally. But international travel can still increase your risk of getting new COVID-19 variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you should avoid travel until you've had all recommended COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses.

Do you have to be Covid vaccinated to go to Europe? ›

Travellers should be allowed to enter the EU if they meet one of the following conditions: they have completed the full primary vaccination series of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the EU or the World Health Organization (WHO) and fewer than 270 days have passed since the completion of that series.

What is the safest European country to visit? ›

Top ten safest places to travel in Europe
  1. 1 – Switzerland. Switzerland ranks as the safest place in Europe. ...
  2. 2 – Iceland. Iceland is a Nordic volcanic island defined by dramatic landscapes, gorgeous glaciers and cascading waterfalls. ...
  3. 3 – Norway. ...
  4. 4 – Denmark. ...
  5. 5 – Luxembourg. ...
  6. 6 – Finland. ...
  7. 7 – Ireland. ...
  8. 8 – Netherlands.
Feb 21, 2023

What is the safest place in Europe? ›

Iceland. Consistently topping the Global Peace Index since 2008, Iceland is a Nordic island nation known as one of the world's happiest, safest, and most satisfied countries. Iceland is also the only NATO member without a standing army, navy, or air force.

Should you wear a mask on a plane? ›

Wearing a high-quality mask or respirator is most beneficial when: You are in crowded or tight spaces with poor ventilation like airport jetways, airplanes when the ventilation system is off, seaports, or when in close-contact situations like on a train or bus.

What are the chances of contracting COVID on a flight? ›

A study by MIT scholars estimates that from mid-2020 through early 2021, the probability of getting Covid-19 on an airplane surpassed 1 in 1,000 on a totally full flight lasting two hours at the height of the early pandemic, roughly December 2020 and January 2021.

Where can US citizens not travel? ›

Learn about your destination
AdvisoryLevelDate Updated
Haiti Travel AdvisoryLevel 4: Do Not TravelMay 17, 2023
Honduras Travel AdvisoryLevel 3: Reconsider TravelMarch 1, 2023
India Travel AdvisoryLevel 2: Exercise Increased CautionJune 23, 2023
Indonesia Travel AdvisoryLevel 2: Exercise Increased CautionMay 2, 2023
145 more rows

Why is travel so bad right now? ›

Lost baggage, overbooked flights, outdated equipment, hidden fees, and disorganized staffing have fliers at their wits' end; consumer complaints about airline service have risen by 300% from pre-pandemic levels. And while these snafus cost passengers, they often have little recourse.

How safe is Italy for travel? ›

According to the U.N. and Global Peace Index, Italy is ranked 30th to 35th safest country in the world, well ahead of the U.S. However, the most dangerous thing likely to happen is pickpocketing near tourist destinations and landmarks, so using common precaution measures should suffice.

Why would you travel to Europe? ›

With its rich history, top-rated tourist attractions, and numerous scenic wonders, Europe offers a wide array of travel experiences for both long and short trips. Despite being the second smallest continent in the world, it's the perfect place to explore and make unforgettable memories.

Do Americans need visa for Europe? ›

With a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period. Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area. To stay longer than 90 days, you must have a visa.

Does Italy require COVID vaccine? ›

Persons entering Italy without a certificate of vaccination with an EMA-approved vaccine will have to self-isolate for 5 days under the supervision of the health authority, after which it shall be necessary to take a new Covid test.

What do I need to travel in Europe? ›

DOCUMENTS YOU WILL NEED
  1. Passport or identity card. Children must have their own passport or ID card. You will not need a visa for travelling within the EU. ...
  2. Passport. You will need a valid passport.
  3. Visa. There are more than 60 countries and territories whose citizens do not need a visa to visit the EU for up to 90 days.

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