When you consider a trip to Europe, one of the first things to think about aside from actually getting there is how you will get around. Europe's countries are so small and maneuverable that you'll want to see as much as you can during your stay. There are many options in this regard each with pros and cons.
Most people think that flying around is the best way to go but often times travel on land or by sea is better for several reasons. Luxury river cruises, rail passes, and ocean cruises can often times give you more bang for your buck. As they get you around from point a to point b you can stop along the way, take in better scenery, and sometimes even save money in the long run.
When I was in Europe years ago, on a budget, flying was not an option. Now with the advent of discount airlines like Ryanair it is possible to fly between countries for a discounted rate. This is the quickest way around. However, you miss out o the beauty of the countryside and the stop overs in small towns not even on your radar. Also, if on a budget beware of the luggage policies. I have heard nightmare stories and I know first hand how quickly extra fees can add up.
Another option is the fabulous train system that they have throughout most of Europe. It connects nearly every country and is a lovely way to get around. In some instances it is cheaper than flying but in many it is as or near as expensive, so watch the fine print. There are passes by country or time frame but even those add up quickly.
It takes more time to get around by train but the countryside can be beautiful and there are many a small town that you may discover. I also found it to be a really nice way to make connections with other tourists and locals alike. For children trains are great also as there are usually beds for sleeping and no strict rules about being up and about while the train is in motion.
If neither one of those options sounds right for you and you have more than a backpacker budget you should look into river cruises. This is a new find for me and something we are seriously considering for the future. Since I assume this is a new idea for you as well I will explain a bit more.
There are numerous large rivers that flow through Europe, some that run right through the most treasured tourist locations in the world. Amsterdam, Budapest, Zurich and many many cities and towns in between. If you choose a river cruise you can experience the best of Europe. Now they won't be cheap but if your budget allows I think it may be the nicest way to tour the continent.
Danube passing through glorious cities, slowly ambling by castles centuries old. It's a nice picture isn't it? Now imagine that this cruise offers top notch facilities, beautiful rooms, private balconies, private butlers, and an all inclusive menu that includes drinks. Believe it or not some cruises can give you all that and then some.
I don't know about you but as soon as our budget allows we plan to ditch the flights and train rides and sail down the rivers of Europe exploring as much as we can! Now to work out that budget...
What about you, would you consider a river cruise to tour Europe? Have you already been on one? Tell us how it was in the comments below.