If Paris is "always a good idea," the same could be said for the whole continent of Europe. Europe overflows with iconic attractions, and all the romantic spots to honeymoon make it a popular choice for newlyweds. From midnight strolls in Rome to sunsets on Santorini, it is no wonder why many newlyweds elect to spend their first trip as a married couple in countries oozing with such rich history, delicious cuisine and a certain je ne sais quoi.
When planning your European honeymoon, the task can seem overwhelming. There are just so many countries, cities and corners of the continent to add to your itinerary. After honeymooning in Greece, I recognized that many couples like us could make mistakes during the planning and booking process. Before you click purchase or even pack your bags, you need to be sure that you have the right approach to the whole process. Here are some tips to help you and your soon-to-be spouse dive into planning your European honeymoon.
Resist The Urge To Stop in Too Many Destinations
Having been in the position before, I understand how newlyweds can get a little overly ambitious when it comes to a European honeymoon. You want to take full advantage of traveling by trying to see it all. Europe seems so compact. You can wake up in Spain in the morning and go to bed in Italy that same evening. Europe creates the illusion that you can squeeze loads of destinations onto your itinerary. However, for a honeymoon, "less is more" in terms of destinations. You have to factor in travel time by train, plane or bus in between stops in Venice and Vienna. Each of these travel days in between destinations is often a lost day. If you are short on time, you might want to rethink your number of stops. Quality is always better than quantity in Europe.
Timing is Everything in Europe
People in many parts of Europe tend to go on vacation during the month of August. More shops will be closed. Attractions could be more limited. And there will be crowds of European tourists. As August is a popular month to get married and honeymoon, Europe-bound newlyweds need to be mindful of the challenges they can face during this month. As long as you prepare and book your accommodations, tickets, car rentals, etc well in advance, you can still honeymoon in Europe in August without too many headaches. Newlyweds also must keep the festival calendar in mind. Many popular cities host festivals during the summer or over the holidays. If you want peace and quiet, these dates aren’t always ideal. However, if you crave a crowd, you might want to plan your trip during these events. Timing is everything in Europe, so carefully selecting your dates is key.
Know Your Tipping Rules
For many honeymooners in Europe, the vacation doesn’t just boil down to one country. Many couples choose to stay in several countries. If you do this, you have to understand that tipping practices can vary significantly from one country to the next. As you will be wining and dining on your honeymoon, "how much should I tip" is a question you will be asking frequently.
Before you take off on your honeymoon, you can do a bit of research on what the tipping practices are in your destination(s). For example, in Italy, you generally don’t have to tip at all since there is a gratuity worked into the bill. However, in other parts of Europe, like Germany, it is customary to round up the bill. If you do a little research, you won't be giving too much or too little when you settle the bill.
Plan on European Accommodation Quirks
A three star rating could be more like a one or two star rating in Europe. A "double bed" could mean two twin beds pushed together. That outlet behind those two twin beds could be the only one in the room. European accommodations can be quirky like that. If you understand that these oddities could be in your future, you can better plan for them. To avoid dodgy accommodations, try to book private residences or vacation rentals. These will generally give you more privacy and space as well. To deal with the two-twin-beds situation, reserve rooms that are outfitted with queen beds, not doubles. And always travel with a surge protector so you never have to huddle around the one outlet in the room.
Download Language Apps and Dictionaries To Overcome the Language Barrier
French, Spanish, Italian, German, Czech, Swedish... you name it. You’ll hear lots of langauges on a European honeymoon. With so many different countries, you are going to be exposed to many different languages. A honeymoon in Europe should be enjoyable and relaxing. Language barriers can lead to frustrations and even potentially sticky situations. You can also endear yourself to locals merely by knowing how to say "please" and "thank you." Before you leave, download a few language apps or buy a pocket dictionary. While traveling through different countries, you can check these apps to make sure you are saying the right thing (and not making a fool of yourself).
Did you go on a European honeymoon? What other tips would you pass on to newlyweds headed to the continent after their wedding?