I first visited Europe when I was in my twenties. It was love at first sight. I fell immediately for the lush green landscape of Ireland, the quirky university culture of Vienna, Austria, and then the incredible history, landscapes and food of Italy and France.
Since then, I’ve come back many times, falling in love all over again with the jagged ridges of the Swiss Alps, the surprising charm of Slovenia, the cannoli shops of Sicily and the winding cobblestone streets of Paris.
That was six years ago and Europe is still where my heart belongs. Here are seven reasons it sings to my soul…
1. I Can Take a Weekend Trip to Another Culture
In large countries like Australia or the U.S., getting to another culture is a big endeavour. It costs time and money and it’s not really something most people do for a weekend.
But here in Europe, there are dozens of cultures all snuggled up together. When I lived in the Swiss Alps, I could be in Italy, France or Germany all within a few hours by train. Here in Prague, where I’m spending the summer, it’s just a couple hours to Germany or Austria. And if you’re near an airport, you could be in Paris, Malta or Barcelona just as quickly.
2. I Don’t Need a Car
I’ve never loved driving. The traffic. The accident risk. The possibility of a roadside breakdown—it all makes me nervous and agitated.
Which is why I was delighted to find that I truly don’t need to own a car here. In western Europe particularly, train connections are fast, comfortable and frequent. Buses are clean and nice. And city trams and metros are generally reliable and comfortable too.
In over six years of travelling almost exclusively in Europe, I’ve never had to drive a car here. And I’m not only thrilled with how simple that makes my life, but also with how much money I save by not having the upkeep and running costs.
3. Fresh Markets Abound—And So Do Small, Family-Owned Food Shops
Throughout most of Europe, though you’ll still find plenty of big grocery stores to meet your every need, the fresh market is still king. You’ll find produce from local farmers, cheeses trekked down from the Alps, homemade breads and incredible quality standards everywhere from Paris to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In places like France and Italy, there’s also still a culture of supporting small, local bakers and butchers and cheese shops, which keeps quality high and means a deeply personal experience of shopping. The longer you stay, the more you get to know the butcher, the baker and the farmers who grow your food. And there’s something special and grounding about that—something that makes me feel connected to myself, the earth and the community.
4. There’s So Much History—But Every Convenience Too
I love that I can stroll through a 2,000-year-old palace, visit an ancient Coliseum or walk the worn-down stones of Rome’s Appian Way and two steps down the lane I’ll find a charming coffee shop with fast Wi-Fi and modern facilities.
Europe is historical. Europe is modern. And I love that those two things mesh so perfectly.
5. Living Well Is Affordable
In my six years of traveling full-time around Europe, my average monthly spending is somewhere around $2,000. This is staying in nice, mid-range Airbnbs, eating out several times a week, buying organic produce, visiting castles and ruins, hiking famous mountains, taking long-distance trains about once per month and generally living a comfortable life.
And the amazing news is that this is a mid-range budget. You could easily spend less (by staying in one place and signing a long-term lease, for instance) and still have a high quality of life.
6. Dogs Are Welcome Almost Everywhere
As I travel around Europe, I have a rather unusual companion along for the ride—a small, gleefully happy nine-year-old dog named Luna.
And here’s the amazing news: in Europe, I can take her almost anywhere with me.
If I’m out walking her and I decide to stop for a coffee, she’ll probably be welcome to come into the shop. If I want to grab lunch with a friend, she’ll sleep under my chair while we eat. And whenever I go out, I see other dogs hanging out with their owners as they go about their days.
Even if I didn’t have a dog, I love the relaxed, laid-back feel this gives to the whole continent. I love seeing well-behaved dogs snoozing under the table at a Michelin-starred restaurant or poking their heads out from carriers on the metro.
7. The Food Is Incredible
There’s a reason places like France and Italy are world-renowned for their excellent food. And Europe has plenty of other gems—like Ljubljana, Slovenia, whose food festivals and restaurants are up-and-comers or Vienna, Austria, where you’ll find rich, unfiltered beer, equally rich hot chocolate and goulash like you’ve never tasted before.
I’m a huge foodie and will happily travel halfway around the world for a food experience. But the beautiful thing about being here is that I don’t have to. There are incredible food experiences only a short train ride, bicycle journey or stroll away.