Looking for the perfect packing list for Europe? In this comprehensive Europe travel packing list, we’ve got you covered with all the essentials you’ll need come winter or summer!
Are you planning an epic European odyssey? Whether you’re island hopping in Greece, visiting famous landmarks in France, planning a romantic honeymoon to the Greek isles, sampling some paella in Valencia, sipping your favourite Portuguese drinks in sunny Portugal, or spending a glorious 3 weeks in Europe on a budget, you’ll want to make sure you have packed all your essentials to make your trip an unforgettable one.
In this Europe travel packing list guide, we cover everything you’ll need to consider, rounding out a comprehensive packing list for Europe in both winter and summer! Let’s get packing!
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Packing for a Trip to Europe: Backpack vs Rolling Luggage
The age-old question when it comes to planning a trip to Europe: what luggage is best? Choosing the right luggage bag for your journey is crucial in providing a hassle-free experience.
Don’t make the mistake of travelling with a roller suitcase when you’re travelling to places with cobblestone streets, like the Shambles in York, streets in Paris and beautiful Lisbon. You can quickly destroy your wheels, ending up in an unfortunate situation where you’ll be turning your bag into a backpack.
Before you start your journey, you should consider travel insurance. It provides you with 24/7 emergency assistance, trip cancellation and baggage insurance.
P.S. Do you need help packing with ease? Don’t miss these 20 awesome tips on how to pack light, to help you pack more effectively!
If you plan on travelling to several different countries, a backpack is definitely the way to go. It’s lightweight, allows you to have a hands-free travel experience (all the better for photo opportunities) and has practical storage units.
A downside is if you plan on packing an array of items, a pack can easily become too heavy, leaving you with an achy back.
Rolling luggage generally works well in Europe – after all, you’re not trekking through jungles or marshy landscapes. A hardshell suitcase also adds that extra bit of protection for gear and is a waterproof option.
Unfortunately, it can at times be a mission rolling your suitcase around from hostel to hostel. And when it’s rainy or snowy, long distances can be treacherous.
Lightweight Carry-on Luggage
You may also want to consider combining a backpack with a lightweight carry-on wheely case if your luggage allowance allows for this. This lightweight case is a great choice to consider for your next trip to Europe!
Europe Travel Essentials No Matter the Season
These essentials are fitted to the everyday traveller, no matter whether you’re there for the summer or winter. Consider these essential Europe packing list items that can be adjusted to suit every traveller.
A European packing list should always include a camera – after all, you’ll want to be looking back on these memories in years to come. A smartphone works too, but something like a GoPro allows you to take a sturdy, waterproof camera on outdoor adventures. Plus, it’s not too bulky.
A padlock is a great bring along if you plan on staying at a hostel. Unfortunately, you can’t guarantee the safety of your bags and a padlock will protect your belongings from theft. You’ll have peace of mind when leaving for a night out.
Online maps can deplete your battery life in an instant. If you plan on spending the entire day out and about in a new and exciting city, you’ll want to be able to rely on your smartphone. Charge your power bank at your accommodation, and you should be good to go with a whole day worth of power.
Whilst it’s true that you are likely to find free and reputable Wi-Fi spots to connect to throughout your travels, it’s always a good idea to take along your very own Wi-Fi hotspot for those moments that the public Wi-Fi just doesn’t cut it. Be sure to include this in your packing list for Europe summer or winter trips, and don’t get caught without connectivity!
If you’re travelling to Europe and considering a road trip and renting a car for your duration, you may want to consider buying your own GPS navigation system to help you get around with ease. Sure, you can rent one from the car rental provider, but this often works out more expensive in the end. You may as well invest and buy your own to use on future trips too!
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
When travelling abroad you’ll no doubt connect to a range of free Wi-Fi hotspots and connections. Browse with peace of mind with a VPN connection. Featuring added layers of encryption between the network your browsing on and your personal data, it’s a handy travel tool to make use of when travelling through Europe!
It doesn’t matter if it’s winter, the sun can still cause damage even if you’re in the iciest of places. This is especially true if you’re embarking on a skiing holiday, as snow reflects the sunlight and UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Come winter or summer, make sure to pack a good quality sunscreen for those sunny days!
Travelling to Europe in winter or summer requires a pair of sunnies. Chances are, you already have a pair that you love, so bring them along to protect your eyes and add some style to your look. If you still need a pair or looking for a new set, then polarized sunglasses offering UV Blocking is the way to go!
Because you can’t predict the weather while you’re planning what things to pack for Europe, an umbrella is a must. You might encounter light summer rains or heavy hail storms in winter. Try to get a small collapsible umbrella that can easily be stored in your handbag or backpack.
Save the planet and avoid using single-use plastic by opting for a travel-sized water bottle. As well as being kind to the planet, it’ll be kind to your wallet too. Places like Amsterdam, Paris and Lisbon have fresh water taps all around the city, meaning you’ll always have access to clean water.
Europe Travel Packing List for Winter
In winter, all we want is to be warm and cosy, which requires us to make the right packing choices. Winter in Europe is from December to February. Although it can be chilly in most parts of the continent, the Christmas markets, snow-capped mountains and Gluhwein make the cold a dream.
Given that it’s winter, you’ll be packing quite a bit more than you would for the summer. But a trick to staying warm and avoiding unnecessary luggage is to invest in quality products that’ll keep you toasty.
Waterproof clothing isn’t always necessary; it’s more of a need if you plan on travelling to snowy destinations, perhaps on a dreamy skiing holiday.
For a general wintery vacation, you can pack these items no matter where you are venturing to.
Thermal: Bottoms and Tops
It’s always a good idea to dress in layers, especially if you plan on doing a lot of walking through cities. When it comes to purchasing your thermals, try them on and see how well they stick to your body. You’re looking for a fit that sits tightly, but comfortably – this will help trap in the heat.
You can wear your thermal pants under jeans, or a top under a long-sleeved shirt. Be sure to invest in fleece or wool thermals – cotton tends to absorb sweat, which can leave you wet and chilly.
You’ll most likely be wearing your coat for most of your trip – so make sure it’s snug and comfortable to move in. As a bonus, try to get a coat with a hood, to keep your head warm and dry, definitely a key item on your packing list for Europe, especially if travelling in winter.
If you’re backpacking, consider a down feather coat that can easily be rolled and stored, so that it won’t take up much space.
Make sure you walk your boots in before your Euro trip; it’s often something travellers forget about. Boots play a crucial role in your comfort; take the time to select the right pair. Ideally waterproof, ankle-length and with good grip. Long boots are an excellent option for snow-travels, as they’ll keep your legs warm.
A comfortable long sleeve is ideal for layers – it can be worn over your thermal and under your coat. If you need more warmth, an added sweater layer is also an option.
Jeans are an all-year-round item that can be worn in any kind of weather. Some days might get colder than others, and some might be surprisingly warm. Jeans keep the chill off the legs, plus they’re comfortable enough to wear over a pair of thermals – but don’t worry, no one will be able to peek at your long johns.
There’s nothing worse than cold toes in winter. Even worse, wet socks. Wool socks can be worn nice and snuggly in boots and have the added benefit of allowing your feet to be comfortable while walking around all day.
Wool socks won’t get as sweaty as cotton ones, and they end up lasting much longer without leaving holes for your toes to poke out of.
Sweater – Packing List Europe Winter
The importance of being cosy is all left to finding the perfect sweater. Being versatile, you can wear your sweater in most climates, depending on how you choose to layer up.
Not only is it going to keep you warm, but it can also add some European winter fashion to your travel wardrobe.
On days when you’re not out exploring, make yourself comfortable at your hostel or hotel while wearing a pair of leggings. It’s also the perfect attire for catching a winter movie, grabbing an afternoon hot chocolate and heading to the grocery store.
Another essential winter item on your packing list for Europe is to include a warm and snuggly scarf! The bigger, the better when it comes to scarves. They’ll help keep your chest and neck warm, which is often the place where hot air escapes.
You could choose to keep styles neutral, but a bright colour or intricately patterned scarf adds a fantastic pop of colour to a sometimes dull winter wardrobe.
Keep in all your heat by tucking your head up in a beanie. When the weather is icy, your ears often feel like they might just freeze off.
As a foreign traveller, you will most likely be relying on online maps. Gloves with tech tips allow you to have access to touchscreen phones, so you won’t need to be taking them on and off.
Raincoat – Packing List for Europe – Essentials
A Europe winter packing list essential is undoubtedly the humble raincoat. The Mediterranean climate is blessed with sunny summers and wet winters. Rainfall in Southern Europe is significantly reduced, but that shouldn’t stop you from bringing along a raincoat.
Many products advertise as being waterproof but are only water-resistant. Rain showers might show up unexpectedly, and the last thing you’ll want is sopping clothing – quality waterproof coats are the way to go.
Europe Backpacking List for Winter
Packing for Europe in winter when you’re backpacking is a lot different than travelling around in summer – there are essentials that can’t be forgotten. Here is a Europe packing checklist for backpacking in colder weather.
If you’re backpacking around Europe and staying in a new hostel each week, the price of rental towels may get pricey. Instead of spending the cash, invest in a quick-drying towel. They’re super affordable, can be tucked into a compact bag and won’t leave an odour.
Raincover for Backpack
Since most backpacks aren’t entirely waterproof, a backpack rain protector is needed. More prominent brands, such as Osprey and North Face, include a free rain cover that fits into an exterior pocket. If your pack doesn’t include one, they’re relatively cheap.
It’s always a good idea to keep an emergency rain poncho on hand. By being plastic, they’re lightweight, easy to fold and will protect your clothing from the rain.
Travel Packing List for Europe in Summer
Summer is a magnificent time to visit Europe – picture blooming flowers, delectable gelato stops, street-side cafes buzzing until late in the evenings and friendly faces. And the best news? You don’t need to be lugging around bulky coats or heavy winter boots.
This summer Europe trip packing list has got you covered for a vacation that won’t leave you feeling like you’ve packed for the wrong destination.
In most European countries, walking around is a popular pastime and a way of getting from point A-Z. Yes, it can get hot and wearing sneakers might sound ridiculous, but it’ll save your feet from blisters caused by walking in plastic flip flops all day.
How could you forget a swimming costume for your travels in Europe? From hidden beaches in Madeira to famous ones around the world, spending time at the beach is essential. And if you’re not staying by the coast, scorching summers are going to require a dip in the pool.
Lounge around the pool or head down to the beach bars in your sandals. A comfortable pair of sandals that look great too are brilliant for date nights, leisurely strolls or visiting some friends at a local hangout spot. Be sure to tick off your favourite pair of sandals when preparing your Europe summer packing list!
A Hat – Europe Summer Packing
A must-have for an adventure in summery Europe. Although, to be honest, forgetting one isn’t the end of the world. There are hundreds of crafty stores found at markets or near the beach that sell all kinds of sun hats and caps.
Chances are, you’re going to be living in a pair of shorts for most of your trip. Denim shorts work well for exploring cities, while beach boardshorts make dips in the ocean easy-peasy. Be sure to bring along a few pairs.
Tank Tops and T-shirt
Pack a couple of tank tops to throw on for a carefree summer outfit. Because they’re flowy and light, you can wear your tank top a couple of times before it needs to see the wash.
The same goes for T-shirts, except they can add a little more style to your attire. Save some of your favourite T-shirts for when you plan on experiencing city life as bars can get pretty hot and you’ll want a short sleeve.
Exercise Wear – Europe Packing List, Summer
Europe is a hub for outdoor adventures. Whether that be embarking on a mountainous hike in Madeira, jogging on the French island of Corsica or strolling through fishing villages in Cinque Terre. Pack along some sportswear to make the most of the spectacular weather and scenery.
Sundress or a Fancy Shirt
Most of the attire on this list is based on practicality. However, there are going to be times where you want to look and feel your best. Sundresses or a fancy shirt are easy to throw on, and they’ll leave you looking completely stylish.