6 Things You Should Splurge on in Europe
Traveling across Europe can be an expensive affair. Even if you follow our tips for cheap travel in Europe, you may find yourself skimping on certain aspects of your trip to make ends meet. While it’s important to have some sense of your budget and know what you’re spending, there are some experiences you should splurge on in Europe. After all, this is a once in a lifetime trip. It’ll be way more expensive to plan a return trip just to get a redo on that one thing you missed last time. Here are 6 things I think are worth stretching the budget for.
Things to splurge on in Europe
1. Epic train rides
Your Eurail Pass covers you for most functional and several dozens of scenic rail journeys across the continent. But there are some private routes and trips so remote, and so epic, that no rail pass can subsidize the full fare. Some of the continent’s most celebrated scenic rail trips can cost a small fortune. In some cases your Eurail Pass may allow you access with a simple reservation fee or supplement. You should also check the Eurail Pass benefits or the private train company website to see if your pass entitles you to a discount. In some cases you may receive as much as 50% off the full fare price.
One train ride to splurge on in Europe: The Jungfraujoch is the highest train station in Europe. It’s 3454 meters above sea level. If the views don’t get you, the train ride up there certainly will. Eurail Pass holders receive a 25% discount on trains past Interlaken.
2. Adventure activities
Every traveler will have his or her own limit and definition of adventure activities. There’s a good chance that at some point in your journey you’ll encounter something that gets your pulse racing a little faster than normal – a paraglide off a distant peak, a raft along rumbling rapids, a more sedate paddle across a tranquil lake, or a day of mountain biking along a remote coastline. All of these experiences can stretch your budget. But they’ll also leave you with lasting memories and a camera full of photos.
One adventure activity to splurge on in Europe: A leap off the Alps, strapped to a parachute of some kind, is a dramatic experience. Head to Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken if you’re looking for amazing conditions and stunning scenery.
3. Signature tourist attractions
Most cities or regions have signature tourist attractions that you’ll have to work hard to avoid. They’re plastered across billboards and advertised on flyers, in all guide books and on public transport. They can include glamorous cable car rides, glitzy museums, architectural wonders, or entrances to iconic structures. They’re also usually the one thing your friends back home will ask you if you’ve done, and then look incredulously when you say you skipped it. While this is no reason alone to fork up for the attraction, if you feel a tingle of excitement every time you see those ads, it may just be worth paying up and succumbing to the hype.
One signature tourist attraction to splurge on in Europe: Too many to mention, but Glacier Paradise in Zermatt, Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, Palace of Versailles in Versailles and the Alhambra in Granada are good examples of signature tourist attractions worth the hype and investment.
4. Major sporting events
Major sporting events are fascinating and thoroughly entertaining, and they also offer interesting insights into local lifestyle and culture. There are several big sporting events taking place throughout the year in Europe. Some you’ll recognize and be familiar with, others will be new and slightly confusing. Choose wisely, and chances are a popular sporting event will leave you with interesting stories to relate to your friends back home.
One major sporting event to splurge on in Europe: A football game at Camp Nou in Barcelona is a must for fans and skeptics alike. Don’t be like me and think you’re exercising good willpower by not forking up for a ticket – only to instantly regret it.
5. Festivals and concerts
Europe plays host to some of the world’s best music festivals and concerts each year. The bigger events tend to emerge in the summer months, where world-class lineups play to thousands of fans. But there’s also a good chance you can bag a ticket to an exclusive show at other times of the year, even if it means paying a little more for a ticket than you’d like. Festivals and concerts tend to sell out long in advance, so plan ahead and book tickets online if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.
One major festival to splurge on in Europe: Exit in Novi Sad, Serbia, is widely regarded as one of the best in Europe. Most countries have at least one big, memorable festival each year that attracts thousands of fans.
6. Memorable meals
If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, it can difficult to justify eating out regularly. It’s a pity, because sampling local delicacies at legendary restaurants is often one of the most memorable experiences you can have. While it’s true that many local delicacies don’t have to cost a lot – a margarita in Naples, a bag of pomegranates from a market in Montenegro, or a flaky croissant in Paris – sometimes it’s worth treating yourself to a full meal in a legendary location.
One major meal to splurge on in Europe: Nothing quite beats an exquisite French meal in the capital.
Some of your best memories on your Eurail trip won’t cost you a cent. Sitting on top of the mountain peak at sunrise, taking an icy dip in that snow-fed lake, or walking the bustling streets of a fascinating old town, for example. But every now and again you’ll feel the pull to splash out and go large. If you can afford it, go with your heart and don’t leave with a single regret.
Need help deciding what to splurge on?
7 scenic train routes in Europe that you’ll love
Top 10 adventurous must-dos on your Eurail trip
The 5 biggest European music festivals this summer [videos]