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I Visited 17 European Cities in One Year, and Here’s How You Can Too!

I Visited 17 European Cities in One Year, and Here's How You Can Too! | Broke Girl Abroad

I found a study online that said the average U.S. employee receives between 10-15 vacation days, depending on their time at the company. In addition, the average paid holiday time is roughly 8 days total. Which leaves us looking at between 18-23 days a year to see the world.

I weep.

Full disclosure: I earn one vacation day per month under my employer’s policy, with no rollover. So that’s 12 days a year, and 19 holidays (thank you, higher education!). So I’ve got it pretty good in the ol’ U.S. of A.

But do I turn bitterly jealous when my full-time employed European travel counterparts discuss their 100+ paid holidays and 25 paid vacation days. Oh yeah. Green with envy.

I’ve talked about this ad nauseam, but my study abroad was actually prepping me for traveling post-grad, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I usually had between 3-4 days to visit a city/country, and I had to make the most of it. My European friends laughed at me and my ridiculous itineraries, and joked that all American exchange students seem to want to go somewhere different every weekend.

Oh, if they only knew.

All this to say, I visited 17 cities during my four months abroad. And after a bit of planning, I think you can too. I’ve put together 4 itineraries that can fit into the 18 days most of us juggle. These will take you through the major cities, with bonus options if you don’t mind a two-hour flight.

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Obviously, this comes with a bit of sacrifice. You may be spending one day in a city, instead of two, or missing out on activity in favor of another. The goal here is to give you a guideline. You can follow it to a T, or decide that you’d actually really like another day in Brussels and modify as you see fit. I also tried to offer suggestions on when to visit based on holidays you’ll likely have off. Adjust accordingly. 

These schedules are organized by recommended holiday to visit during. If you follow the itineraries as suggested, you’ll have vacations alongside Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, of course, you can always move that around to suit you best. Hell, if you play your cards right, you can go sans holiday altogether. Especially if you’re with a company who’s vacation day policy allows for rollover. 

Hopefully these at least give you a good starting point. This blog post is already a thousand pages long, so why don’t we jump on in:

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost you, I will earn a commission if you click and make a purchase. As always, my recommendations are based on my own experiences and I am very grateful for your support. Thank you!

Table of Contents

Rome, Florence, Venice 

Best time to visit: Memorial day weekend or Thanksgiving holiday

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Day 1

  • Arrive in Rome

Day 2

  • Rome’s Ultimate Walking Tour
  • Church of St. Ignatius Loyola 
  • Trevi fountain
  • Spanish Steps
  • Galleria Borghese

Day 3

  • Vatican Museums and Garden
  • St. Peter’s Basilica

Day 4

  • Visit the Colosseum, Forum and Pantheon
  • Wander around Trastevere 

Day 5

  • Day trip to Florence
  • Take the train to Florence
  • Arrive in Florence
  • Basilica di Santa Maria Novella
  • Galleria dell’Academia
  • Uffizi Gallery
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
  • Pitti Palace
  • Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Take the train to Venice
  • Arrive in Venice

READ: 2 Day Florence Budget Itinerary

Day 6

  • St. Mark’s Square
  • St. Mark’s Basilica
  • Doge’s Palace
  • Museo Correr
  • Walking tour
  • Gondola ride

Day 7

  • Visit the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello

Day 8

  • Teatro La Fenice
  • Gallerie dell’Accademia
  • Scala Contarini del Bovolo
  • Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Day 9

  • Take the train back to Rome
  • Arrive in Rome
  • Depart

This schedule assumes you leave on a Friday, to ultimately exploit the weekends to your benefit. If you do so, you’ll only use 5 vacation days towards your Italian adventure!

Total vacation days used so far: 5

Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam 

Best time to visit: Memorial day weekend or Thanksgiving holiday

Bonus: Copenhagen, Malmö

Best time to visit: Labor day weekend holiday or Memorial day weekend holiday

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Day 1

  • Arrive in Paris

Day 2

  • The Louvre
  • Luxembourg Gardens
  • Notre Dame

Day 3

  • Day Trip to Brussels
  • Take the train to Brussels
  • Arrive in Brussels
  • Explore Galeries Saint Hubert
  • Explore Grand Place
  • Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour
  • Walk through Monts des Artes
  • Visit Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts
  • See a show at La Monnaie De Munt
  • Take the train back to Paris

Day 4

  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Champs-Élysées
  • Sainte-Chapelle
  • Conciergerie
  • Eiffel Tower

Day 5

  • Day Trip to Giverny and the Palace of Versailles
  • Use BlaBlaCar to get to Giverny
  • Tour Claude Monet’s House and Gardens
  • Lunch
  • Use BlaBlaCar to get to the Palace of Versailles
  • Tour the Palace and Gardens
  • Take RER C for 10 stops to Champs-Élysées
  • Explore Montmartre district

Day 6

  • Check out of hotel
  • Take the train to Amsterdam
  • Arrive in Amsterdam

Day 7

  • Vondelpark
  • van Gogh Museum
  • Rijksmuseum
  • Rembrandt Square
  • Bloemenmarkt
  • Anne Frank House

Day 8

  • Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour
  • Nieuwmarkt
  • Heineken Rock the City tour
  • Take the train to Paris
  • Arrive in Paris
  • Depart


Day 8

  • Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour
  • Nieuwmarkt
  • Heineken Rock the City tour
  • Fly into Copenhagen
  • Arrive in Copenhagen

Day 9

  • Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
  • Christiansborg Palace
  • Nyhavn Harbour
  • Christiania
  • Amalienborg Palace

Day 10

  • Day trip to Malmö
  • Take the train to Malmö
  • Arrive in Malmö
  • Lilla Torget
  • Stortorget
  • Sodergatan Street
  • St. Peter’s Church
  • Moderna Museet Malmö
  • Take a walk through a park
  • Malmohus
  • Go to the beach
  • Take the train back to Copenhagen

Day 11

  • Rosenborg Castle
  • Tivoli Gardens
  • Fly back to Paris and depart

With this schedule, if you stick to the 8 day itinerary, leaving on a holiday weekend, you should use roughly 5 vacation days total. If you leave that Friday, the bonus schedule only adds 1 more day! So in total, we’ve used between 5-6 vacation days to see these cities. Not bad!

Total vacation days used so far: 10-11

Prague, Vienna, Budapest 

Bonus: Kraków 

Best time to visit: Thanksgiving holiday

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Day 1

  • Arrive in Prague

Day 2

  • Prague Castle
  • Castle Gardens
  • Explore the Strahov Monastery grounds
  • Petrin Tower and park area
  • Take late evening train to Vienna
  • Arrive in Vienna

Day 3

  • Schönbrunn Palace
  • Hofburg Vienna
  • See an Opera

Day 4

  • Austrian National Library
  • Kunsthistorisches
  • Albertina

Day 5

  • Prater
  • Naschmarkt
  • St. Stephen’s Cathedral 
  • Belvedere Palace

Day 6

  • Train to Budapest
  • Arrive in Budapest
  • Grab a drink at Szimpla Kert ruin pub

Day 7

  • Dohány Street Synagogue
  • Great Market Hall
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica
  • Shoes on the Danube Bank
  • Hungarian Parliament 
  • Margaret Island

Day 8

  • Hero’s Square 
  • Vajdahunyad Castle
  • Széchenyi Thermal Bath
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Buda Castle
  • Fly back to Prague and depart


Day 8

  • Hero’s Square 
  • Vajdahunyad Castle
  • Széchenyi Thermal Bath
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Buda Castle
  • Late evening or overnight bus into Kraków
  • Arrive in Kraków

Day 9

  • Main Square of Old Town
  • Cloth Hall
  • St. Mary’s Basilica
  • Wawel Royal Castle
  • Kazimierz Historical Mural
  • Schindler’s Factory

Day 10

  • Wieliczka Salt Mine
  • Fly back to Prague and depart

OR Bonus

Spend an extra day in Prague and visit Brno

Following Day 2

  • Take the train to Brno
  • Arrive in Brno
  • Špilberk Castle 
  • Brno Ossuary
  • Capuchin Monastery
  • Labyrinth under the Green Market
  • Church of St. Thomas
  • Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul
  • Take the train to Vienna
  • Arrive in Vienna

This itinerary assumes you’ll have Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving, and will leave Wednesday. That allows you to stack the weekends using only 4 vacation days! The nice thing about this is, if you add in the bonus days in Kraków, you still won’t have touched any vacation days, as you’ll depart Sunday! If, however, you also choose to tack on Brno, you’ll add 1 extra vacation day to your total.

Total vacation days used so far: 14-16

Prague, Dresden, Berlin

Best time to visit: 4th of July holiday, or Christmas/winter break holiday

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Day 1

  • Arrive in Prague

Day 2

  • Old Town Square
  • St. Nicholas Cathedral and Tower
  • Vyšehrad 

Day 3

  • Day trip to Český Krumlov
  • Take the train to Český Krumlov
  • Arrive in Český Krumlov
  • Svornosti Square
  • Wiseman Free Walking Tour
  • State Castle Tower and Gardens
  • Kláštery Český Krumlov
  • Take the train back to Prague

Day 4

  • Day trip to Kutná Hora
  • Take the train to Kutná Hora
  • Arrive in Kutná Hora
  • Sedlec Ossuary
  • Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist
  • Cathedral of St. Barbara
  • Czech Silver Museum
  • Silver Mine Tour
  • Take the train to Berlin
  • Arrive in Berlin

Day 5

  • Explore Museum Island (options):
    • Pergamonmuseum
    • Bode Museum
    • Neues Museum
    • Alte Nationalgalerie
    • Altes Museum
    • Berlin Cathedral
    • Berlin Palace
  • Browse Christmas markets

Day 6

  • Berlin Wall memorial
  • East Side gallery
  • Reichstag
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe 
  • Topography of Terror

Day 7

  • Take the train to Dresden
  • Arrive in Dresden
  • Browse Christmas markets

Day 8

  • Zwinger
  • Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister
  • Dresden Porcelain Collection
  • Royal Palace
  • Green Vault
  • Frauenkirche
  • Take the train to Prague
  • Depart

This itinerary wraps up a few of the must-sees in Prague, while allowing for some day trips in between. We’re also stacking weekends here, meaning your trip has used up 4 total vacation days! 

Total vacation days used so far: 18-20

We did it!

I’m not kidding when I say this was damn near close what I did while abroad (although probably a little less hectic and insane). I tried to schedule arrival days to be minimal, if any, activity since I know how exhausting it is to fly that far. 

But uh… when I flew to Milan from Kansas City, a full day is exactly what I did. Landed at 10 a.m., did two museums and a castle tour. Why? Because I’m nuts and coffee is portable. As soon as the day was over, I crashed into the best sleep of my life. You make it work.

For some, this may seem like too much at once. You might want to use those 10-15 days exclusively for Italy, for example. That sounds just peachy to me. The idea here is to show you that, while four months abroad is definitely ideal, you can still hit up as many places as I did with your limited amount of days. And learn to sleep on a plane while you’re at it (the key is a good neck pillow and melatonin, fwiw). 

Point is, we don’t all have to be full-time travel bloggers to see the world like they do. We can do just fine on our own.

Are you planning on hitting up a bunch of places with your vacation days? Me too! Tell me more in the comments below!

I Visited 17 European Cities in One Year, and Here's How You Can Too! | Broke Girl Abroad
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Safe travels!


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About Me | Broke Girl Abroad

Maggie, the Broke Girl Abroad, is just another Millennial who wanted to make a travel blog because of that one time she studied abroad.

Now a 9-to-5 employee, follow along as she attempts to see the world by balancing her budget, her 40 hour work week, and her precious, precious vacation days. 


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