Discover Europe’s top hidden secrets and best advice to avoid mishaps.

As you gear up to explore Europe, there’s one thing you must know first. Starting next year, it will become a requirement to get an ETIAS. What is that? It is a visa waiver, similar to other electronic travel authorizations, but for Europe, specifically, the Schengen Area.

Applying for a Europe visa waiver will be easy and straightforward. All you need to do is register online, fill out a form, and pay a fee. Once approved, you can enter all 28 European Schengen member countries with your ETIAS visa waiver.

Besides getting your passport and authorization ready for a trip to Europe, there are a few essential tips you should learn about to make the most of your trip.

In this article you’ll find out how to or when to tip, when you must pay to use the bathroom, and which places you absolutely should not miss.

Finding out about European customs

Dining in Europe opens up a Pandora’s box of culinary delights. From French mouthwatering croissants, Belgian crispy fries with a wide range of mayo to choose from, Dutch crunchy bitterballen, German straight-out-of- the grill bratwurst, Austria’s apple filled strudel (apfelstrudel), and more.

When you dine out, portions are smaller than in the United States. Take advantage of this by trying more dishes. Furthermore, refills on drinks are rare. You might find an ice cube or two in your glass but not more. In some countries, you may order tap water. But bottled water is usually served on most cases.

When exploring a new city, it's best to walk or bike. Most large European cities offer bicycle rental; however, be aware that you must follow traffic rules when biking. Avoid causing traffic jams and look around you before changing lanes, ringing your bell when necessary and staying on your lane.

The public restrooms in some places have a fee. Keep a few coins on you at all times, just in case. To use the restroom at a bar or restaurant, you will be expected to purchase something first.

People in Europe tend to be more comfortable with nudity than people in America. There are plenty of beaches throughout the continent where nudity is embraced and celebrated. It's rude to stare or start conversations about it, though.

Western Europe is also known for its celebration of cultural and gender diversity. Several festivals, museums, and neighborhoods are dedicated to embracing each individual’s uniqueness. A great number of people are open, kind, and compassionate. Visitors are encouraged to emulate this behavior.

Making the most of your European adventure

When you travel in the Schengen Area, the train networks are well-connected and offer incredible deals.

Opt for rail passes that allow unlimited travel across various countries, a boon for the budget traveler. Booking in advance often yields the best prices, giving you a hassle-free experience as you hop between cities, witnessing the ever-changing landscape from your window.

While Paris, Rome and Barcelona hold their eternal charm, let's explore some of the lesser-known spots that hold secrets waiting to be unraveled.

The quiet charm of the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris invites walkers to stroll along its banks, far removed from the city's bustling tourist hubs.

The Quartiere Coppedè offers a fairy-tale setting in Rome, where its unique architectural ensemble provides visitors with a world away from the crowded corridors of the well-known monuments.

Venturing to Berlin, one might be tempted to stick to the historical landmarks, yet the Spreepark brings in a fresh wave of adventure with its abandoned amusement park setting, offering a glimpse into a different era.

In Barcelona, the Hospital de Sant Pau dazzles with its modernist architecture, offering a serene yet captivating alternative to the crowded mainstays.

As you chalk out your itinerary, it might be a good idea to give a miss to the overrated spots that often don’t live up to the hype. The Mona Lisa in Paris, though iconic, tends to disappoint visitors with its size and the crowd it draws.

Similarly, the Manneken Pis in Brussels, despite its fame, is a rather small and unspectacular sight.

Embarking on this journey, remember to immerse yourself in the local culture, learning a phrase or two in the native language, a gesture that often brings warm smiles and nods of appreciation.

Carrying a refillable water bottle and avoiding plastic bags while shopping is one small step you can take to show your respect for the diverse land you are traversing.


As you set out to explore Europe, let the less traveled roads draw you in. Research cities or towns that are less crowded and are just as beautiful.

Be respectful of the environment and local rules. Contribute to keeping cities, beaches and natural parks and reserves clean.

When you visit Europe, try to keep your volume down--especially in the northern countries, where people tend to be more soft-spoken.

Last piece of advice, pack comfortable shoes, an umbrella, and an adapter for your charger.

Enjoy your trip!