Figuring out what should be on your Europe packing list doesn’t need to cause a borderline breakdown.
Packing is always stressful and figuring out what to pack, or not to pack, can sometimes seem like a cruel life puzzle that will never be solved.
Before you break down crying and filling your bag with tears instead of clothes, let’s hold hands and get through this together.
*arm out waiting to hold hands*
There you go… better?
Now… let’s see… Are you visiting countries with varying weather? What season will it be? Are you adventuring or city hopping? A mix? All of these questions are pretty important. So keep them in mind while reading. (And also Google the weather for the month you’re visiting for each country, because yes, that’s what a good traveler would do!)
Not everything on this list is something you should bring because depending on what you’re doing and when you’re going, your Europe packing list will vary! With that said, if you’re traipsing around London, partying in Ibiza, and then chasing the Northern Lights in Norway, you’ll be packing most of this stuff!
I have everything covered here, so all you have to do is get to packing!
Let’s put the tissue box away, you got this… You’re going to Europe!
Packing List for Europe
Jackets—Rain and Down (3-in-1)
A rain jacket is not something you want to be scrambling for if the weather takes a turn.
The weather in many places throughout Europe can be skitso and one country will be cooler, another rainy, and the next will be like you’re dancing on the sun.
It might seem obvious, but you want to add a jacket to your packing list for Europe that is both lightweight, waterproof, and warm. Tough combo but I have a great solution that doesn’t have you packing your entire closet.
I’ve fallen in love with my Columbia jacket and I swear by it. It’s a 3-in-1 jacket, there’s a down jacket and shell, you can interlock them both to become one jacket (that keeps you warm AND dry) or wear them separately.
This jacket is badass and will take care of you in sickness and in health.
Scarf: Moisture Wicking and Light With Pocket
Not just any scarf, a moisture-wicking scarf! Why? You ask. Because in the rain, or even a light drizzle, your scarf can quickly get drenched, making you even colder.
A moisture-wicking scarf will absorb the wet without transferring it to you, keeping you snug all the while. Awww. Thanks, scarf. This scarf gets bonus points because it can literally be 12 things.
Also, I’ve talked about the pocket scarf before, and there’s a reason for this: it’s awesome!
A nice light scarf on a spring day, or even summer in London or Amsterdam, will keep you warm, and the hidden pocket will hold your passport and your big bucks in a safe spot for you.
Lastly, I have this yellow infinity scarf which as warm and snuggly as can be. It’s a bit chunky though so I would only bring this along if I’m going in winter or spending most of my time in a perpetually fridged country.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and again… and again. You need flip flops.
I don’t care what the weather is like. You’ll wear them after a shower somewhere, or in a rest stop, maybe even kicking it around the house or running around temples in Southeast Asia when it’s 97 degrees out. Flip flops are a must no matter what.
I even used mine in frigid Iceland to hop out of the van for a pee or after showering.
You may also need them for walking around if you choose the wrong walking shoes, which should not be an issue if you take my next point…
Comfortable Walking/Hiking Shoes
One of the best things to do while traveling Europe is to wander and get lost on the cobblestoned streets or the barely trodden trails.
You want adventure and mystery, back alley bargain shops and undiscovered mountains. For all of that, you need good footwear.
These are the heavy duty hiking boots I bring with me when I know I’ll be in more “serious” conditions. I brought these babies to Iceland and I would have legit died without them. If my adventures are a notch less-extreme, I use these Columbia trail shoes.
Think colder and wetter weather and lots of fun out in nature—either of these shoes will keep your toes dry, extremely comfortable and will last you ages (this is not the time to be cheap, spend a bit more money here and your feet will thank you).
If you’re mostly just wandering the cities, don’t go all fancy with cute sandals, your feet will ache before lunch and no amount of cheap and delicious wine will save you.
You need some great walking shoes for those hard and rugged cobbled streets.
I also may bring my ankle boots depending on where I’m going as they provide a bit of extra warmth, can be dressed up or down, and are darn comfy. These are a great choice to add to your Europe packing list!
Of course, my flip flops that I mentioned above are super comfy for walking too but I’m also very used to walking for hours in those, some people may not find them suitable for walking.
I’m not at all recommending you to bring everything I just listed here, you should bring 2-3 pairs of shoes on the trip and the type of shoes you choose to bring will depend on the activities you plan on doing.
TIP: If you’re traveling to a wet area or during a wet season, make sure your shoes are also waterproof (both boots I mentioned above are!), for super obvious reasons. Your feet must be kept dry or you will be incredibly miserable. Trust me!
Like flip flops, these garments are versatile in their practicality. Wear a kimono as a shirt over a tank or as a bathing suit cover-up.
They’re comfy and cute and can be used to spice up almost any outfit. You can never have too many or go wrong with a couple of these on your Europe packing list (or anywhere).
Long sleeve Chambrays are one of my favorite items.
It can be used as a light jacket, to cover your shoulder if you’re wearing a tank and entering a religious site, or to simply add a little something to a plain outfit. I wear mine all.the.time.
Dresses of All Lengths
Europe is a bit more fashionable than the States, so dresses come in handy since they can be so versatile.
Add a pretty necklace, earrings, and flats, and you’re ready to go to a museum. Switch it up to tennis shoes and a chambray and you can go on a walking tour.
You can dress a dress up or down; you can make it warm or cold weather appropriate (add leggings, boots, and a jacket for cooler weather).
Putting dresses on your Europe packing list will be one of the smartest things you bring because it also cuts down on the time to get ready, no need to mix and match outfits, dresses are all in one and are my favorite thing to pack no matter where in the world I’m going.
Other Travel Essentials for Europe
Here are other items you shouldn’t forget to bring/consider depending when you visit Europe.
- Leggings and stockings – regular and or fleece lined.
- Merino socks (literally the best socks for cold weather)
- Tank tops and T-shirts
- Another light jacket, even if you’re going in summer, for buses and planes
Travel Essentials for Europe: Accessories and More
Water Bottle With Filter
You could be in the cleanest country in the world with some of the best water and I’m still gonna tell you to bring your water bottle with a filter.
Why? You just never know where you’ll end up, dehydrated, and desperate for clean water and your only choice will be paying some rando selling bottles of water for 2€. *Extortion I say!*
The whole idea here is to venture off the beaten path, take that crazy hike, zip line through the Alps—And, yes, you’ll need a water bottle—with a filter.
Can you say “no thanks diarrhea” with me? You could get infected anywhere at any time by faulty water or food poisoning.
Activated charcoal will absorb all those nasty toxins and keep you from spending a day in the loo.
This stuff is magical and even on days when you’re feeling a bit off, ate too much pizza, or indulged in fish and chips 3 days in a row and your tummy is angry AF… pop a few of these and your tummy will sort itself right out.
Mesh Laundry Bag
Especially if you’re hopping from place to place, hotel to hotel, you’re gonna want to keep your clean clothes separate from your dirty ones until you can wash the clean ones.
You don’t need your fresh outfit coming out smelling like BO.
Eye Mask and Ear Plugs
Oh, I know, the website says that your hostel is top of the line, quiet and cozy. But you never know (which is why I avoid hostels anyway).
The sun could come beating down on you in the morning, or you may just want a midday nap after a long flight.
Or you could totally forget that our friends in the very north experience this thing called the midnight sun AKA the sun is out 24/7 and there’s no window shade in your guesthouse.
Ooorr your next-door neighbors could be a bunch of 21-years-olds on their first trip abroad on your first jet-lagged day in. Treat yo’ self a bit and grab a mask and earplugs. They take up zero space.
Always and forever on every single trip I take.
This is your rainy day purse, electronic savior on a wet day, a beach bag, and if you’re traveling solo, you can go swimming with it so you don’t leave your items on shore. Went crazy on sourvenir shopping? It’s your extra bag for all that stuff too.
Other Europe Essentials:
What NOT to Put on Your Packing List for Europe
You do not need pajamas. What a waste of space. Everything you pack you should be able to wear outside, walking around, seeing people. Pajamas will only weigh you down. If you’re going in summer you may not even want to wear anything to bed! Anyone else on #TeamNoPJs?
Either way, throw on your leggins, those cute beachy cover up short, a tank, a t-shirt or whatever is laying around for your PJs. Don’t bring anything extra.
Seriously? Do I have to put this here?
Yes, I know I do. We all make this mistake, thinking we’re gonna get all dressed up and wear heels or gorgeous beaded sandals (that will fall apart before you can finish your aperitif). We don’t. So don’t bother.
High heels should not make your “travel essentials for Europe” list. They just take up space and for what? The chance you may need them?
Have a cute pair of flats on hand, and they can do much more for you, even if you do decide to get all dressed up.
I know some ladies will want to bring them anyway, so go for it but don’t get mad at me when you run out of space for your stash of Italian wine, that stein you stole from a bar in Munich or your new swimsuit from a random Greek island.
No. Just no. Don’t travel with an umbrella.
What a pain in the ass! It takes up space, it’s bulky, and they’re pretty cheap anyway.
If you are going somewhere rainy, just plan to buy one when you get to wherever you are going if you must have one (it’s like $5 anywhere you go). Also, rain jackets are better and can’t invert if it’s windy, looking at you Iceland! You and your crazy wind…
Bring a sarong instead.
I’m team sarong because no matter how “quick dry and small” those towels claim to be, I think sarongs are better and have more function. Beyond a towel, they are a light blanket, scarf, beach cover-up and beach towel!
Download info on your phone, nobody can be bothered to bring guidebooks anymore.
If you’re adamant about bringing them, download the Kindle version on your Kindle or phone instead. Also, maps.me is the perfect offline map app if you use the maps in these books a lot.
Costume jewelry is fine but that ring your grandmother gave you or the diamond earrings your S.O. just gifted you? Nah, just leave them at home.
Jewelry and travel rarely mingle well, it makes you a target and packing and unpacking every other day in a hotel room can result in expensive jewelry being left on the night table.
It’s a nice tip for your cleaning lady, you won’t see them again.
Lots of Cash
If you’re American, do yourself a favor and immediately apply for a Charles Schwab bank account, there are no ATM fees or transaction fees, which means you can go to the ATM more often at no extra cost keeping your wallet full of the cash you need and nothing extra.
Carrying a ton of cash is risky AF with the pickpockets that roam Europe and it’s simply unnecessary if you have a great travel card.
Super Casual Clothing
Sweatpants? Your fav ratty baseball cap? Leave it at home!
Europe isn’t as casual as we are in the US or other parts of the world and you’ll look a bit homely. I’m not saying you need to look like you spent $1000 on our outfit, just don’t wear the outfit you wear to Walmart around Europe, cool?
Electronic Travel Essentials for Europe
External Battery Portable Charger
Oh, and it can solar charge itself so it could potentially last even longer without being charged again itself! This can also charge any device that uses a USB, like my GoPro.
Still one of the best and more versatile cameras out there and a particularly perfect addition to your Europe packing list if you’re adventuring around like sailing the Greek islands or snorkeling the silfra fissure in Iceland.
Ain’t nobody want to lug around paperback books anymore.
I know some people are diehard fans of real books but try porting them around on your back for a few days and see how much you want to throw them into the Seine River.
Grab a Kindle for super cheap or download the Kindle app on your phone.
Oh, Europe, you’re fab but why you gotta make things so difficult?
You’d think the continent would share the same outlet but they don’t. So you’ll need a universal power adaptor that works around the world.
A handy thing to have when you’re traveling anywhere in the world anyway, this adaptor can be used anywhere.
I know the price might be a bit scary and you definitely can find one cheaper but trust someone who has gone through 1,000 of these, I think it’s better to drop some cash on a quality one rather than have your cheap one crap out on you in the middle of your trip.
Other Electronics to Pack for Europe… or Not?
What will you actually use? If you don’t use a laptop regularly, don’t bring it, your phone can do almost anything nowadays and it’s likely that your hotel will have one to use or a cafe down the road.
Have a new DSLR you’re dying to use? Only bring it if you’re going to use it.
I’ve seen people lug around their DSLRs yet take 90% of their pictures on their phone.
Speaking of phones, you should definitely hop over to Europe with an unlocked phone. It’s the only you’ll be able to use a Europe SIM card on your phone. If not, you’ll only be able to connect to wifi. Another option (for Americans) is to sign up with either T-Mobile or GoogleFi as they provide unlimited international data to most countries in the world.
Don’t load yourself with spendy equipment that you think you’ll use. Take a moment and access what you really need.
The Best Travel Backpacks for Europe
Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore. You’re out of your element in a foreign country, regardless of whether you’ve been before.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a light packer or not, keep yourself, and your stuff, safe. Plan to pack crossbody, closable bags, and packs.
If you are traveling somewhere even remotely populated or touristy, you are traveling somewhere with opportunistic thieves ready to slit open your bag and snatch your booty (Not that booty).
You need slash-proof, durable, last forever travel luggage.
A wide array of anti-theft luggage is now on the market for you to pick and choose. If you haven’t already, pick. And choose.
Travel Backpack for Europe: Day Bag
For day use, I use this anti-theft backpack or this one depending on how much camera gear I’m lugging around. Both are extremely comfortable to wear all day and I’ve even gone on hikes with them with zero issues.
These are both great travel backpacks for Europe because they feature anti-theft technology with a protective zipper and anti-slashing internal mesh.
Travel Backpack for Europe: Carry-On
Don’t skip out on your carry on bag. People have sticky fingers EVERYWHERE which is why my carry-on bag is also an anti-theft bag.
You’ll be wandering the streets looking for your hotel and lugging this thing on and off trains… dose off and you could wake up to your bag ransacked… Or not!
This is the carry-on travel backpack for Europe I use which features plenty of room for all my electronics, my day bag (if I want to pack it), and some extra room for my emergency clothing in case my main bag goes missing.
Like the bags above, this one also features protective zippers and anti-slashing internal mesh.
For extra protection, you can use the metal rope (comes with some bags or buy separately) to tie your bag to a pole or a chair.
When I leave my electronics in the hotel room, I pack everything in my bag and use the metal rope to tie the bag to a non-moving object or if there isn’t any, I’ll tie it to something large and obnoxious (like three chairs).
The best travel bags for Europe are those that are comfortable AND protect your items on all spectrums. Anti-theft gear is the key for keeping your stuff safe and your mind at ease.
Travel Bags for Europe: Wheels or Backpack?
For your checked in bag or main bag for Europe, should you do a suitcase with wheels or a backpack?
If you use a suitcase with wheels as your main bag for Europe, you’ll be lugging that thing over crazy cracked and cobbled streets and up plenty of stairs unless you specifically search for hotels with elevators.
Even then, you’re running the risk of your hotel being up a steep hill or up outside steps. That’s what you get for choosing a hotel with a view!
On my first trip to Europe, I used a wheely suitcase and one week in, I was buying a shitty new suitcase and a premium price because my wheels fell off and Italy isn’t a cheap place to shop for suitcases.
By the time my trip was done, three weeks later, the new suitcase barely got my things home and I immediately had to throw it away.
Since then, I’ve given up and try to use a solid travel backpack for Europe now. This is the one I currently have, it’s nothing super special but it gets the job done and I’m not losing wheels!
I understand carrying a backpack isn’t for everyone so just be sure your wheeled suitcase is super tough! This one has done me quite well but I treat it super carefully.
Travel Purses for Europe
Should you bring that cute shoulder bag? Or maybe that adorable purse that doesn’t close shut…
Yes! Exactly what you should bring… If you want to get robbed.
I’m not saying this is a guarantee but those purses are an invitation for theft and there are plenty of thieves who will RSVP to that party if you invite them.
Crossbody purses all day every day are the best and wait for it… I have an anti-theft travel bag perfect for your Europe trip and for you.
For a wide array of my personal recommendations for the best travel backpacks for Europe, anti-theft gear, and more see my piece on anti-theft travel bags.
Is there anything else you’d add to this Europe packing list? Did you have any more questions on what to pack for Europe? Let us know in the comments!
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.