Planning an unforgettable vacation to Europe? The right gear and clothing can make or break your travels, whether you’re spending languid days lounging on Mediterranean beaches or soaking up history on a multi-city architecture tour.
From helpful tech to outfit recommendations, use this guide while you’re packing for Europe in the summer. You’ll spend less time getting your suitcase ready and more time daydreaming about what to do in Europe’s most magical cities.
Packing for Europe in the summer can be intimidating, especially since cities like Rome and Paris have earned reputations as being fashionable capitals. However, if you’re going to be spending long days exploring some of the best summer destinations in Europe, you’ll want to pack comfortable clothes that you don’t mind walking around in all day. If you’re going on any church tours or seeing religious sites, plan to wear an outfit that covers your knees and shoulders.
Comfortable clothing doesn’t have to mean slouchy. Dresses, t-shirts, jeans, button-down shirts, and skirts are all must-pack items. Opt for flowy fabrics in materials like linen or cotton for warmer days. Breathable shorts are great for hot Mediterranean destinations.
Day to Evening Outfits
For a romantic dinner for two in Europe or a night on the town, there are plenty of ways to elevate your daytime wear into evening chic. Long dresses or button-down shirts work for both day and night. Even something as simple as switching from sneakers to comfortable heeled sandals or loafers can make an outfit feel new.
Remember that less is more when it comes to evening wear. Ladies, you might have trouble navigating cobblestone streets in stilettos, while men might look out of place in a suit on a midsummer museum tour.
Accessories like jewelry, earrings, or an evening handbag can make your outfit appropriate for a night out without taking up precious real estate in your suitcase.
Backpack or Cross-Body Bag
Your carry-on bag can be just as important as your suitcase itself, especially if you’re spending entire days out and about exploring or going on some of the best hikes in Europe. When it comes to choosing the kind of backpack you’ll get the most out of on your European trip, consider what you like to keep with you at all times.
Are there hidden pockets to protect your favorite things? Is there room for a water bottle, and can it hold a camera or laptop if you’re bringing tech along with you? Do you like to keep a swimsuit or a change of clothes on you while you’re exploring? The size backpack you need will depend on what you want to carry with you.
You can also opt for a more portable cross-body bag to hold your phone, keys, passport, and wallet. A smaller bag with zippers can help you keep track of your valuables so they are never far from reach.
Light Sweaters or Jackets
If you’re traveling to the Mediterranean at the beginning of summer, you’ll run into cooler temperatures in the morning and evening. A light sweater or moisture-wicking jacket can help you stay warm without having to carry around bulky layers.
In Northern Europe especially, you’ll want to keep a light jacket on hand. Temperatures in June and July rarely exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit, so the summers are surprisingly mild. With light layers, you can comfortably explore the fjords in Iceland or cities like Oslo and Amsterdam.
Read: What to Pack for Iceland
Comfortable Walking Shoes or Hiking Boots
While you’re packing for a European summer getaway, you may be tempted to bring your most glamorous stilettos or highest heels for chic photo ops against effortlessly Instagrammable backdrops. Instead, consider packing your favorite sneakers or walking shoes, slip-ons, or flat sandals with arch support. You can also change into comfortable platforms or wedges before a nice dinner out on the town.
No matter what you do, pack at least one pair of comfortable shoes to explore in. Don’t bring along new shoes that you haven’t broken in yet, as these can lead to blisters and discomfort that can last several days.
When you’re out in the great outdoors, don’t forget hiking shoes and moisture-wicking socks for scaling mountainous terrain. After all, nothing is worse than missing out on adventurous activities because you don’t have the right shoes on hand. Plus, hiking boots are often weather-resistant, so they can be ideal for navigating Scandinavian fjords or dealing with a rainy day in Northern Europe.
Read: Where to Go This Summer
Phone Chargers and Portable Chargers
You can miss out on incredible photo opportunities and local haunts when you’re navigating a new city with a low phone battery. Bring your regular phone charger to use wherever you are staying, and carry a portable charger in your backpack. This will keep your phone battery at 100% even when you’re between cities or on the way to a museum.
When you touch down in Europe for a summer vacation, you’ll immediately notice you can’t plug in your American phone charger or hairdryer in European outlets. An international adaptor is a simple, one-time purchase that you’ll need to pick up before you travel.
Don’t forget to add headphones to your packing list for your Europe summer trip. On long flights and trips outside of the city, you can listen to a podcast or brush up on learning a new language with your headphones. You can even sync up your headphones at some European museums to enhance an audio tour experience. Beyond that, you can listen to audiobooks while you unwind by the pool or at some of the best beach destinations in Europe, which will save room in your suitcase.
Scarf or Shawl
Not only does having a shawl or a scarf help ladies stay warm on cooler, breezy evenings in Europe, they are also versatile garments that you can wear to cover your shoulders in religious institutions or historic sites that have a dress code. Another benefit of bringing a shawl instead of a sweater is that they’re lightweight and very portable, particularly if you choose a silky pashmina.
Sunscreen, Sunglasses, and Hats
If you plan on being outside, sunscreen is a must. You can prevent and lessen the negative side effects of getting too much sun by wearing sunscreen, UV-protective sunglasses, and a hat.
Sun protection also works as an effortless accessory. For ladies, fashionable sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat on the beach can elevate a casual outfit. Men can break out their ball-cap or favorite shades on the beach, on a city tour of Paris or Amsterdam’s Centrum, and lounging poolside to protect their skin and eyes.
There are so many incredible vistas to experience in Europe—ancient ruins, sweeping Norwegian fjords, minimalist Scandinavian architecture, and so much more. Capturing your vacation memories during your summer trip to Europe should be high on your priority list.
While most smartphones are equipped with increasingly sophisticated cameras, you may want to bring along your DSLR or favorite camera if you’re a photography buff. Avid photographers may want to invest in bringing along a few extra SD cards to hold more photos. If you want to go old-school with your photography, consider bringing a disposable camera or a Polaroid for artsy, vintage-looking photos.
What’s a summer vacation without time in the pool or a dip in the ocean? Don’t forget to pack a bathing suit or swim trunks. Bring along other essentials like flip flops and swim shoes, snorkeling equipment, inflatable swim arms for younger kids, and beach towels.
Now that you know what to include on your packing list for Europe in the summer, it’s time to start planning your vacation. On a European cruise vacation, you’ll travel in complete luxury from one awe-inspiring destination to another. By day, soak up rich European history, art, and culture. By night, unwind in style on a stunning cruise ship equipped with sleek accommodations, world-class amenities, and intuitive service.
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