Research the places you want to visit, book hotel room and flight well in time
Travel writer Amita Nanda has earned several air miles but till a year ago she hadn’t even heard of Algarve, the picturesque southern coastline of Portugal.
“But now that is a thing of the past and Algarve has been added to my list of favourite places from around the world. I read a lot of travel blog posts (and) National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Conde Nast travel articles every day. Because if you don’t, then you end up visiting only the famous cities like Paris, Amsterdam and you tend to ignore all the other gorgeous lesser-known cities/towns/villages of Europe,” says Nanda, who lives in Delhi.
Whether you want to discover unexplored Europe or its famous places, resources on the web will help you in researching before you venture out.
“Despite continued visa challenges, overall increased airfares and overall costs, Europe continues to reflect strong demand and growth from Indian travellers across segments, not just from metros and mini-metros but also Tier-2 and 3 cities,” says Daniel D’Souza, president & country head – Holidays, SOTC Travel. “We are witnessing strong demand for both: our GIT (group tours) and FIT (individual tours) products.”
Some popular FIT tours by SOTC include Mono Switzerland and Switzerland with Italy. Popular GIT itineraries/tours include European Dreams (Zurich, Frankfurt, Brussels, Paris), European Splendour (Paris, Zurich, Mendrisio, Arezzo, Vicenza, Munich), and European Experience (Paris, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Engelberg, St Moritz, Seefeld, Ferrara, Rome, Pisa).
A tour’s cost depends on customer requirement and customisation. A European tour of 7-9 days for an individual traveller costs between Rs 125,000 and Rs 250,000 (land only). It will include Swiss Travel Pass, accommodation, breakfast and sightseeing, says D’Souza. The pass enables visitors to explore Switzerland from “end to end” by train, bus and boat, according to the country’s tourism department website.
A group tour lasting 8-15 days costs between Rs 200,000 and Rs 350,000 per person and includes airfare, accommodation, select meals, transfers and sightseeing. “We highly recommend that our customers travelling to Switzerland opt for the Swiss Travel Pass that gives travellers access to not just scenic trains, buses and boats, but also free travel on panorama trains, public transport in over 90 Swiss cities, entry to over 500 museums, discounts on mountain excursions,” says D’Souza.
The United Kingdom is Indians’ top European holiday destination and it is followed by Germany, Turkey, and France. Overnight stays by Indian travellers in Germany more than tripled in 2022.
“We have already reached 65 per cent of the level of 2019, leaving room for continuous growth as Indians return to travelling. There is huge demand among Indians for international travel. In 2022, Indians did spend a total of 623,363 nights in Germany,” says Romit Theophilus, director of India German National Tourist Office.
“Our goal in the medium term is to reach the number of overnight stays we had before the Covid-19 pandemic. We have achieved a remarkable increase this year compared to 2021. We know that Germany appeals strongly to Indians that are interested in culture and history, city breaks and culinary experiences,” he says.
Your European holiday plan should research itinerary, accommodation, flight ticket price and acquiring foreign currency. “While travelling to Europe, Indians are required to plan in advance in terms of visa applications to ensure smooth processing. As visa challenges have resulted in an increased booking window, to avoid disappointments, we are advising customers to plan their holidays and submit their Schengen visa applications at least three months in advance,” says Rajeev Kale, president & country head, Holidays, MICE, Visa – Thomas Cook (India) Limited.
You will need the following for European travel: A Schengen Visa application form, two passport-style photos, and an Indian passport no older than 10 years and valid for at least three months after your departure date from the Schengen area.
Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Oman Air, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, Finnair, Air France, Lufthansa Airline, Vistara and Air India run flights between India and Europe.
European nations use round charging sockets so carry multi-plug chargers for your electronic devices.
“I love the public transportation system in Europe and you can always use Google maps to help you figure out how to go from one point to another. Else you can always walk, which I feel is the best way to discover a city in Europe,” says Gurmeet Singh, a Bengaluru-based entrepreneur who has travelled to Prague, Budapest and Austria along with his wife. Uber cabs were “always” 15 minutes late.
Carry an umbrella and clothes for all weather conditions. “I was able to wear shorts only in sunny areas. Most of the other places I had to stick to wearing jeans and tops coupled with a light sweater. Dresses in between and finally a jacket was ideal for colder locations like Paris,” says Mahima Kakkar, a content creator who lives in Mumbai and who has travelled to London and Scotland.
Select places you want to see well in time. “Switzerland has always been a favourite European destination across our Indian segments. Other European destinations that are a must visit for Indian travellers include France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, Türkiye and UK. Additionally, winter destinations in Scandinavia are also gaining momentum,” says Thomas Cook’s Kale.
Travel firm SOTC’s select European tour packages
|Package||Cost per person|
|European Dreams (Zurich, Frankfurt, Brussels, Paris)||Rs 2,12,720|
|European Splendour (Paris, Zurich, Mendriso, Arezzo, Vicenza, Munich)||Rs 2,56,623|
|European Experience (Paris, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Engelberg, St. Mortiz, Seefeld, Ferrara, Rome, Pisa)||Rs 3,33,698|
|Amazing Europe (Paris, Leysin, Zurich)||Rs 2,39,795|
|Splendid Europe (London, Paris, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Engelberg, Innsbruck, Ferrara, Arezzo, Rome)||Rs 3,48,680|
|All of Scandinavia (Helsinki, Silja Line Cruise, Stockholm, Oslo, Geilo, Bergen, Copenhagen).||Rs 3,56,855|