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How to travel in europe when you only speak english

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:08 pm

I’m planning a 10 day trip to Europe.

This is my first time across the pond, but I can only speak English.

What countries are best suited for the English-only traveler, and which should I avoid?

Any input is appreciated.

deaphen Posts: 1090 Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2005 3:57 am

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:12 pm

In the Netherlands, you will have absolutely no problem.

I only speak English and am studying here!

flybyguy Posts: 1421 Joined: Sun Jun 27, 2004 12:52 pm

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:16 pm

The UK is obviously a good place to start. Germany I’ve heard has an excellent grasp of English in the main cities (Frankfurt, Munich etc.). France, however, may not be the best place for English speakers. especially Americans, because of lingering cultural tensions between the two nations. However, if you do plan on going to France (particularly Paris) you should make an attempt to speak French. the people there I’ve heard are more receptive if you engage them in the native language rather than assuming that they speak English off the bat.

I’ve also noticed when traveling in Asia (could be true in Europe). that young people, particularly the college aged crowds, are more inclined to know English than the older generations.

agill Posts: 1102 Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2004 4:49 am

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:19 pm

Well you could probably get by pretty much everywhere, but Netherlands, and Scandinavia are very safe for making yourself understood in english. I thought Italy was a bit hard to communicate in since most poeple I met there didn’t speak much english, but usually you get by anyway.

MadameConcorde Posts: 9265 Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:08 pm

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:21 pm

You can go to Cyprus and Malta. Both are English speaking places. They are both part of the E.U. Not only these islands are international business and banking centers but they also have a very old history.

David L Posts: 8551 Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:26 am

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:23 pm

I’ve had no problems in Norway and Iceland and you could probably get by in Switzerland. I assume the same would be true of Sweden and Denmark, though I haven’t been there.

Charles79 Posts: 1119 Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 12:35 pm

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:24 pm

You’ll be fine in most places like the other posters have said though it never hurts to try and at least learn some common expressions in the local language.

From personal experience the UK, Netherlands, and Germany are all perfectly fine if you don’t speak the local language/dialect.

Quoting Agill (Reply 3):
I thought Italy was a bit hard to communicate in since most poeple I met there didn’t speak much english, but usually you get by anyway.

Communication in Italy is quite simple, just use your hands a lot!

STT757 Posts: 14917 Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2000 1:14 am

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:26 pm

English is widely spoken/understood in Europe. My Wife and I took our Honeymoon in Europe back in ’06, we visited;

Barcelona Spain,
Marseilles, Aixen Provence, Nice France
Monaco
Florence, Rome, Naples, Positano Italy.

We had no troubles at all, in fact I was pleasantly surprised how friendly everyone was to us Americans (even in France). We found many comforts of home in Europe, Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona, Starbucks, McDonald’s etc..

Don’t sweat it, the only trouble you will find will be tv. I found Tv in Europe to be dreadfully dull.

Braybuddy Posts: 7402 Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2004 8:14 pm

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:27 pm

You won’t have a problem in most western European cities, even in Paris, but you’ll draw a blank from Parisians if you address them in English. A few words in French go a LONG way to dismantling that famous Gallic froideur. Even in the larger eastern cities you’ll get by. It’s part of the fun of travelling doing your best to interact with the locals anyway. Outside the UK and Ireland, as Deaphen says, you won’t have a problem at all in the Netherlands as the Dutch all speak better English than we do, as do the Danes and other Scandinavians. In Switzerland, Belgium and Germany English is widely understood, less so in the Mediterranean countries, but nearly everyone under 40 can speak and understand some.

[Edited 2009-02-07 09:29:21]

falstaff Posts: 5744 Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 6:17 am

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:39 pm

Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
Germany I’ve heard has an excellent grasp of English in the main cities (Frankfurt, Munich etc.).

In the old DDR side of the country I found few people that could speak English. Maybe if I was hanging around younger people I would have but the over 40 crowd were generally not English speakers. I met plenty of people that wanted to speak English. I didn’t have any trouble, but I was with two native Germans so I didn’t have to do much talking other than to them.

Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
We found many comforts of home in Europe, Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona, Starbucks, McDonald’s etc

I have seen that stuff too, but I don’t go anywhere on vacation I can go at home.

David L Posts: 8551 Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:26 am

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:40 pm

Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
I found Tv in Europe to be dreadfully dull.

The TV you get in hotels, yes.

ME AVN FAN Posts: 12970 Joined: Fri May 31, 2002 12:05 am

Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:48 pm

In Switzerland you will have no problem in urban areas like Zurich, Basel, Berne, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Kreuzlingen/Konstanz, Lucerne, Zug, etc. And none in Geneva and Lausanne. It may be a bit different in non touristic rural areas of course. Much depends on YOUR English. If it is near to classical British English, ok, but if it is a heavy US dialect, please simply speak slowly and clearly. The proforma question “do you speak English” will usually result in a “Yes” of sorts and is the polite way.

us330 Posts: 3506 Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2000 7:00 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:08 pm

From where I’ve travelled–England/Scotland (obviously), the Netherlands (since few non-Dutch actually speak Dutch), Denmark (same as the Netherlands–don’t try speaking German though–I made that mistake and was slightly reprimanded (tried to be all smart and cool and asked for tickets to the Hauptbahnhof, then was told the Germans had left in 1945. )), Germany, and Switzerland.
Spain there are people who speak English, but less compared to the other countries I described.

That said, if you are going to Europe, don’t pick a country just because it is easier to speak English, go to a country because you are interested in its history, culture, etc. For example, if you are a huge Victor Hugo fan, go to France even if you can’t speak French–you’ll get by anyway, and have some great stories to tell.

andaman Posts: 2271 Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2005 5:29 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:03 pm

Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
Don’t sweat it, the only trouble you will find will be tv. I found Tv in Europe to be dreadfully dull.

At least in the Nordic countries the foreign tv programs are shown in the original language with subtitles, not dubbed like in Germany and Italy, that should help ,) And a lot of British/American stuff on tv here, the Finnish tv produces news in English also.

Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 11):
if it is a heavy US dialect, please simply speak slowly and clearly

Would say the same about Nordic Europe, English is widely spoken but some American terms don’t say much here. We only know the metric system, for an example.

And it’s always useful to find out something about local culture beforehand – same goes with Europeans traveling to US of course. like tipping less common here and tipping with US dollars not a good idea, happens sometimes.

Acheron Posts: 1852 Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2005 1:14 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:29 pm

Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
We found many comforts of home in Europe, Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona, Starbucks, McDonald’s etc..

To be honest, I don’t see the point of going to europe(or anywhere, for that matter) and eat stuff you get back at home, anyway.
I prefer to try the local restaurants, and they are probably far more healthier anyway.

TSS Posts: 3746 Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 3:52 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 8:09 pm

As I’ve never been outside the US, I’ll relate what my better-travelled friends have told me on this subject:

Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 11):
Much depends on YOUR English. If it is near to classical British English, ok, but if it is a heavy US dialect, please simply speak slowly and clearly.

A friend of mine who spent some time in the UK said that he was quickly and rather emphatically informed on a couple of occasions that the language he spoke was not “English”, but “American”. Since he too is from Alabama, I’m guessing that to UK ears his language was exceedingly “American”.

STT757 Posts: 14917 Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2000 1:14 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 8:23 pm

Quoting Acheron (Reply 14):
To be honest, I don’t see the point of going to europe(or anywhere, for that matter) and eat stuff you get back at home, anyway.

The only place we visited in Barcelona that we have back home is Starbucks, while I loved the coffee in Barcelona the portions were just too small. A large cafe Americano con leche at the typical Barcelona cafe was just too small, I needed a 16oz.

RobertNL070 Posts: 4164 Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 4:29 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:03 pm

Quoting STT757 (Reply 16):
A large cafe Americano con leche

Starbucks will never get off the ground here in the Netherlands. I believe there is just one Starbucks in the whole country, in Amsterdam. Their coffee is gnat’s pee.

However, when visiting Europe, don’t let yourself be guided by language, or lack thereof. Go for the history and the culture. Surely someone intelligent enough to be a doctor can learn a smattering of two or three European languages – outside of English. Walking in a Dutch bakkerij (bakery) of a Saturday morning and greeting the bakker (baker) with a cheery goede morgen (good morning) will earn you some points.

Arguably the best countries in the world for coffee lovers are Spain and the Netherlands.

Pyrex Posts: 4821 Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 7:24 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:48 pm

In general you should be fine pretty much anywhere. After all, you are only going for 10 days to travel around and not to do business. In the worst case scenario, pointing at stuff at looking at the value in the cash register should get you through most day-to-day situations. That said:

Quoting Dr.DTW (Thread starter):
and which should I avoid?

Spain and Italy are notoriously bad in those respects. Plenty of reasons to avoid Spain, really, and the inability of speaking English is just one of them, but it is not like you will starve to death and miss your flight because of it.

Quoting TSS (Reply 15):
Another friend visited Germany hoping, among other things, to improve his language skills by speaking German to native German-speakers. Much to his dismay, almost all the native Germans he met insisted on speaking English to him to practice and/or improve their language skills.

I keep having that same problem with my French. I love the French language but have barely no opportunity to practice it so my French is quite bad. However, whenever I have tried using it recently (in Paris, Montreal and Tahiti) people almost immediately switch over to English and don’t give me a chance to practice it. Some of them even address me in English straight away, before I even open my mouth (I must have “tourist” written all over my forehead or something). The ones who do speak French with me are usually nice enough to acknowledge the effort I am doing and keep going even though the conversation would flow much smoother in English.

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 17):
Arguably the best countries in the world for coffee lovers are Spain and the Netherlands.

Dear God, please tell me you are kidding.

RobertNL070 Posts: 4164 Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 4:29 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:58 pm

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 18):
Dear God, please tell me you are kidding.

No, I am not kidding. It’s my opinion and that’s why I used the word ‘arguably’

Pyrex Posts: 4821 Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 7:24 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:04 pm

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 19):
No, I am not kidding. It’s my opinion and that’s why I used the word ‘arguably’

Well, it is my opinion that you couldn’t be further from the truth and that is why I used the expression “Dear God”

allrite Posts: 2617 Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:28 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:09 pm

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 8):
You won’t have a problem in most western European cities, even in Paris, but you’ll draw a blank from Parisians if you address them in English. A few words in French go a LONG way to dismantling that famous Gallic froideur.

I agree with Braybuddy in that you should try to learn at least a few polite words in the local language – it’s not difficult and it helps to demonstrate that you respect the fact they do have their own language and culture. I’ve never had a problem in France. Sometimes I’ll find someone who can’t speak English, but then they have tried to find someone who can usually speak better English than my paltry French.

I found the level of English to be better in the Netherlands and Germany than in the UK. Many UK accents are impenetrable and I dun unnerstan nuffink wat dey speak.

aircatalonia Posts: 644 Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:50 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:26 pm

Quoting Dr.DTW (Thread starter):
What countries are best suited for the English-only traveler, and which should I avoid?

If you speak slowly and you try to make yourself understood, you should have no problem. The only places where you may encounter some difficulties are perhaps southern Spain and Italy (not the big cities). Then the “far east” (eastern Europe) is a different story and you may have some issues getting by in the areas with most Russian influence, but I presume you are planning a trip to western or central Europe.

LTU932 Posts: 13725 Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:34 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:38 pm

Quoting Falstaff (Reply 9):
In the old DDR side of the country I found few people that could speak English. Maybe if I was hanging around younger people I would have but the over 40 crowd were generally not English speakers.

That is true, because most of them in the old DDR learned Russian instead of English as first foreign language.

That being said, if you go to Germany, you should have no language problem even if you only speak English. And if they don’t speak English, then they’ll certainly understand some of it, after all, the English and German language are related in some way.

Scorpio Posts: 5065 Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2001 3:48 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:41 pm

Here in Belgium, it depends on where you go. In Dutch-speaking Flanders (with cities like Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, etc.) and in bilingual (French and Dutch) Brussels you’ll have no problem at all, with levels of English as high as in the Netherlands and Scandinavia. If you go to French-speaking Wallonia, you might have some more difficulty, though you should get by.

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:29 pm

Thank you all so much.

What about these cities:

Lisbon
Madrid
Barcelona

There are the three I’m considering.

doug_or Posts: 3250 Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2000 9:55 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak Engli

Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:50 pm

Quoting Dr.DTW (Reply 25):
Lisbon
Madrid
Barcelona

You shouldn’t have much trouble as a tourist in any of these cities, but as others have said, Spain does lag most of Western Europe in English accessibility.

How are you planning on getting around? Train, plane or automobile (don’t underestimate the bus either- European buses are WAY better than greyhound)? If you do an Iberian tour consider the cities south of Madrid (Seville and Toledo). I also liked the small cities on the south coast of Portugal (the big resort towns are just places for Brits to get drunk and sunburned).

I’m just kind of repeating what others have said, but they’re spot on so I’ll reinforce it anyway:

Learning a little bit of language ahead of time is a good idea, even if you’re going to the Netherlands or Scandinavia where English is spoken by almost 100% of the population. People will be more friendly and you better understand what is going on around you. Watching a few subtitled movies from whatever countries you are visiting will help with pronunciation and offer a small insight into that nation’s culture. (Most Lonely Planet guides offer a few recommendations for important movies from their subject’s country in the culture section).

The bigger the city, the younger the person (especially in central [what we sometimes refer to as eastern] europe), and the more tourists around, the more likely they’ll speak english.

Get a good guidebook, and read it BEFORE making your itinerary.

Pyrex Posts: 4821 Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 7:24 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:00 am

Quoting Dr.DTW (Reply 25):
Lisbon
Madrid
Barcelona

I have never been to Barcelona and it has been a while since I was in Madrid for the last time but I can tell you that in Lisbon you should be just fine, no problems travelling around. Pretty much any touristic place has signage in English as well (as do many/most restaurants) and most reasonably-educated people under the age of 30 or so (the younger generations) should be able to speak English as well, as will many above that age. Just look out for taxi drivers, though, they might. hmmm. feign ignorance.

Being in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language isn’t really that much of a deal, though, if you know how to point at things and can read the signs (luckily almost everywhere in Europe, except Greece, Serbia and Russia use the Roman alphabet).

Ken777 Posts: 10232 Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 5:39 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:09 am

As an English only speaker I’ve always relied on translators – Palms in years past and some nice ones on the iPhone/touch.

Another rule is to learn to say “Think You” in a local language and remember that a smile ha no language barrier.

For traveling in Europe I loved going to the UK with my wife. Dublin is a great place. For “non-English” countries the top of my list is Vienna. They are very kind in accepting my ignorance of their language and and always leave me wanting to return.

I loved Barcelona, but mostly walked around that wonderful city for hours. The Palm Pilot translator was very handy for me though.

MAH4546 Posts: 26817 Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 1:44 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:25 am

Many Europeans have a very strong grasp of English. In general, the “weaker” a language in a country, the stronger their grasp of English is.

In the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, where the national language is barely spoken outside of the country, English is spoken by pretty much everyone. I would say that Danes have a better grasp of English grammar than most Americans do. English is also widely spoken and understood in Switzerland and Luxembourg, again to a level where most people are as close to fluent as you can get for a non-native language.

In Belgium, Spain, France, Portugal, Austria and Germany (especially eastern Germany), where the national languages are also important global languages, English isn’t spoken as widely (at least in my experiences), but it won’t be that hard to communicate.

I would say Italy and Greece are in between the two – somebody is not as likely to speak good English as in Sweden, but more likely than in Spain. I lived in Athens, and as my Greek is not strong, I mostly communicated in English and never once experienced problems.

Among the “Big 5” European countries, excluding the UK of course, Italy in my experience has the best grasp of the English language, especially northern Italy.

English is not widely spoken in Eastern Europe.

And, of course, this goes for urban areas. English is widely spoken in, say, Athens and Florence, it isn’t widely spoken in Sparta or Cittevechia.

And another thing to note is that English is becoming more and more commonly spoken among younger generations. It’s just that some countries are only now catching up. English has a second language has been taught, often mandatory, in Greece and Scandinavia for seemingly ages. It has only been with the current “internet” generation that English language education has expanded in popularity in France, Spain, Germany, etc. A 40 year-old in Germany is much less likely to speak English than a 40 year-old in Greece, but the same can’t be said if you were comparing two 18 year-olds.

[Edited 2009-02-07 18:31:45]

TristarAtLCA Posts: 636 Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:16 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak Engli

Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:44 am

I would certainly recommend Barcelona, by far my fave Euro city. A beautiful, fun city. Loads to see and do and its got a beach.

Most hotel desk staff speak very good English as do most younger people. You may find older people speaking Catalan, but it won’t cause you a problem.

Have fun on your trip.

IBERIA747 Posts: 1648 Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2003 3:43 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:58 am

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 18):
Plenty of reasons to avoid Spain, really

And those would be?

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 17):
Arguably the best countries in the world for coffee lovers are Spain and the Netherlands.

I have never had a cup of coffee in the Netherlands (even though I’ve been there about 10 times) so I can’t give you an opinion. However, I agree with you about coffee in Spain. Italy seems to have a big tradition in good coffee as well.

Kiqaboy Posts: 117 Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:58 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:21 am

If you have enough time come to Kosova, its a great place to visit, and you would not have problem with English here at all.

KirkSeattle Posts: 346 Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2007 4:32 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:23 am

Quoting Dr.DTW (Reply 25):
Lisbon
Madrid
Barcelona

My very first trip to Europe was to Spain in late 2006 and I didn’t speak Spanish. I absolutely LOVED IT ! Flew into Madrid for a couple of days then flew to Barcelona. Drove down the coast to Murcia and flew back to Madrid onward to the US. I’ve been to London (which is was fun and easy) and Paris was a great experience ( I can read and speak French ok).

I found the Spanish people, warm and welcoming. The food was awesome as was the wine. I’ve been back to Barcelona and just love the city.

While in Barcelona, I had to run out and find a lighter for the stove in the apartment my friends and I rented and although I had to run around and didn’t know the proper translation – a quick “flick the bic” hand signal, got me what I needed. There were two incidents where the language barrier arose, but it wasn’t anything that bad (however, a teenage girl in a Carrefour in Murcia did a pretty good job on making me feel bad on not bagging my produce correctly).

Portugal is on my list, along with Poland, Germany, Croatia, Denmark and Sweden. And although I don’t speak any of the languages of those countries, I would feel comfortable visiting as long as I read up on customs and learned some words (please, thank you, hello, red wine, beer, restroom).

mal787 Posts: 477 Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:25 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:23 am

Hi Doc
I have travelled trhough Germany Czech Replublic Hungary Netherlands Germany Finland & Spain and had no problems at all. France whoever I found people can be very rude if you do not speak the language so I would avoid it on your first attemp

captaink Posts: 4010 Joined: Wed May 23, 2001 10:43 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:34 am

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 20):

Well, it is my opinion that you couldn’t be further from the truth and that is why I used the expression “Dear God”

Well don’t keep is in the dark, I am eager to find out what European destinations are great for coffee lovers.

Elite Posts: 2309 Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 6:31 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:38 am

The United Kingdom. honestly. When you travel to other parts of Europe, English can get you by but you will run into some problems (as I have). I prefer to go with a tour.

WunalaYann Posts: 2128 Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 12:55 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:55 am

Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
France, however, may not be the best place for English speakers. especially Americans, because of lingering cultural tensions between the two nations.

I am very happy to say that this is absolutely incorrect. I am sad to see that this cliché keeps popping up, despite overwhelming evidence of the contrary.

Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
However, if you do plan on going to France (particularly Paris) you should make an attempt to speak French. the people there I’ve heard are more receptive if you engage them in the native language rather than assuming that they speak English off the bat.

Replace “France” and “French” by just about any country/language combination and you have a sensible proposition. Basic courtesy and cultural awareness dictates that one should learn “hello”, “please”, “thank you” and “Sorry, I do not speak XYZlanguage” when travelling to XYZcountry. To make it a French-specific issue is a mistake and unfair to French people. Being French myself, I have been battling this misconception for the better part of 15 years.

Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 29):
English is not widely spoken in Eastern Europe.

My experience is radically different, but that is what you get in a continent of 500 million people with millennium-old civilisation.

jush Posts: 1495 Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2005 2:10 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:58 am

Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
especially Americans, because of lingering cultural tensions between the two nations

Let me just say everyone is very welcome in Germany, especially Americans. There may sometimes be political tension between our countries, but the general public still like Americans and you are always welcome for a visit.

You shouldn’t have any problems with English only. You may not find an english speaking person right away but a lot of people can understand enough and e.g. can tell you the way or similar.

Enjoy the trip to Europe.

Btw, you could get problems in France with English as they only speak one language there: Frenchy. Even if they are fluent in other languages they won’t help you out.

B737200 Posts: 211 Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2005 5:30 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:38 am

I wouldn’t really worry about it that much, you’ll find someone who can speak a bit of English. I hear quite a few people say that in Germany people speak good English, but personally when I was their most of the people I had contact with didn’t.

However the actual point to this is that people were very helpful and you’ll manage to get around. I think this might be more important than a country that can speak English fluently, what’s the use if they’re not willing to help, so especially if you’re not travelling alone (but even if you are) I wouldn’t simply discount non-English speaking parts of Europe because you might be missing out.

Oh and if you decide to come to Malta as others have said we speak English and I’m sure you’ll have a good time.

RobertNL070 Posts: 4164 Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 4:29 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:20 am

Quoting Dr.DTW (Thread starter):
What countries are best suited for the English-only traveler, and which should I avoid?

Another point. I started going to France and Spain some thirty years ago, wonderful countries by the way, and nobody, but nobody spoke a word of English then. Nowadays English is spoken more widely, especially by the younger generation. Maria, a friend of mine who runs a very popular restaurant in La Carihuela, Spain, speaks both good English and French outside of her native Spanish. Her husband is Flemish. It gives her restaurant the edge over others.

However, as I said earlier, do try to learn a few words of some different languages. It might open some doors.

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 20):
Well, it is my opinion that you couldn’t be further from the truth and that is why I used the expression “Dear God”

Please enlighten me as to your criteria for a good cup of coffee then (subject for a new thread).

WunalaYann Posts: 2128 Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 12:55 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:23 am

Quoting Jush (Reply 38):
Btw, you could get problems in France with English as they only speak one language there: Frenchy. Even if they are fluent in other languages they won’t help you out.

Wow. Talk about a slap in the face. I am sorry to hear you have had bad experiences but that was one big generalisation.

PanHAM Posts: 9719 Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 6:44 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:41 am

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 17):
Starbucks will never get off the ground here in the Netherlands. I believe there is just one Starbucks in the whole country, in Amsterdam. Their coffee is gnat’s pee.

LOL, I would’nt bet on that, there is even Starbucks in VIE , that’s like having a mosque in Vatican City.

Advise for Americans travelling to Europe. Yes, you get by with English most of the time. Try to learn some basic phrases in the local languages, it widens your horizon. Try the local coffee shops, bakeries, local fast food and local slow food.

Kiwirob Posts: 14407 Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 2:16 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:50 am

It’s pretty easy really, you can break down Europeans understanding and speaking of English into 2 camps, those countries which dub ie Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Eastern Europe and those which don’t, the Nordic countries, Holland and the UK. Those that dub generally have a poor understanding of English, those that don’t will have average to excellent ability in English.

There are of course individuals in the dubbing camp who speak excellent English but they are few and far between, same as there are people in the non dubbing group (mostly older or country people) who have a poor understanding. I also find that if you do need some help it normally young women who best at speaking and understanding English.

RobertNL070 Posts: 4164 Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 4:29 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:50 am

Quoting Jush (Reply 38):
Btw, you could get problems in France with English as they only speak one language there: Frenchy. Even if they are fluent in other languages they won’t help you out.

Well if you will drive to France in your German registered car and they see you getting out of your car.

WunalaYann Posts: 2128 Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 12:55 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:56 am

Quoting Us330 (Reply 12):
That said, if you are going to Europe, don’t pick a country just because it is easier to speak English, go to a country because you are interested in its history, culture, etc. For example, if you are a huge Victor Hugo fan, go to France even if you can’t speak French–you’ll get by anyway, and have some great stories to tell.

Thank you. For a moment I thought I had lived on another planet for 25 years.

Kiwirob Posts: 14407 Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 2:16 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:57 am

GrahamHill Posts: 3023 Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 6:35 am

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:18 am

Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
However, if you do plan on going to France (particularly Paris) you should make an attempt to speak French. the people there I’ve heard are more receptive if you engage them in the native language rather than assuming that they speak English off the bat.

Well, who would not be? I went to Japan 7 years ago and people really appreciated I could speak a bit of Japanese. Then I had to speak English because my Japanese was not enough fluent, but at least I made the effort, and it was appreciated.

Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
I’ve also noticed when traveling in Asia (could be true in Europe). that young people, particularly the college aged crowds, are more inclined to know English than the older generations.

Yes and no. In France, the education system focuses mostly on the French language. It’s already hard enough to learn (even for native speakers!). Therefore you will find people among the young generation who would probably be able to formulate some basic sentences, but that’s all.

I think we really have a problem with foreign languages, at least compared to some other countries in Europe.

Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
We had no troubles at all, in fact I was pleasantly surprised how friendly everyone was to us Americans (even in France). We found many comforts of home in Europe, Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona, Starbucks, McDonald’s etc.

Like some other people said, you don’t go abroad to go and eat or drink in American places. I think you have enough countries in Europe where you can eat some real nice food and drink proper coffee. France, Italy, Spain among others. Try local cafés and restaurants. You’ll have much better products.

Avoid the UK and Ireland. That’s all

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 8):
even in Paris, but you’ll draw a blank from Parisians if you address them in English. A few words in French go a LONG way to dismantling that famous Gallic froideur

Are we cold?

Well, we might not be as talkative as the Irish, that’s for sure!

Quoting Us330 (Reply 12):
That said, if you are going to Europe, don’t pick a country just because it is easier to speak English, go to a country because you are interested in its history, culture, etc. For example, if you are a huge Victor Hugo fan, go to France even if you can’t speak French–you’ll get by anyway, and have some great stories to tell.

Yes, Europe is full of history everywhere. You just have to choose which one you like the most!

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 17):
Arguably the best countries in the world for coffee lovers are Spain and the Netherlands.

Huh? And what about Italy, the country of coffee?! I don’t think you’ll find a better place than Italy for coffee.

Quoting TristarAtLCA (Reply 30):
I would certainly recommend Barcelona, by far my fave Euro city. A beautiful, fun city. Loads to see and do and its got a beach.

Yes, and they have the best soccer team in the world. If you want to discover soccer, I would highly suggest you to go to the Camp Nou.

Quoting Mal787 (Reply 34):
France whoever I found people can be very rude if you do not speak the language so I would avoid it on your first attemp

Did you have a bad experience? Honestly, we appreciate if you try in our language, but we won’t be offended more than that if you don’t!

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 37):
I am very happy to say that this is absolutely incorrect. I am sad to see that this cliché keeps popping up, despite overwhelming evidence of the contrary.

Yep. Any American is welcome with open arms in France. I have not met an American who had a bad memory going to France. Just avoid being “too American”. When you go abroad, don’t think you go in a conquered territory. That would be the biggest mistake you could do.

On the other hand, be humble, be curious, be interested and you will be nicely welcomed.

JRadier Posts: 3972 Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 11:36 pm

Best Cities in Europe for English Speakers

Traveling to Europe with the fear of not being able to converse with the locals might divert some of us from visiting European destinations altogether. In reality, you are more likely to have a hard time understanding some British or Irish dialects which can be indecipherable to English natives. Oddly enough, the list of the best cities in Europe for English speakers is rather long and they don’t even include London or Dublin.

Asking for directions

With 370 million English speakers throughout Europe, this language has become an essential requirement for travel and business. Wherever you go, the chances are you will come across a local or an expat speaking English effortlessly or at least enough to give you directions or advice.

Lisbon

A bustling street in Lisbon at night

If you feel more comfortable parlaying in English, Portugal’s capital is the right place to visit. Not only does the majority of public signs and notifications have English translation but the Portuguese are also rather proficient in it. Being constantly exposed to English through movies and music, the locals are more than ready to chit-chat. There is one language concern to bear in mind, though. Contrary to a wide-spread and yet notoriously incorrect assumption, Portugal is not in Spain. It’s an autonomous country with its official Portuguese language. If you just want to be polite by interjecting a few Spanish words in your speech – don’t. It might be insulting so it’s better to simply stick to good old English instead.

How to say “Do you speak in English?” in Portuguese: “Você fala inglês?”

Belgrade

Busy street in Belgrade during the day

Unrightfully neglected in favor of its more exotic neighbors such as Croatia and Montenegro, the capital of Serbia is a real English-speaking miracle. Serbian people start studying English as a second language in kindergarten, continuing throughout high school, and even university. This practice has been shown to have a tremendous impact on their language skills and other cities in Serbia, such as Novi Sad or Nis, are no exception to his rule. Despite political turmoil which has plagued the region in recent decades, the Serbs remained jovial and welcoming toward tourists. Serbia’s capital is an awesome place to visit as it offers rich cultural heritage sites, museums, bustling nightlife, and above all, cordial atmosphere.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in Serbian: “Da li govorite engleski?”

Stockholm

Beautiful view of Stockholm at sunset

Although not an official language in Sweden, English is still spoken by millions of Swedes. It is not only Stockholm that will amaze you with its English proficiency. In fact, Sweden has been in the top 3 non-native English speaking countries several years in a row. This is why it’s not surprising Swenglish is recognized as a phenomenon in this region. The Swedes speak English so well that they actually mix it with their native language, thus creating a whole bunch of new words and peculiar sentences. Swedes keep English in high regard – their school curriculums emphasize English lessons and kids develop a keen interest in the English language which they nurture outside school as well. Reading English comics, listening to music, or watching movies with English subs contribute to their exceptional English skills. If Stockholm is where you’re headed, rest assured you’ll have tons of fun without any language barriers.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in Swedish: “Talar du engelska?”

Amsterdam

Busy nightlife in Amsterdam is what tourists love about it

The number of Dutch residents with significant English competence has risen dramatically over recent years and it now stands at a whopping 90 percent. The Netherlands has been topping the lists of the best non-native English speaking countries not only in Europe, but in the whole world. With Amsterdam evidently being the most visited Dutch city, you won’t have the slightest of problems conversing in English if Venice of the North is your next European destination. Unlike other non-English European cities where English proficiency depends on the industry or age of the resident, even the elderly in Amsterdam have extraordinary mastery over English. As if this is not enough, English natives actually find Dutch to be the easiest language pick up. So, if you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, you might as well make an effort to learn some Dutch as you stand great chances of learning it fairly quickly.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in Dutch: “Spreekt u Engels?”

Friendly atmosphere of Oslo

The Scandinavians are simply unbeatable when it comes to the number of people who speak English. Not only do millions of Norwegians speak it, but they also sound almost native. Although one may think they possess some sort of super-power, it’s actually quite simple to explain this phenomenon. Having originated from the same Germanic group of languages, English and Scandinavian languages (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic) share similar linguistic traits. Norway has been consistently recognized by the English Proficiency Index (EPI) as one of the top 5 non-English countries with very high proficiency (EPI score 68.38). Visiting Oslo will surely be an unforgettable experience as its residents are warm and friendly and their English as perfect as it gets.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in Norwegian: “Snakker du engelsk?”

Berlin

Berlin is a busy tourist center

Rather similar to their Scandinavian neighbors, Germans also demonstrate a high level of English proficiency. Millions of tourists across the globe flock to Germany every year. As a matter of fact, Berlin alone saw 33 million overnight stays during 2018 which broke the previous years’ records. With so many tourists converging, it’s no wonder Berlin is known for its superb level of English. On top of that, Berlin is home to a great number of American and EU expats, all of whom use English regularly. Still not convinced? Let us just say that even the authorities recognized the extent to which English is used throughout Berlin and they expressed fear that their native language may suffer as a consequence. The reaction to this curious situation was that a popular German politician insisted that German should be used more than English, beckoning other political figures to step in and introduce regulations that would slow the rapid expansion of English among Germans.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in German: “Sprichst du Englisch?”

Helsinki

Panoramic view of Helsinki

Finnish and Swedish are two official languages in Finland. Still, visitors to Finland’s capital Helsinki (and other hot tourist spots in Finland) will discover that Finns generally speak English fluently. Along with neighboring Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, fluency in English is very high in Helsinki and in the rest of the country, reflecting the openness of the society and its hospitality toward tourists. Visiting Helsinki will not pose a language problem as you will probably encounter many fluent residents from all walks of life.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in Finnish: “Puhutekko te englantia?”

Copenhagen

Bustling nightlife of Copenhagen

According to the data analyzed by Mercer’s Quality of Living City Ranking between September and November 2018, Copenhagen landed eighth as the best global city to live in. On top of that, it stood proudly at number six as one of the friendliest cities in the world. Along with other European cities, Denmark’s capital was said to have an extraordinary socio-cultural environment which makes it desirable for life and for tourism as well. It is because of this that Copenhagen has a lot of foreign workforce coming in year after year and a great many jobs require proficient English skills. In this setting, it’s plain to see that Copenhagen is a great place for English-speaking tourists. Feel free to chat with any member of the community and they will be more than ready to help you.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in Danish: “Taler du engelsk?”

Prague

Tourists swarming in Prague

Chezch language is rather unique due to some of its sounds that aren’t present in any other language. Though this may lead to a conclusion that Chezchs are terrible at English, the reality is far from disappointing. In fact, all the major tourist attractions in the Chezch Republic are renowned for their English-speaking locals. Waiters, teenagers, exchange students, business people – the majority of them have an excellent command of English. If you happen to be in Prague, it’s best to converse with someone belonging to these groups as the elderly are better at Russian.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in Czech: “Mluvíš anglicky?”

Barcelona

People in Barcelona are very kind to tourists

This bustling Spanish city is dominated by Catalan and Spanish. Still, if we keep in mind that Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it’s not difficult to guess that the locals have learned English quite well through the decades. This is especially the case with anyone who works in the tourism industry or belongs to a younger generation. It is not only the locals who speak English well. As Barcelona is a very touristic city, don’t be surprised to hear a whole variety of languages, including Italian, French, Japanese – let alone English.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in Spanish: “Habla usted inglés?”

Zurich

Friendly atmosphere in Zurich

Switzerland is a multilingual country and you will often hear locals speaking French, German, or Italian depending on the part of the country you visit. This is because Switzerland has four official languages. When it comes to Zurich, linguistic diversity is even greater as you will often encounter people who speak at least two languages (usually Swiss French and Swiss German). With so many multilingual speakers, it’s hardly a surprise that the Swiss speak English just as fluently. Being one of the most desirable countries for living, business, and tourism, Switzerland is known for its cordiality and openness, with Zurich standing as the best example of this.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in French: “Parlez vous anglais?”

Vienna

Vienna is very welcoming toward tourists

Austria’s capital possesses a rich cultural heritage which is partially based on the fact that around 40% of the Austrian population has a migrant background to some extent. This resulted in cultural and linguistic diversity although German still remains the official language. More precisely, it’s Viennese German that is prevalent among the residents of Vienna. Similarly to the rest of Central Europe, Austrians start learning the English language at a very young age, usually as soon as they start attending kindergarten. By the time they finish high school, their level of English becomes rather high. The same degree of fluency is often evident throughout popular tourist spots. As Vienna tourist industry keeps on thriving year in, year out (7.1 million arrivals in 2017), public facilities, hotels, restaurants, and bars in Vienna boast a great many English speakers.

How to say “Do you speak English?” in German: “Sprichst du Englisch?”

With the world slowly becoming a global village, English has gained a status of lingua franca – the only language understood around the globe. There will hardly be any corner of the earth where you won’t be able to buy a can of Coca-Cola or hear the melody of a number-one MTV hit. In the light of this prospect, globetrotting has never been easier because you can always count on finding someone to exchange a few English words with.

I spent a week in Europe traveling by myself. Here are 10 things I learned about solo travel in other countries.

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I’m pretty used to traveling alone, but a recent solo trip to Europe made me realize that I’m still perfecting the art of solo trips in foreign countries.

Growing up, I always traveled with family and friends. Nowadays as an adult, I take most of my trips solo. Living in New York City, I often travel by myself to visit loved ones in different parts of the world, from Texas to Guam.

I also find myself often traveling alone because of my job as a reporter. I’ve taken 30-hour train rides up and down the east coast, spent seven nights on the world’s largest cruise ship sailing the Caribbean Sea, and traveled by rail to Niagara Falls, Montréal, and Québec City. On these trips, I explored new cities and unique accommodations — all by myself.

In October 2022, I took a 2-week train trip through four European countries: Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. While my partner joined me when I got to Italy, I spent the first week exploring Berlin and Vienna alone, taking overnight trains from one country to the next.

I was excited to do it. Europe is a popular destination among solo backpackers, according to Lonely Planet. And after traveling around North America for work, I felt ready to take my backpack to the next step — solo travel on another continent.

In these last few years, I’ve gotten used to traveling by myself, which often includes getting out of my comfort zone. But my most recent trip to Europe reminded me that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to traveling solo.

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When I started planning my trip, I learned that some countries tend to be safer for solo travelers particularly females.

When taking trips alone, the most important thing to me is staying safe. In my research before I left, I found that some countries seemed to be safer to me than others for solo travelers.

Bounce, a company that works with local shops to store luggage for travelers around the world, conducted a study about the safest destinations for women traveling alone based on gender equality, crime rates, and violence towards women. Both of my solo destinations, Austria and Germany, made the list.

According to Bounce, Austria is the second-safest country for solo travelers after Iceland because it has low crime rates, and 79% of women reported feeling comfortable walking around alone at night. Germany ranked 25th with 68% of women reporting feeling comfortable walking around at night.

When I visited Austria, I stayed in the heart of Vienna, which allowed me to explore the city streets into the night, and I thought it felt safe, too. In my experience, people kept to themselves, and I didn’t doubt my safety while exploring.

When I visited Germany, I stayed in an Airbnb in Neustrelitz, a quaint town outside of Berlin. I found it relatively easy to figure out the local train system and get to and from Berlin each day. In Berlin and Neutsrelitz, I felt safe walking around on my own.

But no matter which country you’re in, your safety is never guaranteed. So I recommend that all solo travelers stay aware of their surroundings and use their best judgment throughout their trip, and also research their destination ahead of their arrival.

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I packed for my solo trip as lightly as possible with just a backpack. I was surprised to find that I could fit everything I truly needed for two weeks in just one bag.

I’ve recently chosen to travel with just a backpack. It’s become the best option for me because I find I have less stuff to worry about losing or forgetting when getting from one location to the next, and it leaves my hands free when commuting.

Plus, I never have to check luggage and pay the accompanying fee, or feel the anxiety of whether it will make it to my destination.

For my trip to Europe, I traveled with a 32-liter backpack, the largest one I own. Initially, packing for two weeks like this was harder than I thought it would be.

I practice-packed twice before I left to ensure I’d be able to fit everything. I started with my work gear, which includes a laptop, cameras, lenses, and a notebook. Then I packed other essentials like chargers, toiletries, and snacks.

I used the remaining room for clothing, which I stuffed inside packing cubes to take up as little space as possible. After two failed attempts at packing outfits in multiple cubes, I realized I only had enough space in my bag for one packing cube and had to cut my wardrobe in half. This left me with just enough space for souvenirs.

I ended up bringing two polos, one t-shirt, one long-sleeve t-shirt, three pairs of pants, a sweater, a blazer, a dress, and two light jackets. I layered various combinations of these items but still had to repeat clothing a lot. So I brought laundry soap to wash my clothes every few days.

While I longed for more outfit variety, I was glad I packed so little. It was the lightest I’d ever packed for the longest trip I’d ever taken. I didn’t feel as weighed down as on previous trips, leaving me with more energy throughout the day.

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Public transit can be daunting for me, especially in a new city, but once I tried it in Berlin and Vienna, I found the system to be easy to learn, and it helped me gain a better sense of my surroundings.

I live in New York, so I’m very comfortable taking the subway and public transit around my city. But in new places where English is not the primary language, I find it can be daunting and tough to navigate at first since I don’t have a good sense of where things are like I do in New York.

But in my experience, once I tried out public transportation, it was easier than I initially thought it would be. I was nervous as I stepped into the underground world of Berlin’s public transit system, but found it no different from my home city. The platform looked the same, with signage identifying the upcoming trains.

I also thought public transit apps made it easier to get tickets and plan trips. Both Berlin and Vienna had great public transit systems, in my opinion, that got me anywhere I needed and taking trains and trams helped me have a better sense of each place. I thought the routes were easy to learn after downloading the apps because there were maps and trip planners, as well as tickets.

When I was riddled with self-doubt about being able to navigate these cities, taking public transit gave me a real sense of competence as I stood among local commuters.

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In Berlin, I booked an Airbnb outside the city, and in Vienna, I booked an Airbnb in the heart of the city. I found that the latter made exploring alone easier.

On solo trips, I think it’s really important to be intentional about where you stay. For my European adventure, I booked a combination of Airbnbs inside and outside of the city center to give me a chance to see what life is like in the surrounding areas, as well as in the heart of the city.

I found that getting to and from Airbnbs in small villages with my partner later in the trip felt like a little adventure each time, where we could bond over what we just saw or were on our way to see. But traveling alone, these treks felt more mundane to me, like I was just wasting time and energy I could have spent exploring.

In Berlin, I booked a tiny home hotel in Neustrelitz, a small town outside of the city. I traveled to and from Berlin by train, which took about an hour and a half for each leg of the journey, as well as a 20-minute walk from the station in Neustrelitz to my Airbnb. While I was glad I got to experience Neustrelitz, where I spotted the occasional backpacker among mostly locals, it made my trip more challenging. While Berlin offered a mix of English and German signs, everything in Neustrelitz seemed to be in German, which I don’t speak.

Inside my Airbnb, all the directions and guidebooks were in German, too, so I had to use a translation app to figure out how to use the Wi-Fi. I also thought staying far from the city center made my days in Berlin shorter, since I had a long trek home each evening.

When I got to Vienna, I stayed in an Airstream trailer outside of a hotel in the heart of the city. I thought this made it much easier to explore Vienna from the early morning into the night since I could access my Airbnb anytime to rest. While I didn’t think my trailer was as quiet as Neustrelitz, I left Vienna feeling like I had a better sense of the city than I did in Berlin.

While staying outside the city can be an adventure, I recommend that first-time solo travelers stay in the center to make their trip easier.

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I spent one week on my own in Europe before my partner joined me, but I was surprised to realize I wished I booked an even longer trip while solo.

Traveling alone in foreign countries can be really uncomfortable and isolating, in my experience.

I found my first week in Europe to be challenging, in particular. Getting used to navigating and exploring on my own took some time without having someone else to share the process with, making the first few days difficult to fully enjoy.

But by the end of the first week, I felt settled into the nomadic lifestyle and confident in my abilities to navigate cities on my own. I loved having my partner experience the second half of my trip with me, but I left Europe wishing I gave myself more time alone to fully immerse myself in these new places. Each challenging moment I faced gave me an opportunity to grow, which is easier to see now, looking back on the trip, than it was in the moment.

To those planning a solo trip to another country, especially if it’s your first time visiting, I recommend giving yourself at least two weeks to explore. Because after finding your footing that first week, I think you’ll find the second week will feel even better.

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When I’m by myself, my headspace can make or break a trip. So I learned to make efforts to stay in the moment, celebrate small wins, and not dwell on mistakes.

Solo travel can cause me to get stuck in my own head since I have no one to talk to, which is no fun when I’m lonely. But remembering why I am on the trip and the perks of being alone — like total freedom to do what I want — help me feel better.

In these moments, I focused on feeling grateful for a job that allows me to travel and take pictures, and remembered that being alone helps me grow and learn more about myself.

My trip wasn’t perfect. There were times when I went to the wrong train station, got caught in the rain, and struggled to sleep. When I dwelled on these mishaps, I felt really negative and incapable of enjoying the experience.

So early in my travels, I made a conscious choice to push through and focus on what I could control, like buying an umbrella, arriving at stations early, and taking extra time to sleep. These small wins boosted my spirits.

When I arrived in Vienna on an overnight train from Berlin, I hadn’t slept at all and was exhausted. I knew I couldn’t check into my until 3 p.m. and that I needed to sleep.

I started going into random hotels to book a room. By the third hotel, I got one. I had to pay for the whole night even though I was only taking a nap, but I thought it was a small price to pay for a safe, comfortable place to doze.

I framed this as a small win to celebrate. I got out of my head by focusing on positive problem-solving and found exactly what I needed.

My trip was full of small wins like this, like finally getting to my Airbnb in Neustrelitz on the day I arrived in Berlin, or finding a delicious Kebap cart next to a park while exploring Vienna. These small wins helped me stay positive and I’d highly recommend other solo travelers do the same if they’re struggling.

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Source https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1197373

Source https://trulytraveled.com/travel-destinations/europe-travel/best-cities-in-europe-for-english-speakers/

Source https://www.msn.com/en-in/travel/news/i-spent-a-week-in-europe-traveling-by-myself-here-are-10-things-i-learned-about-solo-travel-in-other-countries/ss-AA143HBe

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