The Ultimate European Summer Vacation Packing Checklist (2024)

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Overpacking is the quickest way to start your European trip off on the wrong foot. Charming cobblestone streets, boutique hotels without elevators, and packed public transportation mean you don’t want to be hauling around an oversized suitcase.

A streamlined European packing list is essential—you want to look good in all your photos in front of famous sites, blend in with local fashion, and be comfortable for miles of walking every day.

We’ve put together the ultimate European summer packing list for smarter travelers to follow—you’ll be comfortable, stylish, and mobile (without that giant checked bag).

Clothing

The Ultimate European Summer Vacation Packing Checklist (1)

Jeans

Summer weather in Europe can be fickle, so packing a good pair of jeans is always smart in case the temperatures drop in the evening. Mott & Bow’s Slim Boyfriend Jeans are made from a soft, lightweight twill denim fabric that’s lighter and more comfortable than regular denim.

The white jeans help keep your outfit looking summery, and by some miracle, Mott & Bow’s jeans aren’t see-through like most white pants.

Light Shirt/Scarf

If you’re visiting any religious/historical sites in Europe, you may be asked to cover your shoulders and knees out of respect. Keep a lightweight scarf with you so you can comply on an impromptu visit without overheating during the rest of the day.

Related:

The Ultimate Packing Checklist

Dresses

Dresses are the most versatile piece of clothing you can pack for your European trip, as they can be worn with sneakers during the day or made fancier at night with heels. For hot summers, you can’t beat linen—Quince’s 100 percent European Linen Button Front Dress was practically designed for European trips.

Made from breathable and heat-regulating linen, the dress will keep you cool. The removable belt and functional buttons give you multiple looks with just one piece of clothing and best of all, the dress features pockets.

Tops

Cozy Earth’s Coastal Comfort Mock Neck Short Sleeve Button Down is the perfect mix of casual and pulled-together. Made from a blend of tencel and linen, this top is ultra-breathable and feels significantly cooler than cotton.

The fabric uses an enhanced weave that helps prevent pilling, so this shirt will still look brand-new after many trips.

Swimsuit

Since they take up such minimal space, you’ll never regret packing a swimsuit. There are so many beaches, lakes, and even hotel pools to explore in Europe, you won’t want to miss any opportunity for a dip.

If you tend to burn easily, and don’t want to be bothered frequently getting out of the water to reapply, the AKHG Lost Lake Long Sleeve swimsuit is a great option—the floral print and zipper keep it cute, while the extra coverage gives you plenty of sun protection.

Related:

The Best Swimsuits for Any Type of Vacation

Lightweight Pants

A lightweight pair of pants can protect you from the sun, keep you covered for historical church visits, and help you look like a local (if you choose the right ones). Ditch the heavy denim in favor of something with a bit more stretch, like Mott & Bow’s Twill Chinos

These pants have just the right of flexibility but are structured enough that they won’t get baggy halfway through your trip. The khaki color is perfect for summer, and can be dressed up or down depending on your plans for the day.

Accessories

The Ultimate European Summer Vacation Packing Checklist (2)

Crossbody Purse

The perfect purse for Europe can be worn crossbody style (which makes it harder to steal), goes with any outfit, is versatile, and is big enough to hold the essentials (but not too large, since you’ll be carrying it all day).

Quince’s Italian Leather Quilted Wallet Crossbody ticks all the boxes. Made from soft Italian leather, the purse will be right at home in Europe, and the quilted design works well from day to night. The bag can be worn as a crossbody, or you can remove the chain to use it as a clutch.

Coin Purse

Coin purses have fallen out of fashion in the US, but they can come in handy in Europe, where lower denominations of currency are in coins instead of bills. Don’t end up with a heavy stash of coins buried in your bag—keep your change organized and accessible in a zippered pouch.

Related:

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Hat

Keep the sun off of your face and your outfit looking stylish with a sun hat. These packable options from Madewell are perfect, since they can be stuffed in your bag (without getting destroyed) when you’re not wearing them.

Refillable Water Bottle

Although tap water is safe to drink in Europe, it’s not commonly offered for free at restaurants (you’ll likely have a choice of bottled still or sparkling water instead). However, in some destinations, you may find public drinking fountains readily available. Save money (and the environment) by packing your own reusable water bottle, like this one from LARQ, which automatically cleans itself using UV technology.

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The LARQ bottle comes in both an insulated and non-insulated version, so you can choose between having a light weight to carry or having perfectly chilled beverages all day long.

The Ultimate European Summer Vacation Packing Checklist (3)

Sandals

Pack a pair of sandals you can wear to the beach, hotel pool, and for short walks. Ipanema’s Trendy Sandals feature a minimalist style that will blend in anywhere. The lightweight sandals are made from PVC so they can be easily rinsed off after every wear.

Sneakers

You’ll spot chunky white sneakers on the feet of many stylish Europeans this summer. Join the crowd with New Balance’s classic 550 sneakers. The low top and clean silhouette go with everything from jeans to dresses, and there’s plenty of arch support and cushioning to keep you comfortable.

Related:

The 8 Best White Sneakers for Travel

Socks

Pack no-show socks that will actually stay up if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. These ones from Bombas have grips on the heel that help to keep them in place.

Toiletries/Miscellaneous

In addition to the same toiletries you’d pack for any destination (toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, etc.) here are some important ones to remember for Europe:

Sunscreen

Even if you’re not hitting the beach in Europe, sunscreen is still a must-pack for summer trips. Sun Bum smells good and doesn’t leave a white cast, so you’ll forget you’re wearing it.

Tissues

A travel-sized pack of tissues can come in handy for more than just the sniffles (like at a public bathroom that’s run out of toilet paper.)

Medications

In some European destinations, you’ll have to visit an actual pharmacy to purchase even over-the-counter medications, and these pharmacies tend to have somewhat limited hours.

Pack sample-size packets of medicines just in case, so you don’t have to waste time hunting down a pharmacy if you have a headache or stomachache.

Related:

The Best Over-the-Counter Sleeping Pills for Long-Haul Flights

Electronics

The Ultimate European Summer Vacation Packing Checklist (4)

Headphones

Don’t forget to pack a pair of headphones for the long flight over from the United States. Skullcandy’s Push Active Earbuds are wireless but still secure (in case you plan on working out while you’re on vacation).

The earbuds are voice-controlled, so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to change songs or take a phone call.

Adapter

Appliances in Europe run on 220 volts, while ones in America use 110 volts. Fortunately, most modern appliances (like iPhones) automatically switch voltage, so you won’t need to worry about bringing an electricity converter (but double-check your electronics before trying to use them abroad).

However, you will need to pack an adapter in order to use standard plugs in Europe.

Portable Charger

It’s easy to run down the battery on your phone when you’re snapping pictures and taking video to capture all the memories—and constantly using maps to figure out directions. A portable charger can revive your battery without you having to go back to the hotel or find a place to plug it in.

Related:

Biolite Charge Series Portable Charger Review

Travel Documents

As with any trip, don’t forget these important travel documents:

  • Passport
  • Copies of passport (you can scan them to your phone or the cloud instead of carrying paper)

Money

Although most places in Europe accept credit cards, you’re still likely to find a few cash-only destinations, so make sure you bring some cash with you.

When you are using a credit card, make sure you’re choosing one that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, as those can quickly add up.

Download Our Ultimate Packing Checklist for Europe

When its time to start packing, download our editable checklist here.

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The Ultimate European Summer Vacation Packing Checklist (2024)

FAQs

What is the 5-4-3-2-1 packing method? ›

Its version of the 5-4-3-2-1 method includes "five tops, four bottoms, three accessories, two shoes (a practical pair and a nice pair), and one swimsuit," though like the Times this formula allows the wiggle room to swap out accessories based on your destination and type of travel.

What to pack for 7 weeks in Europe? ›

15 essential packing items for a Europe trip
  • Versatile clothing. Europe has a reputation for being fashionable, from the minimalist clothing of Scandinavia to the elegant style of the Mediterranean. ...
  • Comfortable shoes. ...
  • Accessories. ...
  • Sun protection. ...
  • Rain protection. ...
  • Day bags. ...
  • Toiletries. ...
  • Medical kit.

What size luggage for a 2 week trip to Europe? ›

If you go on a 2-week trip to Europe, there is a good chance you'll need at least a 25” suitcase, and perhaps even bigger 28” luggage will be more suitable.

What is the 333 packing rule? ›

The concept of this packing rule is that you choose three tops, three bottoms, and three pairs of shoes to create more than a dozen outfit looks that fit easily into your carry-on.

What is the 12345 rule of packing? ›

Consider the 1-2-3-4-5-6 Rule

One general guideline is to pack one hat, two pairs of shoes, three bottoms, four tops (short or long-sleeve or outer layer), five pairs of socks, six pairs of underwear. This should be enough to last you for two weeks.

How to dress like a European woman in summer? ›

DO: Pack the following: a great pair of jeans, a perfectly cut white t-shirt, a button down shirt (so versatile), a great pair of walking shoes, a swimsuit you feel great in, a hat, a couple pieces of jewellery that go with everything, a light jumper for unexpectedly cool nights, and sunscreen.

What shoes to wear in Europe in summer? ›

For summertime looks, a wedge espadrille can be perfect for evenings exploring Europe destinations. My favorite brand is Castaner whose espadrilles are so comfortable. Opt for a lower heel to make walking on cobblestones easier. I am wearing this pair above.

How much money should you take on a European vacation? ›

How much does a European vacation cost?
ExpenseEstimated cost
Local transportation$0 to $30 per day, depending on whether you walk, drive, or use public transportation
Food & drink$25 to $100 per day, depending on whether you are cooking or eating out
Attractions$0 to $100 per day
Spending money$0 to $100 per day
2 more rows

What toiletries are essential for Europe? ›

Essentials – travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, razor & deodorant. Pack liquids in sealable plastic baggies to avoid leaks. Stain Removing Wipes – travel-sized wipes or a stain removing pen for getting rid of spots. Washcloth – many European hotels do not provide washcloths.

What luggage to take to Europe? ›

Suitcase sets are the best luggage for European travel if you plan an extended stay. While it's relatively easy to live out of a carry-on for a two or three-day trip, if you're staying for 1.5 weeks or more, you'll need the extra space of one or more suitcases.

How to pack light and fashionable for Europe? ›

Contrast Neutral Clothing with Colorful Accessories

These items are easy to pack and won't take up much space. France says to always use the space inside shoes to stuff belts, socks, neckties, and other small items. This will help your shoes keep their shape, while maximizing all available space.

What is the weight limit for luggage to Europe? ›

The checked luggage weight limit for international flights is usually the same as for domestic flights: 50 lbs. Most airlines set 50 lbs as their weight limit to reduce the risk of injury to baggage handlers.

How many outfits for a 2-week trip? ›

So let's put it together for a 2-week trip. 14 days/2 = 7 bottoms. 7 bottoms x 2 = 14 tops that can be a mix of layering pieces if it's cold. 3 shoes, 3 necklaces, 3 earrings, 1 jacket and 1 cardigan (for all the same reasons I always take a pair of jeans).

What is the 5 4 3 2 1 travel rule? ›

Do the clothing countdown: If you need a mantra to help streamline your wardrobe, use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rule for a weeklong trip: Limit yourself to no more than five sets of socks and underwear, four tops, three bottoms, two pairs of shoes and one hat.

What is the 123456 rule for packing? ›

The 123456 rule is a popular strategy for packing light when traveling. It involves packing one hat, two pairs of shoes, three bottoms, four tops, five pairs of socks, and six pairs of underwear.

What is the 5 4 3 2 1 packing method for cold weather? ›

5 tops, 4 bottoms, 3 dresses, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 swimsuit. Going somewhere cold? 5 tops, 4 bottoms, 3 pairs of shoes, 2 sweaters, 1 coat.

What is the 54321 winter packing list? ›

Implement the 54321 packing method, which outlines the ideal way to pack light and is especially helpful when packing for cold weather. This viral hack contends that all one needs to pack on any given trip are five tops, four bottoms, three pairs of shoes, two (dresses or handbags), and one each of small accessories.

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