Getting Around in Europe - Lots of Walking Ahead!
Updated: Jun 7, 2022
If you are getting ready to go on vacation to Europe, visiting the sites may require a great deal of effort. Sometimes you will have good local transportation. Other times you are going to either have to call a cab or you’re going to be on foot. Some of the most beautiful sites require a lot of walking.
So it’s important to get in shape and do lots of walking prior to departure. Seems logical enough. However, even though we walked 10,000 steps every day for months in preparation for our trip, it was probably not enough. We closely monitor our steps all the time and found ourselves walking 20,000 steps or more almost every day in Europe. We adjusted to the additional steps over the course of our vacation, but it was difficult at first.
The other big deal is stair climbing. Living in a single story home in Florida, we don’t climb a lot of stairs. Many sites require you to climb a few stairs between floor because of the age of the facility. However, you may very well desire to climb up the towers or domes of cathedrals. Therefore, you need to do some preparatory stair climbing as well. Eevidently this has proven problematic for some, as defibrillators are now in locations like the Leaning Tower.
Take the Metro
Believe me, when you are visiting so many sites, you will want to take a subway or public transportation when ever possible. But it takes a while to learn and understand the transportation system. Generally there’s going to be a multi-day pass for public transportation that will save you a lot of money. Study the city's systems before you arrive. Generally you will find the various tickets available at most subway stations. Also become what I call a linear tourist, stopping at attractions that are close to or along your metro or bus route.
Lets say you find a remote Airbnb with fantastic views. Be prepared to spend considerable money on transportation cost. Either you’re going to need it to rent a car or you’re going to spend a lot on taxis. Uber is available in some locations, but in remote areas it is a bit sparse. Also, Cabify is Spain's and a few other countries answer to Uber if using a smartphone mobile app. In some remote cases, restaurants will pick you up and bring you to their restaurant. However, this will not come without a price tag. If you rent a car, be prepared for significant expense for the car, insurance and gas. Don't attempt a car rental without an International Driving Permit and familiarization of the signs and rules. It is not like driving in the U.S.
Here are a couple of real world examples that proved problematic on my trips. We stayed in a fantastic Airbnb near Sorrento, but we’re forced to pay for a cab or a private driver for almost everything we did. It was a beautiful location, but we paid a lot for our visits to the Amalfi coast, Capri, and Pompeii. It may be less expensive to stay in one of the towns on the Amalfi or Capri. Many recommended scooters, but this too can be a harrowing experience experience for some.
A second example is when we stayed on the Mediterranean Sea in Spain, south of Barcelona Airport. This hotel had beautiful views and location, but taxi fares to and from Barcelona and the airport were very expensive. There was no bus line or metro transportation to this location.
The best bet is to study in advance the location of your hotel or Airbnb with regard to local transportation. There are many beautiful places you can stay that are right off of the subway or bus line. So when you have the address of where you want to stay, make sure to look it up on a map and refer to the local metro bus stops, before you book. Think wisely about your location with regard to transportation, or you’ll be expending a great deal of shoe leather, money or both. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Wishing you the best travels.