So here's why, in our unscientific opinion, first-time travellers choose to make Europe their first...
IT JUST DOES THINGS RIGHT
Europe has taken so many of the world's best practises and combined them to make their way of life as good as it gets. There isn't much that Europe hasn't mastered, and whether it's the public transportation, health care system, laws, environmentalism or just the regular vibe and lifestyle, it's so easy to just step in and adjust to the European norm.
Europe makes common sense common practise, and more often than not, they show the rest of the world how things should be done. Perfection for residents, and novice travellers alike.
SMALL SPACE, BIG VARIETY
Squishing over 40 countries into the space of about 58% of Russia (or a bit more than the size of the USA) means that travelling a short distance goes a long way when you're in Europe. You can have breakfast in one country, lunch in another country and dinner somewhere completely different. Where else can you do the same?
Europe is the ideal way to see a huge variety of different things in a short time period, and with each country providing its own unique vibe, you can really do a lot without spending half of your time en route. Plus, if you're big on seeing as many countries in the world as possible, it's a great way to boost your country count and check off a whole bunch of places with minimal effort.
You can soak up the sun on the Mediterranean beaches, climb mountains in the Alps and explore busy cities and gorgeous countrysides all in one trip, truly getting the most bang for your vacation buck.
Tourism is big business in Europe, so you don't have to feel like you're being a burden by being an obvious tourist in any town. The people of Europe are known for being helpful, and they are often more than willing to get to know and help out tourists.
Locals will charm you off of your feet and have you yearning to trade in your old life and make yourself at home amongst them in every city. Whether it's their Spanish siestas, their fashion sense, their general love of wine or their laid back nature, you can't help but fall in love with Europeans.
Transportation is easy enough in Europe for someone of any experience level to navigate with ease. There's a bus, train or boat that'll take you pretty much anywhere you wanna go, and its small continent stature means you can get anywhere in good time. And when you're exploring locally, public transit is usually reliable, taxis are everywhere, most cities are pretty walkable and bikes are always a great option too.
We all love a good beach and a vibrant city, but when you can combine these things with a bit of eye-opening history, any vacation just gets better. There is so much complex and interesting history in Europe, and even if you're not really a history buff, European history is so intertwined with the history of the rest of the world that you can't help but be intrigued.
European history is also so well-preserved that you can visit historic sites all throughout your trip, walking in the footsteps and visiting the buildings of some of the most famous people and events in history. It's a great place to go on vacation, but leave with an education (about Europe and the whole world) as well; the best of both worlds.
ALL OF THE FOOD
Europe is a great place to broaden your palate before exploring the rest of the world – the cuisine is familiar enough to draw you in, but delicious enough to wow your taste buds all the same.
Not only has Europe produced some of the best foods in history, but they also borrow dishes and flavours from other cultures to make their food game absolutely legendary. They cook with the freshest and most delicious ingredients, and their close proximity to Asia and Africa has produced some of the finest culinary fusions in the world. Each country has their own unique take on food, and it is all worth trying.
Europeans love to enjoy life and eat well, so you'll have no problem indulging in the finest foods for the duration of your trip to Europe. And even if you think you've tried it all at home, you haven't really tasted pizza or goulash until you've done it authentically on the continent.
When you're travelling alone, a big concern can be filling your time, but finding things to do is never an issue in Europe. And if you're gonna do things, you want to do top-notch activities, and not just do things for the sake of doing something.
The museums and sites in Europe are world-class, and it's hard to find comparable experiences anywhere in the world, period. We love a good day of wandering and eating, sure, but Europe is unbeatable when it comes to worthwhile things to see and do in every city.
Festivals, parades, street parties, markets, concerts, holidays – there's always something being celebrated when you're travelling in Europe. It makes any visit a unique experience, and for first-time travellers, it's a great way to meet people, have a great time and truly experience the local culture.
IT LOVES TOURISTS AND TRAVELLERS
Europe is traveller friendly, and that's appreciated by first-time travellers especially. Signs and restaurant menus are often available in lots of languages. If you're not in the mood for local food, chances are there will be more westernised food options, and even whole restaurants to cater to your home-loving palate.
Hotels and hostels are everywhere, providing you so many options for places to stay. Even water fountains and public bathrooms appear magically like mirages while you're exploring the cities. Europe really does make it easy to be a traveller, so it's no wonder why we all keep coming back.
YOU WON'T BE ALONE
If there's one thing that you can be sure of, is that you're not the only young wanderluster in the world who has their sights set on Europe. Finding fellow travellers (first timers and experts) is a given, so whether you're travelling alone or not, it's so easy to find new friends along the way.
You may start a Europe trip alone, but it's pretty challenging to end it without having met a bunch of locals and travel companions who you can call your friends once you're home.
All things considered, Europe is just "IT". It's charming, delicious, beautiful, diverse, and everything we want out of a vacation. So why not make sure your first time is the best time?
Written by Chantal Ford. Content courtesy of Contiki.