Five things to do and not do for a perfect long weekend getaway to Europe

Doug Keating
7 min readMar 23, 2024


You have decided to go on a long weekend getaway to Europe in 2024. You may have read my last two blogs, which suggested which cities to consider in Northern and Southern Europe. You picked your destination; it’s time to start thinking about the details. With that thought in mind, I will share five things to do and not do for a perfect long weekend getaway to Europe.

Why trust my opinion about this topic?

Let me start by answering an obvious question. Why in the world should you trust my opinion about this topic? I have completed multiple long weekend trips to Europe over the past decade. The fastest way to learn is by doing. The most efficient way is to learn from others. In this blog, I will share things to do because they worked and don’t do because they didn’t.

Do #1 — arrive at your destination by noon

I recommend doing the math on how long it will take you to get to your destination. If it’s later than noon, I would pick another place. You probably shouldn’t do a long weekend if you cannot get anywhere in Europe by noon. Figure out a different type of European trip.

Don’t #1 — take multiple connecting flights

Avoid connecting flights as much as possible. All connections introduce risk to your plan when traveling. If your plane is late, you may miss the connecting flight. The best method is to fly directly if at all possible. The next best approach is one connection. Hopefully, your first flight is to Europe. I would not sign up for two connecting flights. It is too much risk for a long weekend.

Do #2 — head straight to your hotel after landing

After you land at your destination, head straight to the hotel from the airport to drop off your luggage. Every European hotel I’ve stayed at kept my bags even if the room was not ready. You don’t want to drag your stuff all over town the first day.

Don’t #2 — rent a car

All the places I’ve recommended are cities, and you do not need a car while there. If you rent one, you’ll have to fight traffic, find parking, and return it when you leave. A rental car can be a nightmare. Instead, rely on public transportation. One of the nice things about European cities is their reliable public transportation. Use it to your advantage.

Do #3 — check into your hotel early, if possible

Go directly from the airport to your hotel and see if they’ll let you check in. There’s one big reason: You’ve been on an overnight flight and probably feeling funky. It would be nice to shower, brush your teeth, and change your clothes. The worst-case scenario is that the room is not ready, and they’ll text or call you as soon as possible.

Don’t #3 — no naps on day 1

Some of you are not going to like this one. You may even think I’m mean. Trust me. Don’t take a nap when you arrive on day one. Yes — you are going to be tired. I have flown to Europe many times. I’m always dragging ass the first day. Once you get to your room, it will be tempting to put your head on the pillow and say, “Oh, I’m going to take a little nap. Don’t do it! Grind through the day. Drink coffee, an espresso, or whatever you must do to stay awake. The goal is to reset your body clock as quickly as possible. The fastest way is to stay up and go to bed early. You will feel fine the following day.

Do #4 — Take a food tour

There are several good reasons to take a food tour. Getting the city’s highlights is easy as you walk around getting oriented. You will fill your belly with tasty food for which the destination is known. You get a chance to meet some other people. It’s a lot of fun. I am a huge fan of Food Tours. Every destination I recommended in the previous blogs has excellent food tours. Here is a best practice. Take the food tour on day one and go to bed early. You will wake up the next day ready for action.

Don’t #4 — stand in long lines

Long lines can be easily avoided by booking ahead. Buy a skip-the-line ticket or go on a guided tour. The popular places are going to be packed. You don’t want to waste time standing in line for sights during the long weekend. Plan ahead. It’s an easy thing to work your way around.

Do #5 — stay near the major sights

When selecting your hotel, I would pick a location within walking distance of some of the major attractions at your destination. This approach makes it easy to get around, and you can take some killer pictures early in the morning or later in the day when all the other tourists are gone.

Don’t #5 — stay in the middle of the party scene

When picking your hotel, I highly recommend that you don’t stay in the middle of the party scene, even if you’re going to the city to party. If you go to Dublin, don’t stay in Temple Bar, stay near it. Kim and I were in Edinburgh last year. I know precisely when the bars close in the Scottish capital city, 3:00 a.m. At that time, all the drunk Scots came out singing right outside our hotel room because we were staying right off the Royal Mile. Next time, we’re probably going to stay in a different location.

Bonus do — relax, you are on vacation

Sure, you’re only there for a long weekend. However, spend some time in public spaces. All European cities I’ve recommended have parks, cafes, squares, and many places to put your feet up, chill out, and enjoy the scenery. Make the most of it — relax.

Bonus: don’t jam-pack your final day

For Americans, your flight back from Europe will likely leave by noon at the latest. According to TSA, you should arrive at the airport three hours before an international flight. I recommend that you do. You don’t have time to sightsee when you add travel time at the airport. You’ll wake up, eat breakfast, and head to the airport.

One thing you may not like about a long weekend in Europe

Let’s shift gears and talk about one reality you will face after returning from a long weekend in Europe. You will be tired. I’ve done multiple long weekends. I’m always tired the day after. Is jet lag easier coming back to the States? It is, but it is still a real thing. I would program in a recovery day if at all possible. Don’t go on a long weekend; the first day back, you’ve scheduled a significant presentation to a customer or an important meeting with your boss.

A word of encouragement

Let me wrap up this blog with a word of encouragement for anyone thinking I don’t know if I can do a long weekend to Europe. You can. You can do it and have fun. If an old fart like me can fly over and enjoy a long weekend, you can too. I’ve never returned from a long weekend in Europe and thought it was a waste of time. I didn’t have any fun. No! Every time it’s been, it’s been fantastic. When’s the next time we can do this again?

I am Doug Keating, and this is my letter to my sons.



Doug Keating

Leader and learner. husband and father. Novice blogger,, Founder of All The Way Leadership!