The countries listed under West Europe can conflict depending on which resources you look into. For this article, we’ll only include the far west of Europe: Ireland, the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands. If you have 3 weeks in western Europe, you will get to see at least 3-4 different countries, visit historical spots, try out local dishes, and enjoy the scenic locations.
All these countries are sought-after by international visitors for different reasons. The west of Europe is rich in history, has one of the oldest cultures and governments in the world, and is famous for its beautiful sceneries and exciting cuisine.
The Netherlands is located in Northwestern Europe with Caribbean overseas territories. The Netherlands is famous for many things, including cheese markets, wooden shoes, windmills, and bulb fields.
Next is Belgium, bordered by Germany to the east, The Netherlands to the North, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg to the southeast. It is well-known for, you guessed it right, chocolate. Aside from that, they also have medieval castles and modern architecture.
The UK is famous for many things and prominent people, including the Royal Family. England is also the birthplace of some of the most renowned music artists, including the Beatles, Sir Elton John, Queen, and the Bee Gees.
Aside from people, you’ll also find historically-famous structures here, such as Big Ben and London Bridge. The UK consists of 4 countries. Scotland is known for its highlands, whisky distilleries, and lively music. Wales, the home of the stunning Snowdonia National Park. Northern Ireland is located on the island northwest of the UK. And, of course, England – a globally-diverse country.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO WEST EUROPE
We all know many things to see and adventures to experience in these beautiful countries. But before we would proceed with the actual itinerary for your 3 weeks in Western Europe, there are some essential matters that you should know first, such as the modes of transportation in the country, the best time to go, the languages and currencies, as well the visa policies.
All this information will help you write and plan your travel itinerary for Western Europe and ensure you will have a great time.
When is the best time to go to West Europe
West Europe’s summer is from June to September, and the peak season is from mid-June to August. If you’re curious about winter activities and foods, the winter season is from December to February.
While October through March/April is the rainy season in western Europe, these months offer magnificent changes of colours on the trees, flowers, and other plants.
What to pack
What you need to pack depends on the season you plan to visit. If you want to go to western Europe in summer, pack breathable and lightweight clothes but also carry one long-sleeve and a pair of trousers which will be required to be worn when visiting sacred sites such as churches and cathedrals. Check out our summer packing list for a 3-week trip.
For the winter packing list, you should bring a down jacket and plan to do layering instead of packing a heavy and thick winter jacket. Doing layers means you can bring more clothes and have multiple outfits. You can also remove the layers if some of the days seemed to be too hot for a jacket.
READ >> What to pack for a 3-week holiday (comes with free printable)
How to get around
Getting around is very easy in western Europe. You can have a pick depending on which one you prefer and which is most suitable for you. If you want freedom of your time, renting a car is the best option. But remember that you might have to switch cars whenever you cross international borders.
Trains, in general, are also reliable. Western Europe has an excellent network for riding trains, even between countries. The same goes for taking the bus. It will be slower than the train and driving but cheaper. You can also take a flight, but remember that you still need to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before international flights.
Language and currency
Most people in western Europe can speak English. UK’s primary language is English. Belgium has three official languages, Dutch, German and French, while the Netherlands has Dutch as its primary language.
The UK uses the Births Pound Sterling (GBP / £) while the Netherlands and Belgium use Euro (€). Paying with your credit card or bank card is convenient in these places; however, carrying some cash with you will be wise.
Are 3 weeks enough for Western Europe
3 weeks in Western Europe is an incredible amount of time. You can visit 2 countries in the UK and 2 other countries (Ireland, Belgium, or the Netherlands). The travel time between these countries should be less than 3-4 hours. You can even reach some destinations in under an hour or less than 2 hours.
Average travel cost for Western Europe
This part of Europe requires high cost. Budget about $100-$150 per day per person ($150 to $400 for two people) for 20 days in western Europe. If you don’t mind staying in hostels, you can probably squeeze to $80/day. We also have a guide for 3 weeks in Europe on a budget that highlights affordable destinations in Europe.
Accommodation usually is the highest cost, a hotel room will run you at least $40 a night, you can save some money by staying in shared rooms in youth hostels where the bunk bed is around $20 a night.
Transportation is quite a decent price if you plan to use public buses and trains. If you want to rent a car, plan to spend between $15 to $70 per day depending on the size and type. Both the Netherlands and Belgium are small countries, you can easily get around without a car.
Food can be affordable, but make sure to at least dine at a nice local restaurant at least a few times. Look for family-owned places to have the full experience of the local cuisine. Around $25 per day for 2-3 meals per day will be a decent budget.
Visa and COVID-19 protocol
Since the UK left the EU, it has changed its visa policy for international visitors. EU passport holders can still enter the UK without a visa. But instead of having freedom of movement, you can only stay for 6 months maximum. The same policy applies to travellers holding a passport from the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Namibia, and Botswana.
The rest of the world has to apply for a UK tourist visa beforehand. The processing time can take a while, it’s recommended to submit your application at least 3 months before your intended trip.
Belgium, Ireland, and the Netherlands are part of the EU and the Schengen States. This means that all three countries have the same visa policy in place.
If you hold a passport issued by another EU member country, you have freedom of movement in these 3 countries. This allows you to stay in Belgium, Ireland, and the Netherlands for an indefinite period of time.
Travellers from most parts of Latin America, North America, Oceania, some parts of East and Southeast Asia, and East Europe can enter and travel around the three countries for up to 90 days in 180 days. If your passport is not listed, you must obtain a Schengen Tourist Visa.
Western Europe has been open for tourism for quite some time now. However, each country might still have some COVID-19 protocols. Most have dropped the vaccination card requirement and proof of RT-PCR test. You might still be asked to wear a mask during the flight or when visiting public places.
Make sure to read the most updated entry requirements for each destination. EU COVID-19 travel guide and UK entry guide.
Other travel tips
There are now a lot of travel sites and services out there relating to travel arrangements. Honestly, they can be overwhelming. Not to mention the ever-changing travel policies. This is why I stick to travel sites that offer some sort of free or flexible cancellation policies in case my travel plan changes or some rules become updated.
Below is a list of my personal favourites when it comes to arranging and booking my trip. From finding flights, hotels, tours, and airport pick-up. I also always buy affordable travel insurance for peace of mind. Perhaps you’ll find these helpful too.
MUST-SEE PLACES IN WEST EUROPE (pinned map)
Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google
3-WEEKS IN WEST EUROPE ITINERARY
This itinerary is fantastic because you will be starting in London and finishing the trip in Amsterdam. Both cities have big airport hubs that have flights directly to many countries in the world.
England might be famous for its historical landmarks, but did you know it also has scenic beaches? That’s right, it has an unbelievably stunning coastline where you can unwind and relax. It has many festivals year-round and even quirky traditions that would be fun to witness, such as chasing a block of cheese down the hill and the apple wassail ceremony.
Meanwhile, Scotland might be a haven for hikers because you can basically hike everywhere. It has more than 2,100 hiking spots listed as of the moment, and they’re adding more up until now. The hiking trails are also well-marked making it easy to find and follow if it’s your first-time hiking in Scotland. Aside from hiking trails, this country is abundant in lakes and islands.
Next is Belgium. Besides mouthwatering food, stunning medieval towns, and magnificent castles, Belgium is also the home of the European Union and a remarkably flat country. Regardless, it has one of the most famous pro cyclists in the world, such as Eddy Merckx (most stage wins in Tour de France history – tie with Cavendish).
You’ll find tons of vintage shops and boutique stores in the Netherlands. The biggest flea market in Europe can be located in Amsterdam. Visit the canals, ride a bicycle, and check out its tulip bloom in spring. If you visit in winter, pack your ice skating shoes because the canals will freeze, and the locals will turn it into a magical skating park.
England for 7 days
Aside from the world-famous music and artists, there are many other things England is famous for, such as Stonehenge, a UNESCO world heritage site, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Windsor Castle, football, drinking tea, and English breakfast. England is a perfect starting point for your three weeks in West Europe as it offers various day trips from London.
Some day trips to another country include the Cardiff day trip, the luxury Paris day trip, the Brussels visit, a day out in Antwerp, or walking through Medieval Bruges. These trips are easily accessible as international flights are regularly available at Heathrow Airport or the train and ferry from England to neighbouring countries.
While day trips within the country include Warner Bros studio Harry Potter tour, London River Thames dinner cruise, Downtown Abbey Village day trip, and more. If you want to only explore England, we have a guide for 3 weeks in England.
TIP: If you have never been to England, I recommend using London as your base then take day trips from there.
Things to do in London
- Get a hop-on, hop-off bus pass to visit top attractions at your convenience, it comes with a river cruise
- Tower of London and Crown Jewels – get your ticket in advance
- Tower Bridge and Big Ben
- Join a fun Harry Potter guided walking tour and get a ticket to Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio – check the tour price
- The British Museum
- Book a spooky Jack the Ripper tour – check the tour price
- Kensington Palace
- Buckingham Palace
- Westminster Abbey – can be visited with a River Thames cruise
- The National Gallery
- London Eye – skip-the-line ticket
- Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square
- Madame Tussauds
- Windsor Castle
- The Shard
- Stonehenge – you can do a combo tour of Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath
Things to do in Northern England
- Explore Manchester on a city bus – get your ticket
- Castlefield Canals
- Science and Industry Museum
- Coronation Street
- Sign up for a food tour or Cheese crawl
- Manchester Cathedral
- National Football Museum (Manchester City) – join a stadium tour
- The Whitworth
- Book a canal cruise
- Enjoy a day trip to the North of Wales, Snowdonia, and Chester or a day trip to the Lake District and Windermere
- Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields (Liverpool)
- Tate Liverpool
- World War II Museum (Liverpool)
- Merseyside Maritime Museum
- Mersey River (Liverpool) – enjoy a cruise at Mersey River
- Croxteth Hall (Liverpool)
- Enjoy a Beatles tour / Beatles Story (Liverpool) – hop-on, hop-off Beatles tour
- Birkenhead Park (Liverpool)
- Liverpool Football Stadium (Anfield) – visit LCF stadium with a guide
- Peaky Blinders filming locations (Liverpool)
- Book a ghosting walking tour (Liverpool)
Accommodations in London
- Affordable: Hootananny Hostel or Dover Castle Hostel or The Phoenix Hostel
- Mid-range: Central Hotel or Keystone House or Studios2Let
- Luxury: The Londoner or The Ampersand Hotel or One Hundred Shoreditch
Scotland 4 days
3 weeks in Western Europe must include a visit to the highlands. Scotland has picturesque landscapes that look straight out of a movie scene. You could also do many activities, such as bike riding, skiing, hiking, and visiting well-preserved historical sites.
Scotland is famous for its castles, Loch Ness, where the tales of the Loch Ness monster originated, bagpipes, and more. It’s also close to London, with more than three hours of travel time via plane. Other modes of transportation include driving, riding a bus, or boarding a scenic train.
Scotland’s tourist spots include Edinburgh Castle, Isle of Skye, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Fort William, and Ben Nevis. Go golfing at St. Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club since this sport originated in this country.
You can also simply spend 3 weeks in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) or do the 3 weeks in the UK and Ireland.
Edinburgh vs Glasgow
You can choose between these two cities to use as your base while exploring Scotland. Both are of course gorgeous in their own way. Edinburg is a bigger city while Glasgow has a very cool charm and is close to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and less-visited parts of Scotland.
Things to do in Scotland
- Edinburgh Castle – get your skip-the-line ticket
- The Royal Palace
- National War Museum
- Palace of Holyroodhouse
- See more of the Harry Potter – HP guided walking tour
- National Museum of Scotland
- Arthur’s Seat – you can take the trail from Holywood Park
- Edinburgh Hidden Secrets – join the underground walking tour
- Dean Village
- Calton Hill
- Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
- The Gatehouse
- Scottish National Portrait Gallery
- Craigmillar Castle
- Portobello Beach
- Don’t miss the spooky features – haunted underground and graveyard tour
- Duddingston Golf Club
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
- Loch Lomond – you can enjoy an hour of boat cruise
- The Trossachs National Park
- Tease your taste buds with – chocolate tour and Scotch whiskey tour
- Ben Nevis
- Loch Ness – join a full-day Scottish Highlands tour
- Stirling Castle
- From Inverness – you can do a full-day tour to the Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle
Accommodations in Edinburgh
- Budget hostels: High Street Hostel or Royal Mile Backpackers
- Mid-range hotels: Native Edinburgh or Holyrood Aparthotel
- Luxury hotel: Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel or Kimpton – Charlotte Square
Accommodations in Glasgow
- Affordable: Euro Hostel or The Z Hotel
- Mid-range: Point A Hotel or Motel One
- Luxury: Native Glasgow or Maldron Hotel
Belgium for 4 days
Various incredible architecture and scenic small towns on lakes can be found in Belgium. This country is also one of the most famous in terms of the quality of sweets. Aside from the chocolates, their Belgian waffles are also a must-try which can easily be found around the country’s capital – Brussels.
Do you know that the diamond capital of the world is Belgium? It also has the largest courthouse and an abundance of castles. And is also well-known for unusual and astonishing artworks.
Belgium’s tourist spots are the canals, cathedrals, and castles of Ghent, upper Meuse Valley, the Royal Art and History Museum, and Mechelen Old Town, among others.
There are many ways to reach Belgium if you’re coming from Scotland. The most recommended is flying, which has more than 4 hours of travel. The cheapest option is to ride the bus, and other modes of transportation include riding the train, bus, or driving.
Things to do in Belgium
- Purchase hop-on, hop-off bus pass – check the price
- Join a walking tour – history and tasting tour or beer and chocolate tour or legends of Brussels/historical tour
- Manneken Pis
- Atomium – get your entry ticket in advance
- Belfry of Bruges
- Discover Belgian cuisine – chocolate, beer, waffle, and whiskey tour or chocolate walking tour and workshop
- Royal Palace of Brussels
- St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
- Royal Museum of Fine Arts
- Parc du Cinquantenaire
- Sign up for a pub crawl
- Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert
- Day trip to Ghent and Antwerp – check the itinerary
- Museum Aan de Stroom
- Day trip to Luxembrough and Didant – book your tour
- Mont des Arts
- Day trip to Amsterdam – read the reviews and see the price
- Affordable: Artistic World or Jacques Brel Youth Hotel or 2G04 Hostel Grand Place
- Mid-range: 9Hotel Central or Motel One or Latroupe Grand Place Hostel
- Luxury: Radisson Collection Grand Place or The Hotel Brussels
The Netherlands for 4 days
During your 20 days in West Europe, you plan to should stay in the Netherlands for at least 4 days. This will allow you to visit its historical and modern architecture, scenic walking trails, varied craft beers, and coffee shops. You’ll also see tons of artwork and visit the famous place where the teenage author Anne Frank hid during the German occupation of the Netherlands.
This country is famous for its capital and most populous city, Amsterdam. It has a vibrant nightlife and world-renowned museums, gorgeous canals, and historical monuments, so it is perfect for everyone, no matter what type of visitor you are.
The Netherlands isn’t that far from Belgium. The most recommended mode of transportation is to board the train, with a travel duration of almost 3 hours and the cheapest option is through rideshare. Other options include driving and riding a bus.
It is perfect to end the trip in this country because there are loads of international flights to and from Amsterdam, so you’ll easily be able to return to your homeland or proceed to your next destination. If you have 3 weeks in Western Europe, it definitely must include the beautiful Netherlands.
Things to do in the Netherlands
- Anne Frank House – join a walking tour through the Jewish Quarter
- Cube Houses
- Rijksmuseum – check the tour price
- Heineken Experience
- Van Gogh Museum – skip-the-line ticket
- Royal Palace Amsterdam
- Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
- Amsterdam Canals – evening cruise or booze cruise or classic boat with drinks & cheese or all-inclusive Captain Jack
- UNESCO Werelderfgoed
- Keukenhof Gardens – grab your entry ticket with transportation
- Albert Cuyp Market
- The National Maritime Museum
- Zaanse Schans – day trip to Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken or Zaanse Schans, Giethoorn, Afsluitdijk tour
- Icebar – book your ticket with 3 drinks included
- Digital Art Audiovisual Museum at Rotterdam – read the reviews
Accommodations in Amsterdam
Accommodations in the Netherlands are very expensive. It’s recommended to book your room in advance especially if your travel plans fall during the peak season – summer and spring.
- Affordable: This Hostel or Nadia Hotel or The Bee Hostel
- Mid-range: Motel One or Inntel Hotels
- Luxury: Hotel Esthrea or Room Mate Aitana
SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN WEST EUROPE ITINERARY
There are tons of sights and sceneries in this part of Europe. 3 weeks in Western Europe and barely scratch the surface. You can even come back later and never see the same locations twice, that’s how diverse everything is here.
From history buffs to landscape enthusiasts, outdoor lovers, and foodies – west Europe has something for everyone. If you don’t enjoy big cities, you can easily visit smaller villages and get away from the big crowd of tourists while still experiencing and learning about each country’s history and culture.
I hope you found this travel itinerary for 3 weeks in Western Europe helpful.