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Top 5 Twin Countries One Should Visit in Europe-GoTraveLab

Top 5 Twin Countries One Should Visit in Europe

Hankering for a visit to Europe?

Let’s face it – Europe is so big and so beautiful it’s impossible to decide on a single vacation destination.

Going to one place isn’t enough, especially when we can help you plan a visit to two countries – in a single, 8-day vacation – you heard it right.

Europe has a little bit of everything, and it should be enjoyed in the same, smart way – bit by bit. If you can spare seven or eight nights straight, we can take you to Europe in a well-packaged getaway that focuses on two countries at a time.

We have curated a list of the top 5 twin countries in Europe that present an efficient way to explore two unique destinations in the same vacation:

  • France and Switzerland
  • Switzerland and Italy
  • Spain and Portugal
  • Italy and Greece
  • Germany and Austria

Top 5 Twin Country Pairs in Europe:

The best itinerary for Europe is the one that allows you to cover more ground in fewer days. Just by pairing the most logistically easy and experientially wholesome countries together, you can maximize the value of your European vacation.

1. France and Switzerland:

Switzerland, a small country that’s big in everyone’s hearts, is where you will find a contradicting yet harmonious combination of nature and rich urban culture unlike anywhere else. The country sits in the lap of the Jura (mountain ranges) to the north and west and the Alps to the south and east. The timber villages have nothing short of a quaint feel, while the cities are a bustling bubble of activity.

Top 5 Twin countries one should visit in Europe-GoTraveLab

On the contrary, France is your ultramodern, ultra-urban neighbour with a culture that revolves around coffee, cafes, food, books, and fashion. This is the country where crispy, warm baguettes and croissants are available 24 x 7, and bakeries are decreed by law to make them fresh on premises, using only four ingredients! Even rural France – with its Celtic borrowed influences – is every bit charming as its upstate cousin.

Why Visit Them Together?
Well, the France-Switzerland border is just shy of 600 km – and that’s a long stretch of edge to share between two countries. Given that fact, it makes it extremely simple to commute, provided that you have planned the itinerary well (let us do that for you, and you can relax.) For example, Paris can be treated as the base point from where you can easily reach Swiss cities like Geneva, Zurich and Bern via trains.

With the TGV Lyria providing you with an international, high-speed rail conveyance between the two countries, rail is really the best choice. However, if you are big on road trips, the France-Switzerland experience has some thrilling punches packed for you along the way.

Another option would be to begin in Geneva and take in sights like Lake Geneva, experience the Flea market, or even try some fondue or chocolates. You can then proceed to Lausanne, either via road or by taking a boat over Lake Geneva. Lausanne is big on vineyards, so the sightseeing opportunity is fantastic.

The next stop on your road trip could be Evolene for paragliding, and then onwards to see Jungfrau in Nax in France. Further on is Chamonix for sunset drinks, water sports and the famous red train ride. Annecy comes next, where you can enjoy the French old towns and trademark croissants with coffee before circling back to Geneva.

We recommend Paris, Lyon, Geneva, Interlaken, and Zurich for the best 8-day experience.

2. Switzerland and Italy:

Italy is grandeur. There’s no other word for what this country is home to – the Vatican museum, Colosseum, the coasts and the wine, the scintillating gastronomy and its lovely, iconic people.

From the Sistine Chapel to Mont Blanc, from the wines of Tuscany to the stunning beauty of Sicily, Italy is the manifestation of the rich cultural heart of Europe. It’s here that the glorious legends of Troy began, and to visit Italy in person is like taking a walk through history.
Top 5 Twin countries one should visit in Europe-GoTraveLab

Switzerland, on the contrasting side, fills up your experience with crisp, clean air and sprawling landscapes of green pastures and grazing cattle. It’s the perfect balance against the imposing piazzas and ancient alleys of Italy in a juxtaposition of two characteristically different neighbours. The cool breeze of the Swiss mountains feels refreshing, combined with the warmth of Italy’s excellent cuisine.

Why Visit Them Together?
It takes only a little over seven hours via train to get from Rome to Zurich – the destinations are 850 km apart and connected all the way by land. Any mode of transport will expose you to the breathtaking scenery along the way – whether you are in historical Italy or in natural Switzerland.

The beauty about pairing Switzerland and Italy together is that this plan puts all the major hotspots like Rome, Florence, Interlaken and Lucerne on your map in just under 8 days. Another itinerary takes you to other well-known destinations like Zurich, Interlaken, Lugano, Milan, Florence and Rome, including more stops.

In fact, if you open up your tourist map, you will find that Rome, Florence, Pisa and Milan are distributed over only 571 km or so. Leveraging the excellent train connectivity between Rome and Milan, you can get from one city to the other in just over 3 hours!

Onwards from Milan, you can consider stopping by Lecco for the last of the Italian scapes and for the first glimpse of Switzerland and its wide expanse of greenery. You can head straight into Lucerne or book a cosy place to stay somewhere in the boondocks, which are every bit as pretty as the rest of the country.

From Lucerne, the logical next destination is Zurich, but you can (by all means) take the road less travelled and explore the more local-like destinations nearby, like Schaffhausen on the Rhine. The town mimics Italy’s old-town feel with its own water-fountain statues, decorated windows, and facades that are delicately painted.

The low mountain views from the Rhine that sit beyond the city line are a sight to remember. It has an almost ancient feel, complete with its own turrets that seem like they mirror a distant neighbour but with a flair of unique character.

We recommend Zurich, Interlaken, Lugano, Milan, Florence, and Rome as the ideal itinerary for 8 days.

3. Spain and Portugal:

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about Spain is probably Pablo Picasso. Spain is bullfights, it is Flamenco, it is horses running wild and free, and it is chock-full of food that you will never forget.

Spain is historical as rich and diverse as any European destination, with architectural marvels like La Sagrada Familia, the Alhambra, and Basilica de San Francisco El Grande.

Top 5 Twin countries one should visit in Europe-GoTraveLab

Putting Spain on your itinerary for Europe would be even more rewarding when paired with Portugal.

Frankly, there’s no other destination in Europe that does justice to cobblestone villages and beaches with golden, glistening sand than Portugal. The homeland of Cristiano Ronaldo, the country offers enchantingly idyllic landscapes to gaze into as you sample your wines.

From the gothic churches of Igreja de Sao Francisco to the ruins of Templo Romano, from the towering castles of Quinta da Regaleira to the modern Casa da Musica, Portugal is the scenery, history, food, culture, art and urban experiences combined in one.

Why Visit Them Together?
Spain and Portugal share a nearly 1200 km long border, making it extremely easy for locals and visitors to experience both countries and cultures right from the precipice. Interestingly enough, the Guadiana River runs a good length along the Spain-Portugal border, making it ideal for idle tourist cruises that give the best experience both countries can provide.

Additionally, countless other rivers of the Iberian peninsula cross these international borders, giving rise to over 150 river cruises that you can plan on your European international vacation between Spain and Portugal.

A rough itinerary would cover all the popular destinations like Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and Granada cities that look the same on the surface but are strikingly strong of unique character.

The logistically convenient tour would begin in Barcelona, where you can spend a lavish two days experiencing its full capacity. Valencia is only about 3 and a half hours away to the south via trains, so if you wish to change plans, you can cut your visit short and hop towns quickly.

Madrid is nearby from Valencia on the map, but you can also consider visiting Seville. The most culturally enticing city in Spain, Seville is the place to experience Flamenco in all its glory. Another option is to visit Cordoba instead to get a glimpse into the Roman-Islamic heritage of the city and to head straight to Lisbon thereafter via flights or trains.

Lisbon, a city heavy on gothic influences, is candy for the eyes with its vibrant ceramic facades. When you’re there, grab yourself an Azulejo souvenir! You can plan a day trip from Lisbon to nearby places like Sintra for its Palacio de Pena or to Obidos, which is amongst the most well-preserved medieval city in Europe.

You can move further south to Algarve to experience the Portuguese coastline. The next stop would then be straight to the east, in Seville, Spain.

We do recommend Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and Granada, so you don’t miss any kind of European vibes at all.

4. Italy and Greece:

The lesser-known Greece is home to Athens, a city famed for its ancient ruins of colossal, godly architecture and legends of unbeatable deities. Delphi offers one of the most craved experiences through a glimpse into the Sanctuary of Apollo and his oracle.

The Greece you already know is bleach-white homes and flaming pink bougainvillaea. It is azure blue seas and vibrant green coasts. Through the countless cafes and picture-perfect eateries, Greece provides one of the most yearned-for vacation experiences to the traveller.

Top 5 Twin countries one should visit in Europe-GoTraveLab

Greece and Italy paired together are like a time-machined trip not just into the past of mankind but of the gods as well. The sight of earthly piazzas contrasting the godly, bleach-white and blue washes of Santorini provides a unique diversity to the unbeatable vacation.

This twin-country pair is sure to pique your interest in the subtle nuances of art and design and the grandeur of gigantic monoliths that pair so well together.

Why Visit Them Together?
Although separated by a stretch of the Ionian sea, Greece and Italy are still pretty accessible in an 8-day vacation. The most experiential option is to throw in a ferry ride between the two countries via Brindisi and Corfu ports. It takes about 7 hours and 30 minutes of sea time but gives you an experience you wouldn’t otherwise get on an 8-day trip into Europe. There are about 4 or 5 ferry-ride providers that are readily available.

Italy and Greece are both famed for their picture-perfect islands, with the most sought-after destinations being the Amalfi Coast and Santorini. You can plan an island hopping tour mixed with adventure, leisure and food, covering Milos, Santorini, Athens, and onwards to Sicily and Amalfi coast in Italy.

For the more land-based sightseeing and travelling, you can plan the commencement of your tour either at Athens or Venice and proceed along the major attractions to cover the most ground. If you want a mixed sea-land experience, we recommend covering Milan, Florence, Rome, Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini.

The itineraries are flexible – you can do more of Italy in 5 days with Milan, Florence, Rome and Venice, and reserve 2 days for Mykonos and Athens. Or you could divide your time equally for 1 day each in Milan, Florence, and Rome and move on to Greece via flights from Rome straight to Delphi in just under 2 hours.

The connectivity via ferry rides and flights is extremely convenient between Greece and Italy. Not to mention the rail accessibility of all the popular destinations, with Milan to Rome covered in just over 3 hours (and 57 trains available throughout the day!) and Delphi to Athens in about 3. The shorter commute gives you more time and opportunity to explore each destination to your heart’s content before moving on.

5. Germany and Austria:

For a country that’s known for its cutting-edge technology and craftsmanship, surprisingly few people know of the marvels it offers to travellers. In Germany lives the Cologne Cathedral, a gargantuan piece of gothic architecture that is amongst the largest cathedrals in Europe.

Not to mention the Neuschwanstein Castle, which is the inspiration for fairy tales and reminiscent of picture perfect royalty homes of ancient times. The rugged barrens of Bavaria add scale to Germany’s perspective. It remains one of the most underrated and understated travel destinations in Europe.

Top 5 Twin countries one should visit in Europe-GoTraveLab

Austria, on the other hand, is a land of much-recognized contrasts. With barely any distinction between what’s urban and what’s wild, Austria is a country stuck in the balancing act between mountains and inhabitation. With that said, the modern and the historical do find confluence in the country in the regular cities, where baroque gives way to neat lines and function. Even so, the old is pretty much evident in imposing monoliths like the Stephansdom and Schloss Ambras.

A combination of Germany and Austria is a fairy tale trip into castles, mountains, lakes, and quiet cities perched inside valley bowls around which the Austrian Alps run, and you are greeted by the Bavarian Alps as well.

Why Visit Them Together?
You wouldn’t believe that Frankfurt and Innsbruck are only about 6 hours apart on land, connected via A3 and A9. That makes it unbelievably convenient to traverse easily on an 8-day tour.

You can plan stoppages in all the major cities like Heidelberg, Black Forest, Munich, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Vienna, while still giving each place ample time for exploration.

Countless options are open. For starters, Frankfurt to Heidelberg is only about an hour’s worth of commute using the train, which is extremely convenient for the sights these cities offer. Frankfurt’s Palm Gardens and Alte Oper can be done in a day before moving on to Heidelberg for the Old Bridge and the Heidelberg Palace.

Munich can be reached within 4 hours from Heidelberg via road as well. You can truly experience Germany’s city life in all its glory. The Victuals Market in Munich is as close to the ancient farmers’ market as you can get, and you must see it. Don’t miss the Oktoberfest celebrations for which the city is known best.

Interestingly enough, Munich is only an hour’s ride away from the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, for which a convenient day trip can be easily planned before moving to Austria. The castle rests near the precipice of the two countries, sitting like a fond farewell to one side and a warm welcome to the other.

From the castle to Innsbruck takes a hop between a train ride and a bus/taxi. Innsbruck is your winter sports haven with all the various Alps circling it. Contrastingly enough, the country known for its imperial influences also houses one of Zaha Hadid’s most iconic modern works of architecture – the Nordkette funicular.

Onwards from Innsbruck would then cover Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace. The Salzburg Cathedral is a majestic monument to behold. The last stop in the rough itinerary would be Vienna, a city well known for The Hofburg and St Stephen’s Cathedral.

Travelling no more than 1,500 km, the 8-day tour of Germany and Austria has more Europe to offer than any other 8-day tour of a single country.

Let’s Get You Started:

Europe is big – agreed – but a smartly designed itinerary can get you all the European experiences you seek without blowing your budget. Eight days is a reasonable time to spend on this continent to make things work.

GoTraveLab pays attention to every detail while designing tours into the top 5 twin countries in Europe. We make sure your experience leaves no room for yearning. Let’s get you started on your most memorable trip to the famous European countries in 10 days tops. Visit our website to plan your big European escape today!