Overpacking is the quickest way to start your European trip off on the wrong foot. Charming cobblestone streets, boutique hotels without elevators, and packed public transportation mean you don’t want to be hauling around an oversized suitcase.
A streamlined European packing list is essential—you want to look good in all your photos in front of famous sites, blend in with local fashion, and be comfortable for miles of walking every day.
We’ve put together the ultimate European summer packing list for smarter travelers to follow—you’ll be comfortable, stylish, and mobile (without that giant checked bag).
Summer weather in Europe can be fickle, so packing a good pair of jeans is always smart in case the temperatures drop in the evening. Mott & Bow’s Slim Boyfriend Jeans are made from a soft, lightweight twill denim fabric that’s lighter and more comfortable than regular denim.
The white jeans help keep your outfit looking summery, and by some miracle, Mott & Bow’s jeans aren’t see-through like most white pants.
If you’re visiting any religious/historical sites in Europe, you may be asked to cover your shoulders and knees out of respect. Keep a lightweight scarf with you so you can comply on an impromptu visit without overheating during the rest of the day.
Dresses are the most versatile piece of clothing you can pack for your European trip, as they can be worn with sneakers during the day or made fancier at night with heels. For hot summers, you can’t beat linen—Quince’s 100 percent European Linen Button Front Dress was practically designed for European trips.
Made from breathable and heat-regulating linen, the dress will keep you cool. The removable belt and functional buttons give you multiple looks with just one piece of clothing and best of all, the dress features pockets.
Cozy Earth’s Coastal Comfort Mock Neck Short Sleeve Button Down is the perfect mix of casual and pulled-together. Made from a blend of tencel and linen, this top is ultra-breathable and feels significantly cooler than cotton.
The fabric uses an enhanced weave that helps prevent pilling, so this shirt will still look brand-new after many trips.
Since they take up such minimal space, you’ll never regret packing a swimsuit. There are so many beaches, lakes, and even hotel pools to explore in Europe, you won’t want to miss any opportunity for a dip.
If you tend to burn easily, and don’t want to be bothered frequently getting out of the water to reapply, the AKHG Lost Lake Long Sleeve swimsuit is a great option—the floral print and zipper keep it cute, while the extra coverage gives you plenty of sun protection.
A lightweight pair of pants can protect you from the sun, keep you covered for historical church visits, and help you look like a local (if you choose the right ones). Ditch the heavy denim in favor of something with a bit more stretch, like Mott & Bow’s Twill Chinos
These pants have just the right of flexibility but are structured enough that they won’t get baggy halfway through your trip. The khaki color is perfect for summer, and can be dressed up or down depending on your plans for the day.
The perfect purse for Europe can be worn crossbody style (which makes it harder to steal), goes with any outfit, is versatile, and is big enough to hold the essentials (but not too large, since you’ll be carrying it all day).
Quince’s Italian Leather Quilted Wallet Crossbody ticks all the boxes. Made from soft Italian leather, the purse will be right at home in Europe, and the quilted design works well from day to night. The bag can be worn as a crossbody, or you can remove the chain to use it as a clutch.
Coin purses have fallen out of fashion in the US, but they can come in handy in Europe, where lower denominations of currency are in coins instead of bills. Don’t end up with a heavy stash of coins buried in your bag—keep your change organized and accessible in a zippered pouch.
Keep the sun off of your face and your outfit looking stylish with a sun hat. These packable options from Madewell are perfect, since they can be stuffed in your bag (without getting destroyed) when you’re not wearing them.
Refillable Water Bottle
Although tap water is safe to drink in Europe, it’s not commonly offered for free at restaurants (you’ll likely have a choice of bottled still or sparkling water instead). However, in some destinations, you may find public drinking fountains readily available. Save money (and the environment) by packing your own reusable water bottle, like this one from LARQ, which automatically cleans itself using UV technology.
The LARQ bottle comes in both an insulated and non-insulated version, so you can choose between having a light weight to carry or having perfectly chilled beverages all day long.
Pack a pair of sandals you can wear to the beach, hotel pool, and for short walks. Ipanema’s Trendy Sandals feature a minimalist style that will blend in anywhere. The lightweight sandals are made from PVC so they can be easily rinsed off after every wear.
You’ll spot chunky white sneakers on the feet of many stylish Europeans this summer. Join the crowd with New Balance’s classic 550 sneakers. The low top and clean silhouette go with everything from jeans to dresses, and there’s plenty of arch support and cushioning to keep you comfortable.
Pack no-show socks that will actually stay up if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. These ones from Bombas have grips on the heel that help to keep them in place.
In addition to the same toiletries you’d pack for any destination (toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, etc.) here are some important ones to remember for Europe:
Even if you’re not hitting the beach in Europe, sunscreen is still a must-pack for summer trips. Sun Bum smells good and doesn’t leave a white cast, so you’ll forget you’re wearing it.
A travel-sized pack of tissues can come in handy for more than just the sniffles (like at a public bathroom that’s run out of toilet paper.)
In some European destinations, you’ll have to visit an actual pharmacy to purchase even over-the-counter medications, and these pharmacies tend to have somewhat limited hours.
Pack sample-size packets of medicines just in case, so you don’t have to waste time hunting down a pharmacy if you have a headache or stomachache.
Don’t forget to pack a pair of headphones for the long flight over from the United States. Skullcandy’s Push Active Earbuds are wireless but still secure (in case you plan on working out while you’re on vacation).
The earbuds are voice-controlled, so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to change songs or take a phone call.
Appliances in Europe run on 220 volts, while ones in America use 110 volts. Fortunately, most modern appliances (like iPhones) automatically switch voltage, so you won’t need to worry about bringing an electricity converter (but double-check your electronics before trying to use them abroad).
However, you will need to pack an adapter in order to use standard plugs in Europe.
It’s easy to run down the battery on your phone when you’re snapping pictures and taking video to capture all the memories—and constantly using maps to figure out directions. A portable charger can revive your battery without you having to go back to the hotel or find a place to plug it in.
As with any trip, don’t forget these important travel documents:
- Copies of passport (you can scan them to your phone or the cloud instead of carrying paper)
Although most places in Europe accept credit cards, you’re still likely to find a few cash-only destinations, so make sure you bring some cash with you.
When you are using a credit card, make sure you’re choosing one that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, as those can quickly add up.
Download Our Ultimate Packing Checklist for Europe
When its time to start packing, download our editable checklist here.
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