2 Weeks in South Europe: 4 Itineraries

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You can always go right with visiting Southern Europe. You can find the oldest republic here and the smallest states in the world. This region has 16 countries and three Peninsulas, including the Apennine Peninsula, the Iberian Peninssula, and the Balkan Peninsula.

Southern Europe is a must-visit because it perfectly balances historical sites and alluring landscapes, ideal for nature lovers and history buffs. The countries are brimming with culture with their well-preserved infrastructures, and every country or region has their own cuisine or speciality that you seriously would need to try out.

I have to warn you, this article of 2 weeks in South Europe has 4 itineraries and is a long read. Remember to bookmark it so you can come back and find it easier.

BASIC TRAVEL INFORMATION FOR SOUTH EUROPE

When planning your trip and writing your travel itinerary, information such as weather, cost, transportation, language, and currency are some of the basic yet essential things to know. Here are the details for South Europe:

When is the best time to go to Southern Europe

Southern Europe generally has a Mediterranean climate, so it’s not too cold during winter, unlike in the Northern region.

However, the best way to enjoy your stay here, especially if you are fond of hiking, is to visit during spring from April to May or Autumn from September to October. These are also the months with fewer tourists and lower costs for airfare and accommodations.

The peak season is during the summer, from June to August. For those fond of skiing and snow-related sports, the winter season in Southern Europe is from December to February.

Are 2 weeks enough for South Europe

14 days can be enough for a vacation in Southern Europe, but managing expectations and prioritising destinations is essential. For example, don’t try to see 3 countries, that’s a little too much, and you’ll spend more days at airports or bus stations than exploring.

Plan to see no more than 2 countries and around 3-4 cities. Also, choose countries near one another or with a direct flight. You could also save time if you plan your itinerary to end in a city that has a flight home to save more time.

If you want to include cities or destinations that are not in South Europe, we have a compilation of itineraries for 2 weeks in Europe and 2 weeks in Eastern Europe

Getting around

The most recommended option for getting around Southern Europe is by train as most of the countries have high-speed train services and it is cheaper, so this is an efficient way to travel. However, you could travel by plane for those in a time crunch.

Language and currency

Southern Europe is linguistically diverse. Some of the languages spoken in this region include Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Catalan, and Albanian. English is widely spoken in tourist areas across Southern Europe, and many people working in hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions have at least a basic level of English proficiency.

However, English speakers may be less familiar with rural areas or less touristy destinations. It’s often appreciated if you learn a few basic phrases in the local language, such as “hello,” “please,” and “thank you,”. Not only does this show respect for the local culture, but it can also enhance your travel experience and help establish a rapport with the locals.

Most countries in South Europe use the Euros as the main currency. Many places accept card payments, but it’s vital that you carry cash with you at all times in case your card doesn’t work or the business only accepts cash.

Visa and COVID-19 policy

What is the average cost for 2 weeks in Southern Europe

Budget: For frugal travellers, spending around $1,200 – $2,000 is feasible. This includes staying in hostels, eating at inexpensive restaurants, using public transport, and focusing on free or low-cost attractions.

Mid-range: A mid-range budget is approximately $2,500 – $3,000 if you opt for more comfort without extravagance. This allows for stays in 3-star hotels, dining at mid-range restaurants, some guided tours, and occasional taxi rides.

Luxury: For a lavish experience, expect to spend $4,000 – $6,000 or more. This includes 5-star accommodations, fine dining, private tours, and luxury transportation.

Other basic travel tips

When you’re done planning your 2 weeks in South Europe itinerary and ready to book, check out these sites that I personally use. They offer flexible cancellations, options depending on your budget, and various choices.

PINNED MAP OF TOP THINGS TO SEE IN SOUTH EUROPE

Click the icon on the top right to enlarge the map. Credit: map data: Google

2 WEEKS IN SOUTH EUROPE ITINERARY

These itineraries consist of countries grouped together depending on the type of trip you prefer, such as slow travel, jam-packed travels, a trip focused on natural sceneries or historical structures, places with a wide variety of food and activities, and the like.

You can customise this according to your preference. It only serves as a guide on what significant attractions and activities you could go to or do in every location.

Itinerary #1: Portugal and Spain

Our first itinerary option for 14 days in Southern Europe features Portugal and Spain. Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula. It is one of the oldest countries in Europe and has a profound influence on architecture, linguistics, and overall cultural impact all over the globe. It is known for Fado music, Port wine, codfish, and the world-famous football player Cristiano Ronaldo.

Spain is a country that is also located on the Siberian Peninsula, with parts of its territory across the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Spain is well-known for its literature, siesta, bullfights, arts, islands, beaches, and wines.

This itinerary is suitable for people who want to experience the best of both worlds, art, history, and nature, specifically coastlines, white sand, and sunsets by the beach. We also have itineraries for 2 weeks in Portugal only.

2 images - Madrid downtown skyline and Algarve cove

Lisbon for 3 days

Lisbon is the capital and largest city in Portugal. It is famous for ornate architecture, colonial history, and tasty canned sardines. It is also well-known for its hilltop vistas, pleasant weather all year round, and blue and white-covered tile facades, among others.

It is a perfect starting point for your travel because you can go to the Algarve region, south of Lisbon, for water activities or to Porto, the northern part of the country, for hiking. Some must-visit locations in Lisbon include Belem, Cabo da Roca, Santa Justa Lift, Sintra, National Tile Museum, and more.

Algarve Region for 4 days

Algarve is the Southernmost part of Portugal and the biggest and most important tourist region. It is well-known for its picture-perfect villages, sumptuous seafood, cliff-backed beaches, and its people, who have a warm and welcoming vibe.

Some must-visit locations here include Praia da Marinha, Albufeira Beach, Benagil Caves, Ponta de Piedade rocky cliffs, Sagres, and Bordeira’s Beach, among others.

Most, if not all, of the attractions here include or are related to beaches. You could also surf or kitesurf to your heart’s content for active people. Other things to do here are ceramic shopping and day trips to Ferragudo and Carvoeiro.

If you are coming from Lisbon, a bus ride is the cheapest and, at times, the easiest mode of transport. Travel time from Lisbon to Lagos, the most popular area to stay at, is 4 hours. Other options include travelling by train, by car, and by flying.

Faro is Algarve’s airport, so you’ll land here. Travel time usually takes 45 minutes. To save money, you’ll have to look for flights in advance if you want to travel by flying.

Madrid for 3 days

Madrid is the capital and most populous city in Spain. It is well-known for one of the world’s most famous football teams, Real Madrid. Aside from that, it is also a World Heritage site and known for flamenco. You can dine in the world’s oldest restaurant here as well.

Some of Madrid’s tourist attractions are Gran Via, Museo del Prado, Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace, and Real Madrid’s Stadium, Santiago Benebeu.

The distance between Faro to Madrid is 526.3 km. The most recommended mode of transportation to reach Madrid is to fly as it is the cheapest and fastest with a travel time of a little more than 4 hours. It costs anywhere from $24 to $116.

Barcelona for 4 days

Barcelona is the capital and the largest city in the Catalonia region. If Madrid is well-known for its football club, Barcelona has one as well, which is FC Barcelona. This city is a world-renowned travel destination because of its Michelin-starred restaurants, surreal architecture by Gaudi, majestic beaches, good weather, and well-preserved historical sites.

Some top spots here include Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Battlo, and Picasso Museum.

If you’re travelling from Madrid to Barcelona, go take the train. The travel time lasts about 2 hours and 30 minutes, costing anywhere from $50 to $80. The cheapest option is to fly, but it may take longer than the train.

It’s perfect to finish the trip here because you can relax and enjoy the beach and it has an international airport that will take you anywhere in Europe and even back home.

Itinerary #2: Spain and France

I previously mentioned that Spain is famous for its beaches, but only some of it offers. This country also has volcanoes, deserts, wetlands, and mountains. You’ll be able to see diverse sceneries here. Aside from that, Spanish cuisine, such as paellas and tapas, is also a must-try.

France is easily the most visited country in the world. Humans have inhabited it since the Paleolithic area, so one can only imagine the amount of history and culture that could be found in this country. It is a global centre of philosophy, art, and science and has the fifth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

This itinerary is also perfect for people who simultaneously love historical and intricate architecture and beaches. If you just want to see Spain, take a look at our 2 weeks in France itineraries.

2 images - Parc de Guell in Barcelona and Cote d'Azur in Nice

Madrid for 3 days

The second itinerary for your two weeks in South Europe starts in Madrid. Aside from the other things mentioned in the previous itinerary, Madrid is well-known for its seafood and experiences 300 days of sun in a year.

As for the activities, you could try out their delicious tapas, shop until you drop, stroll along their parks, avail of day tours and attend festivals. It is the perfect starting point because other cities are easily accessible from here, and you could have a DIY walking tour as there are just so many sights to see.

Malaga for 4 days

Malaga is located in the autonomous region of Andalusia. It is famous for its golf courses, nice weather, and beaches. This is also Pablo Picasso’s birthplace, so you see the legacy he left behind here.
Some must-visit locations here include Old Town, Alcazaba, Castillo de Gibralfaro, Teatro Romano, Puerto de Malaga, Playa de La Malagueta, and Museo Picasso.

The distance from Madrid to Malaga is 536 km, and the most recommended option is by train, which has a travel time of almost 3 hours. The ticket costs anywhere between $40 – $70. The cheapest option is by bus; other options include driving and flying.

Paris for 3 days

Aside from being called the City of Love, Paris is also known as the City of Light because more than 300 illuminated structures can be found here. It has 450 parks and gardens, so this city is a haven for all nature lovers, and the museums here are just on a whole new level.

Speaking of museums, one of the things that you could do here is explore the Louvre, which is actually the biggest museum in the world. Did you know that it would take 200 days for you to see everything that the Louvre has to offer?

And that’s considering that you stare at the artwork for an estimated 30 seconds. Alas, we only have 2 weeks in South Europe!

To reach Paris, if you’re from Malaga, the most suitable option would be to fly to Paris Orly. It has a travel time of more than 5 hours. Taking the train or driving will take too much time.

Marseille or Nice for 4 days

For your last stop, it’s either Marseille or Nice. Marseille is perfect for history lovers, while Nice is more suitable for visiting beaches and learning about the city’s history. I picked Nice to add to this itinerary because you’ll get the best of both nature and culture here.

Nice is located on the French Riviera and is the second-largest French city. Aside from its natural resources, it is also famous for its century-old promenade, old town, and museums. You can also attend their Carnival de Nice, which lasts two weeks every February.

You can fly to Marseille and Nice from Paris, which takes 1 hr and 30 minutes. If you decide to rent a car, you can also drive, but it’s about 7 to 9 hours covering 775 km or more (482 mi).

Itinerary #3: Italy and Croatia

Italy is a country in Western and Southern Europe. It is located in the Mediterranean Sea and has a peninsula delimited by the Alps. It shares land borders with Austria, Slovenia, France, and Switzerland and enclaves San Marino and Vatican City microstates.

Italy is well-known for manufacturing luxury cars such as Lamborghini, Maserati, and Ferrari. The Vespa is also an iconic Italian thing. There are also tons of renowned Italian sculptors and painters, so you can imagine the plethora of museums and galleries they have here.

Croatia has a coast that lies entirely on the Adriatic Sea. It is known for its scenic pebbled beaches, wines, national parks, seafood, and sailing. They also host tons of festivals here, including Sonus, Fresh Island Festival, and Ultra Europe.

This itinerary suits people who love history, food, and nature. Check out our 2 weeks in Italy to see if that’s something you want to consider. You can even spend your 2-week honeymoon in Europe around Italy.

2 images - Foro Romano in Rome and coastline of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Milan or Florence for 4 days

Milan might be a better place to stay due to its busy international airport, but Florence has an extensive railway network making it easy to get to other parts of Italy. However, these locations have different charms, and it’s up to you to decide which one you’ll choose.

Milan is the capital city of the Lombardy region. It is well-known for its natural lakes, world-class fashion scene, musical culture, shopping, and nightlife.

On the other hand, Florence is home to some of the most exquisite art collections and is a haven for people fond of Renaissance art. It is also famous for its vineyards, rolling hills, galleries, and museums. Medieval towns such as Bologna or Modena are also must-visits, plus it’s near the famous Tower of Pisa.

Rome for 3 days

Visiting Europe has to include Rome. It is the capital city of Italy and the Lazio region. It is Italy’s most visited tourist destination. It is the birthplace of both Neoclassicism and Baroque styles. UNESCO lists its historic centre as a World Heritage site.

Rome is well-known for its beautiful architecture, historical sites, food, and the Vatican City. Some places to visit here include Colosseum, Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Pantheon, Catacombs, and Villa Borghese.

The most recommended travel option from Milan to Rome is the train, with an average travel time of 3 hr and 35 min. The cheapest option is riding the bus, but it would take almost 9 hours to reach your destination.

Zagreb for 3 days

Zagreb is the largest and is the capital city of Croatia. It is rich in history dating back even to Roman times. It is one of Europe’s most exciting destinations because of its street food, public art, parks, coffee culture, and quirky museums.

A couple of must-visit tourist attractions are Lotrscak Tower, Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, Homeland War Tour, Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb Cathedral, Art Pavilion, and the Mestrovic Gallery, among others.

Getting from Rome to Zagreb, booking a flight will be the best option. It has a travel time of more than 4 hours. Another option is riding the train, which lasts more than 15 hours. Aside from these 2 modes of transportation, you can also ride a bus or drive.

Dubrovnik for 4 days

With 2 weeks in Southern Europe, you can visit 2 cities in Croatia. The second one is Dubrovnik. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean area. It is included in UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites because of its fortified old town and medieval architecture.

It is famous for its scenic landscapes, architecture, rich history and culture. Some locations here were also featured in Game of Thrones. Some tours will take you to the filming locations too.

If you’re coming from Zagreb, flying to Dubrovnik only takes 2 hours. The cheapest option is to ride the bus, but it has a travel time of more than 9 hours.

Itinerary #4: Spain and Greece

Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe and the second largest in the European Union. This country is well-known for Ibiza, a party hub of Europe. Spain is also famous for La Tomatina, bullfighting, Jamon Iberico, Paella, wines, and sangria.

Greece is a country situated on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula. It has the longest Mediterranean Basin coastline and thousands of islands. Greece is well-known for its ancient philosophers, archaeological sites, baklava, gyros, halves, kataifi, and beautiful islands. This country also invented the Olympics.

These countries are famous for their natural resources and food. This itinerary is perfect for people fond of history and water activities. If you have 2 weeks in South Europe, it definitely must include Greece. We have itineraries for 2 weeks in Spain and 2 weeks in Greece.

2 images - Olympia Ruins in Greece and Malaga coastline in Spain

Malaga for 4 days

Malaga is one of the world’s oldest cities, meaning there is so much culture and history in this place’s every nook and cranny. In fact, it used to be under the Arab Caliphate, Roman Empire, and Castilian Crown, and you will see these cultures in many of their establishments and ruins. This place is famous for its museums. In fact, it is even nicknamed the City of Museums because it has around 40 of them.

Aside from that, there are also tons of wineries and Michelin-starred restaurants here. Malaga is famous for its sunshine and beaches if you prefer nature.

Barcelona for 3 days

Aside from the world-class architecture, Barcelona is also well-known for its beaches, abandoned metro stations, flamenco and Sardana, festivals and street parties, the most famous of which is La Merce, held every 24th of September.

The distance between Malaga to Barcelona is 769.8 km. The fastest mode of transportation is by flying, which has a travel time of more than 3 hours. Riding a train is an alternative option, with a travel time of almost 6 hours and tickets costing an average of $114.

Athens 3 days

Athens is the capital of the Attica region and one of the world’s oldest cities, with a history spanning more than 3,400 years. It is the 8th largest urban area in the European Union and is widely called the cradle of Western civilisation. It is well-known for its historical landmarks, including theatres and temples, open-air cinemas, coffee culture, and nightlife.

Some of the must-see locations here are The Acropolis, Plaka, which is a car-free neighbourhood, The Athens Riviera, National Archaeology Museum, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora & Hadrian’s Library, Varvakios Market, Piraeus, and more.

The distance between Barcelona and Athens is 1,878 km, so the most recommended option to reach Athens is by flying, which has a travel time of 3 hours and above, depending on the airline.

Olympia or Meteora for 4 days

Olympia is a small town in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece. It is famous for its nearby archaeological site and for being a religious sanctuary. It has one of the highest concentrations of artefacts from the ancient Greek world.

Some must-visit locations here are the Ancient Stadium, the Temple of Zeus, the Archeological Museum, and the Museum of Ancient Olympic Games.

Meteora, conversely, is a rock formation found in Thessaly, Greece. It housed Eastern Orthodox Monastery complexes and was added to UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1988. Aside from the monasteries, you can also see Plastira Lake here or visit the Museum of Natural History.

The distance between Athens and Olympia is 340 km. The only options to reach Olympia if you’re from Athens are by bus and driving. Driving will take you to your destination sooner, with more than 3 hours of travel time.

Riding a bus is cheaper, however, so you could choose your mode of transport depending on your time constraint or budget. Finishing the trip in either of these locations is perfect as the activities here consist primarily of sightseeing, suitable for winding down before going back.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN SOUTHERN EUROPE (per city)

Lisbon

Algarve

Madrid

Malaga

  • Alcazaba de Malaga
  • Old Town
  • Jardin Botanico-Historico la Concepcion
  • Museo Picasso Malaga
  • Playa de la Malagueta
  • Centre Pmpidou Malaga
  • Soho
  • Festival de Malaga

Barcelona

Paris

Marseille

Nice

  • Vieille Ville
  • Promenade des Anglais
  • Castle Hill Park
  • Musee Matisse
  • Jardin Albert 1er
  • Marc Chagall National Museum
  • Villefranche Bay – enjoy a 1-hour cruise or have fun snorkelling
  • Castle of Nice
  • Modern and Contemporary Art
  • Foundation Maeght
  • Field of Lavender and Gorges of Verdon – best if visiting from spring to summer, then you must book a tour of the Lavender fields
  • Cathedrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice
  • Parc Phoenix
  • Cimiez Monastery
  • Basilique Notre-Dame de l’Assomption
  • Opera de Nice

Milan

Florence

Zagreb

Dubrovnik

Athens

Olympia or Meteora

MUST-TRY SOUTHERN EUROPEAN DISHES, DRINKS, AND SNACKS

3 images of food - moussaka, peka, and bacalhau - 2 weeks in South Europe Itinerary

Southern Europe is known for its rich culinary heritage. Here are some must-try foods from different countries in this region:

  1. Italy:
    • Pizza Napoletana: Traditional pizza from Naples with simple toppings like tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, and basil.
    • Pasta Carbonara: A Roman dish made with eggs, Pecorino cheese, pancetta, and pepper.
    • Gelato: Italian ice cream known for its dense, rich flavour.
  2. Spain:
    • Paella: A famous rice dish from Valencia, often made with saffron, various meats, and seafood.
    • Tapas: Small plates of various Spanish dishes, ranging from olives and cheese to more elaborate creations.
    • Churros con Chocolate: Fried dough pastry served with thick hot chocolate for dipping.
  3. Greece:
    • Moussaka: A baked dish made with layers of eggplant, minced meat, and bechamel sauce.
    • Souvlaki: Grilled meat skewers, often served in pita bread with tzatziki sauce.
    • Baklava: A sweet pastry made of layers of filo dough, filled with nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.
  4. Portugal:
    • Bacalhau: Dried and salted cod can be prepared in various ways.
    • Pastéis de Nata: Creamy egg custard tarts in a flaky pastry crust.
    • Francesinha: A sandwich with various types of meat, covered with melted cheese and a tomato-beer sauce.
  5. Croatia:
    • Ćevapi: Small, grilled minced meat sausages, usually served with flatbread.
    • Peka: A traditional dish of meat or seafood and vegetables cooked under a bell-like dome.
  6. France:
    • Coq au Vin: This is a classic French dish where chicken is slow-cooked with wine, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and garlic.
    • Bouillabaisse: Originating from the port city of Marseille, Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew.
    • Ratatouille: A dish from Provence, Ratatouille is a hearty vegetable stew made with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and a blend of herbs.

Trying these dishes is essential to experiencing Southern Europe’s culture and heritage. Make sure to order at least 3-4 dishes during your visit and find which one you like the best.

ACCOMMODATIONS (per city)

Lisbon

Algarve

  • Affordable:
  • Mid-range:
  • Luxury:

Madrid

Malaga

Barcelona

Paris

Marseille

Nice

Milan

Florence

Zagreb

Dubrovnik

Athens

  • Affordable:
  • Mid-range:
  • Luxury:

Olympia or Meteora

  • Affordable:
  • Mid-range:
  • Luxury:

SUMMARY OF 2 WEEKS IN SOUTH EUROPE

It is worth spending 2 weeks in South Europe because of its laid-back lifestyle, rich history, well-preserved establishments, diverse food, great weather, mesmerising natural sceneries, warm, friendly people, and much more.

Your trip here would be something that you wouldn’t be able to forget for a long time. You might want to either extend or come back here soon because there’s so much that the South Europe region has to offer.

I know this guide on 14 days in South Europe is long, but I want to give you plenty of options and show you how to combine two countries and see 3-4 cities. Enjoy your trip, and don’t forget not to overcram your itinerary.

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Two weeks in Southern Europe promises a blend of sun-drenched beaches, historic ruins, and culinary delights. From Italy's art to Greece's islands and Spain's vibrant streets, it's a feast for the senses and the soul. via @twoweektraveller