Traveling around Europe is much easier if you have a good map. This will not only give you a good picture of the area but help you plan your trip. As you make decisions about destinations you want to see, you can mark them on the map then choose the best route to get from one place to another.
Of course, when you go on your trip, you might want to buy a good European road atlas. Carrying a paper map means you don't have to rely on your phone, which can (and will) let you down at times. Plan ahead and you're less likely to get lost so you can enjoy your trip.
Maps of Europe
Maps of Europe vary greatly. Many simply outline the countries, others are static so you can't zoom into a particular country, and others are just too small. Rather than fumble around with all of those, we have two really good options for you.
The first is MapMaker Interactive from National Geographic. It's designed as an educational tool, but it includes a good overall and topographical map of Europe without all the fluff.
Simply zoom into Europe and go deeper into any country you're interested in. When you're ready, the map can quickly be printed (use the "landscape" setting in the printer pop-up box) and it will reflect exactly what's on your screen.
A road trip through Europe is a great way to see everything on your own schedule. If you're planning this type of trip, the Michelin tire company has a great map on ViaMichelin. It covers the entire world, but it makes navigating the roads of Europe easier.
You can use the route planner to go from one location to another, have the program suggest the quickest route, or send you the way with the most things to discover. The maps are printable and work for traveling by bike or walking through town as well.
Keep in mind that Europe seems big, but it's actually smaller than the continental United States. Traveling from one major city to another will not take as much time as you think.
Many of Europe's countries are divided into regions. Italy, for example, has 20 regions including the one you hear most about, Tuscany.
Each region is unique. They often offer their own cuisine and sometimes you'll find different styles of architecture or various local customs. Traveling by region is a great way to really immerse yourself in a particular culture and compare one to another.
There are 18 distinct regions in France. Paris, for instance, is located in Ile-de-France and Bourgogne is the famous wine region we know as Burgundy in English.
France is smaller than the state of Texas, so traveling around is quite easy. A map of the country's cities will aid you in where to go and many are within a day's drive of Paris.
Now, if you're interested in catching all the wine regions that France is famous for, compare the other maps with this wine region map. It's a fantastic way to see a lot of the countryside while sampling great vin along the way.
Spain has just 17 regions, which are divided into 50 provinces. The capital of Madrid is in a region of the same name while Seville is found in Andalusia.
This is another great country for train travel. A map shows you that direct train routes are available between all the major cities. The network also extends into Portugal.
Spain and Portugal are also known for their wines. If you're interested in incorporating the wines of Rueda, Alentejo, or Jerez into your journey, the regional wine map will come in handy.
Brandenburg, Bavaria, Rheinland-Pfalz, and Saxony, these are just some of the states in Germany that you can include in your travels. The country is made up of 16 states in total, including Berlin and Hamburg, which are really more like city-states.
A map of the biggest German cities will aid your planning as well. Bavaria and the city of Munich are a popular destination but don't discount a visit to Dresden or Leipzig, either. These are wonderful hubs for architecture and art.
You will also find that within your European travels, the trains of Germany are among the best. They are clean, comfortable, and the fastest way to get around the country. All you need is a good map of the train routes to start planning.
Maps of the United Kingdom
First of all, remember that the United Kingdom is a country in and of itself. It includes England, Scotland, and Wales along with Northern Ireland, and they are not individual countries. Ireland, however, is a separate country.
With that bit of political trivia out of the way, let's talk maps. England is on an island with Scotland to its north and Northern Ireland is across the Irish Sea and North Channel, sharing an island with Ireland. Getting around from one place to another on either island is relatively easy, though renting a car is best.
You will need a good map of England in order to navigate to the most popular attractions. London and Canterbury are far to the south of York and Durham Castle, so plan your trip to get in what you want to see.
While in the western part of England, consider driving into Wales and take in the scenery and ancient sites there as well.
From northern England, you can head right into Scotland. As you can see from the map of Scotland, it's not far to Edinburgh and Glasgow. From there, you can head to the many islands and lochs scattered over the countryside.
While these other countries attract the most attention, a trip to Austria promises just as much adventure and culture. It is filled with mountains and close to other European countries you might like to visit as well.
If you travel by train nowhere else, take the train while in Austria. It is the best way to see the expansive vistas and breathtaking landscape of the Austrian Alps.