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Essential Europe for first time travellers | 2 weeks in Europe with Mapping Megan

Planning a grand tour of Europe and have no idea where to start? Skyscanner Australia chats with Mapping Megan to find out the best way to see Europe for the first time. From Athens to Austria, her two week itinerary hits up all the classics, so you won’t miss a thing!

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Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Day 1 – 4

Greece is a fantastic country to visit right now as the recent economic crisis means fewer tourists and lower prices. And Greece needs tourism in 2017, so you’ll experience their already famous hospitality and be treated like a VIP.

Fly into Athens to begin your European tour. One of the oldest cities in the world, it has breathtaking ancient monuments, medieval churches, excellent museums and incredible seafood. Don’t miss the ancient Agora, the Acropolis, or the viewpoint at the top of Mt Lycabettus. You should also take in the National Archaeological Museum, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and walk around the beautiful historic neighborhoods of Plaka and Anafiotika to get a feel for life on street level.

Athens is the gateway to all other Greek adventures, and it’s definitely affordable to organize a day trip to one of the Greek Islands. Flights leave frequently from Athens to Santorini, and cost between $40 and $175, with a 45 minute flight time.

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Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Day 5 – 8

Even though you have 3 days in Rome, you’ll still have to make every hour count. There are big sites everyone expects to check off their list, like the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Vatican City, and visiting the Colosseum, both inside and out.

But Rome is one of those cities where you need to keep your eyes peeled for the little things which aren’t on any list. Dedicate a whole day to discovering the nooks and nuances of the city – get lost in the maze of narrow alleyways and cobbled streets and you’ll stumble across fascinating unexpected finds.

The best way to see the city is to walk. There will be tucked away pizzerias, gelato stores, bakeries and cafes which you can stumble across throughout each day.

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Venice, Italy

Day 9 – 11

From Rome, take a short flight to Venice. With its historic charm and romantic waterways, Venice’s reputation is no secret – you’ll have to accept that there will be crowds. However if you’re looking to escape the mass tourism, our tip is to throw out your travel guide and base yourself away from St. Marks Square.

Venice is a maze of canals and alleys, and if you’re looking for a specific attraction you are going to get lost. So throw out your list of “must sees” and embrace it – just walk! This is not a destination which is about a list of attractions, but experiencing the atmosphere.

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Vienna, Austria

Day 12 – 15

Vienna is an imperial city with grand palaces and Baroque streetscapes, known for its artistic and musical masterpieces, and coffee-house culture.

While lists will tell you to take in St. Christopher’s Cathedral, make sure you also take the walk up the South tower to the top. The Imperial Crypt is close by underneath the Capuchin Church, the Belvedere Palace / Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Stadpark is a gorgeous green space in the city behind the Vienna State Opera House where you can take in a classical concert of Mozart.

You can easily tour Vienna in two days, which leaves two days for excursions and day trips to the surrounds. Popular excursions include a full day in Salzburg, Budapest, Bratislava, or Prague.

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Hire a car to get around easier

Read: 11 Things You Need to Know About Car Hire in Europe

Looking for a place to stay? Here are some accommodation inspiration suitable for every budget for your next European break.

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Check out Skyscanner Australia for the best deals on flights, hotels and car hire.

Mapping Megan: Megan Jerrard is an Australian Journalist and the founder and Senior Editor of Mapping Megan, an award-winning travel blog bringing you the latest in adventure travel from all over the globe.