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15 Best Places to Visit in Europe After Graduation

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After years of hard work, you’ve finally made it to graduation. With your college years behind you and a diploma in hand, you’re probably thinking about what path to take in the new chapter of your life. While some post-grads have no trouble embracing the 9-5 life, others choose to take time to travel and see the world.

Going outside of your comfort zone to explore unfamiliar destinations and cultures can offer new perspectives and surprising opportunities for figuring out the next path you should take.

There are so many must-visit destinations for every post-grad to explore, whether you are looking for adventure or just dreaming of some much-needed R&R after all the hard work you did in college. If you’re looking to branch out but still want to stay close to home, we found 15 must-see destinations in North America that are only a bus ride away.

However, if you want to really see the corners of the world, Europe is an essential destination to start full of ideas for unforgettable adventures after graduation. The Old Continent has so many cultures to experience which means there’s never a shortage of things to do and places to see. While the most stressful part of any trip is planning, we’ve put together a road trip that won’t break the bank and allows you to visit 15 European capitals for less than $400. Yes, it is possible!

However, while road trips are a great way to see everything that Europe has to offer, if you prefer to narrow down your trip we’ve put together a list of the best cities and regions to visit in Europe for every party animal, foodie, nature lover, cultured traveler, and history buff. Keep reading to find a European country that is perfect for your post-college travel needs.

All prices listed below represent the average bus or train fare for the respective route found on Wanderu over a 30-day period.

Best Places for Party Animals

Cologne, Germany

Traveling after college to Cologne, Germany.

After years of studying and working hard towards your college degree, you deserve to unwind and just have fun! Rated the number 1 party hub in Germany, Cologne has over 2,500 bars, 458 dance clubs and 252 different music venues for non-stop nightlife fun. One hotspot you can’t miss in this city is the Belgian quarter, home to unusual bars, retro clubs, and beer gardens.

For a taste of German culture, Cologne also offers some unique brew house tours so you can try an abundance of beers from different pubs around the area. This brewery tour is the best way to get a (literal) taste of the beer culture here. Despite being only the fourth biggest city in Germany, Cologne takes the cake for being the ultimate destination for any night owl.

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can check out, once you’ve partied enough in Cologne:

Prague, Czech Republic

Traveling after college to Prague, Czech Republic.

Prague is an enchanting city full of historic architecture and gorgeous landscapes. However, it’s after the sun goes down when Prague really comes to life. From pub tours to music festivals and jazz clubs, the capital of the Czech Republic offers some killer events and parties so you can dance the night away. Become an expert in Czech beer with this tasting experience of 7 authentic beers.

If you’re in Prague this summer, the go-to nightlife events you must experience are the Riverside Parties. We’re talking four-hour soirees that come with an all-you-can-drink bar, dinner, a riverside tour of a castle, and a graffiti party! Running every week throughout the summer, the Riverside Parties are a great way to let loose and explore the culture of Prague.

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from Prague:

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Traveling after college to Amsterdam, Netherlands.

It’s no surprise that Amsterdam made it on this list. While this city has beautifully designed buildings, canals, and tulip gardens, most tourists usually flock to this Dutch destination for its bustling nightlife. Famously known for its Red Light District, Amsterdam has one-of-a-kind bars, clubs, coffee shops that offer a variety of marijuana-based treat (as you probably know, weed is legal there), and unconventional stores that are ideal for a unique window-shopping experience.

If you’re feeling adventurous, don your winter parka and enjoy some cocktails at the Icebar. Get your drink on surrounded by frozen walls, tables, and even glasses made of ice! You can even make it an excursion and hop on a sightseeing cruise which tours some of the city’s famous landmarks down the canal.

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from Amsterdam:

Best Places for Foodies

San Sebastian, Spain

Traveling after college to San Sebastian, Spain.

Get ready for a gastronomic getaway in the Basque country. While France and Italy immediately come to mind when thinking of food-obsessed destinations, San Sebastian is definitely one of the food capitals of the world. This city on the northern coast of Spain is one of the cities in the world that boasts the highest number of Michelin stars per square meter, making it a dream destination for any gourmet food enthusiast.

If you prefer a more casual dining experience, San Sebastian is known for some unique pintxos bars, serving the Basque alternative to tapas. While tapas are small dishes of food to share, pintxos are typically pieces of bread topped with seafood, meats, or different types of cheese. They’re pierced with a spear so you can grab as you go and pay your tab at the end of the night! Sample some of the city’s best on this gourmet pintxos tour.

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from San Sebastian:

Tuscany, Italy

Traveling after college to Tuscany.

The region of Tuscany is all about simplicity and taking the time to enjoy great meals, making it an ideal destination for post-grad foodies looking for relaxation and good eats. The ingredients in Tuscan dishes such as olive oil, meats, cheeses and produce are fresh and locally sourced to astound the taste buds of any traveler.

One important component of Tuscan cuisine that attracts tourists from all over is the wine selection. Tastings and tours are prominent in this wine country, and are even paired with some mouth-watering dishes for an authentic dining experience. If you love all things gourmet, be sure to check out the many truffle tours that Tuscany has to offer. You can travel through the Tuscan forests with an experienced truffle hunter and taste this delectable yet specialty ingredient first-hand. Choose from any of these incredible places to visit in Tuscany, or make Florence your home base for exploring the region.

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from the city of Florence in Tuscany:

Berlin, Germany

Travel after college to Berlin, Germany.

Historic landmarks and vibrant street art make Berlin a culture hub of Germany, not to mention the iconic bites. Berlin is one of the best walking cities for any hungry traveler to explore and taste along the way. From street foods like pretzels and currywurst to schnitzels the size of your head, this German city is known for the rustic and hearty dishes that make you feel at home.

While in Germany, you simply can’t miss out on tasting the famous beer selections. Berlin offers some of the best in-depth tours of breweries and pubs where you can learn about the history and process of making beer and of course, enjoy samples!

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from Berlin:

Best Places for Nature Lovers

Šibenik & Krka National Park, Croatia

Travel after college to Šibenik, Croatia.

Venturing through the outdoors and surrounding landscapes can be one of the best ways to enjoy a stress-free post-grad trip. The seaside country of Croatia offers picturesque waterfalls, nature trails, and national parks with jaw-dropping views. Hike along the long coastline or get lost in Croatia’s green paradise for ultimate relaxation.

For serious nature lovers, Krka National Park is an exceptionally protected and thriving ecosystem. Located in very close proximity to one of Croatia’s most picturesque towns, Šibenik, it boasts seven waterfalls, lush forestry, and breathtaking flora and fauna. There’s really no better place to get in touch with your surroundings than this vast nature preserve.

Croatia is known for having such a gorgeous environment that it became a backdrop to HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones! You can explore the filming location sites of stunning beaches and rustic architecture that made the show so iconic.

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Here are some exciting destinations to visit from Šibenik:

Matterhorn, Switzerland

Travel after college to Matterhorn, Switzerland.

Located in central Europe, the medieval country of Switzerland may be small but boasts some awe-inspiring landscapes. You can explore the diverse natural beauty of Switzerland including crystal clear lakes, thundering waterfalls and colorful botanical gardens. No matter where you choose to go, you’re bound to see of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world.

One of Switzerland’s more iconic spots to visit is the Matterhorn, the tallest mountain in the Swiss Alps, reaching over 4,000 metres (or 13,000+ feet). Adventure meets beauty at this mountain range; you can hike along the Matterhorn trail or take a cable car to admire the view from above. For even more breathtaking scenery, head north to try out one of the many hikes in Interlaken.

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Reykjavik, Iceland

Travel after college to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Want to immerse yourself in some absolutely stunning surroundings? Then Iceland is the quintessential destination for your post-grad adventure. This Nordic land is full of hundreds of hot springs and volcanoes as well as glaciers and ice caves for a diverse setting that’s bound to bring out your inner explorer. See some of the most iconic waterfalls, lakes, and geysers on this full-day tour of the Golden Circle from Reykjavik.

To witness a gorgeous natural phenomenon, be sure to visit Iceland between May and August to be present for the Midnight Sun. Since Earth’s Axis is tilted towards the sun during this season, Iceland is one of the few destinations that still experiences daylight even after the sun sets.

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Best Places for Cultured Travelers

Paris, France

Travel after college to Paris, France.

Paris is considered to be one of the biggest culture hubs in the world, especially recognized for its famous artworks and haute-couture. Being in the presence of original pieces of art is a bucket list must-have for any cultured traveler, and the Louvre Museum houses some of the most pivotal pieces that shaped the art world, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. You’ll have plenty to enjoy even on a solo trip to Paris.

If you’re more into the fashion scene, Paris has an abundance of luxury stores and districts to explore as well as tours that take you back in time to learn about the history of Paris fashion and design. Skip the line and book a half-day tour of the Palace of Versailles for the most opulent buildings you might ever see. If you’re still in need of authentic Paris culture, add to your list a cabaret show at the historic Moulin Rouge!

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from Paris:

Dublin, Ireland

Travel after college to Dublin, Ireland.

If reading a good book instantly transports you to new world, then the city of Dublin should be your ideal destination. Recognized as one of the 28 UNESCO Cities of Literature, Dublin has been home to famous authors such as James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde, and celebrates its literary heritage wholeheartedly.

Your Dublin bucket list will fill up with activities such as a Literary Pub Crawl where books meet booze, the International Literary Festival, and even Bloomsday Breakfasts with live readings and literary reenactments. The Trinity College Library is one of Dublin’s historical landmarks, with soaring shelves filled with books. With bookshops, libraries, and publishing houses on almost every street, Dublin is the place to go for your inner bookworm!

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Ireland is home to some seriously scenic drives. Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from Dublin:

Vienna, Austria

Travel after college to Vienna, Austria.

Located in the Northeast of Austria is Vienna, a city that prides itself on its musical legacy. With more famous composers like Beethoven and Mozart having lived there than any other city in the world, Vienna is not only the capital of Austria but it’s also considered the music capital of the world. Take a look behind-the-scenes on a guided tour of the Vienna State Opera.

From the legendary Philharmonic to various jazz festivals and rock concerts, Vienna breathes musical diversity. One event you can’t miss attending is the Vienna Summer Nights Concert, an unforgettable open air performance at Baroque Schönbrunn Palace Park. Whether you consider yourself a mix-tape master or a classical connoisseur, Vienna is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and just enjoy the music.

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from Vienna:

Best Places for History Buffs

London, UK

Travel after college to London, UK.

While time travel doesn’t exist, visiting London may just be the next best thing. Not only does London feature historic architecture including the Tower of London and Big Ben, but restaurants and shops from centuries past still stand today.

An iconic spot from London’s history that should totally be on your must-see list is Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, just a few feet from its original location where Shakespeare’s productions were once performed. Or you can step into the shoes of Queen Victoria as you tour Kensington Palace and one of London’s most beautiful parks, Kensington Gardens. You can even enter the Benjamin Franklin House to see where one of America’s founding fathers lived for almost twenty years, acting as mediators between America and Britain.

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from London:

Rome, Italy

Travel after college to Rome, Italy.

The Roman Empire may have fallen, but the legacy it leaves behind still stands today. For post-grad travelers with a penchant for the past, Rome is the place for you!

Want to explore the ruins that shaped the ancient city’s everyday life? Then visit the Colosseum, a massive amphitheatre where gladiators once battled, or the Roman Forum, a culture hub where Romans met to eat, socialize, and conduct business. Or, visit both with a skip-the-line advance ticket.

It would take a lifetime to truly see and appreciate all of Rome’s history. From sites like the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon to ancient artwork and statues scattered throughout, there are so many gems that illustrate why Rome was once the most powerful city in the world.

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Here are some other exciting destinations you can visit from Rome:

Athens, Greece

Travel after college to Athens, Greece.

If world history has always been your favorite school subject, then consider Athens for your post-grad destination. Like Rome, Athens has some of the best preserved architecture from early civilization, making it a go-to spot for history buffs. Tourists from all over the world visit the heart of Greece to admire the ruins of temples and monuments of the Mediterranean landscape that still stand today. Two days in Athens will show you the highlights, but stay even longer to immerse yourself in this historic city.

For an ancient history lesson, some of the must-see iconic landmarks to visit that made the Athenian Empire so significant include the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena in the 5th century BC, and the Agora, a meeting place and shopping center where great philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle would share their thoughts! See 7 of Athens’ incredible archeological sites with one combo ticket that will save you time and money.

Once you’ve had your fill of Athens, plan an extension of your trip with one of these Greek island hopping routes.

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Being able to travel and see some of the best European cities after graduation is an amazing opportunity that you shouldn’t have to stress over. With or the Wanderu app at your fingertips, you are bound to find some amazing destinations that won’t break the bank.

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About the author
Jill Schwartz

Jill Schwartz

Jillian has lived in Massachusetts her whole life, but that doesn’t stop her from traveling to other parts of the world. While her most exciting memories have been in France and Belize, her favorite place to go is anywhere with a beach!

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