Advice: All About Europe

Last updated 13:56 04/09/2013

From what to do in Crete to the visas you require in Europe...

If you have a travel question, email us at travel@stuff.co.nz.

Q: Hello. I want to travel to the UK with my family in July 2014. The total number of people will be 4 (2 adults & 2 children - aged 17 & 13).

We have only 3 weeks, and want to cover Italy, France, London and Germany. (I only need to get to Germany but don't require accommodation). I want to cover all the touristy places in Italy, France and London with 5 days left for Germany.

I have 21-23 days with travel to and from Wellington.

Are you able to let me know the best air deals to get to Europe? I don't mind starting from Germany. I'd also like to know about accommodation and tours to cover all the key places in London, France and Italy.

I'd like a discounted package deal for 4 persons. Thanks, Dileeni.

A: Hi Dileeni, thank you for your query. What a fantastic adventure you are looking at doing next year.

A point to remember is that July is peak season and the height of summer in Europe, so could potentially be very hot and very busy.

As a starting point for your journey, we could fly you into London and have you leaving out of Germany (to save on the London Departure tax) - perhaps take the Eurostar to France and look at a self - drive Euro Holiday, picking up a car in Paris and driving down to Italy.

Or, maybe join a tour which takes you to both countries. Both are good options for exploring these fascinating countries, dependent on the style of travel you prefer.

With regards to airfares, the best time to book will be in the next month or so, as this is when the airlines usually release their early bird deals to Europe in 2014 - and once this has happened, make sure to look at booking sooner rather than later in order to take advantage of the special offers as everything is based on availability.

Q: Is it possible to bus from Buenos Aires to Iguazu falls and then Rio? Thanks, Susan

A. Hi Susan! Yes it's definitely possible and the long distance buses in Argentina and Brazil offer a very good service.

Just be prepared to be sitting on a bus for a very long time - approximately 14 hours from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls and then another 17 hours or so to Rio.

There are overnight buses as well which can save you a night of accommodation, providing you don't mind sleeping on a bus.

The one thing I would recommend you do though is compare the price of the bus fares against airfares, with the increase in petrol prices over the past few years the bus fares have increased and so you might find it is only marginally more to fly and save you a lot of time and a crick in your neck from sleeping on a bus!

Q: Do New Zealanders need any visas to travel Europe? Thanks for your help, Sandra.

A: Hi Sandra, if you are travelling on a New Zealand passport then you are able to spend up to 3 months in most European countries visa-free, if you are going to the United Kingdom it is 6 months.

However if you are planning on being in Europe for more than 3 months then there are rules around how much time you may spend in any given country, to understand this you need to know about the Schengen area as it can get a bit complicated.

Take a look at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website as there is lots of information here that you might find helpful. Just remember this relates to NZ passport holders only.

You do need a visa to visit Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.

Q: My fiancé and I are flying into the Greek Island Crete soon and spending ten days. What would you suggest? We fly into Chania and leave via ferry out of Heraklion. Thanks, Morgan.

A. Hello Morgan, what a great trip! Crete is kind of like its own little country, quite different from the other Greek Islands.

My first piece of advice is hire a rental car, the driving is pretty easy although they do drive on the right side of the road and it is by far the easiest way to get around.

Here are a few places you should look to include in your itinerary...

Any Kiwi travelling to Crete must visit the village of Galatas (it is now almost a suburb of Chania), this is where Kiwi soldiers fought and won the Battle of Crete, inflicting on the Germans one of the first defeats of WWII.

New Zealand has a special place in Crete's history because of this and there is a street called "Neozilandon Polemiston" (Street of the NZ Warriors) and there is also an NZ memorial in the village square dedicated to our soldiers.

Even if war history isn't really your thing it is worth a visit as Galastas is a cute little village and they love to welcome Kiwis there.

If war history is your thing then you might also like to visit Souda Bay where nearly 500 Kiwi soldiers are buried and Maleme village.

Samaria Gorge - is a 16km walk (which you need a reasonable level of fitness to do) through Europe's longest gorge, in some places it is only 3 meters wide (known as the Iron Gates) and the walls of the gorge are 500 meters high.

You can access the gorge yourself using local buses or as part of a group, you walk from one side to the other so you don't want your car for this.

If you don't think the full gorge walk is for you then there are tour options where you just go to the Iron Gates.

Heat is a big factor and the gorge can sometimes be closed due to the heat so make sure you check it is open before you go, take food and some water with you and make sure you have good walking shoes.

After walking the gorge you could probably do with a few days rest and relaxation, you are in Greece after all!

Along the north coast there are a lot of towns that are now over run with package tourists, I would avoid these if you can and instead head to Eloundra and Agia Nikolaos on the gorgeous Mirabello Bay, which one you stay at really depends on your budget but you can easily stay in one and visit the other.

Before you leave be sure to visit Knossos - the ruins of a Minoan Palace, it's just outside of Heraklion.

This is just a few 'must see & do' places in Crete but it is a beautiful island and there is so much you can see and experience just be exploring and having a car makes that really easy to do.

Have a wonderful trip when you do go!

Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below.

If you have a travel question, email us at travel@stuff.co.nz and we'll get the experts at House of Travel to provide the answer. Include a nickname if you don't want to be identified.

- Stuff

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