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Tourist Tips For Europe

13 Travel Faux Pas All Tourists Should Know Before Visiting Europe

Fanny packs and maps are just a couple ways tourists stick out like sore thumbs, but there also more subtle signs you may not know that will immediately flag you as a foreigner in Europe. The way you take your coffee in Italy is a major indication, for example. To help you blend in like a local on your European travels, language-learning app Babbel gave us a list of 13 things that many locals would consider faux pas. See what you should and shouldn't do when in Rome, Berlin, Paris, and Barcelona.

Rome

  • Don't ask for milk in your coffee past breakfast time: That's right! Locals drink cappuccinos with breakfast but they stop ordering them after 11 a.m. Go for an espresso or an Americano if you need a caffeine fix later in the day, but having milk in your coffee in the afternoon is like having a neon sign above you that says "tourist." Also, don't take your coffee to go because Italians like to take their time and enjoy their cups.
  • Familiarize yourself with basic lingo: Though Italians are known to be incredibly friendly and willing to help you with directions or advice, don't assume that all Italians speak English. Study up on a few key phrases and if you really want to blend in, pronunciation is key (scusa will sound more like "scuzie"). Talking with your hands is also the native way.
  • Don't tip: Your bill will usually come with a servizio, which implies that service is included. Most tourists — especially Americans — still tip but it's OK to skip it here.
  • Don't hail a taxi: Don't try to get a taxi in the middle of the street like you would in New York. Head over to a taxi stand instead to request a ride.

Berlin

  • When in doubt, go with a handshake: As a huge international city, Berlin doesn't have one standard greeting with so many nationalities and cultures in every corner. But you can't go wrong with a handshake when meeting someone new. Na (a typical German greeting) and wie geht's? ("how are you?") are also safe options.
  • Don't jaywalk: Always remember that Berlin is a bicycle-friendly city with dedicated bike lanes. Don't stand waiting in one of these and always wait for the green light when crossing to avoid looks from locals — Berliners don't jaywalk!
  • Don't order a currywurst: The local street food is delicious but don't be fooled into ordering a currywurst. You won't find locals eating them and it's kind of a culinary joke that tourists fall for.

Paris

  • Know your coffee: Similar to the "rules" in Rome, there are common customs when it comes to coffee. The go to for most Parisians is un café (an espresso) without any additions. If you can't go all black, ask for a noisette, which is an espresso with a dash of milk.
  • Hide the map: Parisians are very relaxed and will never stand around gawking. They simply say something is sympa, not amazing, not wonderful, just nice. Leave the map in your room and allow yourself to get lost like a true flâneur, translated to "wanderer."
  • Save croissants for the weekend: While your instinct may be to grab a croissant first thing, the pastry is more of a weekend breakfast food. Instead, grab yourself a fresh baguette from the boulangerie in the morning. You'll also most likely hear "bonjour!" from somewhere inside the bakery and you should always reply even if you don't see who said it.

Barcelona

  • Avoid having tapas for dinner: Tapas are typically a pre-meal snack for Spaniards, so don't order them for dinner. Try Catalan dishes like esqueixada (a delicious light salad) for a lunchtime bite to dine more like a local.
  • Prepare for late dinners: Take naps in the afternoon to gear up for a late night because the locals stay up. Dinnertime is usually around 10 p.m. and some of the clubs won't even open until midnight.
  • Don't eat in La Ramblas: Many locals don't even walk through La Ramblas, let alone eat there. Head into the Gothic Quarter instead for delicious restaurants and great shops. But keep in mind that the streets are too narrow to bike, so park it before entering and walk.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Diggy Lloyd
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