There are a number of stark differences between the working cultures in the U.S. versus that of Europe but perhaps one of the most notable is the difference in paid vacation time. Shockingly in the U.S. employers are not required to give their employees a single day of paid vacation leave. Unfortunately, this has meant that 23% of Americans have no paid annual holiday at all! On average, however, the typical American will get around 10 days of paid vacation leave (typically for national holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving) which means it’s even more vital that they spend those precious holidays moments somewhere they will truly enjoy.
On the other side of the Atlantic, however, the paid holiday vacation is somewhat better. Whilst EU laws state that countries should offer a minimum of 20 days paid vacation time annually most offer far more – some as much as 5 weeks per year! In this post, we’ve compiled a list of the top countries in Europe that also happen to give their citizens the most time to kick back and relax.
25 paid days leave
This year Denmark was voted ‘the happiest country in the world’ so it would naturally follow that Danes have some of the best holiday leave in Europe. There is plenty on offer in this Scandinavian country including Michelin starred restaurants, Viking heritage, Copenhagen, Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish Riviera and the famous 100-year-old Little Mermaid statue. The best time to visit Denmark is during the summer months of June, July and August, but it’s just as good during springtime.
28 paid days leave
The UK is another extremely popular destination for visitors from all over the world. In fact, last year Business Insider ranked it the 6th most popular destination for Americans to visit. With some top attractions including Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, London’s West End, Oxford, the Lake district and Hadrian’s Wall you’ll be spoilt for choice on holiday. If you’re planning to visit London we recommend you read one of our previous posts which covers the city’s highlights in detail. You can visit the UK at any time of year but perhaps the ideal time to visit is during the summer months or during Christmas time.
29 paid days leave
Germany is the largest European country (in terms of population size) and a nation steeped in cultural history and beauty. You’d be mistaken if you thought Germany was a country of homogenized towns, sausages and lederhosen-clad beer drinkers – although you will find plenty of the latter two should that be what you’re after. Some of our favourite attractions in Germany include the Berlin wall, Schloss Neuschwanstein, the Pinakothek der Moderne, the ‘Am Dom’ Christmas market in Cologne, Oktoberfest, the Rhine valley and Skiing in Garmisch Partenkirchen.
34 paid days leave
It’s hard to believe that Lithuania only gained its independence from the Soviet Union 26 years ago. In that short time, the country has experienced huge levels of growth and modernization and has positioned itself as an increasingly attractive tourist destination. Lithuanians are renowned for their hospitality, which could be linked to the incredible 34 days of paid leave they enjoy every year! Things you can’t miss include the beautiful baroque architecture of Vilnius, ‘Curonian Spit’ the gorgeous national park on the Baltic coast, Trakai Castle and the party beach resort of Palanga.
34 paid days leave
Swedish culture has managed to penetrate almost every corner of the globe with its minimal yet practical furniture design, saunas, smorgasbords and the much-loved music of ABBA. As the largest Scandinavian country, with a population size of just under 10 million, there is an abundance of open countryside to explore and enough attractions to keep you entertained. Although the country is not known for its tropical climate you’ll find some stunning beaches and midnight sunshine in one of the few places on earth where the sun never sets. Our top picks whilst in Sweden include the impressive Ice Hotel, the medieval city of Gamla Stan in Stockholm, the Vasa warship, experiencing indigenous culture of the ‘Sami’ people and visiting one of the 30,000 islands that make up Stockholm’s archipelago.
35 paid days leave
Portugal is arguably one of the most laidback countries in Europe and with 5 whole weeks of paid leave, it’s really no surprise! The country, which was well known during the colonial era for its dominance of sea trade routes, still maintains a close connection to the Atlantic Ocean that wraps around its western side. You’ll experience some of the finest perks of beach life and find some of the best spots in Europe for surfing, kayaking, mountain biking and even dolphin watching. You shouldn’t miss the Algarve’s rugged beaches, the medieval hilltop village of Monsaraz, the grandiose Batalha monastery, the famously narrow streets of Alfama and of course the vibrant nightlife in Lisbon!
36 paid days leave
Whilst the country’s name may leave you thinking that it’s covered in ice and snow, Iceland is in fact, a unique island that combines lush greenery with fjords, glaciers, volcanoes and even hot springs. It’s also recognized as the most peaceful country in the world for the seventh year running – perhaps something to do with the 36 days of relaxation that each Icelander gets annually? The island is far from hectic, with a population of just over 300,000, but don’t be fooled by its small appearance as nature really does do all the talking. During winter you can enjoy spectacular views of the Northern Lights and in summer you can expect to enjoy 22 hours of daylight – meaning you can pack even more into your days! Do not miss out on the chance to experience the very best of Icelandic culture with a dip in the Blue Lagoon, the geothermal lake of Askja and bubbling hot springs of Landmannalaugar. The country’s capital, Reykjavik, also has plenty to offer including the Pearl, the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, the Imagine Peace Tower and Höfði House (the official location that marked the end of the Cold War in 1986).
36 paid days leave
The French enjoy amongst the most paid holidays in all of Europe and it is truly reflected in the French “arte de vivre” (art of living). You’ll come across a plethora of delights to tickle your fancy in France from orgasmic culinary experiences at Michelín starred restaurants to gorgeous coastlines fit for celebrities in the south. The country has enjoyed a reputation for being a world-class holiday destination for many years and in 2016 the capital, Paris, was named in the top 10 best European cities to visit. Our favorite picks for tourists include the Louvre museum in Paris, the evergreen region of Champagne, the picture perfect Mont Saint Michel and Europe’s very own version of the grand canyon Les Gorges du Verdon.
We hope this list of our top ten European cities to visit has helped give you some inspiration for your next holiday – or just somewhere you’d consider moving to make use of Europe’s holiday friendly laws! To make the most of your time whilst abroad we also recommend having regular access to the Internet via a portable wifi device so you can make bookings, contact your tour guide or just check TripAdvisor. Tep’s wireless device allows you to seamlessly connect to the internet without having to worry about changing SIM cards or racking up a huge mobile phone bill. The device costs just $9.95 per day and can be rented or bought here.