Frequently asked questions
Can I use my bank card in Europe?
You'll be able to use your credit and debit card all over Europe, though your bank will usually charge a transaction fee
for using your card abroad. Some businesses also will let you pay in British pounds (GBP), but it's always best to pay
in the local currency. By paying in GBP, you may get unfavourable exchange rates that cost you extra.
However, it's a good idea to also take travel money with you. Souvenir shops and local markets will typically be more
cash-based, and you'll need some euros on hand to buy that Eiffel tower keyring or fridge magnet.
You can buy euro online using our Click & Collect service.
What are the typical costs in Europe?
Europe can be a fantastic holiday destination, whether you're on a shoestring budget or looking for a luxurious getaway.
Food and accommodation costs will vary from country to country. For a basic meal, you can expect to pay:
- EUR18 in Luxembourg
- EUR15 in France and Ireland
- EUR14 in Austria
- EUR12 in Germany
- EUR10 in Slovenia and Lithuania
- EUR9 in Croatia
- EUR7 in Slovakia
Generally speaking, countries in Western Europe (Luxembourg, France, etc) will be more expensive than the rest of Europe
(Slovenia, Croatia, etc). If you're travelling to a Western European country, you may need to think about budgeting or
taking a little more travel money.
Can you use other currencies in Europe?
Some EU members have their own official currency instead of the euro. If you're travelling to one of these countries
outside of the eurozone, you'll need different travel money.
While you can use the euro across different European countries, you'll only be able to use non-eurozone currencies in
the respective country.
Learn more about the different currencies M&S Bank offer.
Do you need a visa to visit Europe?
You won't need a visa to visit the EU, but how long you can stay will depend on whether your country is part of the
Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania aren't part of the Schengen Area. This means you can stay in each country for
up to 90 days without a visa. If you want to work or stay longer, you'll need to apply for the appropriate visa.
The rest of the EU are Schengen Area members. You can stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period
without a visa.
If you're planning to visit Europe in the next few years, you'll need ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System)
to travel. While ETIAS isn't a visa, it will be mandatory for EU entry from 2024 onwards.
You should always research the most up to date visa guidelines before planning a trip.
Should I tip in Europe?
Tipping in the EU is a common practice, so make sure you have some spare euros on hand!
Tipping isn't mandatory, but giving a couple of euros to taxi drivers, hotel porters, and hotel cleaning staff is a nice way
to show your appreciation.
Most restaurants will add a service charge to your bill, so you won't need to worry about tipping here. If your service was
particularly excellent, leaving a 5% to 10% tip is more than enough.
What languages are spoken in Europe?
The EU is a large and diverse place, so it's no surprise that there are 24 official languages.
Some of the main languages include:
Each country in the EU will have an official language, and some may have regional or minority languages too.
Whether you're visiting Spain, Sweden, or Slovakia, learning a few key phrases can help you get by more comfortably.
What is the latest government travel advice for Europe?
The government regularly provides information for individual countries, both inside and outside the EU. You can visit the
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)
for travel advice on a particular country.
The government also has general information on visas when travelling to the EU and Schengen Area.
Travel insurance is a must-have when visiting the EU. Most EU citizens pay for
their healthcare, and a simple patch up can cost a lot of euros if you're not covered.
What is the best time of year to visit Europe?
The best time to visit Europe depends on where you want to go and what you want to do.
If you're heading to Europe for a skiing holiday, you'll want to visit between November and April. Some of the world's best
ski resorts are located in the Alps region of Europe, so be sure to visit Austria, Germany, or France during winter to
hit the slopes.
If you're a sun-seeker, head to Southern Europe between May and August. Countries like Spain, Italy, Croatia, and Greece
are renown for luxurious villas, family-friendly resorts, and cheap city breaks.
If you want to explore rugged coastlines but don't fancy wearing your winter gear or lathering on sun cream,
milder EU countries like Ireland could be your dream destination!