GoBear's Ultimate Guide to European Travel
If you are looking for an adventure that would reignite your passion for travel, then it is time you book that flight to Europe. With a European travel, be ready to get charmed by beautiful cities packed with brimming tourist spots that are worth visiting.
Europe is everything but safe travels, convenient transportation, compacted geography, and unique blend of culture, cuisine and art. Travelers to Europe open their doors to understanding significant traces of religion, history, politics, music and arts all enveloped in jaw-dropping nature views of snow-capped mountains, vast forests and sandy beaches.
Indeed, a European travel is a celebration of everything and here is your chance to know some of the important things that will guide you in your next adventure jam-packed with fashion, beer, festivals, food and naturally charming resources.
What is a Schengen Visa
A Schengen Visa is an official document issued to individuals who wish to travel to the Schengen area. The Schengen area is composed of 26 European states that have abolished the need for passport and other types of border control.
Do Singaporeans need a Schengen visa?
Singaporeans are free to enter the Schengen area and Europe, in general, without a visa for as long as their stay will not exceed 90 days. If you need to stay more than that, then consider applying for a Schengen visa with the following requirements:
- Application form
- Passport Photo
- Valid Passport
- Flight Booking
- Medical insurance
- Hotel reservation
- Trip itinerary
However, you need to remember that not all countries in the Schengen area are part of Europe and not all member states of the European Union are part of the Schengen area.
EU countries which are not included in the Schengen Region are Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria and United Kingdom. EU countries covered in the Schengen area are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Each country may have different visa or entry permit requirements regardless of whether they are part of the Schengen region or not.
What is ETIAS?
The European Travel Information and Authorizations System (ETIAS) keeps track of individuals entering the Schengen Zone without the need for a visa. The ETIAS is not yet implemented now but will be fully executed by 2020. With the implementation of ETIAS, Singaporeans can still enjoy visa-free entry for 90 days, but, they need to have the ETIAS to be tracked while staying within the Schengen region.
Tips when planning a European Trip
Visiting Europe means experiencing sumptuous street meals, cozy cafes, breath-taking architectures and a unique glimpse of old and new cultures. But before you board that plane bound to explore the land of milk and honey for many, here are a few things you should consider:
- Check the visa requirement – As mentioned above, a Schengen visa doesn’t allow you to enter all European destinations. Other places like the United Kingdom has its own entry policy for other nationalities.
- Travel beyond the peak season – Summer months invite thousands of guests that crowd the beaches and attractions all over Europe, plus tickets and other fees are relatively higher compared to off-peak season. During this time, you can save in paying airfare and accommodations while enjoying serene solitude in any of Europe’s fascinating places.
- Book in advance – Don’t wait a week before your date of travel to book to secure the best options for tours and accommodations. Booking in advance provides you with cheaper, more practical options that suit your budget.
- Plan your finances – Credit cards are useful but buying in cash is sometimes more practical in some places. Take note of countries with limited ATMs and those that charge higher conversion fees.
- Pack travel essentials – Earplugs, daypack, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, travel adapter and water bottle are just a few of the necessities you should not forget.
- Read about your destination – Take time to research about the place you are going to visit. Knowing about rules, weather conditions, culture and food can help ease out your adaptation during the trip.
- Buy travel insurance – Although European countries offer one of the best medical services in the world, it pays to know whether your activities abroad can be covered by insurance. A travel insurance package for your trip can give you peace of mind. Before booking, you can compare travel insurance plans with GoBear and pick the right plan that suits your budget and lifestyle.
Best destinations to include in your bucket list
The Bear lists down Europe's most esteemed travel destinations so you don't have to!
The home to calm and outgoing people, Austria offers world-class museums, mountainous scenery and vibrant past. It has nurtured Europe’s grandest empires, with its beauty and culture luring tourists all year-round.
Credit card use: Euro is the official currency in Austria. One euro is equal to SGD 1.60. You can always bring enough cash when visiting Austria, and in case of emergency, Western Union is a helpful ally for wire transfers. Merchants widely accept credit cards like American Express, Diners Club and visa. Look for ACCESS or EUROCARD signage which means cashless payments are welcome.
Should you wish to withdraw cash, ATMs are ever-present around the city and even in small towns. To maximize the benefits of these ATMs, make sure that your card has 4-digit pins. Otherwise, you need to go to the bank and secure a new PIN.
Medical services: In international standards, Austria’s health care system is rated exemplary with publicly funded medical assistance accessible to anyone. Private and public hospitals treat those in need of medical interventions regardless of their insurance. For tourists, it is advisable to check international coverage of your health insurance to ensure that charges that you will receive repayments for expenses incurred.
Telecommunications: Getting connected in Austria is easy as providers allow for portable pocket Wi-Fi rentals with 66.39% 4G availability – beating Israel, United Kingdom, Greece and France. T-Mobile, 3 and A1 are the three leading networks in Austria. Austrian sim cards can be bought and registered even without presenting any identification or passport.
Passport and visa: Singaporeans who wish to visit Austria in less than three months are exempted from applying for Schengen visa. However, if you want to stay longer than 90 days, then get a Schengen visa and enjoy everything that Austria has to offer. Passports that were issued ten years before the travel date may no longer be accepted.
Things to do: Austria has a lot of stuff to bargain. If you are a musical fan dying to get a Sound of Music experience, take that tour to Salzburg and admire the Austrian lake district, Lake Wolfgang and Mondsee Cathedral to the tune of songs popularized by the von Trapps. Once tired from a musical getaway, relax and see Austrian landmarks that etched their significant spot in the world like the Admont Monastery, Belvedere Palace and Schonbrunn Palace.
Make each Austrian travel unique by dipping into the beer pool at the Starkenberger’s Castle. Here you can find seven pools of warm beer each containing more than 40,000 pints. Bathing and relaxing in the beer pool nourishes your skin with calcium and other vitamins that help heal wounds, psoriasis and other skin problems. You can bathe all you want yet never ever get tempted to drink from the pool.
Food: Hearty and flavorsome authentic Austrian dishes await you. Meet the most famous recipe in Vienna called the Wiener Schnitzel. Viennese schnitzel is made of veal served with red currant jelly and potato salad. Meat lovers can indulge in a big chunk of beef called tafelspitz. Boiled until tender and soft, Tafelspitz goes well with bread dumplings.
Climbers to the Austrian Alps reward themselves with the Brettljause served in wooden board with cheese, spread, cold cuts, bread basket and pickled vegetables.
Pork is widely used in the country and most parts are used extensively in cooking. Moreover, cakes and pastries are basic parts of Austrian meals. One of the most famous you need to try is the Sachertorte – a cake made with chocolate and filled with apricot jam and served with whipped cream.
Language: Austria’s official language is German while its central spoken dialect is called Viennese German or Wienerisch. Majority of the people in Austria speaks English so it will not be a hard time for Singaporeans to communicate primarily in significant attractions like hotels, entertainment centers and restaurants.
Time zone: Austria is UTC/GMT+1 during standard time and GMT/UTC+2 during daylight saving time.
Climate: Weather conditions slightly vary across Austria considering its location within the climactic temperate zones. Rain is distributed evenly the whole year-round. If you wish to visit, remember that May, September and October are driest while April and November are the wettest periods. Excellent weather for tourists are from June to August. It is the time of the year when Austria is blessed with sunny days, yet due to high demand, accommodation and travel expenses could be higher than usual.
Travel insurance: Austria is probably one of the safest countries in the world, but pickpockets and snatchers are to be keen about especially in highly visited areas like subways and train stations. Crime rates can be just one of the many considerations for safety and security since there are other mishaps you can encounter. To be worry-free, check with GoBear and see that for as low as $35, you already secure your belongings and get repayments for trip cancellations, medical benefits and personal accidents.
Belgium takes pride in its incredible architecture that sits amidst scenic towns, 1,000 breweries, rich chocolates and medieval towns that help you understand why traveling is a priceless adventure for anyone.
Credit card use: Belgium being the heart of the European Union is also a world-leader in cashless transactions and other financial services. Credit cards are widely used in Belgium but take note that VISA is more preferred than MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express. Tourists should enable their debit cards on Cirrus and Maestro networks. ATMs have replaced the use of traveller’s cheques which can be cashed and charged at 1-4% commission.
Using your debit card for payments less than 20 euros is possible even without providing your PIN. However, make sure that debit card transaction up to three times a day flags a warning to the banks and maybe interpreted as fraud.
Should you plan to use cash, remember that 1 SGD is equal to 25.55 Belgian Franc (BEF).
Medical services: Medical services in Belgium are available for residents and even for tourists. Receiving medical treatment is on the pay-per-service basis. Patients are billed for consultation, treatment and procedures which can be claimed by their insurance providers. When coming to Belgium, make sure you have checked with your provider in Singapore for coverages and benefits entailed with your trip. Most travel insurance plans also provide benefits for medical treatments and emergency health situations.
Telecommunications: Staying connected in Belgium can be quite expensive, but you might want to consider that its above average internet speed is at 18.55 Mbps beating United Kingdom, Canada, Spain and Hong Kong.
For sim card choices, the Flexiroam international sim card which can be used in 100 countries packed with data options from 1-5gb. You can also choose Belgium’s local telco with 1.5gb sold at 5 euros.
Passport and visa: Citizens of Singapore can freely enter Belgium even without a permit and stay for 90 days. So, for your next holiday trip, don’t worry about entry documents if you have a valid passport with blank visa pages.
Things to do: There are around 3,000 castles in Belgium which add up to its other many attractions like the Wellington Museum, the Church of St. Joseph, the Ardennes Forest and the Cathedral Notre Dame. Head to the centre of Antwerp and visit the oldest zoo in the world built in 1843 or explore the museum complex that lies on the east side of Brussels.
Belgium and Netherlands are the only countries in Europe with real beguinages – an architectural complex that served as homes to religious women. Take time to visit Belgium’s beguinages which are a peaceful and quiet community hailed as UNESCO World Heritage.
Food: Ostend has seafront housing numerous restaurants that offer fresh seafood meals. Aside from that, Belgian cuisine is usually a combination of Germany, Netherlands and France. In some cases, you are served Belgian food with the quality of French cooking.
Belgium is famous for waffles, beer, fries and chocolates. Grey shrimp, white asparagus, beer, Belgian endives and potatoes are the most typical ingredients of food served in Belgium.Begian cuisine is distinct with potatoes, leeks, asparagus, cheese, butter and grey shrimp. Should you want to indulge, look for savoury dishes like waterzooi – a stew of fish or chicken blended with cram, eggs and vegetables. You can also try the Fillet americain, which is minced ground beef eaten cold and raw and spread in bread. It is topped with sauce americaine and served with onions and fries.
Language: German, French, and Dutch are the official languages of Belgium and is, however, composed of four language areas which are the French language area, German language area, Dutch language area and the Brussels-Capital area. English is usually a third language and is also spoken by many people in all the regions.
Time Zone: Belgium uses the GMT +2 Central European Summer Time. At the end of summer, the Central European Time UTC +2 commences in October 2018.
Climate: Belgium’s moderate winters and cool summers are influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. Dry months are April to September which is also considered as the right season to visit the country. Some people prefer July and August when the weather is not too warm and dry for visitors.
Travel insurance: Belgium is considered relatively safe except for low-level street crimes. Pickpocketing, purse snatching, and muggings are prevalent in its three main stations. In this case, visiting Belgium with comprehensive travel insurance can secure your belongings. Take time to compare travel insurance plans with GoBear and find out how your $48 can ensure your trip with repayments on personal accidents, cancelled trip and unlimited medical evacuation.
The Czech Republic has managed to house 12 UNESCO World Heritage sites that are not only fascinating but are also world-class and historical. Hiking, skiing, exploring caves and becoming prince and princesses of its royal chateaus are just a few things you can indulge in when stepping foot into the soils of Czechia.
Credit card use: Credit cards backed by Eurocard, MasterCard, American Express, Visa and Maestro can be used in most cash machines. You can always make cashless bookings in hostels and restaurant, but inexpensive local restaurants still prefer cash. It is cheaper to get the Czech currency locally than buying it from currency exchange outlets in airports. Just make sure that the notes are in excellent condition as exchange services refuse bills that are damaged.
You can always exchange in Czech banks which charge 2% fee than risk trading on the street shops where scammers lurk. Sometimes, tourists are disappointed to realize that their money was exchanged with old crown notes or Hungarian bills of lower value.
Medical services: The health care system in the Czech Republic aims to provide top-quality medical care to foreign visitors. Each facility has professionally trained staff who are also fluent in other languages. There are a lot of highly-recommended hospitals and clinics in Czechia which include Neo Vize Eye Clinic, ReproGenesis, Schill Dental Clinic, Vinohrady University Hospital and Yatrogen Consulting.
Telecommunications: Switching to a local sim card can be very economical especially if you are looking to buy data, call and messaging packages. Vodafone has the fastest 4G coverage. It may also help to note that Prague is sufficiently wired with pension houses, hostels, cafes and bars offering free Wi-Fi connection to guests.
Moreover, landline and mobile phone numbers in Czech don’t have city or area codes. So, you can dial the nine-digit number directly from your local sim card.
Passport and visa: Singaporeans are free to enter the Czech Republic for up to 90 days. Should you want to stay more than 90 days, apply for a short stay Schengen visa at the Embassy of Hungary with whim Czech Republic has closed a new bilateral agreement.
Things to do: Czechia is jam-packed with unusual attractions including the Sedlec Ossuary which is a church of bones adorned with 40,000 pieces of human skeletons and the astronomical clock that date backs to the late 1400s. Get fascinated with Magical Cavern which is an old mill converted into a cave and the Speculum Alchemiae that acts as a hidden lair for an alchemist. At the heart of Prague is an eerie wall constructed between 1623 and 1630. The eery impression is brought about by the co-mingling of grotesque landscape and imagery of monsters, distorted faces and snakes. Visit the Dripstone Wall park between April and October.
Food: The well-loved Prague is not just famous for its beer and astounding architecture. Czech cuisine is something to look forward to especially dishes that are served with traditionally roasted pork dumplings, potato soup and apple strudel. Like the French crepes, Czechia pancakes are a savoury treat generally rolled up with cream, jam, nuts and fruit fillings. Vepřo-knedlo-zelo is a nutrient-balanced meal composed of stewed cabbage, roast pork and bread dumplings. This mouth-watering combination is a choice for health-conscious tourists who want to indulge and still maintain their fitness.
One of the highlights of a Czech adventure is feasting on its local delicacies. Upon planning your trip, make a good list of what you want to have on your plate and seal out your Czech experience with the indulgence of good food.
Languages: Czech is the official language of Czech Republic and is spoken by more than 96% of its population. The older population speak German and Russian. Townspeople also can communicate in English that makes it easy for tourists to inquire and transact.
Time Zone: Czechs observe the Central European Summer Time at UTC+2. By October 2018, the official time zone would be the Central European Time which is UTC+1
Climate: The Czech Republic experiences cold winters and warm, dry summers. The coldest month is January, and the warmest is July. For tourists, the best time to visit Czechia is between May and September when the nights are cold and the days are sunny.
Travel insurance: The Czech Republic is hailed 10th on the list of safest countries in the world. Most visitors in the country never experienced threats but were sometimes subject to rare instances of pickpocketing, bag snatching, theft and ATM scams. You’ll never know what trouble could you get into so a travel insurance plan can be your best shield. Based on GoBear’s comparison tool, a travel insurance plan from leading providers in Singapore repays up to $500 per item lost during your trip. You can even enjoy other benefits including medical services and trip cancellation.
Denmark is the kingdom of aquatic charm that allows the water to penetrate the city furthering splitting the nation into 400 beautiful islands. Denmark’s culture, history and society is enveloped in bright greens and quiet aquatic spirit.
Credit card use: Denmark is a member of the European Union, but the Danes aren’t so fond of the euro as a form of currency. In Denmark, the official money is Danish krone or DKK. One Singaporean dollar (sgd) is equal to 4.68 krone. Cash is essential when you wish to get rid of credit card fees and other charges.
Credit cards are widely accepted in the country with around 2% fee charged by MasterCard, American Express and Visa. All restaurants in Denmark charge a bank fee of 3% up to 7% for cards not issued in the country.
Medical services: Tourists in Denmark can apply for the European Health Insurance Card but will not cover medical repatriation. Most tourists prefer to get private travel health insurance plan in Singapore before heading to Denmark because of the comprehensive coverage for as low as
Public tourist health insurance package covers the trip which can last up to 30 days and will only be provided to those who come to Denmark for vacation or study.
Telecommunications: Danish networks are compatible with GSM/GPRS/EDGE(2G), UMTS(3G), HDSPA (Turbo 3G), and LTE(4G) technologies. Coverage in Denmark better compared to the rest of the world. Before buying a Danish sim card, make sure your phone is unlocked. You can check offers by TDC and Lebara among any other network providers.
Passport and visa: Denmark is a Schengen territory; thus, Singaporeans are not required to get a Schengen visa should they wish to enter the country in less than 90 days. The Danish government, however, reminds Singaporeans that the ETIAS authorization will be a requirement for tourists who want a short-stay starting from 2020.
Things to do: There are a lot of things you can do in Denmark. With your friends, you can climb the treetops at Camp Adventure in Southern Zealand. Tread the breath-taking elevated walkway to behold a vast forest in circular viewing platform.
If you never hear of a mountain of sand, it is best to travel to Denmark and see for yourself the most massive migrating dune ever found in Northern Europe. Called the Rabjerg Mile, this dune is visited by more than 250,000 tourists every year.
Aside from these, swimming with the shark, running the happiest five kilometers of your life and hiking to a buried lighthouse spice your Denmark adventure. Don’t you also dare to forget to meet numerous real Santa Clauses in July, when almost all Santa’s in the world meet at the oldest amusement park in Copenhagen.
Food: The happiest place in the world has more than its greenery to offer. Food is excellent especially if you try the smorrebrod which is an open-faced sandwich topped with shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, vegetables and meat. If you feel like eating American hotdogs, then take one of those Polsers served with fried onions, pickles, ketchup and mustard.
Danish meal is never complete without kartofler or potatoes that are either mashed or cooked with sugar and caramelized. And because there are lots of cheese and dairy factories in Denmark, indulge in servings of blue cheese, Havarti and Danbo alongside various fruits and raw herring.
Language: Denmark’s official language is Danish. Swedish, Norwegian and other Scandinavian words are primarily spoken and understood. English is spoken to a high level yet tourists who want to win locals are advised to learn a few basic Danish phrases. God fornøjelse!!!!
Time zone: The official time zone for Denmark is the Central European Summer Time or CEST at UTC+2. From March 2018, the clock is one hour ahead for the Daylight-Saving Time (DST). When DST ends by October 28, 2013, you can set your clock an hour back.
Climate: Denmark has winter, summer, spring and autumn all contributing to its generally temperate climate and moderated by the Gulf Stream. Long coastlines surround Denmark and swimming happens best during summer months from June to August. And since Denmark is in Northern Europe, the sun stars our shorter in the winter and much longer in the summer.
Travel insurance: A travel insurance plan can be beneficial in reducing your costs for mishaps no matter how safe Denmark may sound. GoBear recommends getting one of those packages compared in our website to see which one ensures a secured trip to one of the happiest places on earth.
Denmark is also considered one of the safest and least dangerous countries in the world yet some petty crimes like pickpocketing and purse snatching have been recorded in train stations including the Copenhagen Central Station.
France is home to world-renowned gastronomy, fine dining hubs and picturesque sceneries which make it the hearth of great writers, philosophers and artists. Coming to France means preparing to behold massive mountain ranges, long coastlines and farmland vistas. If you are ready to fall in love with the French Republic, then start reading this travel guide to kick off your upcoming French adventure.
Credit card use: Traveling to France means paying via a combination of credit cards, travelers check, and cash. Carrying a vast amount of money is a risk and relying solely on cashless payments can be equally stressful. Not all automated teller machines in the country are working and there may be steep fees for withdrawals. Take note that most shops in Paris accept credit card payments for purchases above 20 euros. Visa is widely accepted while Discover and American Express is not a popular choice.
Medical services: French medical providers belong to a fully integrated system thus making health care system one of the best in the world. Medicines in France are sold among the lowest in Europe and average hospital billed to a patient starts from 18 euros. Although this sounds inexpensive for most tourists, it still works to check with health insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Telecommunications: Orange, SFR, Free and Bouygues Telecom are four of the most extensive mobile phone networks in France. You might not need a local sim card immediately if you don’t intend to call or send SMS. Tourists can indulge in free connections at 256kbps unlimited Wi-Fi when you arrive at any airport. Paris has made connectivity accessible to anyone with 400 Wi-Fi hotspots installed in 260 locations around the city.
Passport and visa: Singapore passport holders should get a holiday or tourist visa to enter France. A Schengen visa is mandatory if you wish to stay in France for more than three months. In 2020, an ETIAS authorization will be required for Singaporean citizens to enter the country. ETIAS authorizations entitle you to multiple entries for five years.
Things to do: Visiting France is exploring the riches ranging from fretted coasts, lush valleys, limestone hills, canyons and glaciated peaks. Take that glamorous selfie at Villandry’s gardens gloriously landscaped with six hectares of flowers. You can also check that royal home to seven French Kings known as the Chateau Royal de Blois or the Carnac Alignments and Cathedral Notre Dame. France offers more than just magnificent architecture. It takes you back to history’s most remarkable stories of leadership and craftsmanship through its towering palaces, art galleries and museums.
France is also blessed with naturally astounding views of its parks and gardens. Stroll around its bodies of water at the Seine River, Lac d’Annecy, Lac d’Allos and Gorges du Verdon. You can also join organized mountain bike tours that allows you to experience the splendors of Versailles, Paris and Marseille. You can scour lush vineyards and taste the world’s most authentic wines in Nice.
Food: French dishes are traditionally and pleasantly spiced with local French ingredients, wines and cheeses. The delicious French soup is made with beef stock served with melted cheese on top. You can also indulge in a dish of braised chicken soaked in wine and graced with mushrooms, garlic, bacon and onion. When in France, adventures are highlighted with meals made of beef bourguignon and capped with sweet treats like chocolate soufflé and flamiche.
The different regions in France have their own authentic cuisines to be proud of. In Northwestern part covering Brittany, the main dish is made with thin pancakes topped with cider. In the eastern region of Alsace, the popular meal is dominated by cabbage spiced with sausage. Finally, the coastal areas of the country serve seafood meals packed with fresh clams, oysters, mussels, squid and shrimp. Escargots or snails cooked in butter, garlic, rabbit and roast duck is a French favorite.
Language: France has one official language known as the French language. In Paris, English is spoken by a lot of people compared to other rural areas in the country although about 40% of French people speak English. If you wish to stay longer than three months, you are advised to take a French language course which will equip you with a basic understanding and use of the language.
Time zone: France holds 12 standard times beating Russia and US with 11 time zones each. Metropolitan France spans one time zone, and the other 11 are utilized in the country’s dependencies. Paris observes the Central European Time of UTC +1.
Climate: The Mediterranean, continental and oceanic are three types of environments found in France. The western part of the country experiences oceanic climate with has ample rainfall, frigid winters and cool summers. Eastern and Central France experience continental climate with warmer summers and colder winters. Finally, Southern France has Mediterranean climate spreading hot summers, cold winters and limited rainfall.
The best time to visit Paris is from April to June during spring and September to November at fall. You might want to think twice coming to the French territories in August as tourists crowd the country making it the worst time to visit its sites.
Travel insurance: France is safe to visit except for one or more terrorism threats that haunted the country in the recent past. Aside from that pickpocketing is a common problem for tourists, although violent crime rates are low. When planning to visit France, check for travel insurance with GoBear. A single trip coverage starts from $35 per trip allowing you to get covered against personal accident, lost baggage and personal effects, cancelled tour and emergency medical evacuation.
Germany draws thousands of tourists each year through its several attractions that blend the best attractions of the medieval and modern periods. Plan your next trip to Germany and brace yourself as it unleashes its soul-stirring sceneries and culture.
Credit card use: Mastercard and Visa are widely used in the country. Some businesses, however, may accept cashless payments with a minimum amount of purchase. You also have to take note that most supermarkets are not accepting credit cards.
Aside from credit cards, other payment options you can use in Germany include prepaid travel money cards, debit cards, traveller’s cheques and cash. More than half of transactions made in Germany are paid in cash. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough euros upon arrival since there are automated teller machines in the country that don’t charge withdrawal fees.
Medical services: In Germany, 112 is the nationwide emergency number you can call in case of medical emergencies and fire. Majority of hospitals here operate under the public health care system. Foreign tourists are advised to get international health insurance before arrival. Medical facilities offer the best intervention so tourists should make sure that their medical insurance plans.
Telecommunications: Staying in touch back home is not difficult in Germany since you can always buy a sim card for 13 euros from any German mobile operator. All you need to do is provide a local address which can be a friend’s or your temporary accommodation. Tourists with locked phones can purchase the mifi device which can be connected to a maximum of 10 devices for six hours. Data packages range from 15 to 35 euros.
Passport and visa: Singaporeans are free to enter Germany without visa. You need to make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the time you come to the country. If you want to stay for more than three months, you can visit the German embassy in Singapore for obtaining the necessary entry permits.
Things to do: Germany is the best destination for fairytale experience because of its towering castles that rise above a vast range of woods. The Schloss Neuschwanstein should be on your bucket list if you want to behold exquisite architecture that boasts of serving as a blueprint to Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty. You can also visit the Brandenburg Gate which was restored in the 18th century and has since become a landmark that features 12 Doric columns and a goddess statue. Adventurers can trail the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, rising at 2,962 above sea level.
From castles to the great Berlin Wall, Germany satiates your cravings for breathtaking sceneries fusing the wonders of nature and the masterpieces crafted by human hands.
Food: After indulging in fairytales, you can always savor Germany’s wines at the Rhine or take a sweet sip of Cologne’s favorite liquids like Kolsch and liquid chocolate. Moreover, go beyond the traditional sauerkraut and Bratwurst by trying the currywurst, knodel, and Kasespatzle – a mouthwatering pasta dish loaded with local cheese.
German diet is delicious, hearty and rich in locally grown ingredients that make every dish a comfort food. The traditional stew known as eintopf is everything you could ask for in a cold day. The warmth and satisfaction in every bite is made by a wonderful blend of vegetables, broth, meat and potatoes.
Language: Did you know that more than half of Germans population speaks at least one foreign language? That translates to a huge possibility to be understood by a local wherever you are from the world. German is the official language spoken by 95% of the population. Germanic vocabulary is derived from a mix of Greek, English, French and Latin.
Time Zone: Germany utilizes the Central European Time which is at UTC +1 and Central European Summer Time which is UTC +2.
Climate: Germany has different types of weather depending on which part of the country you are. In coastal and northwestern areas, the climate is maritime influenced characterized by mild cloudy winters and warm summers. Inland, the weather is continental with variations of colder winter and warmer summers.
Summers are the best times to visit Germany as flowers tend to be in bloom adoring the castles and other natural attractions. Low prices come from March to May and crowded months start in September and October marking the famous Oktoberfest.
Travel insurance: Crime rates in Germany have significantly dropped signifying safer travel for foreign and local visitors. However, it still pays to ensure each trip to save for costs due to mishaps. At GoBear, travel insurance to Germany starts from $35 covering personal accident, medical expenses, cancelled tours and unlimited medical evacuation. Check out other insurance providers to see whether coverages address your activities while in Germany.
Greece is one of the world’s top 20 destinations according to World Tourism Organisation. In 2016, the country welcomed around 25 million visitors who were lured by its nightlife, natural beauty, historical sites and sunny summer weather. Greece is home to a very long history, and it has a significant influence on the world regarding philosophy, language, arts, politics and sports.
Credit card use: Coming to Greece with sufficient cash is not a problem since euros are widely accessible in all currency exchange offices all over the world. But having a credit card should not bother you, too, because most providers are accepted in tourist spots and larger cities in Greece. Take note that retailers in the country don’t accept American Express so you might as well prepare other credit cards from different providers before your trip.
Moreover, if you decide to make cashless transactions, you need to check with the shop staff which currency to use via the Dynamic Currency Conversion or DCC. Remember that the DCC exchange rate is decided by the bank which will not be as good as the rate imposed by your home bank.
Medical services: The Greek health care system is inexpensive. Medical facilities depend on your location. Large cities have the best-equipped hospitals. Smaller urban areas have facilities perfect for emergency situations, and villages are equipped with equipment to fit for first aid and emergencies.
Greek hospitals offer outpatient services in the morning through appointment. Government-assisted outpatient services are usually crowded, so tourists are advised to see a private doctor for simple medical issues.
Telecommunications: If you want to stay connected to your friends and family back in Singapore, buy a from local providers like Vodafone, Wind and Cosmote. The latter has the best speed and coverage, while the cheapest offers come from Wind. Sim cards from any of those providers are sold in departure lounges at airports and branded shops. Present your passport when buying and make sure you are above 18 years old as those aged below are not allowed to activate the card on their own.
Passport and visa: Greece welcomes Singaporeans even without visa up to 90 days. Like any other members of the Schengen area, Greece has abolished its border controls to allow for visa-free visits up to 3 months.
Things to do: Archeology, history, philosophy and art are the best things that make Greece a pleasant experience. Greece is now a mosaic of various attractions which include the Acropolis – a glittering marble structure holding the famous statue of Athena. Tourists can climb the most famous mountain in the world – Mount Olympus. As history dictates, this mountain is considered the throne of Zeus.
Aside from historically-related spots, you can also visit attractions that are a plethora of natural beauty like the Santorini and Lake Plastira. Santorini is a human-made architecture surrounded by a volcanic crater and spectacular views of Greece.
Food: Beyond its magnificent façade, Greece is sumptuously enticing for tourist especially when it comes to delicious dishes. Taramasalata is a chance to satisfy the mouth with a blend of pink and white fish roe drizzled with lemon and olive oil. Grecian moussaka is also a favorite dish baked with layers of minced meat, cinnamon, aubergine, garlic and spices. It is topped with béchamel sauce and cheese.
Baklava is a sinful custard-filled delight that embodies the Greek’s love for sweets. Experience a crisp mouth-watering dessert with layered filo, ground nuts and honey.
Languages: The official language in Greece is Greek while the most commonly spoken foreign languages are Italian, French, German and English.
Time zone: Greece observes two times zones which are the Eastern European Summer Time UTC+3 and the Eastern European Time UTC+2
Climate: To understand the climate in Greece is to know its geography. Greece is divided into three regions which are the lowlands, the coast and the mountains. In the high mountains, snow is usual in winter months while the beach and valleys have temperatures at a comfortable level.
The best time to book your flight and explore Greece is in April and November. Take note that the hottest months in the country are July and August. Reduced hotel prices usually happen in March, April October, November and May.
Travel insurance: When buying travel insurance package to Greece, make sure it covers medical problems, theft and loss of belongings. If possible, ask your provider for inclusions like emergency medical evacuation and hospitalization overseas. GoBear’s comparison tool can help you check insurance cover offers by different providers in Singapore.
Buying travel insurance packages does not mean you are heading to a risky adventure. While Greece is ranked 39th in the list of safest countries in the world, insurance coverages secure your trip against unfavorable mishaps.
Probably the most celebrated destination in the world, Italy is the hoard of many attractions including art treasures, delicious cuisine, spectacular landscapes and relaxing climate. Most tourists have said that once you visited The Boot, you may never want to leave.
Credit card use: In Italy, major credit cards are accepted especially those that don’t charge fees for foreign transactions like Chase Sapphire, American Express and Barclaycard. Cashless payments are used when booking hotels and buying huge purchases. However, for any tourist who wishes to visit a farmer’s market or explore any location beyond the intricacies of Rome, then cash is still considered the King in Italian travels.
Medical services: Italy’s emergency medical services are composed of volunteers, nurses and physicians that perform advanced procedures. Public hospitals provide first aid interventions, and urgent cases are considered free. Although this sounds a great deal for residents, tourists are advised to give a heads up to their health insurance providers and clear out benefits covered for international travels.
Telecommunications: Roaming rates in Italy can cost thousands of dollars, so it is best to buy a prepaid to save on call and data costs. You only need to present any form of identification like your passport so you can buy a sim card. The details on your ID will then be used to register the sim and start using it for connectivity. Choose among the three primary network providers that offer different packages at different prices depending on your need. For instance, Vodafone offers 2.5 gigabyte for 10 euros while Tre provides 8 gigs at 10 euros. Research on packages before your trip to let you understand the inclusions in those bundles.
Passport and visa: Italy is a Schengen country that welcomes Singaporean without any visa for 90 days. A valid passport is all it takes to enter the Italian border and explore its wonders. Beyond 90 days, you can consider applying for a Schengen visa to let you freely stride in the Italian soil.
Things to do: There are a lot of places you can visit when in Italy. Historical sites and trove of artworks are stored in the capital of Campania called Naples. Heading north, you can visit the Italian Lake District offering a right blend of scenic views and good weather. Drop by at Sicily – the largest island in the Mediterranean. Sicily boasts of baroque churches and other sculptures that remain symbols of Mediterranean civilization.
Should you find artworks and history an idle option, go to one of the wealthiest cities in Europe which is Milan. Aside from its reputation as the fashion centre of the world, Milan treasures famous masterpieces like that of Da Vinci’s.
Food: They say a lifetime is not enough to have a taste of Italy’s most excellent specialities and seasonal dishes. Drinks, desserts, cured meats and cheeses are a gem on their own.
Tourists can grab a slice of that flatbread served with spices in which Italy is known for. Yes, pizzas are a relief for the weary traveller. Choose between the Roman style pizza and the Neapolitan-style pizza but remember that in Italy, the shoot is to take the ones with fewer toppings to reveal the quality of ingredients used in the dough.
Bottarga is also known as Sicilian Caviar made from the roe of grey mullets, salted, pressed and dried for six months. It used to be a poor man’s way of preserving food, but today, it becomes a rich dish served with truffles and grated over pasta.
Risotto, Ossobuco, carbonara, focaccia and truffles are a few of the many must-taste native delicacies that delight every tourist in Italy.
Language: Italy has more than 60 million multicultural population united by Italian – the country’s official language. Italian is spoken by 85 million people in the world recognizing the Tuscan dialect as its root.
Minor languages spoken in Italy include Greek, German, French, Sardinian, Occitan, Albanian, Croatian, Catalan and Ladin; while 29 percent of the population speak English.
Time zone: Italy’s only time zone is the Central European Time at UTC+1 used when the Daylight-Saving Time is not observed.
Climate: Italy has a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot and dry summers; and cold, wet winters. Tourists come around April, May, September and October when the weather is at its best condition and crowds are not at their peak. If you want to go shopping to grab items sold up to 50% discount, then book that flight on winter and summer sales.
Travel insurance: Italy is the 24th safest country in the world with low rates of violent crimes that tourists feel safe and comfortable to explore it without getting bothered by pickpockets. Getting around Italy, however, may still be spiced with a few mishaps that can affect your getaway. It is best to check a few travel insurance plans with GoBear and purchase one that could protect your trip. Some programs offer comprehensive coverage at $35 with up to $500,000 repayment on personal accident alone.
Planning to have a taste of western Europe’s best tourist experiences? Then head on to the Netherlands where modernization and tradition are amazingly fused in candlelit cafes, breathtaking architecture, windmills and state-of-the-art masterpieces.
Credit card use: MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and American Express are accepted in the Netherlands. However, credit card use is not as dominant here; while most tourist spots, hotels and restaurants accept credit cards, some supermarkets may not accept credit cards.
Do bring sufficient Euro (EUR). ATMs (with English language option) can be easily found across the country, and some accept international cards. Do check with your providers before traveling.
Medical services: For medical emergencies, dial 112. The hospitals in the Netherlands can provide high-quality service. Most hospital staffs can communicate in English. Most medicine can be found; however, the brands may differ and could cost more.
Before visiting clinics, do make an appointment with the doctor beforehand. To cover your medical expenses when traveling, get travel insurance for the Netherlands; be sure to check the beautiful prints and keep all necessary documents. International health insurance can help pay for emergency medical needs overseas.
Telecommunications: To stay connected, tourist can buy SIM cards from leading telecom companies like KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile; the network is receivable throughout the country. For instance, Vodafone offers Prepaid SIM cards from €15 that comes with 3GB of 4G data. Free Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, cafes and some tourist destination.
Passport and Visa: For visits to the Netherlands that do not exceed 90 days within six months from the date of entry, Singapore passport holders will not require any visa. However, do make sure that your passport has at least six months’ validity from the expected date of return.
After choosing your desired travel insurance for the Netherlands, there are other things to keep in mind before traveling.
Things to do: In the Netherlands, you can find scenic natural landscapes as well as traditional and contemporary architecture masterpieces.
For the artistic, get inspired as you visit sites like the Groninger Museum, tulip fields in Bollenstreek and the Van Gogh Museum. There are also many places with rich history worth visiting, such as Anne Frank’s house and the UNESCO protected Canal belt.
Other than touring these sites, some activities that tourist can try are; beer tasting at an artisan microbrewery under a Windmill (de gooyer in Oostelijke Eilanden) or bike tours around the various cities. Outdoor adventures are often dangerous, do get a Netherlands travel insurance to cover any possible accidents.
Food: The Dutch know how to serve up a tasty and hearty meal. Dutch cuisine tends to consist of more vegetables than meat and is high in carbohydrates and fats. Diary is also a large part of its food culture. Food at a casual restaurant in the Netherlands can cost approximately €30. Tipping is practiced in the Netherlands; so, do take note of that when dining at restaurants.
Some favourite dishes are Poffertjes (small pancakes served with icing sugar and butter), Stroopwafel (waffles with syrup) and Rookworst (sausage). For the more daring, there is also the iconic Hollandse Nieuwe Haring that is more of an acquired taste.
Languages: The official language in the Netherlands is Dutch. In areas like Friesland, Frisian is more commonly used. English is the official language in some municipalities like Amsterdam. Singapore tourist will have no trouble with communication, as most Dutch are proficient in English.
Time Zone: The Netherlands utilises two time zones. The Standard Time is the Central European Time which is UTC +1. When DST or Daylight Saving Time is implemented, the Netherlands uses the CEST or the Central European Summer Time which is UTC +2.
Climate: The Netherlands has a total land area of 33,893 kilometres square, much of this land area consists of reclaimed land. It is one of the more densely populated countries in the world and is highly urbanised. Most of the country is coastal lowland with some hills towards the Southeast regions.
Its temperate maritime climate experiences cool summers and bearable winters, making it an excellent travel destination all year round. However, to see the world-famous tulips, visit in mid-April to see them in full bloom.
Travel insurance: Travel insurance for the Netherlands to keep you covered for a 5-day trip can come as low as S$24. This travel insurance plan by Etiqa will keep you covered for personal accidents, loss of personal items and even trip cancellation! GoBear helps get the best bang for your bucks by letting you compare across all leading Insurance providers in Singapore to choose the perfect insurance for your needs within your budget.
Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe next to France. It has a mountainous landscape, yet its central meseta lies in a highland plateau called Madrid. It is the sunniest part in Europe which allows for 300 days of sunshine along the coastal resorts in the Mediterranean. All these and more make the land of fiestas and flamencos an inclusion in your European travel.
Credit card use: MasterCard and Visa-branded credit cards have a full acceptance because local businesses in Spain have found a way to allow for cashless transactions. American Express and Diners Club can also be used but not Discover card which might have only a few partner merchants in the country. You need to present a valid ID whenever making cashless purchases while other vendors would demand to have a look at your passport.
Small purchases below 20 euros might require cash payment. As much as possible, prepare around 150 euros in cash to pay for small souvenir shops, cafes, newspaper vendors and bars.
Medical services: Free health care services are provided to EU residents who come to Spain for the first three months. A copy of their European Health Insurance card or EHIC will be presented to make sure they are eligible for the services. Non-EU tourists bound to Spain need to prove they have adequate medical insurance before the government grants their visas. Singaporeans, who do not need to apply for a visa if the visit is less than 90 days, should contact their medical insurance provider to make sure they are covered. A travel insurance plan can also be a good option since most of these packages provide medical interventions during trips overseas.
Telecommunications: Internet is a necessity nowadays alongside food, clothing and shelter. Getting connected all the time while abroad is a matter of concern for security, safety and convenience. Barcelona, Seville Cordoba, Valencia and Las Palmas offer an excellent 4G connectivity even with the use of pocket Wi-Fi. Madrid and Barcelona offer free Wi-Fi in public spaces. Visit Go Madrid to check out Wi-Fi hotspots for free while exploring Barcelona.
Passport and visa: Spain is a Schengen territory which means Singaporeans are free to enter the Spanish soil anytime and stay in no more than 90 days. A valid passport is required upon entry.
Things to do: Spain boasts a few landmarks that feature fantastic architecture, parks and natural wonders. Some of the structures you need to visit are the Mezquita – a remarkable mosque and probably one of the most significant architectural works in Islamic history. The Mezquita is a unique emblem of the time when Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together and enriched the city with vibrant culture. From there, take time to behold the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela which rises in the heart of Santiago. The cathedral features Romanesque beauty that stood firm over many centuries.
Aside from the towering architectures, a visit to Spain means getting the chance to eat free tapas especially in Granada where tapas come with free drinks.
Go and watch the traditional folk show Flamenco – backed by an orchestra and is performed in the gardens of Alcazar in Seville. Should you be a little braver, get that chance to watch the Spanish-style bullfighting from March to October each year.
Food: Spanish food recipes exist from hundreds of years ago and still make Spanish food one of the most recognised cuisines in the world until now. Aside from croquetas and tortillas, have a taste of their gazpacho which is a thick soup made from blended fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, onions, peppers, herbs and vinegar. Should you opt for a vegetable dish, look for the Pisto – a Spanish ratatouille of peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, onions and olive oil. It has become the dish for all ages served as an appetiser, a side dish, or a main dish topped with fried egg and chorizo.
Finally, the art of carving cured pork legs thinly in the form of Jamon is ubiquitous in Spain. The quality of Jamon highly depends on the curing process, the food fed to the pigs and the type for which the legs are cured. Jamon is just one of the many popular cured meat recipes in Spain like salchichon and chorizo.
Languages: There are five languages spoken in Spain which includes Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, Occitan and Catalan. Castillan Spanish is the official language in the country. Around 60% of the population in Spain speak English.
Time Zone: Spain observes two time zones. The Central European Time or GMT+1 which stops when the country follows the Central European Summer Time or GMT+2.
Climate: Spain has three climate zones. Mediterranean Span experience high sunshine levels and winters are much warmer there than in central Spain. From June to August, rain doesn’t come frequently, yet the cold sea breeze prevents the rising of the area’s temperature. The Southern Atlantic Coast and Central Spain has low rainfall. Summers here are hot especially in Seville which holds the highest recorded temperature in the country. The depression coming from the Atlantic influences North and Northwest of Spain.
Summer might sound great, but it is the time of the year when central cities like Madrid, Cordoba and Seville are quite hot. The best time to visit and travel is in April, June, September, May and October.
Travel insurance: A visitor in Spain should understand that theft is rampant in big cities and other areas visited by tourists. Lost mobile phones, wallets and other valuables are commonly reported to authorities. It is in these cases that a travel insurance plan with comprehensive coverage will be advantageous to replace items lost due to theft. Singaporeans can buy travel insurance plan for as low as $17 and get up to $300 repayment for each insured item lost during the trip. Aside from that, you can also opt to add other coverages like overseas medical expenses, personal accident and emergency medical evacuation.
London’s state-of-the-art skyline composed by hundreds of modern and medieval turrets make it a leading destination in the United Kingdom along with Manchester and Glasgow. The United Kingdom lures tourists with its national parks, beautiful culture, seaside towns, heritage, music and nightlife.
The United Kingdom contains more heritage per square mile than any other nation, making it an all-time favorite travel destination all year round.
There is almost never a wrong time to visit the United Kingdom although summer is the peak season for travel as the days are longer and warmer, with temperatures reaching as high as 30 degree Celsius. Visit during the autumn months between September and November, where the United Kingdom is at its most beautiful.
Credit card use: Credit cards can be used throughout the country, and most merchants accept significant networks such as American Express, MasterCard and Visa. ATMs that are compatible with international banking can also be found in cities. However, for smaller purchases do bring sufficient Pound Sterling (GBP) as some places only accept credit cards when you spend more than a certain amount and may add a nominal surcharge.
Get a simple and fuss-free comparison of travel insurance for the United Kingdom on GoBear and you are set for your trip to the United Kingdom.
Medical services: The United Kingdom has high-quality medical facilities that can be found in the cities. Most doctors and pharmacist in the urban towns can communicate in English.
For medical emergencies, call 111. First-aid and immediate emergency treatment for accidents are free for all tourists. However, subsequent procedures will be charged; get travel insurance for the United Kingdom to cover additional medical expenses. Travelers may also consider getting an international health insurance plan.
Telecommunications: In the United Kingdom, most hotels, restaurants and public buildings offer Wi-Fi, although this may be less likely in more rural areas. The City of London now has free Wi-Fi on selected streets that can be used for free with registration.
The United Kingdom's iconic red phone boxes and other types of modern phone booths can be found in most towns and cities where some boxes accept coins, others phone cards or credit cards. To purchase a local SIM card during your trip, make sure your mobile phone is unlocked.
Passport & visa: For visits not exceeding 90 days within six months from the date of initial entry, Singapore passport holders will not require a permit. However, ensure that your passport has a minimum of 6 months’ validity from the expected date of return before traveling. Passport renewal can be done online at www.ica.gov.sg
Things to do: The United Kingdom has a diverse range of natural landscapes from mountains and plains to coastlines and lakes. This provides many activities outdoor enthusiast will love, such as quad biking in the Dulais Valley and mountain biking in Penrith.
Home to theatrical giants like William Shakespeare, the United Kingdom offers plenty of dramatic pleasure. Catch classic musicals like Les Misérables or Jersey Boy at one of London’s many iconic theaters.
For shopaholics, London is one of the best shopping destinations on Oxford Street where you will undoubtedly find the likes of the flagship Primark store alongside other big names in the fashion industry. Some of London’s very best shopping districts also include Bond Street, Covent Garden and Westfield.
There is something for everyone when traveling to the United Kingdom. But no matter what you plan on doing, remember to draw up travel insurance for the United Kingdom to ensure you stay covered for anything that might happen.
Food: A holiday in the United Kingdom will provide the ultimate gastronomic experience for your taste buds. Restaurants exist on all levels from Michelin-starred fine dining to hole-in-the-wall eateries; you will be spoilt for choices.
While you are there, remember to visit their beautiful cafes for an afternoon tea, consisting of their must-have English tea and scones! One thing to note is that there is a tipping culture in the United Kingdom in the form of service charge, which ranges from 10% to 15%.
Languages: English is the official language in the United Kingdom; however, dialects like Welsh and Gaelic are the preferred language for communication in Wales and Scotland respectively. Since the United Kingdom is made up of multi-ethnic cities, the ethnic minorities do speak their languages too. Singaporeans will most definitely have little to no trouble communicating with the people in the United Kingdom.
Time Zone: During summer, UK uses the British Summer Time (BST) or UTC+1. After this season, the country will follow the Standard Time UTC+0.
Climate: There is almost never a wrong time to visit the United Kingdom although summer is the peak season for travel as the days are longer and warmer, with temperatures reaching as high as 30 degree Celsius. Come during the autumn months between September and November, where the United Kingdom is at its most beautiful.
Travel insurance: Traveling can be nerve-racking. Buy travel insurance for the United Kingdom and get that added assurance you need to travel with ease. With GoBear, you can compare United Kingdom travel insurance from leading providers in Singapore, and choose the best plan within your budget. For example, for a 5-days trip to the United Kingdom, travel insurance can cost as low as $24 like the plan provided by Etiqa. This plan covers personal accident, medical expenses and more. Head to GoBear to view more plans, at one glance.