Let’s face it, smartphones are ubiquitous and, with cheap data on local SIMs (often available at the airport on arrival) and competitive roaming rates, there’s really no excuse not to use your phone to enhance your trip.
Here are some of the best apps to use when you next travel through Europe.
Unravel Public Transport
Great for: Getting Around
Citymapper is hands down the best travel app for checking public transport routes in Europe. It maps buses, trains and other modes of public transport to give you accurate, up-to-date times and connections. All this is overlaid on a map (to assist with helping you find a subway station, for example).
Real-time data is reflected in the app, meaning you can find alternative routes in case of delays or train breakdowns.
14 European cities (including London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Milan, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon) are currently covered, with more to come.
Party with a Local
Great for: Social Butterflies, Party People
Knowing where to go to party requires research, or you’ll possibly end up awkwardly standing by yourself or with a few friends in a club or bar. Party with a Local is a travel app we love as it helps you deep dive into your preferred party scene by connecting you with like-minded locals and travellers.
Of course, you never know what you might get, so take the usual precautions when meeting someone new.
Find a Great Place for Dinner
Great for: Foodies
These days, there’s just too much noise and too many polarising views when it comes to depending on social review apps such as Foursquare. How many times have you read a negative review about the best cafe you’ve ever visited?
HeyLets is a ‘social city guide’ app in Europe that focuses on the positive aspects of a point of interest or bar/cafe/restaurant. This means you no longer have to wade through 10 negative reviews to find a great bar for a cocktail.
Get Help Finding a Place to Park
Great For: Road Trippers
Road tripping is a great way to explore Europe – getting home from your holidays to find parking fines isn’t much fun. Apps such as AppyParking and ParkMe Parking help you decipher the myriad (and sometimes confusing) parking symbols and rules for driving on Europe’s roads.
The travel app also identifies public parking lots and paid garages so you can zoom into a parking spot instead of spending 30 minutes circling the city. Frankly, any app that quells squabbling with backseat drivers is a win in our book!
Go Local with Hyperlocal Guides
Great for: Authentic local vibe
Apps with personality, written by hipster locals, can often help you uncover: 1) things you might otherwise pass over, or 2) things you love and didn’t know were there.
For London, check out these travel apps: Dojo, Hype and Firef.ly. Each of these apps offers opinionated reviews of things to do based on your current location. Covering everything from pop-up stores to markets and the latest restaurants and bars, hyper-local guides help you travel like a local.
There are too many to list, so just do a search for a guide to your European destination of choice!
Tourism Board Apps and Travel Guides
Great for: Exploring on-the-go without massive fold-out maps
Instead of trawling 600 different blogs and websites to get a list of places to visit and eat at on your next holiday, skip the homework entirely and download a travel guide.
If you’re not the kind to pay for a guide, search for free app guides put out by tourism boards. Some examples include the Barcelona Official Guide, the London Official City Guide and Visit Norway apps. Also consider the free guides by Triposo, and GuidePal.
For better quality guides, shell out a few bucks for the Lonely Planet or Luxe versions. If getting data is proving to be pricey or problematic, look for mobile travel apps that offer offline access.
Google Translate Your Way through Europe
Great for: Making local friends (by upping your street cred)
Since its acquisition of Word Lens, Google Translate has gone from okay to truly usable. Ditch the pocket dictionary and fire up the app!
Tap the camera icon and point it at a signboard or printed text and get an instant translation on screen. European languages include everything from Norwegian to Bulgarian, Catalan, Estonian, Italian and Spanish to Slovak.
You can also get translations by dictating or writing words and phrases into the app.
Sniff Out the Best Coffee
Great for: Hipsters, Business Travellers (aka caffeine addicts)
Coffee addicts rejoice! Beanhunter is a travel app that uses your location and helps identify the best places around you for a caffeine fix.
With the third wave of coffee culture sweeping across Europe, there are plenty of great options to choose from (single origin, source-identifiable beans and great latte art).
Also, having a finicky set of users who knows their ristretto from their pour over and siphon coffee helps ensure you get quality coffee and avoid the need to visit (insert mainstream coffee chain brand you would normally avoid).
Photo credits: Getty Images