All you do-gooders out there, are you looking for the best way to marry traveling and living with meaning and a higher purpose? Forget zipping through countries just for the perfect backdrop to your Insta selfies. Spend time really getting to know a country by volunteering abroad. Looking for a different sort of feel-good adventure beyond the tourist trail? Why not volunteer in Europe?
I know what you may be thinking. Who the (bleep) volunteers in Europe? Ah, knowledge you must have young Padawan! Although highly developed and richer than most other parts of the world, the continent still has causes that fall through the cracks. There are tons of volunteer opportunities in Europe, from working on a vineyard in France, volunteering in social work in poorer bits of London, or working with international NGOs like the Red Cross in Switzerland.
For those who are more passionate about the environment, there are many volunteer programs in Europe that focus on ecotourism and conservation. Help keep those oceans and landscapes squeaky clean and alive for years to come by planting trees, collecting trash, or protecting the wildlife.
Want to learn more? Here are the top places to volunteer in Europe in 2018!
Although a firm tourist favorite in Western Europe, there is still a lot of volunteer work in Italia. As a volunteer in Italy, you’ll help out with problems you wouldn’t otherwise know about behind those Italian smiles. Work with NGOs in Rome, Venice, and Naples to make a meaningful contribution to this iconic country. Help save dolphins, whales, and other marine life off the Napoli coastline. If you’re more of a land lover, volunteer to teach English to cute little bambinos or unearth treasures in ancient Pompeii.
Recommended program: Sign up for marine conservation in Italy with GoEco
International volunteers, believe it or not but France needs you now! Volunteer teach in classrooms or privately across the land. You can even teach English to your host family and learn some French in exchange. If you hate being inside all day and want to breathe some wholesome country air, why not help out on farms and vineyards, some of the more popular sources of volunteer work in Europe? On the other hand, if you want to help migrants better assimilate into French society, head to poorer areas of Paris and other metropolitan areas.
Recommended program: Tutor or volunteer abroad in France with GeoVisions
Tree huggers, looking for perfect volunteer projects in Europe? Go north to the real land of fire and ice, Iceland. Volunteers in Iceland can work in one of the most inspiring landscapes in the world, helping to preserve its steaming lagoons, volcanoes, waterfalls, and whale populations. Even if you aren’t too keen on its awesome nature, volunteers can also work in community service projects that serve Iceland’s women, children, and young people or help out at world-class film festivals.
Recommended program: Experience Iceland with Volunteers for Peace
Still looking for volunteer programs in Europe? Ireland is more than just the Emerald Isle and the home of Guinness. Volunteers in Ireland can work with a number of worthy causes. Help feed cats, dogs, rabbits, cows, and goats at a local shelter in Dublin. Teach your language to an Irish host family and in exchange, learn real Irish sayings besides “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!” Other short term volunteering Europe opps include training horses and serving the elderly.
Recommended program: Volunteer in Ireland with Connect-123
Volunteer in Europe by doing something meaningful in the country that gave the world English. With no real language barrier, you can devote more time to worthy projects across the land. Work with the homeless and elderly in London, find volunteer placements in academic research in Oxford, or head to Bournemouth on the southern coast to work in hotels, restaurants, charities, and organic farms.
Recommended program: Sign up for volunteer programs in London with The Intern Group
Volunteer abroad in Germany to experience a culture that really knows how to work hard to make it a better place for everyone. Perfect your German while volunteering at schools or daycare centers in beautiful villages or get a taste of the good life while au pairing in Berlin. Sporty guys and gals can help out at adventure and surf camps for kids. Looking for a more off the beaten track cause? Why not shadow German doctors, field map a forest for new tree growth, build a meadow labyrinth, or renovate a castle?
Recommended program: Volunteer and live with a German family with ELI Abroad
This country definitely knows how to keep international volunteers engaged with some of the most popular volunteer programs in Europe. Work with Spanish kids as an au pair, tutor, or English teacher. Help save the dolphins and whales in Tenerife. Volunteer at local non-profits, schools, and hospitals while learning español in Barcelona and Madrid. You can also help refugees and immigrants in Seville or join in archaeological digs on the Iberian Peninsula.
Recommended program: Volunteer in Spain with International Volunteer HQ
Even though the land of the Vikings boasts one of the highest standards of living in the world, Norwegians don’t just sit on their laurels. Did you know that nearly half of its citizens take part in some kind of volunteer work they call dugnad? Head to Oslo to work in community projects such as shelters for women and immigrants. Protect human rights in Bergen or volunteer on local farms and at a classical music festival in Stavanger.
Recommended program: Volunteer in Norway with Volunteer World
Although you may not be able to save the world à la Swedish House Mafia, you should still consider volunteer programs in Europe. Why not help out in Greece? Volunteer to teach English on the stunning island of Crete during the school year and at summer language camps. Help conserve the nesting areas of endangered loggerhead turtles or promote permaculture. Volunteer with NGOs that work with Syrian refugees suffering from PTSD or distribute food and clothing to refugee camps.
Recommended program: Volunteer in marine conservation in Greece with Frontier
10. The Netherlands
Although one of the most prosperous nations on the planet, the Netherlands still needs people who want to volunteer in Europe. Popular placements for volunteers include historic preservation, environmental conservation, community projects, teaching English, childcare, and working with animals. Volunteer with local and international NGOs in the Hague, Amsterdam, or Utrecht.
Recommended program: Volunteer teach in the Netherlands with i-to-i TEFL
A note from GoAbroad
We’d like to thank our community for not only inspiring us daily, but for also giving us enough insight to share accurate predictions for meaningful travel in 2018.
Learn more about our research methodology, recommended programs, and links here.
Browse more of this year's report on top destinations to find volunteer work abroad
- Best Countries to Volunteer Abroad Worldwide in 2018
- Best Countries to Volunteer Abroad in the Americas for 2018
- Best Countries to Volunteer Abroad in Africa in 2018
- Best Countries to Volunteer Abroad in the South Pacific & Asia for 2018
- See ALL top destinations for ALL travel