The best that Europe has to offer
When we think of Europe, the cities that first come to mind are London, Paris and Rome. While there is plenty to do in these tourist hotspots, why not experience a different side of Europe?
Take in spectacular coastal views, sip on the finest wines in the world, and explore castles that have been around for centuries. This is the Europe that has inspired countless fairy tales.
1. Take a day trip out of Amsterdam
A short train ride away from Amsterdam is the Zaanse Schans, an idyllic landscape of windmills and Dutch cottages. Watch how cheese and clog shoes are made in demonstrations by expert craftsmen who still follow time honoured traditions.
Do not miss Keukenhof, the most famous tulip garden in the world. The garden is only open from late March to early May. For these nine weeks, hundreds of tulip growers, breeders and product groups join forces to plant at least seven million tulips for the flower exhibition.
2. Hike around Cinque Terre
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cinque Terre is an enchanting cluster of villages perched on the rugged peaks of the Italian Riviera.
Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the five villages. Pay a visit to the parish church of St. John the Baptist and the convent of Monterosso al Mare. The large convent is visible from all parts of Cinque Terre and is a prime attraction for tourists thanks to its historical and artistic treasures.
Jaunt down the Via dell’Amore, otherwise known as the ‘Pathway of Love’. Enjoy the view of the dazzling coastline and place your own love lock along the path to symbolise unending love for your partner.
3. Visit Dubrovnik, Croatia aka King’s Landing
Game of thrones fans rejoice! You can now tour the film locations of the popular HBO television series. Visit King’s Landing and retrace the steps of your favourite characters. Look over Blackwater Bay from the fort’s impressive vantage point and recall how hellfire rained down on Stannis’ troops.
Even if you are not a Game of Thrones fan, Dubrovnik is still a popular destination amongst tourists for its scenic views of the Adriatic Sea. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 for its faithful preservation of its ancient city walls and beautiful baroque buildings.
4. Go wine tasting in Tuscany
The Tuscan region is famous for producing some of the best wines the world. Try the Brunello di Montalcino, a red wine with over a hundred years of history. It is currently one of Italy’s most famous and expensive wines.
Tuscany is also known for its dessert wine, Vin Santo, which is made using white grapes. Despite being a dessert wine, Vin Santo can range from being bone dry to very sweet so be sure to sample a variety to gain a better appreciation of its complex flavour.
5. Feel like European royalty
Despite being built hundreds of years ago, many European castles are still well preserved. Walk through guest rooms and dining halls that will awe you with the grandeur the nobility lived in. One of the most popular castles in Europe is the Neuschwanstein Castle, in Bavaria, Germany. Commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1869, it attracts 1.3 million tourists yearly and was the inspiration behind Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
6. Go on free walking tours
One of the best ways to orientate yourself with a new city is to go on a walking tour led by a local. Many tour organisations run free walking tours of popular European cities including Brussels, Barcelona and Prague.
The tours cover a gamut of popular tourist attractions and the guide will provide anecdotes along the way to help you gain a better understand the city you are in. Simply tip your tour guide or post a good review on Trip Advisor as a token of thanks.
7. Learn about the horrors of World War Two
For history buffs, visiting Germany’s capital of Berlin is a must. Explore the Reichstag Building, pay your respects at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and read first-hand accounts from victims of the war at the Topography of Terror.
You can also take a day trip to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, located roughly half an hour away from the city centre.
8. Museum hop
Europe is home to some of the best museums in the world. What’s more, tourists have access to most of these museums for free or at a small fee. These museums are often so big that they take days to complete.
Some of our top museums worth a visit include the National History Museum, British Museum and Tate Modern in London, the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris.
9. Ride a Husky dog sled
Let a team of trained Huskies pull you through the alpine snow of Glacier 3000 in Switzerland. Glacier 3000 is your one-stop shop to experience all the Swiss Alps have to offer. Go skiing, hiking or cross the Peak Walk, a suspension bridge that provides panoramic views of Switzerland’s most famous mountains.
10. Explore Venice on a gondola
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Venice, being serenaded on a gondola is a must. It might seem cheesy and overdone, but it still one of the most romantic and magical experience you can have in Europe.
Glide through the slowly rising waters of Venice and take in the sight of multi-coloured buildings all around you while you still can.
Whether it’s your first or fifth visit, Europe will always dazzle with its stunning architecture and pristine countryside. Its cultural and historical vibrancy will teach you something new at every turn.