Europe is a melting pot of colourful history, traditions, languages and cuisines thanks to the plethora of fascinating cultures that meet here. Boasting the added splendour of spectacular landscapes, the allure of this multifaceted continent is hard to deny. Beaches range from white and sandy to red and rocky, mountains soar with lush landscapes and snow-capped peaks, and sparkling lakes and winding rivers are just a few of the many natural highlights. From the volcanic landscapes of Iceland to the rolling green hills of the United Kingdom, adventures abound in many forms. A continent that feels the full force of the four seasons, whether you’re chasing sun, snow, flowers or the leaves of autumn, there’s a corner of Europe to savour it.
It’s not all about the dramatic countryside though. The buzzing cities, atmospheric towns and quaint local villages paint the best picture of everyday European life. Cosmopolitan metropolises offer fabulous shopping, dining, nightlife and world-class attractions. But you’ll also discover incredible museums, art galleries and famous icons dotted throughout. Marvellous architecture plays out in the city streets, remnants of years past, thanks to the many powerful empires, kingdoms, and ancient civilisations that once lived here. Modern history also abounds, from WWII battlegrounds to glamorous churches. History-buff or not, every traveller will find a slice of history to admire between the castles, mysterious monuments and mesmerising ancient tales and legends. From ancient Greece to the latest designs on the catwalk, Europe has it all.
Things to do
Europe screams possibilities. From the impressive galleries of Italy to the beauty of the Swiss Alps, from the shopping of Milan to the eclectic dining scene in London, there is so much to see and do. If you’re looking to take in the iconic European highlights, don’t miss the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Brandenburg Gate in Berlin or the treasures of the one and only Vatican City. Another must is a relaxing gondola ride along the winding canals of beautiful Venice. Fall in love with the medieval grandeur of Prague or get to know the Viking history of Sweden. Castles await in Ireland and Barcelona brims with colourful Gaudi architecture. From Buckingham Palace to opera performances in Vienna, you’ll never get bored.
If its natural beauty that most impresses, the Swiss Alps are hard to ignore. And nearby in neighbouring France and Austria, you’ll find exquisitely similar Alpine scenery. Hike the rolling green peaks in summer and glide down the glistening snow in winter. From the lochs of Scotland to the rolling vineyards of the Loire Valley, from the thick forests of Germany to the rare and captivating northern lights in Norway, a bounty of beauty is guaranteed. Get some island time in Croatia, Spain and around the Greek Islands, or cruise through the soaring fjords of the Baltics. You could even hike your way through the Spanish countryside or ride across Germany. From slow-paced bus tours to fabulous rail journeys, there are many ways to take in the mixed bag of sights Europe beholds.
Food & restaurants
Foodies will adore travelling through Europe. From the Swiss cheese to the French champagne, this is a continent that explodes with taste sensations. Tempt yourself with bratwurst in Germany, moussaka in Greece, or tapas and Sangria in Spain – maybe even while watching a flamenco show. Otherwise you could prepare an extravagant feast of olives, figs and cured hams in Croatia, go overboard with authentic pizza and pasta in Italy, or ride around France with baguettes and croissants toppling out of your bike basket. From Belgian chocolate to Hungarian Salami, the flavours, textures and tempting smells are mouth-wateringly good.
If you’re the kind of gourmet traveller who likes to indulge in top-notch dining, there are tonnes of cities around Europe that thrive with fancy restaurants. Try one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in London, including a wide range of celebrity chef establishments. Take to the beautiful outdoor dining scene of Paris, Barcelona or Bruges to enjoy a little people watching while you eat. Or indulge in fresh fish and octopus in Greece, with views out over the azure blue waters. You’ll find a great range of fabulous pubs around the United Kingdom and beer halls throughout Germany, the perfect place to fill up on German sausages and beers of every kind. If wine is more to your liking, go straight to the source in Portugal, France, Spain and Italy, or go somewhere more unique, like Hungary or Serbia to taste the burgeoning wine scene. From local liqueurs to exotic truffles, Europe is a taste sensation.
Whether it’s budget, travel style or creature comforts that decide your accommodation on the road, in Europe there’s always an option to suit. From eco-cottages to family-run pensions and soaring skyscraper hotels, the range in between is impressive. Families may appreciate the kid-friendly beach resorts on Spain's Costa Del Sol or Portugal's Algarve region. Otherwise, you could always spend a few nights at Disneyland. For more adult-centric resorts, check out hotspots such as the Greek Islands and Ibiza, or get active with some snow sports and book yourself into a ski resort in Austria. If it’s simply a bit of luxury that makes you feel welcome, Europe’s most cosmopolitan centres are full of great hotels offering everything from spa pampering and fine dining to glamorously furnished suites.
If you prefer small-scale accommodations with an authentic touch, opt for the local hospitality of a B&B in Croatia, or a family-run pension in Greece. You could even hire out your very own villa in Tuscany for the utmost in privacy, or a cosy chalet in the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland. Otherwise, Germany is known for its chic boutique offerings that have been decorated by inspired designers. For something really unique, consider a night in a castle hotel in Scotland, a summer-log cabin in Finland or an ice hotel in Sweden. From beach cabins to budget hotels, futuristic bubble hotels to uniquely themed inns, you’ll always have somewhere to put your head down in Europe.
Europe has a tremendous array of shopping options to suit every taste and budget, from traditional department stores to bustling markets and high-class fashion. Home to a number of big-name shopping destinations, don’t miss the designer boutiques and fabulous fashions of Milan, London, Madrid and the Haute Couture capital of the world, Paris. For regular fashions at a more affordable price, you’ll find some enormous shopping malls in Lisbon and London, and a wide range of great shopping in Florence and Istanbul. If it’s vintage fashion that gets your eye, don’t miss Berlin, London, Rome, Bologna and again, wonderful Paris, for some truly unique pieces.
If you prefer to shop for items iconic to your destinations, pick up some gold jewellery sprouting beautiful coral in Greece, a hand puppet in Prague or handicrafts in Croatia. You could also find some quirky one-off fashion pieces in Barcelona and cute little mini-clogs in Amsterdam. For a taste of European tradition with a festive feel, take in the merry atmosphere and seasonal delicacies of one of Europe’s great Christmas markets, which originated here and are particularly popular in Germany. At any time of the year though, you’ll always find a great flea market in Europe’s many bustling cities.