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Expert Tips to Get the Most Out of Europe

23rd September 2015

Europe is a magnet for over-50 travellers. Offering the perfect blend of fascinating foreign cultures and modern creature comforts, years-old history and stunning natural landscapes, many travellers find themselves being lured back here time and time again. Today we’re chatting to Trafalgar’s team of experts – the ones who lead the way, know the local ins and outs and most of all, live, love and breathe Europe every day. Take a look at their top tips and insights to get the most out of your next European holiday.

What are your favourite destinations in Europe?

Sicily as it’s the junction of civilisation, inhabited by Greeks, Arabs, Normans and the mafia at various points throughout its history, resulting in lots of amazing culture. It’s also so varied – you can ski on one side of Mount Etna, whilst the other side has almost daily eruptions. It’s a beautiful place, which doesn’t really experience winter. Giacomo, Travel Director

 Sicily should be at the top of your list.

Stockholm, with its beautiful islands. The architecture is stunning on the water with both the lake and the Baltic and there’s an eclectic mix of modern and old. You can get lost in tiny streets. Cat, Travel Director

The Giant’s Causeway and Belfast, which has become very vibrant and exciting over the past few years, with the introduction of a new concert hall, the Titanic Museum and lots of shops and bars. Galway is also a favourite. Jill, Travel Director

What are some of the great little spots you’ve discovered on your travels?

I love taking my guests to a bunker on D-day Beach in Normandy that's hidden up a track. We walk inside and see the original gun, and usually meet other folks and share stories; it's amazingly moving. Sarah, Travel Director

The 16th century farm and vegetable garden in the grounds of Chenonceau Castle in the Loire Valley are real hidden gems. Vanessa, Travel Director

 Look closer to discover hidden gems at the beautiful Chenonceau Castle.

The Stadio dei Marmi in Rome is a running track, built in the 1920s, which is surrounded by beautiful marble statues of athletes. Lisa, Travel Director

What’s an emerging destination to add to the bucket list?

Croatia. There’s more to Croatia than unspoiled beaches, glittering waters and idyllic islands. Step back in time in cities such as Dubrovnik and Split, marvel at historic sites such as Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace or explore the waterfalls and lakes in National Park of Plitvice. Jaklien, Trafalgar Blogger

 The stunning Plitvice Lakes offer a taste of Croatia away from the coastline.

What are some unique European wine destinations?

Greece is one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world. Many quality Greek wines come from regions such as Macedonia, Thessali and the Peloponnesos, as well as some of the Ionian and Aegean Islands. Another European country that produces decent wines is Hungary. There are 22 wine regions in Hungary, each producing a variety of red and white wines. England produces wine too and some decent ones to boot. Otherwise, try the drops on offer in Switzerland and Croatia. Jaklien, Trafalgar Blogger

Explore at your own pace. At the Wheel: Europe's Top Scenic Drives

Prefer to Peddle? Europe's Top 10 Cycle Cities

Quintessential Bites. Best Afternoon Teas in London

What are some of your favourite foodie experiences in Europe?

Francesco's is a family-run café in Florence that expanded a few years ago, and they discovered Roman ruins under the restaurant that no-one knew about. The family are so proud that they show them to my guests for free. Lynda, Travel Director

Socca is a local speciality from a town near Nice, in France, which is made from chickpea flour; it's like a galette. No-one knows about it but I like to take my guests to a little place where it's made, and the man who serves it is very friendly. Marie, Travel Director

 socca france food Chickpea pancakes known as socca are a must-try in the south of France.

In San Gimignano in Tuscany, Marcella, who has run her own pasticceria since the 1970s, greets me in the street in front of her shop like an old friend, inviting everyone in for a cookie. Rachel, Travel Director

What’s a great well-rounded tour for those seeing Europe for the first time?

I love the European Whirl itinerary because it takes in a lot of the major sights and countries, whilst offering lots of variety. It’s also great because it does a whole loop from London and takes 12 days – which is great for those that only have a couple of weeks to explore. The journey winds through Amsterdam, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Paris, taking in everything from ancient historical ruins to beautiful mountains and the cosmopolitan city life. Liesa, Trafalgar Product Developer

What’s Europe like through the seasons?

Summer’s a great time to visit Europe – glorious sunshine, lush countryside, cafes spilling out onto the streets. Or in Italy and Spain, it’s catching the tail-end of summer and exploring sights like the Colosseum or mingling with locals at Barcelona’s La Boqueria Market at a time when Europe’s more calm and crowd-free. But it’s also a fabulous continent to visit during autumn, winter and spring, for many reasons. Europe’s also a magical place to be in winter: snowy scenes, twinkling lights and oodles of festive cheer.

 Europe's famed Christmas markets make travelling in winter all the more magical.

I don’t think you can beat Europe’s Christmas markets for true festive spirit. In autumn, it’s taking in the riot of colour as you stroll or cycle through the leafy parks of London. In springtime, Europe comes alive with colours and scents. As gardens begin to blossom, evenings get lighter and warm sunshine makes a regular appearance. Holland is renowned for its vibrant tulip fields and during spring, blues, pinks, oranges and reds stretch as far as the eye can see. Liesa, Trafalgar Product Developer

Have you got any great packing tips?

Don’t forget all the various chargers and local adaptors for electronic items, and carry a waterproof jacket or an umbrella, just in case! Amanda, Travel Director

Bring layers and a variety of clothing so you’ll be comfortable no matter what the weather. Kate, Travel Director

Having good, comfortable shoes are a must! Also, bring an alarm clock along with you as back up so you can get up, have breakfast and leave the hotel rejuvenated and ready for the day! Marie, Travel Director

There’s no need to dress up. All you might need is a quick freshen up after the day, a clean top and something slightly warmer to cover up if it gets chilly at night. Jill, Travel Director

If you need anything extra, you can always buy it whilst on the trip! Colette, Travel Director

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