INDEX BY LOCATION: Europe | British Isles | Australia

Travel Europe: What To See And Do

Visit amazing sites in more than 50 countries. Experience vastly different cultures, languages and food within short train rides from city to city.

Nearly 30 European Union countries have a single currency and relaxed border crossings, making European travel quite easy. Ride a train for several hours on the continent and enter a new country. From Arctic Circle Nordic nations to warm southern Mediterranean countries, you’ll find modern cities alongside vestiges of ancient civilizations.

Visit Italy and Greece to wander through ruins of early empires. In Rome, see the Colosseum, in Athens, the Acropolis. Relax on glorious beaches in both countries. Explore some of the 6,000 islands of Greece and view the Ligurian Sea from high walking paths along terraced vineyards in Italy’s Cinque Terre. Pay papal respects at Vatican City, Europe’s smallest nation.

France is famous for wine, Mediterranean beaches and art galleries. Explore the grand canyon of the Gorges du Verdon and ski the French Alps. Visit weekly markets in small Provencial towns, perched villages in the Luberon and sandy beaches near Saint-Tropez. In Paris, tour the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay and the Centre Georges Pompidou. Walk along the Champs-Elysees and view the city from atop the Eiffel Tower.

Spain and Portugal highlight modern-day Iberian cultures. In Portugal, eat luscious Belem pastries, visit the 500-year-old Jeronimos Monastery and see raging waves on Europe’s westernmost land. Ski in the Pyrenees Mountains, run with the bulls in Pamplona and dance the flamenco in Madrid or Barcelona, Spain. Venture into the region between Spain and France to tour Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum and experience unique Basque culture and language.

Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark feature Scandinavian customs and foods, including endless Smorgasbord buffets. See far northern lands near the Arctic Circle with summer sunshine through the day and night. Find quiet forests in Finland, Viking history at Sweden’s Vasa Museum and striking fjords on the shores of the Norwegian Sea.

The United Kingdom has Scottish heaths, Welsh castles and British pomp and pageantry across England. See the Crown Jewels and attend West End theatre in London. Cross the water to Ireland and bike over rolling green hills past ancient Celtic landmarks.

Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland offer glorious music, castles and centuries of history. Appreciate the Dom cathedral in Cologne, the symphonic orchestra in Vienna, ancient Roman settlements in Budapest, St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague and the old towns of Krakow and Gdansk.

Visit museums, art galleries and places of worship in Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and other countries once isolated beyond U.S.S.R. borders.

Select one or two countries for a short trip to Europe or plan an annual visit to discover the beauty and history of this glorious continent.

Best time to visit Europe

Visit Europe in the spring for warm days and cool nights. Summer brings longer days and lovely weather, but can be busy; August is when locals escape for their annual holiday. Autumn in Europe brings the changing colors and fewer crowds. In terms of rainfall, Autumn is the driest season. Winter is best for avid skiers and bargain hunters.

Peak Season: Most visitors from the U.S. explore Europe in the spring and summer months. Early fall tends to be busy in popular convention areas, and rates can be higher during this time.

Value Season: Winter and early spring see fewer travelers, and can be a great time to visit if you’re looking for discounted flights and hotel rates.

Destinations: Europe

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The home of Lego, childrens author Hans Christian Andersen and legendary comedian Victor Borge, the setting of one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, Hamlet, and the place where you’ll find the world’s longest pedestrian street, Denmark has a lot to offer. To the north of Copenhagen you’ll find a wide choice of castles and palaces, including Kronborg Castle in Elsinore (the setting of Hamlet). To the east is the stunning Oresund Bridge. The longest road and rail bridge in Europe, it connects Denmark to Sweden.


Fire and ice reign supreme on this volcanic island as the region’s active volcanoes vie for supremacy against the powerful march of the glaciers. Keep your camera handy, for the resulting scenery is truly breathtaking with snow capped mountains, steaming geysers, thundering waterfalls, pools of boiling mud, lava fields and lush, green valleys. Reykjavik is one of the smallest capital cities in the world, but enjoys world class museums such as the National Museum and the nearby Viking Museum.


Norway’s natural landscape is awe-inspiring. Fjord Cruises allow you enjoy thundering waterfalls, towering snow capped peaks, bottomless pools and crystal clear lakes, terrifying cliffs, sharp valleys and the most amazing natural phenomenon of all, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). Add to this the gentle welcome of the friendly Norwegian people, an enchanting history where myth intertwines with fact to enhance the story of the Vikings, and you can be sure of a real treat.


Spread over a mini archipelago of 14 islands, Stockholm’s beauty is reflected in the water that surrounds it. Stroll through the quaint narrow streets of the Old Town, where you can browse boutiques and linger at cafes to soak up the Scandinavian ambience. Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg is undergoing a transformation from industrial seaport to centre of culture and there is plenty to do and see, including fantastic restaurants and museums. Or for a break from the city, head to Visby, Sweden’s alluring island resort and home to sandy beaches, green meadows and an impressive 92 churches dating back to the 13th century.


Enjoy a speed boat expedition to explore the Finnish Archipelago and get up close to the giant Icebreakers, moored for the summer season. Wander through the fragrant Sibelius Park in Helsinki and see the monument to honour Finland’s greatest composer. Head out of town to the picturesque settlement of Porvoo and take a snap of one of the most photographed views in Finland, the row of red, riverside storehouses. Finally, find a cosy cafe – there’s plenty to choose from – kick back and join the Finns in one of their favourite pastimes; drinking freshly roasted coffee.


Greenland is the world’s largest non-continental island, in the far northeast of North America, largely within the Arctic. Although it is still part of the Kingdom of Denmark, it was granted self-government effective in 1979, more recently it voted for more autonomy, in effect making it a separate country with formal ties to Denmark. Greenland is a place of icebergs, hot springs, the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun, The Ice Sheet, Glaciers and a diversity of wildlife including sea eagles, seals, whales, musk oxen and polar bears.


European Russia stretches from the borders of Belarus and Ukraine to the Ural mountains, over 1000km east of Moscow; even without the rest of the vast Russian Federation, it constitutes by far the largest country in Europe. Formerly a powerful tsarist empire and a Communist superpower, Russia continues to be a source of fascination for travellers. While access is still made relatively difficult by lingering Soviet-style bureaucracy, independent travel is increasing every year, and visitors are doubly rewarded by the cultural riches of the country and the warmth of the Russian people.


Estonia is a beautiful, unspoiled country with much of it covered in forest. Its largest city, Tallinn, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The quaint cobbled streets and medieval houses of the Old Town are lovely and definitely worth a visit. Outside of the city, you will be treated to Estonia’s wonderful natural heritage. The Tuhala Landscape Reserve is home to attractions such as the Witch’s Well, a naturally occurring spring that occasionally appears to ‘boil’. Alternatively you could lose yourself in the relatively untouched landscapes and ecosystems of North Korvemaa, with its forests, bogs and glacier-formed plateaus.


Latvia is a Baltic state in Northern Europe. The most famous travel spot is the capital Riga, a World Heritage Site. There are also many other great places to see, both urban and rural, such as Liepaja with its unique former secret military town of Karosta and a magnificent beach. Kuldiga with Europe`s widest waterfall and Cesis with its medieval castle ruins are also interesting. Tourists can also enjoy the wild beauty of Latvia’s unspoilt sea coast, which is 500 km long and consists mainly of white, soft sandy beaches. Forests, which cover approximately a half of Latvia’s territory, offer many nature trails and nature parks.


Lithuania is situated at the geographical centre of Europe. It is washed by the Baltic Sea, covered with dense forests and meandering rivers and lakes, respectful of its traditions, proud of the Lithuanian language, nurturing its UNESCO world heritage sites, and open to innovations. Lithuania is a vibrant and quirky country, which has undergone rapid modernization since becoming independent from the Soviet Union in 1990. You’ll find a lively nightlife, both in Vilnius and on the coast, ample grounds for outdoor pursuits in the as yet unspoiled national parks and a number of good beaches, as well as a stark contrast between city life and rural poverty.


For many, Poland’s shipbuilding culture, which centres around Gdansk, also forms the heart of Polish culture and the birth of its Solidarity Movement. Although WWII hammered many of Gdansk’s old buildings, a restoration programme has successfully returned much of the Old Town to its former glory. Must sees include the medieval Gdansk Crane, the Town Hall and the Golden Gate. Poland is famed for its fine glass and amber jewellery and Gdansk’s Old Town provides plenty of quaint shops specialising in beautiful examples of exquisite craftsmanship.


The Czech Republic (or informally Czechia) is a small landlocked country in Central Europe, situated southeast of Germany and bordering Austria to the south. In South Moravia, this region contains some of the best vineyards in the Czech Republic, and remains off the well-beaten path for most international tourists. The Czech Republic contains a vast amount of architectural treasure, as well as beautiful forests and mountains to match.


A visit to the Netherlands is a foray into a friendly, cultured and artistic land. This low lying country is shored up from the sea and rivers with great escarpments of dykes. Charming windmills dot the landscape, as do the greenhouses and fields of colour that host thousands of tulips. The Netherlands is not short on culture and can claim Rembrandt, Vermeer, van Gogh, Mondriaan and Escher among its noted artists. Much of their work can be seen in the wonderful art galleries of the capital, Amsterdam. The city is also the location of the Anne Frank Museum, set in the house where the girl wrote her diary while in hiding during Nazi occupation.


Famed for chocolate, beer and chips, what is there not to love about Belgium? Aficionados would add art, lace and mussels to the list, all of which are definitely worth trying in this small, friendly country. The bi-lingual capital, Brussels, plays host to the European Union and NATO which sit comfortably alongside sights such as the impressive Grand Place and famed bronze statue, Manneken Pis. No visit to Belgium would be complete without a trip to Bruges. Often hailed the Venice of the north thanks to its stunning architecture and maze of canals, this medieval city is one of Europe’s real treasures.


The Emerald Isle must surely be one of the most beautiful and friendly places on earth. Outside of the cities, tiny country lanes wind their way through lush green fields and pass through idyllic villages built around their pubs and churches. In Dublin, Ireland’s capital, you can wander through elegant Georgian squares and terraces, stroll along the banks of the Liffey or pop into a pub for an impromptu singalong. Everywhere you go, you’ll be welcomed by the Irish people, whose warm hospitality is legendary. Must sees outside Dublin include the Glendalough ruins, Waterford Crystal Factory, Bunratty Castle, Blarney and the breathtaking Wicklow Mountains, enjoy this magnificent country with a cruise from Southampton.


Italy is home to one of the world’s most historical and spiritual sites, a universally adored cuisine and a passionate nation. In ancient Rome you can gaze at Michelangelo’s magnificent Sistine Chapel ceiling or explore the Colosseum where gladiators once fought. In Florence, feast your eyes on intricate Renaissance art or browse the jewellery shops along the Ponte Vecchio, the bridge dating back to 1345. Pose in Pisa for the essential holiday snap standing against the famous leaning tower or lick some of the most sensational gelato under the Mediterranean sun. In breathtaking Venice explore the canals on foot or by the uniquely Venetian gondolas; visit St Mark’s Square or the Doge’s Palace.


Sun, sea, sand, glamour – the French Riviera has it all. You could join the chic elite sipping champagne cocktails in a waterfront bar, overlooking luxury yachts moored in the harbour at Monte Carlo. Or you could retrace the red carpet steps taken by film festival stars at Cannes. For a spot of culture, explore Aix-en-Provence, home and inspiration to the painter Cezanne. Wander through the cobbled alleys of Marseille’s Old Port for an insight into the region’s rich trading and maritime history. For a sense of Provencal colour, hop in a car to catch a glimpse of the Camargue’s white horses, or the stunning fields of lavender blue and sunflower yellow.


History, culture, and natural beauty perhaps best describe the essence of vacationing in Germany. With its historic cities and small towns, along with an abundance of forests and mountains, visitors are spoiled for choice. Those wanting to sightsee or experience the arts should head to the metropolitan areas, while those looking to engage in recreational activities should visit places such as the Bavarian Alps, the Black Forest, or the Mosel Valley. Lovely old cathedrals and grand palaces are everywhere, and in the smaller towns and villages, many centuries-old traditions continue. At the cultural heart of Germany is the capital, Berlin, home to many fine museums and galleries.


Switzerland is a mountainous Central European country, home to numerous lakes, villages and the high peaks of the Alps. Its cities contain medieval quarters, with landmarks like capital Bern’s Zytglogge clock tower and Lucerne’s wooden chapel bridge. The country is also known for its ski resorts and hiking trails. Banking and finance are key industries, and Swiss watches and chocolate are world renowned.


Austria is a landlocked alpine German speaking country in Central Europe. Austria, along with neighbouring Switzerland, is the winter sports capital of Europe. However, it is just as popular for summer tourists who visit its historic cities and villages and hike in the magnificent scenery of the Alps. Today’s Austria is what was once the German speaking core and centre of power for the large multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire with its imperial capital in Vienna.


A major gateway in Central Europe, Hungary offers many diverse destinations: relatively low mountains in the north-west, the Great Plain in the east, lakes and rivers of all sorts (including Balaton – the largest lake in Central Europe), and many beautiful small villages and hidden gems of cities. Top this off with Hungary’s great accessibility in the middle of Europe, a vivid culture and economy, and you get a destination absolutely not worth missing if you’re in the region. Hungary is one of the 15 most popular tourist destinations in the world, with a capital regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world.


Stable, prosperous and welcoming, Slovenia is a charming and comfortable place to travel, with architecturally grand, cultured cities, and lush pine-forested countryside, perfect for hiking and biking in summer and skiing in winter. The country managed to avoid much of the strife that plagued other nations during the messy disintegration of the Yugoslav Republic, and has integrated quickly with Western Europe, joining the eurozone at the start of 2007.


Hungarians and Turks came to Slovakia for its natural resources, and so does the modern tourist. Broad, sprawling mountains mean good skiing and snowboarding, there’s excellent caving in the Karst, and the rambling hilly midlands are a hiker’s paradise. Sharing borders with Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine, Slovakia is landlocked, with high mountains in the north, low mountains in the centre, hills to the west, and the Danube basin to the south.


Turkey charms everyone who visits with its eclectic mix of rich cultures and style. The point where Europe meets Asia, countless empires have left their mark, which have now been woven seamlessly into the modern day. Head to Bodrum, for the Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Ephesus for its unrivalled history, or Istanbul to stock up on authentic Turkish delights and local olive oils.


Bulgaria, a country in the Balkans on the western side of the Black Sea, is one of the few exotic nations of Europe, due to the fact that it boasts sublime beaches, lovely churches, winter sport opportunities and great hiking, to name a few. Although it has traditionally not been regularly visited by Westerners compared to other European nations, this is beginning to change. It is a beautiful place, with a wide range of activities for a traveller to do.


Montenegro is a Balkan country with rugged mountains, medieval villages and a narrow strip of beaches along its Adriatic coastline. The Bay of Kotor, resembling a fjord, is dotted with coastal churches and fortified towns such as Kotor and Herceg Novi. Durmitor National Park, home to bears and wolves, encompasses limestone peaks, glacial lakes and 1,300m-deep Tara River Canyon. The glamorous coastal town of Budva is a Montenegro highlight.


Croatia will beguile you with picturesque bays, beaches, steep cliffs and dense woodland. Although severely damaged by war, Dubrovnik’s impressive medieval architecture and its beautiful Mediterranean landscape still remain. Split’s 1700-year-old harbour looks like a fairytale and is a great jumping off point for the Adriatic islands which enjoy some of the world’s best beaches.


Portugal is one of Europe’s oldest extant nations, an ancient kingdom defended by hilltop castles and dramatic walled towns. First-time visitors are usually struck by the friendliness of the people, the affordable food and wine, and the diversity of a country that is relatively easy to travel round in just a few days. Its cities – notably Lisbon and Porto – amply showcase Portugal’s former role as a maritime superpower that ruled the waves from Brazil to East Asia, though it’s not all about history: the cities boast some of Europe’s best clubs and most adventurous modern architecture.


With its fast-paced cities, laid-back islands and passion for football, fashion, food and wine, Spain is a truly fascinating country. In buzzing Barcelona you can marvel at Gaudi’s inspiring architecture or feast on delicious tapas in a shaded pavement cafe; explore the city’s many churches and cathedrals or hit the shops for a shot of Catalan style. On the island of Mallorca you can sip a jug of Sangria in one of Palma’s waterfront cafes or head for the beach and stretch out on the sand.


Greece is packed with the most amazing itinerary of things to see and do, among its most popular destinations are its myriad islands. Make sure you don’t miss the awe inspiring splendour of the Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens, or the idyllic islands of Crete and Corfu. Olympia, birthplace of the modern Olympics is a must, as is the mystery of the lost kingdom of Atlantis.


Serbia was a founder and one of the six republics of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was such a beautiful country with so many different attractive places that somehow, Serbia was neglected and it is still to be rediscovered. From the plains of Vojvodina, which in winter, remind of the scenes from the film of Dr. Zhivago, to many mountains and lakes or reservoirs and ski resorts of outstanding beauty. Serbs are very welcoming towards tourists, though the country’s full potential as a travel destination has yet to be reached.


Viewed from a distance, there’s no mistaking the cluster of towers that is Monaco. Postwar redevelopment rescued the tiny principality from economic decline but elbowed aside much of its previous prettiness – not for nothing was Prince Rainier, who died in 2005, known as the Prince Batisseur (Prince Builder). This tiny state, no bigger than London’s Hyde Park, retains its comic opera independence: it has been in the hands of the autocratic Grimaldi family since the thirteenth century, and in theory would become part of France were the royal line to die out.


The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1769 and is officially the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean. Corsica boasts the most perfect panoramas, with nearly half of the island being dedicated to nature reserves including the Scandola Nature Reserve which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We defy you not to fall in love with the island’s rugged coastline, sprinkled with picture-perfect sandy beaches. The island’s capital, Ajaccio, is crammed with all things Napoleon, from his childhood home to the cathedral where he was christened.


For a few chunks of rock in the southern Mediterranean, Malta is a hugely versatile destination. Like its unique language, the country is an intriguing blend of Italian, Arabic and British influences, a legacy of centuries of invasion and assimilation. Valletta, the Maltese capital, has been missing from the tourist radar for years. This sixteenth-century city has remained remarkably preserved, a grid of elegant houses with a view of the sea at the end of every cobbled street.


Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, is just off the “toe” of Italy’s “boot.” Its rich history is reflected in sites like the Valley of the Temples, the well-preserved ruins of 7 monumental, Doric-style Greek temples, and in the Byzantine mosaics at the Cappella Palatina, a former royal chapel in capital city Palermo. On Sicily’s eastern edge is Mount Etna, one of Europe’s highest active volcanoes.


The Canary Islands are an Atlantic territory of Spain on the west coast of Africa, near Morocco, Cape Verde and the archipelagos of the Azores Islands and Madeira Islands, both Portuguese territories. The island of Tenerife is the most popular receiving 5.77 million tourists in 2016 and has many museums and monuments that serve as portrayals of its rich history.
Las Palmas is the capital of Gran Canaria, the second largest of the Canary Islands. A major cruise-ship port, the city is known for duty-free shopping and for its sandy beaches.

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