Few places pack the punch of Europe. From its Northern Lights to its Southern shores, this drama queen keeps on thrilling, surprising and confusing with her extraordinary wealth of sights, sounds, peoples and parties.
Overwhelming it can be, confusing for sure – just perusing a map of the crowded Old World will reveal cities, mountain ranges, seas and even countries you may never have even heard of. But the good news is that whatever you decide to do here, you’ll leave blown away by the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensations you’ll experience: there simply is no way to tour Europe and not be awestruck.
First timers might try a sprinkling of the classics (Britain, France, Germany, Spain and spice it up with a dash of something classical (Italy, Greece, Turkey, while those who have covered the essentials can try lesser-explored destinations (the Balkans, Scandinavia, Portugal or Poland. For the truly original the sky is the limit – Iceland, Albania, Moldova and Belarus all see few travellers, while for the true eccentric, microstates Andorra, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg might beckon.
Momentous history What a heritage Europe has! As well as the birthplace of democracy in Athens, the Forum of Rome, the renaissance buildings and art of Florence, the graceful canals of Venice and the Napoleonic grandeur of Paris, there’s always the less expected sites such as the Moorish palaces of Andalucía, the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the World in Turkey, the majesty of a second Venice in St Petersburg and the haunting buildings of Auschwitz in Poland.
Cutting-edge culture But Europe is far from preoccupied by its extraordinary past. The continent leads the world in fashion, art, music, architecture and design; just see the street styles and music scenes of London and Berlin, the ground-breaking design in Antwerp, Copenhagen and Stockholm or the amazing displays of contemporary art, well, just about everywhere.
Breathtaking landscapes Glorious scenery your thing? Try out the awesome fjords of Norway, the stunning scenery of the Scottish Highlands, the volcanic dramatics of Iceland, the breathtaking Alps of France, Switzerland and Italy, and the lesser-known mountains of Spain, Slovenia, Southern Poland and Slovakia. For beach life you can fight for some sand on France’s Côte d’Azur, Spain’s Costa Brava or Portugal’s Algarve, or – far more enjoyably – discover your own pristine beach in Albania, Bulgaria or on the gem-like islands of Greece and Croatia.
Smashing stereotypes A trip around Europe’s patchwork of nations will inevitably make you rethink what you thought you knew about the place. As with any form of travel, surprises await: nationalities about whom you know little beyond lazy clichés will become humanised, complex and contradictory; you will feel the chill on your spine when you see that iconic work of art in the flesh or find yourself standing right where that happened. You will at least once find yourself on a beach, up a mountain, at a café or in a club thinking ‘these people know how to live’.
Yes, Europe has and offers it all. So don’t delay – get planning your own European odyssey as soon as you can. With so many extraordinary destinations offering incredible things to see and do, your only problem will be where to begin…
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
- See the highlights of Italy in a week
- Cycle and sail in Croatia
- Discover the realm of the polar bear
- Explore Eastern Europe in 18 days
Need more inspiration? Check out our best photos and videos from around Europe and dive into Thorn Tree's Europe branches, where the world's most experienced travel community unearths the continent's hidden gems.
Best places to stay in Europe
Top 10 European travel destinations for 2013
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Top 10 winter destinations in Europe
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Museums and galleries in Paris
Croatia's best islands
Berlin's best nightlife
Europe's best national parks
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Secret Mediterranean islands where you can escape the crowds
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7 great reasons to see Europe before the summer
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How to travel in Europe
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Shopping in London
Architecture in Barcelona
Mosques of Istanbul
Seven startling sights of Eastern Europe
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Europe’s hot springs: 20 of the best spots for a soak
Sliding into a bathtub after a long day is one of life’s little luxuries, but there’s nothing quite like the restorative buzz garnered by a dip in a proper thermal pool. From Iceland’s idyllic Blue Lagoon to Switzerland’s most chic spa, here’s a rundown of some of Europe’s best hot springs...
Feast on Europe's best food trucks
Food trucks may be trendy now but the concept is hardly new. Since the turn of the century, hungry workers have counted on mobile vans and stalls lining city streets to provide cheap, filling fixes...
Jump the queue! Get straight to Europe's classic sights.
Summer can spell trouble for the traveller in Europe. The weather may be gorgeous, but queues for popular attractions start to stretch. That's where a bit of savvy reaps tremendous rewards. A few tricks will let you stroll past the sweating hordes on your way to your highlight of choice...
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Mont Blanc Family Adventure
A special family adventure through the Alps to view famous peaks and glaciers
Tour Scandinavia and discover the many charms and delights on this two-week adventure through Norway, Sweden and Finland. Travel through some of Europe's most stylish capitals and be wowed by some of the world's biggest fjords. Visit Norway's uber-cool Oslo, travel to Sweden's vibrant Stockholm and explore Finland's hip Helsinki.
Eastern Europe, Croatia & the Balkans
This epic cross-European adventure offers an intriguing combination of Central Europe's castles and romantic squares with the Balkan's own historic towns and wondrous landscapes.
Europe's greatest seaside escapes
The greatest seaside escapes are usually the ones that nobody else knows about: the ones down the mile-long sandy trail, the ones at the bottom of the rickety steps, the ones you have to inflate a dinghy and paddle to. But even the most well-known places can feel intimate if you time it right...
Europe's 8 best night trains
The midnight thump and clunk of railway carriages being uncoupled and shunted in a station somewhere in central Europe is not in itself romantic. But add in that this is the night train between Paris and Venice, and that you’re tucked up in bed six feet off the floor, and everything’s somehow more exciting. ...
Europe’s top 10 scenic rail journeys
Give thanks to the engineers who built railways across Europe's most difficult terrain, their hard work has translated into some of the world's most picturesque journeys – in Scandinavia along icy rivers to fjords, in Germany, Switzerland and Italy through carved valleys in the Alps, along the swirling Rhine River dotted with...
Europe's six surprise islands
Europe’s most popular holiday islands draw major tourist crowds to its well-known charms - everyone knows Ibiza as Party Central - but with a bit of insider info, you can hit these islands and manage to have that castaway, lush-mountains-and-entire-beaches-to-yourself kind of holiday. A real island getaway...
Forget the Med: five stunning stretches of coast in northern Europe
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Tour de dessert: Europe’s most delicious pastries, cakes and tarts
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