Backroads of Europe

  • 4 Weeks

Already visited the major capitals? Start discovering the rest of Europe.

The far west of Ireland is rugged and uncrowded; start in bohemian Galway, with its colourful shopfronts and sensational music-filled pubs. A key stop on the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway is also the departure point for the wild Connemara region and windswept Aran Islands. Then travel to Northern Ireland – Belfast in particular, where world-class attractions include Titanic Belfast on the site where the liner was built. Unmissable pubs here include the ornate Crown Liquor Saloon, which is also a National Trust monument. From Belfast, it's also easy to strike out to awe-inspiring natural sights such as the Giant's Causeway. Catch a ferry to reach the dynamic Scottish city of Glasgow and check out the art nouveau architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, along with a trove of museums. Swing south to the atmospheric walled English city of York, crowned by its medieval cathedral York Minster, with outstanding museums detailing the city's history from Roman and Viking times onwards. Hop across to the Netherlands, where buzzing Rotterdam is a veritable open-air gallery of modern and cutting-edge architecture.

Travel to the dynamic eastern German cities of Leipzig, famed for its classic shopping arcades and its nightlife, and Dresden, whose historic core has been restored to its 18th-century glory. Turn south via the stunning Bavarian student hub of Regensburg, set on the banks of the Danube, to the temperate Swiss town of Lugano, on the shores of its sparkling namesake lake, bordered by a flowery promenade. Cross into Italy and stop at the cultured city of Turin, with its regal palazzi and baroque piazzas (ride the panoramic lift up its iconic tower Mole Antonelliana for 360-degree views), followed by beautiful Umbria spots such as Perugia, with its hilltop-perched medieval centre and splendid Gothic palace. In Italy's south, explore frenetic Naples and the winding Amalfi Coast, with villages precariously perched above the glittering sea. Scoot over to the sun-baked Mediterranean island of Sicily to experience its rugged landscapes as well as its ancient and colourful culture. Marvel at the Grecian Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, which rivals anything in Greece itself.