For art, architecture, beautiful cities, top-class museums and galleries, Europe has it all, and all of it is accessible and fun. There is always something to do and something wonderful to see.
For example, crossing into the Dolomites via the Brenner Pass is a vacation for the senses. In summer, colourful flower blossoms carpet the meadows. Travellers on foot behold the ancient limestone peaks as they stroll past farmhouses, tiny villages, and onion-domed churches.
Le Corbusier called the Dolomites "the most beautiful architecture in the world."
Lake Garda, ideal for fishing, swimming, windsurfing, sailing, canoeing, and yachting, has long attracted writers and thinkers. Goethe, Thomas Mann, and Sigmund Freud all holidayed here.
The city of Bolzano, ringed by ancient castles, offers insights into the Dolomites' rich history as well as its sophisticated pleasures. An ancient trading town once overseen by Tyrolean archduchess Claudia de Medici, it is today distinguished by its elegant shopping streets, gourmet shops, and colourful markets. While Italians visit it to "go abroad," northerners come to enjoy its Mediterranean climate.
Inspired by the fragrant orchards and lush vineyards of the city north of Bolzano, Kafka wrote: "Merano is the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen -- unforgettable, freer, broader, grander; the air is clearer and the sun stronger." Nearby Tyrol Castle, the ancestral home of nobility since 1140, dominates the valley. Nearby palatial hotels treat travellers royally.
In the west, Aosta Valley is girdled by Europe's four highest mountains (Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, and Gran Paradiso). Its French cultural heritage is evident at traditional carnivals and parades, marked by bountiful food and drink.
Lake Como stretches fjord-like for 50 miles from Lugano to the Bergamo Alps. Villas and vineyards are clustered at its southern end, and boats sail from picturesque lakeside towns such as Bellano and Como, Varenna and Lecco.
In Iceland, for stays of a couple of days, classic sightseeing attractions such as the "obligatory" Gullfoss waterfall, spouting Geysir and historic Þingvellir are always a stunning change from the urban landscape.
The Basque Country extends along the other side of the border, leading you into Spain. Bayonne, the capital of Labourd (the three French Basque provinces touching the sea), is the jewel in the crown of Basque urban heritage.
Bilbao is Spain's sixth-largest city and biggest port. It has a number of interesting secrets to reveal, as well as good food, and as a rail hub it serves as a centre for exploring some of the best attractions in the Basque country. Also, going west, towards the Atlantic Coast, you can visit Portuguese cities like Lisbon and Porto where old as well asmodern architecture meets beautiful beach landscapes.
Antwerp and diamonds: two concepts that have been closely related for over 500 years. Antwerp’s diamond district is located close to the Central Station and contained within an area of one square mile.
The Groeninge Museum is Bruges’ premier fine art museum holding a fabulous collection of Flemish masters such as Van der Weyden, Van Eyck, Memling, and Brueghel.
By day or by night, a magnificent way to explore Amsterdam is by boat. From the water you’ll have an impressive view of the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam’s daily life. At night, all the bridges are beautifully lit.
Britain is so steeped in history, so vibrant and so multi-cultural you can find something fascinating to do every day of the year, wherever you are. Spiralling outwards from London, the capital city, Britain offers everything from ancient castles to Sir Norman Foster cutting-edge buildings, from theme parks to zoos, from old pubs to new centres of entertainment. The really good news, and the envy of a lot of European cities, is that a lot of Britain’s best known attractions are completely free.
Capture the imagination with a visit to one of Ireland's castles, monuments, stately homes, or beautiful gardens, many with compelling tales of times gone by.
In Norway a guided tour by bus, sightseeing train or boat is a great way of seeing Bergen’s attractions and learning about the city. An organized bus tour of central Bergen which will include visits to some of the museums and attractions, is an excellent way of whetting the appetite for looking at Bergen in more detail later.
Bergen is the gateway to the fjords of Western Norway. Whether you only have time for a short sightseeing trip, or whether you want to see the area in more detail, there are plenty of tours to provide you with unforgettable memories.