At Visit Europe, we love handing over the reins to someone who really knows and loves Europe. In that way, he or she can share with you all their inside tips. This time around, we have lifestyle and travel blogger Lud Araujo, who experienced the Christmas side of Europe. Follow his itinerary in 6 top European destinations. Lud has chosen hidden or off-the-beaten-path experiences. Explore his itinerary, share it, and most of all, follow it on your next trip!
Overview: This Austrian powerhouse of beauty is surrounded by some of the most stunning mountains on the planet.
Lud’s itinerary: For Lud, the best views of wintery Innsbruck are to be found at the Panorama at Hungerburg. From this spot, you can breathe in everything that makes this city special during the cold months: gorgeous buildings and parks covered in soft snow. Does history pique your interest? Make sure to take a stroll through the Kiebachgasse and Riesengasse to witness fairy tale lane, a place where numerous characters from famous fairy tales come to life. Finally, make sure to try local delicacies like Dengg-Kiachl with cabbage, mulled wine, and flammkuchen. When the sun sets, stroll the city—it only gets more beautiful in the soft light.
Overview: The glimmering home city of Mozart, a chocolate powerhouse, and much more.
Lud’s itinerary: Lud spent the day in Salzburg gliding over sparkling ice at the skating rink in Mozart Square. This is particularly magical because as you skate, you can see all the historical buildings surrounding the rink. In fact, this square dates back hundreds of years.
At night, Lud took in some culture with a Mozart dinner in the historical Mirabell Palace, which has a wonderful city view! Last but not least, if you’re a Sound of Music fan, there are wonderful, intimate tours of famous shooting locations. What a thrill it is to see the places where the von Trapps serenaded for the silver screen.
Overview: A South Bohemian paradise of history and food.
Lud’s itinerary: This lovely region of Czechia is known for its world-class markets. Though the holiday season is behind us, much remains! Lud walked the city’s picturesque streets, stopping at small shops and market stands to taste delicious treats like trdelnik (crispy rolled pastries) and grilled sausages, which are local delicacies. One of Lud’s great realizations in Czechia was that this country is a hidden culinary gem. In the evening, with snow falling over the ancient buildings, he dined at a traditional Czech restaurant, tasting staples of local cuisine. His favorites were hearty goulash, steaming dumplings, roasted meats, carp soup, pumpkin soup, bread with honey, and potato salad.
Overview: A city just as majestic as the capital but way less busy.
Lud’s itinerary: Local life bustles in Brno, a place where travelers seem never to stop. Lud spent his time at the Ossuary of the Church of St James, the second biggest ossuary in Europe and the resting place of as many as fifty thousand people. But Brno is not just about the past! With its vibrant youth scene, it’s also home to some great local culture and nightlife. Lud suggests Super Panda Circus, a place for cocktails, where to enter, you must ring a bell and where the bartender determines your drink based on several unique questions. Another great spot is Pivní burza Veveří, a brewery with the theme of a “stock exchange.” At each table, there’s a screen, and as drinkers select their beer, the price rises or falls, depending on demand.
Overview: Witness stunning Slovakia and this city dubbed “Little Rome”.
Lud’s itinerary: Trnava is a city of churches that dates to the 13th century. It’s no surprise, thus, that there is remarkable architecture to discover here. What’s more, this city is rarely included in the guidebooks, so coming here means immersing yourself in a rich and ancient culture that hordes of visitors have not spoiled. Lud explored Trnava’s 13th-century city wall, which is wonderfully well-preserved. Walking alongside it is a lovely way to have a look at the medieval parts of the city. Another hidden experience Lud suggests is visiting the Ján Koniarek Gallery, founded by the eponymous Slovak sculptor. Though Trnava might be known for its churches, a magnificent synagogue was the center of religious life for Jews before the Holocaust. Situated on Halenárska Street in the very heart of the historic center, this Moorish-Byzantine structure is stunning, if haunting, an ode to a prior era.
Overview: If Slovakia is one of the most deserving countries in Europe for your attention, its capital, Bratislava, is one of the most deserving cities. Why is Bratislava so often missed? It’s a mystery to Lud. Start your day as Lud did with a visit to the Bratislava Castle, once the home and seat of the country’s rulers and a great symbol of Slovakia. Once you’ve observed the city from above and walked the grounds of this lovely locale, you’ll probably have worked up an appetite. Slovakia serves up a delicious duck or goose, especially in winter, so seek out these two delicacies if you are a meat lover. After lunch, Lud explored the Old Town and its meticulously well-preserved buildings, making stops at the Presidential Palace, Michael’s Gate (which opens up to the heart of Old Town), the Primate’s Palace, St. Martin’s Cathedral, and the painted windows on the abandoned church (Obrazáreň pri Dóme) nearby it. At the end of all this exploration, you’ll probably be starving again. Do like Lud, choose a local restaurant for hearty and satisfying dishes such as bryndzové halušky, a delicious combination of potato dumplings, roasted bacon, and sheep’s cheese (Slovakia’s national dish) or kapustnica, a sour cabbage soup that will warm any chilly visitors.
Innsbruck city view from the bridge
Salzburg Christmas Market
Český Krumlov in winter
Brno Christmas market
Trnava street view
Bratislava city streets
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The mystery of the Celtic people continues to entice people to visit the ancient sites and ponder the meaning of what’s been left behind. You can explore well-known passage graves and monastic settlements of Ireland and Scotland to catch a glimpse into the sacred and storied Celts, but you can also find their mark on a number of other places throughout Europe that are just as fascinating.