Wherever you choose to fly to in Europe this year, history, culture, and natural wonders await around every corner. Here are destinations that offer everything you could wish for on a European vacation…

History

Athens, the capital of Greece, has storied ancient landmarks such as the Acropolis, home of the Parthenon temple, and Ancient Agora. The latter is the archeological site of the city’s 5,000-year-old meeting place and market, featuring landmarks such as the Temple of Hephaestus.

On the slopes of the Acropolis is Plaka, Athens’ oldest neighborhood. Here you’ll find restaurants, cafes, jewelry stores, whitewashed homes and pedestrianized streets. It’s relaxing to stroll here away from the capital’s challenging car traffic.

Equally historic is the Italian capital, Rome. The sights reel off the tongue: the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Trevi fountain, the Spanish Steps… But do try and visit on the first Sunday of the month when all of Rome’s state-owned museums, galleries, archeological sites, parks, and gardens are free of charge. And when visiting religious buildings, in a city of over 900 churches, both women and men should dress modestly. 

Culture

The Austrian capital, Vienna, has an exceptional cultural offer, particularly if you love music. The city of two million has a beautiful, walkable center, so skip the subway and trams and make your leisurely way to the Vienna State Opera. There, you can tour the impressive building or take in a performance on almost any day of the year. For a preview of the building, check out a brilliant suspense scene in Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Nearby is Museums Quartier Wien where you can see exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art among other prestigious galleries. Vienna was also a center for European royalty so take a short hop on the subway and explore the Habsburg family’s Baroque-style Schönbrunn Palace and magnificent gardens.

Natural wonders

Many Europe trips offer natural as well as man-made attractions. The city of Bodo in Norway has an abundance of highlights. The Saltstraumen Maelstrom, the world’s strongest tidal current, creates an awe-inspiring display of whirlpools as 400 million cubic meters of seawater surge through a 150 meter-wide strait. Set against the backdrop of mountains and fjords that surround Bodo, it’s an unforgettable sight. While in Norway, summer visitors can experience the land of the Midnight Sun, while the Northern Lights will bewitch winter vacationers.

Another European natural beauty is the picturesque county of Yorkshire in northern England. Using the ancient city of York as a base – its cathedral and medieval Shambles area are destinations in themselves – the beautiful, rugged Yorkshire Dales are easily accessible. The rolling hills and picture-postcard villages offer a timeless vision of this green and pleasant land. 

This is Bronte country and when the weather turns, it’s easy to see why Emily wrote Wuthering Heights here with its ghostly visions of Cathy and tragic, tormented Heathcliff.

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