When you travel to mainland Europe there is one thing to keep in mind at all times; you have access to many cities and countries like few other places in the world. You could be sipping a coffee on the streets of Paris in the morning and tucking into dinner in Amsterdam, all thanks to the connectivity that this continent has to offer. So with that in mind, here is an idea of how you can make the most of your trip to Europe.
For starters, the easiest way to move between the different countries in Europe is via train. There are several reasons for this and they as follows; the major train stations tend to be located in the center of a city, which means you can get started sightseeing and enjoying the pleasures of your destination immediately. Secondly, it is a cheap way to travel thanks to the rail pass, Eurail. Finally, traveling through Europe on the train affords you the opportunity to take in some of its beautiful scenery in a way that isn’t feasible from the air. A train from Switzerland to Italy, for example, will travel through the Alps giving you views of one of the visited and iconic mountain ranges from almost every angle.
There are of course ways to travel other than by train such as flying and using the roads. The former option should be used when you want to get between two countries that don’t border each other, but you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with the train map before booking anything.
There is so much to see and do on mainland Europe that no matter what kind of person you are, there will be something for you. Here is a collection of places and what they have to offer you:
Paris seems like the most logical place to start because it is home to possibly the most iconic structure on the entire continent, the Eiffel Tower. But there is so much to do see and do in the capital of France, including a walk down the Champs-Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe where you will see the tomb on the unknown soldier.
While you’re in Paris, or anywhere in France, you should make the most of the many bakeries that offer homemade French pastries. You’ve had a croissant before, but you’ve not had it like the one made in its home country. While in Paris, don’t forget your fashion and take a look around the shops of every brand imaginable. Whether you’re looking for a cocktail dress or some slippers with a heel, they will have it.
The capital and largest city of Catalonia sits to the northeast of Spain and is the place to go if you want to mix the life and culture of a city with the beach life. Barcelona sits on the coast giving you access to the beach whenever you decide that you’ve had enough of the hustle of the city.
Barcelona is also home to most of the work of one of Spain’s iconic artist and architects, Antoni Gaudi. The top of the city has a park dedicated to his work, recognizable thanks to his use of pastel colors. However, you won’t want to miss the jewel in Gaudi’s crown, the Sagrada Familia cathedral which broke ground in 1882 but is not due to be completed until 2026 at the earliest.
If you’re a sports fan, be sure to head to the Camp Nou to see FC Barcelona, one of Europe’s most dominant teams with a rich history intertwined with the culture of Spain and Catalunya.
If you’re looking for somewhere unlike any other place in the world, then you should make sure to check out Venice. This unique part of Italy is actually 100 small islands connected together by bridges and canals, with no roads at all. The only way to get around is on foot or by taking one of the many transport options for navigating the canal like a water taxi or the world famous gondola.
However, Venice is much more than a collection of islands linked by canals; it is also the location of some of Italy’s most well-known buildings such as St Mark’s Basilica at the head of the San Marco Piazza. You should also catch the ferry to Burano where you will find one of the most colorful islands you are likely to come across due to all the houses being painted in a variety of colors by the local fishermen.
We’ve already mentioned above the Alps and Geneva is a gateway to that very mountain range, and so much more. Sitting at the bottom of Lake Geneva, the Swiss city is where you’ll find Europe’s United Nations center which you can take a guided tour around to see the hard work done between the various countries meeting here.
For those of you looking to get into the mountains, you can cross the border into France by foot and take a cable car to see one of the most beautiful natural spots in the world. You will also be able to travel around Switzerland itself with relative ease thanks to its transport network and the fact that it is one of the smaller nations in Europe. Day trips from Geneva include Lausanne and Montreux, where you can get a train into the hills for stunning views of the lake.
Photo by sharonang from Pixabay
The places we have discussed so far all sit in the western part of Europe. Berlin is a little bit different to the others, in so far as that it actually sits in the center of Germany, but was part of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. This fact is important to remember when you visit the capital of Germany because it is part of what makes it so special. The terms of the Cold War were very much felt in Berlin with the city divided by a wall until 1989.
The recent history of Europe runs through Berlin like few other countries on this continent. However, it an infrastructure erected in the 18th century that attracts the most amount of tourists, the Brandenburg Gate. But due to its close location to the Berlin Wall, it is now seen as a sign of reunification and is a small glimpse into how this country was affected by the turmoil of the 1900s.
However, Berlin is much more than a monument to past conflicts. There is a burgeoning art scene throughout the city and museums commemorating the history of this fascinating nation.
Wherever you choose to go, Europe has a lot to offer you. Not mentioned above are historical hubs like Rome, Italy where you can see the birthplace of the Roman Empire with structures like the Colosseum still standing to this very day. Similar feats of human engineering can be seen in Athens, Greece with their monuments to Ancient Greece still standing tall.
Your access to Europe has never been better whether you are someone who has a European or non-European passport. The countries have worked together over the past thirty years to have a more cooperative approach to life and tourists from around the world are feeling the benefits. It would have been unthinkable to someone in the first half of the 20th century that you could one day travel from Copenhagen, Denmark to Warsaw, Poland without any concern.
So, take the opportunities that have been afforded to you as a member of the modern generation and get out there to explore the European continent.