Europe has an unimaginable wealth of cultural diversity, glorious scenery and culinary traditions. It’s hard to choose just a few experiences that we feel are “must do’s,” but here are a few of our current favorite amazing experiences in Europe.
Admiring Imperial Vienna. Austria.
The Habsburgs were one of a handful of royal families who ruled nearly all of Europe until World War I. Nothing symbolizes Austria’s cultural heritage more than its Hofburg. The Hofburg, or imperial palace, is located in the center of Vienna and was the residence and seat of government of the Habsburg emperors until 1918. Today, this huge complex (one of the biggest palace complexes in the world), houses numerous museums, the Spanish Riding School with its Lipizzan horses and is the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria.
Remembering the Berlin Wall. Germany.
The Berlin Wall enclosed West Berlin from East Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Many thousands of people were killed at the Wall trying to flee East Germany for the freedom of the West. Today, an outdoor memorial along the original borderline on the Bernauer Strasse offers an insightful look at the impact of the Wall on Berlin and the Cold War. You can see an original section of the Wall, and remnants of the border installations and escape tunnels and a museum-like Documentation Center.
Scenic Train Ride through the Alps. Switzerland.
Europe’s most scenic train rides are Switzerland’s top three: the Golden Pass, Bernina Express and Glacier Express. The most magnificent of the three may be the Glacier Express. It travels between Zermatt and St. Moritz. It’s referred to as the slowest express train in the world because the journey takes about 8 hours. You’ll be squeezing your way through Alps, through viaducts and spiral tunnels, breathtaking views and the Rhine Gorge, the “Grand Canyon of Switzerland.” It’s perfect for people seeking relaxing yet amazing experiences in Europe.
Touring Tuscany. Italy.
Between Florence and Rome lies the fertile, wine growing region of rural Tuscany. It’s a quintessential Italian experience. You’ll find sun-soaked, hilltop towns, rolling hills, romantic farms and tall and elegant cypress trees. A big reason for touring Tuscany is the wine. You’ll find many wineries for tastings dotted through those green hills. There is also the medieval and Renaissance architecture and art. San Gimignano – a hilltop town southwest of Florence is encircled by 13th century walls and has 14 surviving medieval towers.
Porto is charmingly well-preserved and the city is thick with Old World atmosphere. The city gets much of its Old World vibe from Spain and North Africa. You’ll see cobbled streets, red-tiled roofs and intricate Baroque churches. It’s the home of port wine and the world’s largest producer of this type of spirit. One of the notable features of Porto are its bridges. It is the only city in Europe with six bridges, all of which san the Duoro River, connecting Porto with the neighboring city of Vila Nova de Gaia. The two most interesting bridges are the Maria Pia Bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, of Eiffel Tower fame) in 1877, and the two level Ponte Dom Luis I. You can walk the top level (190 feet above the river) for spectacular views.
Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Scotland.
The Royal Mile is in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, stretching from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to the imposing Edinburgh Castle. This is the main street along which the city originally developed. The route follows the ridge of volcanic rock which once flowed from a nearby volcano, some 350 million years ago. Besides Edinburgh Castle (parts of which date to the 12th century) and the Palace (still the official residence of the Queen in Scotland), you find historic landmarks like St. Giles Cathedral, plus numerous attractions, shopping and dining. Exploring the Royal Mile is definitely one of the best things to do in Edinburgh.
If any of these amazing experiences in Europe speak to you, or if there is somewhere else you’ve been longing to go, contact a AAA Travel Agent today.