Since in my previous post I have already talked about planning a European tour, which includes the travel agencies where you can get your dream European vacation, I have decided to share some of my thoughts on where to go or the must-see places in Europe. Travel agencies offer various itineraries and I swear it can get really overwhelming. You might have an idea on what places you would like to visit, but once you have seen the itineraries they offer, they could knock your head off! It would seem you would just want to go all around Europe. Well, if you have a month to spare, why not tour the whole continent? Yes, there are tours that you could possibly join to visit the most interesting countries all around Europe. It is actually the most ideal, but for most people, a month’s vacation is just not possible. And if you are one of them, I’ll make things easier for you. Here are my top 3 suggestions on where to go in Europe.
If it’s your first time to visit the continent, the usual destination is to go west. It is where, if I may say, the must-see countries in Europe can be found, such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K. For me, it’s somehow like you have never been to Europe if you haven’t been to these places. Therefore, you can streamline your choices of itinerary to Western Europe, but this doesn’t mean that you are left with a few options. I tell you, travel agencies offer a lot! You just have to carefully choose as to what countries you would like to visit. As a tip, make it a point to go to all the Western Europe countries that are not available in the itineraries for Eastern Europe, or any other parts of the continent for that matter. Why? Because if you decide to travel to the other parts of Europe in the future, it would be hard for you to go back to those countries that you were not able to visit. Well, it is possible. It is just way too expensive; therefore, studying the routes of other tours is a must.
In our case, we chose the route Rome, Italy – Venice, Italy – Salzburg, Austria – Lucerne, Switzerland – Rhineland, Germany – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Brussels, Belgium – Paris, France. We were quite restricted on our vacation at that time because of the busy schedule of my parents. It turned out that the 15 days tour we got is just ideal, though. In my opinion, going around Europe for more than two weeks can really be exhausting already. It can possibly come to a point when you won’t be able to enjoy your Europe experience that much because of fatigue. There are just too many places to go to in one country. You wouldn’t want to miss any must-see places, won’t you? Just to give you an idea on what are the highlights of this tour, take a look at our itinerary below.
Rome: Of course our first stop was Vatican City, where the Hall of Greek Cross, the Candelabra Gallery, the Tapestry Gallery, the Geographical Maps Gallery, Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel can be found. St. Peter’s Basilica, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Piazza de Venezia and the Fountain of Trevi are also the must-see places in Rome which we were able to visit.
Venice: To get to the Venice Islands, we sailed through the ancient canals of San Marco. We saw the splendor of the Byzantine St. Mark’s Cathedral, the Clock Tower, the Bridge of Sighs and the panoramic view of the lavish Doge’s Palace. We were also able to witness the Murano Glass blowing demonstration in the Murano Glass Factory. Oh, and of course, we rode the gondola! How romantic! 🙂
Salzburg: We visited the Mirabelle Gardens and the Old Town to see the house of Mozart (which is right in front of Mango…hehehe! :-)). Before heading to Lucerne, the tour guide brought us to the Swarovski Crystal World (heaven!), then crossed the Swiss border to Valduz, the capital of Leichtenstein dominated by its Castle perched on a hilltop.
Lucerne: When we got to Lucerne, we were driven all the way to Engelberg to take a cable car going to the resort of Mt. Titlis, which is 10,000 feet above sea level. After taking pictures and playing around, we then returned to Lucerne to visit the famous Lion Monument.
Rhineland: On the way to Rhineland, we first stopped in Schaffhausen to view the mighty Rhine Falls. We then crossed the German border to Titisee, which is renowned for its Cuckoo Clock industry. After which, we were brought to the Black Forest region to the University town of Heidelberg.
Cologne: We got the chance to visit the beautiful 13th century Gothic Cathedral in Cologne, Germany and of course, shop around the city.
Amsterdam: We were brought to a Cheese and Clog Farm to see how the Dutch people mastered the art of making cheese and clogs. After taking pictures of the windmills, we visited a Diamond Polishing House (Incredible!!! 🙂 Hehehe!) Of course, we went on a cruise in the ancient canals of Holland’s Golden age aboard a glass-roofed launch to admire the gabled houses and humpback drawbridges.
Brussels: We enjoyed the beautiful Grand Place and saw the Mannekin Pis. We also went to Heysel district to take pictures of the famous Atomium.
Paris: We were toured around the numerous sights in Paris, such as Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Concorde Square, Invalides, Louvre Museum (as seen in the movie Da Vinci Code), Place Vendome, Opera House, Notred Dame Cathedral, and of course the Eiffel Tower (which we entered up to the second level). Lastly, the non-stop shopping until closing hours! Woohoo! Hehehe! 🙂
Now, see what I mean when I said 15 days of a European vacation is enough?! Hehehe! In my opinion, you have really been to Europe if you have gone to these places. There isn’t a dull moment in our itinerary. Everything in it just left me breathless!
If you have visited Western Europe, then central and eastern is the way to go. Europe doesn’t just brag about what they have in the west. Central and Eastern Europe countries are also one of the tourists’ hot spots. You just don’t go to Europe to shop (though I know it has always been a part of my itinerary wherever I go…hehehe!). They are more famous with their picture perfect architectures and sceneries. Everything is just amazing! Again, there are numerous itineraries for Central and Eastern Europe. As for us, we chose the following route for our vacation this year: Vienna, Austria – Prague, Czech Republic – Dresden, Germany – Berlin, Germany – Warsaw, Poland – Czestochowa, Poland – Auschwitz (in Poland) – Cracow, Poland – Budapest, Hungary – Vienna, Austria. The highlights of this tour are the following:
Vienna: The State Opera House, Belvedere Palace, Schonbrunn Palace and Museum of Natural History and Contemporary Arts, Prater amusement Park (with giant ferris wheel)
Prague: Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, St. Gorge Basilica, the Old Royal Palace, the Golden Lane , the Daliborka Tower, St. Charles Bridge, and Church of Our Lady of Victorious (to see the Sto. Nino De Praga)
Dresden: Frauenkirche, Semper Opera House (the only theatre in Germany that bears the name of its architect) and the Royal Palace (a castle built some 700 years ago and reconstructed as a museum)
Berlin: The Ku’damm (the main shopping boulevard), Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Tiergardten, Victory Column, Bellevue Palace (residence of the Federal President) Congress Hall, Kanzleramt (the German White House), Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, the German State Opera, Alexanderplatz (2nd highest television tower in Europe), Unter Den Linden (the most beautiful boulevard in Berlin), and the famous Berlin Wall
Warsaw: Palace of Culture and Science, the Ghetto Memorial, St. John’s Cathedral & Lazienski Palace and Park, Royal Route, and the Old Town
Czestochowa: Jasna Gora Monastery to see the Black Madonna, venerated as the Queen of Poland
Auschwitz: Concentration Camp (remainder of the holocaust)
Cracow: Wieliczka Saltmines, the Jagiellonian University, the Old Town and Shrine of the Divine Mercy of Sister Faustina
Budapest: Castle Hill, Fisherman’s Bastion, Mathias Coronation Church, the Citadel on Mount Gellert, and the Heroes Square
Now, if you want to try something else other than going West or East, you can go for a Scandanavian tour, plus Russia. Like the rest of Europe, Scandanavian countries are also worth visiting. Though the influx of tourists is not as much as the other parts of Europe, this doesn’t mean that they are less attractive compared to the rest. It’s actually because everything in these countries are extremely expensive. You should really be ready to spend a lot when you get there. In fact, the tour itself is way pricier compared to the other parts of Europe; but once you have seen these places, everything is surely worth your money.
Europe is an ultimate and a real vacation for me. It can never be compared to any other places I have been to. You can probably guess what I love to do when I’m out of the country, besides sightseeing. A shopaholic like me, obviously, couldn’t wait for those allotted shopping days, but believe it or not, it’s not something I really look forward to when I’m in Europe. I, personally, don’t go to a place like Europe just to shop. In my opinion, you have never been to Europe if you simply go there to shop. You have lost every opportunity to see all the must-see places around the continent. Magnificent landscapes, architectures, or other sceneries are those that can never ever be bought, memories that I could take with me forever until my last breath.
Those above are just my top suggestions on where to go in Europe; but if you choose to tour in some other parts of Europe, who am I to stop you? Europe will always be Europe and nobody can ever wrong with it. 🙂