Living in Europe it is easy to take for granted what a wonderfully diverse continent we live in, an area of the world that owes much to the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome.
Stretching from the Baltic States and Scandinavia in the north to the warm waters of the Mediterranean in the south and from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the gates of Constantinople in the east, Europe is home to 11% of the world’s population.
Geographically speaking, Europe is overlooked by the Austrian, French, Italian and Swiss Alps while being dissected by the Rhine, Elbe, Loire and Danube rivers. Add in Norway’s fabulous fjord’s the ruggedness of the Scottish Highlands the density of Germanys Black Forest and you have a kaleidoscope of natural wonders.
History & Art
From Neolithic stone circles in England to the Acropolis in Athens, nearly everywhere you go in Europe you will be treated to a daily dose of History. There is a proverb that says “all roads lead to Rome” which was certainly true during the 1,500 years long Roman Empire and a good place to start any European tour.
From Rome head north to Florence for its Renaissance art before being charmed by the beauty of Venice, the Dolomites and the Italian lakes of Garda, Como and Maggiore.
Travel on through Switzerland and France to the Napoleonic splendour of Paris before crossing the channel to London where you can get lost in Britain’s glorious past. Untouched by the war Prague is arguably the prettiest city in Europe and can easily be combined with a trip to Vienna and Budapest. With its sun-drenched beaches and a rich cultural history that includes 800 years of Moorish rule, Spain is today a tourist hotspot that attracts visitors from around the globe.
Historically Europe cannot be beaten when it comes to museums and monuments with London’s British Museum considering itself to be the self-appointed protector of the world’s antiquities.
For art lovers the Louvre in Paris is the Holy Grail followed closely by Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Madrid’s neoclassical Museo del Prado.
Food & Drink
Food lovers will be in heaven with styles and tastes running the full gauntlet of culinary delights.
From eating pickled herrings during Sweden’s midnight sun to feasting on souvlaki and tzatziki at an Aegean Island Taverna, your taste buds are only held in check by your own imagination.
Britain and Ireland get a bad rap when it comes to food but get full marks at breakfast time with a meal that sets you up for the entire day.
Hungary stands out as a bit of an outsider when it comes to food, with its nomadic Magyar people bringing their traditional northern meat dishes south where they were they were inspired by the Ottoman Turks and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire into the mouth-watering delights we find in Budapest today.
France and Italy immediately come to mind as the leaders of classic European food with the humble baguette never tasting better than it does fresh from the oven at a Parisian boulangerie or a bowl of spaghetti alle vongole by a Venetian canal.
With the exception of Napa Valley in California, the best wine in the world comes from France with both Italy and Spain coming in second with their Tuscan and Rioja offerings.
If it is a beer you are after you cannot go wrong with a trip to Belgium where you will find around 1150 different varieties. Munich meanwhile throws the biggest beer themed party with their Oktoberfest and no matter how much the Germans may tout their purity law their beer is no match for the Czech Republic where you can sample the original Pilsner.