Natural Beauty Trips in Europe

Around the Eastern Aegean, from Athens to Istanbul

Samos fisherman easyshoot/shutterstock
Fly into: Athens Fly out of: Istanbul
Total Duration: 12 days

Many travelers tend to bypass the islands of the Northeastern Aegean in favor of glitzy party places like Mykonos and Santorini. They don't know what they're missing. The seductive islands hugging the coast of Asia Minor capture the essence of Hellenic culture and history, as well as provide an easy gateway to Turkish destinations such as the ancient Roman city of Ephesus.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • History
  • Natural Beauty
  • Archaeology
  • Food and Wine
  • Beaches

Best Beaches and Ruins of Turkey

Ephesus europeexpert /Fodors.com member
Fly into: Istanbul Fly out of: Istanbul
Total Duration: 12 days

Many people come to Turkey to see the stunning ruins, while others are drawn by the siren call of the beaches. This itinerary, starting and ending in Istanbul, will satisfy both, and you'll see some of the greatest preserved ancient sites in Turkey. Some happen to be nestled along beaches, and others are just a short detour from a boat ride and sunshine.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Archaeology
  • Beaches
  • Architecture
  • History

Best of Britain: England, Scotland, and Wales

Shakespeare's birthplace gary718/shutterstock
Fly into: London Fly out of: Edinburgh
Total Duration: 14 days

This itinerary has all that you need from a circuit of Britain. You've got the big city pleasures of museums, parks and shopping in London and Edinburgh, the smaller town vibes of Bath and North Wales, and some fine outdoor activities in the Lake District and the Cotswolds.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • History
  • Natural Beauty
  • Great Drive
  • Shopping
  • Architecture

Best of France

Versailles garden michel mory/iStockphoto
Fly into: Paris Fly out of: Nice
Total Duration: 14 days

On this itinerary, you'll take in some of the top destinations in France. It's a perfect trip for first time visitors or those who want to sample the country. You'll spend time in big cities like Paris and Lyon, before heading south to soak up the sunshine of Provence and the Riviera.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Food and Wine
  • Art and Culture
  • Architecture

Best Walks of England and Wales

Martindale British Tourist Authority
Fly into: London Fly out of: London
Total Duration: 10 days

This itinerary shows that there is some fine walking afoot in England and Wales. It starts in the Lake District, famous for its varied hikes and beautiful mountains, moves to the grand house gardens and rugged trails of the Peak District, and finishes on the ground of Wales' windswept castles. For travelers who like to take it slow, this trip is a fine way to explore distinctive British landscapes.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Architecture
  • Natural Beauty
  • History

Classic Trips: Athens to Istanbul

Antiphellos Kas Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Fly into: Athens Fly out of: Istanbul
Total Duration: 13 days

Take in the best of Greece and Turkey by following this classic route. Beginning at, well, the beginning—antiquity, that is—you'll explore Athens's classic monuments. From there, traverse the Greek Islands, with stops in picturesque Santorini and glitzy Rhodes, before heading for Turkey's mainland. Ancient ruins and stunning views abound in Antalya and Cappadoccia and lead to your final stop, Istanbul.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Natural Beauty
  • Museums

Classic Trips: Austria and Switzerland

Innsbruck column Austrian National Tourist Office/ Diejun
Fly into: Vienna Fly out of: Zurich
Total Duration: 13 days

The hills are alive in this itinerary! Experience the charms of Vienna and Zurich along with the classic mountainside towns of Innsbruck, Interlaken, and Luzern. The route is easy to follow by rail.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Art and Culture
  • Natural Beauty
  • History
  • Great Train Ride

Classic Trips: England's Heritage Gardens and Stately Homes

Chatsworth House BrettCharlton/istockphoto
Fly into: London Fly out of: London
Total Duration: 12 Days

If there's one thing that England does best, it's splendid homes and the gardens that surround them. This itinerary starts in London's parks and palaces, moves through the suburb of Royal Tunbridge Wells for nearby treasure houses, heads to the cathedral of Salisbury and the magnificent manors of the Cotswolds, before finishing in the grand gardens and estates of the Peak District.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Architecture
  • Natural Beauty
  • Great Drive

Crete and the Dodecanese

Tsambika beach Valeria Titova/iStockphoto
Fly into: Athens Fly out of: Athens
Total Duration: 13 days

The southern islands of Crete and the Dodecanese are full of superlative experiences: a lost civilization, deep gorges, Crusader's castles, and isolated beaches. This itinerary will take you through all of them, beginning and ending in Athens.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Food and Wine
  • Archaeology
  • History

Discover the Italian Renaissance

Ferrara Cathedral detail seraficus/istockphoto
Fly into: Milan Fly out of: Rome
Total Duration: 11 days

The Italian Renaissance, a golden age of art and culture, celebrated beauty, innovation, and mathematical proportion. You can read it in Dante, see it in Michelangelo, and be engulfed by it when you walk into a Renaissance church. This tour highlights key Renaissance sites and masterpieces in eight different locales, including the major cities of Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome, as well some more remote, less frenetic destinations.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Nightlife
  • Natural Beauty
  • Food and Wine
  • Art and Culture
  • Shopping

Essential Finland: Helsinki to Lapland

Reindeer stedenmi/istockphoto
Fly into: Helsinki Fly out of: Helsinki
Total Duration: 10 days

Fixated on Finland? From dazzling design to ancient castles and unspoiled beauty, Finland has a lot to offer the adventurous traveler. Time your visit to catch the midnight sun in June.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Architecture

Essential Scotland: Castles, Lochs, and Whiskey

Loch Lomond sunset Abubakr Hussain/wikipedia.org
Fly into: Glasgow Fly out of: Glasgow
Total Duration: 12 days

Scotland's beauty can be rugged, mysterious, and sometimes stark, thanks to the country's famous lochs, craggy moors, and castles—all of which you'll experience on this comprehensive journey. Start in history-rich Edinburgh and head north to the St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf. Then take in the dramatic landscapes near Inverness and on the enchanting Isle of Skye. End on a high note with an invigorating walk around Loch Lomond before exploring the lively city of Glasgow.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Shopping
  • Art and Culture
  • History
  • Natural Beauty
  • Architecture

From Copenhagen to Stockholm, Including the Danish Riviera

Cruise boat Jorgen Schytte/VisitDenmark
Fly into: Copenhagen Fly out of: Stockholm
Total Duration: 11 Days

Scandinavia's big cities may draw the tourists, but the locals head out of town to explore the region's countryside nearly every weekend. This itinerary splits the difference, taking you to cosmopolitan Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens and island-hopping through Stockholm with a taste of Danish castles and the northern European beaches of Zealand and Gotland.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Art and Culture

Highlights of the Netherlands and Belgium

The Hague's parliament GAPS/istockphoto
Fly into: Amsterdam Fly out of: Brussels
Total Duration: 11 days

This trip, true to its moniker, gives you all the best of the Netherlands and Belgium. Start among Amsterdam's canals, see the seaside by The Hague, and check out Rotterdam's busy nightlife. In Belgium, you'll see Brugge's medieval splendor, the artistry of Ghent, and the street life of Brussels before heading home.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Architecture
  • History
  • Food and Wine
  • Natural Beauty
  • Nightlife

Ireland and Northern Ireland: Dublin to Belfast

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim kellyconlan/Fodors.com member
Fly into: Dublin Fly out of: Dublin
Total Duration: 9 days

Rugged, misty, and eerie: this trip takes in some of the most beautiful landscapes in Ireland's west and north. Kick off your trip in Dublin before heading west to Galway, then pay your respects to Yeats in Sligo. In Northern Ireland you'll combine hip city experiences with some of the most otherworldly natural landscapes; and who knows, you might even spot one of the "little people."

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Food and Wine
  • Architecture
  • Art and Culture
  • Natural Beauty

Ireland by Rail

Blarney Castle lfitz44/Fodors.com member
Fly into: Limerick Fly out of: Dublin
Total Duration: 10 days

Traveling Ireland by rail is one of the best ways to tour the country. There are no white-knuckle rides as you face large tour buses on narrow, winding roads (and not to mention the stress of driving on the left). You can just sit back, relax, and take in the brazenly scenic landscape while enjoying a picnic lunch on the train. Starting from Shannon, this itinerary hits some of the most popular sites in Ireland, from Limerick and Blarney Castle to the famed Ring of Kerry and Kilkenny, before ending your trip in Dublin.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Food and Wine
  • Natural Beauty
  • Art and Culture
  • Architecture

Ireland: Dingle and the Ring of Kerry

Horseback ride by the lakes Cork Kerry Tourism
Fly into: Cork City Fly out of: Limerick City
Total Duration: 8 Days

Most visitors come to Ireland for the green, the lush rolling hills, and the shimmering sea. This route, which starts along the Ring Of Kerry and winds up on the Dingle Peninsula, offers up some of the most dramatic scenery in Ireland, from picturesque villages and rugged cliffs to charming little towns where you can curl up in front of a fire and hear authentic Irish music.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Great Drive
  • History

Mountains, Vineyards, and Villages in Spain and France

Zaragossa Pilar Square nhtg/shutterstock
Fly into: Madrid Fly out of: Paris
Total Duration: 15 days

Why choose between visiting France or Spain? On this trip you'll hit the big cities like Madrid and Toulouse as well as spend time in each country's lesser known towns, like Zaragoza and St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. You'll go through mountains, vineyards and little coastal villages while exploring outstanding museums and churches.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Food and Wine
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping

Northern Italy and Switzerland: The Lakes to the Mountains

Lake Lugano, Ticino Schweiz Tourismus/swiss-image.ch
Fly into: Milan Fly out of: Zürich
Total Duration: 15 days

Italy's and Switzerland's Alpine regions are some of the most magical destinations in Europe, and this trip takes you to the best lakes and mountains in the area. You'll crisscross between the two countries, exploring lake-side towns and islands, as well as postcard-perfect mountains and valleys.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Food and Wine
  • Natural Beauty
  • Art and Culture

Northern Spain: Tapas and Coastal Towns

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao aherrero/flickr
Fly into: Barcelona Fly out of: Madrid
Total Duration: 14 days

Starting in Barcelona and gently curving east, this itinerary showcases the highlights of northern Spain, along with Madrid. You'll explore fishing villages in San Sebastián and rocky beaches along the Basque Coast before hitting the museums of Bilbao. The trip winds down in Madrid, where you can tour the Prado and dance the night away.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Art and Culture
  • Natural Beauty
  • Food and Wine
  • Museums
  • Architecture

Norway in a Nutshell

View of Flam Jenni Douglas/flickr
Fly into: Oslo Fly out of: Oslo
Total Duration: 8 Days

Norway in a nutshell covers the best of this fjord favorite. Start in the sleepy capital of Oslo, before crossing the country through the railway villages of Flam and Voss. End up along the Atlantic in Bergen, Norway's charming second city.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Museums

Norway's West Coast

Tromso anchored ship VojtechVlk/shutterstock
Fly into: Oslo Fly out of: Oslo
Total Duration: 12 days

This itinerary goes up Norway's famed west coast, all the way to the Europe's northernmost point. Fjords, bears, sea eagles, arctic cathedrals, and shipbuilding—you'll find it all on this wild voyage.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Architecture
  • History

Rhine River Cruise

Cologne river cruise Manfred Steinbach/shutterstock
Fly into: Amsterdam Fly out of: Zürich
Total Duration: 7 days

This tried-and-true river cruise itinerary takes you through a long cross-section of Europe. Touching the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland, it allows you to experience the Rhine's best, from the leafy canals of Amsterdam to the contemporary art mecca of Basel.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Art and Culture
  • Natural Beauty
  • History
  • Great River Cruise
  • Architecture

Road Trip Around Ancient Greece

Delphi Ruins Istockphoto/ David Lewis
Fly into: Athens Fly out of: Athens
Total Duration: 12 days

What's better than a road trip to explore a country? In this itinerary, you'll be road-tripping around Greece and criss-crossing from Attica to the Peloponnese to explore some its top ancient sites. You'll see the ruins of sacred Delphi, where the Oracle once uttered its prophesies, the ancient theater at Epidauros that had room for over 14,000 people, and the city which was given to Achilles as a gift.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Archaeology
  • Food and Wine
  • History
  • Natural Beauty

Sweden Above the Arctic Circle

Snowmobile driver mikeuk/istockphoto
Fly into: Stockholm Fly out of: Stockholm
Total Duration: 6 days

This trip lets you see what Sweden's far north has to offer. Start with the cosmopolitan delights of Stockholm, then head north to learn about the Sami people. The region hosts popular outdoor activities in summer and winter.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Art and Culture

Switzerland Sampler: A First-Timer's Tour

Zermatt cable car ST/swiss-image.ch
Fly into: Zürich Fly out of: Geneva
Total Duration: 14 days

Try the Switzerland Sampler for a taste of this tiny country's wares. From cosmopolitan Zurich and Geneva to the quaint charms of Luzern and Zermatt to Bern's sleepy appeal, this itinerary gives you a good sense of what's to be seen here.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Shopping
  • Architecture

The Best of England and France

Blenheim Palace shutterstock
Fly into: London Fly out of: Paris
Total Duration: 14 days

On this trip, you'll experience some of the best churches, architecture, and mystical sights that England and France have to offer. Kick off the trip in London before seeing the great cathedral at Canterbury and Stonehenge. Then cross the English Channel and head to France, where you'll spend time seeing abbeys and grand châteaux, as well as spending time in Paris.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Art and Culture
  • Natural Beauty
  • Food and Wine
  • Great Train Ride
  • Architecture

The Best of Scandinavia

Dalarna landscape Mikael Damkier /shutterstock
Fly into: Stockholm Fly out of: Oslo
Total Duration: 10 Days

This itinerary hits Scandinavia's top towns. Start in cosmopolitan Stockholm, then explore the folklore-heavy region of Dalarna. Finish the trip in Göteborg and Oslo, two of Scandinavia's prettiest coastal towns.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Architecture
  • Shopping
  • Art and Culture

The Best of Tuscany

Duomo rooftops in Florence Minerva_Bloom/Fodors.com member
Fly into: Pisa Fly out of: Pisa
Total Duration: 9 days

Cypress trees, vineyards, and rolling hills characterize this gorgeous region of central Italy. Wine and olive oil have been produced here for centuries, and they help make meals something special. On this road trip, you'll see lots of important art in Pisa and Florence, then wind your way through the scenic countryside of Chianti, ending up in Siena.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Food and Wine
  • Art and Culture
  • Architecture

The Good Life in Northern Italy

Villa Monastero in Varenna on Lake Como Ann Forcier/Fodors.com member
Fly into: Milan Fly out of: Milan
Total Duration: 10 Days

No one has mastered the art of living well as successfully as the Italians. This itinerary highlights locales in northern Italy that are dedicated to pleasure, from a luxurious lakeside getaway to gorgeous wine country to a cliff-lined seacoast. The trip is proof that you can have a wonderful Italian vacation without seeing one Renaissance masterpiece or setting foot in a cathedral—though there are plenty of opportunities to do both if you want to.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Art and Culture
  • Food and Wine
  • Natural Beauty
  • Shopping

The Italian and French Rivieras

Menton, French Riviera Manfred Steinbach/shutterstock
Fly into: Milan Fly out of: Nice
Total Duration: 14 days

If you want to live the jet set life,or just see how the jet set live, this itinerary hits all the right spots along the French and Italian Rivieras. Starting in Italy, you can hike your way through some of the most spectacular cliff-top villages while taking in catch-me-while-I-swoon sea views (and occasional dips in the sea). You'll visit historic cities along the Mediterranean coast as well as smaller villages with nary a boutique in sight.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Food and Wine
  • Art and Culture
  • Architecture

The Swiss Alps

Snowboarders with view of matterhorn Crans-Montana Tourisme/swiss-image.ch
Fly into: Zurich Fly out of: Geneva
Total Duration: 10 days

This itinerary will take you to great heights. From Mount Pilatus near Luzern to the Matterhorn, the Grindelwald, Mürren and Mont Blanc, this trip aims to be tip-top. Don't be afraid to slow down and enjoy the scenery as you travel from point to point, especially when moving from Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt and between Lausanne and Geneva.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • History
  • Museums

Turkey's Crossroads of Faith

whirling-dervishes Amer Kapetanovic/iStockphoto
Fly into: Istanbul Fly out of: Istanbul
Total Duration: 10 days

Turkey is a cultural crossroads where the world's major three religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) have coexisted for centuries. It's not uncommon to see a mosque next to an ancient church or synagogue. On this trip, you'll explore some of the most important religious sites in Turkey. Keep in mind that Turkey's bus network is more comprehensive than its train network.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Natural Beauty

Venice and Istria by Boat

Rovinj Old City Igor Plotnikov/shutterstock
Fly into: Venice Fly out of: Venice
Total Duration: 6 days

This itinerary covers the best of the Istrian region. Start in majestic Venice, then thread your way along the coast, seeing Roman ruins and soaring churches in the Croatian towns of Pula and Rovinj. This trip is easily done by ferry.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Architecture
  • History
  • Art and Culture

Venice and the Venetian Arc

Verona street Ljupco Smokovski/Shutterstock
Fly into: Venice Fly out of: Venice
Total Duration: 10 days

Venice truly is a city unlike any other. You can't begin to get a real sense of its unique beauty and complexity in a day or two—which is why this itinerary devotes four days to it. When you move away from the city, you'll continue to feel its influence in the "Venetian Arc," the swathe of northeastern Italy that was once under Venice's rule.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Architecture
  • Art and Culture
  • Food and Wine
  • Natural Beauty

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