Top 15 Experiences in Europe

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From ancient historical sites to picturesque towns to one-of-a-kind festivals, Europe offers terrific experiences that should be on every traveler’s list. Here are Fodor’s top picks for a memorable trip.

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Picturesque Towns

Postcard-perfect spots beckon, from peaceful hillside villages to breezy seaside favorites. Medieval, canal-laced Brugge in Belgium epitomizes Continental charm.

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Festivals and Events

Europe is packed with events to plan a trip around. August’s Edinburgh International Festival has music, including bagpipes, and more; Munich’s Oktoberfest is beer heaven.

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Great Cities

Any of Europe’s major capitals—such as fast-changing Berlin—can occupy you for a week. Easy rail and air connections allow you to combine several on a single short trip.

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Modern Architecture

Almost any city here dazzles with exciting architectural achievements. Spain’s Guggenheim Bilbao is one place that has helped inspire other vibrant new developments.

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Wine and Wineries

Tastings and vineyard visits are now highlights of many trips. Whether it’s Tuscan Chianti, French Bordeaux, Spanish Rioja, Hungarian Tokaji, or Portuguese Vinho Verde, wine has quenched the thirst of visitors to Europe for centuries.

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Music

From a grand opera performance in Vienna to chamber-music concerts in countless exquisite churches, the music of Mozart, Verdi, Debussy, and Beethoven fills the air.

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Cafés

One of Europe’s greatest pleasures is to sit quietly and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and a pastry. The café culture extends from Paris and Copenhagen to Madrid and Florence.

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Churches

Take your pick among standouts in splendid styles from Renaissance to rococo to baroque. In France, the Gothic spires of Chartres Cathedral and its breathtaking interior are unforgettable.

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Romance

Europe is for lovers, whether you are serenaded on a gondola in Venice, secluded in a room in Prague’s Old Town, or drowsing in a hammock for two in a Greek-island villa.

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Classic Architecture

Architectural treasures from throughout the ages fill Europe, where landmarks from plazas to palaces reward attention. Istanbul’s Byzantine Hagia Sophia is utterly majestic.

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Great Walks

One of the best ways to see Europe is on foot. Urbane city expanses such as London’s Regent’s Park are delightful for strolling, or you can hike magnificent mountains.

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Visible History

Study the origins of Western civilization in ruins from the Romans and Greeks and view the legacy of Vikings and Visigoths. Rome’s Forum provides perspective on the past.

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Art

From the Louvre to the Prado to the Uffizi, magnificent art museums are a highlight. But some churches have collections that are almost as grand as any gallery’s holdings.

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Shopping

Grand department stores like Galeries Lafayette in Paris carry famous luxury brands. Around Europe you can also buy Bohemian crystal, British tea, and Belgian chocolates.

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Outdoor Activities

Find fun year-round. In winter, ski slopes in Switzerland and elsewhere attract international travelers. In summer, beaches draw swimmers to the French Riviera and beyond.

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