Nearly 30 European Union countries have a single currency and relaxed border crossings, making European travel quite easy. Ride a train for several hours on the continent and enter a new country. From Arctic Circle Nordic nations to warm southern Mediterranean countries, you’ll find modern cities alongside vestiges of ancient civilizations.
Visit Italy and Greece to wander through ruins of early empires. In Rome, see the Colosseum, in Athens, the Acropolis. Relax on glorious beaches in both countries. Explore some of the 6,000 islands of Greece and view the Ligurian Sea from high walking paths along terraced vineyards in Italy’s Cinque Terre. Pay papal respects at Vatican City, Europe’s smallest nation.
France is famous for wine, Mediterranean beaches and art galleries. Explore the grand canyon of the Gorges du Verdon and ski the French Alps. Visit weekly markets in small Provençal towns, perched villages in the Luberon and sandy beaches near Saint-Tropez. In Paris, tour the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Georges Pompidou. Walk along the Champs-Élysées and view the city from atop the Eiffel Tower.
Spain and Portugal highlight modern-day Iberian cultures. In Portugal, eat luscious Belém pastries, visit the 500-year-old Jerónimos Monastery and see raging waves on Europe’s westernmost land. Ski in the Pyrenees Mountains, run with the bulls in Pamplona and dance the flamenco in Madrid or Barcelona, Spain. Venture into the region between Spain and France to tour Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum and experience unique Basque culture and language.
Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark feature Scandinavian customs and foods, including endless Smörgåsbord buffets. See far northern lands near the Arctic Circle with summer sunshine through the day and night. Find quiet forests in Finland, Viking history at Sweden’s Vasa Museum and striking fjords on the shores of the Norwegian Sea.
The United Kingdom has Scottish heaths, Welsh castles and British pomp and pageantry across England. See the Crown Jewels and attend West End theater in London. Cross the water to Ireland and bike over rolling green hills past ancient Celtic landmarks.
Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland offer glorious music, castles and centuries of history. Appreciate the Dom cathedral in Cologne, the symphonic orchestra in Vienna, ancient Roman settlements in Budapest, St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague and the old towns of Krakow and Gdansk.
Visit museums, art galleries and places of worship in Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and other countries once isolated beyond U.S.S.R. borders.
Select one or two countries for a short trip to Europe or plan an annual visit to discover the beauty and history of this glorious continent.
Best time to visit Europe
Visit Europe in the spring for warm days and cool nights. Summer brings longer days and lovely weather, but can be busy; August is when locals escape for their annual holiday. Fall in Europe brings the changing colors and fewer crowds. Winter is best for avid skiers and bargain hunters.
Peak Season: Most visitors from the U.S. explore Europe in the spring and summer months. Early fall tends to be busy in popular convention areas, and rates can be higher during this time.
Value Season: Winter and early spring see fewer travelers, and can be a great time to visit if you're looking for discounted flights and hotel rates.