1. The U.K. - Scotland
There are areas of outstanding natural beauty all over Britain, but it is in Scotland’s remote Highlands where the most breathtaking scenes and true wildernesses are found. There you can visit the famous Loch Ness - which is a stunning spot even if you don’t encounter its mythical monster. Other attractions include the Gothic splendor of its capital city, Edinburgh, where the Victorian buildings of its Old Town sit below its imposing castle, and its beautiful Cairngorms mountains. Scotland also has more than 790 islands - many of which provide stunning views and rolling beaches. Meanwhile, sportier travelers may want to take on one of Scotland’s famous links golf courses. They are picture-perfect places to spend a few hours working on your game.
France has something for all types of traveler, from the romance and history of Paris, to the sun-drenched Côte d’Azur, the pretty villages of Provence, and the imposing mountains filled with top ski resorts in the French Alps. France may be famous for its cuisine, but it’s also a country of remarkable architectural and natural beauty, with Roman ruins, Gothic cathedrals, Romanesque churches, Renaissance chateaux, and the Neoclassical beauty of its 19th-century architecture. There’s also nothing better than to spend your free time out in the French countryside – the Rhone, Loire, and Dordogne are picturesque rivers that run through France and possess spectacular natural scenery, as well as lovely villages.
As the home of classical civilization, Greece is full of grand ancient sites, from the imposing Acropolis sitting above Athens, to the Oracle at Delphi. The variety of islands means there’s plenty of different experiences for all types of travelers - but the spectacular whitewashed houses of Santorini are a must-see. Or why not venture to the clifftop monasteries of Meteora and myriad beaches to soak up the sun? Olympus National Park is a place to be at one with nature too, and also allows you to climb Greece’s highest mountain, Mount Olympus, where the ancient Gods were said to have lived.
Italy’s beautiful cities - like Venice, Rome, and Florence certainly attract the tourists - but you can also find splendor in the Tuscan countryside, the haunting Amalfi Coast, the striking Dolemites mountain range or amidst the rugged, volcanic beauty of Sicily. That’s not to say the tourist traps aren’t well worth the visit - who could resist standing like a gladiator in the Colosseum, browsing Florence’s Renaissance art, or spending a romantic evening on Venice’s canals, but there is so much to enjoy about this spectacular country beyond the obvious hotspots.
Sitting at Europe’s heart, Germany is known as the continent’s industrial powerhouse - but still has some sites of incredible natural and architectural beauty. Visitors to the Black Forest in the south of the country can see spectacular mountains, while those in search of romantic scenery can visit the fairy tale-like castles built by Ludwig II of Bavaria. The great cities of Munich and Berlin are also perfect places to take in German architecture and culture, either by enjoying a drink in a beer hall or visiting the museums and monuments that document the prouder moments of German history.
One of several European countries that touch the Alps, Austria’s stunning mountain scenery was made famous by the Sound of Music and is a favorite spot for winter sports enthusiasts - with the resort of Wengen one of the oldest and prettiest spots for skiing. The capital of Vienna’s beauty isn’t natural - but comes from its Romanesque, Baroque, and Neoclassical architecture - a legacy of its days as the capital of the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire. Walking around Old Vienna feels like traveling back in time to an age of European imperial splendor, with its concerts and balls making it a must-visit for any sophisticated culture vulture.
Iceland is a place truly like no other on Earth. A hive of volcanic activity, it is home to bubbling geysers, rugged lava fields, and spectacular glaciers that have earned it the name of The Land of Fire and Ice. There you can take in the Northern Lights, enjoy whale-watching - or simply relax in one of Iceland’s many spas. The most notable of these is the Blue Lagoon, a natural geothermal spa that offers spectacular views, turquoise waters as well as the chance to unwind. The country’s capital Reykjavik has also become a major cultural hub with a buzzing nightlife that will delight those who want to party as well as take in the sights.
Hungary’s capital Budapest possesses impressive Austro-Hungarian architecture, none more so than its parliament, which sits on the opposite bank of the Danube river to the duality's Medieval castle. Other sites worth seeing include the Hungarian State Opera House, the famed thermal baths, which are located in several parts of the city, and its famous ruined pubs - easily the most quirky and picturesque drinking experience in Europe.
With gorgeous beaches, dense forests, beautiful lakes, and historic walled cities, Croatia is a remarkable nation of beauty and contrasts. The stunning Plitvice Lakes, a few hours’ drive from the capital of Zagreb, must be visited, as should the unspoiled Kornati archipelago, with its 140 pristine islands surrounded by the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea. The cities of Split and Dubrovnik are full of architectural treasures, with the latter’s Old Town and its historic buildings also a favorite of Hollywood, having been used as a location for movies, including the Star Wars franchise.
Norway is famous for its fjords – the deep, rugged inlets that provide spectacular views for those seeing the country by boat. Truly, they are an unmissable experience, and the country’s coastline is dotted with more than 1,200 of them. Norway is also partly within the Arctic Circle, and you should travel to the northern part of the country to see the midnight sun and Northern Lights. You can also get back to nature in the forests and lakes in Norway’s interior.
If you decide to travel in more than one European country, you should check beforehand if you have the right visa to do so. You can find on our website everything you need to know about the Schengen Area and which visa do you need to enter.
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