Planning an international holiday? There are several Europe tours
to choose from.
Europe is not just a continent in the Northern Hemisphere, it is bubbling cauldron of artistic heritage, culinary traditions, nature trails, lofty peaks, windswept fjords, sunny shores, fairy-tale castles, and Mediterranean sunsets coming together in a breathtaking voyage through history. There is no way you are going to travel through Europe and not be struck by its stunning landscapes and its vast ethnic diversity. But if you are a first-timer to Europe and are confused about the cities to pick for your upcoming holiday, here’s a guide that will give you a peek into the great continent for its cultural lineage, rich history, splendid scenery and great tipples.
Europe for culture vultures
From museums, monuments, cathedrals, castles to libraries and book streets, Europe is a veritable potpourri of cultural landscapes that are sure to capture the imagination of a traveller.
Those looking for Europe tour packages
should consider the Greek capital, Athens to know how it all begun. The birthplace of democracy, Athens is home to the ancient citadel of Acropolis perched atop a rocky outcrop known for its architecture and vibrant history. Round up its National Archaeological Museum, housed in a gorgeous 19th century neoclassical structure and the largest in whole of Greece. Marvel at its exhibits from the Greek civilization that ranges from sculptures, pottery, to metalwork. Churches from the Byzantine period, ruins of ancient market place and temple ruins punctuate your trip to Athens. Book your Athens tour packages
at best price with Yatra.com.
Home to the Renaissance art and architecture, Florence is rightly dubbed the cultural capital of Italy. Add to that its location in the well-endowed Tuscany region. Florence’s most prominent landmark, the Duomo looms over the city with its stupendous Renaissance dome by Filippo Brunelleschi. Its Gothic cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore stands on the site of a 7th century church whose remains can still be found in the crypt. Head to the Uffizi Gallery for some of the legendary works by the Renaissance artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo among others. It is home to a vast range of Greek and Roman sculptures. On a trip to Florence, a lover of the arts and culture cannot miss a visit to the Accademia Gallery for an up close view of what is easily the world’s most iconic sculpture, Michelangelo’s David. Book your Florence tour packages
at best price with Yatra.com.
The French capital with its museums, fashion boutiques, tree-lined boulevards and classical bistros ignites an artist and an art lover’s imagination alike. With the Eiffel Tower at its heart that gives the city its character, you can spend the entire day on foot browsing monument-lined avenues such as Champs-Elysees, the old world bridges straddling the Seine and tucking into a sumptuous puff pastry at an art nouveau cafe while soaking up its terrace-top atmospherics. Home to several Michelin-starred restaurants, the French take pride in their culinary tradition evident in its many bistros, patisseries, wine bars and cheese shops. Just as rewarding is shopping in Paris, the hotbed for some of the world’s most popular designer labels as well as some extremely affordable street-side fashion. From vintage bookshops, designer boutiques, flea markets, home decor shops, art nouveau departmental stores, children’s clothes and toy shops, to antique dealers and gourmet food shops, Paris is the most vibrant shopper’s paradise you will ever set foot on. Book your Paris tour packages
at best price with Yatra.com.
Known for its rock music scene, London is a brilliant cultural and historical canvas that has held travellers in awe of its multi-layered character. Housing some of the masterpieces in Gothic Revival architecture such as the Big Ben or the Gothic and British-influenced Westminster Abbey, London is a kaleidoscope of architectural styles and landmarks. Whether it is Central London’s Hyde Park, a veritable cultural landscape symbolic of the country’s democracy and its social reforms outside of being a venue for free rock concerts featuring The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Queen, or London’s legendary bookstores, everything about the city spells history and a nod to tradition. Book your London tour packages
at best price with Yatra.com.
A seaside city touched by the art of one Antoni Gaudi is as cosmopolitan as it is traditional with some of the finest in architecture and cuisine making for its cultural fabric. The famous Spanish architect’s unfinished Sagrada Familia draws millions of visitors year upon year who seem unable to comprehend its sheer scale and the eclectic use of stained glass, ceramics, wrought iron and carpentry in a style that has come to be characteristic of Barcelona outside of being a paradigm in Catalan Modernism. Tree-line boulevards, open-air cafes and wine bars add to the charm of this gorgeous Spanish city.
Europe for panorama seekers
Winding mountain trails, frosty peaks, sweeping gorges, rolling vineyards, tranquil lakes and dormant volcanoes, the canvas is vivid and widespread. How about considering these for Europe holiday packages
It is not just the rugged terrain of the Scottish Highlands but also its folklore and age-old customs that give its lochs and glens their resonance. From the legend of Nessie, the fabled monster of Loch Ness to its exotic wildlife such as the golden eagle or the minke whales, Scotland particularly its northern Highlands are wild and untamed. Add to the panorama its several hundred stone castles standing tall and forbidden over rocky shores as a testimony to the country’s bloody past. All the exploring on foot or otherwise calls for a brief halt at a local restaurant for some fried seafood toasted with a peg of single-malt whiskey.
No other place in the world has fjords chiseled out of razor-sharp cliffs the way Norway does. The beauty of the Norwegian glaciers, its vine-clad valleys and smooth ice fields silhouetted by the neon greens of an aurora borealis, make it an avant garde destination for the nature lover and the outdoor seeker. Home to some of Europe’s prettiest villages, Norway opens you up to fantastic natural ramparts, rugged coastal islands and the extraordinary Arctic landscape. Hiking, white-water rafting, dog sledging, snowmobiling and skiing are but some of the active adventure activities you can pursue on your stay.
There is more to Switzerland than fondue, cuckoo clocks and chocolate. The Alpine country has a rather urban heart. Outdoor adventure here swings between the more traditional and the contemporary. You can ski, snowboard and also hike and bike down when the frost melts and the slopes are once more carpeted in green. To watch the rural scenery unfold, take a train ride from Zurich into the countryside. Fields of sunflower, vibrant pastures with cows grazing in them, distant chalets and a waterfall snaking down from a jagged cliff is a typical summer scenery one would associate with Switzerland. But Switzerland is also castles and craft beer, medieval old towns, neoclassical buildings and waterfront cafes and bars along the Limmat and the several other rivers.
A country of extremes where the fine arts and music scene of Vienna or Salzburg merges with the high-adrenaline adventures across its Alpine getaways, you will fall for Austria’s eclectic landscapes. Sheer peaks, flower-speckled meadows, deep river valleys, slow glaciers, whether it is the hiking boots you intend to put on or your bicycle helmet, you are going to delight in some truly off-the-radar nooks and crannies of this wild wild country. Snow on these very slopes beckon boarders and skiers from far and wide just as sunshine brings in the white-water rafters and the canyon climbers in great numbers. The baroque churches and the gilded concert halls of Hapsburg being quite another story.
A jewel of the Mediterranean, Greece with its sun-blanched beaches, gigantic ruins and striking blue waters is a trip down in history and culture while being a treasure-trove of natural landscapes. The seemingly endless Aegean coastline has turned into a veritable cultural hub with a thriving music and culinary scene. From trekking up the Meteora’s monasteries sitting precariously over a promontory to browsing the ancient walled villages in Delphi, there is an artistic expression in every stone, in every fragment of brick and mortar. Little wonder, Greece explodes with exhibitions, festivals and endless cultural activities through the year. While Santorini’s white and blue landscape brings in the party lovers and the leisure seekers, the Aegean brings in a different tribe of travellers, ones that take heart in wreck diving, kite-surfing and rock-climbing. Add to it the Greek love of food. From Mediterranean-style pastas with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and a generous sprinkling of olives, to the softest and the hardest of cheese for your antipasti and even sweet dishes, you are not going to return without perfecting the recipe for the iconic oven-baked aubergine and minced lamb dish, moussaka.
Europe for the gourmet
The continent’s fascinating melange of cultures, histories and traditions has led to the creation of a cuisine that is by turns robust and simple in flavour, one whose interpretation changes the further you travel bringing out regional biases for herbs and meats, grills and bakes, and the sweet and the tangy. If you have been scouting for Europe packages from India, what better way to begin by ticking off places that satiate one of your primal senses - the sense of taste.
A city whose history is deeply ingrained into its very ethos is one that has grown into a fascinating symphony of architectural masterpieces, historical ruins, beer gardens, industrial techno temples, raunchy cabarets and suave cocktail bars. Outside of strolling along the remnants of its landmark memorial, the Berlin Wall and studying the detailing of a Prussian palace, head to its eating out districts to understand what defines its food culture. At the Kreuzberg district, weave your way down a thriving street-food market and tuck into a medley of British-style pies, Thai dumplings, smoked fish the German way with chickpea pancakes to a vast array of Italian breads. You cannot leave Berlin without digging into its barbeque specialties such as pork belly, smoked potato, brisket making sure you soak them in an array of sauces.
On the banks of the Danube, Budapest is not only about public thermal baths and fascinating baroque and neoclassical structures. Hungary’s capital city has a glorious dining out scene that merges seamlessly with its metropolitan nature while taking you on a joyride of flavours and aromas. Foremost, there is no disputing the Hungarian love for a goulash, a rich strew usually comprising meat and peppered with generous doses of paprika. Something you will encounter in different renditions in your travels across Central and Eastern Europe. Regarded the food capital of the world from late 19th century going into the early part of 20th century, in Budapest a French cream onion soup is just as well appreciated as a Chinese fried wanton hakka noodles. From fine wines, fisherman’s soup to the cabbage-stuffed Kaposzta, you will find robust, full meals in every cranny of the city.
Once you have rounded up the Kremlin and Red Square, dig deeper into the heart of Russia’s capital city and you will find a cuisine that is steeped in tradition, sumptuous in taste, and a pride of its locals, being served across its umpteen cafes and restaurants. Following the ban on importing ingredients from the EU, Russia has turned inwards to growing and utilising its local produce. You will find Soviet-themed canteens, tony restaurants, family-owned eating joints and some splendid drinking havens. When in Moscow try out the Pelmeni, an Eastern European-style dumpling stuffed with minced meat, herbs and onion accompanied with sour cream, vinegar or melted butter. Other local favourites are the Moscow-style borscht, a beetroot soup. Blini, for instance, the Russian-version of pancakes but super thin is a great way to start the day with a scoop of berry jam. Moscow will surprise you with its food offerings at every step.
A city of great artistic lineage, Madrid houses works by some of its fine home-grown artists such as Velazquez, Dali, Picasso and Goya. This artistry extends into its cuisine as well making it a vibrant culinary destination bringing in tourists from across Europe and outside. On the one hand, there is the home-style flavourful Spanish cooking and on the other some of the finest gastronomic rendition of its local recipes. The eating-out culture here is so evolved that you have takers for almost every version and style of cooking whether it is the best gazpacho at a Galician restaurant or a tapas at an Andalusian bar. When in Madrid do not leave without trying out the traditional Spanish pork stew, the Huevos Rotos - a meat and fried potato dish dressed with olive oil and sea salt, the fried squid sandwich and beef tripe dish called Callos. Make sure you round it up with some crunchy Churros dipped in melted dark chocolate.
Dublin’s Viking past and a history that has left behind a plethora of medieval cathedrals and castles, to the Georgian constructions of the 18th century, makes it a handsome city with a deep-seated relationship with alcohol and food. Dubliners love their traditional pubs for a pitcher of Guinness to go with some crunchy fish and chips with a side of tartar sauce. However, among the Irish favourites are a beef stew made with Jack Smith stout beer available at Gallagher’s Boxty House on the same street as the iconic Temple Bar. Try out some bacon and cabbage with a parsley sauce. At the Pepper Pot Cafe, you must order the Irish brown soda bread and a portion of scrambled eggs. Across the city there are a whole lot of farmhouse cheeses, smoked fish and crunchy sandwiches to choose from.
A good time to visit Europe
Europe’s northern countries such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland experience the best weather between July and August when the temperature oscillates between 20 and 22 degree Celsius. Most of Continental Europe - France, Italy, Austria, Germany - expect a congenial weather between 20 to 30 degree Celsius from the middle of May all the way till the end of September, with some of the highest temperatures in July and August. Avoid Mediterranean destinations like Greece in peak summer months owing to the heat and high humidity levels. It is better to travel in April to May or between September and October when the weather is relatively mild.
Best time to see its beaches:
When booking Europe trip packages
, and it is sunbathing on a beach that you enjoy, pick the late part of June through September for a holiday. Between May and June, the waters are cooler making them a tad unfavourable for a swim. Late September is also a good time with the crowds thinning. Some of the most stunning beaches of Greece are best visited between the end of May through October.
Best time for skiing:
Europe’s ski resorts typically open in late November and stay so until mid-April. Within this, for better snow, less crowds and deals on hotel rooms and ski lift tickets, choose January. Stay away from these destinations around Christmas and New Years because of they get overtly busy and congested.
Best time to see its historical sites:
A lot here is in a traveller’s bucket list. Europe’s archaeological ruins, ancient castles, baroque churches and palaces bring in travellers by the hoard each year. Some of the popular ones include Eiffel Tower in Paris, Colosseum in Rome, Stonehenge in England, the Acropolis in Greece. Visit these between July and August.
Best time to go backpacking:
The peak time here is between July and August though the season lasts from May to September. Europe’s lakes, streams and seas are great for a swim and you won’t need heavy packing. The hiking trails, however, can get very crowded in this season owing to the favourable weather.
Getting to Europe
From New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, there are flights to European destinations like London, Paris, Zurich, Moscow, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Rome, Munich, Milan, Vienna, Madrid, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Prague, Berlin, Barcelona, Budapest, Athens, Brussels, Dublin, Manchester, Helsinki, Lisbon, Venice, Edinburgh, Santorini among others. These include non-stop to hopping flights across airlines such as United Airlines, Emirates, British Airways, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Air India, Air France, Finnair, Aeroflot, Swiss International airlines to name a few. Some of the other Indian cities that operate direct to flights with a stopover include Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata.