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Lonely Planet Europe

Lonely Planet Europe

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Lonely Planet Europe

valutazioni:
3/5 (1 valutazione)
Lunghezza:
3,455 pagine
27 ore
Pubblicato:
Oct 1, 2019
ISBN:
9781788687119
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Lonely Planet: The world's number one travel guide publisher*

Lonely Planet's Europe is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Raise a glass of champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, marvel at the number of masterpieces at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, and explore Prague's neighbourhoods, galleries and bars - all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Europe and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Europe:

  • Full-colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sightseeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights provide a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, art, food, drink, sport, politics
  • Covers Britain, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Montenegro, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, Scandinavia and more.

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet's Europe is our most comprehensive guide to Europe, and is perfect for discovering both popular and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

About Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world's number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travellers. You'll also find our content online, and in mobile apps, video, 14 languages, nine international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks, and more.

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves, it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

*Source: Nielsen BookScan: Australia, UK, USA, 5/2016-4/2017

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)

  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges
  • Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews
  • Add notes to personalise your guidebook experience
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash
  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
  • Zoom-in maps and images
  • Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

Important Notice: The digital edition of this book may not contain all of the images found in the physical edition.

Pubblicato:
Oct 1, 2019
ISBN:
9781788687119
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Lonely Planet has gone on to become the world’s most successful travel publisher, printing over 100 million books. The guides are printed in nine different languages; English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Korean. Lonely Planet enables curious travellers to experience the world and get to the heart of a place via guidebooks and eBooks to almost every destination on the planet, an award-winning website and magazine, a range of mobile and digital travel products and a dedicated traveller community.


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Anteprima del libro

Lonely Planet Europe - Lonely Planet

Europe

Contents

PLAN YOUR TRIP

Welcome to Europe

Europe’s Top 24

Need to Know

If You Like…

Month by Month

Itineraries

ON THE ROAD

ALBANIA

Tirana

Central Albania

Berat

Gjirokastra

The Albanian Riviera & the East

Saranda

Ksamil

Himara

Shkodra

The Accursed Mountains & the North

Valbona

Theth

Survival Guide

AUSTRIA

Vienna

The Danube Valley

Krems an der Donau

Melk

Upper Austria

Linz

The South

Graz

Klagenfurt

Salzburg

The Salzkammergut

Hallstatt

Tyrol

Innsbruck

Kitzbühel

Lienz

Hohe Tauern National Park

Survival Guide

BELARUS

Minsk

Around Minsk

Nyasvizh

Mir

Brest

Around Brest

Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park

Hrodna

Survival Guide

BELGIUM & LUXEMBOURG

Brussels

Flanders

Bruges

Ypres

Ghent

Antwerp

Lier

Leuven

Mechelen

Wallonia

Mons

Tournai

Luxembourg

Luxembourg City

Northern Luxembourg

Moselle Valley

Survival Guide

BOSNIA & HERCEGOVINA

Sarajevo

Hercegovina

Mostar

Blagaj

Trebinje

Western Bosnia

Una River Valley

Survival Guide

BRITAIN

England

London

Windsor & Eton

Canterbury

Salisbury

Stonehenge

Bath

Oxford

The Cotswolds

Stratford-upon-Avon

Cambridge

York

Castle Howard

Chester

Lake District National Park

Wales

Cardiff

Snowdonia National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri)

Scotland

Edinburgh

Glasgow

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs

Inverness

Loch Ness

Skye

Survival Guide

BULGARIA

Sofia

Southern Bulgaria

Rila Monastery

Melnik

Plovdiv

Central Bulgaria

Koprivshtitsa

Veliko Târnovo

Black Sea Coast

Varna

Nesebâr

Burgas

Sozopol

Survival Guide

CROATIA

Zagreb

Istria

Rovinj

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Dalmatia

Zadar

Trogir

Split

Hvar Island

Dubrovnik

Survival Guide

CZECH REPUBLIC

Prague

Around Prague

Karlštejn

Kutná Hora

Bohemia

Plzeň

Český Krumlov

Karlovy Vary

Moravia

Brno

Olomouc

Survival Guide

DENMARK

Copenhagen

Zealand

Helsingør

Roskilde

Funen

Odense

Jutland

Aarhus

Skagen

Survival Guide

ESTONIA

Tallinn

Northern Estonia

Lahemaa National Park

Southern Estonia

Otepää

Tartu

Western Estonia & the Islands

Pärnu

Muhu

Saaremaa

Survival Guide

FINLAND

Helsinki

Turku

Tampere

The Finnish Lakeland

Savonlinna

Lapland

Rovaniemi

Inari

Survival Guide

FRANCE

Paris

Around Paris

Versailles

Chartres

Giverny

Lille & the Somme

Lille

Normandy

Bayeux

D-Day Beaches

Mont St-Michel

Brittany

Quimper

St-Malo

Champagne

Reims

Épernay

Alsace & Lorraine

Strasbourg

The Loire Valley

Blois

Around Blois

Amboise

Around Amboise

Burgundy

Dijon

Beaune

Lyon

The French Alps

Chamonix

The Dordogne

Sarlat-la-Canéda

Atlantic Coast

Bordeaux

Biarritz

Languedoc-Roussillon

Nîmes

Pont du Gard

Provence

Marseille

Aix-en-Provence

Avignon

The French Riviera & Monaco

Nice

Cannes

St-Tropez

Monaco

Corsica

Ajaccio

Bastia

Bonifacio

Survival Guide

GERMANY

Berlin

Saxony

Dresden

Leipzig & Western Saxony

Central Germany

Weimar

Erfurt

Bavaria

Munich

Bavarian Alps

The Romantic Road

Nuremberg & Franconia

Regensburg & the Danube

Stuttgart & the Black Forest

Stuttgart

Heidelberg

The Black Forest

Southern Rhineland

Frankfurt am Main

Romantic Rhine Valley

Moselle Valley

Cologne & Northern Rhineland

Cologne

Northern Rhineland

Northern Germany

Hamburg

Schleswig-Holstein

Lower Saxony& Bremen

Bremen City

Survival Guide

GREECE

Athens

Peloponnese

Nafplio

Mycenae

Epidavros

Olympia

Central Greece

Delphi

Meteora

Northern Greece

Thessaloniki

Cyclades

Mykonos

Naxos

Santorini

Crete

Iraklio

Knossos

Hania

Samaria Gorge

Dodecanese

Rhodes

Kos

Northeastern Aegean Islands

Samos

Lesvos

Ionian Islands

Corfu

Survival Guide

HUNGARY

Budapest

Danube Bend & Western Transdanubia

Szentendre

Visegrád

Esztergom

Sopron

Lake Balaton & Southern Transdanubia

Balatonfüred

Keszthely

Pécs

Great Plain

Szeged

Northern Hungary

Eger

Survival Guide

ICELAND

Reykjavík

Around Reykjavík

The Golden Circle

Blue Lagoon

The South

West Iceland

North Iceland

Survival Guide

IRELAND

Dublin

The Southeast

Kilkenny

The Southwest

Cork

Around Cork

Killarney

Ring of Kerry

The West Coast

Galway

Aran Islands

Northern Ireland

Belfast

The Causeway & Antrim Coasts

Derry (Londonderry)

Survival Guide

ITALY

Rome

Northern Italy

Genoa

Cinque Terre

Turin

Milan

The Lakes

Venice

Bologna

Tuscany & Umbria

Florence

Lucca

Siena

Southern Italy

Naples

Capri

Amalfi Coast

Sicily

Survival Guide

KOSOVO

Pristina

Western Kosovo

Peja (Peć)

Southern Kosovo

Prizren

Survival Guide

LATVIA

Rīga

Western Latvia

Jūrmala

Kuldīga

Ventspils

Northern Latvia

Sigulda

Cēsis

Survival Guide

LITHUANIA

Vilnius

Eastern & southern Lithuania

Paneriai

Trakai

Central Lithuania

Kaunas

Western Lithuania

Klaipėda

Curonian Spit

Survival Guide

MOLDOVA

Chişinău

Around Chişinău

Orheiul Vechi

Soroca

Gagauzia

Transdniestr

Tiraspol

Survival Guide

MONTENEGRO

Coastal Montenegro

Perast

Kotor

Ulcinj

Inland Montenegro

Lovćen National Park

Cetinje

Durmitor National Park

Survival Guide

THE NETHERLANDS

Amsterdam

The Randstad

Haarlem

Leiden

Den Haag

Delft

Rotterdam

Utrecht

The South

Maastricht

Survival Guide

NORTH MACEDONIA

Skopje

Around Skopje

Canyon Matka

Western North Macedonia

Mavrovo National Park

Lake Ohrid

Ohrid

Central North Macedonia

Pelister National Park

Bitola

Survival Guide

NORWAY

Oslo

Bergen & the Fjords

Bergen

Stavanger

Sognefjorden

Geirangerfjord

Northern Norway

Trondheim

Tromsø

Survival Guide

POLAND

Warsaw

Kraków

Małopolska

Lublin

Carpathian Mountains

Zakopane

Silesia

Wrocław

Wielkopolska

Poznań

Pomerania

Gdańsk

Toruń

Survival Guide

PORTUGAL

Lisbon

Around Lisbon

Sintra

Cascais

The Algarve

Faro

Tavira

Lagos

Silves

Sagres

Central Portugal

Évora

Peniche

Óbidos

Nazaré

Tomar

Coimbra

The North

Porto

Viana do Castelo

Braga

Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês

Survival Guide

ROMANIA

Bucharest

Transylvania

Braşov

Sighişoara

Sibiu

Cluj-Napoca

Banat

Timişoara

Survival Guide

RUSSIA

Moscow

Golden Ring

Vladimir

Suzdal

Sergiev Posad

St Petersburg

Survival Guide

SERBIA

Belgrade

Vojvodina

Novi Sad

South Serbia

Niš

Survival Guide

SLOVAKIA

Bratislava

Around Bratislava

Tatra Mountains

Poprad

High Tatras

Eastern Slovakia

Levoča

Spišské Podhradie

Slovenský Raj & Around

Košice

Survival Guide

SLOVENIA

Ljubljana

The Julian Alps

Lake Bled

Lake Bohinj

Soča Valley

Bovec

Slovenian Karst & Coast

Postojna

Škocjan Caves

Piran

Survival Guide

SPAIN

Madrid

Castilla y León

Salamanca

Segovia

Castilla-La Mancha

Toledo

Catalonia

Barcelona

Tarragona

Aragón, Basque Country & Navarra

Zaragoza

Around Aragón

San Sebastián

Bilbao

Cantabria, Asturias & Galicia

Santillana del Mar

Santiago de Compostela

Around Galicia

Valencia

Balearic Islands

Mallorca

Around Palma de Mallorca

Ibiza

Andalucía

Seville

Córdoba

Granada

Málaga

Extremadura

Cáceres

Survival Guide

SWEDEN

Stockholm

Uppsala

Southern Sweden

Malmö

Gothenburg

Gotland

Visby

Norrland

Östersund

Umeå

Kiruna & Around

Survival Guide

SWITZERLAND

Geneva

Lake Geneva & Vaud

Lausanne

Fribourg, Drei-Seen-Land and The Jura

Gruyères

Valais

Zermatt

Bern

Central Switzerland

Lucerne

Bernese Oberland

Interlaken

Grindelwald

Wengen

Jungfraujoch

Gimmelwald

Mürren

Schilthorn

Canton of Zürich

Zürich

Northwestern Switzerland

Basel

Ticino

Locarno

Lugano

Graubünden

St Moritz

Survival Guide

TURKEY

Istanbul

Aegean Coast

Gallipoli (Gelibolu) Peninsula

Çanakkale

Troy (Truva)

Bergama (Pergamum)

İzmir

Selçuk

Pamukkale

Bodrum

Mediterranean Coast

Fethiye

Patara

Kaş

Olympos & Çıralı

Antalya

Central Anatolia

Ankara

Konya

Cappadocia

Göreme

Eastern Turkey

Nemrut Dağı Milli Parkı

Kars

Survival Guide

UKRAINE

Kyiv

Lviv

Odesa

Survival Guide

SURVIVAL GUIDE

Directory A–Z

Accessible Travel

Accommodation

Customs Regulations

Discount Cards

Electricity

Embassies & Consulates

LGBT+ Travellers

Health

Insurance

Internet Access

Legal Matters

Money

Post

Safe Travel

Telephone

Time

Toilets

Tourist Information

Travel with Children

Visas

Volunteering

Women Travellers

Work

Transport

Getting There & Away

Getting Around

Language

Behind the Scenes

Our Writers

Welcome to Europe

There simply is no way to tour Europe and not be awestruck by its natural beauty, epic history and dazzling artistic and culinary diversity.

Cultural Heritage

Europe’s almost unmanageable wealth of attractions is its biggest single draw: the birthplace of democracy in Athens, the Renaissance art of Florence, the graceful canals of Venice, the Napoleonic splendour of Paris, and the multilayered historical and cultural canvas of London. Less obvious but no less impressive attractions include Moorish palaces in Andalucía, the fascinating East-meets-West brew of İstanbul in Turkey, the majesty of meticulously restored imperial palaces in Russia’s former capital St Petersburg and the ongoing project of Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família in Barcelona.

Raise a Glass

Cheers! Salud! Prost! Cin cin! À votre santé! Europe has some of the best nightlife in the world. Globally famous DJs keep the party going in London, Berlin and Paris, all of which also offer top-class entertainment, especially theatre and live music. Other key locations for high-energy nightlife include Moscow, Belgrade, Budapest and Madrid, while those hankering for something cosier can add Dublin’s pubs or Vienna’s cafes to their itinerary. Continue to party on the continent’s streets at a multiplicity of festivals, from city parades attended by thousands to concerts in an ancient amphitheatre.

Glorious Scenery

Despite its population density Europe maintains spectacular natural scenery: rugged Scottish Highlands with glens and lochs; Norway’s fabulous fjords, seemingly chipped to jagged perfection by giants; the vine-raked valleys of the Loire; and the steppe-like plains of central Spain. For beaches, take a circuit of the Mediterranean’s northern coast where beach holidays were practically invented. Or strike out to lesser-known yet beautiful coastal regions such as the Baltic and Black Seas. Mountain lovers should head to the Alps: they march across central Europe taking in France, Switzerland, Austria, northern Italy and tiny Liechtenstein.

Magnificent Menus

Once you’ve ticked off the great museums, panoramic vistas and energetic nightlife, what’s left? A chance to indulge in a culinary adventure to beat all others. Who wouldn’t want to snack on pizza in Naples, souvlaki in Santorini or even haggis in Scotland? But did you also know that Britain has some of the best Indian restaurants in the world; that Turkey’s doner kebab is a key part of contemporary German food culture; and that in the Netherlands you can gorge on an Indonesian rijsttafel (rice table)? Europe’s diversity and global reach is its trump card.

Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France | MIRAMIS/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Why I Love Europe

By Brendan Sainsbury, Writer

As with many young travellers, Europe is where my life on the road began – in the late 1980s with a £140 InterRail ticket. Not having travelled outside Britain as a child, I’ll never forget the excitement of arriving at Paris’ Gare du Nord late at night and becoming instantly infatuated by the ‘City of Light’. Since then, I’ve travelled around Europe multiple times returning regularly to my favourite haunts and revelling in the diversity, intensity and complexity of this multilayered continent that I’ll need at least 10 lifetimes to explore properly.

For more, see Our Writers

Europe’s Top 24

Venice, Italy

There’s something magical about Venice on a sunny winter’s day. With far fewer tourists around and the light sharp and clear, it’s the perfect time to lap up the city’s unique and magical atmosphere. Ditch your map and wander the shadowy backstreets of Dorsoduro while imagining secret assignations and whispered conspiracies at every turn. Then visit two of Venice’s top galleries, the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which house works by many of the giants of 20th-century art.

WEI LI/500PX ©

Top Experiences

Granada’s Alhambra, Spain

The palace complex of the Alhambra is close to architectural perfection. It is perhaps the most refined example of Islamic art anywhere in the world, not to mention the most enduring symbol of 800 years of Moorish rule in what was then known as Al-Andalus. From afar, the Alhambra’s red fortress towers dominate the Granada skyline, set against a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada’s snowcapped peaks. Up close, the Alhambra’s perfectly proportioned Generalife gardens complement the exquisite detail of the Palacios Nazaríes. Put simply, this is Spain’s most beautiful monument.

DBROWN1793/BUDGET TRAVEL ©

Top Experiences

London’s Nightlife, Britain

Can you hear that, music lovers? That’s London calling – from the numerous theatres, concert halls, nightclubs, pubs and even tube stations, where on any given night hundreds, if not thousands, of performers are taking to the stage. Search for your own iconic London experience, whether it’s the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, an East End singalong around a clunky pub piano, a theatre performance in the West End, a superstar DJ set at Fabric or a floppy-fringed guitar band at a Hoxton boozer.

Royal Albert Hall | WILLY BARTON/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Ancient Rome, Italy

Rome’s famous seven hills (actually, there are nine) offer some superb vantage points. A favourite is the Palatino, a gorgeous green expanse of evocative ruins, towering umbrella pines and unforgettable views over the Roman Forum. This is where it all began, where Romulus supposedly founded the city and where the ancient Roman emperors lived in unimaginable luxury. Nowadays, it’s a truly haunting spot; as you walk the gravel paths you can almost sense the ghosts in the air.

Roman Forum | S.BORISOV/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Fjords, Norway

The drama of Norway’s fjords is difficult to overstate. They cut deep gashes into the Norwegian interior, adding texture and depth to northwestern Scandinavia. Sheer rock walls plunge from high meadows into water-filled canyons shadowed by pretty fjord-side villages. Sognefjorden, more than 200km long, and Hardangerfjord are Norway’s most extensive fjord networks, but the quiet, precipitous beauty of Nærøyfjord (part of Sognefjorden), Lysefjord and – the king of fjords – Geirangerfjord, are prime candidates for Scandinavia’s most beautiful corner.

Lysefjord | COLORES/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Seven million people visit the Eiffel Tower annually and most agree that each visit is unique. From an evening ascent amid twinkling lights to lunch in the company of a staggering city panorama, there are 101 ways to ‘do’ it. Pedal beneath it, skip the lift and hike up, buy a crêpe from a stand or a key ring from the street, snap yourself in front of it, visit at night or – our favourite – experience the odd special occasion when all 324m of it glows a different colour.

THITIPHAN PAKSEESUWAN/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

The Matterhorn, Switzerland

It graces Toblerone packages and evokes stereotypical Heidi scenes, but nothing prepares you for the allure of the Matterhorn. As soon as you arrive at the timber-chalet-filled village of Zermatt, this mighty mountain looms above you, mesmerising you with its chiselled, majestic peak. Gaze at it from a tranquil street-side cafe, hike in its shadow along the tangle of Alpine paths above town with cowbells clinking in the distance, or pause to admire its sheer size from a ski slope.

Matterhorn, Zermatt | ANSHAR73/GETTY IMAGES ©

Top Experiences

St Petersburg, Russia

Marvelling at the masterpieces of the Hermitage; window-shopping and people-watching along Nevsky Prospekt; gliding down canals past palaces and golden-domed churches; enjoying a ballet at the beautiful Mariinsky Theatre; having a banquet fit for a tsar then dancing till dawn at a dive bar in a crumbling ruin – Russia’s imperial capital is a visual stunner and hedonist’s delight, best visited at the height of summer when the White Nights see the city party around the clock.

Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood | KONSTANTIN TRONIN/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Dubrovnik’s Old City Walls, Croatia

Get up close and personal with the city by walking Dubrovnik’s spectacular city walls. No visit is complete without a leisurely walk along these ramparts, the finest in the world and Dubrovnik’s main claim to fame. Built between the 13th and 16th centuries, they are still remarkably intact today, and the vistas over the terracotta rooftops and the Adriatic Sea are sublime, especially at dusk when the sundown makes the hues dramatic and the panoramas unforgettable.

DREAMER4787/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Remembering the Berlin Wall, Germany

Even after 30 years, the sheer magnitude of the Berlin Wall, and the fact that it really cut through this city, doesn’t sink in. But the best way to examine its role in Berlin is to follow – on foot or by bike – the Berlin Wall Trail. Passing the Brandenburg Gate, analysing graffiti at the East Side Gallery or learning about its history at the Documentation Centre: the path brings it all into context. It’s heartbreaking, hopeful and sombre, but integral in trying to understand Germany’s capital.

Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer | SVEN HAGOLANI/GETTY IMAGES ©

Top Experiences

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague’s big attractions – Prague Castle and Old Town Square – are highlights of the Czech capital, but for a more insightful look at life more than two decades after the Velvet Revolution, head to local neighbourhoods around the centre. Working-class Žižkov and energetic Smíchov are crammed with pubs, while elegant tree-lined Vinohrady features a diverse menu of cosmopolitan restaurants. Prague showcases many forms of art, from iconic works from the last century to more recent but equally challenging pieces.

St Vitus Cathedral | FULCANELLI/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Imperial Vienna, Austria

Imagine what you could do with unlimited riches and Austria’s top architects at your hands for 640 years: you have the Vienna of the Habsburgs. The graceful Hofburg whisks you back to the age of empires as you marvel at the treasury’s imperial crowns, the equine ballet of the Spanische Hofreitschule (Spanish Riding School) and Empress Elisabeth’s chandelier-lit apartments. The palace is rivalled in grandeur only by Schloss Schönbrunn and also the baroque Schloss Belvedere, both set in exquisite landscaped gardens.

Hofburg | GREG ELMS/LONELY PLANET ©

Top Experiences

Santorini, Greece

On first view, startling Santorini grabs your attention and doesn’t let it go. The submerged caldera, surrounded by lava-layered cliffs topped by villages that look like a sprinkling of icing sugar, is one of nature’s great wonders, best experienced by a walk along the clifftops from the main town of Fira to the northern village of Oia. The precariousness and impermanence of the place is breathtaking. Recover from your efforts with Santorini’s ice-cold Yellow Donkey beer in Oia as you wait for its famed picture-perfect sunset.

ANDREW MAYOVSKYY/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Moscow’s Red Square, Russia

With the gravitational pull of a black hole, Red Square sucks in every visitor to Russia’s capital, leaving them slack-jawed with wonder. Standing on the rectangular cobblestoned expanse – surrounded by the candy-coloured swirls of the cupolas atop St Basil’s Cathedral, the red-star-tipped towers of the Kremlin, Lenin’s squat granite mausoleum, the handsome red-brick facade of the State History Museum and grand emporium GUM – you are literally at the centre of Russia’s modern history.

St Basil’s Cathedral | ANTON GVOZDIKOV/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Athens, Greece

Magnificent ruins of its ancient civilisation are scattered across the mainland and islands of Greece, but it’s in its capital Athens that the greatest and most iconic of those monuments still stands. High on a rocky outcrop overlooking the city, the Acropolis epitomises the glory of ancient Greece with its graceful Parthenon. Other impressive ruins littering this resilient, vibrant city include the mammoth Temple of Olympian Zeus and two agoras (marketplaces; one Greek, one Roman) mingling with first-rate museums.

Parthenon | JOHZIO/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Amsterdam’s Canals, The Netherlands

To say Amsterdammers love the water is an understatement. Sure, the city made its first fortune in maritime trade, but that’s ancient history. You can stroll next to the canals and check out some of the thousands of houseboats. Or, better still, go for a ride. From boat level you’ll see a whole new set of architectural details such as the ornamentation bedecking the bridges. And when you pass the canalside cafe terraces, you can just look up and wave.

FREEARTIST/GETTY IMAGES ©

Top Experiences

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

There’s a sense of secrecy and mystery to the Bay of Kotor. Grey mountain walls rise steeply from steely blue waters, getting higher and higher as you progress through their folds to the hidden reaches of the inner bay. Here ancient stone settlements hug the shoreline, with Kotor’s slender alleyways concealed in its innermost reaches behind hefty stone walls. Talk about drama! But you wouldn’t expect anything else of the Balkans, where life is exuberantly Mediterranean and lived full of passion on these story-filled streets.

CGE2010/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Barcelona’s La Sagrada Família, Spain

One of Spain’s top sights, La Sagrada Família, brainchild of Antoni Gaudí, remains a work in progress more than 90 years after its creator’s death. Inspired by nature and barely restrained by a Gothic style, Barcelona’s quirky temple soars with a playful majesty. The improbable angles and departures from architectural convention will have you shaking your head in disbelief, but the decorative flourishes on the Passion and Nativity facades are worth studying for hours.

VALERYEGOROV/GETTY IMAGES ©

Top Experiences

Budapest, Hungary

Straddling both sides of the romantic Danube River, Budapest is perhaps the most beautiful city in Eastern Europe. Parks brim with attractions, the architecture is second to none and museums are filled with treasures. And with pleasure boats sailing up and down the scenic Danube Bend, Turkish-era thermal baths belching steam and a nightlife throbbing till dawn most nights, it’s easy to see why the Hungarian capital is one of the continent’s most delightful and fun cities to visit.

Széchenyi Baths | IZABELA23/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Castles & Mountains of Transylvania, Romania

The Romanian region that so ghoulishly inspired Irish writer Bram Stoker to create his Dracula has some seriously spooky castles. Monumental Bran Castle, south of Braşov, is suitably vampiric, but our favourite haunt has to be the 13th-century Râşnov fortress just down the road. The castles are nestled high amid the Carpathians, a relatively underexplored mountain range that’s ideal for outdoor activities, including hiking, trekking, mountain biking and skiing.

Bran Castle | CGE2010/SHUTTERSTOCKX ©

Top Experiences

İstanbul, Turkey

Straddling Europe and Asia, and serving stints as the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, İstanbul is one of the world’s great cities. The historical highlights cluster in Sultanahmet – the Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace and Grand Bazaar. After marvelling at their ancient domes and glittering interiors, experience the vibrant contemporary life of this huge metropolis. Cross the Galata Bridge, passing ferries and fish-kebab stands, to Beyoğlu, where the nightlife thrives from chic rooftop bars to rowdy taverns.

Aya Sofya | ARTUR BOGACKI/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Tallinn, Estonia

The Estonian capital is rightly famous for its two-tiered chocolate-box Old Town with landscapes of intertwining alleys, picturesque courtyards and red-rooftop views from medieval turrets. But be sure to step outside the Old Town walls and experience Tallinn’s other treasures: no visit is complete without sampling its stylish restaurants plating up fashionable New Nordic cuisine, its buzzing Scandinavian-influenced design community, its ever-growing number of museums – such as Kumu, the city’s award-winning modern-art repository – or its progressive contemporary architecture.

MATT MUNRO/LONELY PLANET ©

Top Experiences

Lisbon’s Alfama, Portugal

The Alfama, with its labyrinthine alleyways, hidden courtyards and curving, shadow-filled lanes, is a magical place to lose all sense of direction and delve into the soul of the city. On the journey, you’ll pass breadbox-sized grocers, brilliantly tiled buildings and cosy taverns filled with easygoing chatter, with the scent of chargrilled sardines and the mournful rhythms of fado drifting in the breeze. Then you round a bend and catch sight of steeply pitched rooftops leading down to the glittering Rio Tejo and you know you’re hooked.

MATT MUNRO/LONELY PLANET ©

Top Experiences

Ohrid, North Macedonia

Whether you come to sublime, hilly Ohrid for its medieval castle, to wander the stone laneways of its Old Town or to gaze at its restored Plaošnik, every visitor pauses for a few moments at the Church of Sveti Jovan at Kaneo, set high on a bluff overlooking Lake Ohrid and its popular beaches. It’s the prime spot for absorbing the town’s beautiful architecture, idling sunbathers and distant fishing skiffs – all framed by the rippling green of Mt Galičica to the southeast and the endless expanse of lake stretching out elsewhere.

Church of Sveti Jovan at Kaneo | MS-F/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Need to Know

For more information, see Survival Guide

Currency

Euro (€) Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

Pound (£; also called ‘pound sterling’) Britain, Northern Ireland

Local currency elsewhere.

Visas

EU citizens don’t need visas for other EU countries. Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and Americans don’t need visas for visits of less than 90 days.

Money

ATMs are common; credit and debit cards are widely accepted.

Time

Britain, Ireland and Portugal: GMT. Central Europe: GMT plus one hour. Greece, Turkey & Eastern Europe: GMT plus two hours. Russia: GMT/UTC plus three hours.

When to Go

High Season (Jun–Aug)

A Everybody comes to Europe and all of Europe hits the road.

A Hotel prices and temperatures are at their highest.

A Expect all the major attractions to be nightmarishly busy.

Shoulder (Apr–May & Sep–Oct)

A Crowds and prices drop, except in Italy, where it’s still busy.

A Temperatures are comfortable but it can be hot in southern Europe.

A Overall these are the best months to travel in Europe.

Low Season (Nov–Mar)

A Outside ski resorts, hotels drop their prices or close down.

A The weather can be cold and days short, especially in northern Europe.

A Some places, such as resort towns, are like ghost towns.

Useful Websites

The Man in Seat Sixty-One (www.seat61.com) Encyclopedic site dedicated to train travel plus plenty of other tips.

Hidden Europe (www.hiddeneurope.co.uk) Fascinating magazine and online dispatches from all the continent’s corners.

Couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing.org) Find a free bed and make friends in any European country.

VisitEurope (www.visiteurope.com) With information about travel in 33 member countries.

Spotted by Locals (www.spottedbylocals.com) Insider tips for cities across Europe.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/europe) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Important Numbers

The number 112 can be dialled free for emergencies in all EU states. See individual countries for country-specific emergency numbers.

Exchange Rates

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than €70

A Dorm beds: €15–30

A Museum admission: €5–15

A Pizza or pasta: €8–12

Midrange: €70–200

A Double room in a small hotel: €70–120

A Short taxi trip: €10–20

A Meals in good restaurants: per person €20–40

Top end: More than €200

A Stay at iconic hotels: from €150

A Car hire: per day from around €35

A Theatre tickets: €15–150

Accommodation

Europe offers the fullest possible range of accommodation for all budgets. Book up to two months in advance for a July visit or for ski resorts over Christmas and New Year.

Hotels Range from the local pub to restored castles.

B&Bs Small, family-run houses generally provide good value.

Hostels Enormous variety from backpacker palaces to real dumps.

Homestays and farmstays A great way to really find out how locals live.

Arriving in Europe

Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam) Trains to the centre (20 minutes).

Heathrow Airport (London) Trains (15 minutes) and tube (one hour) to the centre.

Aéroport de Charles de Gaulle (Paris) Many buses (one hour) and trains (30 minutes) to the centre.

Frankfurt Airport Trains (15 minutes) to the centre.

Leonardo da Vinci Airport (Rome) Buses (one hour) and trains (30 minutes) to the centre.

Barajas Airport (Madrid) Buses (40 minutes) and metro (15 minutes) to the centre.

Getting Around Europe

Train Europe’s train network is fast and efficient but rarely a bargain unless you book well in advance or use a rail pass wisely.

Bus Usually taken for short trips in remoter areas, though long-distance intercity buses can be cheap.

Car You can hire a car or drive your own through Europe. Roads are excellent but petrol is expensive.

Ferry Boats connect Britain and Ireland with mainland Europe; Scandinavia to the Baltic countries and Germany; and Italy to the Balkans and Greece.

Air Speed things up by flying from one end of the continent to the other.

Bicycle Slow things down on a two-wheeler; a great way to get around just about anywhere.

For much more, see Getting Around

If You Like…

Historical Sites

Stonehenge, Britain The UK’s most iconic – and mysterious – archaeological site, dating back some 5000 years.

Pompeii, Italy Wander the streets and alleys of this great ancient city, buried by a volcanic eruption.

Athens, Greece Ancient wonders include the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Temple of Olympian Zeus and more.

Amsterdam’s Canal Ring, the Netherlands Stroll the Dutch capital’s Golden Age canals lined with gabled buildings.

Moscow Kremlin, Russia The seat of power to medieval tsars and modern tyrants alike, Moscow’s vast Kremlin offers incredible history lessons.

Dachau, Germany The first Nazi concentration camp is a harrowing introduction to WWII’s horrors.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina Enjoy the bustling old Turkish quarter of arguably the Balkans’ most charming town – and a proud survivor.

Castles & Palaces

Versailles, France The vast formal palace against which all others are measured includes the Hall of Mirrors and sumptuous gardens.

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany In the heart of the Bavarian Alps, this is everybody’s (including Disney’s) castle fantasy.

Winter Palace, Russia Now housing the State Hermitage Museum and forever associated with the Russian Revolution, this golden-green baroque building in St Petersburg is unmatched for tsarist splendour.

Bran Castle, Romania Better known as Dracula’s Castle, this Transylvanian beauty is straight out of a horror movie.

Alhambra, Spain This exquisite Islamic palace complex in Granada is a World Heritage–listed wonder.

Gravensteen, Belgium The turreted stone castle of the Counts of Flanders looms over the beautiful Belgian city of Ghent.

Windsor Castle, Britain The world’s largest and oldest continuously occupied fortress is one of the British monarch’s principal residences.

Topkapı Palace, Turkey Tour the opulent pavilions and jewel-filled Treasury of the former court of the Ottoman Empire in İstanbul.

Hall of Mirrors, Château de Versailles, France. | TAKASHI IMAGES/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany | BLUEJAYPHOTO/GETTY IMAGES ©

Spectacular Scenery

The Alps, Switzerland There’s no competition for the most stunning landscape in Europe – beautiful Switzerland.

Fjords, Norway Like steep gashes cutting into a precipitous coastline, Norway’s fjords are simply unmissable.

West Coast, Ireland Wind-whipped headlands, hidden bays and mossy green clifftops battle against the wild Atlantic.

High Tatras, Slovakia Pristine snowfields, ultramarine mountain lakes, thundering waterfalls, undulating pine forests and shimmering alpine meadows.

Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland Skaftafell is the jewel in the crown of this breathtaking collection of peaks and glaciers.

Art Collections

Musée du Louvre, France It’s not just Paris’ museum, it’s the world’s; treasures collected from Europe and all over the planet in exhaustive quantity.

Florence, Italy From the Duomo, to the Uffizi, to the Ponte Vecchio – the entire Renaissance in one city.

State Hermitage Museum, Russia Housed in the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, the hermitage is one of the world’s greatest art collections, stuffed full of treasures from Egyptian mummies to Picassos.

Van Gogh Museum, the Netherlands Despite his troubled life and struggles with madness, Van Gogh’s superb creations are gloriously easy to enjoy in Amsterdam.

Madrid, Spain With the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía within a single golden mile of art, Madrid is a premier destinations for art lovers.

Cafes & Bars

Vienna’s coffee houses, Austria Unchanged in decades and heavy with the air of refinement; pause for a cup served just so.

Irish pubs, Ireland Come and join the warm and gregarious crowds of locals in any pub in Ireland for a true cultural experience.

Paris’ cafe society, France What’s more clichéd: the practised curtness of the Parisian waiter or the studied boredom of the customer?

Amsterdam’s tiny havens, the Netherlands The Dutch call them ‘brown cafes’ for the former tobacco stains on the walls, but they’re still cosy, warm and invariably friendly.

Bourse cafes, Belgium Many of Brussels’ most iconic cafes are within stumbling distance of the city’s Bourse and are great places to sample Belgian beer.

Budapest’s ruin pubs, Hungary So-called ‘ruin pubs’ – essentially pop-up bars in abandoned buildings – are popular seasonal outdoor venues in summer.

Outdoor Fun

Bovec and Bled, Slovenia The capital of active sports in Eastern Europe is Slovenia, with everything from canyoning to hydrospeeding.

Cycling the Loire Valley, France There’s a gorgeous château around every bend in the river in this beautiful valley.

Skiing, Austria Experience Olympic-sized skiing in Innsbruck, the Alpine city ringed by famous year-round pistes.

Bridge diving, Bosnia and Hercegovina Amp up your courage and learn from professional divers how to safely jump off Mostar’s Stari Most (Old Bridge).

Snowmobiling and dog-sledding, Sweden Explore the icy wastelands of northern Sweden in the most thrilling way possible.

Caving, Slovakia The Slovenský Raj National Park includes one of only three aragonite caves in the world, as well as the Dobšinská Ice Cave.

Via Dinarica Hiking Trail, Montenegro The Montenegrin part of this 1930km ‘mega-trail’ connects Durmitor National Park with BiH’s Sutjeska National Park.

Music

Vienna’s Staatsoper, Austria The premier venue in a city synonymous with opera and classical music.

Berlin, Germany Everything from the world’s most acclaimed techno venue to the Berliner Philharmoniker can be seen in Germany’s music-obsessed capital.

Irish music, Ireland The Irish love their music and it takes little to get them singing; the west coast hums with music pubs, especially in Galway.

Fado, Portugal Portuguese love the melancholic and nostalgic songs of fado; hear it in Lisbon’s Alfama district.

Seville, Spain Few musical forms capture the spirit of a nation quite like passionate flamenco – and Seville is its cradle.

Mariinsky Theatre, Russia There’s nowhere like St Petersburg’s Mariinsky for world-class opera and ballet.

Beaches & Islands

Cyclades, Greece The names Mykonos, Santorini and Naxos all conjure up images of perfect golden beaches and the reality will not disappoint.

Riveria beaches, Albania The stuff of legend among backpackers, this white-sand beaches on Albania’s coastline is sublime.

Balearic Islands, Spain Beaches so beautiful you think they might be dreams are tucked away in little coves.

Black Sea Coast, Bulgaria Bulgaria guards the best beaches on the Black Sea, especially if you avoid the big resorts and head to smaller Sozopol.

Hvar Island, Croatia Famed for its verdancy and lilac fields, this luxurious and sunny island is the jumping-off point for the wooded Pakleni Islands.

Isle of Skye, Scotland A 50-mile-long smorgasbord of velvet moors, jagged mountains, sparkling lochs and towering sea cliffs.

Hiking on the Isle of Skye, Scotland | WESTEND61 GMBH/ALAMY © ©

Architecture

Cathédrale Notre Dame, France Paris’ gargoyle-covered cathedral is a Gothic wonder.

Meteora, Greece Late 14th-century monasteries perch dramatically atop enormous rocky pinnacles.

La Sagrada Família, Spain Gaudí’s singular work in progress, Barcelona’s mighty cathedral defies imagination.

Pantheon, Italy Commissioned during Augustus’ reign, the portico of this ancient wonder is graced by Corinthian columns.

Grand Place, Belgium Brussels’ suitably grand central square is ringed by gilded houses.

St Basil’s Cathedral, Russia The Red Square’s iconic mixture of colours, patterns and shapes is the culmination of a style unique to Russian architecture.

Art nouveau, Hungary Budapest hits its stride with art nouveau masterpieces such as the Museum of Applied Arts.

Blue Mosque, Turkey Islamic style finds perfect form in the Blue Mosque, one of İstanbul’s most recognisable buildings.

Great Food

Copenhagen, Denmark Yes, Denmark’s capital is the place to sample Europe’s most sought-after menus and cool New Nordic cuisine.

Naples, Italy Pizza, the peasant dish that ate the world, is still the best in the city of its birth: accept no imitations.

San Sebastián, Spain The Basque powerhouse hosts an impressive array of Michelin-starred restaurants.

Lyon, France Forget Paris, the gastronomic capital of La Belle France is undoubtedly Lyon, a city that will have gourmands swooning.

Greek Islands, Greece Swig on ouzo while snacking on grilled octopus – not a bad way to pack away some calories.

İstanbul, Turkey Grilled meats, kebaps and a marvellous array of meze (small dishes) can be sampled in this paradise for food lovers.

Nightlife

Berlin, Germany There’s nothing quite like arriving at superclub Berghain to dance from sunrise to sundown.

London, Britain A multifarious scene from a quiet session at the local pub to a full-blown night on the tiles of East London.

Moscow, Russia Once famed for its strict door policies, Moscow has spawned a slew of new, democratically run bars and clubs.

Madrid, Spain Has more bars per capita than anywhere else on earth and no one goes to bed here before killing the night.

Mykonos, Greece Party pockets are dotted throughout the Greek islands; summer revellers flock to the bars and clubs of Mykonos.

Reykjavík, Iceland Join in the djammið a raucous weekend pub crawl around the Icelandic capital’s vibrant cafe-bar scene.

Belgrade, Serbia The Serbian capital is one of the liveliest places to party the night away, especially in its summer splavovi (floating clubs) on the Danube.

Month by Month

TOP EVENTS

Carnevale, Venice February

Hellenic Festival, Athens June

White Nights, St Petersburg June

Edinburgh International Festival August

Oktoberfest, Munich September

January

It’s cold but most towns are relatively tourist-free and hotel prices are rock bottom. Head to Eastern Europe’s ski slopes for wallet-friendly prices, with Bosnia and Bulgaria your best bets.

0 Orthodox Christmas, Eastern Europe

Christmas is celebrated in different ways in Eastern Europe: many countries celebrate on Christmas Eve (24 December), with an evening meal and midnight Mass. In Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, Christmas falls in January, as per the Julian calendar.

z Küstendorf Film & Music Festival, Serbia

Created and curated by Serbian director Emir Kusturica, this international indie-fest (http://kustendorf-filmandmusicfestival.org) in the town of Drvengrad, near Zlatibor in Serbia, eschews traditional red-carpet glitz for oddball inclusions vying for the ‘Golden Egg’ prize.

z Kiruna Snöfestivalen, Sweden

In the last weekend of January this Lapland snow festival (www.snofestivalen.com), based around a snow-sculpting competition, draws artists from all over Europe. There’s also a husky-dog competition and a handicrafts fair.

February

Carnival in all its manic glory sweeps the Catholic regions. Cold temperatures are forgotten amid masquerades, street festivals and general bacchanalia. Expect to be kissed by a stranger.

z Carnevale, Italy

In the period before Ash Wednesday, Venice goes mad for masks (www.venice-carnival-italy.com). Costume balls, many with traditions centuries old, enliven the social calendar in this storied old city. Even those without a coveted invite are swept up in the pageantry.

z Karneval, Croatia

For colourful costumes and nonstop revelry head to Rijeka (www.rijecki-karneval.hr), where Karneval (Carnival) is the pinnacle of the year’s calendar. Zadar and Samobor host Karneval celebrations too, with street dancing, concerts and masked balls.

z Carnaval, Netherlands

Pre-Lent is celebrated with greater vigour in Maastricht than anywhere else in northern Europe. While the rest of the Netherlands hopes the canals will freeze for ice skating, this Dutch corner cuts loose with a celebration that would have done its former Roman residents proud.

z Fasching, Germany

Germany doesn’t leave the pre-Lent season solely to its neighbours. Fasching (or Karneval) is celebrated with abandon in the traditional Catholic regions including Bavaria, along the Rhine and particularly vibrantly in Cologne.

March

Spring arrives in southern Europe. Further north the rest of the continent continues to freeze, though days are often bright.

z St Patrick’s Day, Ireland

Parades and celebrations are held on 17 March in Irish towns big and small to honour the beloved patron saint of Ireland. While elsewhere the day is a commercialised romp of green beer, in his home country it’s time for a parade and celebrations with friends and family.

3 Ski-Jumping World Cup, Slovenia

This exciting international competition (www.planica.si) takes place on the world’s largest ski-jumping hill, in the Planica Valley at Rateče near Kranjska Gora. Held the third weekend in March, it’s a must for adrenaline junkies.

April

Spring arrives with a burst of colour, from the glorious bulb fields of Holland to the blooming orchards of Spain. On the most southern beaches it’s time to shake the sand out of the umbrellas.

0 Semana Santa, Spain

There are parades of penitents and holy icons in Spain, notably in Seville, during Easter week (www.semana-santa.org). Thousands of members of religious brotherhoods parade in traditional garb before thousands more spectators. Look for the pointed capirotes (hoods).

0 Settimana Santa, Italy

Italy celebrates Holy Week with processions and passion plays. By Holy Thursday, Rome is thronged with the faithful and even nonbelievers are swept up in the emotion and piety of hundreds of thousands thronging the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica.

3 Budapest Spring Festival, Hungary

This two-week festival in early April is one of Europe’s top classical-music events (www.springfestival.hu). Concerts are held in a number of beautiful venues, including stunning churches, the opera house and the national theatre.

z Orthodox Easter, Greece

The most important festival in the Greek Orthodox calendar has an emphasis on the Resurrection, meaning it’s a celebratory event. The most significant part is midnight on Easter Saturday, when candles are lit and fireworks and a procession hit the streets.

z Feria de Abril, Spain

Hoods off! A weeklong party (http://feriadesevilla.andalunet.com) in Seville in late April counterbalances the religious peak of Easter. The beautiful old squares of this gorgeous city come alive during the long, warm nights for which the nation is known.

z Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), The Netherlands

The nationwide celebration of Queen’s Day on 27 April is especially fervent in Amsterdam, awash with orange costumes and fake Afros, beer, dope, leather boys, temporary roller coasters, clogs and general craziness.

May

May is usually sunny and warm and full of things to do – an excellent time to visit. It’s not too hot or too crowded, though you can still expect the big destinations to feel busy.

3 Queima das Fitas, Portugal

Coimbra’s annual highlight is this boozy week of fado music and revelry that begins on the first Thursday in May (www.facebook.com/queimadasfitascoimbra), when students celebrate the end of the academic year.

z Beer Festival, Czech Republic

An event dear to many travellers’ hearts, this Prague beer festival (www.ceskypivnifestival.cz) offers lots of food, music and – most importantly – around 70 beers from around the country from mid- to late May.

3 Brussels Jazz Weekend, Belgium

Around-the-clock jazz performances hit Brussels during the second-last weekend in May (www.brusselsjazzweekend.be). The saxophone is the instrument of choice for this international-flavoured city’s most joyous celebration.

June

The huge summer travel season hasn’t started yet, but the sun has broken through the clouds and the weather is generally gorgeous across the continent.

z Festa de Santo António, Portugal

Feasting, drinking and dancing in Lisbon’s Alfama in honour of St Anthony (12–13 June) top the even grander three-week Festas de Lisboa (www.festasdelisboa.com), which features processions and dozens of street parties.

z White Nights, Russia

By mid-June the Baltic sun just sinks behind the horizon at night, leaving the sky a grey-white colour and encouraging locals to forget routines and party hard. The best place to join the fun is St Petersburg, where balls, classical-music concerts and other summer events keep spirits high.

z Karneval der Kulturen, Germany

This joyous street carnival (www.karneval-berlin.de) celebrates Berlin’s multicultural tapestry with parties, global nosh and a fun parade of flamboyantly costumed dancers, DJs, artists and musicians.

z Festa de São João, Portugal

Elaborate processions, live music on Porto’s plazas and merrymaking all across Portugal’s second city. Squeaky plastic hammers (for sale everywhere) come out for the unusual custom of whacking one another. Everyone is fair game – expect no mercy.

3 Glastonbury Festival, Britain

The town’s youthful summer vibe peaks for this long weekend of music, theatre and New Age shenanigans (www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk). It’s one of England’s favourite outdoor events and more than 100,000 turn up to writhe around in the grassy fields (or deep mud) at Pilton’s (Worthy) Farm.

3 Roskilde Festival, Denmark

Northern Europe’s largest music festival (www.roskilde-festival.dk) rocks Roskilde each summer. It takes place in late June to early July but advance ticket sales are on offer in December and the festival usually sells out.

z Hellenic Festival, Greece

The ancient theatre at Epidavros and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus are the headline venues of Athens’ annual cultural shindig (www.greekfestival.gr). The festival, which runs from mid-June to August, features music, dance, theatre and much more.

July

One of the busiest months for travel across the continent with outdoor cafes, beer gardens and beach clubs all hopping. Expect beautiful – even steamy – weather anywhere you go.

z Il Palio, Italy

Siena’s great annual event is the Palio (2 July and 16 August; www.thepalio.com), a pageant culminating in a bareback horse race around Il Campo. The city is divided into 17 contrade (districts), of which 10 compete for the palio (silk banner), with emotions exploding.

3 EXIT Festival, Serbia

Eastern Europe’s most talked-about music festival (www.exitfest.org) takes place within the walls of the Petrovaradin Citadel in Serbia’s second city, Novi Sad. Book early as it attracts music lovers from all over the continent with big international acts headlining.

z Východná, Slovakia

Slovakia’s standout folk festival, Východná (www.festivalvychodna.sk) is held in a village nestled just below the High Tatras.

3 Bažant Pohoda, Slovakia

Slovakia’s largest music festival (www.pohodafestival.sk) represents all genres of music from folk and rock to orchestral over eight different stages. It’s firmly established as one of Europe’s biggest and best summer music festivals.

3 Ultra Europe, Croatia

Held over three days in Split’s Poljud Stadium, this electronic music fest (www.ultraeurope.com) includes a huge beach party.

z Bastille Day, France

Fireworks, balls, processions, and – of course – good food and wine, for France’s national day on 14 July, celebrated in every French town and city. Go to the heart of town and get caught up in this patriotic festival.

z Gentse Feesten, Belgium

Ghent is transformed into a 10-day party of music and theatre (www.gentsefeesten.be), a highlight of which is a vast techno celebration called 10 Days Off.

z Medieval Festival of the Arts, Romania

The beautiful Romanian city of Sighişoara hosts open-air concerts, parades and ceremonies, all glorifying medieval Transylvania and taking the town back to its fascinating 12th-century origins.

3 Paléo Festival Nyon, Switzerland

More than 250 shows and concerts are staged for this premier music festival (http://yeah.paleo.ch) held above the town of Nyon.

August

Everybody’s going someplace as half of Europe shuts down to enjoy the traditional month of holiday with the other half. If it’s near the beach, from Germany’s Baltic to Spain’s Balearics, it’s mobbed and the temperatures are hot, hot, hot!

3 Salzburg Festival, Austria

Austria’s most renowned classical-music festival (www.salzburgfestival.at) attracts international stars from late July to the end of August. That urbane person sitting by you having a glass of wine who looks like a famous cellist, probably is.

3 Edinburgh International Festival, Britain

Three weeks of innovative drama, comedy, dance, music and more (www.eif.co.uk). Two weeks overlap with the celebrated Fringe Festival (www.edfringe.com), which draws acts from around the globe. Expect cutting-edge productions that often defy description.

z Amsterdam Gay Pride, The Netherlands

Held at the beginning of August, this is one of Europe’s best GLBT events (www.amsterdamgaypride.nl). It’s more about freedom and diversity than protest.

3 Sziget Music Festival, Hungary

A weeklong, great-value world-music festival (www.sziget.hu) held all over Budapest. Sziget features bands from around the world playing at more than 60 venues.

z Guča Trumpet Festival, Serbia

Guča’s Dragačevo Trumpet Assembly (www.guca.rs) is one of the most exciting and bizarre events in all of Eastern Europe. Hundreds of thousands of revellers descend on the small Serbian town to damage their eardrums, livers and sanity in four cacophonous days of celebration.

3 Zürich Street Parade, Switzerland

Zürich lets its hair down with an enormous techno parade (www.streetparade.com). All thoughts of numbered accounts are forgotten as bankers, and everybody else in this otherwise staid burg, party to orgasmic, deep-base thump, thump, thump.

3 Notting Hill Carnival, Britain

This is Europe’s largest – and London’s most vibrant – outdoor carnival (www.thelondonnottinghillcarnival.com), where London’s Caribbean community shows the city how to party. Food, frolic and fun are just a part of this vast multicultural two-day celebration.

September

It’s cooling off in every sense, from the northern countries to the romance started on a dance floor in Ibiza. Maybe the best time to visit: the weather’s still good but the crowds have thinned.

3 Venice International Film Festival, Italy

The Mostra del Cinema di Venezia (www.labiennale.org) is Italy’s top film fest and the longest running in the world (since 1932). The judging here is seen as an early indication of what to look for at the next year’s Oscars.

6 Oktoberfest, Germany

Despite its name, Germany’s legendary beer-swilling party (www.oktoberfest.de) starts mid-September in Munich and finishes a week into October. Millions descend for litres of beer and carousing that has no equal. If you didn’t plan ahead, you’ll have to sleep in Austria.

z Festes de la Mercè, Spain

Barcelona knows how to party until dawn and it outdoes itself for the Festes de la Mercè (around 24 September). The city’s biggest celebration has four days of concerts, dancing, castellers (human-castle builders), fireworks and correfocs – a parade of fireworks-spitting dragons and devils.

October

Another good month to visit – almost everything is still open, while prices and visitor numbers are way down. Weather can be unpredictable, though, and even cold in northern Europe.

6 Wine Festival, Moldova

Wine-enriched folkloric performances in Moldova draw oenophiles and innocent bystanders for National Wine Day in early October when over 60 producers hold court in Chişinău’s main square.

3 Belfast International Arts Festival

Held at several venues throughout the city, this huge arts festival (www.belfastinternationalartsfestival.com) has been around since 1962. Over two and a half weeks, the city sheds its gritty legacy and celebrates the intellectual and the creative without excessive hype.

November

Leaves have fallen and snow is about to in much of Europe. Even in the temperate zones around the Med it can get chilly, rainy and blustery. Most seasonal attractions have closed for the year.

3 Guy Fawkes Night, Britain

Bonfires and fireworks erupt across Britain on 5 November, recalling the foiling of a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the 1600s. Go to high ground in London to see glowing explosions erupt everywhere.

3 Iceland Airwaves, Iceland

Roll on up to Reykjavík for Iceland Airwaves (www.icelandairwaves.is), a great music festival featuring both Icelandic and international acts.

December

Despite freezing temperatures this is a magical time to visit Europe, with Christmas decorations brightening the dark streets. Prices remain surprisingly low provided you avoid Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

0 Natale, Italy

Italian churches set up an intricate crib or a presepe (nativity scene) in the lead-up to Christmas. Some are quite famous, most are works of art, and many date back hundreds of years and are venerated for their spiritual ties.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS

In December, Christmas markets (www.christmasmarkets.com) are held across Europe, with particularly good ones in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Czech Republic. The most famous are in Nuremberg (the Christkindlmarkt) and Vienna. Warm your hands through your mittens holding a hot mug of mulled wine and find that special (or kitsch) present. Slovak Christmas markets are regarded as some of Europe’s best and a great opportunity to taste medovina (mead) and lokše (potato pancakes).

Itineraries

First-Time Europe

5 WEEKS

If this is your first visit to Europe you’ll want to experience as many of its famous cultural cities as possible – this is where your dreams become reality.

London is calling. The former capital of a huge empire is a city of massive museums, regal parks and electrifying nightlife.

Take the Eurostar to Paris and prepare to be seduced by the Eiffel Tower, Versailles and the Louvre. The art theme continues in Amsterdam, where you can admire works by Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Next travel to cosmopolitan, hedonistic Berlin in Germany where you can see the remains of the wall.

Prague in the Czech Republic is a city of intangible medieval magic. Budapest could be Prague’s twin, offering refined music and a youthful nocturnal scene. Vienna is known for its gilded coffee bars.

Time to hit southern Europe. Start in glorious Venice with its canals and gondoliers, jump on a train to the Renaissance time capsule of Florence, and then proceed to Rome. Leapfrog southern France to Spain, stopping in Barcelona where Gaudí meets Gothic, before having a grand finale in Madrid.

Itineraries

Mediterranean Europe

5 WEEKS

Think Europe doesn’t do beaches? Think again – it does, but with lashings of culture on the side, as you’ll find during this romp along its southern shores.

Fly to Spain and claim your sun-lounger at one of Europe’s warmest year-round beaches in Málaga. Follow the coast up to Valencia next, the culinary home of paella. Pay homage to Catalonia in Barcelona, where you can soak up the seaside ambience of Gaudí’s city. Cross the border into France, then beach-hop along the Côte d’Azur to Nice with its palm-lined seafront. Take the twisty coastal corniches to beguiling Monaco and, afterwards, spend a day or two inland in the beautiful villages of Provence.

Return to Nice and take the train southeast to historic Rome. Continue south to energetic Naples, walk through ill-fated Pompeii and explore the narrow footpaths and ancient staircases of the precipitous Amalfi Coast. Cross Italy to understated Bari, from where you head across the Adriatic by ferry to the Croatian pearl of Dubrovnik with its spectacular city walls.

Bus it south through Montenegro and Albania. Pause at the walled town of Kotor in the former and the white crescent-shaped beaches of Drymades in the latter.

Greece’s Ionian Islands are next and the best is Corfu. Take a ferry to Patra, from where you can get a bus on to venerable Athens, capital of the ancient world. Move on to the port of Piraeus for an island-hopping expedition of the Cyclades, dreamy islands that include sophisticated Mykonos, laid-back Paros and volcanic Santorini. When you’ve had enough of Greek salads, set sail for Turkish port Kuşadası from lush, mountainous Samos.

Visit ancient Ephesus, one of the greatest surviving Graeco-Roman cities. Travel by bus north along the Aegean coast to the ruins of Troy and Çanakkale, the base for visiting Gallipoli Peninsula. Finish in beautiful, chaotic İstanbul.

Whirling dervishes, İstanbul, Turkey | RESUL MUSLU/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Itineraries

From London to the Sun

3 WEEKS

Combining the best of both worlds, this itinerary begins with the urban powerhouse of London and ends with soaking up the sun in Spain and Portugal.

Enjoy several days in London for museums, galleries and clubbing, then take a train to Bath to appreciate Roman and Georgian architecture. Save time on the way back for Oxford, the fabled university town.

Back in London, take the Eurostar from grand St Pancras station to Brussels, the ethnically diverse headquarters of the EU.

The Eurostar will whisk you southwest to romantic Paris. Having dipped into the City of Light’s cultural sights and gourmet delights, make side trips to the D-Day beaches north of Bayeux and the iconic abbey of Mont St-Michel, which reaches for the sky from its rocky island perch.

Head south by rail, stopping at lively Toulouse. Detour to the fairy-tale fortified city of Carcassonne. Cross into Spain, pausing at supercool Barcelona, where you can indulge in avant-garde Spanish cuisine.

Zip north to Basque seaside resort San Sebastián, with its envelope-pushing food scene, and then to the curvaceous Museo Guggenheim in happening Bilbao. Turn south, making a beeline for energetic Madrid, for some of Europe’s best bars. From here plan day trips to Toledo, the so-called ‘city of three cultures’, and enchanting Segovia with its Roman aqueduct.

Continue south to Granada to explore the exquisite Islamic fortress complex of the Alhambra. Continue your Andalucian adventures with the one-of-a-kind Mezquita of Córdoba, before dancing flamenco in Seville. Get the bus to Portugal’s captivating hillside capital Lisbon, where you can eat custard tarts by the sea. Finish in the wooded hills of Sintra, home to fairy-tale-like palaces and gardens.

Roman Baths, Bath, Britain | ANTB/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Itineraries

Scandinavian & Baltic Highlights

4 WEEKS

Three weeks is sufficient for the classic sights of northern Europe, though you can easily spend longer. Extra time allows detailed exploration and side trips to quieter places.

Start in Danish capital Copenhagen, the hipster of the Nordic block. Make day trips to the cathedral and Viking-boat museum at Roskilde; ‘Hamlet’s’ castle Kronborg Slot at Helsingør; Denmark’s second but no-less-trendy city Aarhus with its incredible art at ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum; and the country’s top tourist attraction, Legoland.

Take the train to charming Stockholm. Sweden’s capital spills across 14 islands with Gamla Stan the oldest and most beautiful. Side-trip to university town Uppsala, Sweden’s spiritual heart, and spend the night. Creative and happening Gothenburg, the country’s second city, has interesting galleries and museums, including a great one for kids.

It’s a 3½-hour bus ride to Oslo, where you can check out Munch’s work in a stunning setting. Norway’s capital has plenty of museums and galleries, plus the iconic Oslo Opera House.

From Oslo, take the long but scenic ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ rail day trip to Flåm and ride the world’s steepest railway that runs without cable or rack wheels. Continue by boat and bus along the stunning Sognefjord – Norway’s deepest fjord – to Bergen. Admire this pretty town from a cable car and explore the quayside Bryggen district of historic buildings. From Bergen take a side trip to the mighty 20km-long emerald-green Geirangerfjord.

Return to Stockholm for a cruise circuit of the Baltic. First stop in quirky, design-diva Helsinki, a great base for exploring the natural wonders of Finland.

Wind up proceedings in the Baltic States starting in Tallinn, the charming Estonian capital where the Old Town

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