Europe Tours Archives

2017-european-cities

Americans love to travel abroad. Last year, 73 million Americans traveled outside the country and Europe was the top destination (over 12 million, a 7% increase over 2015). If you’ve got a case of wanderlust this year, here are five European cities that should make your travel list.

Some are perennial favorites and some are unexpected gems, but all are ideal destinations for 2017. See a new city you’d love to visit?

 

Get a feel for “gemutlichkeit” in Munich.

Why 2017 Is the Perfect Time to Visit These 5 European Cities

To those in the know, Munich is Germany’s “secret capital,” and once you visit, you’ll understand why. It’s the source of gemutlichkeit, that untranslatable word that describes a feeling of cozy contentedness, comfort, and bonhomie.

The capital of Bavaria, Munich is a city that knows how to have a good time. Stroll through the Altstadt and you’ll see throngs of happy people eating, drinking, and simply enjoying life. Sure, there’s plenty of beer and oompah-pah music, but there’s plenty of cultural sophistication in the form of museums, shopping, and fine dining, too.

 
Things to do and see

Biergartens—There are over 400 in Munich that carry on the Oktoberfest atmosphere all year long. Hofbrauhaus is the most famous, seating 4,000 in its dining hall and biergarten. Expect traditional German music—Hofbrauhaus inspired the famous Bavarian drinking song “Oans, Zwoa, G’suffa,” which translates to “one, two, down the hatch.” Don’t miss the famous Lion Fountain in the courtyard.

Old World architecture blended with the new—The Marienplatz, Munich’s central square, is the city’s focal point and a place to see some of the city’s most dramatic architecture. The Frauenkirche, or Cathedral Church of Our Lady, with its onion domes is an unmistakable symbol of Munich.

The classical architecture of the Residenz and Ludwig-Maximilian University are a fascinating backdrop as you enter the city.

The Rathaus, or New Town Hall, anchors Marienplatz. The iconic glockenspiel tells the story of the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V to Renata of Lorraine.

The Olympic Village—Built to host the 1972 summer games, the Olympiapark is still an important cultural and social venue in Munich.

Nymphenburg Park Palace—This elegant park and palace complex was built by Ferdinand Maria and his wife Henriette of Savoy and became the summer residence of their son and heir, Max Emanuel. Its stately courtyards, pools, and fountain are perfect for your vacation photos.

Munchner Stadtmuseum—Located near the Marienplatz, this Gothic museum houses relics of Munich and Bavarian history, including an exhibit dedicated to National Socialism in Germany.

Day Trips in BavariaLinderhof Palace, one of the palaces of King Ludwig II, in Ettal, Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps, famous for its Passion Play dating back to the 17th century, Berchtesgaden National Park, and Innsbruck in the Tyrolean Alps are all wonderful day trips from Munich.

 

Shop for diamonds, chocolates, and lace in Antwerp.

Why 2017 Is the Perfect Time to Visit These 5 European Cities

More charming than Brussels, Antwerp combines medieval Old Town appeal with a very modern and welcoming flair. Over 80% of the world’s diamonds are traded here and the art, culture, and dining scenes rival any international capital.

 
Things to do and see

Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen—This is Antwerp’s Royal Museum and if you’re a fan of Rubens and other Flemish masters such as Van Eyck, Bouts, and Memling, you’ll fall in love with the Koninklijk.

The Rubens House—This is where the master lived and worked. Tour the period rooms and Renaissance garden and see examples of his finest work, including a self portrait.

Cathedral of Our Lady—This is a majestic example of Flemish Gothic architecture and the largest church in the Benelux countries.

Shopping—There’s nothing like the retail scene in Antwerp. Lace, pralines, and of course diamonds are prime gets for serious shoppers in this city.

Belgian food culture—Many think of Paris, Rome, or Barcelona as the gastronomic jewels of Europe, but Antwerp holds its own with its diverse, multicultural food scene. Of course, the waffles are to-die-for, but you have your choice of avant garde Michelin-starred restaurants and charming outdoor cafes to sample the local cuisine.

Belgian beer culture—Beer is to Belgium as wine is to France and in fact, UNESCO calls Belgian beer a national treasure. There are several beer museums and 150 active breweries in Belgium and you’ll find many fabulous specimens of the genre in Antwerp.

 

Get your romance on in Verona.

Why 2017 Is the Perfect Time to Visit These 5 European Cities

Verona is known as the “City of Love” for its most famous couple, the tragic Romeo and Juliet. This northern Italian gem is famous for its glittering palazzos and charming squares. The Teatro Romano is a prime example of the exquisite Roman architectural remnants that dot this picturesque city. Don’t miss a stroll around Castelvecchio overlooking the River Adige.

 
Things to do and see

The Arena of Verona—This first century opera house still hosts open air opera productions during the summer. It’s one of the relics, including the Castelvecchio Bridge, the Roman Amphitheatre, the City Gate, and the Arch of Gavi, that contributes to Verona’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Juliet’s Balcony—Pay homage to Shakespeare and his most famous heroine by climbing the steps to Juliet’s balcony.

Upscale shopping—You don’t have to go to Paris or Milan for haute couture. Verona’s most famous shopping streets, the Via Mazzini and Via Cappello, are home to some of Italy’s top design houses. If antiques are your thing, don’t miss the Corso Sant’Anastasia where rows of high-end antique stores line the way.

Veronese food culture—Juliet’s kisses, sweet vanilla meringues, and Romeo’s sighs, a decadent chocolate hazelnut cookie, are among the delights of Verona. Of course, Valpolicella wine, fragrant olive oils, and peppery salamis are all part of the Veronese food scene.

 

Go people-watching in Paris.

Why 2017 Is the Perfect Time to Visit These 5 European Cities

Ten million people call Paris home, yet the city manages to feel intimate, despite its glitzy cosmopolitan vibe. There’s no doubt the City of Light is the capital of art, fashion, and people-watching—you’ll see chic, designer-clad mademoiselles walking their dogs along the wide boulevards and dignified gentlemen taking their afternoon strolls.

You’ll fall in love with Paris at your first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. It’s truly a magical destination, especially in the spring.

 
Things to do and see

Walking tours—This is really the best way to see the art, architecture, and charm of the city up close. Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, the Marais, the Latin Quarter, just strolling the Grands Boulevards or walking across the Pont Neuf—all give you a unique feel for this magnificent city. A Seine River cruise is a lovely alternative when your feet need a rest.

The major museums—There are over 130 world-class museums in Paris, more than you can possibly visit in one trip. Three of the most popular include: The Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay, and the Musee du Quai Branly.

The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world with over 35,000 works of art housed in over 600,000 square feet. There’s no way to see it all, but don’t miss the Denon wing where the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory make their home. The Musee D’Orsay is an exquisite example of Belle Epoque architecture. The Musee du Quai Branly, near the Eiffel Tower, displays an eclectic assortment of art from Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Asia.

Notre Dame and the Opera House—These are two of the most architecturally and culturally significant sights in Paris. Notre Dame has survived nearly a millennium of history and the Opera Garnier is a splendid example of the excessive style of Second Empire. The ceiling was painted by Marc Chagall in 1964.

Window shopping—The Faubourg St. Honore district is where the grand style houses of Paris maintain their flagship boutiques. Hermes, Dior, Yves St. Laurent, and Givenchy call the Faubourg home. Don’t miss the ultra exclusive Avenue Montaigne.

The Paris food scene—Paris prides itself as the apex of fine food culture and there are certain foods so quintessentially French that you really cannot miss them when visiting Paris. Crepes, baguettes (with a fabulous brie, camembert, or Reblochon cheese), truffles, coq au vin, and airy chocolate mousse are delectable Paris treats.

It goes without saying that French wine culture is also in full bloom in Paris. There is nothing more romantic than enjoying a glass of Champagne or a lovely Burgundy at one of the city’s ubiquitous sidewalk cafes.

 

Explore the storybook city of Lucerne.

Why 2017 Is the Perfect Time to Visit These 5 European Cities

When you picture the perfect Swiss town, you’re likely imagining everything that makes Lucerne so enticing. Narrow cobblestone streets, covered bridges, gorgeous frescoes, and elegant fountains dot this fairytale Swiss city.

The Baroque churches with their slender spires, medieval era wooden bridges, and a stunning mountain backdrop make Lucerne one of the most visually rewarding cities in Europe.

 
Things to do and see

Cable car rides—To see the most amazing panoramic views of Lucerne and the surrounding Swiss countryside, try a cable car ride. Or you could climb one of the three watchtowers of the Museggturme, the medieval fortifications erected around the north side of the city.

Iconic Lucerne sights—The Chapel Bridge and Water Tower are emblems of this city; the bridge is probably the oldest wooden bridge in all of Switzerland and dates back to the 14th century. The Lion Monument, carved in stone relief, commemorates the Swiss guards killed in the French Revolution. The Lakeside Promenade is one of the most picturesque walks in the country; there is nothing like an afternoon boat ride on Lake Lucerne.

Shopping—Few cities in Switzerland have such a thriving retail presence as Lucerne and if you love shopping, you’ll find more than enough shops and boutiques to satisfy your soul. A Swiss wristwatch is a thing of beauty, as are the music boxes at Hofstetter & Berney.

Swiss food culture—The Swiss take their chocolates and dairy products seriously. You’ll love the Max Chocolatier—look for flavors of your favorite Swiss chocolates you won’t find at home. The Wochenmarkt is filled with delectable Swiss cheeses, pickles, and vegetables. Try rosti, a potato pancake, and luzerner chogelipastete, veal in puff pastry with mushrooms. The Rathaus Brewery makes pilsners and wheat beers you can enjoy in their charming beer garden.

 

Final thoughts…

Can you see yourself in Europe this year—enjoying the beer culture in Munich or immersed in Shakespeare in Verona? You can see all of these beautiful sights and experience the culture and delectable food and drink on our Heart of Europe Circle Tour.

Why not contact us today to make your vision a reality and get the ball rolling for your European vacation in 2017?

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

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People have lots of emotions when that last child leaves the nest. And not all of them are bad, by the way.

Many people find a lot of advantages in the Empty Nester lifestyle. In fact theres more freedom to come and go, more time to do the things they enjoy, and often, more money to spend on guilty pleasures and postponed plans like bucket-list travels.

If you’re an empty nester who has put off personal dreams for the needs of your kids, there’s something you should know.

Now is the perfect time to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe.

Here are five reasons why it’s going to be better than you ever imagined, now that you’re on your own.

You Choose Your Own Travel Priorities

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

If you’re used to taking trips with your kids, you are probably used to skipping the galleries and museums that tug at your soul because you know your kids won’t enjoy them.

You probably pretended you weren’t really interested in that botanical garden anyway, just to avoid a squabble.

As an empty nester in Europe, however, all that’s about to change.

Want to spend a day Toledo, Spain admiring the Cathedral and Synagogue followed by a sipping Sangria at a sidewalk café? Does your dream tour of Spain include hours spent wandering the Prado Museum.

Exploring the fascinating grounds of the Granada Alhambra, free from the mutters of “Can we leave now?”

If you’re an empty nester traveler, that dream is your reality. You can visit every single World War II memorial and battlefield that captures your interest without constantly worrying that your children are bored.

And if you’re doing the Big Three (Paris, London, and Rome), you can check off all those bucket-list sights you’ve only ever read about until now.

Think of the places you can visit; Notre Dame, the Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, the British Museum, the Tate, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, the Piazza Navona (the list goes on and on).

You’ve got all the time in the world to see things your way.

In fact, the travel advantages start before you even leave home. Imagine being able to choose an itinerary based around the cities and countries you and your partner really want to see.

If you’d rather skip the more traditional European hotspots in favor of a deep dive into the glorious countryside of the British Isles, it’s your choice.

You shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about skipping the tourist attractions if you want.

Enjoy the Most Unusual and Delectable International Cuisine

 

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

Let’s face it, traveling, especially internationally, with kids often means looking for restaurants that serve boring American cuisine like burgers and chicken nuggets.

You may even find yourself lunching at McDonald’s when your kids turn up their noses at that charming fish and chips place on the Thames you want to try. That’s a tragedy when you’ve waited for years for your dream trip to Europe.

Traveling without kids, however, means you don’t have to account for their picky appetites. You can enjoy long, leisurely meals in true Italian style, as course after course—the primo, the secondo, the contorno, and the dolce—arrives at your table.

If you’re lucky enough to find a tour of a lovely Tuscan winery or sample a sip at a Munich biergarten—all the better. When you’re an empty nester, the sky is the limit when it comes to enjoying international cuisine.

Of course, you can’t overlook the sheer pleasure of waking up early and launching your day with nothing but a croissant and coffee.

Children need three squares a day, but you’re free to eat what you want when you want. And if that’s a bite on the go so you don’t miss a moment exploring, there’s no one to whimper, “I’m hungry.”

Best of all, perhaps, is that you can order even the most unusual dishes—think morcilla (blood sausage) in Spain, escargot (snails) in France, or gerookte paling (smoked eel) in Holland, for example. No one at the table will pull a face and call you weird.

Just one more reason it’s not so bad to travel without your kids.

Slow or Fast, the Pace of Your Tour Is up to You

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

Remember what is was like taking your children to the zoo? They could dawdle for hours at the monkey enclosure laughing at their antics, but they’d rush right by the exotic birds you love to watch without even a passing glance.

They were in charge of the pace.

As an empty nester in Europe, however, nothing is further from the truth. Imagine you’re on a guided tour of European capitals on the day you’re exploring Berlin. In just one day, you might—

  • Visit the Reichstag and marvel at the huge glass dome.
  • Walk through the Brandenburg Gate.
  • Take your picture at Checkpoint Charlie.
  • Explore the bombed tower of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
  • Meander through the Kurfurstendamm and do a little shopping
  • Tour the Jewish Museum and the Topography of Terror—or any of Berlin’s amazing museums.
  • Enjoy a romantic dinner at the Restaurant Hof Zwei or other swanky inn.

There’s no space in that itinerary for dawdling or naps, something you have to consider traveling with kids.

And when that romantic dinner runs late in the night? Well, there’s no curfew for empty nesters. You can even go dancing in the moonlight when you’re done if it catches your fancy.

Your Schedule Is More Flexible Without School to Consider

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Empty nesters aren’t bound by the rigid schedules of children in school, when the only acceptable times to travel are winter break and summer vacation. Which are not the best times for visiting Europe, truth be told.

Of course, you could take two weeks in summer to visit Italy with the kids, but you’d have hot weather, large crowds, and higher airfare. You might even squeeze in a trip to London over Christmas break, if you don’t mind cold, wet weather and a crush of holiday shoppers.

Europe is really at its finest when most children are in school.

Springtime in Paris is the stuff of Hollywood love stories and Frank Sinatra songs. The cherry blossoms explode over the Ile de la Cite and the magnificent chestnut groves along the Champs Elysees erupt with sweetly scented flowers.

Holland is especially colorful at Tulip Time in April and early May, when the fields are bursting with colorful flowers.

And there’s nothing like autumn in Tuscany with its magnificent colors and fabulous weather. It’s the season of festivals and celebrating the harvest.

Truffles and porcini mushrooms, lush sweet grapes, and rich black olives and fresh-pressed oil are abundant in fall, making it the best time to visit for gastronomes.

When you’re an empty nester on vacation, you don’t have to miss a thing and you can stay as long as you like.

Even a three-week grand tour of the Heart of Europe® is possible.

You Can Spend More Money on Yourself for a Change

covent garden europe tour

Be honest, when you travel with kids, about 90% of your vacation budget is consumed on keeping them happy. Theme park tickets, silly souvenirs, and $6 sodas add up fast when you go to Disneyland.

As an empty nester, however, you can spoil yourself for a change.

Treat yourself to an opera in Vienna at the Vienna State Opera House followed by a luxurious dinner with fine wine and a sumptuous slice of sachertorte slathered in chocolate ganache.

Buy that one-of-a-kind Murano glass sculpture you can set on your mantle at home to remind you forever of your dream tour of Europe.

Take in the cabaret in Paris, a flamenco dance in Spain, a fado performance in Portugal or a theater production in London.

If you’re on a guided tour, go ahead and book that optional excursion to visit the Linderhof Palace in Bavaria or enjoy a Tyrolean Show. Marvel over the crown jewels in the Tower of London, glide along in a riverboat cruise on the Seine, or listen to a fascinating explanations of Pompeii.

Buy yourself something fabulous from a fashion house on the Rue Saint Honore or the Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris. Have your portrait drawn at the Tuileries outside the Louvre. Purchase a painting from a sidewalk artist or gallery.

Indulge your interests and, visit a vineyard, tour a sherry bodega, or learn how Waterford Crystal is made.

Treat your European tour like the once-in-a-lifetime adventure it is and enjoy every minute with yourself as the star. That’s something only an empty nester can do.

Final Thoughts…

Europe is always a marvelous place to travel, with or without your family.

But empty nesters have the advantage. You can make it the trip you’ve always imagined and see everything you’ve always wanted to see. And you’ll have lovely memories to share with your kids once you get home (and maybe even a box of exquisite chocolates, too).

If you’re ready to plan your empty-nester European tour of a lifetime, get in touch today. Why not spend Paris in spring next year?

Current Escorted Europe Special!

Our current special that we are promoting includes ALL 2015 departures of the 15-day HEART OF EUROPE Circle tour, if your clients book by September 30th, 2014. The HEART OF EUROPE Circle tour is a 15-day tour featuring Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, & Holland. If you have navigated here after the deadline date, please follow this link to view the current availability and rates of our HEART OF EUROPE Circle Tour.

Interview with Mike Kasmauskis

We think this was a pretty good interview with Mike Kasmauskis of Image Tours. He explains well how it can be very helpful to have a tour professional working with you, and why you should contact us for the trip of a lifetime!

What do you think?

Current Europe Special!

Our current special that we are promoting is is our October 8 & 15th departures of the 15-day HEART OF EUROPE Circle tour, if your clients book by June 4, 2014. The HEART OF EUROPE Circle tour is a 15-day tour featuring Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, & Holland. If you have navigated here after the deadline date, please follow this link to view the current availability and rates of our HEART OF EUROPE Circle Tour.
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