There are so many wonderful places in Europe that have atmosphere, beauty and fun it was hard to decide. Some are well known while others are less traveled but it doesn’t mean one is better than the other, just different draws to the imagination. While one city may draw romantic lovers others will draw out the romance of the past.
Here are our top 10 picks for Europe!
1. Paris – I know this destination is on every list for Europe but for good reason. Paris is a place you never grow tired of. A romantic feel hangs over you wherever you go here whether walking along the Seine River, climbing up to Sacre Couer Cathedral on the only hill in the city. Getting a 360 degree view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower or walking through the art studded halls of the Louvre Museum. A short walk is St. Chapelle Chapel with stunning, yes stunning high blue vaulted ceilings that are held up by the richly colored stained glass. This gothic church is filled with treasures, see the 12 Apostles in stone and Jesus’s actual Crown of Thorns a highly revered artifact. Take a short RER train ride to Versailles to see the grandeur and pomp of the 17th century. Explore the gardens with treasures behind every corner with either statues, fountains or the Queens garden. Inside the palace is extravagance at its best with flashy Baroque designs and paintings of the previous residents. Back in Paris there is nothing more beautiful than seeing Notre Dame at night reflecting of the Seine River. Paris is a city filled with charm.
2. Venice – Another city filled with romance, reflections off of canals everywhere you walk. Exquisite Moroccan styled buildings with a special Venetian flare, gondolas with happy tourists floating by as you sip on an espresso next to a canal. Walking through the lively St. Mark’s square to take a look at the gold encased St. Mark’s Basilica, or heading to the beach to catch some rays at the Lido. What could be more enjoyable? A Vaparetto to Murano or Burano, one for great shopping the other for uniquely painted buildings and a good fish dinner.
3. Prague – Again, romantic! Tiny cobbled streets filled with cafe’s al fresco and shops. A large square with one of the most photographed astrological clocks in Europe and Tyn Church that has only a few of the spires that this city is so well-known for. Charles Bridge one of the most romantic places where lovers walk hand in hand looking out over the Vlatva River and street vendors making music as you stroll by. Prague Castle stands proudly on top of the hill across the river from main Prague draws you into a fantasy world when you walk down the colorful Golden Mile. Golden mosaic St. Vitus Cathedral holds one of the most beautiful Mucha stained glass windows. At night unwind with dinner and a drink at one of the many jazz clubs. (click on the photo’s below for descriptions)
4. Nice – Perfect location on the Mediterranean Sea with rolling mountains behind topped with hilltop villages for fun day trip outings. Of course the first thing you will probably want to do is head to the beach and wiggle your toes in the brilliant blue water. After a little fun in the sun take a little time to see the sights. Check out the Chagall Museum where you can view his art through the years such as his old testament sketches and paintings that represented the way he viewed people. Walk around old town Nice, brightly painted buildings that border narrow walkways, fountains in squares drawing tourists with cameras and locals with lunches lounging nearby. Baroque churches s with high towers, shopping and some very good restaurants, cafe’s and gelato. Don’t miss a little more International culture in Nice at the Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Nicholas with traditional onion domes and golden icon’s inside.
5. Taormina – One of the best hilltop villages in Italy in fact all of Europe for that matter. It has dramatic views of the Ionian Sea and Mt. Etna in the background. You can take a bus up the hill or gondola, I would choose the gondola for the more comfortable ride. Once there walk through the ancient streets to notice the mix or architecture. From the most notable San Giuseppe Church in the checkerboard Piazza IX Aprile to the landmark ruins of the Greco-Roman Amphitheater just exploring this village is a dream trip. Balconies laden in summer flowers flowing steps with potted plants and small markets with fruit and vegetables on tables lining the stairs.Walking up the Corso Umberto is Piazza del Duomo rewards you with the Gothic Saint Nicholas Church and the Horse Fountain. The fortress above Taormina is better to take a bus to, but if you decide to walk watch out for those crazy Sicilian drivers, stay to the side of the curvy road at all times. The ruins are nice but its the views are stellar! One last place you don’t want to miss is the public gardens Parco Duca di Cesaro.
6. Rothenburg ob der Tauber – An enchanting fairy tale village with half-timbered buildings with vibrant flowers hanging in the windows. Rothenburg a well-preserved walled village is one of those destinations you don’t want to miss. Best walk is on the ramparts to see this medieval hamlet from high above the rooftops for some of the best views. Take the Night Watchman Tour to learn about history of Rothenburg in the most unique and fun way. Don’t miss the best decorations in the world at Kathy Wolfhart Christmas store where you can also visit the museum of Christmas history. The best religious site is St. Jacob’s Church has an elaborate carved alter with a nice ceiling fresco just in front. You can’t visit Rothenburg without trying Schneeball a ball made of pie crusts with a variety of flavors, chocolate is always a good choice.
7. Mont Saint Michel – Perched on top of a small island just off the coast of France Mont Saint Michel Abbey is unique in many ways. A natural fortification that is located in the most treacherous tidal waters in the world the Abbey and village was next to impossible to penetrate by invaders. Arriving by car or bus into Mont Saint Michel you enter on a small land bridge from the mainland. Keep your eye on tides otherwise you will be spending the night. Entering through the thick medieval entry gates you will notice many shops and eateries, one in particular is La Mere Poulard. Famous for omelettes that are made in an open kitchen on the main road where passerby’s can watch as they whisk the eggs in large copper bowls before pouring into pans that cook over an open fire. Other attractions are the abbey itself, take the climb up its worth the effort and the views are spectacular and the cloister has a nice garden. Walk around, explore this village that’s the real attraction and worth the visit.
8. Barcelona – So much to do, so much to experience. Barcelona is one of those destinations where you need a plan to get the most out of your visit. The place everyone starts out is Las Ramablas, a main thoroughfare with an active meridian filled with street artists, flower shops and interesting kiosks that has, well, you just never know! It changes often, you might have a street artist painting fluorescent scenes of Barcelona, someone else might be selling small statues reminiscent of the city, maybe there will be street dancers. There are many good restaurants and of course Tapas Bars that line the street. The farmer’s market in an open air ancient building, a great place to get your munchies for the day and photo-op. For shoppers there are some major shopping centers just off Las Ramblas. Without a doubt the works of Antoni Gaudi is the top sights to see in Barcelona with the multi spired church Sagrada Familia, the private apartments of Casa Mila and Casa Batilo, and the Park Guell is a must visit for a kaleidoscope of colorful mosaics and fascinating architecture. A day trip to the mountain top Monastery of Montserrat completes any visit to Barcelona.
9. Assisi – A classic hilltop village in Umbria where you can see scenes of St. Francis Assisi playing out in the ancient streets. The place where he was born, lived and helped so many and started the “Order of the Poor” to help the impoverished, he died a town hero. You can see the miraculous crucifix of St. Francis in the Basilica of Santa Chiara at the top of the village. A short walk from here is the RomanTemple of Minerva with tall perfectly preserved Corinthian columns in the Piazza die Comune and perfect stop for a coffee and pastry. Basilica di San Francisco the most visited cathedral in Assisi it’s also where St. Francis was laid to rest. Inside are many rooms filled with wondrous art, fresco’s, mosaic’s and Baroque gilded furnishings. For the more adventurous the hike up to the Fortezza Militare Rocca Magiore perched above the village offers spectacular views.
BTW, our photo got wasted so this photo is by Richard Urban of flickr
10. Ephesus – Probably one of the best historic ruins in all of Europe. Ephesus which once bordered the Aegean Sea is now approximately 5 miles from the coast. Starting at the top Is the Odeum theater where Paul the Apostle spoke to the crowds. Working your way down the marble walkway you will pass by the site of the Pyrtaneion or Municipality palace on the right, on the left the Pollio fountain and temple of Domitian then the ruins of homes where people of the city lived.
There are many ancient archways and pillars that line the road down to the most awe-inspiring remains anywhere the Ephesus Library that still to this day has a couple of original statues. A not to miss is the public latrines yeah I know who wants to see toilets on a trip but as these are the first of the kind its worth a look. Also take time to view some of the entry gates that have reliefs of past gods such as Hercules carved into the rock. Take your time walking through Ephesus there are hidden treasures everywhere you look. While in Ephesus take the short ride to Mary’s House and Saint John’s tomb both worth the drive.
These places are what makes Europe so special. Hope you have the chance to see for yourselves!