European travel destinations are among some of the most enjoyable in the world. Whether you prefer a vacation spent doing nothing, a vacation packed with nightlife, an incredible learning experience, or a little of everything, you can find it in Europe. Most people are aware of the main European cities, like Paris and Rome, and these are definitely worth visiting; however, depending on your interests, you may want to plan a trip around some of the lesser known areas of Europe.
European travel in general has been greatly simplified since the introduction of the Euro; in most of Europe, you can now use the same currency, although there are a few holdouts. A rail pass is an excellent investment, whether you’re planning to stay in one country or travel through several; for instance, you can catch an overnight train from Paris and arrive in Rome in the morning.
France is always a star among European travel destinations; the beaches on the southern coast, the incredible scenery and cooking in Provençal, the glamour and bustle of Paris and the incredible beauty of Versailles, or the fabulous mountains of the Alsace. Most of the main cities and tourist areas are quite friendly to English speakers. If you have a short stay, Paris and the surrounding small towns will keep you busy and entertained, but if you have a longer amount of time to spend, the outlying areas will show you aspects of true French culture. It may sound heretical, but if you’re short on time, skip the Mona Lisa in the Louvre; behind glass, she’s not that impressive, and there are so many other galleries full of fascinating objects that you can actually examine without waiting in line.
Smaller countries often offer incredible hidden finds; Neanderthal caves in Belgium, or the incredible tiny mechanical city called Madurodam in Holland. Travel an hour inside the continental US, and you might still be in the same city; travel an hour in Europe and you may be in a different country. Just remember the sorts of things you enjoy when planning your trip, and your main problem will be trying to sort out which of the many destinations you have time to see.
Spain is one of the best European travel destinations for those who wish to immerse themselves in culture; explore Madrid, then visit the smaller towns around the perimeter. The Universidad de Salamanca is an incredible experience, and host to many cultural events throughout the year. Spanish museums contain incredible collections of art from around the world, and you never know what you’ll discover in the older cities simply walking around. Many restaurants have live music in the evenings, and once you discover the dining and cultural joy of tapas you’ll be hooked. Even if you have only a limited grasp of Spanish, you’ll have little trouble navigating, and you’ll find many English-speakers in the larger cities if you get stuck.