While it’s the second smallest in size, Europe packs the most punch per square mile of any of the seven continents. With 50 countries occupying a space smaller than Antarctica, its cultural and geographic diversity is remarkable. Travelers are presented with almost limitless options in what to see and do.
Will it be a tour of one or more of the classics: the British Isles, France, Spain, or Italy? Do Germany and the Rhine River beckon? Or does the sheer physical beauty of Switzerland and Austria? How about the hot new emerging destinations of Central and Eastern Europe – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia? Will Greece – with its classical heritage and wealth of sun-kissed islands – draw you in? Or will Turkey lure you to its ancient shores? And then there’s Scandinavia, where Norwegian fjords and Swedish canal boats compete with Danish castles and Finnish saunas for your attentions. Russian Europe includes the splendid Baltic city of St. Petersburg, while Estonia’s walled Tallinn is a mostly undiscovered Baltic gem. And don’t forget the nations of Eastern Europe that are now attracting adventurous visitors: Montenegro, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria -- even once-closed Albania.
You can focus a European tour around cities – Paris, Rome, Venice, Florence, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Krakow, Munich, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Athens or Istanbul – just to name a few. Or you can choose tours that concentrate more on small towns, villages, and the countryside. Or that include both. The same is true for tours that primarily take a cultural theme – art, history, archaeology, music, food and wine, etc. – or a more active focus: walking, cycling, sailing. It’s easy to combine them all, because distances are generally short in Europe.
Virtually every tour of Europe is active in the sense that the older (and typically most interesting) parts of European cities are compact and made for walking, even if you are just strolling from museum to cathedral to outdoor café; it all adds up. Even culinary and wine-tasting tours can work off the pounds if combined with walking or cycling.
But there are plenty of options for more traditionally active vacations as well. Walking trips that cover an average of ten miles a day or so and often spend nights in local inns are popular in France, Italy, Ireland, England, and many other European countries; best of all, your main luggage goes by van while you carry just a daypack. Cycling tours are popular throughout Europe, whether it’s in mostly flat Holland or conquering more rugged terrain on a Greek Island. River cruise boats along the Danube and other rivers often bring bicycles for passengers to ride along the river banks or explore small villages (electronic bikes that provide a boost going up hills are a frequent and welcome perk).
One thing you don’t want on your European tour is the stress of worrying about whether you’ve overlooked some “don’t miss” activities or attractions. With Stride’s help, you can be sure to find tour providers that know all the highways and byways throughout Europe, so you won’t miss a thing.
Colosseum, Rome; Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany;Grand Bazaar, Istanbul;
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris;Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, France; and Many More