Europe is the smallest continent in the world, but it has a big pull for many people from North America or Australia. Europe is where our countries as we know them began, and many Canadians trace your ancestors back to some European nation.
I love travelling to Europe. You can find so much variety of history, culture, and new experiences within such a short distance. Americans and Canadians don’t need any visas to visit Europe, so as long as your passport is up to date you could hop on a plane tomorrow!
Here is a short summary of what you can expect in some of the more popular countries, and which attractions you might want to see.
Most of the people reading this article will, statistically, have ties in England. You might want to go to get in touch with your background, or you might just want to have a look at the birthplace of the British Empire.
Remember that in England they use the pound, unlike all the other European countries that use euros. It’s true that the English speak English, but don’t get too comfortable! There are many different accents and dialects throughout the United Kingdom, and you should be prepared for mix-ups when a word doesn’t mean what you think it does. It’s all part of the local flavour (with a “u”).
History is the biggest draw for most tourists in England. The list of popular attractions includes a respectable list of museums, galleries, and historical buildings. If you love to stare up at castles and cathedrals or sit for some Shakespeare, England will be just the thing.
If I had to choose just one place to visit in England, I would pick Windsor Castle. It is the world’s largest and oldest continuously occupied fortress, and it is still used by the English royalty. There are free guided tours every half-hour.
Ireland has many things for tourists to see. Known as the “Emerald Isle,” Ireland bears a strong resemblance to Newfoundland in many ways. It is famous for its natural wonders such as Giant’s Causeway, Killarney National Park, the Worm Hole, and the cliffs of Moher. There is also an abundance of castles and ruins that make you feel like you are going back centuries into the past.
If centuries back isn’t long enough for you, go visit the Neolithic tomb at Newgrange. Older than either Stonehenge or the Pyramids, this huge temple was built to align with the sun at Winter Solstice. Nobody knows who built it or why.
Remember that the island of Ireland is split into two separate countries. There is the independent Republic of Ireland with its capital at Dublin, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland uses the euro, and Northern Ireland uses the pound.
Ireland is a land that is dear to many Newfoundlander’s hearts and many Newfoundlanders can’t help but remark on how similar the accents are, particularly in Southern Ireland, because this is the place many Irish left to go to Newfoundland.
Scotland is another place with strong ties to Canada, especially Atlantic Canada. It’s a peaceful place today, but it has a long history of warfare. Famous castles such as Edinburgh and Stirling dot the landscape, along with monuments to battlefields and warriors.
Despite the ancient feel of its landscape, Scotland has an exciting University city and international hub in Glasgow. As the largest city, Glasgow boasts many modern attractions such as the Science Centre and the Riverside Museum, along with sports, theatre, art, and cuisine from all over the world.
This tiny part of the United Kingdom is known for its picturesque views and its consonant-heavy language. The country is also home to Cardiff Castle, Conwy Castle, Caernarfon Castle, and presumably other imposing castles whose names begin with “c.” Wales is also famous for beautiful and rugged Snowdonia, as well as its easygoing and hospitable people.
If you’re traveling through Wales, you’ll find plenty of amazing attractions. We can help you coordinate you travel plans and set you up with the best things to see and do.
If you’re leaving the UK and you cross the English Channel most people don’t speak English anymore, but at least you’re back to driving on the right side of the road!
France, especially Paris, is perhaps the most famous European destination in the world. Canadians especially love the City of Light, which is our top international travel destination after the USA and London.
French is a popular second language for Americans and especially for Canadians (considering it’s the second official language in Canada), so hopefully you’ve picked up a few words.
Check out this article of 5 things to know before traveling to France. You’ll see number 4 is to use French whenever possible, if you can. We’re not lying.
Actually, French people are very forgiving, but they really do appreciate it when foreigners who at least attempt to use French. Don’t be surprised to find that not everybody will make an effort to communicate with you in English. Many will be excited to practice English, and others believe you have a responsibility to make an attempt at using French because many people in France are protective of their own culture and love to hear visitors speak their language.
You can’t really blame them, though, because Paris is an arts and cultural haven unlike anywhere else in the world.
Everybody knows about the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre, but don’t forget to check out other famous galleries such as the Musée Rodin, the Luxembourg Gardens, and the ultra-modern Fondation Louis Vuitton. If you prefer shopping, you have everything from designer brands on the Rue Saint-Honoré to the world’s largest and oldest flea market, the Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen.
You won’t be short on things to do in Paris, but if you’re super excited about an upcoming trip and looking for even more ideas, check out this article about things to do!
Just over the Pyrenees Mountains from France is another small country that left an oversized mark on the New World. Spanish is spoken throughout most of the Americas, including over 50 million speakers in the United States alone (we were surprised too, so we found this page on wikipedia about languages in the USA for you to check out). If you want to brush up on the third most popular language in the world, you might want to visit Spain.
However, unlike your high school language classes, Spain is a lot of fun. The country has great parties and nightlife, amazing beaches, colourful festivals, and some unique experiences that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Among them are visiting Europe’s only desert, riding the only international zip-line (you can check out the official page of the zipline company here), and eating at the world’s oldest restaurant.
If you’re a traveller on a budget, just past Spain could be the right destination for you. It was recently declared the second-best value travel destination in Europe after Bulgaria… and Bulgaria, while a perfectly nice country, doesn’t have the Azores or the Madeira islands.
With so many natural attractions and vibrant towns in Portugal, it’s hard to choose one thing to recommend. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, go check out the city of Porto. JK Rowlings used to teach English in this colourful city, and was inspired by the Livraria Lello bookstore in her creation of the fictional school of Hogwarts.
All European countries have plenty of history, but Italy’s history is really impressive and it’s one of the biggest draws of Italy. The birthplace of world-shakers like Rome, the Catholic Church, and pizza, Italy is full of stunning architecture, traditions, and food.
Most tourists come to Rome to visit the Colosseum, Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Roman Forum, Vatican City, or the Pantheon. Florence and Venice are popular destinations as well for looking at Italian artwork or trying Italian dishes. However, if you want to get away from the city and the crowds of tourists, try visiting picturesque and lesser-known areas like Lake Como, Cinque Terre, or the Almafi coast.
Germany is a country with many names. They call their own country “Deutschland,” while in other languages Germany is known as Alemania, Tyskland, Niemcy, or Saksa.
Fortunately, Germany has almost as many things to see and do as it has names. Musical culture is important in a country with historical composers such as Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Wagner, and Brahms. Other famous composers, such as Mozart and Schubert, were born in German-speaking Austria and influenced German musical styles.
If you want to hear a symphony orchestra in person, there are plenty of options. The Berlin Philharmonic, which has won nine Grammy awards, is one great choice.
If the orchestra isn’t your thing, you could go to Europa-Park, the second largest theme park in Europe. You could take a hike in the Alps or visit Lake Constance, a famous summertime destination for boating and swimming.
If you’re interested in seeing any of what Europe has to offer, remember you can contact us at Travel Time – TPI Inc to help you plan the ultimate vacation. We’ve booked many trips to Europe, and we’re familiar with the best offerings to ensure you get great value for the price of your getaway.
Some of the more popular holidays in Europe are the tours organized by travel groups that have large buses that guide a group of travelers through their trip to see the major attractions in a given country. Some tours even go through multiple countries, so you’re sure to find something that satisfies your curiosity to view different parts of Europe.
Contact us to discuss your upcoming travel to Europe; we’d love to help you put together the vacation of your dreams!