Written on February 24, 2014 at 4:17 pm, by Lauren Berry
Heading to Europe for the first time? You’re likely to visit one of these top 10, must-see cities. Rich in culture, history, and iconic sights, it’s hard to justify missing any of them. However, when you’re ready for a break from the throngs of tourists and looking to get off the beaten path in the 10 most popular destinations in Europe, these nearby towns and attractions are only a short day trip away and will give you a taste of the true locale.
When you’re in Paris, go to Giverny
Dragging yourself away from the magic of the City of Lights may be impossible, but if time allows, escape fifty miles northwest to Claude Monet’s picturesque home and garden in Giverny. Looking out the window of a train, Monet made up his mind to move here (you may make up your mind to extend your stay). Saunter through ivy-covered archways, admire his famous water lilies in person, and get lost in the birthplace of impressionism.
Must-do: Monet’s house and gardens, the Museum of Impressionsim Giverny, Hotel Baudy
(Photo By ho visto nina volare / CC BY)
When you’re in London, go to Stratford-upon-Avon
For a true taste of Olde England, travel two hours northwest to William Shakespeare’s hometown. Step back in time over 800 years ago and discover thatched roofs, cobblestone roads, and the birth of more than 1,700 words in the English language. If you have time, catch one of Shakespeare’s plays at the Royal Theater!
Must-do: the Royal Shakespeare Theater, Swan Theater, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens
When you’re in Rome, go to Positano
John Steinbeck was right when he said, “Positano is a dream place that isn’t quite real.” Travel south to this cliff-side, sun-drenched jewel on the Mediterranean. Spattered with pastel houses and balconies, there’s no better place to slow down Italian-style and sip limoncello over the turquoise sea.
Must-do: Swim in the crystal-clear water, soak up the sun at the beach, Grotta la Porta, a boat ride to Capri
When you’re in Barcelona, go to Camp Nou
In Spain, fútbol is a way of life. To put it in the team’s words, it’s “Més que un club,” or “More than a club.” At Camp Nou, you’ll see a team with one of the largest fan bases in the world, and being part of it is sure to be a lasting memory. Join screaming fans singing the Barca anthem, wave handkerchiefs, and, most importantly, get a true snapshot of an integral part of Catalan culture.
Must-do: FCB fútbol match, the Camp Nou Experience Museum and Tour
(Photo By ale3andro / CC BY)
When you’re in Venice, go to Burano
If you’re going to Venice, you’ve mostly likely heard that a trip through the canals to Murano is a must. Watching the glass blowers at the Murano Glass Factory is an experience, but nearby island Burano should not, and cannot, be missed thanks to its brightly colored facades. An old fishing village, Burano’s fishermen would paint their houses vivid colors to find their way home at the end of a long day. Brighten up your photo reel as you wander past these to one of the many local lace shops.
Must-do: Merletti d’ Arte dalla Lidia, colored fishermen’s homes
When you’re in Florence, go to Fiesole
Above the beauty of Florence lies a town nestled amid the Tuscan hills with breathtaking views of the city below. The town can be reached by car, bus, or even foot along narrowed walled roads dotted with elegant villas, including the Villa Medici. Peruse local flea markets, check out the ruins from 9th-century B.C., and most importantly, take in the view on a sunny day over a glass of chianti and some pasta al dente.
Must-do: take a panoramic photo from the top, Convento di San Francesco, Teatro Romano
When you’re in Prague, go to Vienna
Pretend you’re royalty for a day when you venture to the stunning home of the Hapsburg Empire of the 18th century. Vienna makes for an accessible day trip from Prague, and you can immerse yourself in the grandeur of Schönbrunn, the former summer residence of the imperial family, or Hofburg, the primary imperial palace, and discover gorgeous cathedrals such as St. Stephen’s and St. Charles. Bonus: If you’re there during the holidays, watch the entire city transform into a winter wonderland and shop for homemade gifts while drinking festive gluhwein at one of the many Christmas markets.
Must-do: Hofburg, Schonbrunn, Belvedere Palace and Museum, St. Stephen’s Church, St. Charles’s Church
(Photo By lucasartoni / CC BY)
When you’re in Berlin, go to Sachsenhausen
Active for almost 10 years, this Nazi concentration camp was the site of the last moments for tens of thousands of innocent people during World War II. Used primarily for political prisoners, the remaining buildings have been converted to an educational museum and memorial. A short journey from Berlin, this is a haunting yet moving and important experience for anyone in the area.
Must-do: Walk the campgrounds with a guide if possible
When you’re in Dublin, go to Galway
Rich in Celtic culture, this seaside town is called Ireland’s most Irish city for a reason. Sit back and enjoy a freshly poured Guinness in any pub and you’re likely to be surrounded by local musicians, friendly people, and Gaelic songs that have been passed down through generations. Go to Galway for just a day, and you’re sure to leave with a greater appreciation of the Irish people.
Must-do: an Irish step dancing show, Salthill Promenade, Quay Street
When you’re in Amsterdam, go to the Keukenhoff Gardens
If you’re heading to the Netherlands in the spring, chances are you’ve heard
of these colorful gardens. They’re the most vibrant display of tulips in the world and are a perfect place for a sunny picnic lunch. Have extra time? Continue on past traditional windmills to one of the nearby cheese factories or wooden Dutch shoemakers.
Must-do: Keukenhoff Gardens, picnic amongst the tulips, drive by the windmills
As you’re taking your trip around Europe, be sure to try TripIt or TripIt Pro to coordinate your travels. Also, be sure to tell us what you think of the 10 Most Popular Destinations in Europe … Off-The-Beaten-Path Edition below.