Even though this is a waterfalls website, we recognize that there are many highlights in the European countries (both involving and not involving waterfalls).
So we’ve come up with this page to pay homage to some of the highlights that we think are worth mentioning as you try to figure out what to see and do in your own trip plans.
While I recognize that this list is by no means exhaustive and that it is highly subjective, at least you have an idea of what we loved about the countries we’ve visited in Europe.
So without further adieu, here are the highlights in no particular order…
This extensive region of southwestern Greece’s mainland covers quite a bit of history as well as real-estate.
We explored it as an excuse to expose ourselves to Ancient Olympia, Epidavros, Mycenae, Nafplio, and several small towns along the way like Lagkadia.
I’m sure there’s more to be experienced here, especially in the way of waterfalls so we’ll have to keep an eye out for another opportunity to explore this ancient land.
When it comes to islands in the Aegean Sea, perhaps the epitome of Mediterranean charm and beauty has to be the island of Santorini.
I’m sure you’ve seen pictures from postcards, posters, or even wall murals at some Greek restaurant with white-walled buildings perched on a caldera before the azure blue Aegean Sea.
And after our visit, Julie and I believe this place is as advertised!
While the island has multiple attractions to keep you occupied (including ruins of Ancient Thira and the traditional settlement of Megalohori), there are a couple of popular towns facing the scenic caldera where I’m sure most of the photos are taken from. And they’re Fira and Oia.
Fira seems to be fairly busy as it has a cable car as well as numerous shops and even a museum as well as a handful of accommodations from luxury hotels to mid-range apartments.
However, if you’re after that quintessential Santorini experience, you’ll have to go all the way to the top of the island at the town of Oia (pronounced “EE-uh”).
For here, it’s quieter (well, at least when we did it back in 2010), charming, mostly vehicle free, and perhaps the best place to see the sunset.
Julie and I still think about this place for it’s hard to forget something so unique and beautiful.
This city can be thought of an attraction in and of itself. For many of the attractions are centrally located all within walking distance surrounding the Acropolis, which sits perched atop a hill right in the middle of the city.
The Acropolis is an impressive sight at night, but during the day, you can walk up to the top of the hill and get up close to various ancient ruins from the Parthenon to the Temple of Athena Nike among others. Plus, you get great views of the city.
Outside the Acropolis, it’s worth checking out the National Archaeological Museum (in the gritty part of town though) where you can see some of the famous statues you might have come across in your European History textbooks.
This includes an Athena Statue, a balanced statue, and even a Zeus statue throwing a lightning bolt. A cool thing about the journey to get to the museum from the main CBD of Athens is that the train station by the CBD is almost like a cross between a subway station and a museum.
Atop the AcropolisIn addition, there’s the Ancient Agora where you can see more ruins with the Acropolis still perched above the large park. Within the complex, there’s the Temple of Hephaistos, which might remind you of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Perhaps now, you can see where some of America’s historical monuments get their inspiration from!
There’s definitely lots to do in Athens, and that’s why Julie and I spent three nights here. Indeed, where else can you get such an unusual mix of ancient culture mixed with modern life?
Greece isn’t all about ancient ruins. Up in the out-of-the-way western part of the country lies a series of Christian monasteries perched atop cliffs.
This is something you don’t see very often, but believe it or not, these monasteries were positioned this way for a reason.
For their precarious locations made these monasteries naturally protected from persecutors, and thus the Christians here could continue practicing their faith by being selective about who’s allowed in or out.
In addition to seeing the monasteries from afar, we managed to visit a handful of these places. It depends on the schedule as some monasteries are open on days that others are not.
But when we went inside one of these things, we not only got more views of other monasteries as well as the modern towns further below at Kalampaki and Kastraki, but we also got to see some of the religiously-influenced halls and corridors making these monasteries very atmospheric.
There are numerous charming CBDs throughout Croatia, but when it comes to the cream of the crop, you’d have to put the Diocletian’s Palace part of the Historical Core of Split up for consideration.
For it’s here within the fortress walls that you’re strolling in narrow alleyways towered over by a mix of apartments as well as medieval architecture.
And within the palace, there’s the Peristil (with the clock tower), the Vestibul, plus the main entrances at the Iron Gate, Golden Gate, and Silver Gate. Then, there’s a Bronze Gate connected to the subterranean Vestibul where you can walk within the basement of Old Split.
Obviously we’re not the only ones that think this place is charming for everyday it seemed to be consistently overrun by mass tourism. Fortunately, you can chill by dining at one of the cafes or having a drink and just people watch. It’s real easy to do within the tight quarters of town.
Still, when night time rolls around, this place seems to really come alive as the bars and cafes seem to open into the wee hours of the night which attract young party-goers.
It almost felt as if you could play hide-and-seek within the Palace itself as it’s so compact yet be full of hidden nooks and crannies.
This is perhaps the most charming city in all of Croatia and possibly the world. It’s main historic core of town is surrounded by city walls enclosing a very charming mix of Venetian- and Medieval-influenced buildings, residences, and walkways.
Mega tour groups and cruises routinely dock in town and dump their boatloads of tourists thereby making the place a bit crowded at times, but at the same time, there seems to be a buzz and energy about the place with the mass of humanity just trying to take in this quintessential Croatian experience.
One excursion that is probably worth the fairly hefty price is the walk along the city walls. It’s actually a fairly long excursion as you can walk the entire perimeter of town looking over the sea of red-tiled roofs with the odd tower poking above the masses.
Sure it might be a hot and tiring stroll (especially if it’s a sunny day), but the views both within the walls and outside towards the blue-green Aegean are mindblowing.
Finally, if you have a chance to stay within the city walls, we highly recommend doing so. For when the tour groups leave for the day, this becomes your chance to experience the place when the sun goes down or to stroll among the silence in the early morning.
Either way, it’s one of those places where you’ll remember it as a highlight of your trip to Hrvatska.
It seems like time stood still at the turn of the 20th century in the CBD of this city. For it’s here that the buildings, trolley tracks, and streets look and feel like it did over 100 years ago.
Even the clock towers in the city kind of remind you that it was here that Einstein formulated much of his work on the Special Theory of Relativity, which was perhaps one of the most important scientific works revolutionizing our understanding of the universe.
In addition to the history, the city also features a captive bear family that seems to be a hit with both local and foreign tourists.
Moreover, you’ve got the Grossmunster Cathedral and the Rosengarten where you get gorgeous panoramic views of the whole city.
Given all the experiences here, it was hard for us to believe that this is Switzerland’s capital city!
Stein am Rhein (Switzerland)
Our visit to this town was unplanned, but we were totally glad we made this detour about a half-hour train ride east of the Rheinfall.
The reason why was because once we’ve walked within its cobblestone streets surrounded by medieval buildings with murals on their facades, we were disarmed with the total cuteness and charm of the place. It was quite unlike anything we had seen before yet it felt familiar and authentic.
Further adding to the whole fairy-tale factor of this town was its compact size and the lack of overdoing it on the commercial front.
Even though we thought we “discovered” this place on a lark, we did see quite a few tour buses so obviously it’s on the itineraries of many of the packaged tours. It just goes to show you that the town’s cuteness hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Lauterbrunnen Valley (Switzerland)
This valley pretty much embodied the stereotypical Swiss Alps experience with cows grazing the steppes, a cute town adorned with high snowy mountains and waterfalls, and cable cars taking us up to heights like Schilthorn as well as the top of Europe in Jungfraujoch.
This was also a good place to try out the Swiss fondue where high quality cheeses are melted so they can act as dips to small bread chunks on a stick.
If this isn’t Swiss heaven, then I don’t know what is!
There’s a reason why many tourists think that just visiting Paris is enough to seeing France (as flawed as that logic is). And indeed, while that mentality really shortchanges the country in a big way, it’s understandable why…
This city is stocked!
It has about as many attractions as you could fit into a metropolis whether it’s the sights, the food, the history, the culture, or the efficient and extensive mass transit to name a few.
Indeed, this city is an attraction in and of itself, and it’s such an easy target for stereotypes and over-generalizations.
Just to give you an idea of how stocked the city is, here’s a quick rundown of what we experienced in the city…
We visited the iconic Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the stained-glass windows of the St Chapelle Cathedral, the Sacre Coeur, the Louvre Museum, L’Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees, and even the Palace Garnier (basically a very Versailles-like Opera).
Chateau de Versailles (France)
One of the biggest reasons for the French Revolution and the dissolution of the monarchy was the tremendous disparity between the haves and have nots.
Perhaps the disconnect between the reign of Louis XIV as well as his successors against those outside the royal court is never more apparent after wandering through the opulence of this chateau.
Once we got through the queue to get the ticket and then the queue to get in the chateau, we walked through various corridors full of high ceilings, murals, chambers, you name it.
Perhaps the most impressive part of our visit was the bright Mirror Room where chandeliers hanging from high ceilings full of murals were flanked with mirrors and gold.
We’d learn in our later travels that this place inspired other palaces and castles in both Germany and Austria. But this place really felt like concentrated wealth on steroids and was quite a sight to behold.
This beach town situated right by the English Channel in Upper Normandie was like a hidden gem and pleasant surprise for us.
The main draw to this area were the giant sea arches. They are Falaise d’Aval, Manneporte, and Falaise d’Amont.
There was even a chapel at the top of the cliffs in addition to former World War II bunkers. And then there’s the charming town itself where we discovered savory crepes and galettes, Breton cider, and fresh seafood among others!
Falaise d’Aval is probably the most picturesque of the three arches. Meanwhile, Manneporte probably has the largest span.
With a little care and timing, it’s possible to walk through these arches. In addition, it’s even possible to walk up to Falaise d’Amont as well as going up the sea cliffs for different views of the town as well as the arches and sea scenery itself.
This medieval abbey is like stepping back in time into an age of moats, castles, and knights.
What really makes this abbey unique is that it’s set in a tidal “island”. At high tide, it can be completely surrounded by the waters of the English Channel. But in low tide, it’s possible to walk the mud flats to get that reflection shot without the causeway in it.
And we’re just talking about looking at this place from the outside!
Meanwhile on the island, we were able to enjoy the narrow cobblestone walkways climbing up to the abbey itself. Within the abbey, we explored various arched corridors, dungeons, courtyards, and even some impressive views from high up.
On top of that, we enjoyed fantasizing and exploring as many nooks and crannies of the interior that we were allowed access to.
And as if that weren’t enough, walking the ramparts and enjoying the views of the channel as well as the towering abbey was like being in a magic kingdom.
It’s definitely one of those places where you can just let your imagination run wild, and I have to believe a lot of role playing fantasies were probably influenced by places like this!
Pont d'Arc (France)
This massive natural bridge was one of the pleasant natural attractions in the Ardeche Gorge that contrasted from the city environment of Lyon (which was about a couple hours drive from here).
We could see kayakers and beach-goers enjoying the scene, and it proves once again how France has so much to see and do outside of the stereotypical Paris that I think most foreign tourists mistakenly believe to be the representation of all of the highlights of France.
Like Mont-Saint-Michel, this place provided us with another medieval fantasy come to life. Indeed, La Cité de Carcassonne was like stepping back in time strolling among cobblestone streets flanked with shops and plenty of spots to explore and discover.
Unlike Mont-Saint-Michel, this place was a bit larger so we certainly wished we had a little more time here before heading off to Provence.
Something that we thought was well worth the money and time was exploring the chateau within the walled city, which also included a walk along its ramparts.
For it was here that we were able to get impressive views of the modern city of Carcassonne surrounding La Cité as well as a different perspective of the interior city itself.
When it comes to Provence, all of the sudden images of rolling vineyards with lavender fields come up. But after our visit to the area, we can also throw into the mix charming medieval towns perched against cliffs or hillsides as they’re sprinkled throughout the Vaucluse Plateau.
Among the towns that Julie and I visited that characterized our time in Provence were Avignon, Gordes, and Rousillon.
Avignon’s old center featured a Pope’s Palace that provided nice views of the city as well as access to that bridge that doesn’t go across the river (that seems to be symbolic of Avignon).
When we went to Gordes, we saw a charming centuries-old town nestled against a hillside high above the vineyards surrounding it. Much of the buildings were made of the same kind of rocks that were prevalent in the neighboring Village of Bories, which made it distinct from other medieval-looking structures seen elsewhere in France.
And even though we didn’t see lavender during our May visit, the Abbey of the Senanque was also nearby (though with the blooming lavender, it would’ve taken on a charm of its own).
Then, we visited Rousillon. Most of the buildings comprising this charming town was made of the red ochre that is prevalent here. I almost think of it like a miniature Bryce Canyon or Cedar Breaks with a Provencal town nestled within.
We walked part of the trail of the ochres as well as getting creative with taking photos of the artisan streets and wildflowers that were in bloom.
This very charming canal town felt very much like a hidden gem to us though given its popularity when we were here, I’m sure it’s not really considered hidden by many French and Europeans in general.
Nonetheless, it was something we weren’t totally expecting since we initially came to the old town center thinking it would just serve as a base for our waterfalling endeavors in the Haute-Savoie department of the Rhone-Alpes region.
But once we set foot amongst the canals, we were instantly charmed by how it was like a mini-Venice meets the French Alps. It’s hard to describe, but it’s just one of those things that just has to be seen to be believed.
In addition to the canals, there were plenty of narrow walkways and arcades flanked with shops, stands, cafes, and restaurants. Indeed, it was certainly atmospheric in addition to scenic.
As if that weren’t enough, we even had a chance to take walks along the shores of Lake Annecy, which was picture perfect given the serene lake backed by towering snow-topped mountains with villas and towns clinging to their sides.
Add it all up and we were certainly glad that we chose to spend a couple of nights here despite how difficult it was to park!
Rome and the Vatican (Italy)
This city was the center of the mighty Roman Empire, and the evidence of past glory could be seen all around.
It harbored familiar sights like the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, but it also featured many buzzing public squares (or piazza). Even many of the buildings that we saw were obviously inspirations for imitations seen in Las Vegas.
Then, there was the center of the Catholic Church at the Vatican, where we got to tour its grand interior. Such concentration of wealth was another indicator of how much power the church wielded during ancient times and even to some degree to this day!
We got to tour the Sistine Chapel within the Vatican, but we weren’t able to take pictures. So we could only go off of our fallible memories when trying to bring back our experiences into consciousness.
Naples and Pompeii (Italy)
Julie and I remember this city most for its views of Mt Vesuvius as well as having a go at the original Napolitano Pizza from which the Italian style pizza as well as the New York Style pizza was derived.
The city, which had some gritty but atmospheric areas, also featured castles, a mall reminiscent of a similar galleria in Milan, and narrow walking streets.
Closer to the slopes of Mt Vesuvius, we also visited the eerie Pompeii where a pyroclastic flow buried and killed an entire city, but it also froze time as it preserved homes and bodies of those who perished that fateful day.
Amalfi Coast and Capri (Italy)
This is probably the main highlight of Southern Italy as there were charming towns clinging to cliffs that plunge right into the Mediterranean Sea.
It was almost as if these towns came straight out of some fairy tale.
Not only were towns like Positano and Amalfi charming, but we also did an off-shore boat trip to Capri, which was even quieter and picturesque.
This was one of the more impressive churches and medieval towns paying homage to San Francesco d’Assisi.
Even though our visit happened to be under threatening weather, we still savored the walk through the medieval town perched on top of a grassy hill with views of pastures in all directions.
The interior of the church was also quite memorable as we visited a grand chapel area as well as the basement.
Even though Julie and I were stricken with food poisoning earlier on in the trip, there was no denying the rural splendor that was Tuscany.
Indeed, there were rolling grassy hills and farms providing the ingredients for its famous cuisine. There were also charming medieval towns perched atop hills with views of these same pastures that go for miles and miles.
We even had a chance to drive through this extensive region stopping for places like Pisa, Montepulciano, Val d’Orcia, Siena, and much more.
In my mind, this city (also known as Firenze) was like a museum come to life.
Indeed, as the birthplace of the Renaissance, we saw detailed statues that would typically be enshrined in a museum be displayed in public squares for all to see.
The Duomo or cathedral was grand and we were able to get nosebleed views over the city from the Campanile.
We also checked out the David statue at the Academia, the Ponte Vecchio with its historical shops and buildings built right on the bridge itself, and a nice panorama of the city from across the river.
Often imitated, but never duplicated. That’s how I feel about this city of canals as there’s not another city quite like this one.
Indeed, the primary means of transportation is by boat, and the city is large enough that it’s easy (and enjoyable) to get lost in its maze of narrow alleyways flanking smaller canals and waterways.
We even took a boat ride all the way out to Burano, where there were colorful buildings in a much quieter and more subdued version of Venezia.
Riva del Garda (Italy)
Lago di Como (Italy)
This may be the most famous of Italy’s lakes, and it also became quite the destination after being featured on one of the Star Wars movies.
We got to experience the scenery of the lake from the town of Lenno as well as Bellagio. But perhaps the highlight of our time at the lake was a tour to the Villa Balbionello where we witnessed some of the very spots where they shot Star Wars.
York (Great Britain)
We tend to think of this as the “O.G.” York (as opposed to New York in the States), and indeed there was lots of historical things to see and experience here.
We got to go up the York Minster, walk the city walls, enjoy an afternoon cuppa in a quaint tea house, check out the views from Clifford’s Tower, and slowly walk through the well-touristed Shambles.
The Shambles was one of England’s oldest streets dating back to the 14th century when it was lined with butcheries. These days, you’ve got houses almost falling towards each other over the street as there are some original homes still built of the original half-timbered style.
Edinburgh (Great Britain)
It seems to do this city injustice to just have a single highlight entry on this page, but if I was to break it out into several entries, this page would take too long to load.
Indeed, there’s a lot going for this place from the Royal Mile, the Edinburgh Castle, the trippy Camera Obscura, Carlton Hill, and the Palace of the Holyrood House.
And let’s not forget that we also happened to show up during the Festival Fringe, which made the Royal Mile an even more energetic and atmospheric place.
Glasgow (Great Britain)
This vibrant city exceeded our expectations when we thought Edinburgh was the premiere Scottish city.
Then, we experienced the buzz of the Style Mile (Glasgow’s answer to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile) as well as the Necropolis, and once again we found ourselves trying to stay in the moment and feel the energy that affirmed that sense of feeling alive when out and about in places like this.
Castles of North Wales (Great Britain)
Indicative of how turbulent the times were when Wales went crazy building castles to defend their turf, these well-preserved and huge castles still stand and draw people to visit.
We managed to visit a couple of the UNESCO castles in the charming towns of Conwy and Caernarfon, but I’m sure there are many more out there.
Cornwall (Great Britain)
The southwestern part of Great Britain was full of scenic delights.
In addition to a sea arch we saw at Land’s End, we also experienced the Minack Theatre as well as the St Michael’s Mount.
Indeed, it was all about the coastal scenery here, and it was hard to believe how less touristed this place was compared to other parts of England.
Durdle Door (Great Britain)
Part of South England’s Jurassic Coast, this shapely natural arch was very popular as it sat right by a beach for both sun bathing and for a little playing in the sand by our daughter.
Indeed, this was the kind of attraction that just about everyone could enjoy though the hike to get down was a bit on the steep side.
London (Great Britain)
Like with other great cities mentioned in this itinerary, it almost seems like a major injustice to devote just a single entry to the LDN.
Indeed, this city had a whole lot of stuff going for it (so much so that we needed two nights and it still might not have been enough time).
Indeed, we checked out the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, and more!
And despite the cynicism of Lily Allen’s song, one can’t deny that it’s quite easy to see and feel this place through similar rose-colored glasses.
This was one of Spain’s premiere cities and it certainly possessed that mix of Moorish and European influences as exhibited in the Real Alcazar and the Catedral de Sevilla (where the Giralda Bell Tower was worth the climb for the views).
The city also featured grand architecture like the Plaza de Espana, which might look familiar to Star Wars fans. There was even the eccentric Metropol, which was quite unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Indeed, there was lots going on in this city, and we probably could have used another full day to experience more of its sights.
Another city that possessed a mix of its Moorish roots as well Catholic history mixed together, it also featured grand buildings, happening plazas with food courts, views of the otherwordly Alhambra, and much more.
As for the Alhambra itself, it doesn’t get much grander than this Moorish-influenced palace that also has an extensive garden area as well as regal overlooks towards the rest of the city of Granada.
It took the better part of a whole day to truly experience this place, but we also had to pre-book our tour of the Palacio Nazaries well in advance before our trip to Spain then show up at our assigned time).
And indeed, this grand palace was a series of atriums, fountains, and many other structures seen in Morocco.
This was the last of the great Andalucian cities that we visited before making our way further north into Central and Northern Spain.
This city featured a Jewish Quarter with tight alleyways flanked with shops as well as other palaces and gardens to check out like the Alcazar de los Tres Reyes Cristianos, and the Roman Bridge.
However, its greatest claim to fame had to be La Mezquita, which was perhaps one of the most visually stunning churches (or is it a mosque?) that we had ever visited because of its crazy juxtaposition of Muslim mosque with a Catholic church built right within it.
Often times we think the most interesting places culturally are where cultures clash, and there’s no better example of this than this mosque-turned-cathedral.
Praia As Catedrais (Spain)
This series of sea arches was the main draw of this attractive beach on Spain’s Northern Coast.
We had to time our visit because accessing it required wading through seawater when the tides were low.
Indeed, the reward for such effort and timing was well worth it as far as we were concerned!
Oh, and to add to the ambiance, there were bagpipe buskers taking advantage of the acoustics in some of the caves on the beach here!
San Sebastian (Spain)
Based on a recommendation of a co-worker who used to live and work in Spain, we were appreciative of the heads up as we were treated to a sandy crescent-shaped beach with an almost Rio de Janeiro-like vibe in this part of the Basque Country of Northern Spain.
This place was also known for good food as well as their own kind of cider.
This world class city has Gaudi’s fingerprints all over it as seen from his apartments, the Sagrada Familia, and even a tour of the roof of one of his apartments.
As if that weren’t enough, there was the happening buzz of the Ramblas de Catalunya where thousands of people converge to experience the energy and festivities that seem to be an everyday occurrence in this city.
Plus, there’s a scenic waterfront with a beach of its own as well as a dynamic foodie scene.
Indeed, there’s so much to see an do here that even the three nights we spent still might not have been enough time to truly experience it all!
Romantic Rhine (Germany)
The Rhine River may be shared by many countries, but it’s a river that Germans certainly identify with.
And when you have a stretch of medieval castles and towns flanking this major throughfare, you have what is arguably one of Germany’s romantic stretches.
Indeed, we visited places like Bacharach and St Goar among others which featured vistas all juxtaposed against the Rhine.
Mosel Valley (Germany)
The Mosel River was kind of a smaller scale version of the Rhine River, but it too featured cute medieval towns and castles.
Among the charming places we visited was Cochem as well as the Roman city of Trier at the head of the valley.
We even visited the Burg Eltz, which was Rick Steve’s favorite castle.
This city was as charming as they come in France. For not only were there countless alleyways flanked by Shambles-like leaning wooden buildings, but it also featured a Little Venice section that I’d argue even surpassed the canals of Old Annecy in the charm factor.
Our only regret was that we didn’t spend at least a night here as were only passing through between Luxembourg and the Black Forest in Germany.
At least we now have an excuse to come back!
Upon a recommendation of a coworker who used to work in Munich, he suggested we check out this city, which seemed to be largely off the typical tourist itinerary.
And it’s for that reason that we really enjoyed our time here.
We enjoyed strolling and dining at the charming canal-crossed section called the Fischerviertel.
We also climbed up to the top of the imposing Ulm Munster for commanding views over the city as well as (maybe) a glimpse of the Bavarian and Swabian Alps on a really clear day.
King Ludwig's Castles (Germany)
If you’re looking for the quintessential castle that inspired the fantasy worlds created by Walt Disney, look no further than Neuschwanstein.
Its impossibly scenic location as well as the even more impressive interior (no photos allowed though) really made this a can’t miss experience despite the tourist crush.
For a more intimate experience, the Schloss Hohenschwangau nearby was also a worthwhile attraction to visit.
Of course, these weren’t King Ludwig II’s only castles he commissioned. We also visited the Linderhof Castle with its Versailles-inspired interior and garden area.
And there are many more both finished and unfinished that we didn’t get a chance to visit in Bavaria!
This city still clings onto its historical roots and it most certainly shows, especially in Marienplatz at the heart of the city.
Of course a lot could be said about all the sights and experiences in Munchen like the English Gardens, Nymphenburg Palace, the Munich Residenz, the Viktualienmarkt, etc., and it’s certainly worth spending at least three days to really get the most out this city of monks.
The Romantic Road (Germany)
In the heart of Bavaria, the so-called Romantic Road passed by numerous medieval towns each of which are charming in their own way.
Of these towns, perhaps the best of them had to have been Rothenburg ob der Tauber despite the tourist crush.
In addition to the charming Hauptmarkt plaza, lots of well-preserved historical buildings and homes, a really neat walkable city wall, a Christmas-is-everyday experience at the Kathe Wohlfahrt shop, and a fun and informative Night Watchman’s Tour, this town certainly cornered the market when it came to leaving visitors with experiences they can’t get elsewhere.
We also visited Bamberg and Wurzburg both of which had their own charming medieval city centers.
While this city maybe most known as the setting for the Sound of Music, it featured many iconic sights made famous by the Disney movie while possessing an old world charm that made it one of Austria’s most popular cities to put on a tourist itinerary.
Not only that, but it also acted as the base for excursions beyond the city.
We spent four nights here, and we still felt like we missed out on some must-do experiences in that time!
Of course, that gives us an excuse to come back, if we’re so fortunate to do.
Although you can’t take pictures inside this ice cave, there’s something to be said about the dimly lit environs in what is said to be the largest ice cave in the world.
This half day excursion included lots of exercise as well as a drive that included attractive top down views of the Schloss Hohenwerfen, which appeared in many scenes in the Sound of Music!
Arguably the most beautiful town of the Salzkammergut Lakes Region, if you can get over the tourist crush.
We managed to spend quite a bit of time enjoying the gorgeous lakeside views as well as visiting a pair of waterfalls (including Muhlbach Waterfall).
But Julie and Tahia also did a tour up to a salt mine, and that’s where they learned about the history and heritage of such mines, which was what earned this place the gazetting as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stift Admont (Austria)
Said to be the largest monastery library in the world, we had never seen a library quite like this one, and we probably won’t see another one like it again.
After all, the works it housed dated back over a millenia, and the amazing paintings along with old world decor really made this place feel like a fantasy more so than a place of expanding knowledge.
Stift Melk (Austria)
This had to have been one of the more blinged out abbeys in existence as the amount of tapestries and gold within the interior of the centuries old structure could rival other places of opulence like the Chateau de Versailles or the Vatican.
It was too bad we couldn’t take pictures of the interior of the abbey because it featured giant rooms, halls, a golden church, and an attractive library among other things.
One of the world class cities on earth, it’s hard not to be spellbound by the splendor of the city center where a happening pedestrianized zone flanked by giant cathedrals, numerous shops, statues, and historical buildings make this place the heart of Eastern Europe.
This is especially the case when you consider that Hapsburg Heritage that was on full display here.
In addition to the historical city center, there were also numerous museums, art galleries, and other Hapsburg buildings like the Schonbrunn Palace.
Grossglockner High Alpine Road (Austria)
Said to be one of the great mountain drives in Austria, this sinuous and steep alpine road took us through several overlooks, waterfalls, and even a glacier next to the country’s highest point.
On a good weather day, this had to have been one of the more unforgettable experiences of our trip.
In fact, we even got Grossglockner’d out by the end of the day as the beauty overload was in full effect.
The Dolomites (Italy)
Deep in the mountains of Northern Italy were these exposed shapely massifs that are collectively known as the Dolomites.
We managed to finally experience the heart of this region (after not quite seeing them the first time around back in 2013) featuring formations like the Sasso Lungo Group, the plateau above Sass Pordoi, and even some surprise waterfalls like Cascate del Pisciadu and Cascata Tervela among others.