Travel to Europe: 7 Reasons You’ll Want to Begin Planning Your Trip

Including up-and-coming capitals, innovative new museums and a poignant anniversary, just to name a few.

Whether you’ve crossed “travel to Europe” off your bucket list or you’re still fantasizing about a trip, there’ve never been more reasons (and ways) to see the Continent. Both ancient and innovative, alluring and accessible, today’s Europe beckons.

Here, seven reasons you’ll want to travel to Europe now:

1. Because you’re never too old for fairy tale

The 14th-century Tyn Church adds a magical touch to Prague’s skyline.


In Europe, there’s no shortage of dreamy “once upon a time” settings. Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle inspired Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle, and villages like France’s Riquewihr—with its medieval, half-timbered houses—seem straight out of a storybook.

Nature adds its magic when you travel to Europe, in places such as Scotland’s Isle of Skye, where mysterious glens and mist-shrouded lochs leave travelers spellbound. Come November, Christmas markets turn ancient town squares such as Prague’s into real-life snow-globe scenes, full of twinkling lights and (if you’re lucky) a dusting of snow.

2. Because no place does train travel better

A train near the Jungfraujoch railway station in Switzerland.

Gaspar Janos/Shutterstock

There you are, sipping a cappuccino as the European countryside unfolds outside your window. Not much beats the pleasure of riding a train in Europe, thanks to its extensive rail network and array of choices, from high-speed cars that zoom between cities to cogwheel machines that carry you up the Alps’ precipitous slopes.

Italy and Spain are two standouts when you travel to Europe: The AVE train whisks you between Madrid and Barcelona in three hours, while the high-speed train linking Rome, Florence and Venice gives you more time to explore this trio of timeless cities. For a spectacle of mountain scenery, Switzerland’s Glacier Express climbs through the heart of the Alps—past summer’s wildflower-strewn fields and villages of rustic chalets toward snowcapped peaks (all seen through your panoramic viewing window).

3. Because old is getting a modern twist

From sparse crowds to reduced prices, explore the off-peak pleasures of visiting Europe in the weeks less traveled.

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When high-tech meets ancient treasures, the result can be magical. Consider Rome’s third-century Baths of Caracalla, archaeological ruins that transform to their original state when you don virtual-reality goggles included in the admission price. Wander the ancient bathhouse and see the lavish mosaic floors, mythological statues and even running water come to life.

In Paris, a dazzling new art museum—Atelier des Lumieres—puts you inside famous works from masters like Gustav Klimt with 360-degree projections and music. In London, there are talking statues and pubs that take Bitcoin. (But here’s to hoping they’ll never get rid of our low-tech fave: those charming red phone booths.)

4. Because you can’t (fill in the blank) back home

Whether it’s tucking in for the night at a 13th-century estate like Ireland’s Ashford Castle or visiting with monks at a Greek monastery perched atop a pinnacle of rock, there are some things you just can’t do stateside. (Escorted tours and cruise excursions can give you access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences like these—more reasons to travel to Europe.)

5. Because freedom rings

Find out how to avoid these surprising travel fees so they don’t blow your Europe travel budget.

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They were among the most moving events of the 20th century: the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the wave of revolutions that saw Eastern Europe casting off the shackles of Communist rule. With Berlin, Prague, Budapest and others celebrating 30 years of freedom in 2019, it’s a poignant time to delve behind the former Iron Curtain in these stunning cities.

Meanwhile, France’s Normandy coast will forever be associated with D-Day, 75 years ago in June 2019. The invasion vividly comes to life at Omaha Beach and the American cemetery.

6. Because, wine

Savor the possibilities when you travel to Europe: river cruising through vaunted wine regions like Bordeaux in France; cycling past the steep, south-facing vineyards of Austria’s spectacular Wachau Valley; or a tasting with the owner of a 16th-century wine estate in Tuscany. If you’re of the mind that travel and wine make the perfect pairing, Europe delivers.


7. Because you want to get there first

Alfresco dining in Kotor, Montenegro.

Ben Pipe Photography

There’s something thrilling about heading to a country when it still exudes that exotic, off-the-beaten-path mystique. If you like to turn left when others are making a right, consider these up-and-comers: Montenegro, a small nation with a big landscape (think soaring mountains and quiet stretches of sand); and Serbia’s buzzy capital, Belgrade—with its ancient clifftop fortress and hip arts scene (head to the Savamala district for the newest galleries).

How to travel to Europe? The choice is yours …

Ocean or river cruise

Love to sleep in the same bed every night? Then these “floating hotels” may be for you.

How to decide: The places you want to see may help you choose between an ocean or river cruise: Iceland on your list? It has no river cruises, so ocean cruise it is! Also consider whether you want all the amenities of an ocean cruise ship or the more intimate experience of a river cruise.

What’s new: Themed river cruises, such as those for golf enthusiasts or for exploring Jewish heritage.

Land tour

If you yearn to do a deep dive into a place, a land tour might be for you.

How to decide: Got your heart set on a sight that’s difficult, if not impossible, to get to on a cruise—such as the Swiss Alps or Italy’s hilltop town Assisi? Consider a land tour that features an expert guide.

What’s new: Tailored journeys that let you travel on your own but handle logistics, like arranging rail transportation and providing a choice of guided tours in each city.

Combine them!

You can get the best of both worlds in a few ways. Fly in early for a cruise to spend time exploring inland sights on your own, or buy a pre- or post-cruise tour (such as three days in Prague after a Danube river cruise). Or, combine tours and cruises: After a cruise that ends in Italy, for instance, you could do a land tour of Rome, Florence and Venice, reaching each city by high-speed train.

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