Visiting some regions in Europe is like passing through portals that transport you to bygone eras. Europe is a smorgasbord of sights and wonders. Pick a couple of places per trip so as not to overwhelm your senses, and take time to savour the continent’s attractions. Budget flights give you the opportunity for return visits. Here’s a sneak peek of 7 European spots that tourists rave about, in no particular order.
Near the Spanish border in Languedoc, France lies the sun-splashed city of Perpignan. From its bustling airport,
Tourists walk along tree-lined squares and narrow lanes to enjoy the ambience of its old-world charm. View the marvellous gardens and courtyard of the Palais des Rois de Majorque. Saunter off to the Saint-Jean quarter to admire the elegant mansions dating back from the 14th and 15th centuries.
2 and 3. Vis and Zadar, Croatia
If Croatia is the pearl of the Adriatic, then Vis is one of this archipelago’s precious jewels. Touring the island of Vis is an experience of pure bliss, with its crystalline waters and unspoiled natural beauty. Sail across the Croatian islands and dip into the shimmering Mediterranean Sea for an invigorating swim. Boat tours can take you to the Blue Grotto in Bisevo and the Green Grotto in Ravnik, each reflecting the water’s distinct aquamarine hues in the caves.
As for Zadar, Alfred Hitchcock gave it the ultimate praise as having the most beautiful sunset in the world. A sunset cruise around the Old Town peninsula offers a glorious view of the sun sinking into the water in spectacular bursts of colours.
4. Swiss Alps
Don’t miss the picturesque wonder of the Swiss Alps. The captivating drive is just the beginning of an amazing tour up the mountains. A gondola lift to Schilthorn takes you to a dizzying height of 10,000 feet. Hike in the valley and encounter the grandeur of the Trümmelbach waterfalls.
What used to be the obscure village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina is now a famous pilgrimage site. The reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to six local youth started in 1981. Her messages of peace and faith bring God’s love and graces for the whole world. Our Lady has allegedly revealed ten secrets of future events. Three of the visionaries have received all ten secrets, while only nine secrets so far are known to the others. One secret has been made public, involving a supernatural, permanent sign on Apparition Hill through which healings will happen. Over a million people come each year to pray for cures and conversions. To date an estimated 30 million people have visited Medjugorje; many claim being granted miracles and blessings. Numerous hostels have sprung up to accommodate the heavy flow of pilgrims.
6. Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre comprises villages tucked in a secluded portion of the Riviera between Pisa and Genoa, Italy. With its scenic trails, beaches, pastel-hued houses and sunny climate, Cinque Terre makes an ideal setting for hikers. Trekking through the towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare may take five hours or more. The government has designated Cinque Terre a national park to conserve its natural resources.
An evening stroll on the cobbled streets of Prague is magical; the city aglow in golden light from gas lanterns. Its architecture masterfully blends vintage and nouveau elements. From the lofty vantage point of the Old Town Hall Tower, you’ll see why Prague is dubbed the city of a thousand spires.
Prague Castle, a splendid hilltop fortress, stands guard over the city. This magnificent Renaissance structure is replete with character and a rich history. There’s the legendary Charles Bridge across River Vltava, with its statues of saints along the walk. The Old Town Square’s pride is the iconic Astronomical Clock, the oldest survivor of its type in working condition. The imposing St. Vitus Cathedral, whose construction took six centuries to complete, is definitely worth a visit. If you can navigate 300 steps up to the bell tower, you’ll be rewarded with sheer grandeur of the massive bell up there and the splendid view below.