Saturday, April 30, 2011

European Must-See Cities

When you tour Europe, you’ll find that your vacation doesn’t actually end. It's easy to make an itinerary of the top stops, from Paris to Prague, but you'll always run into somebody, somewhere, asking you where you've been—and what you thought of a certain city. That intriguing place, wherever it is, will go on the "next time in Europe" list, and you'll quickly find yourself planning an additional trip across the pond.

These stops have been determined as some of the most important in Europe, and you'll get the best of the continent in one fell swoop. Not too bad for an initial trip to Europe!

London's gotten a ton of press this year, thanks to the royal wedding and the upcoming Olympic games. This and next year are great time to visit the vibrant city, which has been perfected for high-volume tourism. Get your hands on the hot souvenirs and visit some top locations on the must-see list, as indicated by MSNBC.

Your Plan: “Two days isn't a huge amount of time in a city with so much to do but you should still be able to see highlights like the Tower of London, Tate Modern, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace as well as attend a West End theater show and enjoy the ethnic eateries of the East End.”

Where to Stay: features a master list of the best hotels in London, which include Brown's and 41 Hotel.

The City of Love isn't only for lovers, with its scores of hot restaurants, amazing galleries and museums, and the sights—oh, the sights! If you manage to carve out some time for yourself, try taking the train out into the countryside for an extra break—it's worth it.

Your Plan: “A high-speed Channel Tunnel train takes you to the sights in Paris. Overlooking the avenues from the Arc de Triomphe, seeing the Louvre or Versailles and a beautiful church or two is the least you can do.”

Where to Stay: Paris is famous for its fantastic hotels, but how about a cheat sheet? Not only is there a list of great hotels here, but some of the most luxurious hotels in the world are in Paris, including Hotel de Crillon (renovation completion expected Fall 2011) and Hotel du Louvre.

One of Europe's cultural and economic centers, Barcelona is the fourth most visited city in Europe after Paris, London, and Rome. High-speed rail makes it easy to zip around Spain, and you should have a look around Barcelona's international airport if you do decide to fly—it's lovely. Exploring Gaudi's famous architectural triumphs if you do one thing in Barcelona.

Your Plan: “An overnight ride of the rails and you’re at your next stop, colorful Barcelona, where the organic Modernista architecture and Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia will wow you. Don’t miss the Catalan cooking.”

Where to Stay: Barcelona buildings have incredible design features that make your stay interesting and still luxury-minded. Hotel designers are constantly pushing for innovative and green touches while still retaining Barcelona's architectural blueprint. Consider the Hotel Arts Barcelona and the Hotel Claris.

Ruins can be spotted all over Rome, and if you're a fan of ancient finds, Rome's your place. The aqueducts, famous statues, intriguing houses, and historical, sprawling apartment buildings just across the road from the Colosseum are all entrancing.

Your Plan: “The Eternal City; they say a lifetime isn’t enough to know it. During two days sightseeing in Rome, choose from among the monumental attractions of the Colosseum, Vatican City, Pantheon, Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.”

Where to Stay: There are plenty of tucked-away spots in Rome, including the Hotel Continental de la Ville and the Rome Cavalieri.

Berlin's a progressive city with good-natured, friendly inhabitants. Stop by a pub and order their daily special—don't expect variety, that's the fun—and then try walking around the neighborhoods near Alexanderplatz. The Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church was partially destroyed in a bombing raid in 1943, and it stands as it did after the war. (There's also a 1:10 scale model in Wernigerode, which is located in the former East Germany.)

Your Plan: “A full day riding the rails brings you to the sights of Berlin, Europe's most rapidly changing (and exciting) city. Must-sees include all the Berlin Wall galleries, memorials and museums, plus new city sights like the Sony Centre and Filmmuseum. At night, Kreuzberg is the alternative nightlife hub, while Prenzlauer Berg is more grown up.”

Where to Stay: Berlin is constantly changing, so take a snapshot of your luxury hotel before it morphs.

If you alternated your time in Greece between eating and viewing ancient monuments, we wouldn't blame you for it. But, for a full experience, you should try some of these top picks.

Your Plan: “The Greek capital is a treasure trove of ancient ruins with the magnificent buildings of the hill-top Acropolis heading the list. Below it stand more impressive remains, plus bustling flea markets and lively tavernas giving you a taste of more modern Athenian life.”

Where to Stay: Greek vacations don't get any better when you stay in the King George Palace.

Now that's a vacation! Pick from the creme de la creme of Europe, and you won't go home feeling unsatisfied. Consider London your pit stop before you head to continental European destinations. Don't forget that if you decide to see a city in Europe that you didn't plan for, there are great luxury hotels dotted all over—and cheap domestic flights abound.

No comments:

Post a Comment