Enjoying Your Days
The most important part of your European vacation is not booking your airline or train or even the hotel or apartment where you stay. It’s how you spend your days. A European vacation can focus on sightseeing, cultural immersion, some type of educational pursuit, or a physical activity like hiking or cycling. We’ve provided some links to help you explore the possibilities.
A guidebook is often the best way to identify the sites, museums, and attractions you want to visit. Many of these resources are now available online.
Frommers Frommers destination guides include excellent information on what to see and do in major European cities and regions.
Fodors The Fodors website also provides detailed information on sightseeing and attractions in Europe.
Festivals, Concerts and Other Events
Participating in local festivals, attending concerts, and joining in on other special events is a great way to connect with European culture. Check the tourist office website for the area you’ll be visiting and watch for posters and flyers when you arrive. These websites provide some helpful information.
Festivals and Events (a “finder” by destination and date)
Tour Guides and Classes
You can enrich your European vacation by joining a small group tour or participating in a class. Tours and classes can last a few hours– or a week or more.
Slow Travel Tours We are a founding member of this group of independent, small-group tour operators. Most of our members offer week-long tours based in one area, but a few members live in Europe and offer customized day trips.
Shaw Guides Directory for learning vacations and programs worldwide.
Fete d’Accompli Our friend Janice Jacquet offers customized market visits and cooking classes in Provence.
A2Z Languages The last two summers I spent several weeks in Aix-en-Provence attending a French language school. This is a great way to enjoy another country, experience the culture, and strengthen language skills too. I booked my trips through A2Z Languages, an American-based company that partners with leading language schools in many European countries.
Self-guided walking tours
A walking tour is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of Europe’s countryside, mountains and villages. And it’s great exercise too! Our family has now done six long-distance walks and we’re planning number seven this summer. We have walked in England (twice), France (three times), Switzerland, and Ireland. Our trips have all been “self-guided.” The tour operator plans the route (which can be customized), arranges the accommodations, provides maps and guidebooks, and transports your main baggage each day. You walk on your own, carrying only a day pack.
Guided trips are offered by some operators, and similar trips are offered for cyclists.
Sherpa Walking/Cycling Tours We have done three self-guided walks through this British-based company. They offer a variety of guided and self-guided walking and cycling trips in many parts of Europe.
Sentiers de France This French company offers the most extensive listing of self-guided walks in all areas of France. They have two different levels of accommodations depending on budget. Our family did walking tours with them in 2008 and 2009.
World Walks Our first long-distance walk was the Cotswolds Ring walk, organized through this British company that is actually based in the Cotswolds. Now they offer trips all over Europe. (This is the circular walk we did in the Cotswolds, which was an ideal first walking trip in a beautiful part of England.)
HF Holidays Friends have recommended this British company that offers a range of activity-oriented European vacations, guided and self-guided.
Contours Walking We met several people on our Coast-to-Coast walk in England who arranged their trip through this company and had very positive things to say. Contours offers very flexible walking trips.