10 European Getaways

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Lists! > Ten European Getaways

10 Summer Weekend Getaways (Europe)

This is a summertime companion to the previous list of 10 weekend getaways within Germany.  This time, I provide 10 alternative getaways for popular locations elsewhere in Europe.  These are not sorted in order by preference -- instead I did it by country.  Since 10 is really a low number for such a list, I included some honorable mentions for each country. 

Feldkirch, Austria

Feldkirch sits at the far west corner of Austria in the province of Vorarlberg, less than an hour drive west of Innsbruck or south from Bregenz on Lake Constance.  A charming town nestled in a sharp crevice in the Ill River, Feldkirch is very picturesque and friendly.  Nice for a relaxing day away from the crowds.

Honorable Mention for Austria:  Linz on the Danube River

Ghent, Belgium

Most people looking for canals are going to head out to Bruges near the western shore, but why not add nearby Ghent to those plans and see the old Belgium as it truly once was?  The Three Towers (the Belfort and two towering Cathedrals) and the Castle of the Counts, shown here, are great places to visit, and Ghent's restaurants and hotels are bargains compared to Bruges.  

Honorable Mention for Belgium:  The famous Cistercian monastery of Orval.

Egeskov Castle, Denmark

Most of you visiting Denmark will head straight to Copenhagen, and visit the rest of the country... maybe, right?  Well, make it a point to.  The central island of Fyn (or Funen) is a wonderful place to visit with its many fields, rivers, zoos, and the lovely city of Odense.  Then, head to the southern part of the island to this really fabulous castle complex with gardens and museums galore!

Reims, France

Usually in summertime, most tourists will flock (and overcrowd) the better-known French destinations (the Riviera or Paris).  But, France has lots of other destinations would visiting as well.  Reims is one, with a Cathedral that rivals the Notre-Dame in size and a wonderfully tourism-oriented downtown.  And, its not that far from Paris!

Honorable mentions for France:  Colmar, a lesser known but must-see town south of Strasbourg in Alsace, and Caen, a lovely city in the Normandy region of northwestern France.

Eger, Hungary

Betcha didn't know Hungary had a whole host of great places to visit -- you probably never thought past Budapest, eh?  Well, among them, Eger is the most recommended with a great medieval fortress, a golden basilica, and a massive central square (shown here).

Honorable Mention for Hungary:  Szentendre, just a short drive north of Budapest.

Taormina, Italy

Taormina is an ancient Sicilian city perched on the top of a high dolomite cliff overlooking the Meditteranean.  The views are fantastic and the ruins incredible (like this ancient amphitheater).  Taormina is a very decorative city, too, with lots of piazzas and flowers.

Honorable mention for Italy:  Pompeii, a very well-preserved ancient city, dug out from the ashes of Mount Vesuvius' famed eruption.

Utrecht, Netherlands 

As Budapest is to Hungary, so too might Amsterdam be to Holland -- that is, you've probably heard little about the rest of the country.  If you don't care for Amsterdam's free-living style, the cleaner and saner Utrecht may be for you.  Located about a half-hour away from Amsterdam, it was much of the same in terms of architecture and canals (albeit smaller scale), but less crowded, much cheaper, and far less of Amsterdam's vices.

Honorable mention:  Maastricht, a very beautiful fortress city at the very southeast corner of the Netherlands.

Torun, Poland

Torun is in the center of Poland, away from the major tourist havens of Krakow or Warsaw.  The birthplace of Copernicus, Torun is a major university town with wonderful architecture and a beautiful riverwalk along the Wisla (Vistula) River.  One of my personal favorite cities.

Honorable mention for Poland:  Wieliczka, the site of the famous salt mines.  My absolute all-time favorite unique tourist trap!

Trencin, Slovakia

If you've been a faithful reader of this website, you will notice that I somehow manage to sneak in a favorable mention of Trencin on a regular basis.  It was among the first cities I visited among former Warsaw Pact nations, and it remains one of my favorites -- yet it is curiously unheard of among tour guide books for Central and Eastern Europe.  Only an hour drive or train ride from Bratislava, this one is a must excursion if you visit the Slovak capital.

Thun, Switzerland

You can't go wrong in Switzerland when it comes to great scenery.  Between the Alps and the alpine lakes, you have great skiing in the winter and great boating in the summer.  Switzerland has preserved many of its castles and fortresses, and has some of the most unique sights around.  The central town of Thun is one of my favorites with its beautiful castle and lavish marketsquares.

Honorable Mention for Switzerland:  Schaffhausen in the far north with its famous Rheinfall, the largest waterfall in Europe.  

Honorable Mentions for countries I didn't list:

bulletCzech Republic -- If Prague is too far away, try the western town of Karlovy Vary, one of the most colorful cities around!
bulletIreland -- The southeastern city of Waterford is beautiful and lively, and of course there's the famous crystal factory to visit!
bulletLuxembourg -- The northeastern town of Vianden is a must-see, one of the most scenic medieval villages around, and if you don't believe me, ask Victor Hugo (the famous writer).

(c) 2003 Tom Galvin


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