It’s all too easy to forget, living in a country like the UK, that there is a wealth of incredible cities and countries right on our doorstep. And age should not be any sort of barrier to visiting some of the most beautiful and historic places in the world. High-speed trains and budget airlines have made European travel quick, cheap, and convenient. Here are our top five European picks.
You’re spoilt for choice in a France, a country bursting to the seams with elegant, historic cities and towns. Bordeaux is a popular choice for one particularly good reason. As the wine capital of the world, it offers visitors the chance to sample some of the best wines available. Experience some of the many vineyard tours (all of which include some form of tasting) and take a tram ride to enjoy the grand architecture of the city.
Located on Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast, Valencia is a perfect blend of European culture and Mediterranean indulgence. The city enjoys some of the best weather of any city in Europe, not to mention some perfectly preserved buildings which date back centuries.
You can spend hours wandering around the old town. Make time, in particular, for the 800-year-old cathedral, which supposedly houses the chalice used at the Last Supper (the so-called Holy Grail). Also, don’t miss the stunning Turia Gardens, situated at the heart of the city.
Portugal’s capital, like many modern European cities, is a delightful blend of old and new. Buildings which have stood for time immemorial stand side-by-side with gleaming new structures.
The Alfama district is one of the oldest areas of the city. Here striking buildings, such as the gothic Belem tower and Jerónimos Monastery, are as impressive today as they were hundreds of years ago.
The Parque das Nações, meanwhile, is a gleaming monument to the future. Built for Lisbon’s Expo ‘98, it boasts numerous bars and restaurants.
Beautiful Florence lays claim to one of the largest collections of stunning renaissance architecture anywhere. It also boasts a prolific number of galleries and museums. You could easily spend a month in this city and barely scratch the surface of its artistic heritage.
There are countless galleries you could trudge around. Your best bet, however, is the Uffizi Gallery, which offers some of the finest work from Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, and Rembrandt.
Amsterdam is the jewel in the Netherlands’ crown, a charming masterpiece in city planning from the Dutch golden age. Its enormous network of canals, dotted with house boats, date back to the 17th century and offer the perfect place from which to explore.
Be sure to sample the city’s many museums and galleries. And no visit to Amsterdam would be complete without hiring a bike – over 60 per cent of trips in the city are made on two wheels.
Wherever you choose to travel, be sure to take out travel insurance cover with a reputable travel insurance specialist. Insure & Away, for example, offer comprehensive over 65 travel insurance. This will ensure you’re covered for any problems that might occur whilst you’re away, for example injury, loss of possessions or theft.
Tracey Chandler is a freelance writer, specialising in travel blogging and feature writing for a number of female-interest publications. She works regularly with a long list of travel bloggers and is always happy to hear from others.