With 101 different ways to travel Europe, you’re bound to experience many first-time memories, whether you’re a new or repeat visitor. You could see each country and its quintessential city life, beautiful snow-capped mountains, finest vineyards, and wide-stretching valleys by bicycle, train, plane, car, or foot. It’s the golden destination that has something for everyone, whether you’re a foodie, an avid shopper, a lounger, a hiker, a music lover, an artist, or perhaps a little of each.
This Europe travel experience takes you through many of the Old World classics, starting south in Italy and traveling north to the grand cities of central Germany. On your cultural Europe tour, you’ll discover a rich variety of sights, tastes, sounds, and smells in each country’s famed cities and villages.
Italy Travel: Feeding All of Your Senses
Discover “la vita Italiana” in the sensational destination of olive oil, pasta, wine, and sunshine. Travel in Italy, a popular culinary destination, and find some of the world’s best acclaimed foods, wines, and pastries. And you won’t be able to resist experiencing every bit of Old World Europe’s legacies known all over the world. With more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country, Italy is covered with Roman ruins, Renaissance palaces, landmarks of legend, and archaeological wonders waiting for travelers near and far.
A variety of Sicily, Italy travel tours will put you in the historic cosmopolitan area, which is known for its delicious foods, remarkable art and archaeology, and splendid views of the Mediterranean coast and majestic mountains. No matter how you choose to travel in Sicily, you’ll find the coastal towns truly capture the cozy lifestyle of rustic Italy and are surrounded by endless fields, orchids, and lush forests. Preserved in its original civic design from the ancient Greeks, each town has linear streets that branch off from the central square and lead to a calm setting of stone houses, monasteries, and Baroque churches.
Roman Ruins in Sicily, Italy
Don’t miss seeing Palermo, the ancient capital that was an integral part of the Roman Republic, and eventually the Byzantine Empire, as you travel in Italy. Visit the 5th-century ruins of Eraclea Minoa, the legendary Sicilian city located high on a white cliff perched over sandy beaches. Find your way along with its rich Greek and Roman history at Taormina Greek Theater, San Domenico Monastery, the Temple of Concord in Agrigento, and the Casale Armerina. The immensity of Southern Italy’s legacy— from its Norman palaces to medieval structures to palazzi — exists on the Corso Calatafimi.
Head north to Calabria, where you’ll see a picturesque backdrop of crystal clear seas, golden wheat fields, countryside villas, and impressive Greek ruins. Between the tall mountain tops and lush olive stands found at the peninsula tip, you’ll discover Italy’s vast Mediterranean influence. An ancient area containing early evidence of human presence, Calabria harbors the country’s most iconic relics. In multiple spots close to shore, hobby divers come to explore sunken ships that have been resting underwater for centuries. The northern part of the peninsula has a rocky and heavily wooded terrain, which naturally separates Calabria from the rest of the country, making for one peaceful location to reconnect with nature during your Italy travel excursion.
Visit the Colosseum in Rome
What’s been true for years still remains constant: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Travel to Rome to follow the traces of the ancient Roman Empire and stand in the very places where some of the greatest epic tales occurred. Begin with the grandeur that was and continues to be Rome at the Colosseum. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the massive home of the gladiators, which reveals a maze of corridors and rooms that held the animals, gladiators, and slaves who created the spectacle.
After you pass through the gigantic Arch of Constantine, navigate from the Roman Forum’s colossal sites to the Rostra platform, where Mark Antony eulogized Julius Caesar. Up the hill on the left are the eight remaining Ionic columns of the Temple of Saturn. Once at the foot of the Capitoline Hill in the center of the city, your attention will immediately be pulled by the magnetism of Piazza Venezia. The famous piazza is dominated by the monument of Victor Emmanuel II, who was Italy’s first king and located next to one of the first Renaissance buildings of Rome, the Palazzo Venezia. Your Rome travel adventure isn’t complete until you enjoy sipping a cappuccino at a café across from the remains of the Pantheon, have an audience with the Pope, and view Michelangelo’s great masterpiece at Sistine Chapel.
Travel to Venice and get swept up by a whirl of romance — from watching a riveting performance at the historic Opera House to riding a gondola through the magical Venetian canals. At the Grand Canal, the main water thoroughfare, you’ll see a busy spectacle of gondolas and vaporetti passing along a magnificent row of Renaissance palaces. The “City of Water” is home to a lively fantasy and wealth of decoration and color of Byzantine and Gothic art left from the Greek Empire. The quintessential Venice travel itinerary also includes visiting the first St. Mark’s church, which still holds the earliest mosaics and architectural designs from the Byzantine era.
Germany Travel: Celebrated Land of Ideas
Look far beyond the lederhosen, frothy beers and wiener schnitzels that have been long recognized as the heart of this exciting destination. With astounding art and intelligence, Germany has grown into a country of great thinkers, writers, and leaders who have shaped world history. It was the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm stories as well as other popular fairy tales such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, which have been told for centuries. It also claims some of the world’s most renowned classical music composers including Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Brahms, and Wagner. Germany holds a vast culture that spread across Europe before it became a nation, and preserves much of the Old World’s splendor.
It should be no surprise that Munich travel is one of the top desired itineraries for European newcomers. Nestled on the banks of the Isar River, the modern metropolis shines deep in South Germany. Featuring Oktoberfest and opera, Hofbräuhaus beer hall and Pinakothek art galleries, BMW and Bayern Munich, the city combines Bavarian tradition with modernity. You can’t miss the onion domes of the Gothic Church of Our Lady, where you’ll find a panoramic view of Munich and the Alps.
Be sure to enjoy the amazing landscape, as many popular Germany vacations offer memorable outdoor activities. Linderhof Palace has a charming blend of French horticulture and Bavarian sceneries, while Lake Sternberg is an ideal site to swim or stroll. Germany’s most famous castle is the 19th-century Neuschwanstein Castle that later became the model used in Disney’s “Cinderella” cartoon. Summertime provides the best setting to see the Linderhof Palace, which is surrounded by blooming gardens, an artificial dripstone cave and a 100-foot fountain.
Find a large helping of medieval history and a warm welcome in Heidelberg, Germany, where the Neckar and Rhine Rivers meet. Tour the Neckar Valley via boat or follow the Castle Road for a two- to three-hour driving tour, passing fortresses and villages on the way. You may decide to visit the castles of Hirschhorn and Burg Hornberg close to the riverbank or walk among the remains of the imperial palace in Bad Wimpfen. Take the mountain train to see the famous castle dominating the Heidelberg skyline and looming over the old town. Travel to Königstuhl at the top of the hill, and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of Heidelberg.
Continue north to Wurzburg, a unique German city situated on the Main River and surrounded by the forest hills of the Spessart, Rhön, and Steigerwald. This is the perfect place for exploring on your own, as there is an extensive network of walking and biking paths throughout the region. The Residenz, one of the top heritage sites of Europe that have been fully restored to its original state prior to WWII, is recognized as Southern Germany’s most impressive and beautiful Baroque palaces. Wurzburg is also a cultural center of grand music celebrations such as the Mozart Festival, a long-standing tradition held every June-July, and the finest Franconian wines and Bavarian foods.
An international city of contrasts, Frankfurt is the place where avant-garde design intersects German heritage. Nicknamed “Mainhattan,” it boasts an extraordinary skyline with some of Europe’s tallest buildings. Bornheim, a residential quarter that survived WWII intact, contains a very lively market, medieval houses, trendy cafés, and historic “Ebbelwoi” taverns. While you’re in Frankfurt, Germany, travel to the Römerberg, a Disneyland-like attraction for the whole family, and learn about the Jewish quarter at the Jüdisches Museum. Frankfurt is the first point of arrival for many European tourists, and also connects residents to nearby cities along the Rhine such as Heidelberg, Darmstadt, Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Fulda.
Europe has so much to see and do, and there are more than a hundred ways to plunge into the world’s most breathtaking destinations. Find a professional ASTA agent today, and he’ll get you on the right track to the known and not-so-well-known places of Italy and Germany. Only an ASTA travel agent has the knowledge and resources to make your European travel experience one for the books.