Europe is a patchwork of more than 40 compulsively individualistic countries and is a dazzling and spectacular place to explore.
Overwhelming it can be, confusing for sure – just perusing a map of the crowded Old World will reveal cities, mountain ranges, seas and even countries you may never have even heard of. But the good news is that whatever you decide to do here, you’ll leave blown away by the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensations you’ll experience: there simply is no way to tour Europe and not be awestruck.
First timers might try a sprinkling of the classics (Britain, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain) and spice it up with a dash of something classical (Italy, Greece, Turkey), while those who have covered the essentials can try lesser-explored destinations (the Balkans, Scandinavia, Portugal or Poland, for example). Those wanting to explore Europe's extremes can head to challenging Russia, fabulous Albania or surprising Romania – there's literally no end of options.
A trip around Europe’s patchwork of nations will inevitably make you rethink what you thought you knew about the place. As with any form of travel, surprises await: nationalities about whom you know little beyond lazy clichés will become familiar friends, both complex and contradictory; you will feel the chill on your spine when you see that iconic work of art in the flesh or find yourself standing right where that happened. You will at least once find yourself on a beach, up a mountain, at a cafe or in a club thinking ‘these people know how to live’.