For the vast majority of American visitors, a tour of Europe’s historical locations means a standardized trip that takes in the sights of London, Paris, Rome, and perhaps an excursion to Edinburgh and Amsterdam. These are all great places to visit, and if you have not done so, then you definitely won’t be disappointed. However, there is so much more to Europe, and you might want to visit some locations that are just as rich in history and culture but are not on the clichéd tourist trail. Here are five European locations that you should seriously consider.
Renowned throughout the world as one of the most fashionable cities on the planet, it is easy for strangers to forget that Milan also has a rich cultural heritage. However, once you are there, it is impossible to miss – the entire city is dominated by the magnificent cathedral, and almost every location in Milan is measured in terms of “minutes from Duomo.”
Construction began in the 14th century, but it was not completed until the 1960s, which must entitle it to some sort of record for the longest build in history.
Milan is a wonderful place to drink in the sights and atmosphere, where stunning history meets with cosmopolitan elegance in a way that only the Italians could accomplish. Hotels in the city center can be expensive, but there are some great vacation rentals and apartments in Milan to suit any budget.
Budapest has a rapidly growing reputation in the new generation of party cities in Europe, but it is also one of the most historical. Hungary has had a turbulent history, and Budapest is a city of interesting contrasts. The historical spas can rival those of any city, yet by night they add an extra dimension by hosting “bath parties” with amazing light shows, music, and plenty of drink.
Castle Hill is also a must-see, featuring a number of historic buildings, including the beautiful Fisherman’s Bastion, which looks like something straight out of a fairytale book.
On the subject of fairytales, how about a visit to the birthplace of author Hans Christian Andersen? Odense is packed full of attractions paying tribute to its most famous son, including museums, sculptures, and live events.
It is easy to believe that on entering this picturesque city, you are stepping straight into one of his stories. Like most of Denmark’s cities, it is designed around pedestrians and cyclists, so it is really like taking a step back in time to a quieter age.
Maastricht, the Netherlands
Maastricht might be most famous for giving its name to the treaty that underpinned the formation of the European Union, but it has a history that goes back long before 1992.
The city is bisected by the Meuse River, and is surrounded by many ancient castles lying amid miles of beautiful unspoilt countryside. As one of the Netherlands’ oldest cities, there is plenty to be seen, and it is all condensed into a small enough area for you to easily explore it on foot, or, better still, by taking advantage of one of the city’s many bicycle hire shops.
As well as admiring the beautiful town square and historical buildings, it is well worth exploring the hidden city by taking a tour of the underground casemates, a network of tunnels running to several kilometers beneath the city’s fortifications.
Dublin, Republic of Ireland
It’s not all about the Guinness, you know! Dublin is home to hundreds of historical landmarks and buildings, and has a character that is a little different to anything else you will find anywhere in the world.
Top of the list comes Dublin Castle, standing proud in the city center for more than 800 years. The castle has seen its share of love and loss over these many years, and today it fulfills as important a role in city life as it ever has, being used for conferences, public events, fine dining, and, of course, guided tours.
The national museum is also a place that you really shouldn’t miss, but bear in mind that it is spread across three locations in the city, so allow plenty of time. You will come away with a better understanding of Ireland’s unique culture and its long and varied history.
Multicultural and historical
Everywhere on the globe has its own unique history, but nowhere has such a varied range of cultures and stories as Europe. No matter how many times you visit, there is always something new to experience, particularly if you are prepared to venture a little away from the usual tourist spots. Happy travels!