Iconic cities such as London, Paris, and Rome have long inspired travelers, poets, artists, and just about everyone! Widely known for their sensory delights and allure, these European capitals feature on almost every traveler’s itinerary. And that’s why they can get overwhelmingly crowded, particularly during the holiday season.
We invite you to venture slightly off the beaten path and uncover lesser-known treasures that will captivate your heart. After all, there’s so much more to Europe – scenic natural beauty, picturesque towns, legendary cuisines, stunning architecture, exquisite art, lively festivals, and more. Discover the best cities (and towns) to visit in Europe and immerse yourself in authentic, enriching experiences.
Amboise, Loire Valley, France
An extraordinary destination worth exploring when you visit France is Amboise, in the Loire Valley. The erstwhile home of French royalty, this straight-out-of-a-fairytale town is renowned for its castles, markets, lively squares, timber-framed buildings and a surprising connection with the most famous Renaissance personality, Leonardo da Vinci.
The Château Royal d’Amboise enthralls with its grandiose architecture, splendid gardens and views of the river Loire. Le Clos Lucé is a small castle and the last residence of da Vinci. Its gardens, converted into a mini-amusement park, highlight his contributions to science and art through lifesize recreations of his inventions. Amboise still retains its medieval feel and has charming restaurants and cafes where you can sample the local delicacies and fine wines.
If you want a more exclusive experience, you can explore family-owned castles and chateaus in the Loire Valley region where you will be served sumptuous home-cooked lunch by the owners. If you prefer to be part of a small selective group, a group tour will take you around the chateaus in the lively company of fellow travelers.
A stunning Portuguese getaway, Madeira Island is located in the Atlantic Ocean, between Portugal and Morocco. Floating on an endless blue ocean, Madeira experiences an unending spring and attracts travelers all year round. Green hills, dramatic cliffs, and crashing waterfalls form the backdrop of this beautiful island dotted by terracotta-roofed villages.
Madeira’s wild inland covered in colorful blooms is a haven for nature lovers while plenty of outdoor activities are a big draw for adventure seekers. Pristine black sand beaches, cascading rivers,…