7 Adventurous Ways To Experience Europe In Summer
There’s so much to do and see in Europe that just thinking about where to start is overwhelming. From mossy ruins to soaring peaks, centuries-old buildings to glistening beaches, music festivals to natural spectacles — how can you possibly take it all in?
Frankly, you can’t. Which means, if you’re planning a trip overseas, you’ve got a lot of difficult decisions ahead of you. We’ve put together a few of our favourite must-do experiences to help you plan your dream holiday.
#1 Go Hiking In The South Of France
There’s so much more to France than sipping wine by the Eiffel Tower. In the country’s sunny south are the Pyrenees, a mountain range straddling the border between France and Spain. Providing a dramatic backdrop to the small town of Lourdes, the Pyrenees offer stunning vantage points which are accessible by foot and by chairlift.
The ancient hamlet of Lourdes is a hot destination for those interested in religious history, thanks to its magnificent basilica. Plus, it’s got its very own castle and is much smaller and quieter than Paris, for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle. If you’re feeling thirsty, make sure to reward yourself with a waterside pint by lac de Gaube, a glacial lake nestled high in the mountains.
#2 Tour The Canals In Amsterdam
While I enjoy a good hike as much as the next guy, Amsterdam offers decidedly more stylish modes of transport — and we’re not just talking about the city’s famous bicycles.
The Dutch capital sports an intricate network of UNESCO World Heritage-listed waterways that date back to the 17th century. Should you want to explore some of the city’s 165 canals, there are several different methods available, from practical shuttle services to romantic candlelit tours, complete with food and cocktails.
If there’s a better mode of urban transport, I haven’t heard about it.
#3 Sail A Viking Ship In Denmark
With Chris Hemsworth playing Thor and Travis Fimmel donning the mantle of Ragnar Lothbrok, us Aussies have never been more intrigued by Viking history. If you’ve contracted a case of Nordic Fever, you’ll definitely want to visit the Danish town of Roskilde.
Just 30km from Copenhagen, the town is home to the Viking Ship Museum, which houses five honest-to-Odin Viking ships recovered from the bottom of the Roskilde Fjord. Okay, a ship museum may not sound overly appealing, but what makes this one different is that you can walk down to the nearby harbour and board a Snekkja longship that will take you around the fjord. Lack of pillaging aside, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more authentic Viking experience.
Oh, and if you’re there at the end of June, you can head to Roskilde Festival, one of the world’s premier mega music festivals.
#4 Stay In A Castle In Scotland
OK, technically it’s a “baronial mansion”, not a castle. Still, it looks the part, and if a 19th century baronial mansion isn’t good enough for you, I’m not sure what is.
Situated among the vast, green beauty of the mountainous Scottish Highlands, Inverlochy Castle Hotel is a grand old building of grey stone and romantic architecture. The extensive grounds and nearby loch are steeped in history, as are the ruins of the actual Inverlochy Castle. They’re about 3km from the hotel and definitely a bit draughty.
If you ever wanted to feel like royalty – proper Disney-style royalty, not the paparazzi-hounded, constitutionally hamstrung royalty of today – this might be the place for you.
#5 Drink A Mountaintop Beer In Germany
Not exactly shying from the stereotype, Germany has gone ahead and topped its highest mountain – the Zugspitze – with a beer garden. Located in southern Bavaria, the Zugspitze is surrounded by glaciers and the countless peaks of the Eastern Alps, with views of Austria, Italy and Switzerland to boot.
The beer garden itself sits just a few metres below mountain’s peak, and is accessible by foot or cable-car. Without doubt, this is one of the more stunning drinking experiences out there. Fair warning, though: the experience may ruin regular, low-altitude brews for you.
#6 Join The Party In Prague
At one point, beer in this ancient city cost literally less than water. While those novel days are a thing of the past, the historical Czech capital remains one of the most affordable cities in the continent. If you want a premium European nightlife experience without the accompanying price tag, you can’t go past Prague.
And, once you’ve sobered up a little, there’s a ton of things to do besides drink the ubiquitous craft beer. The Czech Republic has 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than 35,000km of hiking trails, art galleries and some of the best-preserved architecture in Europe. There truly is something for everything.
#7 Climb Glaciers In Iceland
Ever wanted to join Jon Snow north of The Wall? Well, you can, kind of: Game Of Thrones used Iceland to depict Westeros’ chilly north, and the Nordic island has a thriving tourism industry.
That said, Iceland has been beautiful since long before HBO made it meme-worthy. Volcanic, black-sand beaches, glacial lagoons, geothermal pools – Iceland has natural beauty to spare, all year ’round.
Valyrian steel strictly BYO.
(Lead image: Christoffer Rosenfeldt / Roskilde Festival Facebook)