Traveling abroad forces us to wear many masks: we must be navigators, adventurers, and financial planners simultaneously. To face down challenges as an international traveler, one must be informed and as open as possible to a world of new experiences. These tips will provide travelers with helpful hints to make the most of their times in Europe.
Be an art critic!
Explore the street art scene. In its back alleys and lesser known neighborhoods, London is a city filled with some of the world’s best legal and illegal art. Wander off the beaten path and you could find a Banksy or Space Invader. You don’t need to be an art snob to appreciate the dedication (and sometimes mystery) behind the works that appear on London’s streets. Keep in mind that street art here is usually destroyed or covered within a few months, so there will always be something new to see.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Be a time traveler!
See the city, then head to the farm. There’s nothing quite like the quaint rural areas surrounding Amsterdam, where 17th century windmills are still used to make paints and other goods. Make friends with farm animals wandering the open fields and indulge in some tasty Dutch stroopwafels. Don’t be afraid to talk to locals, they’re unbelievably friendly and highly likely to speak English. Get a pair of clogs for the full experience.
Be a night owl!
See the city at night. You may think the Eiffel Tower looks good during the day, but that’s nothing compared to the way it glows at night. Show up at the right time and you’ll be treated to the light show they put on every night at dusk. In the summer, this may not happen until 10PM as the sun stays out much longer in Europe that it does in the US during these months. Regardless, it is certainly worth the wait.
Be an intellectual!
Visit the Atomium. This lesser known landmark of Europe’s parliamentary home is by far one of the most unique spectacles in the region. Built in 1958, this monument to scientific progress represents the structure of an iron unit cell scaled up to massive proportions. Gaze at it from the outside, or take a trip inside and all the way to the top via a series of elevators. Take note: there is no air conditioning in the summer and it gets quite hot inside.
Tyrol Region, Austria
Be a naturalist!
Wake up early. Austria is a land of natural beauty, and the mountain ranges that cover the country are the peak of its tourist draw (pun not intended). If you can force yourself to wake up around sunrise in the right conditions, you’ll see the fog creep slowly up and over the mountain tops, creating a spectacle that is as eerie as it is awe inspiring.
Be a cyclist!
Get a bike. Munich is the perfect city for first time bikers who want to see the unique culture of Germany like the locals. The cobblestones may seem daunting, but they are very manageable once you get used to them. Don’t forget to use your bell, it’s just as effective as a car horn for telling people when they’re in your way. It will come in handy when you ride through one of Munich’s many beer gardens, which are more like beautiful parks than just places to drink. Be forewarned, some of the areas within them are clothing-optional!
Rome and Vatican City, Italy
Be an opportunist!
Cover up, then strip down. No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Vatican. Marvel at the beauty of Michelangelo’s work in Sistine Chapel, then get something blessed in the holiest place on Earth (it’s free!). However, you will need to have your shoulders and knees covered while inside any buildings. When you’re done in the Vatican, take a half hour drive to the Italian coast and spend the afternoon floating in the salty Mediterranean.