The Safest Cities For Women to Travel Alone in Europe

There has never been a better time than now to be a solo female traveler looking to explore Europe. Cities are becoming safer, female-friendly hotels are popping up and it is getting easier to meet other solo female travelers around the world. Here are 20 safe European cities for female solo travelers.

20. Vienna, Austria

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Austria is ranked number 4 on the Global Peace Index, making it an excellent and safe country for female solo travelers to visit. Vienna, the capital of Austria has earned the name of “city with the highest quality of life” several years in a row.

Vienna is full of stunning architecture, music, and history. There are plenty of museums to visit, such as Sigmund Freud’s house. This museum will help you understand why Vienna is known as the “city of dreams”.  You may also want to make a stop at Prater park to see the iconic Riesenrad Ferris wheel landmark. Finally, be sure to head to a local restaurant and try authentic Austrian food such as Wiener Schnitzel (a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet), Sachertorte (chocolate torte), or an Apfelstrudel (apple strudel).

19. Edinburgh, Scotland

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Between the breathtaking landscapes, ancient castles, and rich history, Scotland has a lot to offer. Scotland, a region of the United Kingdom ranks 45 on the Global Peace Index and is considered safe for female solo travelers. There is so much to do and see in Edinburg, the capital of Scotland. To begin, if you visit in August, there is a month-long arts festival called Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This festival offers theatrical performances, comedy shows, and many other activities that would be perfect for a female solo traveler, especially if you’re hoping to meet new people.

Moreover, consider taking a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle and take in the medieval architecture. After visiting the castle, be sure to head to Calton Hill which is a high point in the city that allows you to catch a full view of Edinburgh. Finish your day at a local pub and indulge in authentic food while meeting the locals.

18. Berlin, Germany

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Berlin, Germany’s capital is home to 3.5 million residents. Berlin is rich in history and full of culture and would be an excellent place to explore on your own. There are many restaurants, markets, and cafes in Berlin that will make you feel comfortable dining alone.

Discover what this city has to offer by taking a free walking tour, use the bike-sharing program, or hop on public transportation. Be sure to check out the Brandenburg Gate, and the Holocaust Memorial, and the remnants of the Berlin Wall.

17. Bruges, Belgium

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If you are a solo female traveler looking to immerse yourself in a fairy tale this would be the city to visit. Straight off a postcard, the city of Bruges is loaded with cobblestone streets, historic houses, and canals. It is here where you will be inspired to take long strolls throughout the streets and enjoy Belgian pints of beer by street-side cafes while people watching.

This city is extremely safe, for all travelers and welcomes visitors, especially in the summertime when it becomes peak travel season. There is a range of good hotels along with budget hostels that will meet any traveler’s budget, and English is widely understood throughout. Female travelers will feel safe as locals are willing to lend a hand if needed and are more than happy to give advice on where to go, what to see, and where to grab the next pint of beer.

16. Santorini, Greece

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If you want to see jaw-dropping scenery, be sure to add Santorini, Greece to your travel wish list. The emerald Mediterranean Sea is enough to take your breath away, but also the picturesque white villas are a sight to see too. Many people travel to Santorini with a partner or friend but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel there solo.

With friendly locals and an affordable bus system, you’ll be able to navigate your way across the city.

15. Paris, France

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Paris, France is known as the city of love. So it may seem ironic that one would travel there alone. However, exploring this beautiful city alone means that you don’t have to abide by anyone else’s opinions or plans. Further, exploring this city is easy and best to do either on foot or by taking the metro.

There are so many amazing things to see and do in Paris, France. Be sure to check out the iconic Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Arc de Triomphe. You should also enjoy a bottle of wine and a baguette all to yourself during your stay too.

14. London, England

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London, England is an excellent destination for solo female travels. Traveling through this city is easy from the amazing public transportation system to the remarkable hostels, hotels, and Airbnb’s. Not to mention English is their first language.

During your stay, be sure to visit Buckingham Palace, take a tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and visit one of the many museums London has to offer. You should also dine at a local pub to indulge in traditional British food such as fish and chips, or a Toad in the hole. Further, dining at a pub will also help you meet the locals as well as other solo travelers too.

13. Oslo, Norway

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Oslo is a dream for female solo travelers, alas a bit expensive at times. It is Norway’s largest city and a great cultural city destination that is overflowing with things to see and do. Female solo travelers will feel safe no matter where they stay but may feel some extra comfort if they choose to stay on the women-only floor of the 130-year old Grand Hotel. Here they will find rooms stacked with books, magazines, a yoga mat, toiletries, and a female room-service menu, without the room service charge!

Wandering around the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which is 80 acres and feature 212 bronze and granite sculptures, you are sure to meet other solo travelers who will become quick friends. Head out to one of the many vibrant nightclubs or theaters with new-found travel friends for an unforgettable experience.

12. Dublin, Ireland

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Ireland is a very safe country. According to the Global Peace Index, Ireland ranks number 12 in the world. Further, as a female solo traveler, you will feel comfortable dining alone and you may even run into another solo traveler during your stay.

Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is laden with historic buildings including the captivating Dublin Castle. Some other great places to see are the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland, and other must-see historic Attractions in Dublin.

11. Lisbon, Portugal

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Lisbon, Portugal is a wonderful place for female solo travelers. To begin, there are many safe and affordable hostels to stay in where you will meet many other solo travelers too. Secondly, Portugal ranks 3rd on the Global Peace Index.

Lisbon is full of rugged yet wonderful architecture and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Consider having a beach day all to yourself, or explore the Castelo de S. Jorge or the Jerónimos Monastery. Exploring this beautiful city is easy and can be done either by public transportation, on foot, or on a bike.

10. Stockholm, Sweden

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Built over 14 islands and connected by over 50 bridges this lovely cosmopolitan city is home to more than two million people. It is known for its gorgeous modern architecture, friendly people, and captivating waterways. Women are treated equally like men here and solo female travelers will face no issues in terms of harassment, drink spiking, or pickpocketing.

There is a slew of budget hostels throughout the city that are both affordable and safe, and a great way to connect with other travelers. This is a great city to experience Nordic culture in its modern and multicultural avatar, as well as dine on delightful local food. English is widely spoken here, and the locals are often teased for speaking a mix of Swedish and English-nicknamed Swinglish. Women will have no trouble finding people to talk to, tours to take and culture to experience here in Stockholm.

9. Cardiff, Wales

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Cardiff is the capital and largest city of Wales. This city is also considered one of Britain’s safer cities and for that reason, it is Wales’s most popular tourist destination. Along with being a safe city, Cardiff is full of culture, has many captivating castles and if you meet the locals they’ll surely share some of their ancient Welsh legends.

Further, students make up about 10% of Cardiff’s population which means younger female solo travelers will surely be well taken care of. There are many things to see and do in Cardiff. During your stay be sure to check out the National Museu, Cardiff Bay, and Cardiff Castle.

8. Helsinki, Finland

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The capital of Finland is one of the best cities for female solo travelers, thanks to its friendly locals, its reputation for being safe and beautiful. This walkable city is loaded with lovely parks, free city events, music, and shopping. Solo travelers will delight in the 20th-century architecture, the Helsinki Cathedral and the National Museum of Finland, which are always, home to other visitors.

One of the best things to do when you first get into the city is to take a walking tour, in order to fully appreciate the city’s cultural heritage, then move on to the shopping and dining. One cannot travel here without taking a dip in the Yrjönkatu Indoor Swimming Pool, (the oldest pool) built-in 1928. Recently renovated to house three pools and wonderful saunas, this is where women meet after work and have a sauna and swim followed by a drink, all done without any clothes on.

7. Prague, Czech Republic

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Immerse yourself in the alluring culture of the Czech Republic by visiting its capital, Prague. There is an abundance of things to see and do in the wonderful city of Prague.

Prague is not only a beautiful place to visit but the country, the Czech Republic ranks in the top 10 of the Global Peace Index. Consider meeting other solo travelers by taking a walking tour, or keep to yourself and explore one of their many museums, or even check out a show at the State Opera.

6. Copenhagen, Denmark

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The capital of Denmark is a vibrant and colorful city, which still manages to maintain a small-town feeling. New meets old in this fairytale-like city that features ancient buildings and towering glass and steel skyscrapers. Many of the state-run museums in this city are free admission, making it easy to save on spending and you can’t miss out on visiting the world’s oldest amusement park- Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park.

This city offers a unique experience that is perfect for female solo travelers called ‘Meet the Danes.’ This service arranges home-dinners with a Danish family or a single woman and her friend. Expect a traditional Danish meal and plenty of conversation with your new-found friends. Don’t miss the goddess Gefjun fountain that depicts the mythology of Denmark’s creation and magic within the Norse religion.

5. Barcelona, Spain

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Barcelona, Spain is known for its captivating architecture and art and would be a great destination for female solo travelers. For starters, the public transportation system is excellent. You’ll have the option of taking a bus, metro, trains, or trams, however, you will also be able to see a lot of the attractions on foot too. While Barcelona is generally safe, it’s always important to still take precautions such as keeping your personal belongings close by to prevent pickpocketing and don’t flash around money or expensive belongings.

During your stay be sure to check out the Sagrada Familia church, designed by Antoni Gaudi, and the Picasso Museum.

4. Zurich, Switzerland

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Zurich is an extremely safe city and therefore traveling alone as a female here is also incredibly safe, and downright breathtaking. Snow-capped Alps loom in the background, museums and art galleries line the streets and the nightlife is something to speak of. Female travelers will find no shortage of shopping to do here, cobblers, tailors, metalsmiths, candle makers, jewelry makers, and watchmakers fill the streets.

Choices of accommodations are endless here and if you feel nervous at all in this city we suggest heading over to Lady’s First Design Hotel, which was built especially for female travelers. The ancient center is the perfect place to stroll through the winding lanes and look up to the tall church steeples, stopping for coffee at sidewalk cafes. Further, Zuri-West is where to find the hottest nightlife in the city, just in case you are looking to meet new friends that want to dance the night away.

3. Sorento, Italy

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Sorento is a coastal town located in the southwestern part of Italy. This charming town faces the Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula. Be sure to make your way to Piazzo Tasso, a central square in Sorrento that offers plenty of restaurants and shopping. Here you can try their famous Gelato, or drink a cup of delicious coffee.

Not only is there a lot to see and do in Sorento, but it’s also a popular vacation spot for Europeans. This means that you’ll hear a lot of English in both the restaurants and in the streets of Sorento which will only make traveling by yourself even easier. Further, you’ll find that it is easy to navigate around the town which will only add to a stress-free experience.

2. Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Amsterdam received the nickname “Venice of the North” because it has many beautiful canals. This charming city has something for every type of female traveler. Whether you enjoy history, are a party animal, or prefer to simply take in the scenic view, Amsterdam has it all.

According to the Global Peace Index, the Netherlands ranks in the top 20 in the world.  There is plenty to see and do in Amsterdam and you will most likely run into other solo travelers too.

1. Reykjavik, Iceland

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It has been rated as the number one safest country for women to travel to alone and Iceland has been beckoning female solo travelers for as long as it can remember. This is the ultimate travel adventure for the traveler who loves the outdoors. Think glacier hiking in the Pingvellir National Park, skiing at Blafjoll, and Viking horse riding at Thingvellir.

If you aren’t the outdoorsy type, don’t worry there is plenty for you to do here including the chance to relax and de-stress in one of the many thermal pools and spas across the city. If you’re lucky you may even get to witness the famous Aurora Borealis. This city happens to be famously expensive though and we highly suggest staying at a hostel instead of a hotel to save money. This city is notoriously safe, even at night and as a female solo traveler, make sure you put Reykjavik on your bucket list.

The Most Amazing Stained Glass in the World

It is an art form most associated with holy places, mostly Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages but stained glass can be found in so many different venues around the world. If you are lucky the sun will hit the glass just right, giving way to indescribable beauty and illumination. Stained glass windows aren’t just there for beauty but they most often tell a story, educate and inspire people. From the largest stained glass window in the world to medieval churches to modern-day takes on this art form, here are seven examples of incredible stained glass throughout our world.

7. Chapel of Thanks-Giving, Dallas, Texas

The most prominent and recognizable feature of the Thanks-Giving Square is the Chapel of Thanksgiving, thanks to the Glory Window; one of the largest horizontally mounted stained-glass pieces in the world. The chapel is a small spiral tower and the window was designed by Gabriel Loire who designed it to feature brighter colors as the spiral reaches its apex, becoming brighter as it reaches the center.

The spiral shape of the window was inspired by the spiraled shape of the chambered nautilus, a squid that lives inside a shell. The spiral is made up of 73 panels of glass and is one of the most unique stained glass features around the world. The chapel is part of a three-acre complex that also includes a garden and museum, dedicated to how Thanksgiving is celebrated around the world.

6. Erawan Museum, Bangkok

There are thousands of temples to discover in Bangkok but if you are looking for incredible stained glass, the Erawan Museum is the place to find just that. This whimsical museum is actually a sculpture of the three-headed elephant, Erawan, from the Hindu mythology and boasts an amazing stained glass ceiling. German artist Jacob Schwarzkopf was in charge of the project and took a traditional approach to the job, asking glass companies to use the ancient procedure of blowing the glass to produce the stained glass.

The stained glass is semi-abstract although it represents the story of the earth and consists of the five continents at the middle with the sun shining to provide energy to all life forms. Surrounding this is the ring of 12 zodiac signs and the human figure depicted in various gestures. Awe-inspiring to look at, don’t forget to explore the rest of this awesome museum.

5. Resurrection Cemetery, Illinois

It is here where you will find the world’s largest stained glass window, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Pickel Studio created this window that sits over 22,000 square feet of faceted glass and contains 2,448 panels. Work on this stained glass started in the 1960’s and since then over 1,000 new and exciting windows and walls of glass have been added. One of the most impressive places in the world to see such an extraordinary amount of stained glass.

Via Waymarking

4. Winchester Cathedral, England

In 1642 the cathedrals huge medieval stained glass West Window was deliberately smashed by Cromwell’s forces following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, a tragedy to the beautiful works of art. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the broken glass was actually gathered up and used again.

But this time there was no rhyme or reason to the design, the glass was placed randomly after it was determined it would be too hard to put back together. What results is a collection of colorful pieces that shine in the sunlight and tell a story of history, tragedy, and rebuilding.

Via Round Tables

3. Chicago Cultural Center, Illinois

Hundreds of thousands of visitor’s flock here each year, not just to marvel at the beautifully stained glass domes but also because of the many free public events it hosts. The landmark building is indeed home to two magnificent stained glass dome though, one that claims to be the largest stained glass Tiffany Dome in the world. In the south side of the building is that claim to fame, the Tiffany dome that stands 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass.

This dome was restored in 2008, bringing even more visitors to gaze at its beauty. The second dome is located on the north side of the building and is a whopping 40 feet in diameter and features over 50,000 pieces of glass designed in an intricate Renaissance pattern. Whether you are coming here for the free festivals, art exhibits or family events, make sure to check out these two incredible stained glass works.

Via City of Chicago

2. Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

This royal medieval Gothic chapel located in the heart of Paris boasts some of the most impressive stained glass in the world. There are a total of fifteen huge 13th-century windows that fill the nave and apse and despite some damage, are still in incredible condition. The windows are practically floor to ceiling and display a clear iconographical program.

A painstaking seven-year restoration of the windows was completed in early 2015, a process that removed centuries of dirt from the thousands of panels. It is best to visit on a sunny day when the deep blues and red stand out best, in images that depict Old Testament scenes and the Crucifixion. One does not need to be religious to appreciate this incredible artwork.

1. Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Netherlands

This building features a modern take on stained glass, according to designers the buildings façade is a screen of colored relief glass that depicts famous images from Dutch television. There are hundreds of panels of glass that represent images from all genres and eras and although difficult to see the images clearly from all angles, they can be seen more clearly from the inside. Described as cathedral-like, this is one of the most impressive modern stained glass displays out there.

The building itself is actually housed both underground and above ground, 10 stories’ in total with five of them being below the surface. Inside the building houses the national broadcasting archives which encompass over 700,000 hours of television, film, music and radio footage.

The Best Countries For Expats

As the world progresses, it has become increasingly easier to travel around the world and build a new life in a new country. It is still a huge change that can be at times, very scary! You want to make sure that where you move is safe and offers great amenities throughout the country. To make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list of locations that are great places to settle your family in for an adventure of a lifetime, with as many perks as possible.

 

1. Norway

Norway is an amazing place to settle in for a few years with the average expat salary landing at a solid $97,486. The best part is that the importance of having a good work/life balance is a huge priority so you won’t be spending hours and hours at the office.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

2. Sweden

Sweden is an amazing option for expats because of their excellent work environments. 71% of expats say the Swedish work environment is better than what they have experienced in their previous countries.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

3. Switzerland

Are you ready to make an amazing income and still have time for family? The average expat salary is a whopping $188,275 which is almost twice the global average. With a fantastic work environment and welcoming locals, how could this be a bad idea?

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

4. Ireland

You always arrive thinking you’re just there for a season…and then ten years later you realize you’ll never leave. Surrounded with the ocean and quaint old towns, the fresh air will fill your lungs with that sense that you’ve finally made it home. It also helps that their first language is English so there won’t be any language barriers – just accent barriers!

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

5. Malta

It has perfect weather. That should be enough to get you to move already but not only is there good weather, but there’s low taxes. And not only is there low taxes, but there’s great health care and a low cost of living. It’s amazing!

 

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

6. Italy

If you are looking for a breathtaking location to learn about a new way of life, while eating incredible food made by even more incredible people, Italy is for you! Live here to get cultured and expand your horizons about what you know about the world.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

7. Finland

Filled with blue skies and aquamarine waters, Finland invites you in with their affordable schooling and high quality healthcare. The general population also has a very high level of overall well being.

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8. Canada

Not to be biased here, but with everything that’s happening in the world, I’ve never been more thankful to live in Canada. Not only is it safe and welcoming, but we celebrate diversity and are generally environmentally conscious. If these attributes of Canada appeal to you, moving here will not be a mistake!

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

9. Netherlands

With a beautiful set of cities, the Netherlands invites you to cycle through these cities as a primary mode of transportation. Many English speakers live here, so you will always have someone around to help you translate Dutch if you need some help.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

10. France

France is a classic place to move to if you are looking for a change because of it’s timeless beauty and fame around the world for romance. With an average of a 35 hour work week and a 90 minute lunch break, you have yourself a well balanced lifestyle. Oh ya, and there’s also wine at every meal.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

15 Amazing Hotels Around The World For Under $100

While it is very easy to spend a lot of money when staying at a nice hotel there are some places around the world that have world class service and rooms that easily fit into any budget. With a little searching you can find hotels that offer luxury accommodations, great facilities and locations. Next time you are looking to get away for a weekend getaway, head out on a business trip or even once in a lifetime family trip, you don’t have to settle for a small room in a substandard hotel because you are afraid it might break your budget. Take some of these suggestions for amazing hotels that you can book for under $100 a night.

15. Chatrium Hotel Riverside -Bangkok, Thailand

The Chatrium Hotel Riverside is a multiple award winning hotel located adjacent to the Chao Phraya River, just 30 km from the International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. A Grand Room with a city view is under $80 and comes with a private balcony. At 60 sq. meters the room comes complete with a kitchenette and dining area, coffee and tea making facilities, bathrobe and slippers. The hotel offers a business center that includes everything necessary if you just can’t leave work behind. A 35 meter infinity pool overlooking the river with an outdoor Jacuzzi awaits along with a fully equipped fitness center. Head to the Nemita spa on the ground floor and get a relaxing massage or do pick up some items in the shops. Also on the premises is a Starbucks Coffee Shop and the Saizen Japanese Restaurant. The hotel also has facilities for meetings and weddings.

Photo by: Chatrium Hotel
Photo by: Chatrium Hotel

14. Sri Bungalows -Ubud, Bali

For under $100 you can book a suite at the Sri Bungalows. The bungalows located in Ubud Bali comes with handsomely appointed suites with a private balcony overlooking the rice terraces. The rooms are stylishly appointed and other facilities include two swimming pools, restaurant and full service spa so you can enjoy a Balinese massage. The bungalows cover two floors and are surrounded by gardens and terraces. The hotel is only a short walk to the Ubud Market and the Monkey Forest. For a relaxing stay in a tropical paradise the price is hard to beat.

Photo by: Sri Bungalows
Photo by: Sri Bungalows

13. Radisson Blu Hotel -Cebu, Philippines

Located in the second largest city in the Philippines, Cebu is a popular destination because of the proximity to beautiful beaches and laid back lifestyle. The number one rated hotel in Cebu can also be had for under $100. The Radisson Blu, located 11 kilometers from the International Airport is conveniently located near all the popular tourist sights. With rooms offering goose feather pillows and duvets the Radisson will surely please. The hotel’s restaurant, Feria, offers both à la carte options and a buffet and with five master chefs the food runs the gamut of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean and International cuisines. The hotel has a large tropical pool outside along with a fully equipped state of the art fitness center and spa. For those staying in a business class room or suite the business class lounge is open daily. The hotel also has a 180 seat lobby bar a pool bar and a tea bar serving 21 different teas from Sri Lanka, China, Japan and South Africa.

Photo by: Radisson Blu
Photo by: Radisson Blu

12. Riad Viva -Marrakech, Morocco

Located in the city center, 15 minutes from the airport, the Riad Viva Hotel offers visitors a relaxing stay in beautifully appointed rooms. The hotel offers guests a wide range of amenities including free WiFi, 24 hr. room service and airport transfers. With a combination of Moroccan style and luxurious amenities guests can be assured of a royal stay. The hotel has a pool along with a steam room and restaurant. The friendly staff can also help in arranging tours to the Ourika Valley, a Berber village, the magical city of Essaouira or point you to the best shopping in town. You can also check out the cooking classes offered by the hotel so you can learn how to use all those aromatic spices and flavors to impress your friends when you return home.

Photo by: Venere
Photo by: Venere

11. Hilton Anatole -Dallas, Texas

You don’t have to travel half way around the world to get a good hotel deal. The Hilton Anatole in Dallas offers the business traveler or visitor to the city comfortable rooms with all the amenities. A room with a King Size bed can be had for under $90 and has just about everything you need as a traveler. The hotel has a full business center and conference facilities and also offers an ATM, currency exchange, clothing store, onsite convenience store and concierge serve. Feel like getting a little exercise? Head to the Verandah Club with fully equipped fitness center, 25 meter lap pool, cross training and boxing gym or enjoy racquet ball the jogging track or basketball courts. The V Spa is the perfect place to get a relaxing massage or spa treatment. In addition to room service there are 5 dining establishments at the hotel including SĒR Steak + Spirits serving up tender steaks and fresh seafood on the 27th floor.

Photo by: Hilton Hotels
Photo by: Hilton Hotels

10. Hotel Paseo Del Arte -Madrid, Spain

Located just a 100 meters from the Atoche Train Station, the Hotel Paseo Del Arte is a 4 star hotel in the heart of Madrid. Comfortably appointed rooms are tastefully furnished and offer a panoramic view of the interior garden or the city. Complete with desk, free WiFi, flat screen TV with international channels, and marble bathroom guests are in the perfect spot to explore the city. The hotel has a fitness facility, shops, coffee shop and bar. The restaurant serves a breakfast buffet and along with regional and international cuisine. With 260 rooms the hotel is less than 15 km to the airport making it easily accessible. The hotel is located in the area known as the Arts Triangle and within walking distance to several museums, parks, shopping, restaurants and the famous Madrid nightlife.

Photo by: Hotel Paseo Del Arte
Photo by: Hotel Paseo Del Arte

9. Century Plaza Hotel and Spa -Vancouver, B.C.

The Century Plaza Hotel and Spa is a family owned and operated located in the center of downtown Vancouver. The hotel prides itself on providing the best service possible. With a business center, conference facilities and indoor pool, the Century Plaza is the perfect place for business travelers and families visiting the city. Since opening the Absolute Spa at Century Plaza Hotel 12 years ago, the Spa has received over 50 awards and is the favorite of celebrities like Zac Effron, Elle McPherson and Gwyneth Paltrow when in town. With an ozonated swimming pool, eucalyptus steam room and relaxation lounge the Spa is the perfect place to get pampered. The hotel also features the C Prime Italian Steak and Wine Restaurant. Using locally sourced meats, vegetables and seafood Chef Bruce Woods has made the restaurant one of the hottest destinations in Vancouver. A coffee shop, salon and Vancouver’s iconic comedy club The Comedy Mix are also available to guests.

Photo by: Century Plaza Hotel
Photo by: Century Plaza Hotel

8. Sana Hotel -Berlin, Germany

The Sana Hotel is a 4 star Superior Class hotel located on the west side of Berlin. With 203 rooms including suites and apartments the Sana offers a wide choice of accommodations. A double room can be booked for less than $100 and prices go up from there. Facilities include a breakfast room, restaurant serving Portuguese cuisine, two bars, terrace garden, fitness center and massage services. The F8/eight Bar & Lounge seats 50 and guests can relax with fine wines and spirits while listening to live jazz. A smoking bar also exists for those that enjoy a fine cigar. In addition to massage services the wellness area on the 7th floor offers an indoor swimming pool, sauna and Turkish bath. The Sana Hotel is also centrally located for sightseeing with the Brandenburg Gate less than 5 km. away, as well as the zoo, museums and cultural facilities being nearby.

Photo by: Sana Hotel
Photo by: Sana Hotel

7. The Signature at MGM Grand -Las Vegas, Nevada

Located just off the famed Las Vegas Strip, The Signature at MGM Grand offers an elevated level of personalized service. Luxuriously appointed suites start at just under $100 and have all the amenities you might expect in luxury hotels costing much more. With a private pool complete with personal cabana and in suite spa services to the spacious suites with granite and marble bathrooms and kitchenettes the hotel does everything possible to pamper the guests. The hotel concierge will ensure you get tickets to the best shows and hard to get restaurant reservations and has a gourmet delicatessen on the premises. Whether you are hitting the Las Vegas Strip, spending the day golfing or seeing the sights you can relax and unwind in your private suite at night and get the rock star treatment from a dedicated staff that does everything the ensure you have the ultimate Las Vegas experience.

Photo by: Signature at MGM Grand
Photo by: Signature at MGM Grand

6. Golden Tulip Amsterdam West -Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is known for offering cheap backpacker accommodations with over 180 hostels in the city. For those not wanting budget sleeping arrangements with noisy neighbors there is an alternative. Conveniently located to Schiphol Airport and the city center the Golden Tulip Amsterdam West makes exploring the city easy. With rates under $100 you can have the comfort of a spacious room with heated floors, a rain shower and free internet access. Comfortably appointed rooms have been designed to be soundproof so guests can get a good night’s sleep uninterrupted by the wild Amsterdam nightlife. The buffet restaurant seats 300 and is open for breakfast and dinner and the modern bar is a great place to relax and have a cocktail, cup of coffee or a slice of homemade pie. The tram stop is a mere 50 meters from the hotel for easy commute to the famous sights such as the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum.

Photo by: Golden Tulip Hotels
Photo by: Golden Tulip Hotels

5. Relais Spa Chessy Residence -Paris, France

Visitors to Paris know hotels and pretty much everything else can be pricey. With a little searching you can find gems such as the Relais Spa Chessy Residence near Disneyland Paris. A premium room with free WiFi, unlimited spa access and shuttle to Disney Land can be scooped up for under $100. The rooms have a small office area and a discreet kitchen with hot plate. Hotel amenities include pool, steam room, sauna, gym and spa treatments. The Franklin Bar makes for a cozy place to relax with friends for a drink while the Brasserie Flo restaurant serves up sophisticated French cuisine. The hotel staff strives to ensure each guest gets the VIP treatment.

Photo by: Realis Spa
Photo by: Realis Spa

4. Chateau Victoria -Victoria, B.C.

Sitting on the location of a former mansion the Chateau Victoria is a boutique hotel offering a touch of opulence to guests. The hotel has a colorful past due to a parrot that inherited the old mansion that previously stood there and some swear they have seen the well-dressed ghost of Victoria Jane, the previous mansion owner, roaming the halls. Whether you see a ghost or not one thing you can be assured of. The hotel goes out of the way to make to feel comfortable and the rooms complete with free WiFi and big comfortable beds await the tired traveler. The hotel’s Vista 18 restaurant offers regional cuisine and has an extensive wine list. The hotel bar, Clive’s Classic Lounge, has been listed as one of the top hotel bars by several publications. The hotel offers in room spa treatments and massages and the hotel has a lap pool, hot tub and fitness center.

Photo by: Trip Advisor
Photo by: Trip Advisor

3. Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba -Tokyo, Japan

While Tokyo has its share of pod hotels, where you get to sleep in what resembles a submarine torpedo tube, there are other options. One such option is the Grand Nikko Tokyo Diaba Hotel, a 5 star resort located just 20 minutes from Haneda International airport on 15 minutes from downtown Tokyo. A superior Double room can be booked for under $100 during the week and the hotel comes with such amenities as an outdoor terraced swimming pool with fantastic views of Tokyo, a wellness salon, acupuncture center and has a medical clinic on the premises. The hotel fitness center is fully equipped and has trainers on staff and the hotel has several shops on site. There are eight restaurants at the resort including sushi, Chinese and Italian and the Ruy Lopez Bar stocks liquor from around the world along with fine cigars.

Photo by: Jalan
Photo by: Jalan

2. Lancaster House -Bogota, Colombia

Lancaster House in Bogota Colombia is a boutique hotel designed in the art deco style. The 4 star hotel has two bars, restaurant, gym and sauna. Gatsby Restaurant serves traditional Colombian and International food while the more relaxed Bistro 106 is a great place to relax and get a lighter meal or dessert. Relax in the piano bar with a game of billiards or a cocktail before heading up to your luxurious room. The Junior Suite comes equipped with a living and dining area, work space and kitchen. The hotel also offers a mobile spa service so guests can book a massage or just relax in the sauna. Located in an upscale neighborhood close to embassies and near the major shopping areas the Lancaster is centrally located for easy access to all the city has to offer.

Photo by: Lancaster House
Photo by: Lancaster House

1. Kaani Village and Spa -Maldives

The Kaani Village and Spa located in the beautiful Maldives offers guests a pampered option to staying at a discounted beach hotel. With a Double Deluxe room overlooking the pool that comes with a breakfast included the hotel makes a perfect base to enjoy the island. The Sampa Spa at the hotel offers tradition Thai massage as well as aroma massages performed by two masseuses at once. The hotel has a pool and restaurant and the hotel staff can arrange activities such as fishing, dolphin watching, scuba diving, snorkeling or an island tour complete with picnic. Rated number 3 out of 40 small boutique hotels by TripAdvisor the Kaani Village and Spa does everything possible to pamper guests and make your stay memorable.

Photo by: Kaani Village & Spa
Photo by: Kaani Village & Spa

10 of the World’s Most Unusual Accommodations

There are traditional hotels the world over, from inexpensive motels to five-star luxury resorts offering a spread of classic services. For some, a clean room, comfortable bed, and a few valuable services are ideal but for those with a wild side and a definitive sense of adventure, something more unexampled is in the cards. Thankfully innovative hoteliers have come out of the woodwork to share their unusual–and sometimes even bizarre–hotel concepts. From Brazilian treetop rooms to a hotel made entirely of salt, here are ten of the world’s most interesting and unusual accommodations.

10. Propeller Island City Lodge, Germany

Berlin’s Propeller Island City Lodge is a visual masterpiece and a hotel unlike any other. Lars Stroschen, a renowned German artist, has designed a hotel-meets-museum backdrop with 30 one-of-a-kind rooms spanning from tame to incredibly dramatic. From a room with beds crafted from lion’s cages to one with a padded cell and another with a sloping floor called Mineshaft, these rooms are anything but conventional. The living work of art is nothing short of incredibly creativity–an inspiring feat for any visitor. The hotel is situated in fairly incognito postwar area block mostly comprising flats and accessible to exploring Berlin’s most significant destinations. A truly standout hotel, Propeller Island City Lodge is imagination coming to life from the head of an extremely innovative mind. If possible, ask for a multi-room stay to get real a feel for the breadth of the rooms.

Photo by: Mercury Press / Caters News
Photo by: Mercury Press / Caters News

9. The Dog Bark Park Inn, Idaho

About as unconventional as it gets when it comes to hotels, The Dog Bark Park Inns in Idaho is an immediate attraction for dog-lovers, even those just driving by. Chainsaw artists own the Beagle-shaped hotel, which stands at 12 feet and sleeps four. The second-story deck is the entryway and portal to the interior body, reached via a large sliding door and near (surprise) a giant fire hydrant. The Dog Bark Park Inns is on the grounds of Dog Bark Park where visitors can browse folk-art chainsaw sculptures including dogs, moose, bear, and fish throughout the grounds and explore the husband and wife’s art studio. The artists in residence, Dennis and Frances Sullivan, are each self-taught in chainsaw art methods and have created more than 60 different breeds of dogs. The property of pet-friendly of course!

Photo by: Frances Conklin via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Frances Conklin via Wikimedia Commons

8. V8 Hotel, Germany

In Stuttgart, Germany, in the area’s Motorworld Region (an international hub for car traders), the four-star V8 hotel has been attracting auto lovers from all around the world. Classic modernism is the style used throughout the hotel, where racing paraphernalia,  and even a drive-thru cinema, are key players. Ten car-theme suites are offered here, with beds designed in the shape of various cars, from modern to sporty and vintage to classic. Book early and choose from suite themes like a car wash or automotive garage. Sleep in a classic Mercedes, VW Bug, or Morris Minor. Each room is designed with dedicated car enthusiasts in mind and features a host of unique props like car-shaped soaps and faux gas pumps. The historic airport terminal was once a docking station for the 1920s Graf Zeppelin flights and home to the ME-109 squadron fighter during WWII.

Photo by: V8 Hotel
Photo by: V8 Hotel

7. Hotel Marqués De Riscal, Spain

In Elciego, Spain southwest of Pamplona is one of Canadian architect Frank Gehry’s most unusual endeavors, Hotel Marqués De Riscal. Situated in one of the country’s prominent Rioja wine regions, the avant-garde hotel is similar in style to Gehry’s other revered projects including the Bilbao Guggenheim: a mammoth structure with colossal metal ribbons implemented on the exterior creating dramatic contrast between nature and modern design. The ornate structure overlooks the surrounding vineyard, appearing as a whimsical creation from afar. Belonging to world-famous Starwood Hotels group, Hotel Marqués De Riscal is available for those with thicker wallets but worth the cost for the onsite Michelin-starred chef, luxurious Spa Caudalie Marqués de Riscal, and exquisite wine selection. Certainly one of the most unique looking hotels, it’s the exterior that shines while rooms really only stand out for their massive, slanted picture windows fringing sweeping terraces.

Photo by: Hotel Marques de Riscal
Photo by: Hotel Marques de Riscal

6. El Cosmico, Texas

Anyone with nomadic tendencies–or simply a love for unique experiences–will admire 21-acre El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas. Rather than one building, El Cosmico features a variety of shelters for guests including Aboriginal-style tepees, tent campsites, scout and vintage trailers, Mongolian yurts, and safari tents. Though it all sounds rather slapstick, design is an integral part of the shelters which are based in the high plains Texan desert. Communal spaces include an outdoor kitchen, outdoor stage, a hammock grove, and a community lounge. The owner, Liz Lambert, encourages guests to liberate themselves from modern world constructs and build on the unique theme: El Cosmico offers several ways to become truly involved in the concept of creativity with cooking and art classes, onsite building projects, song-writing classes, and more. Bikes for exploring the desert area and wood-fire hot tubs are also available at El Cosmico.

Photo by: El Cosmico via Facebook
Photo by: El Cosmico via Facebook

5. Quinta Real Zacatecas, Mexico

Get in the ring without the bull at Quinta Real Zacatecas, the 17th century San Pedro bullring painstakingly transformed into a luxury hotel. In 1975, the bullring hosted its final run and stood stagnant for years. Snapped up by Quinta Real hotel group, it was extensively renovated while maintaining the original colonial architecture. One of the details of the hotel design is the bullpens: the bullpen wall was integrated into the hotel’s restaurant as part of the main bar. But the most impressive parts are the grounds. The entire bullring floor, now called the plaza, is still intact, and the hotel faces an ancient viaduct–both are near the Mexican capital of Zacatecas, sitting on the edge of a rocky cliff side alongside the hills of the Cerro de la Bufa and lying almost 9,000 feet above sea level just five minutes outside of the city.

Photo by: Quinta Real
Photo by: Quinta Real

4. Inntel Amsterdam Zaandamn, Netherlands

Stacking houses to create one seamless building is an unconventional but creative way to build a hotel. The fairytale-esque Inntel Amsterdam Zaandamn is made from 70 individual houses put together like puzzle from both townhouses and cottages typical to the local Zaan area. The hotel, just 12 minutes by train to Amsterdam, is a sight to behold–each of the house are brightly painted in various colors which makes each individual house stand out accentuates the puzzle-like construction. The house colors, each a shade of vibrant green, are traditional colors of region. The inspiration for each of the rooms comes from local history and each is modern with clean lines and interesting features such as giant wall murals.  Guests have access to onsite amenities including a Finnish sauna, Turkish steam bath and a pool with adjacent spa. This is modern-day comfort meeting tradition head on.

Photo by: Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam via Facebook
Photo by: Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam via Facebook

3. Capsulevalue Kanda, Japan

In Japan, capsule hotels are a popular concept and one that works quite well with the country’s high population and very limited space. Stacked on top of each other and side by side to maximize on space, the capsules are exactly as they sound, tiny spaces perfect for one person and a few items. The capsule hotel concept has become so popular in fact that sleeping pods will also be introduced in Helsinki airports. Basic and cheap, the Capsule value Kana in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi area is a popular stopover for both tourists and businessmen looking for inexpensive accommodations who don’t require a host of services traditionally offered by hotels. The entrance to each capsule opens to enter and can be closed up to create private quarters. Communal washroom and baggage storage is also available. Capsulevalue Kanda also offers TVs, alarms, and free WiFi along with a business lounge.

Photo by: Agoda
Photo by: Agoda

2. Ariau Amazon Towers, Brazil

Far west of Fortaleza along the Rio Negro riverbanks in Manaus, Brazil is Ariau Amazon Towers, an eco-retreat high in the treetops where guests wake to the sounds of songbirds and the calls of primates. Visitors can stay in a dense jungle paradise and enjoy animal sights and encounters of all kinds. Tucked into the lush canopy, several circular buildings are incorporated into the tree-top level high above the river. Within this high-reaching resort, there are bars, restaurants, a swimming pool, and almost ten kilometers of wooden walkways skimming along the tree canopies through thick forest canopies. Each and every room includes a balcony affording incredible jungle panoramas and the perfect place to hear the call of the wild. This treetop wonder is one-of-a-kind, built by Dr. Francisco Ritta Bernardino in 1987–his inspiration was Jacques Cousteau, the famous oceanographer, a staunch Amazon River preservationist.

Photo by: Ariau Amazon Towers via Travel + Leisure
Photo by: Ariau Amazon Towers via Travel + Leisure

1. Palacio de Sal, Bolivia

At more than 10,000 square kilometers, Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats are the largest in the world so where better to build a hotel made entirely of salt?  The entire hotel and most of its furnishings are constructed from salt. The magical, natural space is on the majestic banks of the Salar de Uyuni, less than 30 kilometers from its namesake town, and in complete harmony with the surrounding landscape. Some might think a hotel built of salt would be more of a rustic experience but that couldn’t be farther from the truth: Palacio de Sal’s single and double rooms include central heating, hot and cold running water, and private baths. Each exhibits an igloo-shaped ceiling and simple, modern furniture and several spectacular common areas with fantastic outdoor views. A broad lobby, bar, central heat, and a complete electrical system throughout 30 rooms are offered.

Photo by: Palacio de Sal
Photo by: Palacio de Sal

The Top 8 Pet-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Europe

For many people, pets are more than just a companion—they’re like family. That means many of us like to travel with our pets. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same opinion of our four-legged friends and, in many places, you’ll find that Fido isn’t welcome to join you. Things are a bit a different in Europe: many countries are incredibly pet-friendly, which makes them perfect destinations for pet lovers from around the world. Here are 8 pet-friendly stops in Europe.

8. Norway

The Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark and Norway tend to get a bad rap with travelers who want to bring their pets with them on holiday; these 3 Northern European countries are considerably less pet-friendly than other European countries. Still, that doesn’t mean pets are never welcome. A good example is Norway’s famed fjords, which you can tour via cruise liner. Your dog is more than welcome to join you on the trip and will be treated as a guest too. Oslo, Norway’s capital, has many pet-friendly hotels, so finding accommodations for you and Fido shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. Norway also has plenty of open space, meaning travelers and their dogs can get their daily exercise. Shops, restaurants and public transit pose more of a challenge to four-legged travelers, who may not be welcome inside most establishments.

dogs in Norway

7. United Kingdom

With the introduction of the (PETS), the United Kingdom has become an even friendlier destination for you and your four-legged friend. More and more visitors are bringing their pets with them on holiday, most notably those from other EU countries; cats and dogs arriving from North America and other places are still required to enter quarantine on arrival. Once quarantine is over, however, the U.K. opens up to four-legged travelers. The National Rail system allows dogs of all sizes, provided they’re leashed, which means you can travel anywhere you want, whether it’s Cornwall in the south or north to the Scottish Highlands. The British Isles also offer plenty of green space with lots of national parks to visit, which makes for ideal dog-walking conditions. Pet-friendly accommodations are available throughout the U.K.

puppy on a train

6. Ireland

Some parts of Ireland are pet-friendly, while other parts are not so friendly toward four-legged travel companions. Dublin is often considered very pet-friendly, and many restaurants and cafes are quite happy to have your pup accompany you on outdoor terraces and patios, provided that they’re leashed. Hotels and other accommodations are often pet-friendly as well, although you want to call ahead and ensure that Fido is welcome. While dogs are often unwelcome on walking trails, particularly because they cut through sheep country, a few trails welcome leashed dogs: Killarney National Park admits four-legged friends, as do some of the trails in the Wicklow Mountains (although not the Wicklow Way). Your best bet in Ireland is to take a cottage vacation—a popular option with pet owners, since you’ll be in the countryside.

killarney national park with dog

5. Netherlands

The Netherlands are perhaps most famous for being incredibly cyclist-friendly, but Dutch cities like Amsterdam are also rather pet-friendly. Much like other parts of Europe, many restaurants are pet-friendly, often allowing diners to bring their leashed pet with them to outdoor dining areas. Hotels are often pet-friendly, and shops may allow dogs inside (although it’s best to ask). Amsterdam in particular recommends itself as a great pet-friendly destination for those traveling with dogs, thanks to plentiful parks. Vondelpark, the largest and best-known in the city, is a great location, while Oosterpark is divided into 2 zones: a children’s zone that is dog-free and the other where dogs are welcome. This park is well-known to the locals and is becoming more popular with tourists traveling with their pooches.

dog and windmill

4. Switzerland

Think of Switzerland and you’ll probably think of Bernese mountain dogs and St. Bernards bounding through the snow to rescue stranded skiers in the Alps. Given dogs’ importance, it should be little surprise that the Swiss are fond of dogs—and of four-legged travelers. Most restaurants are more than happy to welcome you and your furry dining companion (even if Fido won’t be ordering off the menu). Like other places in Europe, dogs are also welcome in most shops and hotels, although you might call ahead to ask about specific pet policies. Public transit is also pet-friendly; all cats and dogs are allowed on trains, although you’ll often need to purchase a half-price, second-class fare for animal companions. Smaller animals may be required to sit in a purse or basket for travel—but it’s still better than boxing your friend up in a carrier.

dog in engadine switzerland

3. Italy

Italians love their furry friends and most of the time, you’ll be able to bring your dog with you into stores, hotels and even restaurant dining areas. Northern Italy is usually considered to be more dog-friendly than the south, but Rome is also cited as one of the most dog-friendly destinations in Europe. Yes, even in a big tourist center, dogs are more than welcome. Public transit also welcomes furry travelers, often without a carrier, although a muzzle may be required during your ride. Some places may also ask you to purchase a fare for your four-legged travel companion—although often at a discount of 50% or more. Most hotels will welcome pets, although some charge extra fees. Good practice is to call ahead to to a restaurant or hotel before you make your reservations.

cat in Italy

2. Germany

While Germany isn’t the most pet-friendly place in Europe, the country is pretty friendly toward your four-legged friends. Much like other parts of Europe, pets are welcome on public transit, so long as they are on a leash; a muzzle may be required, but there’s no reason to put your pup in a carrier. Small dogs are often welcome in the dining areas of restaurants, although larger breeds may not be as welcome. Dogs are often welcome in shops as well, and you can expect most accommodations to be pet-friendly. Of course, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and ensure that Fido will be welcome—and to suss out if there’s any additional fees for having him tag along with you to dinner or to your hotel.

dog at octoberfest

1. France

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Paris and lunch at a bistro, but can’t bear the thought of leaving Fido out of the experience, don’t fret. France is consistently rated as the most pet-friendly country in all of Europe—and that’s saying something, considering how pet-friendly most European countries are. Dogs are more commonly permitted into dining areas than not; in fact, it would be strange to see an owner leave their dog outside while they went into a shop or restaurant. As a result, many hotels are pet-friendly, as are other establishments. If you plan to travel about, public transit is also pet-friendly, allowing you to take your pet with you on the train, often on a leash rather than in a carrier. So go ahead and make your dream trip to France a whole-family affair!

yorkie at paris cafe

The Best Places To Spend New Year’s Eve in Europe

New Year’s Eve is a time most of us look forward to putting the old year behind us and starting with a fresh slate in the new year. Many people believe that how we ring in the new year also has bearing on what the year will bring us. For travelers, what could be better than celebrating with friends new and old in a far-flung locale, experiencing local traditions and creating new ones? These 10 European cities know how to ring in the new year; get your year started on the right foot by visiting one of these parties.

10. London

More than 250,000 people will crowd along the banks of the Thames to ring in the new year. Big Ben performs countdown services and the stroke of midnight marks the beginning a spectacular 10-minute display of lights and fireworks. The London Eye, the Shard and Parliament are among the iconic buildings lit up to welcome the new year. Looking to stay out of the cold and rain? Head to the soiree at the London Sky Bar, where you’ll find food and a live DJ, plus fabulous views of the revelry in the streets below. Free public transport all night will help get you to one of many after-parties around the city. Visit the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and, on New Year’s Day, take in the annual parade, which features a procession of the Queen’s horses, among others.

London New Years Eve

9. Dubrovnik

Croatia may not be a top destination for New Year’s revelers, but the city of Dubrovnik gets extra points for managing to host an almost intimate party, despite the number of people who come out to celebrate. Less claustrophobic than parties in Zagreb and Split, the festivities in Dubrovnik center on Stradun, the city’s main street, where you’re likely to bump elbows with locals on their way to bars and restaurants filled to bursting with celebrating crowds. The city also hosts a number of Croatian performers, offering up a rich program of music and entertainment for the evening. Start with a cozy meal with friends or family, or, if you’re traveling with your honey, consider splurging on a meal at one of the city’s upscale establishments. Join the crowds in Stradun for the stroke of midnight, then keep the party going by stopping off at a local bar.

Photo by: Eventfully Croatia
Photo by: Eventfully Croatia

8. Stockholm

The Swedes celebrate Christmas in a relatively subdued style, which means they’re all the more ready to let loose and party on New Year’s Eve. Revelry is the order of the day in the nation’s capital, with parties becoming raucous and celebrations pouring into the streets. Fill up on a seafood at a restaurant before moving your party to Skansen, which has been the center of Stockholm’s celebrations since 1895. At the stroke of midnight, a well-known Swede will read the poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” as streamers fill the air. Party trumpets and fireworks erupt all around the city. After midnight, participate in some club-hopping and keep the party going late into the night; bars and clubs are often open until 3 or 4 in the morning, giving you plenty of time to celebrate the new year.

Stockholm New Years Eve

7. Paris

It should be little wonder that one of Europe’s most iconic cities makes the list as one of the best places to spend New Year’s. The Eiffel Tower is lit up to mark the occasion and crowds of revelers swarm the Champs-Elysees, which provides fantastic views of the tower. The area turns into a massive street party, with both champagne bottles and fireworks popping everywhere. If you’re looking for something a little different, try Montmarte for excellent views of fireworks without the crowd. If you want something romantic, book a dinner cruise along the Seine and listen to a live orchestra as you sail through the City of Lights. Restaurants and nightclubs also hold soirees so you have no shortage of options for how to ring in the new year. On New Year’s Day, the Grande Parade de Paris caps off the celebrations.

Paris New Years Eve

6. Vienna

Vienna, once the center of empire and a beautiful city beloved by intellectuals and artists, is perhaps the best place in Europe to experience an “Old World” New Year’s celebration. The city’s most famous party is the Grand Ball held at the Hofburg Palace, but there are plenty of other opportunities for revelry in the Austrian capital. The city’s famous Christmas markets transform into fairs and the New Year’s Eve Trail will lead you through the Old City. The party begins at 2 in the afternoon and continues long after the clock has struck midnight. Mulled wine is the drink of choice for this crowd. A spectacular fireworks display highlights the Wiener Prater fair at midnight. On New Year’s Day, join the crowd gathered outside City Hall to watch the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s concert on a giant screen.

Photo by: Room Suggestion
Photo by: Room Suggestion

5. Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known as something of a party city for North Americans, and on New Year’s Eve, the city shows that it deserves that reputation, with impromptu street parties filling the spaces between large, organized revelry in public places like Rembrandtplein, Nieumarkt, Museumplein and Dam Square. Outdoor concerts are complemented by indoor parties at bars. Fireworks go on sale the day before the celebrations, so you can be sure to see plenty of displays. Grab a perch on one of the city’s many bridges and watch the colors explode across the nighttime sky, mirrored in the water below. Grab a glass of champagne and some fried treats (like oliebollen, viamse frites and bitterballen) from the street vendors, then head to the club to keep the party going.

Photo by: Amsterdam
Photo by: Amsterdam

4. Reykjavik

Reykjavik receives only 4 hours of sun on New Year’s Eve, which means the locals are more than ready to celebrate with a festival of light. They start with community bonfires, meant to burn away the troubles of the old year. There are no official fireworks displays organized by the city; rather, there are numerous displays put on by private citizens. Fireworks will often start about half-an-hour before midnight, lighting up every corner of the city as almost 200,000 people get involved. Head to Perlan or Landakotskirkja church for the best views of the city. Plenty of small, private parties keep things hopping, and bars and clubs remain open well after midnight. Since Icelanders tend to go out late anyway, you’ll often find revelers up until the wee hours of the morning, dancing the night away.

Photo by: Guide to Iceland
Photo by: Guide to Iceland

3. Istanbul

Istanbul has been on the rise as a must-see destination for travelers, and what better time than New Year’s? While visiting this vibrant European capital is an experience and a half at any time of year, Istanbul one-ups itself on New Year’s Eve. Start your evening with a traditional Turkish meze dinner in a restaurant in Bebek or Istiklal Caddesi, where celebrations are a little tamer. Afterwards, join the jubilant crowd in the streets of Taksim or another part of the city, where revelers will organize impromptu street parties. If the crowded streets aren’t your scene, you can always book a river cruise along the Bosphorus and watch the celebrations from afar as you sail through the city. The best part is that you’ll have one of the best views for the stunning fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

Istanbul new years eve

2. Prague

Prague is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and one of the most beautiful in the world. The “city of a hundred spires” comes alive on New Year’s Eve, which is also known as Silvestr. The streets will be packed with a rag-tag crowd of revelers, and bars, clubs and restaurants will be filled with party-goers. Much of the fun takes place at Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square. Fireworks are set off all around town (and perhaps with a bit of dangerous abandon), with one of the best displays occurring at Letna Gardens, which can be watched from nearby bridges and embankments. Champagne bottles are smashed during the celebrations, which means you might want to bring a helmet to this party, but who could resist ringing in the new year in the heart of Europe?

Prague New Years Eve

1. Berlin

Germany’s capital has something of a reputation as a party city throughout the year, so it makes sense that the city has a go-big-or-go-home attitude toward New Year’s festivities. The highlight is undoubtedly “Party Mile,” a 2-km stretch between Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, lined with bars, food stalls, music stages, party tents and laser light shows. The fireworks begin promptly at midnight, as do the toasts to the new year. Many people then hit the dancefloors of the city’s clubs, partying until well after sun-up. The Berliner Silversterlauf, the infamous New Year’s Eve “pancake run,” is another tradition in the city. Some people run the free 4-km race on New Year’s Day. Berlin expects to welcome approximately a million revelers to help ring in 2016—maybe you’ll be one of them.

Berlin New Years Eve

 

10 Tiny Towns Around the World

Get ready to channel your inner King Kong in these tiny replicas of major metropolises from around the world. People might be easily amused, but who can resist the fascinating perspective that comes from a microcosmic view of the most famous cities in the world? From the Madurodam in The Netherlands to the impressive Mini Europe in Belgium, discover the miniature towns built by model aficionados in a labor of love.

10. Madurodam, Netherlands

For a miniature sized tour of the highlights of Holland, head to Madurodam, a tiny Dutch style replica of the country’s most notable historical landmarks. Located in the Scheveningen district of The Hague, the tiny city opened in 1952 as a model replica at a scale of 1:25. Discover the cherished relics of Holland, all within steps of each other. At the City Centre, visitors can see on a small scale how the major cities of The Netherlands have evolved over the centuries, particularly during the Renaissance of the 16th century and the dramatic changes following the Second World War. They also have interactive exhibitions where you’ll have the chance to enter the tiny world of a lock keep or dyke guard. Some even let you operate a traditional watermill in Water World, a fascinating model of Holland’s canal and dyke systems.

miropink / Shutterstock.com
miropink / Shutterstock.com

9. Bekonscot Model Village, England

In a remarkable preservation of rural England in the 1930s, get ready to enter the mini wonderland of Bekonscot Model Village in Beaconsfield, England. Built by Roland Callingham in his backyard, the tiny town has been open to visitors since 1929. For 80 years, people have been getting wonderfully lost in this little world filled with lakes, harbors, and working trains. Over the years, Bekonscot has been expanded and restored, making it a real-life depiction of the English countryside, complete with well-manicured garden hedges and blossoming flowers. Its most recent addition is 10 scale miles of railroad that connects the mini people to all corners of the town. Get ready to channel your inner child for a unique afternoon of tiny delights.

Photo by: Bekonscot Model Village & Railway
Photo by: Bekonscot Model Village & Railway

8. Miniatur Wunderland, Germany

Head to Hamburg, Germany to witness the world’s largest railway exhibition in the world, a tiny airport with simulation of take off and landing, and Europe’s top destinations. At Miniature Wunderland, visitors can get lost in a tiny dream world depicting the most beautiful areas on the continent, including the German villages of Knuffingen and Harz, a model of the Swiss Alps, the city center of Austria, and exhibitions of Scandinavia and Hamburg. The mini theme park is also expanding, so you’ll get a chance to see the open workshops filled with craftsman hard at work building the next tiny city. Next on the list of projects are Italy, France, and modern updates to the airport in the middle of the Swiss Alps. When it comes to the best of Europe, you’ll get to witness the mini version of the most beloved regions.

Photo by: Miniatur Wunderland
Photo by: Miniatur Wunderland

7. Wimborne Model Town, England

One the edge of Wimborne in Dorset, England, you’ll find a tiny world depicting the historic market town of Wimborne Minster exactly as it was during the 1950s. Built at a 1:10 scale, get ready to witness mini baker shops, old churches, and a model railway based on the popular Thomas the Tank Engine. One of the oldest and largest miniature towns in England, the mini world of Wimborne is a fascinating wonderland that preserves a piece of history in each concrete-made replica. The tiny-themed park includes 120 buildings, including 108 shop windows filled with post-war goods that were being sold at the time. In the 1980s, the park fell into disrepair, but luckily it was saved by a group of volunteers who restored it, turning it back into a major tourist attraction.

Photo by: Wimborne Model Town
Photo by: Wimborne Model Town

6. Tiny Town, United States

Tucked away in the foothills west of Denver is Tiny Town, a historic model village depicting a typical old-fashioned mountain town. What began as a project for his daughter in 1915 evolved into George Turner’s masterpiece that would eventually be known as Tiny Town. Since then it has expanded into a magical mini wonderland filled with kid-sized buildings, including a grocery store, barbershop, and bank. Over the years, the owners have added lakes and their impressive replica of Rio Grande F7 train, an engineering masterpiece that runs on diesel. People travel from all over for a chance to ride the tiny train, a favorite afternoon activities for kids. But even if you’re too big to ride the little train, you can easily channel your inner child and explore the intricate models and details of one of America’s tiniest and most historic model towns.

Photo by: Tiny Town & Railroad
Photo by: Tiny Town & Railroad

5. Mini Mundi, Netherlands

For Dutch charm of the tiny variety, head to Mini Mundi in Middleburg, The Netherlands, a mini replica of the historical landmarks of the Old World village of Walcheren. With your giant strides, get ready to witness the 16th century windmills, little cottages, and medieval churches of Holland’s ancient town. When the Queen commissioned it in the 1950s, it was only meant to be open for a few months, but because of its popularity, Walcheren is now a major tourist destination, especially among model architecture enthusiasts. The tiny harbor is also a delight with its 30 boats floating in the harbor and populated with little fisherman in a mini, Dutch-style fantasyland. It might be kid-sized, but people of all ages can marvel at the strikingly accurate buildings modeled at a scale of 1:20, including the Town Hall, Lange Jan abbey tower, and Vlissingen Boulevard.

Photo by: Mini Mundi
Photo by: Mini Mundi

4. Mini Siam, Thailand

In the tiny world of Mini Siam in Pattaya, Thailand, visitors can relish in the realistic replicas of the country’s most cherished landmarks. Built at a 1:25 scale, the theme park features Wat Phra Kaeo, a stunning model of the historic 18th century palace that houses the Emerald Buddha in its Royal Chapel, the most sacred Buddhist symbol. You’ll also get an up close look at a tiny version of the Panomrang Stone Temple, which is a real-life ancient relic built on an extinct volcano. You’ll also get to witness the miniature Anantasmakom Hall in the Dusit Palace of Bankok, which was built in 1915 under the rule of King Rama VI. Mini Siam also has modern replicas like the Rama IX cable-stayed bridge that spans the Chao Phraya River. It might be tiny, but it will also be marvelous.

sarayuth3390 / Shutterstock.com
sarayuth3390 / Shutterstock.com

3. Miniaturk, Turkey

Although it has only been in the tiny world scene since 2003, Miniaturk in Istanbul, Turkey is a must-see on any mini city tour. With 160,000 square feet of tiny marvels, it’s one of the biggest tiny towns in the world, including over 100 historical landmarks and notable ancient ruins. In one afternoon, visitors will have the chance to discover the mini version of Turkey’s rich historical and cultural tapestry that is literally within arms reach. Located on the coast of Golden Horn, explore the replicas of Hagia Sophia, Mount Nemrud, and the ancient ruins of Ephesus, among the other notable structures. The newest addition to the mini world is Bosphorus Bridge, the 1970s suspension bridge connecting Europe and Asia. The park also contains hundreds of replicas from the Ottoman, Anatolia, and Istanbul territories that have survived over the centuries.

Serg Zastavkin / Shutterstock.com
Serg Zastavkin / Shutterstock.com

2. Le Petit-Paris, France

The mini town of Le Petit-Paris is a remarkable one-man feat and a two-decade labor of love for model aficionado and craftsman Gerard Brion. Built in his backyard, the miniature model of Paris is quite impressive. It might take weeks to explore the real Paris, but here you can see all the highlights of the City of Lights within a few steps of each other. Amazingly, the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and grand boulevards look almost like the real thing but are made from repurposed materials and random junk. At night the city lights up with hundreds of little lights, just like the real Paris in this magical mini land depicting France’s beloved metropolis. It even has a scaled down model of Notre Dame in all its miniature Gothic splendor.

Photo by: Le Petit-Paris
Photo by: Le Petit-Paris

1. Mini Europe, Belgium

Of all the mini replicas of Europe, the most impressive is Mini Europe in Belgium. What started out as a research and education project in 1985 has evolved into a miniature world filled with the best of Europe. At a scale of 1:25, the theme park contains over 80 cities and 350 buildings that span the far reaches of Europe, including the Palace of Versailles, the clock tower of Big Ben, and the ancient churches of Venice. In one afternoon, visitors can also witness the miniature versions of major historical events like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and traditional bullfights in Seville. When it comes to famous landmarks of Europe, this tiny-themed park covers all the hotspots of the continent. On such a small scale, you’ll be able to see all the important landmarks just outside of Brussels.

Lisa A / Shutterstock.com
Lisa A / Shutterstock.com

The Artist’s Guide to Amsterdam: 10 Best Spots for Landscapes

https://www.escapehere.com/destination/the-most-strikingly-beautiful-hiking-trails-on-the-english-countryside/

With its well-preserved 17th century architecture and intricate system of canals, Amsterdam is an artist’s dream, especially among landscape artists. On a sunny day in the spring or summer, it is typical to find inspired artists covered in paint and with an easel set up near the railing on one of the many historic bridges and pathways. Holland might have notoriously brutal winters, but when the seasons change, the city comes to life with blue skies and sunny afternoons, the perfect backdrop for creating lovely landscapes.

10. Dam Square

For centuries, Dam Square has been the center of Amsterdam and a famous, cherished relic dating back to medieval times. Originally built in the 13th century, the square near the train station still retains its old world glory. The only difference is the mopeds and cars zipping around. Over the years, the square has gone through a series of interesting changes, making it layered in a rich history, particularly with artists. During Holland’s Golden Age in the 16th century, Amsterdam flourished, especially among landscape artists like Gerrit Adriaenz and his famous painting, “Dam Square Amsterdam.” Find a comfortable spot at one of outdoor cafes for a glorious view of the New Church, an impressive Gothic structure with ornate detailing, and the Beurs van Berlage, a former stock exchange building established in 1903. Another inspiring structure for artists to capture is the Royal Palace nearby, the grand crown jewel of Holland.

photosmatic / Shutterstock.com
photosmatic / Shutterstock.com

9. Reguliersgracht

With seven bridges crossing this tranquil canal, the scene at Reguliersgracht is quintessentially Amsterdam, which is perfect for Dutch-inspired landscapes, photographs, or sketches. Set up your easel and paints on one of the bridges to capture the old 16th and 17th century town homes, cafes, and the historic Seven Bridges Hotel lining the river Amstel. Artists can revel in the beautiful, ancient surroundings like the Gothic cathedral towering over the neighborhood and the famous Carre theatre façade. For traditional Dutch street scenes, Reguliersgracht is a favorite among artists, especially on a sunny day when the big skies, bright sunlight, and blooming flowers are at their peak. Artists have the chance to capture the reflections off the water, the ancient drawbridges, and quaint sidewalk cafes of one of Amsterdam’s loveliest streets. Dutch artist George Hendrick Breitner, a notable impressionist painter, often came here for inspiration.

Birute Vijeikiene / Shutterstock.com
Birute Vijeikiene / Shutterstock.com

8. Rijksmuseum Building

For artists interested in depicting the impressive Victorian Gothic style architecture, head to Rijksmuseum located on Museumplein at Stadhouderskade. Before setting up your art supplies on the lawn outside of the building, it’s worth a trip inside the museum to see up close the famous Dutch artists from the 16th century as well as the 19th century impressionists. A must-see for any serious artist is Rembrandt’s “Night Watch,” plus several paintings by Vermeer, a notable Dutch artist who was known for paintings portraying domestic interior scenes of the wealthy merchant class. After studying the artists that revolutionized art and fostering your imagination, you’ll be ready to paint or sketch to your heart’s delight. The building looks dazzling at night with the hundreds of lights reflecting off the beautiful garden pond. One of the oldest depictions of the building was an engraving by Isaac de Moucheron that dates back to 1697.

pavel dudek / Shutterstock.com
pavel dudek / Shutterstock.com

7. Bloemgracht

For landscape artists, a painting or sketching session is a must at Bloemgracht, the Flower Canal. Lined with old-fashioned houseboats, 16th and 17th century town homes, and vintage bikes leaning against historic bridges, you’ll have the chance to bring a canvas or sketch pad to life with the vibrant colors of a typical Amsterdam street on a sunny day when the flowers are in full bloom. The canal is named after the red geraniums that hang from wrought iron railings on the bridges. The canal is the perfect spot to depict the light reflection off the water and bright colors of a city at the height of spring. Situated in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, the neighborhood was home to Rembrandt, who moved here for the low rents. Just around the corner is Rozengracht (Rose Canal) and the same path that the famous Dutch painter took daily to his studio.

Bloemgracht Amsterdam

6. Torensluis Bridge

Another lovely bridge for city street scenes is the Torensluis Bridge, the oldest bridge still in its original state. Built in 1648 at the peak of Holland’s Golden Age, the bridge was once part of a moat circling Amsterdam. If you look closely, you’ll find barred windows under the bridge, which are relics from the former prison once housed underneath. From the bridge, artists can get a view of the old town homes, sidewalk cafes, and the Gothic cathedral overlooking the Singel Canal. Amsterdam is filled with old bridges, but Torensluis is a particular favorite with its striking ancient white stone and wrought iron railing. As a city full of impressive remnants from Holland’s glory days, Amsterdam is a unique place for artists to depict a distinctively Dutch style street scene. For centuries, the city has inspired a rich tradition of landscape artists, impressionists, and photographers that continues today.

Torensluis Bridge

5. Prinsengracht

With its intricate, charming system of canals and bridges, plus the historic buildings and massive cathedrals, Amsterdam has no shortage of places for portraying Dutch street scenes. The rich colors of Prinsengracht come alive in a dazzling spectacle under the sunny blue sky of Holland in the spring or summer. Artists flock here for the inspiring view of the Prince’s Canal, which was named after William I, Prince of Orange. As the longest of the three canals in the area, Prinsengracht is also one of the liveliest with its old-fashioned houseboats, sidewalks cafes, and flower markets on every corner. Like most canals and lanes of this Old World city, the scene still evokes the splendor of Holland at their peak of wealth and innovation in art, architecture, and trade. Every August, musical festival-goers flood the streets as pontoon boats with live music float pass in a massive party, Dutch style.

Prinsengracht Canal Amsterdam

4. Oosterpark

For a change of pace from the lively street scenes, canals, and town squares, head to Oosterpark to capture a more natural, serene setting. On sunny days, the parks of Amsterdam are a place where locals and tourists soak in the precious sun that’s been hiding during the infamously cold winter months. With huge lime trees, tranquil ponds filled with water lilies and ducks, and large green spaces, there are many spots for artists to find their inspiration. Modeled after a typical 18th century English garden, the park was laid out and designed by Leonard Antonij Springer in 1891. You’ll find the park in the Oost/Watergraafsmeer neighborhood on the east side of Amsterdam. The park also contains several important monuments, including The National Monument, a sculpture by Erwin Jules de Vries that commemorates the end of slavery in the Netherlands in 1861.

Oosterpark Amsterdam

3. Magere Brug

Situated across the Amstel river is the Magere Bridge, a striking, freshly painted drawbridge. It’s also one of the most famous bridges in Amsterdam because of its enchanting fairytale quality, especially at night when it sparkles with 1,800 lights. For a street scene filled with dramatic dark shadows, the light dancing on the water reflection, and the dazzling lights on the bridge, head there in the evening to capture the striking Dutch street scene. Built is 1934, the “Skinny Bridge” connects the river at Kerkstraat (Church Street) and is sandwiched between Keizertsgracht, the Emerors’ Canal, and Prinsengracht (Princes’ Canal). Even better for artists, since 2003 the bridge is now restricted to pedestrians and bicyclists, so you don’t have to worry about getting disturbed by pesky traffic. The canal was also featured in a scene in the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever, which came out in 1971.

Magere Brug Amsterdam

2. Waterland Nature Preserve

For tranquil scenes of serene dykes lined with quaint cottages, little boats tied to the shore, and a white cathedral in the distance, pack up your art supplies and head to the Waterland nature reserve, a short distance north of Amsterdam in the village of Holysloot. To get there, it’s a short bicycle ride through the villages of Durgerdam and Randsdorp, a great way to get inspired by the traditional Dutch countryside on your way to the nature preserve. And if you get peckish after a painting or sketching session, stop in at Schoolhuis, a restaurant housed in an old school house, for some savory Dutch pancakes.  Following in the tradition of the 16th century Dutch landscape artists, you’ll have the chance to capture the big skies filled with sunlight breaking through the clouds and dramatic shadows and reflections off the water, a hallmark of the uniquely Dutch “skyscapes.”

Durgerdam amsterdam

1. Vondelpark

The Dutch might be known for their engineering ingenuity and work ethic, but they also are experts on the art of relaxing. In fact, it’s a way of life, which is why hanging out in Vondelpark is one of the favorite activities of locals. In the Dutch tradition of lingering over a picnic, the urban park is a verdant haven filled with big trees, ponds, and rose gardens. In the centuries-old tradition of landscape artists like Rembrandt and Anthonie van Burssom, artists have the opportunity to capture the vast cloudy skies, the reflections off the water, and sunlight breaking through the clouds. Back in 1867, shortly after the park was laid out, the vegetation was sparse, but by the late 19th century, Vondelpark was one of Holland’s most cherished public parks. Designed by Louis Paul Zocher, it is considered by many to be Amsterdam’s most impressive examples of an English-style garden.

kavalenkau / Shutterstock.com
kavalenkau / Shutterstock.com

10 European Attractions Every Kid Should Experience

Taking your kids on vacation is always a gamble, will you be able to find enough fun, engaging activities to keep them satisfied and tired out at the end of the day? While on the surface, Europe may seem like it’s more stuffy museums and ‘please don’t touch signs’ than anything else but that’s simply not true. For fun and educational experiences, these 10 family-friendly destinations are sure to be the highlight of any European vacation, and will create life-long memories for your children. Here are 10 European attractions every kid should get to experience:

10. Legoland Billund Resort, Denmark

It’s not the only Legoland theme park in the world but it is the original. Legoland Denmark opened in June of 1968 on a piece of land right next to the original Lego factory. This 45-acre park devoted to all things ‘blocks’ is divided into 9 theme areas: Duplo Land, Imagination Zone, LEGOREDO Town, Adventure Land, Lego City, Knight´s Kingdom, Mini Land, Pirate Land and Polar Land. Treat your kids to a visit to the original Legoland for an experience they won’t forget!

Olena Bloshchynska / Shutterstock.com
Olena Bloshchynska / Shutterstock.com

9. Plopsaland De Panne, Belgium

First opened in 2000, Plopsaland De Panne is a colorful theme park on Belgium’s coast near the French border. The park is divided into several zones, each with a different theme and in the zones you’ll find popular characters from Belgium children’s TV shows like Big & Betsy and Mega Mindy. With 6 roller coasters, playgrounds, gardens, a theater, boats and a farm with real live animals, this park is a fun filled experience for children of all ages.

"Ingang Plopsaland De Panne 4" by Druyts.t - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Ingang Plopsaland De Panne 4” by Druyts.tOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

8. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

If you’re looking to provide your children with a glimpse of nature at its finest, a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is a must do. This UNESCO World Heritage park is one of the oldest in Southeast Europe and is famous for its beautiful cascading lakes, separated by naturally formed travertine. Children will love running through the open spaces of this beautiful park and reportedly colorful dragonflies are in abundance, sometimes even landing right on you.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

7.  Natura Artis Magistra, Amsterdam

Any family with little animal lovers must make a trip to Natura Artis Magistra (or just Artis for short). This spectacular zoo is located in the heart of Amsterdam and provides a natural oasis in the bustling city. Enjoy the manicured gardens, over 200 species of plants and of course the animals (there’s over 900 species of them to be seen here!) With an aquarium, planetarium, playgrounds and Zoological Museum, it’s safe to say that Artis is much more than the average zoo.

hans engbers / Shutterstock.com
hans engbers / Shutterstock.com

6. Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, England

Whoever said museums are boring has obviously never visited Eureka! This interactive children’s museum in Halifax, England provides education along with fun, through hands-on exhibits. The museum is geared for children ages 0-11 years and encourages that parents get in on the fun with their little ones as well. In Eureka’s four main galleries, children can enjoy a miniature town square, gardens from around the world and the science and sounds of music.

Photo by: Fairytale Town
Photo by: Fairytale Town

5. Efteling, Netherlands

This beautiful, old school theme park in Netherland’s south end will appeal to kids with an imagination and love of fairy tales. The fantasy themed park focuses on myth, legend, fairy tales and folk lore in its numerous attractions. Opened in 1952, Efteling is the largest theme park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world. Children of all ages will enjoy this park which offers a wide range of rides and attractions, plus there’s lots going on for parents too.

"Efteling Entrance" by Stefan Scheer - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons.
Efteling Entrance” by Stefan ScheerOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons.

4. Discover Children’s Story Centre, London

If your kids are big into books and the kind who never want story time to end, they’ll love Discover. This London institution is the “UK’s first hands-on creative literacy centre for children aged 0-11 years and their families, carers and teachers.” At Discover, children and their families can play, learn and enjoy making up stories as they go. Discover secret caves on the Story Trail, climb on a space ship in the Story Garden, or step inside a giant chocolate cake in the new Michael Rosen Exhibition.

Photo by: The Independant
Photo by: The Independant

3. Italia in Miniatura, Italy

Even kids can feel like giants in this tiny town and leisure park in Viserba, Italy. This park features 273 miniature scale versions of famous Italian and European buildings and landmarks which you can walk through. The landscape is completed by a monorail, 10,000 miniature plants and 5,000 miniature trees. But that’s not all there is to enjoy here, either; the park also offers several attractions like a log ride, playground, cinema and merry-go-round.

oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com
oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

2. Natural History Museum, London

The London Natural History Museum has a lot to offer anyone interested in our natural world, but makes sure kids can get in on all the fun and education with many kid friendly exhibits and hands-on learning experiences. Discover dinosaurs and even have a sleep over under the skeleton of a Diplodocus, or explore the solar system in the Otherworlds exhibit. Winter brings the added treat of the Swarovski outdoor ice rink; a seasonal activity for the whole family.

Daniel Gale / Shutterstock.com
Daniel Gale / Shutterstock.com

1. Disneyland, Paris

No children’s attractions list is complete without the addition of a Disney park. Disneyland Paris is not only the most visited theme park in France but also in all of Europe. At Disneyland Paris you’ll find some of the same rides and attractions that made the North American Disney parks so famous like It’s a Small World, Space Mountain: Mission 2, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. 

Photo by: The Guardian
Photo by: The Guardian