Enjoying Your Days

The most important part of your European vacation is not booking your airline or train or even the hotel or apartment where you stay. It’s how you spend your days. A European vacation can focus on sightseeing, cultural immersion, some type of educational pursuit, or a physical activity like hiking or cycling. We’ve provided some links to help you explore the possibilities.


A guidebook is often the best way to identify the sites, museums, and attractions you want to visit.  Many of these resources are now available online.

Tips for connecting with Europe

Sightseeing tips

Museum strategies

Frommers Frommers destination guides include excellent information on what to see and do in major European cities and regions.

Fodors The Fodors website also provides detailed information on sightseeing and attractions in Europe.

Festivals, Concerts and Other Events

Participating in local festivals, attending concerts, and joining in on other special events is a great way to connect with European culture. Check the tourist office website for the area you’ll be visiting and watch for posters and flyers when you arrive.

European festivals

Tour Guides and Classes

You can enrich your European vacation by joining a small group tour or participating in a class. Tours and classes can last a few hours– or a week or more.

Slow Travel Tours We are a founding member of this group of independent, small-group tour operators. Most of our members offer week-long tours based in one area, but a few members live in Europe and offer customized day trips.

Cooking Classes in Italy  In Tuscany (Chianti) we highly recommend Stefania Balducci of Pasta al Pesto and Giulietta Giovannoni of Fagiolari.

Shaw Guides Directory for learning vacations and programs worldwide.

A2Z Languages  I spent several weeks over two summers in Aix-en-Provence attending a French language school. This is a great way to enjoy another country, experience the culture, and strengthen language skills too. I booked my trips through A2Z Languages, an American-based company that partners with leading language schools in many European countries.

Self-guided walking tours

A walking tour is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of Europe’s countryside, mountains and villages.  And it’s great exercise too!  We have now done ten long-distance walks and we’re planning number eleven this summer.  We have walked in England (five times, once also involving Wales), France (three times), Switzerland, and Ireland.  Our trips have all been “self-guided.” The tour operator plans the route (which can be customized), arranges the accommodations, provides maps and guidebooks, and transports your main baggage each day. You walk on your own, carrying only a day pack.

Guided trips are offered by some operators, and similar trips are offered for cyclists.

Sherpa Walking/Cycling Tours We’ve done five self-guided walks through this British-based company, including the 192-mile Coast-to-Coast walk in England… twice! They offer a variety of guided and self-guided walking and cycling trips in many parts of Europe.

Celtic Trails We did our Offa’s Dyke walk along the border of England and Wales through this company, and they’re organizing our walk on the Southwest Coast Path in Cornwall this year. They offer walking trips in the UK and Europe, and we’d recommend them most highly for trips in Wales and other areas of the UK.

Sentiers de France  This French company offers the most extensive listing of self-guided walks in all areas of France.  They have two different levels of accommodations depending on budget. Our family did walking tours with them in 2008 and 2009.

Cotswold Walks  The Cotswolds in England is one of our favorite places in Europe and a great place for walking. In 2013 we hiked the 102 Cotswold Way (a self-guided walk) with the excellent support of this local company. Highly recommended!

HF Holidays  Friends have recommended this British company that offers a range of activity-oriented European vacations, guided and self-guided.