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The continent of Europe is culturally and linguistically more diverse than any other part of the Western world. Thus, planning a vacation there offers a wide variety of opportunities to explore different places and see myriad sights. There are some wonderful experiences to be had and, in particular, your vacation offers you the chance to visit some of the principal European heritage sites and the major cultural and sporting events that are quite simply unique. Here are a few of the top European destinations to whet your appetite…
The UEFA European Championship, or simply The Euros, is a major soccer tournament that takes place every four years, and France is hosting it this year. Euro 2016 is a great opportunity to take in some of the best cities while following the thrills and spills of the international contest. The cities staging the matches are Paris, Lens, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nice, Lille, Toulouse, Saint-Étienne, and Lyon. The grand final takes place in Paris, and this is a perfect excuse to enjoy both the art and sophisticated French culture of the capital as well as the sporting excitement that Euro 2016 has to offer.
Among the most notable European music festivals is Tomorrowland in the town of Boom in Belgium. This is an extraordinary electronic music event, and Boom is situated about 20 miles north of the capital, Brussels – a city that you’ll find is already a trendy spot for short breaks. In addition to the huge, tempting range of beers that you’ll want to sample and the delicious handmade chocolates, you’ll be impressed and delighted by the beautiful parks and plentiful museums (more than 90), as well as the quintessentially European restaurants and bars.
If you prefer to “go large” on your festivals, then you could travel to Glastonbury, England for the biggest outdoor performing arts and music festival anywhere in the world. It is best to buy your tickets a year ahead though as this is one of the fastest sell out events you’ll find anywhere. Glastonbury is a relatively small town in England and has a number of interesting historic sites – with a rental car, your journey should take about three hours from London.
The award-winning Sziget Festival takes place on an island in Budapest and is an inspiring, unforgettable mêlée of all things musical, from rock and pop to heavy metal, and from indie and world music to hip hop and electronic forms. The vibes are great, and more than 1,000 performances entertain in excess of 400,000 people every year. Better still, Budapest is a treasure trove of sites that are culturally and architecturally significant and among the top three European cities deemed to be the best for budget vacations, surpassed only by Vilnius, Lithuania and Warsaw, Poland.
Before you go
When planning your accommodation, you will probably prefer to stay somewhere that is traditional, convenient, and safe, rather than in an anonymous, overpriced hotel. If you take professional advice about European vacation rentals, especially if you’re on a budget, you will likely be able to source cozy, comfortable places to stay where local knowledge is at your fingertips and your vacation properties meet your exact requirements.
Depending on the time of year that you’re traveling, be aware of weather reports and plan accordingly. If you take a day trip to the French Alps or a short break for skiing, for example, then go equipped with appropriate clothing, and make sure the company providing your rental car has included snow tires and chains suitable for the territory.
Take the time to check up on visa requirements for the various parts of Europe that you plan to visit. It’s also useful to monitor advice on the Department of State’s travel website as updates on how to travel safely and what documents you may need are posted regularly.
Finally, adequately funding your vacation means, of course, paying for all the essentials such as flights, accommodation, car rental, etc., up front. You should also travel with credit cards – Visa, MasterCard and Eurocard are generally accepted. Always include a little cash so that you have some local currency, but not too much. Be careful if you plan to use an American Express credit card because it’s not accepted everywhere, so make sure you have an alternative if needed. Always put in place a back-up plan to access additional funds in case of unexpected expenses or unforeseen circumstances, such as a medical emergency.