European Travel Bucket List

megI’d like to introduce you to my friend MEG – Travel Enthusiast and Photographer Extraordinare.

 Meg and her husband have lived in Germany for almost three years as part of the USAG Schweinfurt community. In addition to exploring the wonders of Germany, Meg has visited 13+ countries since her arrival abroad. As a seasoned European traveler, I trust her judgment and advice.

 As my husband and I quickly approach our PCS date, we realize there is still so much to see and do. So I went straight to the expert. I asked Meg “What do we need to see before we leave?” Her response was fantastic and totally worth sharing. So if you’re like me and feeling a little overwhelmed by your travel options, I highly recommend checking out Meg’s advice before leaving Schweinfurt. Best part — most of her suggested trips can be done in a weekend by car!

Hi, I’m Meg and I love traveling. Here is a ‘Bucket List’ of destinations that I have come up with since living here in Schweinfurt. The list provides you with a little information about the destination, ways to get there and how long you will need to explore some of the world’s most amazing places. Before traveling make sure you have the proper documentation because most of these destinations require a passport.

IMG_5788Berlin, Germany
Why you should go: Berlin is a young and vibrant city, but still maintains a neighborhood feeling. It has numerous museums that house priceless artifacts from all over the world. Definitely visit the famous Checkpoint Charlie. You can have your passport stamped there and it is a good place to pick-up cheesy souvenirs for the family. You should check out the highlights like Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island and the Berlin Wall.

Getting there: Car = 4 to 5 hours | Train = a little over 4 hours
Length of time for trip: Weekend

Munich, Germany
Why you should go: Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is surrounded by that storybook Bavarian atmosphere. Sit in a huge outdoor beer garden in the warmer months and listen to the polka bands or visit their famous museums. You can also visit shops selling traditional lederhosen and dirndls as well as the numerous parks surrounding the city. It also serves as a great launching point to explore places like Neuschwanstein Castle, Berchtesgadener Land and Salzburg, Austria.

Getting there: Car = 2 1/2 to 3 hours | Train = 3 hours (look into getting a Bayern-Ticket for €22)
Length of time for trip: Weekend

Amsterdam (2)Amsterdam, Netherlands
Why you should go: This canal filled city is jammed packed with things to see and do. When you visit Amsterdam, take time to wander the canals and see the picturesque house boats. Even if you aren’t a museum person, you might be pleasantly surprised with the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House.

Getting there: Car = 5 to 6 hours | Train = 5 to 6 hours | Plane = is an option
Length of time for trip: 3-day trip

Brussels (2)Brussels, Belgium
Why you should go: Good food, great beer and tons to see. Don’t get distracted by the Belgian chocolate and waffles. Brussels (or Bruxelles) has much more to offer. Visit the Town Hall and the Grand Place in the heart of Brussels. From the main square venture down to see Brussels’ more humorous side by seeing Manneken Pis.

Getting there: Car = 5 hours | Train = 5 hours | Plane = is an option
Length of time for trip: Weekend

Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Why you should go: Luxembourg is a unique little city with old and new mixed so beautifully together. The Old Town is situated within the old fortress walls. On many days, especially the weekends, you can usually stumble upon a market or two. Because of the city’s central location many musicians touring through Europe often perform here, so check out local venues for tour dates. Luxembourg’s central location also accounts for the numerous battlefields surrounding the area. One in particular, the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, is where Gen. George S. Patton is buried.

Getting there: Car = 4 hours | Train = 5 or more hours
Length of time for trip: Weekend

Paris (1)Paris, France
Why you should go: Paris is one of Europe’s most popular destinations, but it can be a little overwhelming. Given that Paris has something for everyone, make sure you plan ahead and figure out exactly what side of Paris you want to explore. Many tourists see the main highlights like the Eiffel Tower, Musée du Louvre and Notre Dame. Make sure that in between the main attractions you immerse yourself in the Parisian lifestyle by sitting back at a café and enjoying the fact that you are in Paris. People watch. Absorb the city. You may also want to make a day trip to the Palace of Versailles or enjoy an evening of entertainment at the world-renowned cabaret Moulin Rouge.

Getting there: Car = 6 to 7 hours | Train = 6 1/2 hours
Length of time for trip: 4-day weekend

Basel, Switzerland
Why you should go: Basel is situated on the Rhine River near the boarders of Germany and France. This city has a beautiful Old Town that mixes the young with the international, especially when the city comes alive at night. Because Switzerland is not on the Euro and is relatively expensive, you may want to stay in France or Germany to save a few bucks. To make the most of your trip venture further into Switzerland or explore cities like Mulhouse, Colmar or Strasburg in eastern France.

Getting there: Car = 4 hours | Train = 4 1/2 to 5 hours
Note: to enter Switzerland by car you need to purchase a €50 vignette, which is good for a whole year.
Length of time for trip: Weekend

Lucerne, Switzerland
Why you should go: Lucerne has the best of both worlds, combining a city atmosphere with beautiful views of the Alps from Mt. Rigi. The city has wonderful eateries and outdoor cafés that beckon you to enjoy your environment and relax. A must: Try the fondue.

Getting there: Car = 4 1/2 hours | Train = 6 hours
Note: to enter Switzerland you need to purchase a €50 vignette which is good for a whole year.
Length of time for trip: Weekend

Salzburg (2)Salzburg, Austria
Why you should go: For such a small city, Salzburg really is a great place to see. It is famous as the birth place of Mozart and where The Sound of Music was filmed. The city’s skyline is marked by two very unique structures the Hohensalzburg Fortress and Salzburg Cathedral. If you can pull yourself away from the beauty of downtown Salzburg, then venture to the old salt mines near Bad Reichenhall or chill-off in the ice caves near Werfen.

Getting there: Car = 4 1/2 hours | Train = 4 1/2 hours
Note: If you are traveling by car, you will need to purchase a vignette for the number of days you will be traveling in Austria.
Length of time for trip: 3-day trip

Vienna, Austria
Why you should go: Vienna is steeped in history, culture and art. It is the home of the Spanish Riding School and was the residence for the Habsburgs. It was the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that ruled much of Europe for hundreds of years. There are tons of museums, monuments, sculptures and even zoos that can be explored.

Getting there: Car = 6 hours | Train = 6 hours | Plane = is an option
Note: If traveling by car, you will need to purchase a vignette for the number of days you will be traveling in Austria.
Length of time for trip: 3-day trip

Rome (6)Rome, Italy
Why you should go: Rome has so much to offer because it has been the center of Mediterranean civilizations for thousands of years. From ancient Roman structures to new chic boutiques the city has everything you can imagine. Remember “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” So relax and enjoy the many splendid wonders of the eternal city.

Getting there: Car = 11 hours | Train = 14 to 15 hours | Plane = is an option
Note: There is an overnight train that is an option.
Length of time for trip: 4-day weekend

Chianti Region (2)

Florence, Italy
Why you should go: Florence’s attractions are endless. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, you’ll come to appreciate the art from all of the great masters, including the statue of David. A walk around the city offers opportunities to climb the Duomo, walk across the Ponte Vecchio and see works of art in the Uffizi. If you want to explore the hills of Tuscany or the Chianti wine region, use Florence as a starting point.

Getting there: Car = 8 1/2 hours | Train = 12 hours | Plane = is an option
Note: There is an overnight train that is an option.
Length of time for trip: 4-day weekend

Venice (2)Venice, Italy
Why you should go: Venture into the walkways, canals and water ways of Venice and the first thing you notice is that the city hum of vehicular traffic is replaced by the sounds of boats. Once you have explored the Dogi Palace, Saint Mark’s Cathedral and the Rialto Bridge, strap on your sea legs and hop on a boat to Murano. It is an island in the Venetian Lagoon that is famous for the most beautiful glass creations.

Getting there: Car = 7 1/2 hours | Train = 11 to 13 hours
Note: There is an overnight train that is an option.
Length of time for trip: 3-day trip

Prague (1)Prague, Czech Republic
Why you should go: Prague has so many sights worth seeing. You can explore the Prague Castle, stroll over the Charles Bridge and watch the astrological clock at the Town Hall. If you like beer then you should check out some of the local brews that have been made here for centuries.

Getting there: Car = 3 1/2 hours | Train = 5 to 6 hours
Note: If traveling by car, you will need to purchase a vignette for the number of days you will be traveling in the Czech Republic.
Length of time for trip: Weekend

Warsaw, Poland
Why you should go: With a tumultuous background, Warsaw is a mixture of the old, the new and the futuristic. As the capital of Poland, Warsaw was once reduced to nothing during World War II, but has since been rebuilt serving as a testament to the stamina of the city’s people. The Old Town hall has been restored to its former glory and you can see other amazing sites like the palace complexes of Łazienki Królewskie and Wilanów and the Warsaw Rising Museum.

Getting there: Car = 8 1/2 hours | Train = 10 hours | Plane = is an option
Length of time for trip: 4-day weekend

Krakow (5)Krakow, Poland
Why you should go: Krakow, self proclaimed as the cultural heart of Poland, escaped Warsaw’s fate during WWII. Krakow has several notable sites worth seeing like the Wawel Royal Castle, the main market square and the old city walls. Take time to listen to the trumpeter in St. Mary’s Tower playing to notify you of the hour and see if you can hear if something is missing. Pack lightly and buy pottery on the cheap.

Getting there: Car = 7 1/2 hours | Train = 15hours | Plane = is an option
Length of time for trip: 4-day weekend

*All train times were based upon information found on Deutsche Bahn.

Thanks for the advice Meg!

Carpe diem,

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2 thoughts on “European Travel Bucket List

  1. I think there should be a few more German ones on the bucket list for the perfect holiday. How about the Christmas Market in Nuremberg that is the wolrd’s biggest Xmas market and Rothenburg especially during the Master Draught which is an experience not to miss.

    • Axel – Great point about the wonderful time of year that is Christmas in Germany! Michele wrote a rundown of the top German Christmas markets to visit in the post German Holiday Bucket List. As for this blog post, it serves to give people a small sampling of the wonderful locations within a 5 hour drive or train ride from Schweinfurt. For information highlighting the fun and unique things to do in Germany, check out Schweinfurt’s Travel Page, with entire articles dedicated to local festivals, baths, attractions, breweries and much more.

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