Be sure to also check out the experiential travel-list [part I]: around the world and experiential travel-list [part II]: South America
I did what most every 19 year old would do on their first Eurotrip. Eurail pass in hand, my best friend and I spent a month drinking vodka (legally!), scampering past landmarks, and acting like Europe would disappear if we didn’t see it all in 27 days. We rode double decker busses, wandered the Louvre, dressed like gladiators outside of the Colosseum, clubbed, pubbed… you get the point.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun. In fact, it was seriously fun. But we did Europe all wrong. Sitting inside a giant clog in Amsterdam didn’t exactly teach us much about European culture. To be frank, I’m not sure we met a single European that wasn’t working at our hostel or bartending.
Europe is brimming with monuments, trails, cathedrals, museums, and fjords that top every “things to see before you die” list. However, experiential travel is based on the idea that there’s more to travel than touristing. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be seeing the damn Eiffel Tower, but isn’t it funny that you could spend months in Europe without ever once seeing a German home, meeting local street artists, or eating a proper borsct?
Want to get more out of your Eurotrip? If you linger, there’s so much more to it. We asked other travelers what their favorite travel experiences in Europe are. You ready?
14 Travel Experiences in Europe
1. Taking a street art tour in Berlin, Germany
Berlin just isn’t like other cities. While oft remembered for its role in 20th century wars, Berlin is presently one of the most offbeat, socially active, historically relevant cities in all of Europe. And it wouldn’t be Berlin without street art. With works by El Bocho, Osgemeos, and other street art legends, a tour of Berlin street art will give you unique insight into the city’s culture, past and present.
We say: The Street Art Workshop with Alternative Berlin is without a doubt the best way to experience Berlin street art. Skim the city’s best art first, then try your hand at the techniques in a workshop.
2. Experiencing the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia’s Valley of Fairy Chimneys is perhaps one of the world’s most surreal landscapes. Take a balloon ride over Cappadocia, and experience millions of years in the making.
Kach of Two Monkeys Travel Group says: “We were the first flight of the day, taking off with the sunrise. We watched the empty balloon fill with hot air from the burners, expanding into life and straining against the ropes like a waking giant. We climbed in and the ropes were released, sending us sailing into the blue sky as up to a hundred other balloons scattered colour against the bright blue canvas stretching out all around us. ”
3. Making lots of friends at Gay Pride in London, UK
In celebration of universal equality, Gay Pride events are raising a rainbow flag to make the world a better place for LGBT people. From San Francisco, to Sao Paolo, to London, Pride is a hell of a lot more than just a parade. Entire communities come together in celebration of love and equality. We bet you’ll never hear as much Gaga, get covered in as much contact glitter, or experience as much absolute glamour in your whole life as you will in one day at Gay Pride!
Stefan and Sebastien of Nomadic Boys say: “Our favorite experience from all our travels in Europe is hands down the London Gay Pride Parade held each summer. Getting involved in the parade is a lot of fun and even more so when you’re parading by iconic sites like Big Ben, Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus, with hundreds of thousands of people looking at you and snapping away. Even the policemen get involved and have their own participation at Pride London (photo above when we went in 2011 as angels).”
4. Sailing the Mediterranean, Croatia
With uniquely blue waters and stunning coastlines, anyone who has stepped foot in the Mediterranean will also wonder what it looks like from the water. If there was ever a place to experience sailing, scenery, culture, and boat life, it is in Croatia.
Shandos from Travelnuity says: “Sailing along the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia is the best way to experience the beautiful islands and old towns, plus have an amazingly fun time to boot! Spend your days chilling out as the yacht sails from port to port, explore the fascinating towns or swim in the sparkling blue sea from straight off the boat, then dine on seafood at waterfront restaurants before returning on board for an evening of drinking and laughs with new-found friends!”
5. Hitchhiking in the Baltics, Estonia
Danie of Like Riding a Bicycle says: “This abandoned and sunken prison in Estonia was truly stunning, causing a great sense of awe while relaxing on the beach nearby. People even go diving there to see what’s underneath, but I must admit, that sounds a bit too freaky for me!”
6. Learning to cook Italian food in Bergamo, Italy
When in Italy, explore one of the world’s most popular cuisines by learning to cook it! For a full immersion, check out the Italian cooking class at Castello di Malpaga where you’ll not only learn to cook a multi-course meal, but also have the chance to eat it in the castle.
Claudia of My Adventures Across the World says: “I am not really a foodie but when I was offered the opportunity to join a cooking class that would take place at Castello di Malpaga, near Bergamo (north of Italy) I jumped at it. I learned how to cook a lovely Italian meal from scratch and prepared steak tartare, pumpkin ravioli and tiramisu. The chef discussed the importance of picking local, organic and seasonal ingredients, and explained a lot about their nutritional value. The best part of it is that I got to eat the delicious meal in the comfort of a 15th century dining room. I could hardly believe that I was enjoying a fabulous meal in a room beautifully decorated with frescoes. To top everything off, at the end of the meal we changed into 15th century clothes and enjoyed a tour of the castle in them. Call it full immersion!”
7. Snapping Polaroids at the Prater in Vienna, Austria
Sure, you could go to Disneyland Paris, but Prater in Vienna is an amusement park of a completely different kind. Known for its tremendous Wiener Riesenrad (ferris wheel), an alarmingly high Pratertrturm (swing), and fun house style Grottenbahn (fairy tale themed grottoes), Prater is iconic to Vienna. Want to learn more about Viennese culture, and come home with some pretty awesome souvenirs? Check out Polawalk’s Polaroid Photo Tour.
Megsy & Tommo of Food Fun Travel say: “One of the best tours we have ever been on is the Polawalk Polaroid tour around Vienna’s oldest amusement park – Prater. This amusement park is arguably one of the oldest in the world and it is an ideal location to choose the perfect polaroid shot. But be careful! You only have 8 photos in total to take – so take them wisely. Luckily the guide is there to help you take great shots, and as a bonus you get some mementoes to take home as well.”
8. Wandering the cliff top monasteries in Meteora, Greece
Get beyond Athens. With more than 6 monasteries in Kalambaka, take your time to explore the town over a few days. Amongst idyllic surrounds stands the Eastern Orthodox monastery of Meteora. You can’t miss it — it’s the one leaning precariously off the edge of a cliff.
Sarah of Live Dream Discover says: “Meteora is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Greece that displays an awe inspiring collaboration of man and nature. Here you will see beautifully hand crafted monasteries perched impossibly atop massive rocky pinnacles. It is truly a spectacular sight that should not be missed.”
9. Be adventurous in Reykjavik, Iceland
If you go to Iceland and do pretty much anything outdoors, you’re sure to love it. From glacier hiking to lagoon dipping to fjord viewing, we’re not sure that nature gets any more phenomenal than it is in Iceland. Beyond that, Reykjavik itself is an adventurous eaters dream. With bizarre menu offerings like puffin, shark, and Icelandic hotdogs, you’ll never have to eat a commonplace meal in Iceland.
Anna of Anna Everywhere says: “Before going to Iceland, I didn’t consider trying any of the weird local specialties. I was well aware that the local food is quite controversial, but once I got there, every local was telling me to try some of their ‘exotic’ meats. I decided not to try the famous fermented shark as I didn’t hear one positive opinion about it and it’s quite expensive, but what I did love was Skyr, a thick and creamy traditional Icelandic yogurt. And if you’re traveling on a budget, you should join the locals at the Icelandic hotdog stalls. ”
10. Photographing Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mostar’s bridges are impressive enough that the whole city is named after them. For a true taste of Bosnia and Herzegovina, amble along Gold Alley and experience a glimmer of history on a photo safari of Mostar.
Laura of Savored Journeys says: “One of the best parts about visiting Mostar is the dramatic landscapes, like the iconic view of the Mostar bridge (Stari Most). Going on a group or private photo safari in Mostar is a great way to immerse yourself in the city and see all the major sites with time to take photos to remember it by. For us, this was a great day trip from Dubrovnik, Croatia.”
11. Experiencing a summer music festival, Belgium/England
Music festivals abroad are undoubtedly one of the best ways to meet likeminded people from around the world. Entire cities of audiophiles are just as excited to be there as the out of towners! You can travel for enormous fests like Tomorrowland or Glastonbury, or seek out smaller festivals that happen to be in town when you are.
12. Bathing in the thermal baths of Budapest, Hungary
With nearly 125 thermal springs in Budapest, a trip to the thermal baths is an essential Hungarian experience. Take a dip in the iconic Széchenyi Baths for what is guaranteed to be one of your most memorable baths ever.
Lance and Laura of Travel Addicts say: “Budapest, Hungary is arguably one of the greatest cities in the world. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful. But the real reason to travel here is for a dip in the city’s many thermal baths. Since the days when the city was a Roman outpost, Budapest has had a thriving bathing culture. Certainly the highlight of any visit to Budapest is soaking in the hot thermal waters at the luxurious Gellert Spa or the massive Szechenyi bath complex. Visiting Budapest’s baths should be at the top of any travelers list in Europe!”
13. Riding high in a hot air balloon in Barcelona, Spain
Even the most experienced travelers will be left in awe by Northeastern Spain. Barcelona is very different from the rest of the country, and you can experience the its culture in a number of ways. Perhaps you’ll fill up on tapas, discover the works of Gaudí, or best of all? Take a hot air balloon ride above Vallès Oriental, just 30 minutes outside of Barcelona, and see the Pyrenees (and everything else) from a new perspective.
DJ of Dream Eurotrip says: “Why it’s awesome? Because Barcelona. And the view of the Pyrenees mountains is breathtaking!”
14. Sipping high tea in Dublin, Ireland
Ireland consumes more tea per capita than nearly any other culture in the world, so get the full Dublin experience with a tea tasting! Enjoy a lavish afternoon tea at the Merrion Hotel with sweets inspired by the works of Irish painters.
Carole of Travels with Carole says: “Art Tea at The Merrion Hotel in Dublin, Ireland, begins like most—with tea and scones and little sandwiches. But it concludes like no other—with a plate of exquisite pastry interpretations of three pieces of art that are part of the hotel’s extensive displayed collection.”
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Has anyone had these travel experiences in Europe? Anything we missed? Share them with us in the comments below.