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The majestic Austrian Alps stretch across the country, an awe-striking area of Ice Age valleys, verdant heaths and alluvial cones within Europe's largest national park, 700-square-mile Hohe Tauern. Taking in the dramatic cities of Salzburg and Innsbruck and the beautiful province of Tirol, home to spectacular skiing and hiking, as well as Gross Glockner, Austria's highest peak, and some of the world's best winter and summer sports playgrounds, the Austrian Alps are an outdoor lover's paradise.
The largest of Italy’s fresh-water lakes, Lake Garda is located in northeast Italy. Tourists traveling here will find plenty of excursions and activities to keep them entertained year-round—everything from visiting hilly wine regions to exploring 14th-century castles. The towns and communities surrounding Lake Garda offer easy day trips from Venice, easily accessible by car or train. Major sights include the towns of Sirmione (which attracts most Lake Garda visitors thanks to its historic Rocca Scaligiera castle) and Riva del Garda (for the Varone waterfalls located nearby), as well as the region’s hills, which offer numerous hiking trails for adventurous walkers.
Located in northwest Italy’s Lombardy region, the province of Bergamo offers more than just a day-trip diversion from the big city of Milan. This hilltop town is known for its architectural gems, including medieval and Renaissance structures that continue to amaze tourists and locals alike. Don’t miss the historic Piazza Vecchia with its 12th and 16th century buildings. And Bergamo’s Galleria dell’Accademia Carrara is an art gallery featuring works from Italian legends including Botticelli, Titian, Canaletto and Raphael, to name a few.
One in a constellation of elegant resort towns ringing Lake Garda (Italy’s largest lake), the southerly Desenzano Del Garda is celebrated for its Roman villa, castle, and archaeological museum. It’s just a quick trip from larger hubs like Brescia and Verona, too.
Peschiera del Garda is located on the southern end of Lake Garda, in Italy's Veneto region. The town's sixteenth-century island fortress and walls are visible today, a reminder of a time when Austria controlled the region. After exploring Peschiera's history, relax with a glass of Lugana, a local white wine.
Coveted by empires and republics throughout its history, Innsbruck was the seat of the imperial court of Maximilian I by the end of the 15th century. Trams make getting around the city quick, efficient and cheap. Explore the Tyrolean capital's history at Archduke Ferdinand II's 10th-century Schloss Ambras, the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, the grand 15th-century Imperial Palace and Maximilian I's famous Golden Roof. One of Europe's most idyllic cities, Innsbruck is nestled in the heart of the Alps.
Amsterdam is truly a biker’s city, although pedaling along the labyrinthine streets can get a little chaotic. Stick to walking and you won’t be disappointed. The gentle canals make a perfect backdrop for exploring the Jordaan and Rembrandtplein square. Pop into the Red Light District if you must—if only so you can say you’ve been there. The Anne Frank House is one of the most moving experiences a traveller can have, and the Van Gogh Museum boasts a sensational collection of works.
You've probably heard that Guinness tastes better in Dublin (fresh from the factory), but what you may not know is that Dublin is a perfect destination for the whole family. No, we're not suggesting you let the kiddies drink a pint. Instead, take them to the Dublin Zoo, to feed the ducks in Stephen's Green or on a picnic in Phoenix Park. Scholars enjoy walking in the literary footsteps of such writers as Yeats and Joyce, while discerning shoppers have their pick of designer boutiques.
Plan to cross many bridges when in Cork. Ireland's third-largest city began life as an island and now spans both banks of the River Lee, with watery channels running beneath some of its main thoroughfares. The best way to experience this hilly southern seaport is on foot, following the signposted walking tour past St. Finn Barre's Cathedral and the riverside quadrangle of University College up the hill to red and white Shandon Church. Along the way, you'll meet plenty of the city's talkative residents.
Glamourous Santorini is deliciously different. Geographical newness is in part to thank. The island’s popular black volcanic Perissa and Kamari beaches are big draws, as is its arguably most famous Red Beach near Akrotiri (which is the place to go for archaeology buffs). Santorini curves round a giant lagoon in the Cyclades islands, offering stunning views from sky-high towns, eclectic cuisine, lovely galleries, thriving nightlife and excellent wines.
Strongly influenced by the tribal culture of the Guanches (the original inhabitants), Tenerife was conquered by the Spanish 500 years ago. It's home to Mount Teide, Spain's tallest peak, and to the popular beach resort of Los Gigantes. Today visitors flock to Loro Park to see tropical birds, to Tenerife Zoo Monkey Park and to Parque Nacional Las Canadas del Teide's volcanic rock formations. Explore by car or with a "bono bus" ticket, which offers reductions on regular prices.