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Bordering both Austria and Hungary and couched between the Danube and the Little Carpathian Mountains, Bratislava is a picturesque city whose natural surroundings are rivaled only by its own historic architecture. Dating back centuries, the Old Town is home to numerous historic churches, castles, galleries and museums, including the Museum of Jewish Culture and Bratislava City Museum. The surviving fortifications at Michael's Gate provide a glimpse into the medieval history of the city.
If you currently think your neighbourhood coffee shop is nice, you might want to stay out of Vienna’s coffeehouses. After you’ve gotten used to these palatial, yet welcoming cafes—and their delicious coffee and Sacher torte—your local café will pale in comparison. Between coffee breaks, visitors can explore Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace and Imperial Palace. And if you have a chance, catch a performance at the State Opera House—it’s not to be missed.
A magnet for skiers and hikers, these dramatic peaks – including the iconic Matterhorn – range from 3,000 to 15,000 feet and spread across three-fifths of the country. Abundant glaciers, scenic valleys and gorgeous alpine lakes add to the region's visual appeal. The Glacier Express train travels the 7.5-hour route through the Swiss Alps from Zermatt to St. Moritz, passing through fairy-tale villages and over 291 bridges along the way.
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.
Cumbria, England's most northwestern county, is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Valleys and fells are home to idyllic villages, high rolling moorland and plenty of lakes. While climbing, biking and hiking are popular, literary connections draw visitors to Grasmere and Rydal. Keswick, Ambleside and Windermere offer hotels and restaurants. Driving is the best way to get around sites such as Wordsworth's Dove Cottage and The World of Beatrix Potter.
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.
A true family destination, Westport boasts magnificent scenery, golf facilities, recreational fishing, sailing and yachting, beach swimming, hiking and cycling trails, and (to top it all off) a placed called Pirate Adventure Park. What kid wouldn't love this place? Visit in September and you'll witness the exciting Westport Arts Festival, perfect for all ages. And Westport was Google Earth's first fully 3D town, so you can relive the memories from your computer when you get home!
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.