There’s no doubt that Europe teems with history and culture, as evidenced by scores of historic landmarks that have stood the test of time and for centuries drawn curious travelers from all parts of the world. You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the unique sites and attractions that make London, France, Barcelona and Florence some of the world’s most coveted destinations. If you book now, you can take advantage of great European summer deals on hotel accommodations. Read on for some can’t-miss landmarks and venues in these venerable, picture-ready cities.
1. London, UK: After gazing at and photographing 100-year old Big Ben, stately Buckingham Palace, and the centuries-old Tower of London, you can get up close and personal with London’s history at its various museums. Check out a whopping collection of more than 7 million items from around the world at the British Museum, which was established in 1753. Also a popular tourist attraction in its own right is the Victoria and Albert Museum, situated minutes away from Grosvenor Kensington and the Millennium Gloucester Hotel. The world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, it encompasses some 12.5 acres and more than 140 galleries. If history doesn’t tickle your fancy, pay a visit to one of London’s many locales for pop and rock music, including Wembley Arena and Earls Court. Music enthusiasts will love the annual Wireless Festival in Hyde Park. Additionally, those looking to commune with nature can walk to the Royal Parks of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, or Regent’s Park, the latter containing the hugely popular London Zoo. Within close proximity to these lush parks are the Hyde Park Premier London Paddington Hotel and the Shaftesbury Metropolis London Hyde Park Hotel.
2. Paris, France: Just as the Statue of Liberty is inextricably tied to New York City, Paris is synonymous with the iconic 1,063-foot-tall Eiffel Tower, only a short stroll from Paris Eiffel Cambronne. But there’s a lot more to Paris than this towering structure. With 8.5 visitors in 2009, the Louvre topped the list of the world’s most visited museums. (The aforementioned British Museum came in second with 5.93 million visitors.) Boasting Art Deco architecture, the 2,800-seat Le Grand Rex is the largest theater and music venue in all of Paris. And approximately 20 miles from the centre of Paris sits Disneyland Paris, which comprises two theme parks as well as a dining, retail and entertainment district. Hotels including Hotel California Paris and Hotel Keppler lie near Champs-Elysees, a world-renowned avenue known for its cafes and specialty shops.
3. Barcelona, Spain: If you’re looking to get a tan this summer, look no further than Spain’s charming capital. Its seven pristine beaches – the largest and most frequented being the Barceloneta and Sant Sebastia beaches – span nearly three miles of coastline. Plaça de Catalunya, a large, bustling square in central Barcelona, offers a range of theaters, restaurants, shopping centers and hotels, including H10 Catalunya Plaza. There is no shortage of greenery here, as Barcelona contains more than 60 parks. You’ll find some of the city’s finest shopping centers, shops, restaurants and theaters along Avinguda Diagonal, which crosses the city in diagonal fashion and essentially cuts it in two. What’s more, HCC Covadonga and the 4 star Hesperia Sagrada Familia Sport & Spa make two easily accessible lodging options.
4. Florence, Italy: Boasting some of the world’s most famous art galleries and palaces, it’s no surprise that the historically and culturally rich city of Florence is regarded by many as the art capital of Italy. (After all, such historic figures as Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Galileo Galilei were either born in or made their homes here.) Among the city’s more notable galleries is The Gallery of the Accademia di Belle Arti, which has housed Michaelangelo’s David sculpture since 1873. And if you’re looking to get your shop on, this is the place to be! World-famous fashion boutiques from Armani to Bulgari line Via de’ Tornabuoni, one of the city’s best spots for upscale shopping. You’ll also encounter a number of open air markets that sell budget-friendly food, clothing and antiques. Alternatively, you can amble through Boboli Gardens, which features lush landscaping, beautiful waterfalls and centuries-old sculptures. The park also makes an ideal place to take in picturesque views of Florence. A number of hotels lie in or near the city’s centre, from Residence San Niccolo to Mulino di Firenze.
Whether you’re big on art, history, nature, or sunbathing, Europe has something for every taste. Why limit yourself to admiring Europe’s amazing sites and attractions via magazine pictures and glossy postcards sent to you from well-traveled friends? Pack your bags and cure your European wanderlust by experiencing in person all these magical cities have to offer.