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25 European Travel Ideas For Summer 2012 (PHOTOS)

Posted: 07/17/2012 7:00 am

Europe is a constellation of dream destinations that provides travelers with the opportunity to explore many vastly different cultures, cuisines and landscapes without spending too much time in transit between cities. This summer, as the continent's economies stumble forward and eagerly welcome visitors, may be the perfect time to visit.

The most difficult part of your grand tour this summer will likely be deciding where to go -- and whether or not you want to brave the Olympic hubbub. Here are a few suggestions that should help you find excitement, art and, yes, a little romance on the road.

From world famous French vineyards to the amazing Italian countryside, the top of Switzerland to the castles of Germany, here are the top 25 things to do in Europe this summer.

-- Viator Travel Team

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  • 1. Skip the Lines in Vatican City

    Whether it be the Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms or St Peter's, no matter what religion you follow (or don't) the Vatican is one of the world's greatest monuments to religion and history. So, it's no surprise that taking a Vatican tour is the #1 things to do in Europe in 2011. With the <a title="Vatican skip the line" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Rome/Skip-the-Line-Vatican-Museums-Walking-Tour-including-Sistine-Chapel-Raphaels-Rooms-and-St-Peters/d511-3731VATICAN"><span class="current">Skip the Line: Vatican Museums Walking Tour including Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms and St Peter's</span></a>, and the <a title="Vatican Museums skip the line" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Rome/Skip-the-Line-Vatican-Museums-Sistine-Chapel-and-St-Peters-Basilica-Half-Day-Walking-Tour/d511-3058VATICAN">Skip the Line: Vatican Museums Walking Tour</a>, you get to see it all without the wait.

  • 2. See the world-famous showgirls at Moulin Rouge

    At the <a title="Moulin Rouge tickets" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Moulin-Rouge-Show-Paris/d479-5022MOULIN">Moulin Rouge Show Paris</a>, the lights go down, the curtain goes up, and the troupe appears on the stage for the world's greatest cabaret. This iconic attraction sells out months in advances, it's no surprise it's one of our most popular tours in Europe!

  • 4. Combine an Eiffel Tower tour with a Seine River cruise and a show

    Combination tours are a great way to see all the major highlights of a city without spending a fortune or taking up too much value time. Both the <a title="Eiffel Tower tour, Moulin Rouge show, Seine River Cruise" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Eiffel-Tower-Paris-Moulin-Rouge-Show-and-Seine-River-Cruise/d479-2050TEM">Eiffel Tower, Paris Moulin Rouge Show and Seine River Cruise</a> and the <a title="Eiffel Tower, Paris cabaret show, Seine River Cruise" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Eiffel-Tower-Paris-Cabaret-Show-and-Seine-River-Cruise/d479-5045EIFFEL24">Eiffel Tower, Paris Cabaret Show and Seine River Cruise</a> combine three of Paris's top attractions, the Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge, and a <a title="Seine River Cruise" href="http://www.viator.com/Paris-tourism/Seine-River-Cruises-tours-tickets/d479-t588">Seine River Cruise</a>, into one spectacular tour! Not the combination you were looking for? Paris offers tons of <a title="Eiffel Tower tours, Moulin Rouge tours" href="http://www.viator.com/Paris-tourism/Eiffel-Tower-and-Moulin-Rouge-tours-tickets/d479-t597">Eiffel Tower & Moulin Rouge combination tours</a>, for every type of traveler!

  • 3. Explore Ancient Rome and the Colosseum

    Skip the lines and catch a glimpse of ancient Rome and the Colosseum on a <a title="Rome walking tour" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Rome/Skip-the-Line-Ancient-Rome-and-Colosseum-Half-Day-Walking-Tour/d511-3731COLOSSEUM">half-day walking tour</a>, or <a title="Rome hop on hop off" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Rome/Rome-Hop-on-Hop-off-Double-Decker-Bus-Tour/d511-3523ROMOPEN">hop on and off a double-decker bus</a> to see what's left of Europe's most famous empire.

  • 5. Tour Tuscany and the Leaning Tower of Pisa

    Take a <a title="Tuscany tour" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Florence/Tuscany-in-One-Day-Sightseeing-Tour/d519-5070TUSCANY">one-day tour of Tuscany</a> and get up-close to the <a title="Leaning Tower of Pisa" href="http://www.viator.com/Pisa-attractions/Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa-tours-tickets/d520-a56">Leaning Tower of Pisa</a>, one of Italy's most iconic attractions. In Tuscany, you will see some amazing architecture, as well as plenty of remnants from the Renaissance, and also enjoy some of the best food on the planet.

  • 6. Explore Stonehenge

    Everybody knows about Stonehenge, however, not everybody gets to see it. An archeological gem of Europe, take a day trip from London, viewing <a title="Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath Day Trip from London" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/London/Stonehenge-Windsor-Castle-and-Bath-Day-Trip-from-London/d737-3858EE021">Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath</a>.

  • 7. Take a Day Trip to Pompeii

    Located close to Naples, the ancient ruins of Pompeii is a virtual museum of a civilization from more than 2,000 years ago before it was consumed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. From Rome, take the <a title="Pompeii and Amalfi Coast tour" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Rome/Pompeii-and-Amalfi-Coast-Small-Group-Day-Trip-from-Rome/d511-2635POM">Pompeii and Amalfi Coast Small Group Day Trip</a> or the <a title="Naples and Pompeii tour" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Rome/Naples-and-Pompeii-Day-Trip-from-Rome/d511-2390GRET15">Naples and Pompeii Day Trip</a>, also from Rome.

  • 8. Explore Paris' top museums and attractions

    Nobody wants to slow down their vacation on lines and long waits, but with the <a title="Louvre tours" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Skip-the-Line-Paris-Louvre-Museum-Guided-Tour/d479-2050_PA">Paris Louvre Museum Guided Tour</a>, you will get to skip all that. With no shortage of amazing things to see in the city, the <a title="Paris pass" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Paris-Pass/d479-2036PARIS">Paris Pass</a> gets you to all the great Paris attractions, including the Musée d'Orsay, Arc de Triomphe and Centre Pompidou.

  • 9. See Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper

    To this very day, academics and historians pick apart the significance and religious implications of Leonardo da Vinci's <em>The Last Supper</em>. On the <a title="Milan sightseeing " href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Milan/Milan-Half-Day-Sightseeing-Tour-with-da-Vincis-The-Last-Supper/d512-2872ZV19">Milan Half-Day Sightseeing Tour</a> an inclusion on the tour gets you a date with the masterpiece as you explore one of Europe's most beautiful cities.

  • 10. Explore the Palace of Versailles

    There are many ways to explore <a title="Versailles tours" href="http://www.viator.com/Versailles/d763-ttd">Versailles</a>, which is located on the western edge of Paris. With so many sights to learn about and see, including the amazing architecture of the Palace of Versailles and the lush Hall of Mirrors, take the <a title="Versailles tours" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Versailles-Small-Group-Day-Trip-from-Paris/d479-2050PLUSVR_VE">Versailles Small Group Day Trip from Paris</a>.

  • 11. See Michelangelo's David

    Skip the line at the <a title="Florence Accademia tours" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Florence/Skip-the-Line-Florence-Accademia-and-Uffizi-Gallery-Tour/d519-2428M1M2">Florence Accademia and Uffizi Gallery Tour</a> and get an up-close encounter with what is perhaps the world's most recognizable sculpture, Michelangelo's statue <em>David</em>.

  • 12. Visit Normandy

    Any history buff will appreciate a tour through the D-Day battlefields as well as the beach where the Allies were able to push back the Nazis during the turning point of World War II. At the location of one of history's most important battles, the <a title="Normandy tours" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Normandy-D-Day-Battlefields-and-Beaches-Day-Trip/d479-2050NP"><span class="current">Normandy D-Day Battlefields and Beaches Day Trip</span></a> is an unforgettable experience.

  • 13. Take a gondola ride in Venice

    Spend the day exploring the many waterways of always amazing Venice. With the <a title="Skip the Line: Venice in One Day" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Venice/Skip-the-Line-Venice-in-One-Day/d522-2635V1DAY">Skip the Line: Venice in One Day</a> tour combine a <a title="Grand Canal tours" href="http://www.viator.com/Venice-attractions/Grand-Canal-tours-tickets/d522-a764">cruise down the Grand Canal</a> with some of Venice's other most popular attractions, including St Mark's Basilica, San Marco, Santa Maria Formosa, and the Rialto Bridge.

  • 14. Go on a day trip to Capri

    You will get to the small but beautiful island of <a title="Capri tours" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Rome/Capri-Day-Trip-from-Rome/d511-2390GRET14">Capri via Rome</a>. Known now as a luxury coastal resort, there is quite a lot to do other than, of course, sit on the beach and enjoy a cocktail. Get to the Blue Grotto and explore this wonderful cave at the water's edge that was used as a bathhouse during Roman times.

  • 15. Take a 4-day tour of Spain

    One of the loveliest and most beautiful countries in all of Europe, making your way through <a title="Spain tours, Spain things to do" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Madrid/4-Day-Spain-Tour-Cordoba-Seville-and-Granada-from-Madrid/d566-2140_A4L">Cordoba, Seville and Granada from Madrid</a> is a great way to see some of the best that Spain has to offer.

  • 16. Drink champagne in Champagne

    Well, we all know where it comes from, but drinking Champagne in Champagne is quite another story. <a title="Champagne tours" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Champagne-Region-Day-Trip-from-Paris/d479-2050RC">Take a day trip from Paris</a> to explore the famous French region and sip on the world-renowned sparkling wine.

  • 17. Tour London's top attractions

    London is in itself an ever-changing urban platform of European trend, culture and movement. A trip here is inevitable for an European traveler, and what better way to get acquainted than to take the <a title="London sightseeing" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/London/The-Original-London-Sightseeing-Tour-Hop-on-Hop-off/d737-3302OT">Original London Sightseeing Tour</a>? Hop on and off at all the city's famous stops, including <a title="Buckingham Palace tours" href="http://www.viator.com/London-attractions/Buckingham-Palace-tours-tickets/d737-a84">Buckingham Palace</a> and the <a title="London Eye tours" href="http://www.viator.com/London-attractions/London-Eye-tours-tickets/d737-a1400">London Eye</a>.

  • 18. Visit the Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof

    Take a day tour from Munich and visit the <a title="Neuschwanstein tours" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Munich/Royal-Castles-of-Neuschwanstein-and-Linderhof-Day-Tour-from-Munich/d487-285016">Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof</a>. Looking like they are straight out of an Arian fairytale, the stunning royal castles are amongst the best in all of Europe and certainly in Germany. The Schloss Neuschwanstein is located just a few miles away from the lovely town of Fussen.

  • 19. Go to the Top of Europe

    The <a title="Jungfraujoch tours" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Zurich/Jungfraujoch-Top-of-Europe-from-Zurich/d577-2460JUNG">Jungfrau-Aletsch region</a> is the most glaciated part of Europe. Located in Switzerland, the sight is accessible from Zurich. This UNESCO-protected natural wonder is all the more reason to take a trip to the High Alps. With a series of ecosystems, this unmistakable landscape is a can't-miss European destination.

  • 20. Hike Cinque Terre

    Located in the Italian region of Liguria, <a title="Cinque Terre tours" href="http://www.viator.com/Florence-attractions/Cinque-Terre-tours-tickets/d519-a54">Cinque Terre</a>, or five lands, is as picturesque as it sounds. At the Manarola, a full town is embedded in the rocky coast, which is a spectacular sight. Take the <a title="Cinque Terre hiking" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Florence/Cinque-Terre-Hiking-Day-Trip-from-Florence/d519-5070CINQUE">hiking day trip</a> or <a title="Cinque Terre tours" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Florence/Cinque-Terre-Small-Group-Day-Trip-from-Florence/d519-2635FLRCT">small group day trip</a>, both leaving from Florence.

  • 21. Loire Castles from Paris

    Nothing quite spells out the glamor and lavish beauty of the French high-life as the <a title="Loire Castles tours" href="http://www.viator.com/Paris-tourism/Loire-Castles-from-Paris-tours-tickets/d479-t3330">Loire Castles</a>. The most scenic Chambord, Cheverny and Chenonceau castles are full of grand 17th-century interiors, plush green surroundings and unmistakable radiance. The largest of the Loire castles, the Chambord Castle, was built for King Francois I as a hunting lodge. With the <a title="Loire Valley Castle day trip" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Loire-Valley-Castles-Day-Trip-Chambord-Cheverny-and-Chenonceau/d479-2050CL">Loire Valley Castles Day Trip</a>, you will get to visit all three.

  • 22. Visit Mont Saint Michel

    Located on an island near the coast of northern France in Lower Normandy, <a title="Mont Sant Michel tours" href="http://www.viator.com/Bayeux-attractions/Mont-Saint-Michel-tours-tickets/d909-a1630">Mont Saint Michel</a> is known as a spectacle more than a thousand years old. A World Heritage Site, it is known for historic events, such as the fending off of the British during the Hundred Years War. Make your visit all the better with the <a title="Mont Sant Michel day trip" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Mont-Saint-Michel-Day-Trip/d479-2050MS">Mont Saint Michel Day Trip</a> from Viator.

  • 23. Sightsee in Barcelona

    Enjoy Spain's second largest and most relaxed major city, <a title="Barcelona tours, Barcelona things to do" href="http://www.viator.com/Barcelona/d562-ttd">Barcelona</a>. There is probably no greater pleasure to the city than simply trekking up and down it, visiting the musical fountains or going round and round in the Barri Gotic. To save yourself taking perhaps too much of a siesta, try the <a title="Barcelona hop on hop off" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Barcelona/Barcelona-Hop-on-Hop-Off-Tour-North-to-South-Route/d562-2512BBUS">Barcelona Hop-on Hop-off Tour: North to South Route</a>, and make the most of your Euro trip.

  • 24. Tip-toe through tulips from Amsterdam

    Holland is synonymous with quite a number of things: soccer pride, the color orange, bicycles, windmills, and who can forget, colorful tulips. <a title="Keukenhof Gardens tour" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Amsterdam/Keukenhof-Gardens-and-Tulip-Fields-Tour-from-Amsterdam/d525-2550LIN12A">A tour through the Keukenhof Gardens</a> and other available trips to tulip fields is a great way to spend time in the country's most vibrant city, Amsterdam. See rows and rows of this gorgeous flower and even take a few back home for your garden. Check out more <a title="Keukenhof Gardens tour" href="http://www.viator.com/Amsterdam-attractions/Keukenhof-Gardens-tours-tickets/d525-a7">Keukenhof Garden tours & tickets</a> on Viator.

  • 25. Explore Spain's medieval capital, Toledo

    Take either a <a title="Toledo day trip" href="http://www.viator.com/tours/Madrid/Toledo-Half-Day-or-Full-Day-Trip-from-Madrid/d566-2140JTEMA20">Half-Day or Full-Day Trip from Madrid to Toledo</a>, a Spanish fairytale city full of windy cobblestone roads, historic architecture and of course the always lovely Tagus River. There is no shortage of wonderful photogenic sights to explore, such as the Iglesia de los Jesuitas, the Monasterio de San Juan de Los Reyes and the Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca.

 

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