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EUROPE - WHAT TO SEE AND DO AFTER THE MUST-DO SIGHTS

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Don't overlook these cities, towns, sights, museums, activities and festivals on your next trip across the Atlantic.

People often ask us to suggest things to see and do during their trips to Europe. The popularity of Europe's major attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace and the canals of Venice is undeniable, yet the places and activities that we remember the most fondly are not necessarily the most famous. As a bonus, they're usually uncrowded and less-expensive than the must-sees. Many are even free.

Here, in alphabetical order by country, are some less-familiar but equally rewarding European destinations and attractions to get you started. We hope that they will motivate you to make your own discoveries.


Durnstein

AUSTRIA

Dürnstein

Stroll along the picturesque cobblestone streets of Hauptstrasse in this Wachau wine region town along the Danube River. Admire the 16th-century buildings, quaint wrought iron signs and overflowing window flower boxes. Sample local Riesling and Grüner Veltliner vintages in wine bars and shop for souvenirs, including liqueur-filled chocolates and handmade dolls. Austria - Durnstein

Salzburg

Salzburg Marionettes

Watch a performance of The Magic Flute or The Sound of Music in one of the oldest marionette theatres in the world. Puppeteers bring the enchanting stringed marionettes to life on the beautiful baroque theatre's stage. www.marionetten.at

Bruges

BELGIUM

The Markt (Market Square)

View the gabled houses in the historic centre of Bruges on foot, while listening to a 47-bell carillon concert from the 13th-century belfry. You can climb the staircase inside for panoramic views of the medieval architecture in this UNESCO World Heritage city centre. https://bezoekers.brugge.be/en

chocolate

Belgian Chocolate

Shop for decadent white, milk and dark Belgian chocolate — flavoured with liqueurs, enrobing cherries, nuts and caramel or hand-rolled into truffles. Indulge. It's mouthwatering. You can't stop with one. Don't say we didn't warn you. www.belgiumchocolate.com

Rila Monastery

BULGARIA

Rila Monastery

Tour the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. The fairytale-like building, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is surrounded by mountainous scenery. Inside, you'll find a colonnade-edged courtyard, a church, beautiful frescoes, priceless art and manuscripts and a few bearded monks. www.rilamonastery.pmg-blg.com

Dubrovnik

CROATIA

Dubrovnik

Walk along the little streets of the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and savour panoramic views of the red-tiled roofs, harbour, medieval fortresses, turret-topped walls and the Adriatic Sea. Enjoy fresh seafood and local wines in the restaurants and cafés. www.dubrovnik-guide.net

Karlstejn Castle

CZECH REPUBLIC

Karlstejn Castle

Take a guided tour of this Gothic castle, 40 kilometres southwest of Prague. Founded in 1348 by Charles IV, it sheltered royal treasures, including the crown jewels and holy relics. Admire wall paintings and a replica of the crown of the Holy Roman Emperors. www.hradkarlstejn.cz/en/

Den Gamle

DENMARK

Den Gamle By (The Old Town) Museum

Learn about life in Denmark from the 1700s to 1900s in Aarhus, northwest of Copenhagen. Time-travel back to the days of Hans Christian Andersen in the world's first open-air museum of urban history and culture. As you explore 75 buildings moved here from all over Denmark, you can chat with costumed interpreters portraying their inhabitants, from maids and craftsmen to bakers and clergymen. Don't miss the Toy Museum. www.dengamleby.dk

Viking

Viking Games

Every year, in late June and early July, 250 costumed local men, women and children re-create Viking battles, legends and myths on an outdoor stage in Frederikssund. After the performances, shop for bronze jewellery, knitted clothing and felt hats in the Viking Market and satisfy your appetite with barbecued meat, washed down with mead. www.vikingespil.dk

HMS Victory

ENGLAND

HMS Victory

Tour the dry-docked flagship of Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. See the spot on the quarterdeck where he was shot during the Battle of Trafalgar which defeated Napoleon. www.historicdockyard.co.uk

Roman Baths

Roman Baths

With a hand-held audio-guide, discover the well-preserved baths used by Romans 2,000 years ago in southwest England. Located below street level in the city of Bath, they are filled with hot spring water. Interpreters in Roman costume bring the baths to life. After exploring the chambers and treasure-filled interactive museum, sip the spa water in the Pump Room and enjoy afternoon tea in the restaurant. Torches illuminate the baths on summer evenings. www.romanbaths.co.uk

gold-panning

FINLAND

Tankavaara Gold Mining Village

At this Lapland attraction, guides provide gold-panning lessons and lend you a gold pan, rubber boots and a shovel. You keep any nuggets that you find in the creek. The largest nugget ever found here weighed 186 grams. www.tankavaara.fi

Sauna

Sauna

Finland has more than three million saunas. Finns claim that the high temperatures (and follow-up cold-water dip) provide relaxation and health benefits. Choose from a city, spa, cottage, hotel or traditional smoke sauna to experience this important part of Finnish life. www.visitsauna.fi

Eguisheim

FRANCE

Wine Tasting

Sample incredible wines in cellars across the country. In the picturesque village of Eguisheim, in the cradle of the Alsace wine region, enjoy Grand Cru vintages surrounded by half-timbered buildings and flower-filled window boxes. www.vins-paul-schneider.fr

Mont Blanc massif

Aiguille du Midi

Ride the cable car to the 3,842-metre-high Aiguille du Midi peak in the Mont Blanc massif. On a clear day, the panoramic views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps are awesome. At the top, you'll find lookout terraces and one of the highest restaurants in the world. www.chamonix.com

Chartres Cathedral

Stained Glass Windows

Admire 176 spectacular medieval stained glass windows in Chartres Cathedral. Dating back to the early 1200s, the colourful images depict the lives of saints and concepts of Christianity. www.cathedrale-chartres.org

Rhine River Cruise

GERMANY

Rhine River Cruises

Cruise past vineyards, picturesque villages and castles along the Rhine. Shore excursions, regional wines, meals and entertainment are included. No schlepping luggage between destinations! Europe - Rhine River Cruise

self-playing musical instrument

Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum

Discover one of the largest collections of self-playing musical instruments from the 18th to 20th centuries in this Rüdesheim museum. Encompassing gramophones, music boxes, player pianos, jukeboxes and barrel organs, the 350 tiny-to-massive instruments play a variety of enchanting tunes. www.ruedesheim.de/en/see-discover/museums

Meteora

GREECE

Metéora

Drive or take a tour to this forest of grey pillars up to 400 metres high. During the 14th to 15th centuries, two dozen Greek Orthodox monasteries, housing 2,000 monks, were built on top of their flat summits. Access was by long rope ladders and hoisted nets and baskets. Today, six UNESCO-listed monasteries remain. You can now reach them by climbing stone steps carved into the rock. (The Monastery of St. Stephen is accessible by car, rather than stairs.) You'll find museums of Byzantine art and relics inside these mesmerizing monasteries. www.meteora-greece.com

windmill

HOLLAND

The Zaanse Schans

In this open-air museum of 18th and 19th-century buildings, you can watch the massive turning sails of 10 wooden windmills. You'll learn how they power a lumber sawmill as well as grinding stones to make oil, mustard and ground spices. www.dezaanseschans.nl

Irish storyteller

IRELAND

Traditional Storytelling

Listen to an Irish storyteller explain the folklore behind leprechauns, fairy forts and whiskey during a candlelight dinner in a Dublin pub. Irish Folk Tours Dublin

Dolomites

ITALY

Dolomites

Enjoy the spectacular national parks, lakes, mountains and resorts in northeast Italy. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a great location for hiking, scenic drives, photography and delicious local cuisine. www.dolomitemountains.com

Selinunte

Selinunte, Sicily

Discover the streets, mosaics, toppled columns and colossal temple ruins of this ancient Greek city in southwest Sicily. During the 5th century B.C. the city held 20,000 people. Wear comfortable shoes because the archaeological site covers 40 hectares. www.regione.sicilia.it/turismo

Liechtenstein

LIECHTENSTEIN

Scenic Drive

Enjoy postcard views as you drive through this mountainous principality located between Switzerland and Austria. It's only 160 square kilometres in size, but 400 kilometres of hiking trails and the museums, castle and restaurants in Vaduz will tempt you to linger. www.tourismus.li/en

Malta cart ruts

MALTA

Ancient Cart Ruts

Throughout the country, you'll find mysterious cart ruts etched into limestone rock. It's believed that the carts transported stone blocks from quarries to construction sites. Archaeologists are unable to prove that they were related to the island's megalithic temples, which are older than Stonehenge. www.visitmalta.com

seahorses

PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO

Oceanographic Museum

Although this city-state on the French Riviera is most famous as a tax haven and casino-gambling destination, its oceanographic museum is a must-see. Aquariums house 6,000 specimens, including sharks, tropical and Mediterranean fish, seahorses and 100 species of coral. www.oceano.mc/en

Sami grandmother and baby

NORWAY

Meet the Sami

Encounter Norway's indigenous people, the Sami, at roadside souvenir stands, festivals such as Tromso's Sami Week and Sápmi Culture Park in Karasjok. Here, you can view reindeer-feeding and lasso-throwing, taste Sami cuisine in the restaurant (delicious reindeer meat and cloudberries), watch shows about Sami culture and shop for traditional handicrafts in the store. www.visitsapmi.no

Vigeland Sculpture

Vigeland Sculptures

Don't miss the 212 incredible bronze, granite and wrought iron sculptures by Gustav Vigeland in Oslo's Frogner Park. They depict the stages of life and a monolith of figures reaching for divine salvation. The 32-hectare site is the world's largest sculpture park created by a single artist. Admission is free. www.vigeland.museum.no

Algarve sandy beach

PORTUGAL

Algarve

Explore the rock formations along the southern Algarve coast. Swim, stroll along the beautiful sandy beaches and dine on fresh seafood. www.visitportugal.com

Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca

In southwest Sintra, travel to the furthest point west in continental Europe. A monument inscription reads: "Where the land ends and the sea begins." Nearby, a lighthouse perches on cliffs 160 metres above the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Sunset is the most picturesque time to visit. www.sintracascais.com

Sucevita Monastery

ROMANIA

Sucevita Monastery

Sucevita was built and fortified in northeast Romania in 1583. Between 1602 and 1604, artists painted the interior and exterior of the Moldavian church with frescoes depicting biblical scenes from the Old and New Testaments. UNESCO lists the monastery as one of the Painted Churches of Moldavia. www.romaniatourism.com

sheep dog trial

SCOTLAND

Sheep Dog Trials

During competitions at agricultural shows, traditional Scottish games and sheep dog trials, view talented Border Collies respond to their handler's commands to manoeuvre sheep. www.visitscotland.com

Postojna Caves

SLOVENIA

Postojna Caves

Walk and ride a train through five kilometres of halls and passages to view whimsically shaped stalactites and stalagmites, huge caverns and an underground river. Guides describe the cave's history. (German forces stored aircraft fuel here during the Second World War.) You'll also see olms (blind salamanders that live without light). Bring a jacket. The temperature is 8 to 10 degrees Celsius year-round. Postojna Slovenia Cave Tours

April Fair

SPAIN

April Fair

Join the locals during this week-long fiesta held in Seville every April. Men wear traditional Andalusian clothing and women wear colourful flamenco dresses as they ride horse-drawn carriages through the city, dance and feast in striped tents in the fairground. The merrymaking ends with a dazzling fireworks show. www.visitasevilla.es/en

Segovia Aqueduct

Segovia Aqueduct

As you walk through the city of Segovia, admire the two-tier 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct, which is constructed from granite blocks joined without mortar. The UNESCO-listed landmark's 166 arches rise up to 29 metres high. www.turismodesegovia.com

La Mancha Windmills

La Mancha Windmills

Anyone who has read Don Quixote will enjoy the historic windmills in Consuegra in central Spain. The scenic spot is a great place to stretch your legs on a drive from Toledo or Madrid. After viewing the 12 magnificent monuments, it's easy to understand why windmills like these inspired Cervantes. www.spain.info

Fallas Festival

Fallas Festival

Every March, locals fill the decorated streets of Valencia with more than 700 building-high children's and adult's fallas. These artistic monuments, constructed from wood, cardboard and paper-mâché, are painted and filled with fireworks. Designed around an annual theme, most are satirical or humorous. During the two-week fiesta, residents dress in costume, walk in processions, listen to marching bands, offer flowers to Valencia's patron saint and throw firecrackers. On the night of March 19, they burn the fallas in spectacular bonfires. www.fallasfromvalencia.com

sculpture by Carl Milles

SWEDEN

Millesgården

Enjoy sculptures by Carl Milles (1875-1955), fountains and views of Stockholm in this beautiful outdoor art museum. You can also visit the artist's home and galley and dine in the sculpture park's restaurant. www.millesgarden.se

Vasa Museum

Vasa Museum

The only preserved 17th-century ship in the world is on display in this Stockholm museum. On a guided tour, you learn that the Swedish warship sank in Stockholm Harbour during its maiden voyage. It remained there for 333 years until it was raised in 1961. The museum houses the 69-metre-long ship, retrieved cannons and sculptures as well as a 1:10 scale model and exhibits of life on board. www.vasamuseet.se/en

Kleine Scheidegg

SWITZERLAND

Kleine Scheidegg

View chalets, mountains and spectacular scenery at Kleine Scheidegg, a 2,061-metre-high pass. From here, the Jungfrau railway climbs to the highest railway station in Europe at Jungfraujoch (3,454 metres). www.jungfrau.ch/

alphorns

Alphorn Music

Listen to traditional alpine music played on alphorns. The best places to hear the long-tubed wind instruments are at traditional folk festivals, the International Alphorn Festival in Nendaz and Swiss National Day (August 1) celebrations. Alphorns - Alpine Music from Switzerland

Devil's Bridge Waterfalls

WALES

Devil's Bridge Waterfalls

Follow a nature trail through the forested Mynach River gorge to view this pristine 92-metre-high waterfall. You can ride the Vale of Rheidol Steam Railway from Aberystwyth to the Devil's Bridge. www.devilsbridgefalls.co.uk

These sights and activities are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Europe's lesser-known gems. After you've checked off the must-see items on your itinerary, take the time to discover some overlooked (but not underrated) places and attractions.

You won't be disappointed.