Europe Insider Tips

Austria, Vienna | The Beethoven Frieze, painted by Gustav Klimt in 1902, celebrates the composer along with a monumental polychrome sculpture by Max Klinger, you can see this incredible work of art on display in the Vienna Secession Building.

Croatia | Packed in to a country the size of Virginia, travelers can explore eight national parks, 11 nature parks, incredible coastlines and 10 World Heritage sites. History buffs will marvel at the Roman and Venetian ruins, while those seeking action will be thrilled with land, sea and river adventures including kayaking, biking, hiking, rafting and more. Plus, your foodie clients will delight in plates created with the locally grown white truffle and the savor Zinfandel which was originally created in Croatia.

Czech Republic, Prague | Be sure to capture photos with the Prague astronomical clock located in Old Town Square. The clock dates from the early 15th century, and is the oldest still-functioning astrological clock in the world.

Czech Republic, Prague | While in Prague, spend the day discovering the Garden of the Ramparts. It connects the Lesser Town to the Prague Castle through a series of hidden gardens, private stairways and secret pathways to an incredible view of the city and castle.

England, London | Boasting the best theater in the world, enjoy lively musicals, classic plays and long-running favorites, starring many familiar faces in London's West End.

England, London | Consider smooth sailing on the Thames River as a scenic alternate to city transportation. Take a breath of fresh air in one of London's many parks - Kyoto Garden offers moments of tranquility in an often-busy city. Tucked away in Neasden in northwest London lays BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, the largest Hindu temple outside of India. Or, visit London's famous Marble Arch, originally designed to be the entrance to Buckingham Palace, instead became an office once used by the local police.

England, London | Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was originally released on June 29, 1997. It has been more than 20 years since we first met Harry, Ron and Hermoine and were introduced to the world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Celebrate in style, as it is an excellent time to visit London and embark on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour for a close up look at The Making of Harry Potter - Step into the Forbidden Forest.

England, London | Discover the mind of Leonardo da Vinci. At London's Science Museum, take part in an interactive exhibit which brings life to Leonardo's original sketches as large-scale models. For those looking for a more modern experience, the exhibit also presents modern research on the advancements of robotics and aeronautics.

England, London | ME London is located on a triangular site on the corner of Aldwych Street and The Strand and was originally the home of the popular Gaiety Theatre. The hotel offers incredible views from the only rooftop bar in The Strand, located on the 10th floor and accessible by private lift with 360 degree views of London. Guests will enjoy tasty meat dishes and market fresh fish at STK London. ~ Rachel Brodie, Destination Marketing Manager

France, Cote d'Azure | Known for its international film festival at the Palais de Festivals, explore Cannes. You'll enjoy its own version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame with star's signatures and handprints embedded in their Allee des Etoiles d Cinema.

France, Cote d'Azure | A main winter event on the Riviera and one of the largest carnivals in the world, the Nice Carnival is typically hosted in February. During this event, you'll experience colorful parades, thousands of musicians and dancers from the across the world, floats, flower battles and more.

France, Paris | Prince de Galles offers a truly unique and upscale Parisian experience at Bar Les Heures. Named as one of the world's best bars, imbibe in your favorite cocktail while discovering its history. The hotel has been host to such personalities as Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Chamberlain, Marlene Dietrich, and Elvis Presley. The drink list features a series of classic cocktails which have been reinterpreted with a modern twist. There are some lovely vintage cocktail paraphernalia dotted round the room, including a seltzer siphon and a champagne tap. The service is smooth and the atmosphere harks back to an earlier more glamorous age.

France, Paris | Great news for those traveling to Europe - three of Frances' biggest attractions are now open seven days a week: The Louvre, Orsay Museum and Versailles.

France, Paris | The Eiffel Tower celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 2014. Click here for a video to discover 10 fun facts you didn't know about this eye-catching landmark.

France, Paris | Shopping enthusiasts delight ... take advantage of city-wide shopping sales every June and July, where you will discover prices reduced 30 to 70 percent.

France, Paris | The view from the Eiffel Tower just got even better with a glass floor installed on the first level of the tower. Click here to view a video and virtually experience the floor for yourself.

France, Paris | Explore a secret hidden gem in Montmartre, Paris called Cafe du Cinema Studio 28. Walk past the iconic Windmill de la Galette art cinema ticket office and discover an enchanting courtyard under an Arabian-style tent with a bar, salon and restaurant that comes alive every afternoon.

France, Paris | The modern macaroon was invented at patisserie Laduree in 1931. This delicacy is still the rage of Paris, and Laduree is the city's premier teahouse, patisserie, chocolatier and maker of fine macarons, selling up to 15,000 daily.

France, Paris | The Hyatt Paris Madeleine is elevating their breakfast buffets another notch by bringing in top, local artisanal food producers to show off their premium products. Suppliers include Clementine Oliver, serving gluten free butter cookies, cakes and cream puffs; Alexandre Pignut, offering handmade Passionne cheese; Le Prince de Paris/Yves et Florian Le Guel, providing old-fashioned Paris ham; Frederic Lalos, with bread and breakfast pastries; Joelle et Charlotte Sanchez, with smoked salmon; and organic, hand-prepared muesli and granola by Julie Lutringer. The buffet is open daily for guests and the public.

France, Paris | Under a large-scale glass roof, La Cinoiserie is the luxurious restaurant at the Hyatt Paris Madeleine. The newly appointed chef, Sebastein Roux, has brought his refined but adventurous cuisine to his new appointment. Enjoy seating in front of the cozy fireplace in the opulently appointed, casual chic dining room and feast on a green lentil salad with thin-sliced beef and arugula cooked to perfection or savor the free-range chicken, accompanied with crispy corn, soft whipped potatoes, and wilted spinach. As a grand finale, enjoy the chef's dessert specialty of soft meringue shards with a raspberry puree and mascarpone whipped cream.

France, Provence | Marseille is the perfect gateway to Provence located just 20 minutes from Cassis and its famous wine tastings, 25 minutes from Aix en Provence, an hour and a half from St. Tropez and Manosque with its famous lavender fields and only two hours from Cannes and Nice. Click here for a concierge guide with insider tips on the area from InterContinental Marseille-Hotel Dieu.

Germany | Oktoberfest beers are stronger than regular beers, containing 6% alcohol, and are specially brewed for the annual celebration. And when you order a beer from a beer hall or tent, be ready for a signature liter glass called a MAB, which contains two pints of beer. Non-alcoholic drink options are also available, including apfelschorle, a sparkling apple drink or Spezi, a regular soda choice in Bavaria.

Germany | Considered one of the most beautiful castles in the world, Neuschwanstein Castle is a relatively new creation. Built in the late 1800s by Bavarian King Ludwig II, the monarch instructed architects to design something that would reflect both the operas of Richard Wagner and the romantic ideals of the Middle Agens. With the snowcapped Alps as a backdrop and the Bavarian plains spread beneath, the castle is a cinema darling having appeared in numerous films including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Great Escape.

Germany | While Bavarian Oompah bands play during the day, celebrations go well into the evening, singing songs and dancing on the benches.

Greece | Try the traditional Greek liquor, Oyzo. Clear and silky with a distinct licorice flavor, Oyzo is served neat and rarely mixed with anything other than water. Oyzo is traditionally paired with small plates, or tapas, and intended to stimulate conversation and social engagement. Drink like a Grecian and sample their staple liquor. ~ Rachel Brodie, Destination Marketing Manager

Greece | Just hitting the theaters, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is set on a fictional Greek isle, however it's inspired by a number of real-world getaways. The feel-good movie set in a beautiful Mediterranean setting has inspired an interest of traveling to the isles. Discover the picturesque architecture, windmills, golden beaches and cosmopolitan nightlife of Mykonos or explore the volcanic island of Santorini where romance awaits amidst ancient ruins and cliffside retreats.

Greece | Tipping in Greece should be no more than 10 percent in restaurants and up to two Euros are typical for bars, cafes and taxis. ~ Rachel Brodie, Destination Marketing Manager

Greece, Athens | Wander through the Archaeological Park surrounding the Acropolis (Greek for highest point) and admire Athen's great landmarks from a distance. Click here for a virtual history of the Acropolis.

Greece, Crete | Crete is considered one of the most authentic of the islands we sell and not to be missed. Admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore beautiful beaches, steep gorges and impressive mountainscapes, ideal for biking and hiking. Expect incredible family-style meals, with some of the best Greek cuisine we ate, and prepare for a leisurely meal as Cretan people spend hours eating and drinking raki or wine while sharing stories. Due to its size, I highly recommend staying five to seven nights on the island. ~ Rachel Brodie, Destination Marketing Manager

Greece, Crete | Hiking through Samaria Gorge, a National Park of Greece, is a must-do in Crete. Hikers especially enjoy the Gates, where the width of the gorge narrows to 13 feet and the sides of the gorge tower to 980 feet.

Greece, Mykonos | The island's longest and most popular beach in Mykonos is Elia, consistently awarded the Blue Flag for its beautiful pristine beach.

Greece, Santorini | Steps from the ancient site in Akrotiri, Santorini is Red Beach, known for the unique color of its sand, boasts dramatic red lava cliffs that merge into the beautiful sandy shore and sapphire sea below.

Greece, Santorini | For a truly exclusive experience at Canaves Oia Suites, reserve space at Petra Gourmet Restaurant - the private terrace has only two tables and is made for romantic moments. Full of romantic options, head to the top floor to watch Santorini's gorgeous sunsets while sipping a cocktail or enjoy a champagne breakfast at the Poolside Restaurant. Another treat ... visit the Wine Cellar for ceremonial tasting evenings or an exclusive fine dining option on the Panoramic Balcony for just you and you loved one. ~ Rachel Brodie, Destination Marketing Manager

Ireland | Millions have flocked to Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney Stone. Some say it was brought to Ireland by the Crusades and others claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses.

Ireland | A three-leaf clover or shamrock is an Irish symbol of the holy trinity. The fourth leaf means God's grace and is a universal symbol of good luck.

Ireland | Tourism Ireland released an ad campaign to coincide with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, when it premiered on December 15, 2017. The campaign focused on the filming locations along the Wild Atlantic Way including Skellig Michael, an island off Ireland's southwest coast, where audiences caught their first glimpse at the end of the last film, The Force Awakens, as Luke Skywalker's hide out. Cast and crew filmed in many locations including Cork, Kerry, Clare and Donegal and a promotional film starring Mark Hamill was released touting Earth's Wild Atlantic Way - the perfect place to get away from it all.

Ireland | Though Star Wars takes place in a galaxy far, far away, some locations are much closer to home. One of the locations featured in The Force Awakens is Skellig Michael, a rocky island off the western coast of Ireland. From May 3 - 5, celebrate in Ireland with the May the 4th Be With You Festival. The festival takes place along the Wild Atlantic Way, in both Kerry and Donegal. There is even a Festival Dome in Kerry which will house various events and exhibitions across the weekend; alongside multiple outdoors events.

Ireland, County Kerry | Located high upon the cliffs of Count Kerry, the Maritime Museum, Mizen Head offers a spectacular 270 degree view of the Atlantic Ocean. But we will let the beauty speak for itself. Easily accessible by car and a brief walk, this is a hidden gem for those who want to see fantastic Cliffside Wild Atlantic views without having the crowds of Cliffs of Moher.

Ireland, Dublin | You'll be pleasantly surprised to know that the Dublin Airport in Ireland has United States Customs there so you don't have to clear customs upon arrival back in the Unites States. Shannon Airport also has pre-clearance facilities. This speeds up the process tremendously, especially if you have a flight connection in the United States, and makes for a much more pleasant coming home process.

Ireland, Dublin | One of Dublin's most exciting fine dining venues is Forest Avenue. Located on Sussex Terrace behind the Grand Canal, Forest Avenue boasts modern Irish cuisine with an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. With a menu that constantly changes and evolves, we must recommend the five-course surprise tasting menu. Expect a new experience on every visit as the staff constantly works to enhance your culinary experience.

Ireland, Dublin | Dublin overflows with friendly, accessible charm and offers a number of not to be missed attractions. Marvel at the works of Rembrandt, Goya and Monet at the National Gallery of Ireland, discover the basics of whiskey distilling at the Old Jameson Distillery or visit miles of books including the Book of Kells at Trinity College Library. From St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Jeanie Johnston ship to St. Stephen's Green, the Dublin Castle and the H'penny Bridge - there is something exciting to explore at every corner. Click here for an article with highlights that can't be missed on your trip to Dublin.

Ireland, Dublin | Delight in a lively 16-day festival in Ireland. The Dublin Fringe Festival typically takes in September with live entertainment including performances in dance, theatre, live art, visual art and music. Fringe is a curated, multi-disciplinary festival and year-round organization focusing on fresh and innovative approaches to the arts from Irish and international makers.

Ireland, Dublin | Dublin hosted its 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Uprising with cultural events, exhibitions and parades including a GPO: Witness History exhibit at the General Post Office (the rebels' headquarters). For a little background prior to your trip, watch the documentary: 1916 The Irish Rebellion - narrated by Liam Neeson and expected to air in March on the BBC and public stations across the US. Click here to view the video.

Italy | Each year on August 15, Italy celebrates a national holiday called Ferragosto or Assumption Day; festivities include music, food, and fireworks, making this a good opportunity to visit the small villages.

Italy, Amalfi Coast | In Capri, Anacapri is less touristic, hence a more real, deal Italian feel. The single chair lift to the top of Mount Solaro is a fun experience and can be done from Anacapri, but you'll find all your high-end shopping in the village of Capri. Also, you will find the historical sights of Villa San Michele, built in the 20th century by a Swedish physician, the Roma Villa Jovis, built by emperor Tiberius, and the Blue Grotto on this side of the island.

Italy, Amalfi Coast | The towns of Praiano, Amalfi and Ravello are part of the World Heritage Site of the Costiera Amalfitana, meaning that they are protected by UNESCO to keep from being urbanized, to stay as charming as they have always been without the effects of tourism.

Italy, Florence | Let's be honest, you have been planning to try some gelato while in Florence. By far our favorite spot is Gelateria La Carraia. Right off the Ponte alla Carraia, Gelateria La Carraia offers both your classic flavors and some of their own inventions. Hands down our favorite flavor is Tiramisu. With the consistency of whipped creme, the gelato melts in your mouth leaving the fantastic flavor behind.

Italy, Rome | For a unique view of St. Peter's Basilica popular with the locals, visit the Knights of Malta Gate and walk to Garden of Oranges for incredible views.

Italy, Rome | As amazing as Saint Peter's Basilica is, it does have a tourist atmosphere. The Basilica of Saint Paul, located outside Vatican City, exhibits a similar grandeur to Saint Peter's but is more intimate. Our favorite aspect of the Basilica is the chronology of Popes, whose portraits line the ceiling. Those lucky enough to visit during a mass celebration are in for a treat.

Italy, Rome | When in Rome, eat like the Romans do with a visit to Trastevere, a small traditional Italian town, filled with great restaurants and locals who enjoy the traditional fare. ~ Rachel Brodie, Destination Marketing Manager

Italy, Rome | It's well known that the Vatican is a must see while in Rome, however I highly recommend a guided skip-the-lines excursion, lines can take all day, even in the low season and this will allow you easy entrance at your allotted time. Plus, the guides are outstanding and will share the history with you behind each painting and sculpture. They will also take some time in the beginning to cover the work of the Sistine Chapel because you are not allowed to speak once inside the chapel. ~ Rachel Brodie, Destination Marketing Manager

Italy, Rome | The Trevi Fountain's traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, they are ensured a return visit to Rome. The coins are collected every night and given to an Italian charity called Caritas. They in turn use it on a supermarket program providing rechargeable cards to Rome's needy to help them purchase groceries.

Italy, Rome | Pope Francis declared an extraordinary Jubilee Year in 216. The Holy Year of Mercy began on December 8, 2015, with the opening of the special Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Additional Holy Doors at the basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Maggiore and St. Paul's Outside the Walls were also opened. The faithful believe that a walk through the Holy Doors offers forgiveness from sins. Jubilees have taken place every 25 - 50 years, with the last one being called by Pope John Paul II in 2000. ~ Rachel Brodie, Destination Marketing Manager

Italy, Venice | The Westin Europa & Regina features spacious rooms with heavenly beds, separate room with corner closet, safe, mini-refrigerator and large flat screen TVs that offer a greater variety of American channels than other resorts we visited. The marble bathroom was spacious with a separate shower and tub. Restaurant La Cusina's has a great terrace with beautiful views of the Grand Canal on warmer days. Connecting rooms and private transfers are also available. I would recommend requesting a Grand Canal view since we were in a room that was facing other buildings and rooftops of nearby homes. ~ Christina Liang, Destination Specialist

Italy, Venice | The Piazza San Marco clock tower in Venice displays the time of day, the dominant sign of the zodiac and current phase of the moon. Find Venetian glass and signature masks along Mercerie shopping street.

Italy, Venice | Home to the famous Bellini cocktail and visited by countless storied celebrities and dignitaries, raise a glass to your fellow travelers at Venice's legendary hot spot, Harry's Bar, located on Calle Vallaresso.

Italy, Venice | After this visit, I traveled to Venice via private transfer and public water taxi but had to walk to our hotel. I would make sure our clients take a private water taxi right to the dock of the hotel, rather than have to get out and walk farther to the hotel with their luggage. ~ Katie Thingstad, Destination Specialist

Italy, Venice | Not to be missed in Venice, Italy is the Redentore Feast. This annual festival typically takes place in June. The Redentore (Redeemer) Feast is a deeply felt celebration combining religion with entertainment. Enjoy a Saturday night fireworks display, attracting locals and visitors alike. A kaleidoscope of shades, lights and colors abound on the inimitable setting in St. Mari's Basin, lighting up the spires, domes and bell towers of the city.

Italy, Venice | San Clemente Palace Kempenski in Venice is a favorite family hotel in Venice. The hotel is located on its own island, offering an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the Venetian crowded streets, especially in the summer time. Rooms are quite spacious, especially when you consider European standards. There is a swimming pool and plenty of grass for children to run around and play. They have their own private water taxi, taking guests back and forth from Piazza San Marco (St. Marks Square) to the hotel. If clients have been shopping and may want to stay longer in the city before returning to the hotel, they can bring their bags down to the private water taxi and they will deposit them at the front desk where they will then be taken to the clients' room. It is about a 15-minute private water taxi ride between Piazza San Marco and the San Clemente Palace.

Italy, Venice | In Venice October through January is typically high water season and flooding is a possibility. The best times to travel to Venice would be late spring to early summer. ~ Steve Perry, Sales Training Specialist

Italy, Venice | The Venice Carnival is usually hosted from February to March with a variety of events including the Festa Veneziana on the water, Festa delle Marie - The Parade, Mestre Carnival Street Show, Best Mask Contests, Dinner and Ball and much more. Don't miss Canaletto and Venice at Doge's Palace with an exhibition dedicated to 18th-century Venice with lights and shadows unfolding through the rooms of Palazzo Ducale, in the story of an extraordinary century and its protagonist: Giovanni Antonio Canal, Canaletto.

Netherlands, Amsterdam | For an exquisite morning sweet, enjoy a Boschebol (Dutch pastry) with your coffee at the quaint Arnold Cornelis Banketbakkerij (bakery) in Amsterdam.

Netherlands | Taking place from November 28, 2019 - January 19, 2020, the Amsterdam Light Festival illuminates the city with works by light artists from around the world. Hundreds of designers and architects participate in the event with routes to follow on foot, by bicycle or by boat.

Netherlands, Amsterdam | Each year from March through May, the Netherlands explode into a lavish display of color. Tulips take center stage, favoring the countries long spring and cool night. Visit the Keukenhof Tulip Garden featuring a new theme every year with more than seven million blooms or venture out to the patchwork quilt of tulip farms in the Noordoostpolder municipality, about a two-hour train ride from Amsterdam.

Scotland | The modern game of golf originated in Scotland in the 15th century. First mentioned as 'gowf' in 1457, golf was originally played on a 22 hole course. It was reduced to 18 holes at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 1764, and other courses followed suit. St. Andrews is dubbed the "home of golf" and exercises legislative authority over the game throughout most of the world (except for the United States and Mexico).

Scotland | Be sure to visit Strathisla, the oldest, continuously operating distillery in the Highlands. Home to Chivas Regal, the distillery offers a blending experience where you can mix in its mad professor-style blending lab and keep your own blend of fine malt whiskey. The two-pagoda distillery is atmospheric, with many of its stones coming from the neighboring 15th-century castle.

Scotland, Edinburgh | Like Rome, Edinburgh is also built on seven hills. Arthur's Seat is the main peak of the group of hills, which form most of Holyrood Park. It is situated just to the east of the city center, about one mile to the east of Edinburgh Castle. The hill rises above the city to a height of 822 feet, provides excellent panoramic views of the city and beyond, is relatively easy to climb, and is popular for hillwalking. Though it can be climbed from almost any direction, the easiest and simplest ascent is from the east, where a grassy slope rises above Dunsapie Loch.

Spain | The Spanish delight in a daily afternoon siesta, at which time many of the shops are closed, so be sure to do your perusing before or after this time. In the evening, things really come alive with delectable offerings at the numerous tapas bars, restaurants and vibrant nightclubs.

Spain, Barcelona | If Park Guell is on your itinerary, spend your lunch at Terra Mia. This secluded restaurant sits an accessible three minutes' walk from Park Guell. Take in the quaint setting while enjoying the Spanish/Italian fusion Terra Mia is known for. Great food, great service, and great atmosphere, Terra Mia insures your visit to Park Guell ends pleasantly. Savor hand-made pastas, veal and pork specialties, and a variety of tapas including tempura vegetables, candied artichokes, prawn crackers, cod fritters and ham croquettes.

Spain, Barcelona | Attend mass in one of the most breathtaking basilicas in the world. With construction spanning from 1828 to present day, La Sagrada Familia's range of architectural styles makes it a must visit for all in Barcelona. Those wishing to have a deeper experience can attend mass, either in Spanish or Catalonian, down in the working cathedral in the basement of this grand basilica. Masses are celebrated daily and times can be found online.

Spain, Barcelona | La Boqueria Market in Barcelona boasts the freshest of fish and seafood, fruit and vegetables this side of Europe.

Spain, Costa del Sol | From Gibraltar to Malaga, the Costa del Sol, Spain's signature coastline averages 300 days of sunshine per year, and features spectacular beaches, fine Mediterranean gastronomy, natural reserves and endless activities.

Turkey, Istanbul | Located next to the Royal Palace in Madrid, the famed flamenco show at Corral de la Morera features professional dancers, authentic decor and a highly prestigious audience including worldwide dignitaries and celebrities.

Turkey, Istanbul | Baklava, a cultural staple made with chopped nuts spread between phyllo layers dressed with butter, then baked and sweetened with syrup or honey, was once considered by the sultans to be an aphrodisiac.

Turkey, Istanbul | Turkish coffee is renowned for its flavorful intensity and is posted on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Turkey, Istanbul | To avoid the afternoon crowds, visit the Blue Mosque between the dawn and midday prayers, respecting the dress code when entering.

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