Welcome to our Travel Theme page showcasing Travel with a Challenge‘s feature article collection of European destinations, taking you from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England through countries on the continent of Europe as well. These stories provide exciting travel windows on cultures and countries, cruising and barging, nature and wildlife holidays, and active adventure vacations suitable for the senior traveler. You haven’t finished exploring Europe until you have also visited our Mediterranean articles theme page.
Our European Travel Theme page sponsor is European Waterways Ltd, a respected company offering luxury barging on the magical waterways of Scotland, Ireland, England, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Italy for an impressive 36 years. The company’s fleet of gourmet-catered, beautifully-appointed hotel barges moves at a calm, majestic pace allowing guests to truly experience a country’s character from within.
Feel free to explore our other Travel Theme Pages for vacations well suited to senior travelers, their families and friends. Please click on image buttons or titles below to enter each richly-illustrated feature story.
Travel with our talented storyteller, Anne Jardine, on a Trans-Siberian rail journey from China through Mongolia across Siberia to Russia, all first class on a Road Scholar educational holiday with expert-led excursions and lectures. This trip was on Anne’s bucket list. After reading her tale of adventure, it will be on yours too.
While England’s Stonehenge is an iconic example worldwide, did you know that the British Isles and Ireland are home to thousands of variants of Megalithic stone ruins from prehistoric times? A new guidebook documents 1,000 of them with descriptions, maps and photos making it easy for visitors to decide if a visit is worth a holiday detour.
Carreg Samson, Pembrokeshire ©Roger K. Read
Join a small-ship expedition cruise among the historic, wind-swept and picturesque islands along the west and north coasts of Scotland. These sparsely-inhabited islands are famous for their geologic wonders, Viking and Neolithic monuments, abundant bird life and world-class whisky distilleries. Sample them all!
Calling all long walkers! Be inspired by Derry Brabb’s photographic essay as he describes and illustrates eleven famous and lesser-known pilgrim routes in Britain, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. Maps, distance charts and follow-up websites are included in his new coffee table-sized book.
Holland is famous for its canals and locks that link landscapes and cities together. Join a 12-day art appreciation cruise aboard a traditional canal boat that takes in historic and modern art museums and teaches painting techniques to participants that were used by well-known Dutch masters.
Ever wondered what it would be like to buy a three-month Eurail pass and explore Continental Europe without a timetable? Award-winning book author, Karen McCann, shares her hilarious, harrowing, life-changing adventure as she and her husband visit 13 countries at their pace, mostly in Eastern Europe.
Human prehistory, reaching back from 12,000 to 47,000 years ago, is a source of global fascination to archaeologists and amateur enthusiasts alike. Paleoanthropologist, Genevieve von Petzinger, shares her intimate knowledge of European Ice Age sites in France, Spain and Portugal, while recommending the best sites for travelers to visit at this time.
Paris resident, local tour guide and book author, Tom Reeves, takes readers on a cuisine crawl with detailed information about favorite restaurants, cafes, bistros, and gourmet food and wine shops to suit every budget. Declares guidebook reviewer, Jake Lamar, “Tom decodes the little customs, cultural quirks and expressions of speech” you’ll want to know, including ten tips for dining like a local.
Have you ever stayed at an historic accommodation that was built as an emigrant center, or served as a refugee center or been a prison before it was transformed into an acclaimed international hotel and richly-artistic “embassy”? How about all of the above? Alison Gardner shares her stay at this unique, playful property.
Portugal’s distinctive wine production first gained fame in Roman times. Today picturesque vineyards range over 14 regions of this small Atlantic-facing country with award-winning vintages and accompanying Portuguese cuisine creating a thriving culinary tourism easily adaptable to travelers with many interests and budgets. Wine tours and river cruises, unique accommodations and memorable restaurants are drawing appreciative vacationers.
Berlin is Back! This vibrant city was under wraps during much of World War II, then suffered from a split political personality for 45 years until German reunification in 1990. It was bombed into ruins in the final stages of war and neglected during the drab Communist era, reports Marianne Scott, who documents for us the restoration of classical heritage and the flourishing of new public art, all free for the viewing.
Our always-fit contributor, MaryAnn Gerst, shares her latest trekking adventure, hiking the ten-day Tour du Mont Blanc oval route through the western Alps of France, Switzerland and Italy. While staying in rustic refugios and weathering a rainstorm or two, she and her two hiking buddies proved that this classic European hiking adventure is perfectly senior-friendly!
Active seniors will love Switzerland’s multi-day routes for cycling, hiking and canoeing throughout the hills, farmland and mountain ranges that define the country. From the 18 designated routes, we’ve picked six that are particularly senior-friendly … two of which offer electric bicycles for rent. This is a great way to discover nature, explore picturesque towns and villages, and savor the specialties of each region, from Emmental Swiss cheese to tasty meringues!
There is no more fulfilling place to sip champagne than in Champagne itself, and no better way to gain a full appreciation of the beverage’s justifiable fame than to stay in the region. Travel writer, Tom Koppel and photographer, Annie Palovcik, share their experience, immersing in the history and generational culture of small family vineyards, while tasting and learning all about champagne.
Recently gaining international attention for dozens of ancient monolithic stones and well-preserved villages older than Stonehenge or Egypt’s pyramids, Scotland’s Orkney Islands offer new insights into the sophisticated lives and capabilities of humans in times well before the classical civilizations of Mediterranean Europe. We join Diane Oates on her journey to the Orkneys. Button credit: Charles Tait
Only a mountain range apart from Switzerland’s predominantly French and German sections of the country, the much smaller Italian-speaking Ticino region hosts just 6.5% of the country’s population. Charming villages and towns, a warmer climate, lakeside boat rides, Italian-style cuisine, vineyards and, of course, a third language tell visitors they have left traditional Switzerland.
Wales is a modest-sized bulge on the west side of Great Britain, often overlooked as a destination. For most international travelers, its most immediate association is probably with the title for the heir to the British throne which is a shame because there is a great deal to see and do there, offering a memorable holiday for culture lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Consider eight restaurants in Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland where both the fresh local menus and the view are definitely worth the effort to get there. Whether opting for a country house that exudes history from every wall or a Welsh mountain top aerie or a Scottish pub restaurant accessed by an 18-mile hike, an all-round adventure awaits.
In an under-visited area of northeastern Portugal rests what has been identified as”the biggest open-air site of Palaeolithic rock art in Europe, if not the world.” Join Alison Gardner as she explores this precious collection of Ice Age engravings, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 and now selectively accessible to the public.
Rural tourism and farm holidays (agrotourism) make up 15% of tourism on that continent. This article introduces readers to the advantages of a country vacation where diverse cultural and natural experiences, fresh local cuisine, and undisturbed recreational opportunities await the bold traveler!
Tom Koppel shares his up and down adventures with Switzerland’s amazing transportation options throughout the country, ranging from trains on dizzying trestles and spiral tunnels to funiculars and gondolas. One convenient Swiss Pass allows visitors to experience them all and the fabulous vistas they offer for discount prices.
Britain is one of the world’s most popular places for cultural and historical travel as well as rural adventures, but it is rarely associated with enriching travel on a limited budget. Here are ten tips that will change your mind about that with insider strategies to enjoy all that this exciting country has to offer.
Join Richard Blackburn on a self-guided narrow boat exploration of the Trent & Mersey Canal in the North Midlands of England. Britain’s network of historic canals is an adventurous treat for senior vacationers like Richard and his wife, Jan, who navigated their 45-foot-long, 7-foot-wide narrow boat through some incredibly tight spaces, many locks and beautiful English countryside..
Take a drive with Julie Ferguson through a region of Provence that captivated two great artists, Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso. The author planned a self-drive route that offers our readers an insightful glimpse of what these artists experienced and why this small part of France became a part of their artistic inspiration.
Step aboard an elegant river cruise ship with Travel with a Challenge editor, Alison Gardner, to sample a week of stimulating exploration along the Rhone and Saône Rivers from Arles in southern Provence, through Lyon and on to Chalon sur Saône in southern Burgundy. Every day the 130 guests have much to see and do!
Join Travel with a Challenge editor, Alison Gardner on a classic cruise adventure, barging the picturesque Canal du Nivernais from Clamecy to Auxerre, while sampling the region’s distinctive cuisine and enjoying daily excursions to historic chateaux, medieval towns and wine tastings en route.
An amazing century of African-American art, music, and literary genius is alive and well and living in Paris as Julia Browne shares in this fascinating article. Join her at the favorite cafés, residential hotels, jazz clubs, and Paris soirées where history is highlighted and the legacy lives on for new visitors to enjoy.
Every two years, Brussels lays out a massive begonia carpet with a dazzling original design encompassing 700,000 flowers for a three-day festival. You will appreciate our photo essay which celebrates Belgium’s special flower and encourages readers to be there in August to join the festive atmosphere!
With a Lapland reindeer herder as guide, adventure travel writer, Margie Goldsmith, spends a day in Finland’s forest wilderness 230 miles/370 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. She learns about this longstanding economic lifeline for the Sami people, and discovers new challenges to such a traditional way of life in the 21st century.
Join three Canadian seniors for a challenging 15-day walk across the skinny part of northern England, and discover other delights with our author, Steve Sullivan, as he quenches his thirst with England’s finest, most colorfully-named beer brews at historic pubs sprinkled along the route. 192 miles with luggage van assistance and accommodation booking service will ease the challenge.
Until 1992, it was only a fabulous dream to river cruise uninterrupted from Amsterdam on the North Sea to Vienna, never mind follow the Danube all the way to the Black Sea. Today it still remains a rare possibility which Alison Gardner recounts for readers from her own experience in 2007. Don’t miss your chance to do this extraordinary adventure delivered in classic river cruise style!
Stepping away from the glamour and glitz long associated with the Côte d’Azur, join guidebook author, Florence Chatzigianis, for a very personal exploration of the mountain footpaths, local islands, medieval villages, and dramatic shorelines that encourage active vacationers to experience a magical Mediterranean region from the mountains to the sea.
Explore the Scottish Highlands from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea on a one-week barge cruise through the Caledonian Canal, Loch Ness and other lakes [lochs] of the deeply-chiseled Great Glen. There will be heather-clad hills and clan castles that reflect this ancient land’s colorful history, and the famous Scotch whiskey is guaranteed to be on the educational agenda too!
Vienna, Austria is one of Europe’s most fascinating cultural, historic and musical cities, but it can also be an expensive place to linger as long as this destination deserves. Here are ten “low budget” tips for exploring this relaxed, accessible city of music, museums, coffeehouses and desserts. Also discover how you may enjoy a rewarding day with Mozart around this extraordinary city of music.
Warren Rovetch is back with another independent travel book of inspiration and tips for “the Mobile but Not Agile”. His explorations of Ireland’s counties Clare, Kerry and West Cork are humorous, challenging, educational and adventurous, proving that attitude, not age, is everything!
Seniors, Ron and Adelle Milavsky, share their adventurous explorations of Britain and Continental Europe by recreational vehicle, saving plenty of money and enjoying a flexibility that more programmed travel does not permit. They wrote the book on it!
New content and images for one of our most popular feature articles ever! Explore Europe’s diverse cultures, cuisines, countrysides and historic towns from the unique perspective of a water-based vacation. Ranging from all-inclusive luxury hotel barges to self-skippered canal boats and barges, learn about operators who deliver memorable experiences in style.
Tag along on one of the Sierra Club’s International Outings as author, Elizabeth Pomeroy, shares her culturally-rich two-week walking tour through Britain’s picturesque and always-popular Cotswold region.
Explore Scottish highland history and ancient archaeology, encounter nature up close, and learn about environmental challenges at Scotland’s Aigas Field Centre, where hosts, Sir John Lister-Kaye and his wife, Lady Lucy, offer warm, personal hospitality to guests staying on their historic property.
Independent travel writer, Bruce Northam, shares his adventurous experiences and innermost thoughts while hitchhiking in Ireland with his Mom and sharing a walk across England with his Dad.
A tragic death is the catalyst for a journey of healing and discovery to the Aran Islands and County Clare, shared by American travel journalist, Peter Aiken, and two generations of his family.
Donna Carter shares her week-long hiking and Irish cultural history tour along Northern Ireland’s coast, where she discovers that it is possible for a self-proclaimed sedentary soul to get fit as well as wear out a pair of boots.
Join Elderhostel veteran, Mona Magnis, on an educational vacation in Britain as she follows in the footsteps of literary legends, Thomas Hardy, Emily and Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen and James Herriott and discovers how their landscapes influenced their famous stories.
Join the author of The Creaky Traveler, Warren Rovetch, on an intimate driving holiday through the North West Highlands of Scotland where encounters with nature and the region’s unique culture are an entertaining part of “A Journey for the Mobile but Not Agile”.
Foreign Currency Exchange
Buy foreign money before departing. Credit cards and ATMs charge additional 3%, hotels and airports charge excessive rates. Avoid poor rates abroad; order online at www.foreignmoney.com.
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Still focused on vacationing in Europe? You will also want to visit our Mediterranean destinations theme page in particular.
Check out our other theme pages, clustering richly-illustrated feature articles by travel theme or regional destination:
Travel Adventures in Africa
Bird and Nature
Sleeping with History Accommodations
Multi-Generational Family Travel
South Pacific destinations
Cruise and Train Travel
Asia and India destinations
Wellness and Spiritual vacations.