Whenever I think of Belgium, I recall digging into a dish of mussels while seated on a sunny square in Brussels, in the shadow of a lacy medieval spire. My waiter bragged, "In Belgium, we eat as hearty as the Germans and as fine as the French."
Wedged between Germany, France and the Netherlands, Belgium often gets lost in the mix. But this ...Read more
While many tourists come to Italy only for the past, those who make time for Milan find that this powerful, no-nonsense city is a delightful mix of yesterday and today. Anchored by its historic cathedral, Milan is a modern, time-is-money metropolis of refined tastes. The window displays on its shopping streets are gorgeous, the well-dressed ...Read more
Like so many travelers, my images of Germany -- cute villages, dirndls and lederhosen, and fairy-tale castles -- are from Bavaria, in the foothills of the Alps. You could easily spend a week here, soaking up culture as you bike along fragrant fields and tour the sights.
My favorite home bases for exploring the Bavarian Alps are Fussen and ...Read more
Along the western Mediterranean coast, two easygoing -- and easy-to-enjoy -- beach towns stand like sister cities on each side of the border between France and Spain. Both Collioure, in France, and Cadaques, in Spain, are off the grid when it comes to glitzy resorts. And each has a delightful ambience, with welcoming beaches, quaint back streets...Read more
The Italian island of Sicily is -- perhaps more than any corner of Europe -- a layer cake of civilizations. On one island, visitors can marvel at a well-preserved Greek temple, admire the glittering mosaics of a Norman cathedral, wander through Carthaginian ruins, and feast at a market that evokes an Arabian souk.
One of my favorite places to ...Read more
Back in the summer of 1969, I took my first trip to Europe. My father, a piano importer, brought me to Vienna's Bosendorfer piano factory. Together, my dad and I watched the world's finest pianos being built by hand, in hundreds of meticulous steps.
Each hand-crafted piano had its own personality. And, as I played a selection of new pianos, my ...Read more
Spring fairs enliven towns throughout Spain, but I've found that nobody does it bigger or better than Sevilla, the capital of Spain's Andalucia region. If you come in April, you'll find one of the most exuberant and colorful festivals in a country known for fiestas -- the gigantic Feria de April (April Fair).
The fair is a vibrant and secular ...Read more
Glasgow, astride the River Clyde, is a surprising city -- and Scotland's most underrated destination. Just an hour from Edinburgh (making it an easy day trip), Glasgow offers an energetic dining and nightlife scene, fanciful architecture and top-notch museums -- most of which are free. Today, this once-run-down city feels revitalized, and ...Read more
Shopping in Europe can be fun, but don't let it overwhelm your trip. I've seen half the members of a guided tour of the British Houses of Parliament skip out on the tour to survey an enticing array of plastic "bobby" hats, Big Ben briefs and Union Jack panties instead. Focus on local experiences, and don't let your trip become a glorified ...Read more
Straddling the mighty Rhone and Saone rivers between Burgundy and Provence, Lyon has been among France's leading cities since Roman times. With cobbled alleys, pastel Renaissance mansions, Paris-like shopping streets, evocative museums and renowned cuisine, it's relaxed, welcoming and surprisingly untouristy. Just two hours from Paris by train, ...Read more
From Romans to Moors to Portuguese kings, the proud little town of Evora -- set amid the cork groves of Portugal's Alentejo region -- has a big history. Just 90 minutes east of Lisbon, Evora has impressive sights -- Roman ruins, a 12th-century cathedral, and a macabre chapel of bones -- coupled with a laid-back local scene and a hearty cuisine ...Read more
Among the many things I love about Italy is how the Renaissance can be spliced into your travels. Imagine: In Florence you can sleep in a converted 16th-century monastery that's just a block from Michelangelo's David, around the corner from Brunelleschi's famous cathedral dome, and down the street from the tombs of the great Medici art patrons -...Read more
The history, art and culture of Eastern Europe are often complicated for Westerners. But it's easier than ever to enjoy this area, where there is plenty of good sightseeing news in its leading cities.
Prague is buzzing with sightseeing changes. After a seven-year renovation, the National Museum reopened with eight permanent exhibits covering ...Read more
Germany is famously a work in progress -- as are the nearby Low Countries -- and that includes their sightseeing attractions. In 2019, there's good news and a few important warnings for the smart traveler.
To handle its ever-increasing number of visitors, Germany is busy renovating sights and transportation, beefing up security and updating ...Read more
France has a rich history, an impressive infrastructure and a tourism industry trying valiantly to cope with its big crowds. Travelers who plan ahead enjoy big rewards.
Paris' most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower, has a new look. A glass wall now rings its base for security reasons, with one access point at each side, meaning you can no ...Read more
Like many travelers, last spring I visited Barcelona dreaming of seeing Antoni Gaudi's breathtaking Sagrada Familia church. When I got there, the ticket office was closed, with a posted sign: "No more tickets today. Buy your ticket for another day online." Thankfully, I knew to book tickets in advance.
Along with Sagrada Familia, Spain's other ...Read more
Recently, I was on a massive cruise ship with 3,000 passengers blitzing the great ports of the Mediterranean -- and having lots of fun. No, I'm not suddenly abandoning my independent travel principles and becoming a huge proponent of cruising. But I am impressed by the economy, efficiency and popularity of this kind of travel ... and, to be ...Read more