Western Europe Travel Guide

Traditionally at the heart of most European power struggles, the countries that make up Western Europe provide visitors with a range of scenes distinctly divided between the flavors of French and English. With the United Kingdom lying just across the Channel, there’s always the temptation for them to go European. But so far the UK has held out in the battle for identity.

Much of Western Europe is dull and flat. Starting with the vast expanses of the Netherlands the landscape rolls along, steadily gaining topography and elevation until it rises up as the French Alps. In this region’s only substantial mountain area, alpine junkies get their skiing fix on the slopes during the winter and scale the likes of Mont Blanc (Europe’s highest peak) during the sublime summer months.

France is the center of attention in this part of Europe, and that’s how they like it (just ask any of them). They have the right to brag, considering the cultural nexus as Paris and the enchanting wine country in the south. France also has its slice of the Mediterranean with chic towns like Nice along the Cote d’Azur.

The Netherlands may be flat, and probably not the best place to build a nation, but it’s the home of Amsterdam. This progressive, entertaining and charming city laced with canals is a must-see if you have the time or need to seriously chill-out. Next door is tiny Belgium, the land of Trappist monks and their legendary beers, but Luxembourg is worth a miss.

The islands across the Channel present a very different scene. England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales make up the UK and each is a worthy destination. Bring your best raingear, as they’re just as famous for the lousy weather as their classic castles, superb football and charismatic pubs.

London is as incredible, and expensive, as any city on earth. For a more earthy experience, explore the compact cities of Glasgow, Dublin, Edinburgh and Oxford. The history and scenery of the UK is wonderful, and thanks to cheap transport you can pop between the continent and the UK with ease.