European city highlights: Cannes, Crete, Lisbon, London, Rekjavik and Valletta

Knossos Palace in Crete
Knossos Palace in Crete
Knossos Palace in Crete
Knossos Palace in Crete

European city highlights: Cannes, Crete, Lisbon, London, Rekjavik and Valletta

by: Genevieve Northup | .
Stripes Europe | .
published: March 29, 2016

Europe is rich in culture, history and fun, so take time to travel. Get out of your comfort zone, go off base and venture beyond your community. Get going to one of Europe’s incredible cities! 

Cannes, France 

A top destination along the French Riviera, Cannes has everything you need for a beach getaway. Many resorts have private beaches, such as Plage du Martinez and Plage Royale. Or, sunbathe at the many public beaches, including Plage de la Bocca and Plage du Midi. For tee time, head to one of the city’s top golf clubs: Cannes-Mandelieu, Riviera or Royal Mougins. Shop at the city’s open-air markets including the Forville Market, where you can buy locally grown produce and beautiful handmade crafts. Take your vacation in May to see the rich and famous out and about during the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. 

Crete, Greece 

Though Crete is a part of Greece, the island maintains a unique culture, offering generous hospitality and diverse activities. The archaeological site of Knossos provides a glimpse into the island’s ancient civilization, where the largest Minoan palace is being unearthed. And become a sand lizard on the hundreds of miles of beach. The northern coast is enveloped in tourism, and southern beaches offer tranquil escapes. Shaded by palm trees, Vai offers clear blue water ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The lagoon of Balos is arguably the best beach for lounging.

Lisbon, Portugal 

Portugal’s capital offers sizzling nightlife, exciting history, intriguing architecture and the added bonus of beautiful beaches just minutes away. An earthquake that destroyed most of the city in 1755 spared the medieval quarter of Alfama. For a great photo op, walk to the ruins of Castelo de São Jorge, a fortress dating from the 11th century. Visit during the summer to enjoy the many outdoor festivals. And whatever time of year you go, savor wonderful seafood dishes, and sip smooth Portuguese wines and sumptuous ports. 

London, England 

London’s attractions outnumber the fish & chip stands; Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace are just a few of the must-sees. For a bird’s-eye view of the city, ride the London Eye. Rub elbows with the famous and infamous – their wax doubles, at least – at Madame Tussauds. See some of the most impressive exhibits from ancient Egypt and Greece at The British Museum, and feel like a kid again while gawking at the skeletons of dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. Relive the magic by taking a Harry Potter tour, or get goose bumps during a Jack the Ripper Walk. Save time for afternoon tea! 

Reykjavik, Iceland 

Outdoor activities should be at the top of your list during a trip to Reykjavik. Take a boat ride to spot whales and puffins. Hike to the summit of Mount Esja, 3,000 feet above the city, and explore the lava fields on Icelandic horses. When you’re ready to stay inside, tour the Hallgrímskirkja Church, the famous landmark designed to represent a volcanic rock formation. Learn more about the Viking culture at the city’s wonderful museums. And if the weather is just right during the winter, you might even see the Northern Lights. 

Valletta, Malta 

South of Sicily lies the island country of Malta. Known as the Fortress City, the island’s bustling capital has preserved some of Europe’s most historic buildings. Visit the extravagant 18th century Manoel Theater. Book a champagne tour at the beautiful privately owned Casa Rocca Piccola, and lounge at a café in one of Valletta’s many piazzas. Travel to Marsaxlokk Bay to photograph the vibrantly painted Maltese fishing boats. Then take a ferry to Gozo or Comino for excellent scuba diving at the Azure Window and Blue Lagoon.

Tags: art, champagne, clubs, England, Europe, festival, fishing, food, France, golf, Greece, Harry Potter, history, island, London, museum, off base, outdoor, Palace, scuba diving, ski, summer, Travel, weather, wi, wine, winter
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