Ready to roam

Salzburg | Photo by tomas1111
Salzburg | Photo by tomas1111

Ready to roam

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

With COVID-19 restrictions easing and the possibility of visiting new countries on the horizon, there’s no better time to plan your road trip across Europe. Whether you’re going by train, car or bus, here are a few amazing destinations to explore. Make sure to check with your leadership and host country for guidance on restrictions before traveling.

Austria - Salzburg 

This city is perhaps most famously known as the birthplace of Mozart. The house where famous composer Wolfgang Amadé Mozart was born is now a famous museum. Here you’ll find a three-story exhibition that documents the life of Mozart, from his personal relationships to his passion for music. 

Salzburg’s Old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still houses many beautiful medieval and Baroque buildings. In the heart of the Old Town you’ll find the St. Peter’s Monastery, founded in 690. You may already be familiar with the abbey’s cemetery, as it was filmed for “The Sound of Music” as the background for when the Trapp family fled from the National Socialists. Don’t forget to sing your best rendition of “The hills are alive with the sound of music” while here! 

After you’ve had your fun singing, make the trek to the fortress that is dominating the city’s skyline: Fortress Hohensalzburg. This fortress looms over the city as a steady reminder of the past. It is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, originally erected in 1077. 

Belgium - Spa 

For some serious relaxation, it’s best to head right to the source. Known for its healing mineral waters, Spa has been popular as a watering-place since the 14th century. As early as the 16th century, Spa was the first to export its waters to nearby regions, marketing it as a cure. “Spa” then became a generic term for thermal baths and has evolved to encompass relaxing treatments. 

Nowadays, the Thermes de Spa combines modern wellness with traditional hydrotherapy treatments. The facility focuses on pleasure, comfort, tranquility and companionship with its mineral baths from the Clementine spring. The indoor and outdoor pools feature bell fountains, geysers, bubble seats and water jets, all at a constant 91 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to the pool are saunas, steam rooms and relaxation areas. 

After pampering yourself, head to Lake Warfaaz for a leisurely stroll. This artificial lake is small enough to walk all the way around and is host to many restaurants on the water, fisherman and paddle boaters. 

Colmar | Photo by jakobradlgruber 

France - Colmar 

This delightful little city in northeastern France is like something straight out of a fairytale. With the winding cobblestone streets and the colorful, lovingly decorated half-timbered houses, you’re sure to fall head over heels in love with this little gem. 

Be sure to check out “Little Venice” and stroll along the canal. You can opt for a boat ride or just sit at a restaurant along the water and take in the views. Beautiful flowers adorn just about every possible surface and create a delightful ambiance. Within walking distance is the city center, a pedestrian-only area that is absolutely adorable. Stop for a croissant or some chocolate cake in any one of the various bakeries, or do some shopping at any of the boutiques. 

You simply cannot leave without sampling some of the wine, as Colmar is the self-proclaimed capital of Alsatian wine. Head to Le Cercle des Arômes for a lovely wine tasting experience. Here you’ll find just a few tables inside with a patio out front to enjoy sipping your wine alfresco. There are around 180 different types of wine by the glass, and approximately 80 varieties are local. Cheers to a relaxing vacation! 

Germany - Berchtesgaden 

For a look into Germany’s history, visit the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest). This building was used by members of the Nazi party for meetings, but is now a tourist attraction with a restaurant. You can either take a bus or hike (approximately 2 hours) to the Eagle’s Nest, where you get on a golden brass elevator in the heart of the mountain that takes you to the building. The views from here are absolutely spectacular! 

After taking in splendid views of Berchtesgaden, visit one of the most beautiful lakes in Bavaria, Königssee. Take a boat ride along the sheer rock faces and marvel at the waterfalls along the lake. The emerald green color is sure to blow you away! If you enjoy a good hike, get off at the last stop, Salet, and hike to the next lake. Carry on to the waterfall if you are up for an adventure! 

Coastal city of Vieste | Photo by Vadym Lavra 

Italy - Vieste

No trip to Italy is complete without hitting the beach for some serious time in the sun. Pizzomunno Beach has gorgeous white stone cliffs and one particularly large limestone pillar jutting out of the water. Legend has it that the pillar is actually a young man named Pizzomunno who was turned to stone by sirens! Vieste is in southern Italy and the beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming and leisurely strolls. The shallow waters are perfect for kids to splash and play. 

Luxembourg - Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City, the capital of the world’s only Grand Duchy, is a melting pot of museums, UNESCO World Heritage sites, architectural wonders and fantastic food. The fortress in the Old City is a perfect example of European military architecture and has been manned by various countries in the past. Today, the remains of the fortress include forts, bastions and casemates, all inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. 

For a hike that crosses the German and Luxembourg border, trek on the NaturWanderPark Delux, specifically  Nat'Our Route 2. On this section of trails, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time, as the ruins of the ninth century Dasburg fortress tower over the valley and town. Don’t miss seeing the old tannery that still stands there as a testament to the leather industry. 

For a leisurely stroll, visit the gardens of Echternach Abbey near the Sûre River. The abbey is made up of the St. Willibrord Basilica, the Benedictine Abbey and the Museum of the Abbey. The nearby gardens are through a lovely cast-iron arch with statues representing the four seasons.

Windmills on the River Noord in Kinderdik | Photo by Andrew Mayovskyy 

Netherlands - Kinderdijk

Besides Keukenhof Gardens, the towering windmills are surely not to be missed on a trip to the Netherlands. Located on the River Noord you can see 19 lovely windmills dating back to the 18th century. These amazing creations are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and form the largest group of windmills in the Netherlands. Watch in awe as these peaceful giants spin their sails in the light breeze. 

Though you can’t travel all of Europe at this very moment, there is certainly plenty open to keep you busy for the entire summer. Pick a country or two and get ready to get out and explore! Whether you pick a beach or a fortress, a hiking trip or a museum tour, there’s no wrong way to spend your free time. 


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