Visitors pour in to Europe each year from every part of the globe. They come to work in the continent’s many cosmopolitan and vital cities; to study and research in ancient and world-renowned universities; to relax on the Mediterranean beaches and in the picturesque countryside; and to see the palaces, churches, museums, and ruins that attest to Europe’s long and dramatic history. The European Union and the shared euro currency have drawn the continent closer together, making commerce and travel between the countries easier. But there is still staggering cultural diversity to be found here. A traveler could easily spend a lifetime’s worth of trips seeking out everything Europe has to offer, but there are also great rewards to picking a location and staying for a while, to learn one of Europe’s over 200 languages or experience the day-to-day life of one of its 48 countries.
England has all the charms and contradictions of a small country that once possessed a global empire. Today’s England combines worldly urban centers, industrial towns, tiny villages, and devastatingly pretty countryside, all with a wealth of history, creativity, business, and scholarship.
France boasts some of the world’s most delicious food, one of the world’s most storied cities, and a handful of the world’s greatest art museums. Add in a sprinkling of castles, a beautiful language, and gorgeous scenery, and it’s no surprise France is the most visited country in Europe.
The Republic of Ireland is more connected to continental Europe than any other part of the British Isles. A diverse community of expatriate workers and students has added their own influences to the lively and unmistakable Irish culture. Nowadays it’s easy to find a great sushi or pasta restaurant alongside a pub where locals watch a game of football.
Geographically Irish and politically part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland offers a unique vantage point on the British Isles. This region has seen dramatic growth in the past few decades, and it’s increasingly popular with visitors who want to admire the architecture, explore the Causeway Coast, or experience one of the most welcoming cultures in Europe.
It’s astonishing that a country as scenic as Italy should also have such urbane and sophisticated cities. There are as many reasons to come here as there are paintings in Florence or restaurants in Rome. Italian fashion, cuisine, and art are unparalleled, and they all make up part of la dolce vita, the good life as the Italians live it.
The hills and lochs of Scotland are home to an intricate culture that’s both cosmopolitan and proudly local. Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, but it’s never at risk of losing its own identity. Rich history, gorgeous scenery, and a warm local culture make Scotland an appealing destination for travelers of all kinds.
The passionate, vivacious culture of Spain is alive and well, but first-time visitors may be surprised at how diverse that culture really is. This nation has long been a crossroads of Europe and Africa, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Visitors enjoy sampling local tapas and wines, watching flamenco dancing and bullfights, and learning the not-too-fast rhythm of life here with the siesta providing a daily break.