Travel is back with a vengeance and Europe is the hot destination for 2023. There is something timeless about cities like Paris, Rome, and London. No matter how many travelers step foot in these famous European destinations, they retain their unique charms and irresistible authenticity.
Paris, Rome, and London still shine as bright as ever, and there’s weeks worth of museums to visit, art to ogle, and sights to see. However, on your next adventure, whether it’s a family trip to Europe or European couples getaway, why not break the mold of the standard European vacation and discover what lies outside the city limits?
Here are 7 day trips to take from Europe’s favorite cities if you’re looking for a different way to tour Europe:
Normandy is a region of northwest France known for its medieval history, quaint towns, and breathtaking coastal scenery. The region features Mont Saint Michel, the Gothic-style island abbey surrounded by an equally stunning bay; the beaches of D-Day in Manche and Calvados and the soaring white cliffs along the coastline of Étretat; the wonderfully-restored Monet’s House and Garden complete with the famous water lily garden; and Notre-Dame du Rouen Cathedral, a 12th-century architectural marvel known for its varying degree of beauty throughout the day in the changing light.
Located 15 miles west of Paris, a visit to Versailles is a perfect way to break out of the capital’s bubble and see a different side of France. With its deep royal roots, Versailles is ripe with historic glamor but also boasts an adorable city center. Highlights include the opulent 17th-century royal residence, Palace of Versailles; the sprawling 2,000 acres encompassing hundreds of statues and dozens of fountains at the Gardens of Versailles; Cour de Senteurs or the Courtyard of Fragrances, a perfume-themed complex showcasing Versailles’ influential role in French fragrance; Markets, like Marché Notre-Dame, one of the region’s biggest gourmet marketplaces.
A day trip from London to Stonehenge offers a deep encounter with England’s prehistoric roots and is also one of the best excursions in Europe. The County of Wiltshire is flush with history, ancient sites, and charming English towns. Can’t miss Stonehenge attractions include Stone Circle, the prehistoric stone monument made from dozens of 25 ton stones; Aubrey Holes, a ring of 56 pits where neolithic bone fragments were discovered; Wilton House, the seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years – and a filming location for Netflix’s Bridgerton and The Crown; Salisbury, a medieval town with aesthetic architecture and a namesake cathedral along the banks of the River Avon.
A 1-hour drive from London finds you in Windsor, a town closely associated with British royalty. As soon as you arrive, you’ll immediately see why thirty-nine monarchs have called this timeless town home. The best things to see in Windsor are Windsor Palace, the official British Royal residence since the 12th century and the largest inhabited castle in the world; St. George’s Chapel, a stunning 15th-century Gothic church that houses the tombs of Kings and Queens past; Windsor Great Park, 5,000 acres of palace grounds that includes the 2.5-mile Long Walk lined with trees and breathtaking castle views; The River Thames, running 20 miles along the banks of Windsor – explore via motorboat, duck boat, or kayak tour.
The Cotswold district is the epitome of charming English countryside, boasting 800 square miles of rolling green hills, small towns with stone houses, sleepy farms, and ancient castles. Embark on this day trip from London when you need to relax your mind and rejuvenate your spirit. Take is slow, but make time to see Gloucester Cathedral, a gorgeous medieval church with breathtaking rooftop views; the historic Castle Combe Village, regarded as the prettiest town in England; Hidcote Garden, an arts-and-crafts style garden with outdoor “theme rooms” to explore; and Sudeley Castle, a 1,000 year old castle with 10 gardens on a expansive 1,200 acre estate.
A 1-hour fast train ride from Rome lands you the southern Italian city famous for its ancient ruins and pizza. You’re spoiled for choice of activities, but make time to experience Napoli Sotterranea, the ancient network of tunnels, passageways, chambers, and caves atop which Naples is built; Pizza Napoletana, the late 19th-century dish that became a worldwide phenomenon; Herculaneum and Pompeii, cities destroyed and buried by ash from the infamous Mount Vesuvius eruption resulting in some of the best-preserved ruins in Italy; The Naples National Archeological Museum with its mosaics, statues, and several thousand artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum; Via San Gregorio Armeno (AKA Christmas Alley), a street bustling with local artisans selling their handicrafts.
Best known for its namesake cathedral, Orvieto is a charming town 75 miles north of Rome. Make the drive to see Orvieto’s impressive architecture and purchase a few authentic ceramics from the plethora of artisanal shops. Or, just wander the cobble streets that wind around the Umbrian hilltop. Highlights include Duomo di Orvieto, the striking 14th-century cathedral, Orvieto Underground, an underground maze of streets, rooms, tombs, and wells, Pozza di San Patrizio, the town’s famous 50-meter deep well that you can descend into to explore, and the view from Torre del Moro, a 40-meter, 13th-century former-watchtower.