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Lucerne is an ancient town with strikingly modern sensibilities. One of Europe’s oldest covered bridges serves as its centrepiece, and fresco-adorned historic houses line the streets, but it’s also home to the cutting-edge KKL, a concert hall and art gallery. Take the cableways up the Pilatus, Stanserhorn or Rigi mountains for breathtaking views, or see Lake Lucerne on a steamship cruise.
Located on the Rhine River near the borders of France and Germany, Basel contains the country's highest concentration of museums. The culture-centric city, site of the world's most influential art market each June, is also home to the lovely Munster Cathedral, made of red sandstone with a multi-colored tile roof. Green spaces abound, including the popular zoological gardens in the city center. Switzerland's largest site of Roman ruins, Augusta Raurica, are an easy day trip to the east.
The city of Freiburg im Breisgau sits austerely on the edge of the Black Forest. Home to one of Germany’s oldest universities and a Gothic sandstone cathedral, it’s a hub for academics and medieval history buffs. Chug German suds at a local brewery, then hop a cable car up Schauinsland mountain, where astounding views and a solar observatory await.
Grindelwald is postcard-perfect, a charming example of a Swiss ski resort. There are slopes for all experience levels, plus plenty of snowy activities for those who don’t ski, such as sledding, hiking or snowshoeing. Not feeling particularly active? Just cozy up by crackling fire and enjoy the merry atmosphere. After a long day, nothing’s better than lingering over a pot of Swiss fondue and a glass of crisp wine as you plan the next day’s adventures.
A powerful force since medieval times, the thriving Swiss capital is an appealing city of museums and collections. Bernmobil is the capital's transport system; a BernCard is valid on its trams and buses. A free bike service is also an option for getting around. The Historical Museum and the Collection of the Bern Museum of Fine Arts house the art and architecture of millennia. The Einstein House and the Paul Klee Centre showcase the work of two of Bern's famous former inhabitants.
This Swiss winter wonderland is also a summer playground. Snow-frosted peaks tower above charming towns and villages like Interlaken. Its position, between lakes Thun and Brienz, makes it a perfect base for cable-car rides up Jungfrau, MÃ¶nch and Eiger, or for hikes from the traditional village of Grindelwald. Thun offers exciting summer diving and sailing. To the west, the glitzy resort town of Gstaad attracts Europe's wealthy. The Jungfrau Railway boasts Europe's highest station. The region is accessible by bus or car.
Quaint alpine villages and great skiing entice travellers to the Grisons. The sparsely populated region of eastern Switzerland contains the source of the Rhine and Inn rivers, 140 square miles of glaciers and dense pine forests. Join the ski action at the resorts of St Moritz, Davos and Arosa, or stake a lofty claim with a visit to Juf, which boasts the highest altitude of any inhabited village in the Alps. In summer, hike through the Engadine Valley in the unspoiled beauty of the Swiss National Park.
The majestic Austrian Alps stretch across the country, an awe-striking area of Ice Age valleys, verdant heaths and alluvial cones within Europe's largest national park, 700-square-mile Hohe Tauern. Taking in the dramatic cities of Salzburg and Innsbruck and the beautiful province of Tirol, home to spectacular skiing and hiking, as well as Gross Glockner, Austria's highest peak, and some of the world's best winter and summer sports playgrounds, the Austrian Alps are an outdoor lover's paradise.
Colmar is a photographer's dream, with its labyrinth of cobbled lanes, flower-lined canals, and timber-framed houses painted in a rainbow of pastel hues. It's the quintessential Alsatian town, brimming with traditional restaurants and surrounded by vineyards and medieval castles.
Getting its name from the medieval Duchy of Limburg (now split among Holland, Belgium and Germany and the birthplace of the infamously pungent Limburger cheese), Limburg is the Netherlands’ southernmost region. Many of the area’s best attractions are concentrated in the capital of Maastricht, but other sights include the 12th-century Valkenburg castle ruins, the 17th-century Eijsden castle, the 20th-century Glaspaleis (built next to a medieval church at Heerlen), and De Meinweg National Park.
Once an exclusive retreat for the crème de la crème of society, Porto Cervo is still one of the world’s most luxurious resorts, but thanks to the 2004 opening of an airport in nearby Olbia, you don’t have to own a megayacht to holiday here. You do, however, need to realise this is definitely not a backpack-and-Eurail Pass destination. Designer boutiques, luxury spas, fine restaurants and exclusive nightspots abound.
Hit the beautiful beaches of Weymouth to soak up the surprisingly powerful U.K. sun—there are plenty of waterfront options to pick from. The quaint harbor of Weymouth bobs merrily with fishing boats, and, downtown, Hope Square and Brewers Quay bustle with shoppers and merrymakers.
Sunbathing, al fresco dining and late-night discos are a way of life in Hammamet, the Tunisian St-Tropez. Located on the fertile Cap Bon Peninsula, about 40 miles south of Tunis, the bayfront resort is surrounded by verdant hills and citrus groves. When not basking on Hammamet Beach, browse the markets for local pottery or wander through the medina (old city) with walls that date to 1500. Summer brings festival fever to the city with plenty of music and theatrical offerings.
At the westernmost point of the African continent, Dakar stands as a multicultural, diverse city full of vibrant arts and traditions. Residents from various ethnic groups present assorted crafts, foods, jewelry, fabrics and wood and metal goods at bustling markets such as Marche Sandaga or Marche HLM. The city is home to museums and mosques, cliff walks and beaches, and makes a convenient jumping point for excursions to any of Senegal's national parks and nature reserves.
The U.A.E.'s northernmost Emirate offers a wealth of diversions between its miles of white sandy beaches and turquoise sea, majestic Hajjar Mountains and magnificent desert sand dunes. Catch a camel race, try your hand at the shooting range or soar with a microlight aircraft at Jazirah Aviation Club. Taxis and car hire are available, and it's an easy 40-minute drive from Dubai International Airport. Don't miss Ras Al Khaimah Museum, the 120-store Manar Mall or the area's amazing belly dancers.
Established in the Himalaya foothills by a British Army officer in 1820, the "Queen of the Hills" stands above the rest with its deep woods, favorable climate and Doon Valley views. Its name is derived from the berry-covered Mansur shrub found in abundance around this trekker-friendly area. Vestiges of its colonial past are still reflected in the cuisine and architecture. For stunning natural sights, head to Gun Hill or Childer's Lodge, the two highest peaks, or the famous Kempty waterfall.