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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.
Lying on picturesque Lake Constance (or Bodensee in German), Konstanz has been a city since the first century AD, later gaining prominence as a religious center and then as the site of the only bridge crossing the Rhine River. The Old Town is one of Konstanz’s main attractions and is home to the city’s famed cathedral, originally dating from the 7th century. Due to a border anomaly, Konstanz lies on Switzerland’s land mass, and the Swiss town of Kreuzlingen is just a short walk away.
Independent Black Forest locales dating back to medieval times, in 1971, Titisee and Neustadt (along with Rudenberg) banded together to form Titisee-Neustadt. (A few years later, nearby towns Langenordnach, Schwärzenbach and Waldau also joined the union.) Long known as a spa town, Titisee sits on the banks of the lake of the same name. Legend says the name came from Roman Emperor Titus, who was so taken by its beauty that he named it after himself. The area is great for hiking and winter sports.
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.
If you’re after a winter sports holiday, you can’t find a more gorgeous place to do it than Interlaken, the popular Swiss resort town. There’s superlative skiing, toboggan rides, miles of sledding tracks (which, like the ski slopes, vary in difficulty), snowboarding… all with amazing views of the mountains. In summer, hike among the ibex at nearby Neiderhorn, or shop for watches in the town’s boutiques.
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.
The largest ski resort in Switzerland and the highest city in Europe, Davos features five separate skiing areas: Parsenn, the largest, with pistes for all levels and the longest downhill run; Jakobshorn, renowned for its snowboarding; and Pischa, Madrisa and Rinerhorn, all family-friendly destinations.
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.
Lausanne was once an intellectual capital, attracting such great thinkers as Rousseau and Voltaire. Today it is a haven for lovers of water skiing, swimming and sailing. The International Olympic Committee even has its headquarters here. The town's history is evident, though, in its medieval cathedral, the museums of the Palais de Rumine, and Ouchy, the port where Lord Byron wrote "The Prisoner of Chillon" and the Treaty of Lausanne was ratified. For great views, hike up to the Signal de Sauvabelin.
In wintertime, lovely Seefeld in Tirol channels the fairytale magic of a Christmas village. Located on a plateau amid mountains and valleys, it’s an ideal place for snow sports, particularly cross-country skiing. In fact, several Olympic and World Championship competitions have been held here. Off-season, the crisp mountain air and epic views make for excellent alpine hiking. When you’re ready for refreshment, you can’t go wrong with schnitzel and a local beer at one of the area’s charming restaurants.
As host of the first Winter Olympics in 1924, Chamonix will always have a place in the history books. Its main attractions are Mont-Blanc (Western Europe's tallest mountain) and the many ski areas that face the Chamonix Valley. Steep slopes and extreme weather conditions suit advanced skiers best, but there are also runs for beginners. Just make sure everyone in your party knows a green circle from a black diamond. Oh, and another note for the history books—Pierce Brosnan was here (filming a James Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough).
Founded by the Romans in 179 AD as Casta Regina (meaning Fortress by the River Regen), Regensburg is one of Germany's oldest towns. It was relatively spared from Allied bombings during World War II. Today, many flock to see the wonderfully intact old city and its many medieval structures. The 12th-century Stone Bridge was used by Crusaders en route to the Holy Land. The Regensburg Cathedral (or Dom St. Peter) is one of southern Germany's finest examples of Gothic architecture.
Nice has a cosmpolitan Riviera vibe, and you'll enjoy exploring its fashionable boutiques and restaurants and sunning yourself on its popular beaches. (Just don't expect soft sand—these beaches have pebbles.) Walk up to Castle Hill for a beautiful view of the city, the Bay of Angels and of course, the bright blue water that gave the Cote d'Azur its name.
Holland's most modern city began as a fishing village in the 13th century. It was developing into an industrial and trading power when German bombers destroyed the city centre and harbour in 1940. However, Rotterdam's unique architecture now brings many visitors to cycle around this urbane, cosmopolitan city. Old Dutch-style houses can still be found in historic Delfshaven, from where the pilgrims set sail in 1620. Cultural offerings ranging from the summer carnival to classical music can compete with those of Amsterdam.
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.
The fishing town of Tavira combines two Mediterranean staples: Moorish architecture and a golden beach. Here, a labyrinth of cobbled streets winds past houses tiled in the traditional Portuguese style, and the pace of life flows as gently as the Gilão River.
The people of Tamil Nadu consider providing food to others a service to humanity. Thus the service in the state capital, Chennai, is first-rate. Treat your senses to some of the richest South Indian flavours in traditional dishes like sambar, rasam, fish curry or kootu. And don't forget to have a cup of full-bodied Tamil coffee, enhanced with chicory—no visit is complete without it.
<p>The recent trend for staycation holidays means that British people are increasingly rediscovering the natural beauty that lies on their doorstep and North Wales is a ruggedly good example of this. Snowdonia is a region of great natural beauty that is dominated by mountain ranges including the Snowdon mountain from which the region takes its name. The gigantic Snowdonia national park offers visitors hill-walking, mountain climbing, and wildlife watching. Or, if you fancy a change of scenery, you can come down from the mountains to the 200+ miles of coast. There, you’ll find secluded coves and world class beaches such as the five mile long Tywyn beach. </p><p>Sometimes it’s good to take the weight off your feet and the Snowdon Mountain Railway offers a unique opportunity to ride a steam train up to the top of a 3,560 foot mountain, enjoying stunning views along the way. The line has been in operation for over a hundred years and children under the age of 4 go free, making it perfect for families whose kids have a Thomas the Tank Engine fixation! </p><p>One of the great attractions Wales offers tourists is its wealth of historic castles and Caernarfon Castle stands as one of the most imposing relics of a distant time. Built in 1283 by the English King Edward the First, its initial role was to help subdue any thoughts of Welsh rebellion but it now helps Welsh coffers by attracting countless visitors. </p><p>The Isle of Anglesey is an island situated off the north-west Welsh coast but connected to the mainland by two bridges across the Menai Strait. It’s yet another area of great natural beauty and is worth a visit during your North Wales sojourn. As an island, it offers lots for water lovers including sailing, kayaking, surfing, kite surfing, diving, and fishing. Or you can just dip your toes as you enjoy one of Anglesey’s great beaches. </p><p>With kids in mind, make sure you schedule a visit to the Anglesey Sea Zoo. It’s the biggest aquarium in Wales and will bring you face to face with a huge variety of marine species including conger eels, octopus, lobsters, and sharks! </p>