To help us get through the COVID-19 long lockdown, we asked the travel experts to share with us their best European travel memory of 2019 / 2020. 

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"EUROPE - BEST TRAVEL MEMORIES "

We hope you enjoy reading them. Maybe they will remind you of trips to Europe you have taken, or maybe they will inspire you to add them to places you would like to visit when the travel world recovers. 

northern lights in arctic norway 

By Roshni from "The Wanderlust Within"

 

Well above the Arctic Circle is the small town of Alta in Norway. I'd heard it was dubbed "the town of the Northern Lights”, so booked a trip for my mum and I to experience the Arctic at its best.

I’ll forever remember being bundled up in layers, staring up at the dark Arctic sky, waiting for Mother Nature to put on her elusive light show. We waited for hours, but once the sky filled with vivid blasts of green leaping from side to side, it was easy to see how sharing this experience with my mum could bring us together. I looked around and saw her face light up, and her eyes grow wider, and I couldn’t help but smile and share in her excitement.

We were blessed with a 45-minute shimmering aurora display but for weeks after it was all we could talk about. One of those bucket list moments that I almost don’t want to tick off my list, as I want to experience it over and over again.

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an enchanting experience in brighton, england

By Clemens Sehi from  "Travellers Archive"

 

The small town of Brighton in England stayed in our memories. How so?

 

The small British town seems to be out of time. It combines all of the English flair in the smallest space. Here you will find old pubs, ice-cold beer, cool second-hand shops and especially the sea at Brighton Beach. Much of this trip was an unforgettable experience.

 

This includes visiting the nostalgic Brighton Palace Pier with its ancient rides and gambling dens, but also strolling through the narrow streets of the city and along the beach to the colorful wooden huts of Hove.

 

And then there was a very special experience. Namely, when we happened to meet Jack and Linda Mills. This very old, enchanting couple smokes fish directly on Brighton Beach and sells it as a fish roll. They have been doing this just as they did many decades ago. Meeting them and having a small talk at their little beach parlor was one of the best travel experiences in 2019. That's exactly how Brightion is: real and authentic.

HAve you been to gruyeres?

By Maureen Spencer from "So Many Places! So Little Time"

This is our best travel food memory from our European trip to Switzerland and Spain in February! We had left Montreux early in the morning and caught the train to Gruyeres. We walked up the hill from the station and spent a couple of hours exploring the very interesting medieval village and castle. Then we walked back down and took a tour of the Gruyeres cheese factory. By this time we had worked up quite an appetite and wandered into the restaurant at the cheese factory. 

I had read about a specialty of the region which involved deliciously rich Gruyeres double cream served with light crunchy meringues and a  bowl of raspberries so we thought we would try it. It was incredibly, unbelievably, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Such a simple dish! So tasty! And to finish this off our coffee was served with a small chocolate cup filled with double cream to pour into your coffee. I can't wait to return!  The Gruyeres area has so much to see and do. Don't miss it when you visit Switzerland. 

cruising the rhine river valley

By James Ian at "Travel Collecting"

 

My favorite travel memory in the past year was a boat trip through the Rhine River Valley in Germany that I took in May.  The 40-mile/ 65-kilometer section of the river from Koblenz to Rudesheim is incredibly picturesque and I had always wanted to see the castles and villages there.  So, when a work trip took me to Munich and Frankfurt, I tagged on a side trip to the Rhine Valley at the end.  I took a train to Koblenz and overnighted there before taking the cruise early the next morning. 

There are over forty castles, adorable villages with half-timbered houses, and steep hills on both sides covered in woods or vineyards in the valley.  The villages are right on the water’s edge, with the castles typically perched high up the hills where they have a good vantage point. 

 

Castle highlights include the Schloss Stolzenfels, a beige-colored castle with crenelated towers and walls right out of a fairytale; Pfalzgrafenstein Castle which is shaped like the prow of a ship and sits in a tiny island; and Burg Rheinstein, a classic gothic castle sitting atop a craggy outcrop. 

 

My favorite villages were Boppard, with a twin-steepled church and Obserspay with multiple half-timbered white and red houses.  The whole place was magical.

hike to pulpit rock, norway

By Katalin Waga from "Our Life! Our Travel!"

 

My fondest travel memory from last year is connected to our 3-week road trip to Norway. This was our last long vacation before I gave birth to our second child.

This wasn't our first or last time in Norway which meant we visited mostly off the beaten places, went on numerous walks and treks, as added a couple of must-sees too. My most memorable experience was the hike to Pulpit Rock. Not only was it a bucket list item, but we successfully conquered it despite all the challenging circumstances.

The weather was awful: strong wind, close to zero degree Celsius and rain clouds were approaching us. It isn't a particularly demanding trail, luckily, so even in the third trimester, it is possible to hike on it. However, it took us almost five hours to complete the 6 km loop. Considering our then-two-year-old walked half of the way himself, and I was carrying the little one in my belly and all our gear in the backpack, we were fully satisfied with our time. 

Our little boy's smiling face, the stunning views down to the Lysefjord or standing on the Pulpit Rock, each would be a lifelong memory alone. Due to the strong wind, we didn't approach the edge of the Preikestolen and couldn't take the typical photo, but I'll remember this hike forever.

arriving in budapest by inflatable canoe

By Iris Veldwijk from "Mind Of A Hitchhiker"

 

In late August 2019, my partner and I paddled into the heart of Budapest and landed our boat ‘Zucchini’ at Margaret Island. After lifting our inflatable canoe onto the dock we took this photo to celebrate this moment in our trip.

Reaching Hungary’s capital was the original goal of our ‘Kayak+Work’ trip on the Danube River. Over the course of 42 days, we paddled from the source of the Danube in Germany through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. We’d paddled 1045 kilometers (649 miles) to get to the third capital city on this river, all while continuing to work online on our off days.

Though Budapest was the original finish line of our kayak trip, we decided to push it a little further until the Danube disappears into Croatia and Serbia near the city of Mohács. Our plan was to continue this trip from Mohács in Hungary to the Black Sea – through Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine – in 2021.

In this peculiar year of 2020, we’re not sure whether we will be able to continue the trip in 2021. Looking at this picture and remembering how elated we were to arrive unscathed brings so much joy.  

the tiny towns of tuscany

By Linn Haglund from "Brainy Backpackers"

 

A road trip around Tuscany is one of those magical once in a lifetime movie moments. What I loved about driving through the beautiful towns in Tuscany, across large, green patches of idyllic vineyards as long as you can see, was the calm presence of nature together with medieval heritage. And of course, delicious wine.

 

There are so many incredible small towns dotted around the region you can drive around for days on end and always discover a new hidden treasure behind narrow, winding roads. It wasn’t Siena, Lucca, Florence, or San Gimignano that gave the strongest impression. Ok, maybe San Gimignano, with its many towers showcasing the wealth this small town once witnessed.

 

What I remember the most, and what I enjoyed the most about my road trip around Tuscany, was all the small towns I can’t remember the names of. The little towns that hardly could be spotted on a map, the strawberries I had on the side of a countryside road, and if I haven’t mentioned it before, the never-ending vineyards.

an authentic cultural exchange in Puglia, italy

By Wendy Werneth from "The Nomadic Vegan"

 

In May 2019, I led a small group vegan tour of Puglia, a little-known region in southern Italy. Our tour started in Bari, the regional capital, which most tourists use just as a jumping-off point from which to access the beaches and other attractions in the region. But we chose to stay there for a couple of nights, and it ended up being the highlight of the entire trip.

 

A local guide showed us around the winding alleyways of the medieval Old Town, and the people of the neighborhood welcomed us with open arms. Some even invited us into their homes, where we watched them make traditional orecchiette pasta by hand.

And this wasn't something that was prearranged by our local guide, as she didn't know these people here. It was just genuine, heartfelt hospitality. We all came away very thankful for this authentic cultural exchange, knowing that we had experienced the real Italy in a way that visitors to Rome, Florence or Venice rarely do.

dursey island walk in ireland

By Louise France of "Wandering Welsh Girl"

 

One of my best travel memories from Europe in 2019 was during my four week tour of Ireland. On this day, my boyfriend and I decided to take the old cable car across to Dursey Island. Dursey Island is a very small island off the Beara Peninsula, in South West Ireland.

 

The island is home to only six permanent inhabitants and the only way to access the island is via a 50-year-old cable car. This old ropeway holds the bragging rights of being Irelands one and only cable car. It’s very quaint and can hold a maximum of 6 people (or several sheep or one cow).

 

Nick and I took our chances on this rickety old cable car so that we could enjoy a day hiking across Dursey Island. The island has 3 small communities but no shops or restaurants. The Dursey Island walk is a 14km loop that also marks the start of the E8 trail, which traverses Europe all the way to Istanbul, Turkey.

 

During our tour of Ireland,

we saw a lot of harsh, rainy weather, but on this day the sun was shining and we were able to revel in spectacular views the whole day. Being the first ones to cross the cable car meant we had these endless views mostly to ourselves.

 

After completing our hike we enjoyed a customary ice cream before completing the rest of the breathtakingly beautiful, Beara Peninsula drive to our campsite. We toasted our beers that night to a fun day of exploration, great hiking and glorious weather - easily the most memorable day of our trip.

road trip to the jura in france

By Elisa from "France Bucket List"

 

My best travel memory from Europe in 2019 is a 4-day road trip in the region of Jura, France.

The Jura is set in Eastern France, just below the region of Alsace, and despite the fact that it is as beautiful as the Alsace, it only sees half of the crowds.  The Jura is best known for its turquoise lakes, beautiful waterfalls, picturesque small towns, and cheese.

Located at only a 3-hour drive from Paris, the road trip to Jura in France makes the perfect weekend getaway for nature lovers and people who want to go beyond France’s main attractions.

We visited the Jura in October, just before the end of the tourist season. The colors were amazing and the waterfalls were powerful, as it had rained a bit during the previous days. We visited the towns, walked picturesque paths and ate great homemade food, cheese, and wine.

Some of the places we enjoyed the most and we recommend include the Belvedère des 4 Lacs, the city of Dôle and the small town of Château-Chalon.

amazing Genoan food!

By Sarah Carter from "A Social Nomad"

My best travel memory that’s sustaining me through lockdown was in the port city of Genoa, Italy, in November of 2019.  One of the reasons we’d gone to Genoa was for the amazing Genoan food on offer.  Liguria, the region in which Genoa lies is home to pesto, focaccia, and ravioli.  Heaven!

And so possessing minimal Italian language skills we headed to a local spot to eat near the port, where table sharing is the norm.  Our table sharers were an Italian couple who’d driven for an hour to come to this particular place to eat and were only too happy to share their guidance on what we should eat, both in this restaurant and also in Genoa as a whole.  There is nothing quite like the true local influence.  

 

We dined on Cappon Magro, Frito Misto and Trofie al Pesto all washed down with a jug of local Italian table wine.  It was divine.  We’d gone in with the notion of “having something light” and came away with the glorious camaraderie of new friends made, delicious new foods tasted and a glowing memory that will sustain me until I can return to Italy.

stunning Lake Piva in montenegro

By Arzo from "Arzo Travels"

Montenegro is an often overlooked country in the Balkans though it is absolutely stunning.

 

Kotor, a coastal town, is quite famous but other places aren't and yet my best travel memory in Europe was road-tripping and discovering some lesser-known places.

 

My best memory was driving along Lake Piva - a stunning place in the north-eastern part of the country. It is a mix of Norway and Switzerland - without the price tag and without the crowds. Driving along the lake gave me the opportunity to enjoy this stunning place almost all to myself (apart from a few other people here and there, and my little dog).

 

The color of the lake, the mountains...everything was just very surreal. I arrived from Bosnia-Herzegovina by car and took the M18 there and then took the E762 so that I also passed the Mratinje Dam before arriving at the lake.

 

Driving along the lake was challenging though - although not crowded, streets were very narrow at times and not in the best condition. 

 

However, it was one of the moments that I will never forget - this extraordinarily beautiful place just took my breath away and is surely one of the highlights in the country and a must-see in Montenegro.

amazing alhambra

By Daniel James from "Urban Abroad"

One of my best travel memories from Europe was the time I traveled from Madrid down to Andalusia with a three-day pitstop in Granada. I arrived in Granada on a hot sunny afternoon and after dropping off my bags I headed straight to the Alhambra, the palace and fortress located upon the city’s hills.

 

I was immediately enamored by the sheer size and amount of detail of the palace. After reading more information on site it made me realize how amazing it is, that the monument still stands after all these hundreds of years.

 

The Alhambra which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, is a truly spectacular landmark that attracts thousands of new people to Granada every year.  Exploring my way around the labyrinth of streets I managed to find a quiet spot where I could get some amazing pictures of the palace and panoramic views of Granada in all it's glory. Any visitor to the Andalusia region of Spain should make a trip to the Alhambra if they are interested in learning more about the history and culture in this unique part of Spain.

A trip to Paris with my mum

By Mal Hellyer from "Raw Mal Roams"

 

My best travel memory from 2019 was a trip to Paris with my mum. It was super special because we live in different countries and we don’t get to spend too much time together. Also, because it was always my mum’s dream to see Paris and I had the opportunity to make it happen. 

 

We had an awesome time together! My mum is the best. She didn’t mind waking up before sunrise to beat the crowds and take photos with the Eiffel Tower and Louvre. She is not a professional photographer but did a really amazing job producing some Insta worthy shots of me! 

 

We both love vegan cuisine so we visited some great plant-based cafes in Paris. My mum is a great laugh and always does what she wants no matter what other people think. One day after visiting the Eiffel Tower, she convinced me to take a dip in a fountain in Trocadero with Parisienne kids. The day was really hot and I must admit it was a great feeling

Finally made it to mykonos!

By Alex from "Gourmand Trotter"

 

One of my best travel memories is from when I finally made my way to Mykonos in Greece in 2019. I’ve been traveling to Greece for the last 10 years, every year to a different Island, and sometimes going back to the same Island.

 

As Mykonos is one of the most famous islands in the Greek archipelago, it was exciting to finally stroll around the charming and picturesque streets of Mykonos with my girlfriend. While it's touristy and crowded, there is something magical about strolling the Myconian streets in the early morning before the daytrippers and cruise tourists arrive and walk around.

 

The whitewashed houses with blue and red doors and windows are just as beautiful as in the postcards. The same goes for the views that you can get over the iconic windmills on the hill, or little Venice. Strolling the streets of Mykonos town gives the happiest feeling and few places in the world are as picturesque as Mykonos.

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