A guest blog post provided by Trip101.com
Europe's a fascinating mix of cultures, different histories, and landscapes. Whether you're into art, architecture, sunny beaches, or great nightlife, Europe offers loads of things to strike off your bucket list. For more destination guides, check out Trip101.com
.1) Visit The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
No matter where you stay in Tuscany, Italy, whether in upscale hotels, backpacker hostels or classy timeshare units
, make the time to fit in a trip to Pisa. The building's an official UNESCO Heritage Site. Originally built as a free-standing bell tower for the Pisa Cathedral, it started leaning while still under construction in the 12th Century. Since then, the lean increased to four degrees. This, despite efforts to correct it in the last two centuries.
Anyone can view the exterior of the 55.86m (183.27ft) tower. The higher side stands at 56.67m (185.93ft). If you'd like to climb the tower, you need to know that the climb consists of around 290 steps, depending on which side of the lean you're on. Plus, there's a charge for exploring the interior which you can book and pay for online
From the top, the views of the city lie below you and you can look down on the numerous souvenir stalls that sprung up near the tower. 2) Explore the canals of Venice
Gondolas in Venice, Italy should be top of your Italian bucket list. Depending on your budget, there are several ways to go about it. One of the best ways to go on a gondola ride is to find some other people and make up a party of six. That way, you pay for the boat trip rather than per passenger. It's easy to split the check.
Expect a bit of haggling to take place, and if necessary, settle for a slightly higher price than the city requirements. The once-in-a-lifetime experience is not to be missed. If you want the full romanticism of serenading songs while you float around, expect to pay a bit more.
Looking for something else? Try taking a few rides on the traghettos. They look similar to the gondolas and people catch these water ferries across the Canal Grande. Many locals use them for transport and you took can join them for a genuine Venetian experience for only a few euros. 3) Scale the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower in Paris is a globally recognized wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars. Think "Paris," think the beautiful structure. However, other visitors to the city also think the same thing, so it's best to book ahead of time
. This fast-tracks you through the security process and means avoiding long queues. No matter how you visit the tower, you need to know that the first two levels require stair-climbing. Thereafter, access is via an elevator.
Some people don't wish to climb the tower or travel up to the top, but even so, the amazing structure completed in 1889 appeals to the camera even from a distance. If you time your visit during the evening, your experience increases in quality as the tower lights up.
The Eiffel Tower lights make the atmosphere truly awesome. While you wait for dusk, you could always explore the nearby market and sample some food and drinks. 4) Make Like Ernest Hemingway in Madrid
Ernest Hemingway said of Madrid, Spain, "Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night." While you're in Europe, strike the best nightlife off your bucket list with ease. Did you know that Madrid hardly ever seems to sleep at night, and there are myriad clubs and pubs across the city?
The major area to find plenty of little tapas bars is in the La Latina area on La Cava Baja. Tuesday nights, the place mostly shuts down, but every other night, the action's on. This fun destination features more than a dozen tapas restaurants and bars, and all squeezed within two blocks. Rub shoulder to shoulder with a fun crowd as you test the ambience and tastes of the night.
The area's close to the downtown is historic and exudes diversity, charm, and entertainment. So, if you wish to “kill the night,” then head down to Cava Baja, and choose from a range of authentic places to eat, drink, and be merry. 5) Amsterdam: Survive the queues to tick off the Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is a 17th-century canal house where Anne, her family, and four others hid from Nazi persecution during World War II. She didn't survive the war, but later, her diary was recovered, and her story became famous.
Visitors to the exhibition of her life and times make this the third-most visited museum in Amsterdam and you may need to queue for up to two hours to get in. Nevertheless, the wait's definitely worth it. Most people read the “Diary of Anne Frank” at some stage in their lives, so entering the secret rooms where she wrote it is surreal.
Anne's space is empty, with the exception of some magazine pictures she posted up on the walls. The powerful impact is humbling and stark before you move on to the quotes displayed on the walls. If you just wish to see the house without surviving the queue, you should
book your reservation months in advance. 6) Hike the The High Coast trail in north eastern Sweden
Get out and about in nature and hike the High Coast Trail
through a UNESCO Heritage Site. The geology's interesting and the views are stupendous. The High Coast Hike is a 40 km long and attracts all sorts of people, from serious hikers to families enjoying the ancient forests and coastal mountains.
You don't need to hike the entire trail, as it's broken into 13 sections. They come with different levels of difficulty and vary in distances. Some of the trails can be accessed via public transport and others are accessible by car. Along the route, you'll find trail huts where you may overnight.
On your hike, you will experience something rather odd. In the middle of the hills, miles away from the water, you will find beach sand or cobblestones. That's because the island in the Gulf of Bothnia used to be the seabed. Over the last ten thousand years or so, the land rose as Ice Age glaciers retreated. 7) Tour the Berlin Wall Memorial in Germany
Right in the middle of Berlin lies the Berlin Wall Memorial
that reminds us of the divided city that followed World War II. Stretching 1.4 km (0.8 mi) along the former border, it highlights historical remains and explains how and why it all happened.
You can see the outdoor exhibition that gives value with information boards. Cry a little inside, as you look at the memorials to the Germans who died trying to cross the wall at the infamous site. Very well presented, you can see where people desperately tried to dig tunnels. There's even a no-mans land and a sentry tower that still stands.
Going to the wall and the museum is a moving experience. For many people, this all happened in our lifetime, and that's a sobering thought. This is one thing you can tick off your bucket list, knowing that in many ways, the world's a better place than it was in recent history.