Places with photo galleries in Europe
Germany don't have much coast line, so they cherries what they have. Rügen Island in the Baltic Sea is Germany's biggest island and has always been the top beach destination for who ever governed the area. There are entire vacation towns at the most popular beaches with traditional bathing hotels and rows of hooded beach chairs, which still attracts hordes of mostly local tourists. Other sections of the dramatic coast line consist of steep chalk cliffs on a backdrop of leafy beech forest. Beside forests, like Jasmund N.P., and cute seaside resorts, like Sellin, Binz, and Göhren, there are also more quirky sights like Putgarten, a small village of colourful houses with thatched roofs, and Prora, a 4,5 km long holiday complex built by the Nazi.
Aegina Island is so close to Athens, that it makes a perfect day trip for a taste of Greek island life. It lies only a 40 minutes boat ride from Pireas, Athens' harbour suburb. Aegina is fairly large (87 sq km) so if you want to explore the whole island in a day, a scooter is necessary. Else it's the water, seafood, and easy life people come for. If Acropolis hasn't filled your desire for ruins, there are more ruins at Aegina town - Aegina was once a strong city state like Athens. If tours are more your thing, Aegina is also a part of the 3-islands-1-day cruise (Hydra, Poros, and Aegina), which is heavily advertised by the travel agents in Athens.
Without the masses of tourists and just a short (1,5 hour) ferry ride away from Santorini, Anafi is a great small island to kick back and relax for a few days. The hilltop town of Hora feels like it hasn't changed all that much in the last 20 years and the local people still live there, work there and sit in front of their houses and on the squares. By vehicle you can get to the other end of the island in less than a half hour and on foot it takes a couple. There is a small monastery and a hiking trail to the top of the enormous rock where you find beautiful views and another small monastery. The beaches on Anafi are not exceptional but nice with beautiful calm waters. Although it's not officially allowed, many people camp out on some of the beaches. All in all, it's a great island to escape the tourism madness of Santorini for a couple of days!
At first sight, Athens can seem as an one trick city. As big and splendid Acropolis is, as anonymous and nondescript are the rest of Athens. New and old from all time periods are mixed together. Sure, there are Roman columns here and temples ruins there, but nothing that can't be seen within a day. But what Athens lacks in attractiveness, it certainly wins in other aspects. Don't settle with the otherwise pretty view from towering Acropolis over Athens' urban sprawl, when the view from Lykavittos Hill (277 m) includes Acropolis. Explore the tiny white painted neighbourhood of Anafiotika on the northern slopes of the Acropolis hill. Indulge in the many good gyros and souvlaki places. Or people watch at one of the city beaches, a tram ride away. It's even possible to take a day trip to one of the closer islands. So don't just see Acropolis when in Athens.
Once, Santorini must have been a beautiful little island where the locals painted their houses white and their doors, windows and the domes of their churches blue. Greece used this pretty image to advertise the country and this has attracted an enormous amount of tourists to this island. You will not find many locals here anymore but, still, it is definitely worth a visit. Especially coming off season, you can get some pretty decent deals to stay in beautiful "cave houses" and we must admit that the town of Oia is still very picturesque. Although sometimes you will need some patience to get through the "traffic jammed" pedestrian alleys and deal with the hundreds of tourists trying to find the best location to watch the sunset (and applaud when the sun has set), you can discover some more relaxing places and good areas to swim. Especially the small harbour of Ammoudi is a great place to swim and has wonderful waterside restaurants with great seafood.
So get your Euros out to enjoy this pretty island but preferably go off season to avoid some of the crowds.
When solar storms enter our atmosphere, they create this amazing natural light show. You can never really know in advance where you can spot the beautiful northern lights. There is a big portion of luck needed but by travelling to polar regions between roughly September and April you have a pretty good chance of seeing them. You can also try to find a place without a lot of light pollution, especially in the northern direction. Mostly, you will see green lights slowly "dancing" and moving across the sky. The lights can have different colours, from red to blue but green is definitely the most common.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has a pretty accurate aurora borealis website where you can check the aurora activity in all polar regions of the world.
Reykjavík is Iceland's capital, with approximately 180,000 inhabitants – a fact you hardly notice, since the city seems rather small, so a few days here is enough. However, there is a very special and relaxed atmosphere in the central shopping area, specifically during weekends you will find plenty of live music performances, quirky galleries / shops and many "funky" people. Furthermore, the city offers some nice cafes, bars and restaurants, where you can eat whale and shark meat, for instance. The large, striking and modern concert hall / conference center Harpa, located on the quay, is also worth a short visit.
Le Cinque Terre quite literally means the five lands in Italian and you will see why when you view this beautiful and bold coastline. The villages that make up the Cinque Terre are nestled into the steep cliff faces of the coast and offer some of the most amazing views and food within the Ligurian region. Travelling to the Cinque Terre has been made easy by regular trains departing from nearby La Spezia, most visitors opting to ride the train to the most northern village of Monterosso and hike the trail to the most southern village of Riomaggiore. The hike will take around 4 to 5 hours including a mouth watering lunch stop but there is also plenty of B&B's which cater for all price ranges if you should want to stretch out your stay on this stunning coastline. Best times to go are the months leading up to and after the European summer when you will find less traffic and more favourable temperatures but be careful not to go in the wet season when mudslides can occur. Don't forget to wear a good pair of walking shoes!
Florence is one of Italy's cultural and architectural centers, and although the town is very touristy, you can still sense a special historical atmosphere of the old town. Famous Florentines include artists such as Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci and not least Michelangelo, whose famous David statue stands in several places in town. Besides beautiful statues in the city's piazzas, the great Gothic cathedral, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, is also worth a visit. Here you can climb up into the dome and look out across the city. You should also see one of the city's famous landmarks - namely the bridge Ponte Vecchio, that was previously filled with slaughterhouses, which meat waste was thrown directly into the River. Today the street is filled with more tourist-friendly jewelry stores.
The picturesque Lake Como, covering 146 m2 with surrounding mountains, is Italy's third largest lake. Along the lake, there are many cosy villages and lots of cool large villas. Small ferries sail from one end of the y-shaped lake to the other, so it is easy to visit towns across the lake. Especially the western side of the lake with Cernobbio, Menaggio, Tremezzo and Moltrasio and the southern cities Bellagio and Como town are worth a visit. The atmosphere at Lake Como is far more exclusive and less touristy than for example the larger Lake Garda - but it is also slightly more expensive. If you are a movie buff, you will furthermore, also recognize locations from "James Bond's Casino Royale", "Oceans 12" and "A Month by the Lake".