Northern Europe consists of timeless landscapes, quiet country roads, poppy fields, and stone farmhouses encircled by elegant cypresses. Discover treasures of medieval villages perched on hillsides cloaked with dark forests hiding truffle secrets. Listen to fountains splash in sunny squares or waves sweeping the shore. Walk along old pilgrimage routes past roadside crosses and tiny chapels or follow in artists’ footsteps through seaside towns and glittering resorts.
Below are some of the regions most visited countries:
Norway is Europe's great parkland: a dramatic mix of mountains, seas, forests and fjords. While the country has tidy cities, historic buildings and distinctive artists, nature is clearly its prime attraction. We think it's one of the loveliest countries in the world, summer or winter, and the prime travel destination in Scandinavia.
Oslo: One of the best features of Oslo, Norway, is its setting. Located at the base of the Oslo Fjord, the city extends up the mountains that surround it on three sides. The city's cultural center is downtown, right on the water. Oslo is easy to navigate and so compact that you can walk almost everywhere.
Bergen: Founded in AD 1070, Bergen, is Norway's second-largest—and one of its most attractive—cities. Bergen is a popular cruise ship destination that attracts visitors year-round.
Flam: Set northwest of Oslo in one of the most stunning areas of Norway, Flam has mountains, waterfalls and other natural beauty. It's ideal terrain for bike excursions, especially through the Flam Valley.
Iceland, the country with the chilly name, is rapidly becoming one of Europe's hottest destinations. Much of Iceland's popularity is due to its natural features, which include glaciers, hot springs, geysers, active volcanoes, portentous peaks and vast lava deserts. In addition to its expansive landscape, it has a rich history and folklore tradition.
Reykjavik: The fire, frost and water symbolized by the red, white and blue of Iceland’s flag are manifested in this land. Reykjavik, or Smoky Bay, was so named in 874 A.D. by Ingolf Arnarson when he sighted the numerous hot springs on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula. The beautiful countryside outside of Reykjavik includes such natural wonders as volcanoes, geysers, glaciers, mountains and spectacular waterfalls.
Akureyri: Akureyri is one of Iceland's oldest towns, and features picturesque historic houses set below snowcapped peaks, botanical gardens and several museums. Explore the interior to see Godafoss Waterfall and Lake Myvatn. It is the largest settlement outside the south-west of Iceland, and one of the country's largest cities. The name means "Meadow Sandspit" in Icelandic. Akureyri is an important shipyard and fishing port, as well as a commercial and distributing centre for agriculture and manufacturing.
There is so much to explore in this land of historic cities, dramatic moorlands and gentle, rolling pastures. Incomparable theater, beautiful cities, country lanes, castles and the quintessential English garden—England has it all. From Shakespeare and royalty to Stonehenge and thousands of years of history, England is simply a wonderful place to visit time and time again.
London: London is undoubtedly one of the world's finest cities. This city has something for everyone—wide boulevards buzzing with excitement far into the night, quiet squares and explorable alleyways. Visit London's famous parks, museums, galleries, monuments, abbeys and churches, skyscrapers and ruins, Georgian squares. Take in such events as the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower, or the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, or even one of the many theatrical productions.
Liverpool: Located on the Irish Sea on the mouth of the Mersey River, Liverpool is one of England’s most important seaports, second only to London. Several churches in the city are notable; among them is the Anglican Cathedral, built in 1904 which is one of the largest ecclesiastical structures in the world. There are several museums in the city as well, the Walker Art Gallery and the Merseyside County Museum.
Nearly everyone will find something to enjoy in Ireland, be it the green countryside, Irish whiskey, shopping, bicycling tours or wandering sheep. In addition to pubs and Riverdance-style step dancers, you also can find local musicians, stunning scenery, ruins and historical sites, golfing and other outdoor activities to enjoy at a relaxed pace.
Dublin: Dublin attracts visitors from around the world with its old world charm and friendly atmosphere. Most of the architecture dates from the 18th century, when Dublin enjoyed great prominence and prosperity. Admire Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and enjoy exhibits in the impressive National Museum. Perhaps the most memorable feature of Dublin is the traditional pub, where visitors can enjoy conversation over fine Irish brew.
Cork: A town of churches, bridges and pubs, Cork is best known for Blarney Castle where you are invited to kiss the famed stone to acquire the "gift of gab." St. Patrick Street, the town's main thoroughfare, is good for shopping and people watching. See the Shandon bells in St. Anne's church.
The countryside of Scotland is a wild, beautiful tumble of raw mountain peaks and deep glassy lakes. There's a plethora of tartan 'n' bagpipe beaten tracks across this land, but even in popular tourist hubs like Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Isle of Skye it's easy to veer off into one-of-a-kind adventures, usually involving extroverted locals. Scotland is a place where you can watch golden eagles soar over the rocky peaks of the Cuillin and play golf on some of the world's most hallowed courses. Like a fine single malt, Scotland is a connoisseur's delight—it reveals its true depth and complex flavors only to those who savor it slowly.
Glasgow: Glasgow is Scotland's biggest city and major tourist destination, possessing some of Britain's finest architecture and hosting a variety of cultural events and attractions. Glasgow has been described as the finest surviving example of a great Victorian city. Of particular interest is George Square - lined by several buildings constructed in the Italian Renaissance style. Few buildings pre-date 18th century. The most prominent of these are Glasgow Cathedral, and Provand's Lordship, which is the city's oldest house (c. 1471) and now a museum. The cathedral, situated on high ground to the east of the city and dating in parts from 12th century, is an outstanding example of Gothic architecture.
Inverness/Loch Ness: With its suspension bridges across the River Ness and old stone buildings, Inverness is a pretty place well-known for its floral displays. Loch Ness is best known for the alleged sightings of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, also known as "Nessie". It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich. At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness.
St. Petersburg, Russia: Founded by Peter I in 1703, this beautiful city became the designated capital of Imperial Russia from 1712 to 1914. St. Petersburg was a gateway to the West and a distinctly European metropolis with Baroque and neo-classical mansions. The second-largest city in Russia and the country’s principal seaport, St. Petersburg boasts some of the world’s finest art museums, opulent palaces and one of the world’s most talented ballet companies.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Cosmopolitan Amsterdam is most famous for its narrow, gabled houses lining the canals. Interesting attractions include the medieval weighhouse, Royal Palace on Dam Square and New Church. Its most glamorous industry is the diamond trade. Not too far from Amsterdam are the flower centers of Aalsmeer, the picturesque fishing villages of Volendam and Marken, cheese markets at Edam and Gouda, and historic Haarlem, the main center of the bulb-growing industry.
Copenhagen, Denmark: Like many other countries of Western Europe, Croatia too developed in an area that once made up part of the Roman Empire. In the maelstrom of the great migrations of peoples that took place Europe-wide after the fall of Rome, the Croat tribes took over this area. The Croats established their own princedom as early as the 7th century and founded an independent state in the 9th century. In the 10th century the Kingdom of the Croats came into being, ruled by the national kings. From the time of the conversion to Christianity, which was completed in the 9th century, the Croats became a part of Western Christendom and of the society of Western Europe.
Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm is Sweden’s strikingly elegant and beautiful capital. Explore unspoiled architecture dating back centuries which is complemented by the best in modern Scandinavian design. Stockholm offers a wealth of monuments and sites, fine museums, and a rich culture.
Helsinki, Finland: Helsinki, Finland's capital, is one of Europe's most interesting and enjoyable cities. On sunny days, the city is illuminated by the sparkle of snow and the dazzling, frozen Baltic Sea.
Tallinn, Estonia: Tallinn's many occupations over the centuries have resulted in a cultural mix and unique ambiance of this maritime city. Old Town's cobbled streets and 13th–14th century buildings attract thousands of visitors annually who admire the city’s heritage of medieval buildings, the imposing City Hall, the Orthodox Cathedral, Toompea Castle and Oleviste Church. See former guild houses, including the Great Guildhall of the medieval Hanseatic League.
Norway is first and foremost a maritime nation, and most of its population lives along the coast or on the hundreds of coastal islands, where the weather is moderated by the Gulf Stream. The most spectacular fjords are scattered along the west coast, where Norway meets the Barents, Norwegian and North seas.
Iceland is a volcanic island straddling the active Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The country is generally divided into seven geological, physical and scenic regions, and it's possible to see most of them by driving the Ring Road (Highway 1), which circumnavigates Iceland.
Ireland is an island off the western coast of the U.K., from which it is separated by the North Channel, St. George's Channel and the Irish Sea. The coastal areas of Ireland tend to be mountainous and rugged, especially on the western side of the island, which wards off the Atlantic Ocean with an almost unbroken line of cliffs and mountains.
England is only one of four countries that make up the U.K. or, more formally, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Scotland's geography is varied, with everything from rolling moors and green valleys to rugged sea cliffs and epic mountain ranges. The coastline, which is cut by firths (similar to fjords), spreads for 11,186 mi/18,000 km and boasts more than 800 islands. The national symbol, the thistle, combines with evergreens and heather to enhance the countryside.