Europe Travel Guide

Activities & Events

Music

Europe is considered the spiritual home of classical music and opera, and the various European capitals are home to some amazing 'old world' opera houses, where the hundreds of years of history often enhances the experience into something otherworldly. However if opera singers give you headache, then fear not, since Europe has more modern music festivals than you could possibly ever visit. The Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Sziget fesztivál in Budapest and reigning champion Glastonbury, weighing in at 195,000 drunk souls, are widely considered the 3 big ones, but there are many more significant events. Alternatively, the revival Woodstock festival in Poland, while it doesn't boast the star-studded line-up of some commercial festivals, is great for those who want to do it on the cheap (there is no ticket to buy) and it attracted 700,000 music fans in 2011. Furthermore, there is the "Donauinselfest" which takes place every year in Vienna, and is said to be Europe's biggest free open-air event.

While Europe is known for its opera houses, the London West End is also home to many world leading productions of musical theatre.

Sports

Perhaps no other field has seen stronger European integration than sport. Most professional sports have Europe-wide leagues in place, and nearly every sport has a bi-annual European Championship.

Football. (American English: Soccer) If you are already a football fan the game hardly gets any better than watching your favourite team battle it out against the world's greatest football clubs in the Champions League or the Europa League . Games in the pan-European leagues usually take place mid-week to allow for games in the national leagues to take place during the weekend. For the popular teams the tickets are often sold out weeks in advance.
Formula 1 car racing is a sport that excites people all across the continent, with many of the races being held at European venues.
Cycling. Another sport that enjoys much wider popularity in Europe than virtually the rest of the world. Hundreds of competitions take place every year, but the 3 unrivalled events of the year are the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, where thousands of thousands of spectators line up along routes that often extend more than one hundred kilometres. The whole season is managed in a league like format called the Protour.
Skiing is a major sport in the mountainous countries of Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy.
Rugby is an English sport that has a huge following in other countries such as Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy.
Basketball. The pan-European Euroleague is the highest tier of professional basketball in Europe, featuring teams from 18 European countries and some of the best basketball you'll find outside the NBA. The regular season runs Oct-Jan and play-offs take place Jan-May.
Handball. An annual pan-European tournament, the Champions League, takes place every year. While the sport is little known outside Europe, it has a sizeable following. Two teams with seven players each pass and bounce a ball to throw it into the football-style goal of the opposing team.
Skiing and snowboarding

Europe is home to some fantastic ski resorts; the Alps are home of some of the best ski resorts in the world, and there are more here than anywhere else. Austria and Switzerland contain hundreds of resorts alone. Other Alpine ski destinations include France, Italy, Slovenia, Germany (Bavaria) and even tiny Liechtenstein. The largest area is Les Portes du Soleil, made up of 13 linked ski resorts in Switzerland and France, boasting over 650 km of marked runs.

But the fun doesn't stop in the Alps; the Scandinavian Mountains feature some of the world's most civilized and family oriented skiing areas, but the lower altitude also means it's a trade-of for shorter runs - Åre is the biggest, while way up north Riksgränsen allows skiing well into the summer. Scotland is home of 5 ski resorts, Nevis Range has the highest vertical drop at 566 meters, while Glenshee is the largest. A surprising option is Sierra Nevada in Spain, fairly large, just hours drive from the Mediterranean coast, and with a season often running into May - you can ski in the morning, and chill on the beach in the afternoon. To the north the Pyrenees shared with France and Andorra also offers excellent skiing at up to 2,700m (8,000 ft) altitude, Domaine Tourmalet is the largest resort in the area with over 100 km of pistes.

Eastern Europe is seeing increasing popularity since prices are much lower than elsewhere on the continent. The downside is that facilities are not as expansive or modern as elsewhere in Europe, but things are rapidly improving. Slovenia is cheap alternative in the über-expensive Alps, Kranjska Gora is the largest resort in the country. The Carpathian mountains, with the highest runs at almost 2,200m (7200 ft), is another popular area; Poiana Brasov (Romania, 20 km, 11 lifts ) Zakopane (Poland, 30 km, 20 lifts ) and Jasna (Slovakia, 29 km, 24 lifts ) are the largest and most popular areas in the respective countries.

National parks

There are more than 360 national parks on the continent, which is not a surprise since Europe is the world's second-most densely populated continent. Many parks are small, some less than a single km², but there are also some expansive national parks to explore. The Vatnajokull National Park on Iceland is the largest, covering around 12,000 km² (7,500 sq miles), and the fascinating national parks of the Arctic Svalbard are not far behind, while Yugyd Va National Park in the Russian Urals is largest on the mainland itself. In total the national parks of Europe encompass an area of around 98,000 km² (37,000 sq miles).

Outdoor activities

Many cities in Europe are great for cycling.

EuroVelo cycling routes is a development of many different bike routes throughout the continent, that cater for nearly all desires and levels of difficulties. In all of the different countries of the continent, parts of these routes exists. Some are already developed, some are only "under construction".

Europe has several places for whitewater sports and canyoning.

source: Wikivoyage