• Corsica at Sunset

    6 of Europe's Best-Kept Secrets

    <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/europe/" target="_blank">Europe</a> is known for having some of the most iconic sites in the world. From the picturesque canals of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italyfamily/" target="_blank">Venice</a>, the standing stones at <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Stonehenge</a>, to the lavender fields of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provence-tours/" target="_blank">Provence</a>. It’s easy to find yourself on a merry-go-round of repeating travels. But you can still find amazing places off the beaten path… the places not known yet to tourists. And with the help of Classic Journeys, you’ll find that Europe is full of them!<br><br>Here you’ll find six of the best-kept secrets in Europe. Which one will you visit first?<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rP9" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><b>Slovenia + Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula</b></a><br>Just a generation ago, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank">Slovenia and Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula</a> were part of Yugoslavia. Now, they’re two of the great under-the-radar and off-the-chart destinations in all of Europe. These unspoiled next-door lands sit right at the top of the Adriatic Sea just east of Venice. The scenery is so insanely perfect that you don’t want the walks to end. Think vineyards rolling into olive groves sweeping to the Adriatic and mirror calm mountain lakes reflecting snow-capped Alps.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank"><img alt="Basque" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPE" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank"><b>Basque Pyrenees</b></a><br>A museum sheathed in titanium. Wild horses that eat baguettes. Villages with names in three languages—Basque, French and Spanish. Farmers on tractors yield the right of way to fierce but friendly pelota games in village squares. Garlands of brilliant red pimientos dry in the sunlight… then show up on a dinner plate stuffed with seafood. You’ll be surprised at the richness of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Europe’s oldest culture</a> that few have had the chance to experience.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Corsica" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank"><b>Sardinia + Corsica</b></a><br>Travel between the isles of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Sardinia and Corsica</a> and you&#39;ll only venture eight miles...but they&#39;re worlds apart. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Corsica</a>—part of France, but defiantly non-French—is blanketed in fragrant herbs and dotted with quaint villages. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Sardinia</a> seeks adventure. Travel through the island and see how it&#39;s rustic, mysterious; with a few thousand years of Phoenician, Spanish and Italian blood in its veins. Together, these two gorgeous islands are some of the least-touristed spots in Europe. When you leave behind the yacht-studded harbors for the mountains, pastures and vineyards of the interior, you have the rarest of privileges—to see and experience countryside and culture that seem to have stood still in time.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank"><img alt="Montenegro" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank"><b>Montenegro</b></a><br>How will you explain <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank">Montenegro</a> to your friends who haven’t been (and that will be 99.9% of them)? Do you start with its Adriatic coast, where golden stone villages nestle on secluded, palm-lined bays? You can’t leave out the wild mountains with their sheer canyons and whisper-quiet lakes. You’ll certainly have stories about the hospitable Montenegrins… the olive growers, grappa-makers, shepherds and artists. You’ll fall in instant love with this compact Balkan land because it’s still so undiscovered, unexpected and unforgettable.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><img alt="Prague" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><b>Prague to Budapest</b></a><br>The journey from <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">Prague to Vienna to Budapest </a>is one of Europe’s best hidden gems. These one-time capitals of the Habsburg Empire, with its spires and castles, create the continent’s most inspiring skylines. Out in the countryside, the sights are spectacular. Powder-blue cathedrals leap up from the heart of valley towns. Incredibly intact villages are so perfectly preserved that the U.N. recognizes them as World Heritage Sites. Vast farmlands make it feel as though you’ve stepped back into feudal times. This is a rich slice of Europe’s life and history that most travelers never see.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Apulia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"><b>Apulia</b></a><br>When we ask our Italian guides where they&#39;d most like to take our friends who think they know Italy on a walking tour we get one response: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank">Apulia</a>. And then they use their hands. To paint a vista of gnarled olive trees silhouetted against a lapis lazuli sea. To express the amazing sunlight. To sketch the saw-toothed skyline of a village comprised entirely of trulli—the conical stone roofs unique to the region. Best of all, Apulia (pronounced ah-pooh-lya) passes the most important Classic Journeys test—it offers fine leisurely walking, elegant accommodations, and a glimpse into a region and culture that&#39;s not quite like any you&#39;ve encountered before.

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  • Charles Bridge over Vltava, Prague

    5 Must-See Places in Prague

    Who better to explore Prague with than a local who’s been guiding there since long before Westerners had ready access to the country. Nowadays, our friend (and soon to be yours too) Karel Schneider is tour leader for Classic Journeys <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">Prague to Budapest Culture + Walking tours</a>. As Karel puts it, “Because I grew up on the ‘wrong side’ of the Iron Curtain, my way of coping was to learn to speak English and German. It was almost impossible to get permission to travel to the West, and so, being a city guide provided me with opportunities to meet people from different countries and get information that wasn’t otherwise available.”<br><br>Even though that era is decades past, it’s very visible in the rearview mirror, and Karel offers you a very personal perspective on life then… and how it still echoes in 21st-century life. The interesting irony is that the difficult Cold War years left the country with a lack of resources that prevented the bulldozing of cities and towns. That almost-accidental preservation means that you’ll step in scenes that have changed very little over the centuries. As a proud lifelong resident of Prague, he knows the city and its histories like the back of his hand and these are among his must-see spots that he shows off to our guests.<br><br><b>#1 A Stroll Through Time in Malá Strana</b><br>Here at the foot of Castle Hill, nobles and the wealthy once built their own palaces and grand homes to be close to the soaring seat of power. Today, this historic district is wonderful for a walk. The streetscapes take you back in time and there’s a lively mix of past and present that shows off the modern personality of Prague.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague" target="_blank"><img alt="Mala Strana, Prague" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bm2x&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jUua" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>#2 Private Visit to the Library Halls of Strahov Monastery</b><br>If you automatically connect libraries with quiet, somber places, the private tour that Karel arranges in the library halls will rock your world! Confectionary Baroque ceilings seem so distracting that it’s hard to imagine focusing on the remarkable collection of valuable manuscripts. The hush here is inspired by awe, and it’s one of Prague’s most inspiring spaces made all the more memorable by the privileged access you enjoy. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague" target="_blank"><img alt="Strahov Monastery Library" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bm2x&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jUuf" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>#3 The View from the Petřín Lookout Tower</b><br>Your eyes don’t deceive you. If the tower looks suspiciously like that other tower called Eiffel that’s because it was copied (at a smaller scale) for the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891. The literal high point of a visit to Prague, the views are fabulous. From this vantage point with Karel’s guidance, you really get the lay of the land and see how the Vltava River snakes through the city.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague" target="_blank"><img alt="Petrin Lookout Tower" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bm2x&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jUuk" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>#4 The Treasures of Lobkowicz Palace Museum</b><br>For seven centuries, the Lobkowicz family has played an integral role in preserving Czech culture. The significance couldn’t be clearer than in their present-day museum inside the Prague Castle. It’s a rich reminder of the power and wealth of the country’s old ruling class. If the Brueghel paintings and Haydn manuscripts aren&#39;t enough to impress, step out to the terrace for the princely views.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague" target="_blank"><img alt="Prague Castle" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bm2x&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jUup" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>#5 Gardens of Prague Castle</b><br>“Prague’s gardens are my favorite places of all,” Karel says. Some of the quietest are in Malá Strana, but the grandest are the Royal Gardens strung along the southern face of Prague Castle. First commissioned by the Habsburgs the 16th Century, it’s no surprise that there are fountains and Baroque elements galore.  It’s hard to believe you’re in the center of a world capital…except that the vistas of the city keep catching your eye.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague" target="_blank"><img alt="Prague Castle Gardens" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bm2x&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jUuu" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> 

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  • Chambord Castle in Loire France

    8 of Our Favorite European Castles

    From the fabled location of King Arthur’s birth to an ornately decorated vacation home for noble families, there’s no question that castles run the gambit of historical significance (not to mention their architectural significance). With that in mind, we put together a list of 8 of our favorite European castles.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><b>1. Château de Chenonceau, Loire &amp; Burgundy</b> </a>- Arguably the most magnificent and romantic of all châteaux, Chenonceau spans the river and has been the home of six great ladies throughout history. Among them are its builder, Catherine Briconnet, who built it as a home rather than a fortification; Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II, who added the bridge between the house and the banks of the river; and Catherine de Medici, Henry&#39;s wife. Madame Dupin, who owned the château during the French Revolution, was so kind to the lower classes who lived around the château that it was allowed to survive free from the destruction suffered by many other wealthy homes.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><img alt="Chateau de Chenonceau in Loire France" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><b>2. Château de Villandry, Loire &amp; Burgundy</b></a> - Not far down the Loire River, Villandry is home to spectacular geometric-shaped gardens with their zigzagging hedges, flowerbeds, vegetable plots and a swan-filled lake. The château itself, has a wonderful collection of paintings, lovely rooms and the magnificent gilded ceiling imported from Toledo, Spain.<br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><img alt="Chateau de Villandry in Loire France" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">3. Broughton Grange Castle, Cotswolds</a></b> – Surrounded by a moat, it dates back to the 1550’s. The grand interiors were featured in the BBC production of <i>Wolf Hall, </i>and the manicured gardens are some of the country’s finest. What better setting to pause for an elegant afternoon tea?<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="Broughton Castle in Cotswolds" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jX2I" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scotland/" target="_blank">4. Urquhart Castle, Scottish Highlands</a> </b>- Even if the name isn’t familiar, you’ll recognize the distinctive profile of this magnificent ruin on the shores of Loch Ness. Built in the early 13<sup>th</sup> Century, it sits on a fine headland near the stretch of the loch where many of the reputed Nessie sightings occurred.<br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scotland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Urquhart Castle - Scotland" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cornwall/" target="_blank">5. Tintagel Castle, Cornwall</a></b> -  this is where, according to legend, King Arthur was born. When the conquering Normans reached the westernmost land of England, they heard that the ancient seat of Cornwall’s kings had stood atop this soaring headland, surrounded on three sides by the ceaseless surge of the Atlantic. Earl Richard of Cornwall, younger brother of Henry III, decided to build a castle on the spot where his legendary predecessors had held court.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cornwall/" target="_blank"><img alt="Tintagel Castle in Cornwall" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jX2N" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><b>6. Chambord Castle, Loire &amp; Burgundy</b></a> – located in the heart of a forest, where the French sovereigns used to hunt, Chateau de Chambord is one of France’s most recognizable castles, with a combination of French medieval and classical Renaissance architecture. The centerpiece of the chateau is the double spiral staircase that spans three floors. It is rumored to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><img alt="Chambord Castle in Loire" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jX2S" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/portugal/" target="_blank"><b>7. Pena National Palace, Portugal</b></a> -  The Sintra region was long a favorite site for royal retreats, estates and castles. The most stellar example is Pena National Palace. You’ll be delighted by this treasure of the Romanticist style with beautiful exterior views of its soaring jumble of red, ocher and pink towers.<br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/portugal/" target="_blank"><img alt="Pena Palace in Portugal" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">8. Prague Castle, Prague</a></b> – this UNESCO world heritage site is credited as being the largest coherent castle complex in the world. Its more than 753,000 square feet, is home to palaces, cathedrals, towers, gardens, grand halls, and much more. Dating back to the 9<sup>th</sup> century, Prague Castle has been the seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Roman emperors, as well as presidents of Czechoslovakia, and most recently the president of the Czech Republic.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><img alt="Gardens at Prague Castle" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcd" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a>

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