Whether it's swapping stories with a friend or traveling with a group of Backroads guests on our Douro Valley River Cruise, I can't help but share all the fascination and stories about port wine production and the country of Portugal. It's all just so darn good.
One of the reasons that Europe is so special is that, within a relatively small geographic area, you can visit incredibly diverse landscapes with their own histories, cultures and scenic wonders. While Backroads provides everything you'll need to enjoy any of our trips, these 10 destinations are especially great for first time travelers to Europe. With accessible airports and hotels, friendly locals who often speak English and dependable public transportation, among other welcoming attributes, they offer a perfect introduction to European beauty, food and charm.
The vastness and beauty of Norway’s fjords and lands are beyond description and must be experienced to be appreciated. Backroads took our group to areas of Norway most tours and visitors will never see. Every detail was planned and balanced with enough free time and choice of daily hikes depending on how one felt that day. This trip was perfect for our group of seven women, giving us the freedom to simply enjoy Norway, have fun and create memories together.
According to a local saying in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, "Those loved by God are brought here"--a sentiment easy to understand as the Bavarian Alps can seem like heaven on Earth. For my family (myself, my Backroads husband and our toddler), it's our favorite place in the world to play and relax.
It's the second winter that I'm spending in Copenhagen, the city that also happens to be the destination of Backroads' Stockholm to Copenhagen cycling voyage. Up here in the North, the winter days are short, sunrise is late and counting the hours to sunset does not require all fingers of both hands. Sometimes it seems as if the cold is not only freezing the lakes and ponds in the countless parks and city gardens, but it is also freezing time. The hands of the watch slow their pace, as if they want to save energy for the long awaited summer, when suddenly music festivals, foodie fairs and street galleries pop up at every corner as if they were tulips and Copenhagen was not a city, but a large, fertile field. While summer is the perfect time to explore Copenhagen's art and food scene, the slow winter is well-suited to chat up the locals and engage in some philosophizing, especially when a few sun rays manage to break through the cloudy sky.
Twenty years ago, I found myself in Slovenia for the first time. I had never heard of it; to me, it was just a rumor, a whisper of adventure, a place where few were aiming their sights. "You've gotta check it out, man. No one even knows it's there." So, with very little thought and absolutely no plans, my friends and I grabbed our bags and set out for the station.
One of the reasons I joined Backroads as a Trip Leader a decade ago was because it was one of the only active travel companies that had trips in Norway. Growing up, my father always loved studying our family genealogy and especially our Norwegian roots. He and my mother had visited Norway in search of family roots on their European travels back in the 1970s, when they were first married. So Norway was an obvious choice for a family trip abroad, back in 1998. On that trip we followed the family tree down to the roots but could only find the small valley our family had come from. Nothing much came from the trip other than a deep feeling of connection for myself and a little more context for our family heritage.
This unique Rhine River Cruise bike tour combines the comforts of luxury cruising with the total immersion of active travel. And thanks to Backroads Regional Coordinator Michael Bernhard, who grew up exploring his native Germany on two wheels, it's a journey shaped by an insider's perspective: our flexible routes take you well beyond the typical tourist paths, deep into the rich culture and natural beauty of the Rhine Valley.
When I first visited Porto on a backpacking trip nearly 20 years ago, my primary interest was to explore the charming neighborhood bars of the Ribeira quarter, enjoy some fado music and savor Porto's namesake wine. Over the years, my returns to this captivating city have matured and each visit has allowed me to uncover another surprising layer of this World Heritage city situated on both the Atlantic and the Douro River. While I originally regarded the Douro as just an ordinary river, I've since come to appreciate its significance for the soul of Porto and as a transport conduit for an entire region. Instrumental in moving goods and people up and down the river were the rabelo boats, a type of cargo boat unique to this river.
We know how to say eyjafjallajökull! This action-packed Iceland Multisport Adventure - which begins with a private charter flight to get you quickly to the trailhead - is backed by our deep local knowledge and the strong relationships we've built with the country's best hotels and restaurants. In the land of fire and ice, experience the full diversity of Iceland's wild landscape while Backroads takes care of the rest.