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Western Europe Travel Guide

Bathed in history and brimming with culture, Western Europe embodies a rich heritage of timeless traditions and modern marvels. From the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps to the sun-drenched vineyards of France, and from the bustling boulevards of Berlin to the winding canals of Amsterdam, this region is a symphony of diverse landscapes, languages, and lifestyles. Every corner tells a tale, every city hums with life, and every experience is a doorway into centuries of civilization.

Discover our travel tips, articles and virtual tours for Western Europe !


List of destinations in Western Europe

Quick Facts About Western Europe

  • Countries:
    • There are 8 nations in Western Europe, according the United Nations geoscheme, including France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
    • France, stretching over diverse landscapes from the Mediterranean coast to the Atlantic shores, is the largest country.
    • Liechtenstein, a diminutive yet majestic principality nestled between Austria and Switzerland, is the smallest country.
  • Key geographic facts:
    • Tallest Mountain: Mont Blanc, standing tall at 4,808 meters (15,774 ft), reigns as the highest peak in Western Europe, located in the French Alps.
    • Longest River: The Rhine River, stretching approximately 1,230 kilometers (760 miles), meanders through several countries, from Switzerland’s Alps to the North Sea coast in the Netherlands.
    • Varied Terrain: Western Europe is characterized by diverse landscapes. From the sandy North Sea beaches in Belgium and the Netherlands to the undulating vineyards of the French countryside and the imposing Alpine heights of Switzerland and Austria.
    • Deepest Lake: Lake Geneva, primarily located in Switzerland with a part in France, is not only one of the largest Alpine lakes but also one of the deepest, reaching depths of up to 310 meters (1,017 ft).
    • Smallest Alpine Country: Liechtenstein is a landlocked microstate tucked in the Alpine region, spanning just 160 square kilometers (62 square miles) in area.
    • Unique River Features: The Lorelei is a steep slate rock on the right bank of the River Rhine in Germany. This section of the river has been a hotspot for folklore, particularly a legend about a siren named “Lorelei” who lured sailors to their demise.
    • Oldest Active Salt Mine: Located in the Austrian town of Hallstatt, the Salzwelten salt mine is believed to date back over 7,000 years. The mine played a crucial role in the area’s history and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
    • World-renowned Wine Regions: Bordeaux in France stands as one of the world’s most renowned wine-producing regions. The picturesque vineyards, combined with the historic architecture, make it a must-visit.
    • Forest Richness: Germany’s Black Forest (Schwarzwald) is not only known for its dense tree cover and scenic beauty but also for its cultural contributions, including the cuckoo clock and tales by the Brothers Grimm.
    • River Delta Beauty: The Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta in the Netherlands is one of the largest river deltas in Europe. It has played a significant role in Dutch history, commerce, and land reclamation.
  • Languages:
    • Multilingual Countries: Switzerland boasts four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh.
    • World’s Most Studied Language: French, apart from being the official language of France, is studied by millions worldwide.
    • Prominent Germanic Languages: German, spoken in Germany, Austria, and parts of Switzerland, and Dutch, spoken in the Netherlands.
  • Religions:
    • Predominantly Christian: Most countries in Western Europe have a significant Christian population, mainly Catholic and Protestant denominations.
    • Freedom of Religion: Western European nations emphasize secularism and the freedom of belief, resulting in diverse religious practices.
    • Historical Significance: Regions like Lourdes in France hold deep religious importance for pilgrims globally.

Western Europe, A Region of Many Records

  • World’s Highest Church: The Ulm Minster in Germany stands as the tallest church globally, its steeple piercing the sky at 161.5 meters (530 ft).

  • Smallest Country by Land Area: Liechtenstein, squeezed between Switzerland and Austria, is the sixth smallest country globally, covering a mere 160 km².

  • Largest Plain in Europe: The North European Plain spans across northern Germany and the Netherlands, standing out as one of Europe’s most expansive geographical terrains.

  • World’s Oldest Active Brewery: Bavaria’s Weihenstephan Brewery in Germany, with operations since 1040, claims the title of the world’s oldest continuously running brewery.

  • Largest Consumer of Chocolate: Famed for its rich chocolates, Switzerland leads in global per capita chocolate consumption.

  • Highest Point in Western Europe: Mont Blanc, primarily in France but also touching Italy, is the highest peak in Western Europe, towering at 4,808 meters (15,774 ft).

  • Europe’s Largest Waterfalls by Volume: The Rhine Falls in Switzerland holds the record for being Europe’s largest waterfall in terms of volume, offering a magnificent spectacle, especially during the snowmelt period.

  • Lowest Point Below Sea Level: Zuidplaspolder in the Netherlands is the lowest point in Western Europe, lying 7 meters (23 ft) below sea level.

  • Largest Lake Entirely in Western Europe: Lake Geneva, nestled between Switzerland and a small part of France, is the largest lake located entirely in Western Europe.

  • Longest River Flowing Entirely in Western Europe: The Loire River, flowing exclusively in France for 1,012 km (629 mi), is the longest river to have its course entirely in Western Europe.

10 Handpicked Western Europe Highlights

10 fantastic places and experiences in Western Europe, in no particular order.

  1. Parc National des Écrins (France): Located in the Dauphiné Alps, this park offers breathtaking alpine scenery, from glaciers and valleys to towering peaks, serving as a playground for hikers and nature lovers.

  2. Gorges du Verdon (France): Known as Europe’s answer to the Grand Canyon, this river canyon offers breathtaking vistas, best enjoyed by hiking, kayaking, or simply admiring from one of its many viewpoints.

  3. Côte d’Émeraude (Brittany, France): This “Emerald Coast” enchants visitors with its pristine beaches, rugged cliffs, and medieval towns.

  4. Black Forest (Germany): A vast expanse of wooded hills, valleys, and traditional villages, the Black Forest is not only the birthplace of many German legends but also of the world-famous cuckoo clock.

  5. The Canals of Bruges (Belgium): Often referred to as the “Venice of the North,” Bruges captivates with its historic, UNESCO-listed city center, crisscrossed by picturesque canals and dotted with medieval architecture.

  6. Swiss Alps (Switzerland): One of the world’s most renowned mountain ranges, the Swiss Alps are not just for winter sports enthusiasts but also offer some of Europe’s most breathtaking landscapes.

  7. Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany): Located in Bavaria, this fairy tale-like castle was the inspiration behind Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

  8. Keukenhof Gardens (Netherlands): Situated in Lisse, these gardens, also known as the “Garden of Europe,” boast millions of tulips in bloom during spring, offering a riot of colors and fragrances.

  9. Grossglockner High Alpine Road (Austria): Winding through the heart of Austria’s largest national park, this panoramic road offers views of Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, and the Pasterze Glacier.

  10. Vianden Castle (Luxembourg): Perched atop a hill overlooking the Our River, this restored medieval fortress is one of the most significant and picturesque feudal residences of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Europe.

When to Go to Western Europe

Western Europe boasts a temperate maritime climate, characterized by mild summers, cool winters, and consistent rainfall year-round. However, the region’s climate is influenced by several factors, from the Atlantic Ocean’s warming Gulf Stream to the Alps’ protective barriers.

  • Spring (March to May): Blossoming flowers and warmer temperatures make this a delightful time to visit, especially in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, where tulip fields paint the landscape with vibrant hues.

  • Summer (June to August): Western Europe’s peak tourist season, summer days are long, sunny, and warm. Tourist hotspots like Paris, Amsterdam, and Vienna can get crowded, so it’s wise to book accommodations and activities in advance.

  • Autumn (September to November): A serene period with a crisp atmosphere, autumn leaves create picturesque landscapes, especially in Germany’s Black Forest or France’s wine regions. It’s an excellent time for wine-tasting and hiking.

  • Winter (December to February): While coastal areas experience milder temperatures, Alpine regions in Switzerland, Austria, and parts of France become skiing and snowboarding havens. The festive season also brings Christmas markets, particularly in Germany and Austria.

Traveling to Western Europe

Staying Safe

Western Europe is generally safe for travelers, but like anywhere, certain precautions should be taken:

  • Beware of Pickpockets: Especially in tourist-heavy areas and public transport in major cities.
  • Stay Updated on Local News: Occasionally, protests or strikes might disrupt travel plans, particularly in France.
  • Be Cautious at Night: Especially in lesser-known parts of cities.
  • Avoid Flashing Wealth: To deter thieves and unwanted attention.
  • Stay Aware in Crowded Areas: Tourist spots can be magnets for petty criminals.
  • Travel Insurance: Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Local Emergency Numbers: Familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers.
  • Stay Sober: Drink responsibly and avoid illegal substances.
  • Respect Local Customs and Regulations: Each country might have specific rules or customs, especially concerning public behavior.
  • Scams: Beware of street scams or distractions.

Getting There and Around

The region is well-connected with a dense network of roads, railways, and airports.

  • Airports: Major hubs include Charles de Gaulle (France), Frankfurt Airport (Germany), and Schiphol (Netherlands).
  • Trains: The extensive EuroRail network links major cities, and high-speed trains like the TGV in France or ICE in Germany offer efficient cross-country travel.
  • Buses: Companies like FlixBus and Eurolines provide affordable travel between countries.
  • Car Rentals: Driving can be a pleasure in Western Europe, especially on iconic routes like Germany’s Romantic Road or France’s Route des Vins.


Western Europe offers a broad spectrum of accommodations, from luxury hotels and boutique lodgings in urban centers to charming B&Bs in the countryside. Prices can vary significantly, with cities like Paris and Zurich being notably pricier. Hostel chains, like Hostelworld or Youth Hostel Association (YHA), offer budget options.

For a more local experience, platforms like Airbnb are prevalent. Always research in advance, particularly during the peak season, to ensure the best deals and choices.