When the decision to travel to Europe is reached, the problem is that Europe can’t be understood as one single country, as you could do with the United States. The cultural background that it exists in every country is absolutely different from the neighbors and has a completely different history. Most of times, it will also have a different language.
The way Europe has developed and this strong differences between regions makes it easier to take a decision on where you want to go. Taking the continent in some parts, the one I am going to explore in this article is Southern Europe
That could be the European Miami, and it consists mainly of Spain, Italy and Greece. Croatia recently has grown in tourism but it is still far on the way. The visitor that wants to go to Southern Europe in the summer is mainly a Sun & Beach tourist, somebody looking to get to the most beautiful beaches, hot waters, etc. Yes, these are the ones that come back home completely toasted because they forgot to put some sun cream on.
In any case, the southern region offers many more than sun and beach, even if publicity campaigns sometimes seem to show the opposite. They have a very strong past, as enormous civilizations colonized this lands in ancient periods. Italy has worldwide fame for its eternal architecture, Greece offers some of the most ancient structures, specially in its capital, but also around all the islands and in the central zone of the country, as Meteora Monasteries. Spain also has a very strong history of getting conquered and being reconquered again. This continuous movement has brought many cultures to step foot in there and this has left many visible forms of art. In the southern part of the country, the Arabic influence was very strong during one period, and some of the most beautiful buildings from this time are still standing there.
The three countries are also famous for the Mediterranean blood that runs through the veins of its individuals. Probably the actual demanding society and stress is not really helping this spirit to roam there forever, but still you will find a different character from the rest of Europe. Probably easier to make the first contact, but at same more difficult to make a real ever lasting friend. The spontaneous character is good for going out, but sometimes not for the longer relationship. Italians, after all, have won the prize for the most outgoing people in Europe.
When it comes to food, Mediterranean culture takes many good things from the sea and also has some of the most balanced diets you can ever find. Also, specially Spain and Italy, are famous for wine production.
You will not encounter the most clean cities of Europe in this region. The way of life tends to be a bit disrespectful for public spaces and nature, and this is a lesson that should be learned as soon as possible. Security level is the lowest in the developed part of Europe, but normally it will not consists of direct physical violence, but most of stealing problems due to certain levels of poverty. Put an eye on every bag you have, hide your money in proper places, and avoid at all costs going alone at night in solitary places.
Airline connections are very good specially for Spain and Italy, as they are strongly linked by Ryanair. If you want to travel to Greece, you can also find some higher fare flights from Italy, take a ferry from Italy to Greece, or simply make a connecting flight from Spain to London with Ryanair, and from there to Greece with EasyJet. The train service is not bad, but still it has a lot to improve in accessing certain spaces.
Finally, for the skiing lovers, remember that mainly in Spain and Italy you will have the opportunity of great skiing opportunities, Cruise lovers will get their best in Greece touring around the islands, or simply taking a Mediterranean cruise that will explore the three countries and even Turkey in the same package.
Whatever you are going to do, take it easy in the way we southern Europeans do. Things do not happen very quickly there, and every good thing needs its time to happen. Don’t worry about a bit of chaos, and simply enjoy what this ancient cultures have to offer. And remember about the sun cream!