Non-trivial tour guide and travel advisor Daryna Venger

Self-guided tours in Europe

Self-guided tours in Europe

Europe is the most interesting and diverse continent in the world, and travel here is the most comfortable — the distances are small, you can get from one country to another in a couple of hours, almost everyone speaks English, a rich historical past, a high standard of living, varied food and constant transformation!

After 49 countries where I grew up as the experienced traveler, I consider it necessary to put together everything I know in awesome self-guided tours for you. All my guides based on the brightest routes in Europe.

Each trip is designed for 4 full days (which can be used all together and separately). My passions are included in each of the days: modern art and street art; classical art and architecture; history and artifacts; nature and its interaction with it; fashion and niche perfumes; local cuisine and unique wines; historical figures; antique shops and vintage markets.

The capital of New Aquitaine, known worldwide for its famous vineyard, also has a prestigious heritage. The pearl of the eighteenth century, the city of art and history of Bordeaux, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007, attracts visitors in the age of Enlightenment. The urban and architectural ensemble is one of the most remarkable to appreciate the time of discovery, strolling along its banks of the Garonne, its elegant streets and monumental squares. Among the must-see places inherited from this period are the bustling Comedy Square with its neoclassical Bolshoi Theater decorated with majestic Corinthian columns, Bursa Square with the Fountain of the Three Graces or the Tourny Alley.
A walk through the historical center also means getting acquainted with medieval Bordeaux: St. Andrew’s Cathedral with sculptural portals, the Gothic choir and organ gallery of the Renaissance, the impressive Cayllo door dedicated to Charles VIII. The Church of St. Croix with a sculptural facade in the Romanesque style of Saint-Senge, or the door of the Gros Cloche, the bell tower of the old town hall, is also many reviews. The isolated bell tower of St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the fifteenth-century Pei Berland Tower offers a beautiful panorama of the roofs of the city and the bell tower from the top. A view that deserves the same, climbing the 231 steps of a narrow spiral staircase! Not far from this bright Gothic gem stretches the famous pedestrian St. Catherine Street, a long commercial artery popular with shopping enthusiasts, which connects Victoria Square with Comedy Square.
Garden lovers prefer the banks of the Garonne, where a very beautiful garden of lights stretches on both sides of the magnificent mirror of water. This beautiful space with walking paths and flower beds offers a wonderful view of the river and the Bastide district on the right bank of the river, as well as many street lights that magically illuminate at dusk. After that, pedestrians can continue their way to the huge esplanade of the Quincons, where on one side there are two rostral columns, and on the other — the famous monument to the Girondists, built at the end of the nineteenth century in memory of the Gironde deputies-victims of terror. A classified historical monument, the latter consists of two pools decorated with bronze seahorses, and a column 43 meters high, on top of which stands the Statue of Liberty, breaking its chains. A few blocks away is a public park, a 10-hectare English park popular with strollers and runners, which includes a botanical garden, a library and a natural history museum.
The City of Light is also a place of choice for visitors hungry for culture: the Aquitaine Museum, dedicated to the history of Bordeaux and Aquitaine from prehistory to the present day; the Museum of Fine Arts with collections of paintings and sculptures from the fifteenth to the twentieth century; the Museum of Decorative Arts harbors ceramics, furniture, paintings and prints; the National Customs Museum, dedicated to the history of customs offices in France; Natural History Museum with zoological, mineralogical and paleontological collections; Museum of Modern Art, whose works are housed in a former warehouse Lainé.
Finally, gourmets will not leave Bordeaux without tasting the famous canelés, these delicious cakes with the aroma of rum and vanilla, which you will enjoy accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee…

Unique sights and thermal baths, low prices and delicious food — all this and much more attracts tourists from all over the world to Budapest. Are you ready to see the most beautiful city in Eastern Europe? Then you have come to the right place: we have been to this city more than once, studied it up and down and present you a guide to Budapest, where the most important, interesting and useful information for tourists is collected. So, close Google, you won’t need it anymore.

Bridges, cathedrals, fortresses and castles, famous thermal springs, vintage and technological transport, ruin bars, festivals, wines, palinka and such delicious Hungarian cuisine — that’s what tourists come and even return to Budapest for from year to year.

Budapest is the largest city in Hungary and the tenth in the European Union by population. The Hungarian capital is located on the banks of the Danube, where previously there were three cities — Buda, Obuda and Pest. These historical areas still differ from each other today, and each is attractive for tourism in its own way.

Budapest is currently experiencing a tourist boom: its baths — especially Szecheni and Gellert — are widely known in Europe and Russia, and the spa has been one of the main holiday destinations for several years.

However, do not forget that Budapest is a cultural center. The historical districts of the city are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It contains the best Hungarian museums, galleries, theaters. Architectural masterpieces — the Hungarian Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Royal Palace, the Fisherman’s Bastion.

And they also like to eat well in Budapest, and the portions here are large, and the food is hearty and mostly meat, and the prices are low. At least once it is worth trying goulash, paprikash or lecho — the crown dishes, which are certainly mentioned by all the gastronomic guides around the city, and by the locals themselves. It is interesting to visit Budapest at any time of the year: to go around all the observation decks, take pictures of magnificent bridges, in summer — relax in parks and have fun at festivals, in winter — bask in the spa, enjoy the cosiness of Christmas fairs and taste hot kurteshkalach.

It is not surprising that Budapest always hosts a lot of excursions of various formats: from walking classics with an ascent to Mount Gellert and a walk through the center of Pest to evening and night walks, cruises along the Danube, museum and children’s routes to folklore programs, tastings and alcohol tours.

The Hungarian capital is also interesting for shopping, which on the days of sales can be the main reason to visit the city: in comparison with Western Europe, prices here are much more pleasant.

Finally, you can and should walk around Budapest as much as possible: look for and find romantic places, meet sunrises and sunsets — and they can be fascinating in this city.

Barcelona is the largest and most interesting city in Spain, the capital of Catalonia, located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, the Costa Brava. A huge city with the most intense cultural life, a city of antiquity and modernity, with traditional narrow Spanish streets and wide boulevards, the magical fairy-tale city of Gaudi… Immense shopping, beach holidays and an active cultural life — all this is possible in this unique city! Pablo Picasso’s hometown of Antonio Gaudi combines everything that is so characteristic of Mediterranean cities: excellent weather, relaxing atmosphere, beautiful beaches, delicious food, unique history and vibrant nightlife. La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Barry Gettick and Camp Nou are just some of the attractions of the Catalan capital, but it offers much more. Read our city guide here and start planning your trip!

Proud, narcissistic, explosive, full of geniuses and incompetents, falling in love and in love, tiring and tired… all this is about Barcelona — one of the most beautiful cities not only in Europe, but also around the world. When Muscovites are asked what the capital lacks, 9 out of 10 answer — the sea! So, Barcelona is Moscow with the sea, it’s the frenzied energy of Dali, the freaky architecture of Gaudi, the stunning outfits of the LGBT community, the active movement of bicycle traffic, awesome parties and endless sangria. It would be madness to start listing at least some of its attractions in the introduction to the Catalan capital: they meet here literally at every step, the ancient Roman port breathes history, every stone is ready to tell its legend, and all modern monuments are worthy of at least a hymn or an ode.

In short, Barcelona is a city of arts. Arriving here gray, boring, tired and devastated, you leave the city of love with such a charge of creative energy, sun, strength and good mood that the border guards at the airport squint warily. The radiance of Barcelona will stay with you for a long time, illuminating cozy Russian evenings with a Mediterranean flair.

It is enough to stay here for a few minutes to feel the difference between Milan and Rome. The capital of Italy shows the guests of the country its «old» look, Milan — modern. It seems that there is much more movement, more style. Many agree that there is generally the same difference between Milan and Italy as there is between New York and the United States in general. But do not think that Milan is a faceless bustling metropolis: it is very beautiful, green and characteristic. But unlike many other Italian cities, it does not reveal all its charms to the tourist on the go: you need to stay here long enough, exploring, studying, tasting.

The famous Duomo, La Scala, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele; majestic palaces and churches, excellent shops, tempting cafes and pastry shops. Even gray, rainy and foggy Milan is able to fall in love with itself from half a glance, with one sip of hot chocolate, with a five-minute walk under the plane trees.

A good (and for some — just a decisive) reason to visit Milan is the opportunity to buy clothes, shoes and accessories of legendary world brands.

The south of Portugal, the popular tourist region of the Algarve, the Gulf of Ria Formosa, and then the boundless Atlantic Ocean. This is how Faro is seen from the point of view of geography. However, this city gives travelers much more than standard geographical names. Cozy streets and old houses, ancient temples against the backdrop of beautiful nature, a protected area, delicious cuisine, friendly people — Faro is ideal for an unforgettable holiday and as a starting point for a trip throughout Portugal.

Faro is the capital of the Algarve province, famous for its excellent beaches and vibrant nightlife, which it owes to the university. The international airport is located 6 kilometers west of the city. The historical center is adjacent to the beautiful port from the west. The old town, Cidade Velha, is surrounded by a semicircle of walls with an 18th-century gate – Arco da Vila. A magnificent cathedral has been preserved in the old town.
The neighboring Archaeological Museum occupies the premises of a beautiful monastery of the XVI century. Pay attention to the ancient Roman mosaic depicting Neptune with four winds, from the excavation near the city station. The most curious attraction is the Baroque Carmo Church near the main post office on Largo do Carmo Square. Here, a door to the right of the altar leads to a gloomy Chapel-shower-Drain, the walls of which are decorated with bones from the neighboring cemetery.Lagos is a lively fishing port and one of the most popular tourist destinations of the Algarve province with excellent beaches and the amazing rock formation of Ponta da Piedade, which can be reached by boat. Lagos was the favorite residence of Henry the Navigator, who used the harbor for trade with Africa. Here, in 1141, the first slave market in Europe was opened under the arches of the customs building, which still stands at the embankment on the Rgasa da Republica.

The southern region — Andalusia — is considered the most «Spanish» Spain. Here you can see bullfighting banned in Catalonia, flamenco and ancient original Spanish cities with a history: Seville, Granada and the birthplace of Antonio Banderas — Malaga.

Malaga is a large port city with a charming historical center, which you can explore in a day, and modern areas with high—rises and large shopping centers. This logically implies two popular tourist activities: shopping and walking along winding streets with an abundance of greenery and flowers. But first of all, Malaga is a resort with excellent beaches, the same hotels and a vibrant nightlife. For holidays with children, the local coast is not one hundred percent suitable — the sea may be a little cold for them, and everyone else will like the combination of sultry air and refreshing water.

The artist Picasso and the artist Banderas were born here — hence the many museums, streets, restaurants and hotels named after the first, the second is simply adored. In fairness, we will point out two facts: Picasso lived in Malaga only in infancy, but the collection of his works in a new building specially built for this purpose is really worthy.

Granada is a city where Catholicism and Islam perfectly coexist both in architecture and in everyday life. Ads for flamenco lessons are pasted on the walls of houses here, mixed with advertisements for «accelerated courses» of belly dancing, and typically Moorish buildings are hung with icons inside.

Without exaggeration, this is one of the most beautiful cities not only in Spain, but also in Europe, and the locals are famous for their special cordiality. Granada is home to the local «eighth wonder of the world» — the legendary Alhambra, an Arab palace surrounded by picturesque gardens. And very close to the city is the Sierra Nevada ski resort. In addition, Granada is a student city, there are always a lot of young people here, and at night it is noisy here: they smoke hashish right on the street, wander around the wine shops (analogs of our shot glasses) and clubs.

Granada is an interweaving of Spanish and Oriental architecture, endless orange groves and a place of pilgrimage for Lorca fans.

The capital of Andalusia, Seville, is a peculiar, multicolored and beautiful city with the most exciting bullfighting and the most passionate flamenco. Like no other city, it reflects the peculiarities of the national Spanish character. And being the center of Andalusia, Seville is also a place of endless holidays.

The slow and majestic Guadalquivir divides the city into two halves: Seville and Triana. This river and nothing else «made» Seville. It is no accident that the city grew up in the very place where the Guadalquivir ceases to be navigable. During the Roman Empire, Seville achieved prosperity through trade, which did not undermine the Muslim rule, and which was further strengthened when the city actually monopolized trade with the Americas.

In the 19th century, Seville became world famous for its architecture and culture and became one of the obligatory stops on the romantic «grand tour» of Europe, which nobles from prosperous countries used to arrange for themselves. Since then, the tourism industry has begun to develop here. And after Expo-1992, when Seville had a new airport, railway station, new bridges and an express connection with Madrid, the city turned into a top destination for travelers.

Brilliant Austria is a country where every corner has prepared its own «tidbit» for tourists. Opera lovers, sights and architecture go, of course, to Vienna, the capital of Austria, classical music fans go to Salzburg, and tourists go to the purest lakes and hot mineral springs in charming Carinthia. Fans of modern art will find their own in the most «cultural» city of Austria — Graz, and lovers of picturesque landscapes and crystal clear lakes go to Salzburg, located in the foothills, where the most famous son of Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus, once lived. For the «idle» vacationers, Austria has prepared excellent resorts, which are reasonably considered one of the best in the Alps in terms of price-quality ratio.

The capital of the state is Vienna, the city is elegant and solemn. It circles travelers in the sounds of a waltz, amazes with the beauty of temples, palaces and squares, beckons with the aromas of strudels from cute coffee shops. In the city of Strauss and Mozart, much is connected with art in general and with music in particular: the Vienna Opera, the Konzerthaus, the Burgtheater, the Volkstheater are real architectural masterpieces worthy of attention, even if you do not manage to attend a performance or concert. Even more stunning are the local palaces and castles: Schoenbrunn, Belvedere, Hofburg, Kreuzenstein.

Museum tours will complement the aesthetic palette: in Albertina you can admire the graphics, in Liechtenstein — the objects of princely life.

Vienna is certainly one of the oldest cities not only in Europe, but also in the world. The city takes its origins back to the Roman era: what residents have not seen and what memories its ancient stones do not keep. Roman legions and hordes of barbarians lived here, which were then replaced by knights of varying degrees of courtliness. Once upon a time, the Mongol hordes were stopped near Vienna, and the bloodthirsty Ottomans, who terrified the whole of Europe at that time, were defeated. Yes, you never know what else one of the oldest capitals of Europe has experienced.

Today Vienna is a city of waltzes, art, galleries, museums and exquisite park ensembles. But at the same time, the city is absolutely imperial in spirit, the capital of the most multinational European empire. Vienna has retained many features inherent in the capitals of large state entities. Majestic temples, luxurious residences of august persons and grandees, theaters, opera halls, wide squares and avenues. Vienna is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful and interesting capitals in the world. It is impossible not to mention a set of stamps, although very pleasant: Mozart, Strauss, strudel, schnitzel and coffee. All this and even a little more can be found in abundance on the streets of Vienna.

«Nothing has been invented better than France yet» — this cheeky, if not sharper, phrase of de Gaulle begs for a harsh refutation, at least on the scale of Europe. Surely the neighboring countries will have something to eat arrogant frogs! Take, for example, the famous half-timbered houses of Germany. What? Are they the same in Alsace? Um, really. Okay, let’s look at neighboring Belgium with its special charm of a well-groomed village, authentic French fries and «wine» beer… What? Will all this be found in Nord-Pas-de-Calais? Damn, it really is. Well, all right, but purely British chips — fogs from the Gulf Stream, red telephone booths, climbing roses on the large—stone walls of village houses and moorlands with giant pebbles of boulders rolled by glaciers — they definitely have nowhere to go in France? And again by: in Brittany, not as famous as Paris or Nice, but dear to the heart of many travelers, there is almost more of all this than in England. If we talk about the southern neighbors, then fans of Italy will feel at home in sunny Provence, and Spain — in the mountains of the Pyrenees and on the dry plains of Languedoc.

To describe Paris by and large is meaningless. Not because there is nothing to write about — God forbid! It’s just that this city, like no other city in the world, does not want to fit into the framework and conform to stereotypes. Of course, everyone has heard about morning coffee with croissants, evening bistros with noisy tables, the smell of roasted chestnuts on Parisian boulevards… but for some, Paris is the echoing twilight of Notre Dame, the quiet whisper of tourists in the halls of the Louvre and the almost deserted island of Saint—Louis, built up with old mansions. For some, the capital of France is primarily the Eiffel Tower, a monument to the «era of steam and electricity», and modern architects go to Paris to be inspired by the avant-garde lines of the Defense quarter and the Montparnasse Tower.

Paris is a real ocean. Throw a lot into it, and yet you will not know its depth.
Honore de Balzac
Paris is both elitist and democratic, cheerful and sad, bright and slightly washed out by rains, like in Pizarro’s paintings — and everyone has their own. And to discover Paris for yourself, to fall in love with it and leave a piece of your soul in it, you don’t need so much — just to visit it.

Italy is a sin to complain about the lack of attention of tourists — both in winter and, especially, in summer. Every season, millions of vacationers enthusiastically storm the famous «boot», finding many good reasons for this: a really chic and super-saturated «excursion», clean warm sea, good beaches and beautiful nature. Travelers are not deterred even by the relatively high prices for Italian holidays and the rather austere equipment of most city hotels. However, this remark usually does not apply to coastal hotels. Another point of the Italian program is a very high—quality, though not cheap, treatment at thermal resorts.

The eternal city, where all roads lead, where you can live your whole life for one day-long vacation or get lost for several weeks. The concentration of attractions in Rome reaches such magnitudes that after just a couple of hours in this city, the heart and brain of a poor tourist begin to refuse to accommodate new ones. Therefore, to spend a day or two in Rome is simply a crime. You can come and come and come here. The main thing is to realize that Rome is not Italy. Consider it a separate state or even a separate world. Rome is monstrously old and forever young, it has seen the rise and fall of one of the greatest civilizations on the planet. It is not surprising that its entire historical center is declared a World Heritage Site of humanity.

The capital of Tuscany and the former capital of the Italian Republic, Florence, is a truly ancient city founded in 59 BC by Julius Caesar personally. However, Florence reached its heyday in the 14th and 16th centuries, when, without exaggeration, it became the financial and cultural center of Europe. Florence successfully combines the spirit of the great past (it is absolutely impossible to take a step here without getting to some historically significant place) and the atmosphere of a lively and dynamic modern city with excellent cuisine, shopping and lots of opportunities for entertainment.

Florence is considered to be the place where the Renaissance began, and for many prominent figures of that period, such as Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, it was the hometown. But Florence is famous not only for poets and writers — Renaissance architecture also came from here, and the great Florentine architects, first of all Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Batista Alberti, laid the foundation for a new architectural style, which for many centuries influenced the construction in all major European cities, from Barcelona to St. Petersburg. Since then, the city in all its Renaissance splendor, as they say, has been well preserved, and today Florence can be called an «open-air museum» without any stretch.

The capital is Copenhagen, not in the capital miniature, cozy and neat. There are almost no skyscrapers here, but there are historical attractions, most of which are concentrated in the Old Center. The Nykhavn district is inhabited by writers and artists, Nerrebro is inhabited by students and immigrants, Vesterbro is famous for its hot establishments, and Osterbro is famous for its elegant buildings. In the compact capital, there was even a place for the Free City of Christiania, founded in the 1970s by hippie anarchists and still living by its own laws.

Copenhagen is known all over the world as the city of Hans Christian Andersen, so the main symbol of the Danish capital is the monument to the Little Mermaid. It is the most visited city not only in Denmark, but also in the whole of Scandinavia. It is located on the bay, and it is easy to reach Stockholm and Oslo, as well as Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.

Copenhagen is a very compact and cozy city, there are almost no skyscrapers in it, but there are a lot of old houses, parks and embankments. One of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe, Stroget, is located in the city center. Copenhagen will be comfortable for both hikers and cyclists: half of the population moves on two wheels, the total length of bike paths exceeds 400 km. Spring and summer account for the majority of cultural events: the Night Cinema Festival, the Jazz Festival and the famous Copenhagen Carnival.

The capital is Warsaw, a unique city: an uninitiated tourist is unlikely to guess that the old central streets, churches and castles are just a reconstruction, albeit a very talented one. Warsaw, at the beginning of the 20th century called «eastern Paris» for its refined beauty, was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, but today its main attractions are masterfully recreated according to authentic drawings. Almost all of them — from the Royal Palace to the Krakow suburb — are concentrated on the right bank of the Vistula, most hotels, restaurants and shopping complexes are located here.

Warsaw is the capital of Poland and the largest city in Europe. Having survived many shocks and conquests, she has carefully preserved to this day the most valuable of each of her eras. People go to Warsaw to wander through the streets of the Old Town and the picturesque Vistula embankment, stroll through the vast Lazenkovsky Park and see the Church of the Holy Cross, where Chopin’s heart rests. Despite the fact that the city was destroyed almost to the ground during the Second World War, the appearance and atmosphere of antiquity are reliably recreated in its historical quarters. The Royal Castle, St. John the Baptist Cathedral and other landmark buildings were restored according to sketches of the 17th and 18th centuries.

At the beginning of the last century, Warsaw was called Eastern Paris for its beauty and originality.
The capital of Poland attracts not only connoisseurs of architecture and connoisseurs of history, it will surely appeal to lovers of shopping and vibrant nightlife. And everyone will want to get acquainted with such gastronomic attractions as «bigos» and «flaks» under the traditional «zubrovka» or local beer.