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As you might expect from a city that's dubbed “capital of Europe", Brussels enjoys strong transport links – not only within Belgium and Europe but throughout the globe. Brussels has strong rail links with other European countries (including Eurostar which even links to London ) and the city has an efficient internal public transport system that uses underground, trams and buses.

Getting To Brussels By Air

Brussels most prolific airport is “ Brussels International Airport " (located in Zaventem) and is 13km away from Brussels city centre. The majority of airlines fly to this destination and as you would expect it has the features & facilities you would expect from a major international airport. From Brussels International, you can reach your ultimate destination by train, taxi or bus.

Alternatively, Brussels second airport is Brussels Charleroi, which is significantly further away from the city centre. The airport is linked to Brussels midi train station.

Getting To Brussels By Bus

Brussels is well connected to various European destinations including the United Kingdom by Bus.

Most coaches terminate at Bruxelles Nord, after which the traveller can take a train or taxi onto their final destination.

Getting To Brussels By Train

The Eurostar operates a full service to Bruxelles Midi, and the Thalys Express also runs between Brussels and destinations including Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne .

Getting Around Brussels – Trams, Trains, Buses & Taxis

It's fairly easy and inexpensive to move about within Brussels . A single ticket can be purchased for under 2 euros and can be used anywhere on the STIB network (metros, trams and buses). The network is quite comprehensive so it's fairly easy to hop from one location of Brussels to another. Once you purchase a ticket, you'll need to stamp it using one of the machines located at the station, tram or bus. Don't forget to stamp your ticket – if you're caught without a valid ticket there are hefty fines of up to 55 Euros imposed. There are various options for discounted tickets depending on your length of stay – for around 30 Euros you can grab a “Brussels Card" which allows unlimited public transport travel for three days as well as free admission to various landmarks.

Public transport in Brussels is made up of a comprehensive yet easy to navigate train system that's well supported by a further network of trams and buses.

The Tram network is a good way of navigating around the city centre. Trams are quite frequent and not only meander through Brussels town centre but also reach much of the deeper suburban areas. Pick up a free map/timetable from the information point in Gare du Midi, Porte de Namur and Rogier.

The STIB also operates a bus network throughout the city and this operates at night-time (with less regularity).

Getting Around Brussels On Foot

For the active tourist, navigating through the city on foot is a distinct possibility. Many of the interesting landmarks are located fairly close together which makes walking a pleasurable way of seeing the town, particularly in the warmer months. Be sure to grab a map before setting out.

Author: Frasier Smith   

This post may contain compensated links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.
Deciding what is the best time of year to travel to Europe for your holiday can be one of the hardest parts of the decision-making process, particularly for the first-time traveller.  There’s no single ‘best’ time to visit Europe as every traveller’s preferences are different but there are a number of things to consider before you book yourself on that flight.

Best time to visit Europe weather-wise
The kind of weather you'd like to experience is going to be a major consideration of your holiday planning. Are you hoping to experience a white Christmas in Europe or the beautiful snowy scenes of a northern winter or would you prefer to travel when it's warmer and you can enjoy the longer daylight hours?

Your response to this question should help you to decide when the best time to travel to Europe from Australia is for you.
The best season to go to Europe is going to be different for everyone so I’ve listed a few of the pros and cons of travelling in the various seasons below.

Pros and cons of travelling to Europe in winter

If a European winter experience is what you're after, some of the pros of travelling at this time (December/January/February) include missing the Australian summer, experiencing scenery and Christmas food and traditions totally different to what we are used to at home (in Australia) such as the amazing Christmas markets.

Mid-December through to the end of February - and sometimes even into March - is definitely the best time to visit Europe for snow.

Every year it seems that Europe’s Christmas markets become more and more popular with tourists and they are a wonderful reason to visit Europe at this time of year.  Many markets open from late November until just after Christmas, with some trading until early January.

Of course you also have to consider the downsides - shorter daylight hours, some attractions (particularly in rural areas) may be closed for the winter, heavy snowfalls can cause transport delays and make driving difficult, and there's the cold weather and bulky clothing that you’ll need to take to contemplate, too.

Tour and cruise companies also tend to have a reduced number of itineraries on offer during the colder months, however train services still run frequently.

Further reading: Tips for travelling to Europe in winter

Christmas market in Tallinn
Christmas markets are a major reason for tourists to visit Europe in winter time. This one is in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

Pros and cons of travelling to Europe in summer
During the European summer there's a pretty fair chance you'll enjoy some warm weather. Southern countries like Spain, Italy and Greece (and the south of France) tend to have much higher temperatures than central and northern Europe, but there can be some surprises.
I have experienced temperatures well above 35 degrees Celcius on numerous occasions in parts of Europe that we don’t normally associate with having high summer temperatures (Austria and northern France, for example).

I’ve often joked that the summer-loving Europeans should pay me to travel to Europe as I always tend to attract the hot weather!  August is usually the hottest month in Europe - I mostly travel in June and July but have experienced some really hot days during those months.

If you are visiting one of the southern regions, temperatures can be stifling hot – so check in advance that your accommodation has air-conditioning.

Another advantage of travelling during the European summer (June/July/August) is the longer daylight hours - with daylight saving it is generally light until at least 9.30pm, and much later in the Scandinavian countries.

Timetables for ferries, lake cruises, cable car rides, etc are also generally expanded over the summer months.

I also find there's an air of vitality in Europe during summer - with window boxes bursting with colour, the freshest produce available at the markets, and Europeans out and about and enjoying the weather.

During the summer months, motorways can also be extremely busy, particularly on weekends, as European holiday-makers head off on their annual break.

Flower boxes in Riquewihr
Colourful flower boxes are at their blooming best during the European summer.

What about Autumn (Fall) and Spring?

Autumn and Spring are popular times to travel for those who don't enjoy extreme temperatures.  Early Autumn and Late Spring, in particular, can still offer warmish days without being either too hot or too cold so this is considered by many to be the best time to visit southern Europe.

No matter how carefully you plan, though, unseasonal weather can occur. Major flooding in Germany, Hungary and Poland in June 2013 caused havoc and upset lots of holiday plans, not to mention livelihoods.

On the other hand, expected snow falls can fail to eventuate as early in the season as normal - your snowy Christmas might turn out to be more of a 'slushy' one!

The table below shows the (approximate) average monthly temperatures for some of Europe’s major cities.

                 Jan        Mar       May      Jul         Sep       Nov
Vienna 1°C        9°C        19°C      26°C      20°C      7°C
Rome    12°C      15°C      22°C      29°C      26°C      17°C
Zurich   -1°C       5°C        13°C      18°C      14°C        4°C
Paris      3.5°C     10°C      15°C      19°C      16°C      12°C
Berlin    -0.5°C   4°C        14°C      19°C      15°C      5°C
London    5°C      10°C      17°C      22°C      19°C      5°C

If the weather isn’t the major factor in determining the best time to travel for you to travel to Europe, there are some other considerations to keep in mind.

Special events
If you are heading to Europe to attend a special function like a wedding or are hoping to catch a major event such as the Tour de France or the tulip display at Holland’s Keukenhof Gardens, you are obviously going to have to be in a particular place on a specific date.

Keep in mind that when major events occur (like the Olympic Games or Rugby World Cup, for example), accommodation, flights and other travel services can be stretched to the limit - and prices can increase significantly.

Tour de France
Major events can have a big impact on the price and availability of accommodation and flights.

If you do prefer to travel when it's warmer, be wary of travelling during August. This is the month when many Europeans take their summer holidays (a lot of professional offices in Paris actually close for the whole month!) so wherever you go it is likely to be extremely busy.

If you don’t like crowds, August is definitely NOT the best month to visit Europe.

Major sights and attractions can be a nightmare during August with queues of two hours or more just to buy entry tickets not unheard of!!  I always recommend pre-purchasing tickets to attractions you know you will definitely visit, but particularly so if visiting in the peak summer months.

The late European spring (April/May) and early autumn (September/October) can make a good alternative. If you're not too fussed about high temperatures and definitely want to avoid the crowds, these are good months to visit to Europe.

Another factor to consider when planning when you are going to visit is price. I've previously written about some of the tips you should know before you book your flight to Europe, and one of these is that travelling just outside of the airline's 'peak' season can save you a few hundred dollars.

By departing Australia in May, for example, you might save yourself some money by missing the June 'peak' fares and still be able to enjoy the warmer early-summer days in Europe.

To start planning your travel to Europe, order complimentary European travel brochures and read all my tips for planning a holiday to Europe here.

What other factors do you consider when deciding what is the best time to visit Europe? I'd love to hear your comments below.

Author: Carolyn


Step one: slow down. Take your time.

It's tempting when you plan that big first trip to Europe, to try to do everything, to fit every single highlight into a whirlwind tour around perhaps the planet's most diverse continent. You want to eat pasta in Rome, and stand on top of the Eiffel Tower, and smoke a joint in Amsterdam, and party in Dubrovnik, and, and...

You can't do it all. Unless you've got years up your sleeve, you're going to have to do some culling. That's one of the keys to enjoying your first stint.

I got an email a few weeks ago from a guy who's about to set off on his first overseas adventure. His question – "Got any tips for a first-time visitor to Europe?" – sounded like a perfect topic. So here we go.

First, the culling. Europe is an incredibly diverse continent full of bucket-list, postcard locations, and you can't do them all. If you even attempt to do them all you'll spend more time on buses, trains and planes that you will actually seeing things.

So here's a tip: choose a top five, your must-dos for that first OS adventure. Maybe it's drinking in the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, or eating tapas in Barcelona, or visiting the Tate Modern in London. Whatever it is, mark those down and plan your trip around them. The between bits will start to fall into place.

Then you have to figure out how you're getting around. Gnarled old travel dudes like me will tell you to forget about tours and go independent, but that's not necessarily the case. Think about what's right for you. People might sneer at the drunken tour passengers, but the drunken tour passengers are having a ball.

Maybe start off with a short tour, a 10-dayer, to find your feet in Europe and meet some people. If you fancy the idea of an organised tour like a Contiki or a Topdeck, go for it. If you'd rather a bit more freedom, think about something like Busabout – your transfers and accommodation are organised, but you have far more spare time to explore.

Prefer to go independent? It's easy enough in Europe. Book hostels ahead using sites like HostelBookers and HostelWorld. Book train tickets online. Book budget flights well in advance. And remember that using intercity buses is often much cheaper than trains or planes.

Don't avoid the clichés. The Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower and Charles Bridge are all extremely popular with tourists for a reason: they're amazing. Don't feel you have to get off the beaten track just for the sake of it. If the big-ticket items appeal to you, then go and see them.

By the same token, don't do everything the guidebook tells you. It might say the Louvre is an absolute must-do on a trip to Paris, but maybe you'd have a better day searching for Blek le Rat pieces on alley walls.

Travel in the shoulder seasons. July, August and September are mental in Europe, when you'll be sharing every single experience with millions and millions of your closest friends. Accommodation will be booked out, or expensive. Trains will be full.

Think about going in autumn or spring. Or better yet, if you don't mind the cold, go in winter. You'll feel like you have the place to yourself.

Another thing to consider when you're timing your trip, however, is festivals. Europe does a mean festival, from Oktoberfest to San Fermin to La Tomatina to Biennale to Glastonbury to Exit to Tomorrowland. Get along to any one of those and your holiday just became a lot more memorable.

Be wary of scams. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That hot Eastern European girl isn't necessarily talking to you because you're so charming. Those guys aren't befriending you because you seem like such a cool Aussie. Go with your instincts.

Try to get to at least one of Budapest, Krakow or Lisbon. They're all amazing, and underrated. (Although when planning this, take the "do what you want" paragraphs into account.)

Learn at least a tiny bit of the local language. Even if it's just asking, "Do you speak English?" This very small amount of effort will get you a long way.

Pack light. You don't need three pairs of jeans in a European summer. You don't need a big tub of laundry detergent. You don't need special "travel" clothes with extra zips bought from some rip-off store.

You do, however, need a towel. And at least one set of decent clothes to wear when you decide to go for that fancy dinner and don't want to look like a backpacker for a night.

Lash out on a few amazing experiences that are out of your price range. Budget travel will make your trip last longer but if you plan for one expensive dinner, or a night in a big hotel, or gondola ride in Venice, or high tea in London, or anything similar, you'll never forget it.

And on that note, my last tip is probably the most important: take lots of money. Lots of money. As much as you can possibly save. And then some more. Don't be the people drinking in the hostel lounge at night because they can't afford to go out. You didn't come all this way to not see the sights.

Take a few more months to save before you go. Be stingy at home so you can lash out when you're away.

And most of all: have fun.

What are your tips for people planning their first trip to Europe? Post your comments below. Are you yet to go to Europe? Post your questions too and let's see if our community of travellers can't answer them.

Author: bengroundwater

The cultural heritage of Europe is one of the key generators of tourism in Europe. Cultural Tourism is believed to account for around 40% of the total number of tourists visiting Europe. Cultural tourism of Europe is also an important means of promoting Europe's image in the world, projecting its varied values which are the result of centuries of cultural exchanges, linguistic diversity, and creativity.

People visiting Europe believe this is their ultimate chance to learn about transnational cultural tourism. Every product of transnational cultural tourism will project Europe as the zenith of preserved heritage and authentic cultural experience. In 1990 the European Commission nominated as a major factor of Tourism development in Europe. Since then The European Association of Tourism and Leisure Education (ATLAS) has been conducting various studies on transnational cultural tourism with a view to developing it.

The OECD report released in the year 2009 states the following factors as the drivers of cultural tourism

•Valorising and preserving heritage
•Economic development and employment
•Physical and economic regeneration
•Strengthening and/or diversifying tourism
•Retaining population
•Developing cultural understanding

With an increasing demand for cultural tourism, the European Union has also realized the need to offer varied cultural attractions and revive their heritage spots for commercialization. Individual countries have started to work towards facing the competition of developing the nation's cultural tourism rate. Cultural Tourism is not just about destinations but about the journey itself, it's a journey of discovery and self-realization.

Culturally rich spots in the European Union

Reasons for cultural tourism are resilient as the motives differ across a broad range. Some tourists look for spirituality while some look for creativity. Irrespective of their cultural motives some spots in Europe are a must see as they teach people about the greatness of their ancestors and their tactful way of living.

St. Peter's Basilica
This Late Renaissance church stands as the central religious point for Catholics from every part of the world. The place where the church is located, the Vatican Hill is the site where Saint Peter, the chief apostle, died and was buried in 64 AD. St. Peter is considered the first pope, thus building the principal shrine of the Catholic Church in this location is explained. Every painting and sculpture in the church is a true feast to the eyes. The destination attracts tourists looking to study art and architecture as part of their travel.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum stands in the city of Rome as the greatest architectural accomplishment of the Romans. The amphitheater that could once accommodate more than 50,000 spectators was the city center of public entertainment. It was used to stage gladiator's fights, mythological dramas, battles between animals and even executions. The most striking feature of this magnum opus is its engineering work that could be compared to temporary techniques. The amphitheater is a standalone subject of study for various cultural aspects of the Romans.

Clunaic sites in Europe

Cluny was the center of monastic reform in the 10th century and gradually developed into a church. The work of this church later led to the regeneration of the medieval world through spreading of Christianity, rethinking social relationships and organizing space for an ideal society. Different architectural styles, a unique harmonious shape and its sculptures and paintings of these Clunaic sites that are spread across Western Europe contribute to the wonderful heritage passed on by the monks to future generations.

Author: Catherine Richard