It’s no surprise that a lot of North Americans romanticize Europe. Our sister continent in the Western world seems far older than North America and is made up of a myriad of diverse countries, each with its own curious long-standing traditions and culture. If the USA and Canada are seen as the home of modernity and rationality, then many European countries are, by contrast, associated with ritual and a sense of magic. After all, it’s a lot easier to imagine fae folk or supernatural creatures prowling the forests of Germany than the cornfields of Nebraska.
With so many enchanting places in Europe to choose from, however, fantasy lovers may find themselves paralyzed with choice when planning their next big trip. To make things slightly easier, here’s our shortlist of the best places in Europe to visit if you’ve got a hankering for a touch of wonder.
Holiday Fairytale Fantasy Destinations in Europe
Where better to start than the origin of one of our most enduring fairytales? The capital of Denmark was the birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson, who penned The Little Mermaid, as well as other long-lasting classics such as The Princess and The Pea and The Ugly Duckling. Appropriately, Copenhagen is a beautiful city, known for its candy-colored houses and a glittering theme park in the city center, which is said to be the inspiration for Disneyland itself.
Perhaps the only downside of visiting Denmark is the cost, since high wages in this Scandinavian country mean that prices are higher than in many other European countries. However, a good travel credit card can help make such a trip more achievable, particularly for Canadian travelers. GreedyRates.ca has found out that some cards such as the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express can offer benefits which enable travelers to cut their hotel and transport costs thanks to frequent-guest programs.
For those who like their fantasy based slightly more in historical fact, however, your best bet is Greece, a truly ancient culture and a country that can boast a plethora of mythological sites. Even a hardened cynic might find themselves awed when hiking up the actual Mount Olympus, which the ancient Greeks thought was the home of the gods and which some Hellenic modern Greeks still regard as a sacred site. Alternatively, you could visit the city of Thebes, the legendary birthplace of Hercules, Dionysus and Oedipus.
“Aphrodite’s Rock” (CC BY 2.0) by xlibber
If you’re traveling with a lover, however, you might want to visit the island of Paphos in nearby Cyprus instead. This spot is said to be where Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, rose from the sea. This beautiful beach is a great destination for singletons as well, though, since swimming around Aphrodite’s Rock three times is said to grant divine beauty and may just help you find your special someone.
While Game of Thrones fans may be right to fear that the next season won’t air until 2019, those who find they need their next fix sooner than that should head to Northern Ireland. Aside from its picturesque landscapes and fascinating Celtic history, what this part of Europe has to offer is some landmarks you may recognize from the series. Numerous Northern Irish castles were used as filming locations for Game of Thrones since they provide the perfect medieval fantasy look. So whether it’s heading to Castle Ward in Strangford (AKA Winterfell) or Dunluce Castle in County Antrim (AKA Castle Pyke), make the long wait until Season 8 more bearable by putting yourself inside the story.
Featured image from Northern Ireland’s Game of Thrones Trail.