For the first time in, well, forever, tickets to Europe have dropped. Average prices have gone down 3 percent this summer, about $50 less than a year ago. This, coupled with the euro’s steep decline in value, makes now the perfect time to visit. Inspired by this turn of events, Houstonia’s spring interns got together to share their must-see European destinations. Check back at Wanderlust for more of their recommendations.
France (Lyon / Annecy / Chambéry)
In the 1995 remake of the classic film Sabrina, Julia Ormond’s character utters a famous line often (wrongly) attributed to Audrey Hepburn: “Paris is always a good idea.” To some extent the phrase is true; everyone should be fortunate enough to experience the twinkling magic of Paris at some point. On the other hand, Paris is expensive, crowded, difficult to navigate, full of pickpockets and uncomfortably hot during the summer. Instead, consider a flight into Lyon.
Depending on when you book and the dates of your trip, it may be cheaper to fly here than to Charles de Gaulle airport (one of the most infamously slow and confusing airports in the world). And as the third largest city in France, Lyon has plenty to offer. Brimming with stunning historical architecture, it’s a great city to be outdoors in during the warmer months. Hike up to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, visit various museums or the Nouvel Opera House, or take advantage of the fact that Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France and splurge at one of the many Michelin star restaurants.
If Lyon seems too overwhelming, consider purchasing a very affordable train ticket from Lyon to a smaller, charming nearby town like Annecy or Chambéry. Annecy looks like a postcard in the spring, and as the capital of Savoy, Chambéry has a fascinating history to explore.
Portugal (Lisbon / Beach)
Often nudged aside in favor of more popular beach cities like Marseille and Barcelona, the capital of Portugal features miles of sandy coastline to please the beachgoer looking to avoid big crowds. A flexible airfare-watcher can snag a great deal on a flight to Lisbon, which boasts a plethora of free and inexpensive sights. If you’re not a fan of the beach, explore Lisbon’s impressive historical neighborhoods, take a free tour of the city’s extensive street art, or visit the capital’s churches and cathedrals. Whatever you decide to do, the weather in spring and early summer is beautifully mild. Set yourself up in a park with some pastéis de nata and Ginjinha (regional egg pastries and sour cherry liqueur) and soak up the sunshine.