Austria may be small but it's also packed with variety, from grand Hapsburg palaces to mountain-framed alpine-green pastures. Stick to the cities to sip cream-smothered Viennese coffees in chandelier-lit cafes or trawl contemporary art galleries in fast developing Linz. Head for the great outdoors for lively aprés-ski chalets or ski down Tyrol's snowy Alps.
Belgium is a fascinating country, with two languages, French and Flemish, and two atmospheres to experience. Take in the cobbled lanes of diamond-capital Antwerp and chocoholic Brussels, pausing for a Lambic beer in medieval squares. Be invigorated on the sandy beaches and dunes of the Flemish coast, and the leafy waterways that criss-cross the country.
Explore Sofia's Byzantine churches and fashionable boutiques, and Plovdiv's picturesque old quarter. Then head to Bulgaria's hills for hidden away monasteries and heritage-filled villages. Experience Bulgaria's extremes, from Black Sea beaches in Varna and Bourgas to fast-developing ski resorts like Bansko and Pamporovo. Get to grips with Balkan history, or just kick back and immerse yourself in traditional Bulgarian music.
On holidays in Croatia, explore the mountainous Adriatic coast and its Dalmatian Islands. Visit Croatia's most fashionable holiday destination, medieval walled Dubrovnik, and the glamorous island of Hvar. Head north to Istria for truffles and fine wine, or travel inland for Croatia's capital, Zagreb.
Fall in love with Aphrodite's isle on your holiday. Fly to Larnaca to spot colourful fish in the crystal waters at Cyprus' rugged Cape Greco and bronzed bodies on party resort Ayia Napa's sandy Nissi Beach. Explore Venetian walls in the capital, Nicosia, and Roman mosaics in the resort of Paphos. Enjoy fresh fish and seafood at Latchi's habourside tavernas.
From Karlovy Vary's celebrity-filled spas to the snow slopes of the Krkonose Mountains and Plzen's Pilsner Urquell beer, there's plenty to entice you to the Czech Republic. Prague remains a highlight with its cobbled historic centre and vast Prague Castle. But don't miss out on a visit to the beautiful, UNESCO-listed town of Cesky Krumlov.
Explore Denmark's 400 islands and its mainland, Jutland, to discover its unique mix of sea-faring history, fresh Nordic air and fast-paced cities. Visit cosmopolitan capital Copenhagen to experience Denmark's royal heritage at Amalienborg Palace and its Viking past at the National Museum.
Discover Finland's wide open spaces, lakes and arctic mystery, as well as its urban sophistication. Catch the midnight sun, the Northern Lights and the icy wilderness. You'll appreciate the huge contrast with the busy capital, Helsinki, and the stimulating cultural attractions of provincial cities like Tampere. Families will be drawn by its connections with Santa Claus and Tove Janssen's classic children's characters, the Moomins.
From world-class art at Paris's Louvre to Brittany’s windswept sandy beaches, France is a feast for the senses. Medieval history comes alive along Strasbourg’s cobblestoned lanes, while sporty types head to Chamonix for skiing. Lavender-hued Provence was Cézanne’s inspiration, and in Amiens, the bells ring out from its gothic cathedral.
Picture Germany and Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate, Munich's lively beer hall tradition and creamy Black Forest gateau spring to mind. But there's more. Slip under Germany's skin to find storybook villages, rich culture and hearty food.
It may overlook North Africa, but Gibraltar sometimes feels more British than Britain itself. An overseas territory of the United Kingdom since 1713, this rock jutting out from the Andalusian coast has streets lined with English tearooms, pubs and red post boxes.
Take a holiday in Greece to explore ancient Greek monuments in Athens and Byzantine relics in Greece's second city, Thessaloniki. In the north, visit the Meteora region's remote medieval monasteries. Or enjoy relaxing holidays on Greece's islands – choose Santorini for glamour or Rhodes for history.
Explore Hungary's diverse countryside from the mountainous north to the southern plains. Or discover relics of the country's history from Roman ruins to communist-era architecture in its villages, cities and fortified castles. Relax in curative spa baths in Budapest and sample traditional goulash - beef stew with paprika.
Witness Israel's dizzying development in Tel Aviv and along the Mediterranean coast. Visit dozens of world-class historic sites in Jerusalem and Galilee. Spend some time relaxing in Israel's premier resort of Eilat, on the Red Sea. Israelis are informal and upbeat, and delight in sharing delicious fusion cuisine and masses of entertainment from high culture to all-night clubs.
Italy’s historic sights are astounding, from the Colosseum in the eternal city Rome to Milan’s soaring Gothic Duomo cathedral. From the top of the Leaning Tower, Pisa’s cityscape unfolds, and art-lovers can look for their favourite Renaissance paintings in Florence. Whizz down the slopes of the soaring Dolomites or drive through the olive groves of Tuscany for a taste of diverse scenery.
Stand on the Adolphe Bridge and you see Europe in a nutshell. Landlocked by Belgium, Germany and France, Luxembourg City might be Europe central, but it’s one European capital many of us have yet to explore. Luxembourg has several EU institutions seated in its ridiculously pretty medieval capital. The Ville Haute and Ville Basse are at the capital’s historic core, while the Ardennes provides epic natural scenery.
Clichéd as it may sound, Malta effortlessly ticks every box - with its warm temperatures, amazing scenery and fascinating history. This surprisingly diverse archipelago of rocky outcrops, Malta, Gozo and Comino, is home to ancient walled cities, glittering hidden caves and an energetic nightlife that rivals Ibiza.
Drive through flower-strewn lowlands and pass picturesque canals to funky capital Amsterdam with its exciting blend of culture, history and late-night partying. Or mingle in the hip bars and contemporary design shops of buzzing second city Rotterdam and you'll soon admire how the Netherlands combines the best of the old and the new.
Discover pristine natural beauty, from the deep blue fjords and vast wilderness of the Jostedalsbreen glacier to the sparsely populated Arctic islands. Cosmopolitan Oslo is packed with museums and eclectic bars, but escape the capital to find remote villages of wooden houses nestled deep in the mountains. Visit in summer to make the most of never-ending days under the midnight sun.
From the Baltic Sea's famous shipyards in Gdansk to the snowy peaks of the Tatra Mountains and Krakow's Old Town, Poland has something for everyone. The central capital, Warsaw, may not be as beautiful as Krakow, but has its own charm with some of Poland's best restaurant and club action. Explore the relative newcomer to the tourist scene, Wroclaw on the Oder River.
Holidays in Portugal take you to Lisbon's Manueline (Portuguese Gothic) Belm Tower and Porto's port wine caves. And with flights to Faro you’ll be challenging your game on the Algarve's championship golf courses, tasting crisp green wines, fresh seafood and sweet custard tarts, and meeting Portugal's hospitable people.
Experience Romania's extremes, from the unchanged folk traditions of the Maramures area in the north to the thriving bars of fashionable university city Cluj-Napoca. Stroll the narrow streets of baroque Brasov and discover the eclectic capital of Bucharest. Come back to go hiking in Transylvanias mountains and sunbathing on the Black Sea coast.
Post-Soviet Russia is spending its petro-dollars hand over fist from party capital Moscow and cultural capital Saint Petersburg to the once closed city of Vladivostok. But you can still find the Russian soul among the stoic mariners of Polar city Murmansk and the holidaying babushkas of the Black Sea resorts. Bring some comfortable shoes, a sturdy liver and an open mind.
In majestic Madrid, the Prado gallery houses haunting El Greco paintings, and 20th-century art fills Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim in Bilbao. It’s easy to pack your Barcelona visit with Gaudi’s eccentric mosaics, while in vibrant Seville the royal palace Alcazar drips with Moorish influence. Snorkel in the warm Mediterranean waters off sandy beaches, threaded along the southern Spanish coast.
Visit Sweden's arctic north for mountainous wilderness or the eastern Baltic coast for rocky islands. You'll find a very different feel in the south of Sweden, where the cities of Gothenburg, Stockholm and Malm ooze urban sophistication. Or visit the capital city, Stockholm, also known as the Venice of the North' find out why by exploring its striking architecture and delightful waterside setting.
Take France, Italy and Germany's best bits, mix them all together and you'll soon see why people return to Switzerland again and again. If you love the great outdoors head straight for Switzerland's snow-capped Alps, rippling mountain-framed lakes near Geneva or the winding meadow trails of Zurich. Or relax in picturesque towns sipping coffee and people watching on historic squares.
Take a holiday to Turkey to visit Istanbul's famous 17th-century Blue Mosque. Then head for sandy beaches along Turkey's Turquoise Coast or Cappadocia's moonscape rock formations. You'll soon realise that holidays to Turkey are all about extremes be prepared to mix Ottoman mosques and centuries-old ruins with fast-paced metropolitan cities.
From the snow-topped Carpathian Mountains to the elegant coastal resorts of the Crimean Riviera, the country and its people remain proudly protective of their Orthodox and Slavonic roots. Sample the bars and clubs of cosmopolitan Kiev and Odessa, or find tranquil spots among the church spires, tree-lined boulevards, and leafy squares of even the glitziest new city centres.