The Art Of Authentic Travel: A Field Guide To Northern Europe

Tourists push through crowds to visit places they have only ever dreamt of. Standing shoulder to shoulder in a human wall comprised of people that are not native to ground they’ve traveled to. Seeing the country as an outsider looking in, but with a few steps back from the observational glass, instead of witnessing a place, it can be lived. The city moving with a newcomer as a part of it. Eating, exploring, and enjoying the country like a native. Getting an authentic taste of everything that picture-perfect location has to offer.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Immersing yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of a new country is enthralling. From the breathtaking unfamiliar landscapes to the lively streets of a city, authentically exploring a country is unparalleled. Saturated with tradition and unique spectacles, Scotland is the embodiment of eclectic travel. Covering miles of small-town streets with charming homes and over 100 breweries, a flight of Scottish beer is never out of reach. Just a few miles from the pavement of these historic houses, the treasured cliffs of Dunnet Head stand on the edge of the ocean. Taking a stroll up these hills that cover the countryside is nothing short of extraordinary as the waves crash up the rockface just below. Moving back into town, the opportunity for palate expansion is prevalent as Scottish cuisine at the local pubs and restaurants is prepared to perfection. Expect to be welcomed with rich culture and embrace the deep traditional roots that Scotland has grown.

Rolling Scottish Countryside – Courtesy of Getty Images

Step into a country founded on family and saturated in rich history. Recognized for its famous Ferris wheel and impressive cathedrals, London is a staple for tour groups. While this popular city is all the rage, England has a handful of hidden gems outside of the city that are equally as explore worthy. Travel is made easy with the intricate train systems that run through the entirety of England. Utilize the British Pullman and venture outside of well-walked streets of the capitol and into the quaint and longstanding cities of Bath, Bristol, Brighton, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, or Newcastle. Experience the passion of the country’s natives by going to a football game. Cheer on the United Kingdom and then step into the many open-air markets filled with local products. Amidst the bustle of shoppers and booths, you may hear the live music played at Brixton, a resident favorite. The lively energy and vibrant culture of England are powerful and unforgettable when experienced hands-on.

Trafalgar Square, London- Courtesy of Getty Images
London Eye Ferris Wheel – Courtesy of Getty Images

Uncover a country unique in its social, art, and food culture. Known for its chocolate and waffles, Belgium is brimming with tradition that showcases the unique atmosphere and community. While Belgian sweets are world-famous, some of the local food favorites are the more savory options like Frites, Waterzooi, Carbonnades, and Beer. Some of these classic foods can be found at the plethora of pop-up park festivals that are commonplace in this northern European country. Also peppered through the country are historic cathedrals standing tall with their decorative construction and gorgeous stained glass, the Railroad cathedral is little known but a shining example of these regal structures. Live inside the architectural wonder of Belgium by traveling to Bruges and booking a stay in a townhome that showcases the strong influence of the country’s European heritage. Here you can take a day outside of town and bike the Belgian countryside, surveying the landscape in a tactile way.

Grand Place Square in centre of Brussels, Belgium – Courtesy of Getty Images
Belgian Waffles – Courtesy of Getty Images

Speaking of bikes, Nederland contains this two-wheel man-powered transportation’s capital of the world. Move through the city and experience the unique traffic system by hopping on a bike and living like a local. Do this by independently or acquire a taste of the “Gezellig Culture” or the “Friendly culture,” by doing Wed and Walk and marry an Amsterdammer for a day. Join the local fun by attending the wide variety of festivals that run during the spring and summer. Take advantage of the beautiful weather in the countryside by sightseeing the historic Soest Windmills and indulge in the country’s history by strolling through the Zaanse Schans Museum.  Contribute to the positive impact the country is making by departing on a canal tour guided by refugees. Guided largely by the community, allow these relational Dutch ideals to perforate the travel itinerary and relish in quality time with loved ones by enjoying a picnic on the canal streets.

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Courtesy of Getty Images

Explore a country adorned with historic ruins and bold architecture.  Ireland is a visual paradox overrun with both natural and man-made beauty. Side by side, the beautiful neon row houses in Cobh and Kinsale make for a unique contrast against the lush green of the Irish landscape. The Peace line echoes this stark difference as it cuts through the edge of the country standing in grey cement and bold graffiti. These spectacles can be narrated in a new and personal perspective through a tour given by a local. Opposing the constructed sights, Ireland contains an overabundance of natural beauty that is often overlooked by those passing through. Peruse beloved local hideaways like Dalkey Island, Cushendun Caves, County Antrim, The coral strand, Cliffs of Moher, and Ballycotton Cliffs. These hideouts can also be found in the native restaurants and breweries throughout Dublin. Whether spending time in the peaceful countryside or the bustling city, take a moment to revel in the authentic experience you are partaking in.

Kylemore Abbey, Ireland – Courtesy of Getty Images
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland – Courtesy of Getty Images

Stepping away from the preverbal tourist glass can result in some of the most unforgettable and authentic experiences of a place. Be bold and enjoy the untour of northern Europe. Do more than just see a country; Be a part of it. Travel off the beaten path and experience an authentic perspective of your next vacation destination.

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