As the smallest of all the continents and with 27 countries located within the European Union alone, Europe offers a variety of travel experiences for both long and short visits. Whether a planned itinerary includes several stops or is focused on a single location, a trip to Europe can provide experiences and memories to last a lifetime. Given the variety of architecture, landscapes, climates and historical reference points within Europe, it is no exaggeration to state that nearly anyone could find something to enjoy.
American and Canadian citizens do not require a visa to visit most of the countries within Europe for leisure visits of up to 90 days within a six-month period. Additionally, because of the open borders of the Schengen Area, which includes many countries within the European Union as well as cooperating countries like Switzerland, it is possible to travel throughout much of Europe with a single passport stamp on entry, and another upon returning home. Most European countries are considered safe travel destinations for Americans, and travel advisories are uncommon except immediately following a significant terrorist attack. The adaptation of the Euro throughout much of Europe also makes shopping and other financial transactions convenient for travelers.
Even during a short visit to Europe, it is possible to experience several different countries, thanks to the compact geography of the continent. The extensive European railway system makes travel between countries convenient and often an enjoyable aspect of a vacation. Purchasing a rail pass before leaving home can provide significant savings. In many of the major cities within Europe, an extensive system of trams, trolleys, subways and buses makes it possible to enjoy the sights without taking on the additional expense of renting a car.
Europe is the home of Impressionist art, the Catholic Church and classical music; traveling to Europe allows travelers to retrace the steps of significant historic, political and religious figures. Many famous architectural and historical sites are located in Europe, including the Eiffel Tower and ruins of ancient Greece and Rome. Europe is also home to many beautiful scenic areas, including the Alps, the countryside of France, Scotland and Ireland, the Black Forest of Germany, and the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. A trip to Europe offers the opportunity to enjoy authentic Italian, French and other delicious cuisines and wines. Many Americans can trace their roots to Europe, which means that a trip to Europe can be a means of researching a family tree.