Top Ways to Fulfill Your Dream European Getaway in 2023

Top Ways to Fulfill Your Dream European Getaway in 2023

Time to book that dream vacay in Europe!

If you’re looking to embark on your own dream European getaway this year but don’t know where to start, don’t fret! Whether you like visiting famous European cities, chasing the Northern Lights, or simply discovering Switzerland by rail, these three ways to travel in Europe will surely satisfy your wanderlust! 

Also read: 6 Travel Tips to Know Before Your Next Getaway

Travel to Europe

Chasing the Northern Lights amidst Nordic wonders 


Image credit: L.G.E Travel

While Helsinki isn’t the very best spot to catch the Northern Lights (there are far better locations in Finland), it is one of the key stops for travellers chasing the Northern Lights. After all, the vibrant capital of Finland is often the gateway to the Scandinavian Lapland where the most vivid Aurora Borealis sightings are found. 

But before heading to Lapland for your dream European vacation, take some time to explore the lovely city of Helsinki, known for its rich history and coastal beauty. Some of the must-see spots on a city tour include Senate Square, the postcard-worthy White Cathedral, and the Sibelius Monument. Don’t miss the chance to visit Market Square where you can hunt for local eats either! 

If you have the time, you can also hop on a short boat ride to some of the city’s outlying islands like Suomenlinna, where you can find the historical Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Image credit: L.G.E Travel

You could also opt for a short day tour to the charming town of Porvoo, famous for its well-preserved Old Town District and vibrant red warehouses by the riverside promenade. The Porvoo Cathedral, a 15th-century architectural masterpiece, is another must-visit landmark. 


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Seeing the Northern Lights, a.k.a the Aurora Borealis, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one of the most common bucket list activities on any dream European vacation. And one of the best locations to chase the Northern Lights is Lapland, a vast province in the Arctic Circle that stretches into areas of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and even Russia. 

Known for its cold and wintry climate, Lapland is the best location for a chance to see the Northern Lights due to its unique geographical location within the “aurora zone”. The area is also famous for its Christmassy scenery, thanks to an abundance of pine trees and plenty of snow! 

Image credit: L.G.E Travel

Apart from the awe-inspiring natural vistas, Lapland is also where you can get up close and personal with unique arctic wildlife like reindeer. In fact, you can even visit a reindeer farm where you can feed the majestic beasts and ride on a traditional reindeer sled! What’s more, this part of Scandinavia is famous for its fresh seafood, especially King Crab! 

Saariselka, Sweden

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One of the dreamiest locations in Lapland is the mountainous region of Saariselka, a resort village that acts as the gateway to the excellent ski trails of Urho Kekkonen National Park. What’s more, thanks to the high altitude and minimal light pollution, Saariselka is considered one of the most popular spots for chasing the Northern Lights.

While waiting for nightfall to begin hunting for the Northern Lights, fill your day with a magical visit to Santa Claus Village! As the name suggests, this is arguably one of the most Christmassy locations in the world. Here, you can snap a photo with Father Christmas and send a postcard from the main post office, where it’ll receive a unique Arctic Circle Stamp. 

In addition, you can visit an authentic horse farm where you can ride a traditional horse, whilst learning about the local wildlife in the area. For an added feel of luxury to your Northern Lights adventure, stay in a mountaintop glass cabin from which you can admire the night sky in maximum comfort! 


Image credit: L.G.E Travel

Another winter wonderland that deserves a visit in Lapland is Ranua, famous for being home to many of the region’s most iconic wildlife. In fact, one of the top things to do in Ranua is to visit Ranua Wildlife Park (known as the World’s Northernmost Zoo). Here, visitors have the chance of spotting over 50 different species of Arctic wildlife, including bears, reindeer, wolves, and even polar bears whilst trekking through the area with a ranger. 

Image credit: L.G.E Travel

What’s more, the snowy landscape of Ranua provides the perfect conditions for skiing, with multiple resorts and ski lodges found in the area. There is also a husky farm where you can get up close and personal with adorable huskies while learning about their life as sled dogs. You can even hop on a husky sled yourself and take off!

At night, feel free to explore the area with your eyes peeled for any sign of the Northern Lights. For an even better experience, try staying in a luxurious glass igloo with an unimpeded view of the night sky! 


Image credit: Nikolas Vera-Ortiz via Canva Pro

Lying on the edge of Lapand is Kirkenes, a northeastern Norwegian village that borders Russia. From the town’s remote charm to its beautiful rugged natural landscapes, punctuated by majestic Arctic fjords and frozen lakes, Kirkenes is a true hidden gem that offers plenty of wonderful experiences, as well as a chance to see the Northern Lights. 

The top attraction in Kirkenes is easily the Pasvik Valley, famous for its Siberian taiga forest that is accessed via guided snowmobile safaris. Foodies will also love a visit to this remote village because it is famous for its sumptuous King Crab and fresh seafood! 


Image credit: L.G.E Travel

Another captivating location on the fringes of Lapland is Narvik, a lovely town in Northern Norway surrounded by majestic fjords, including Ofotjord, an inlet of the Norwegian Sea, and the country’s 12th-longest fjord. With its natural beauty and rich history, Narvik is often one of the top stopovers for those chasing the Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle. 

What’s more, thanks to the abundance of snow in Narvik, skiing is a must-try activity! Narvikfjellet is the town’s most famous ski resort, where winter (and summer) activities await, along with yet more stunning scenery of the fjords and mountains. Even the journey up to the ski resort — a short gondola ride up the mountain, brings with it plenty of unforgettable scenery! 

From Narvik, travellers can also board the famous Arctic Circle Train to Abisko, a quaint Swedish village that is one of the best destinations to catch the Northern Lights thanks to it having plenty of clear nights and minimal light pollution. 

Ready to make your dream to see the Northern Lights come true? Then you don’t want to miss this 13D Aurora-themed tour that takes you to Finland, Norway, and Sweden, with plenty of opportunities to see the Northern Lights. You’ll also have a chance to go horse sledding in the snow and indulge in a King Crab feast! 

Chase the Northern Lights

Discovering whimsical Switzerland by rail

Luzern-Interlaken Express

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Despite being one of the shorter rail routes in Switzerland (lasting only about two hours), the Luzern-Interlaken Express offers some of the most memorable views as you chug along on a panoramic train ride that passes through pristine lakes, waterfalls, and the Brünig Mountain Pass

At either end of the route, in Lucerne or Interlaken, what awaits are several unforgettable excursions where one can look forward to experiencing the surreal beauty of Switzerland’s natural vistas!


Image credit: Patrick Robert Doyle

The picturesque city of Lucern is known for its mesmerising natural beauty and rich heritage. Travellers who visit the city will fail in love with the stunning landscapes, especially the postcard-worthy Lake Lucerne, with its pristine blue waters providing a vivid contrast with the towering backdrop of the Swiss Alps. 

The city of Lucerne is itself a captivating destination, thanks to its historical Old Town section, where you can find the iconic Chapel Bridge, as well as the famous Lion Monument, and the well-preserved Musegg Wall


Image credit: Josef Ivan Jimenea

Interlaken is named after its unique geography — a city between two lakes, namely Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. This captivating city in the Bernese Oberland is best known as the gateway to exploring some of the most famous mountains in the Swiss and Bernese Alps.

Unsurprisingly, Interlaken is the ideal destination for avid hikers and adventurers, thanks to its plethora of natural gems to discover, be it hidden waterfalls, pristine alpine lakes, or ambient Swiss villages along the shore. 

Most importantly, Interlaken serves as the base camp for exploring the whimsical Jungfrau region, arguably the most famous mountain in the Swiss Alps. 

GoldenPass Express

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The GoldenPass Express is another one of the newest scenic train routes in Switzerland but it has already become one of the top bucket list experiences for those who want to travel to Euripe. The five-hour journey between Interlaken and Montreux features views of the Bernese Alps, the Vaudois Riviera, and Simmen Valley, as well as whimsical castles and meadows. 


Image credit: Xavier von Erlach

One of the main stops of the GoldenPass Express is Montreux, a picturesque town located on the shores of Lake Geneva. It is known for its outstanding natural beauty, rich history, and for its annual Montreux Jazz Festival

Visitors to Montreux can look forward to visiting the historical Chillon Castle, one of the most iconic landmarks in the town. This medieval gem is filled with the history of the area, and visitors can look forward to learning more about the town, as well as admiring the castle’s majestic architecture.

What’s more, Montreux is one of the best places to hop on a scenic boat ride on Lake Geneva, where you can admire the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps in the background. 

The Glacier Express

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Simply put, the Glacier Express is one of the most beautiful train rides in Switzerland and a must-try experience on any dream European vacation. 

As you chug along the railway on this eight-hour rice in a panoramic train, you’ll pass through the majestic mountains, scenic ravines, and breathtaking valleys of Valais, Uri, and Grisons. Did we mention that the train features luxury dining options too? It’s the perfect indulgence! 


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One of the terminus stations of the Glacier Express is Zermatt, arguably the most famous alpine village in the Swiss Alps. Not only is the village surrounded by breathtaking scenery, including glacial valleys, alpine meadows, and the iconic Matterhorn peak, but Zermatt is also known for its pristine fresh alpine air, thanks to it being a car-free village! 

The best thing to do in Zermatt is to join an excursion to the famous Gornergrat, where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Matterhorn and engage in some year-round skiing! Back at the base of the mountain, visitors can look forward to stays in fairytale-esque chalets, delicious local cuisine, and an abundance of Swiss chocolate shops! 


Image credit: L.G.E Travel

While Chur isn’t the main terminus station of the Glacier Express, it is one of the towns along the way worth visiting. That’s because it is one of the stations from which you can board the Bernina Express, another one of Switzerland’s famous train rides, to the ambient Italian town of Tirano. 

Along this UNESCO World Heritage Route, you’ll be treated to views of the Bernina Range, the Palu Glacier, and the Bergamasque Alps. More importantly, you’ll also cross over the Brusio Circular Viaduct, one of Switzerland’s most famous architectural marvels! 


One of the more underrated train rides that offers a glimpse of Switzerland’s beauty is the Voralpen-Express. Aboard this ride from Lucerne to St. Gallen, you’ll pass by the lovely meadows and verdant hills of the Swiss countryside, offering you a lesser-known picture of Switzerland’s ethereal beauty. 

Along the way, you’ll see sights like Lake Zurich, the Sitter Viaduct (Switzerland’s highest railway bridge), and Rapperswil, a lovely town known as the City of Roses. 

St. Gallen

Image credit: Leonid Andronov via Canva Pro

Once you arrive in St. Gallen, take the time to stroll along the storied streets of this lovely city, where you can unearth an endless array of historical gems. 

One such example is the St. Gallen Abbey District, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983. Here, you’ll find the Abbey Library, one of the oldest (you can find original medieval manuscripts that date back hundreds of years here) and most picturesque libraries in the world. 

For nature lovers, don’t miss the chance to also hike along the rolling hills and lush forests of the Appenzell region, or visit the Alpstein Massif, both of which offer incredible views of Swiss villages and endless countryside scenery. 


Image credit: Henrique Ferreira

While hopping on a scenic train ride in Switzerland is arguably a top bucket list experience for most European dream vacations, don’t forget to also check out the city of Zurich. After all, it is the most visited city in the country, where you can find some of the best shops and restaurants to experience true Swiss culture. 

Image credit: Stanserhorn-Bahn Official Facebook Page

One particular experience not to miss is hopping on the world’s first open-top aerial cable car, the CabriO Cable Ride. This unique attraction is found in the middle of the journey between the Zurich city centre and Mount Stanserhorn. After a funicular ride to the midway station, visitors can change to the cable car and enjoy a whimsical journey the rest of the way up to the 1,900-metre peak. 

As you ascend, you’ll be at a loss for words as you admire the incredible beauty of the surrounding area, especially during the summer, when you’re surrounded by a sea of verdant green meadows and hills!

Fallen in love already with the idea of exploring Switzerland by train? Then this 11D Grand Train Tour of Switzerland package, which includes rides on the premium panoramic trains mentioned above and mountain excursions, has just what you need to make this dream vacation a reality! 

Discover Switzerland

Also read: From Sapporo to Fukuoka: 8 Best Places in Japan to See Cherry Blossoms

And there you have it, three different ways to make your next (or first) trip to Europe a dream vacation you won’t soon forget! All that’s left to do now is simply to start planning and look forward to experiencing the magic of travelling in Europe!  

For more great deals and travel inspiration, visit The Travel Insider by UOB Cards to learn more.

Brought to you by The Travel Insider and L.G.E Travel.


About Author

Darren Yeoh
Darren Yeoh

Darren enjoys the finer things in life and loves exploring unfamiliar places on foot, guided with nothing but instinct and a good-old fashioned map. He enjoys cultural experiences and exciting adventures and is not a stranger to travelling alone. When he's not putting his travel experiences into words, he's probably sitting behind his laptop, planning his upcoming adventure.