First-time visitors to England will not want to miss London, one of the world's most bustling cities. It is a thoroughly modern metropolis in almost every way, yet visitors will come upon centuries-old castles and buildings around many corners. For a real taste of history, visit Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London. For a more modern thrill, take a ride on the London Eye, a 443-foot Ferris wheel. Outside of the city, visit the majestic white cliffs of Dover, or the mysterious Stonehenge, about 85 miles north of London.
The Emerald Isle is a gorgeous, temperate country with rolling green hills and ancient-looking stone structures. Blarney Castle, along with its famous stone, is a popular tourist destination. The cliffs of Moher are an imposing and beautiful sight, and cruises can take you to see them up close. Your family may enjoy a simple drive through the countryside, enjoying the many small towns that dot the wide-open land.
Spain's tumultuous history - it has, at different times, been under Roman, Catholic, and Islamic rule - has resulted in its possessing some of the world's most unique and beautiful architecture. The country's two largest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are both among the world's most impressive. Barcelona contains beaches, parks, and a tradition steeped in culture and the arts. The somewhat more cosmopolitan Madrid nevertheless retains a strong sense of its own heritage, including the world's most famous bullfighting arena, the Plaza de Toros.
France is the world's most popular tourist destination, and for good reason. Paris, "The City of Light," contains stunning architecture such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur, not to mention some of the world's best dining. But there's reason to explore outside the city, too, whether you visit the sunny French Riviera, the rugged countryside of the Bordeaux region, or the somber World War II memorials at Normandy.
In 2009, the world celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, which unified the country of Germany after decades of division. Today, your whole family can enjoy all the culture and fun that the nation has to offer, from the museums and galleries of Berlin to the wondrous natural hills of Bavaria. The German people have also preserved many areas of the country as they appeared at the end of World War II, as a somber and powerful reminder of the costs of war.
Belgium may not have the name recognition of some of its neighbors, but it more than makes up for anonymity with spectacular tourist offerings. Belgian's culinary offerings include world-famous waffles, chocolates, and the unfortunately misnamed French fries (yes, they are Belgian in origin). The city of Bruges is noteworthy for having most of its medieval architecture intact, with churches, government buildings, and even residences dating from the middle ages.
Choose any region of Italy and you'll find something worth visiting. In the northern regions, try skiing in the Alps, or visit Milan, the country's business and fashion center. To the east is Venice, the city of canals. The picturesque Tuscany region is home to a gorgeous countryside, and the renaissance city of Florence, whose art and architecture are among the best in the world. Further south is the capital, Rome, whose ancient ruins such as the Coliseum are not to be missed.