Tuesday 9 Nov, 2010

Viewing Europe from above, Part II

View montjuic hill

Last week, we took a look at some impressive views of London, Paris and Rome. Here are a few more suggested spots around Europe where you can enjoy some great views over the cities on your educational tours—most of them free to visit!

In Barcelona, your guided tour will allow you to enjoy views over the city from both Montjuic Hill (above) and Parque Guell. Montjuic is a wonderful spot for seeing the harbor and the beach area that was developed as part of the 1992 Summer Olympics. Farther north in the city is Parque Guell, where Gaudí’s superlative designs blend beautifully with the park space and terrific views.

View st peters munich Perhaps the best view over Munich is from the tower of the Sankt-Peter-Kirche (Church of St. Peter). It will take 306 creaky steps to get up there, but it is very much worth it! It can be a little cramped at the top, but the view (at right) is unbeatable (small fee, 1 euro per student).

Escaping the bustle of Athens is often a welcome distraction. Very close to the city center is Mount Lycabettus, which climbs 1,000 feet above sea level. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Peloponessos. Walk through an area of pine trees to the peak, where there is the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theater and a café. There is also a funicular railway for the less walking inclined.

At the end of Edinburgh‘s Royal Mile is a pathway leading up to Salisbury Crags or the higher viewpoint of Arthur’s Seat. This now-dormant volcano formed the landscape of the city. A fairly easy climb along the pathway brings you over the old town. On the new town side is Calton Hill. It is free to get up to the (unfinished) Acropolis; started in 1822, it was meant to be a National Monument. For a small fee, you can climb the steps of Nelson’s Monument, which offers some excellent panoramas of the city and well beyond to the bridges on the Firth of Forth.

View petrin hill prague In England, when you have finished a walk around Oxford, find time to clamber up the 127 steps of St. Mary’s church tower (about $4) to see why Oxford is known as the city of dreaming spires.

Rising just over 1,000 feet above Prague is the Petrin Hill. I appreciate that arguably the most beautiful city in Europe can have you gaping all day long, but this journey is worth it if you have time (at right). The hill is the playground for locals with the whole area covered in parks and orchards. Features include a mini Eiffel Tower (built in 1891) with 299 steps to the top, the observatory and even a hall of mirrors. The hill can be reached by funicular from Mala Strana.

(Editor’s note: Paul Mattesini’s posts appear Tuesdays on Following the Equator. If you have a travel question for our resident expert tour director, or an idea for a blog post topic, you can email Paul here, and he will answer readers’ questions in future posts.)

Photos: teachandlearn (Barcelona) via Flickr (CC license); Sean Munson (Munich) via Flickr (CC license);
mwklein (Prague) via Flickr (CC license)