Austria and Switzerland are the most popular winter destinations in the world. The snow-capped mountains attract sport lovers for skiing or snow-boarding, as well as those who want to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Austria caters to both, beginners as well as professional skiers. Austrian resorts like Mayrhofen offer the best facilities and action in Europe. Austria is primarily known for its two different attractions - the fading imperial glories of its capital, Vienna and the variety of its Alpine hinterland. Vienna is the gateway to much of central Asian culture. Salzburg represents urban Austria at its most picturesque and is an attractive baroque city celebrating the 250th anniversary of its favorite son, Wolfgang Mozart. The most dramatic of Alpine scenery is in Tirol and its capital, the medieval city of Innsbruck, which has hosted two Winter Olympic games.
Switzerland is familiar to every schoolchild all over the world, who learn in geography that it is a land of snow. The renowned Swiss penchant for hard work and cleanliness and a high standard of living, makes the country very expensive as well as the most problem-free place to travel to. The country’s breathtaking concentration of mountain scenery has drawn travelers down the centuries. Northern German-speaking Zurich offers sightseeing and an active nightlife; Bern, the capital, has historical monuments, and quality resorts are available at St. Moritz and Davos. In the west, on the shores of Lake Geneva, are Geneva, Montreux and Lausanne, which make up the bulk of French Switzerland.
Spain is alluring for its native culture and its warm, sunny beaches. But Spain has more to it than its bull fights, crowded beaches, castles and Moorish palaces. Travel to Northern Spain to Altamira where caves containing prehistoric art are preserved and are called ‘Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art’. The country around the Picos de Europa range is some of the most beautiful in Europe. Lodging is available in historic inns called 'Posadas'. Taste the local cider and blue cheese called cabrales. Travel to Avila, a medieval city, to view the 11th century walls circling it. There are some definite highlights in a trip to Spain: the three great cities of Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, the Moorish monuments of Andalusia and the Christian monuments of Old Castile, beach life at Ibiza and the deserted sands around Cadiz, and for some good hiking, the Pyrenees and the Asturian Picos de Europa. For art lovers, Spain has a rich heritage from Cervantes to Dali, and Goya to Miro. In Barcelona, enjoy Antonio Gaudi’s spectacular architecture and in Madrid, visit top museums like the Prado and the Reina Sofia Gallery, and also the Moorish Alhambra palace in Granada.
Portugal is close to Spain and similar in cultural traditions. The Portuguese are proud of their sea-faring heritage. Their culture has elements of African and South America that came along with their colonial history. The Scenery is in the North in the Minho and the valley of the Douro. Lisbon, the capital, is a bustling port, a legacy of the time of Vasco Da Gama and the heydays of the Portuguese empire. The whole country retains remnants of its early grandeur, monuments of the past. In the South, there are some well-developed resort areas like the romantic Algarve Coast.