Studying abroad will offer you one of the best opportunities of your life to explore different places. I was able to enjoy Prague fully while also taking the opportunity to travel to many other cities. One of the greatest perks of studying abroad in Europe is that you can travel anywhere in the continent quickly and cheaply. If you are studying in Prague and are considering a weekend or holiday excursion, I would highly suggest the following destinations:
- Salzburg, Austria
I decided to go to Salzburg when a friend described it as “the most beautiful place on Earth.” After seeing it for myself, I would wholeheartedly agree with his description! Make sure to ride the funicular to Salzburg Fortress, observe the brilliant art and architecture of Salzburg Cathedral, and take a stroll through the beautiful gardens of Mirabell Palace. Opera fans can visit Mozart’s birthplace, and history buffs can visit Hitler’s secret mountain retreat, Eagle’s Nest, where they will find unforgettable views of the Bavarian Mountains and the valleys below.
- Vienna, Austria
Vienna is a well-known cultural hub of Europe. The must-see here is Schonbrunn Palace, but Vienna has much more to offer. In addition to having a host of excellent museums and spectacular churches to visit, it is by far the cleanest and least-crowded of all the major European cities I have visited, making for a pleasant atmosphere to see the sights of the city. The public transportation system is also extremely efficient and not overwhelming, and there is almost always an open seat on the metro. I would rate Vienna as my number one city for good food as well.
- Berlin, Germany
You may go to Berlin expecting to see lots of historical sights, but it is important to remember that much of it was destroyed by bombs during World War II. Consequently, most of what you see there today is very modern. You can, however, see pieces of the Berlin Wall that still remain standing and take a solemn walk through the uneven pathways of the Holocaust Memorial, reminders of the genocide this country once committed and wants to never see repeated, the oppression it faced under the Communist regime, and the progress it has made since. You also will want to take a tour of the Reichstag, but be sure to book at least several days in advance.
If you have several days or want to travel independently before or after your ISA program, this is the place to go. I may be biased (I’ve been there five times), but the natural beauty of Ireland is unmatched and never fails to amaze me. My recommendation is to see the countryside of Connemara, West Cork, or Killarney rather than stay in the cities. Be sure to plan ahead and look up bus and train schedules ahead of time, you don’t want to be left up the creek without a paddle!
The world awaits…discover it.