What's on your European bucketlist?
November 13, 2017 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Related to my last question, my transfer to the home office in Munich has been approved! We will be there for 3-4 years. Neither of us have ever been to Europe and we want to see as much as possible. What's on your European bucket list?

So far, we think our strategy will be to go to a different country each month. Probably basing our trip around some big attraction (say the Eiffel Tower in Paris) and using extra time to explore smaller, less popular sights. Some of these will be weekend trips and some will be longer 1-2 week vacations. There may be countries we visit multiple times.

So far, the list of the big stuff includes:
Ruins in Rome/Italy
Eiffel Tower & Louvre
Big Ben/Parliament building in London
Blarney Stone
Opera House(s) in Vienna
Straight of Gibraltar
Azores in Portugal
Egypt's Pyramids (not in Europe, but closer than we'll ever be so we figured we'd hop over there and take a look)

I know that's quite a short list, which is why I need your ideas! We like museums and indoor stuff as well as scenic drives and views. We are open to pretty much anything*

*Special Snowflake requirements: my husband has back issues so no skiing in the Alps, suggestions that include alot of hiking are not going to be good. (We understand that there will be alot of walking as we explore.)
posted by LizBoBiz to Travel & Transportation (47 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Florence - unbelievable food and some of the world's best art. Immensely walkable. The David will leave you breathless.

Amalfi coast. Cinque Terre. Breathtaking views that will make you never want to leave Italy.

Bruges, Belgium was surprisingly outstanding. Lyon in France is also really nice, lovely food if you can find your way out of the tourist zone.

Barcelona is also unreal - so vibrant that it made two introverts want to be in the midst for days on end.
posted by notorious medium at 8:30 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've been haunted by the Parco dei Mostri in Bomarzo, Italy ever since I learned about it 17 years ago. I dearly hope to make it there someday.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 8:37 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think the Imperial War Museum in London is really underrated. It sounds like something that's going to glorify war, but that's not it at all. It provides an excellent look at the effect of 20th century wars on people who lived through them.
posted by FencingGal at 8:44 AM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

While in London, visit Westminster Abbey (easy, right next to Parliament) and the British Museum (needs a whole day).

Just FYI, you’ll see lots of possibly-looted Egyptian stuff in the Louvre and the British Museum. (Plus the Elgin Marbles.)

Go see some castles. Both some real castles (Tower of London, some castles in France, probably the Alhambra) and some fantasy castles (drive down to Fussen to see Neuschwanstein et al). Also, I don’t see Greece on your list.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:48 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Venice, out of season.
posted by liebchen at 8:53 AM on November 13, 2017 [12 favorites]

The Vienna opera house is postwar and was built in the 40s equivalent of a GoFundMe. The best part of the tour is the actual backstage (which is enormous) but the house itself isn't noteworthy (no pun intended). The opera house in Budapest, however, is the sort of grand thing you might expect Vienna to have. It's probably apocryphal, but our tour guide told us that Budapest was told its new opera house couldn't be bigger than the one in Vienna at the time, but nobody said it couldn't be prettier. There's gold leaf EVERYWHERE. Paris and Prague also have beautiful old opera houses you can tour, if you're into that.

Weirdly, the Third Man Museum in Vienna has a pretty good collection of artifacts relating to the postwar fundraising that paid for the new opera house. It may be more interesting than the opera house tour itself.
posted by fedward at 8:54 AM on November 13, 2017

The nice thing about being based in Munich is that you can pop into these cities on random weekends that aren't regular holiday times. Visiting a city when it isn't overrun by your groups is a real pleasure.

Specifically, I recommend:

Oslo. Don't miss the Vigeland Park

Amsterdam for the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum.

Glasgow for the Transit Museum (just one like a dozen amazing museums
In Glasgow, actually) and the fantastic food and music scene.
posted by minervous at 8:55 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh, and it may be my interest in Roman/Byzantine history, but at some point I really want to go visit Istanbul. It’s the New Rome!

Alternatively, if you wish to feel depressed you might visit the Normandy beaches and/or Verdun.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:55 AM on November 13, 2017

Oh, speaking of looted artifacts: the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, although it looks like one part of it or another will be closed for renovation for the next six or seven years.
posted by fedward at 8:58 AM on November 13, 2017

Prague Castle is beautiful and full of remarkable history.
posted by demiurge at 8:59 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I thought Prague was the most architecturally stunning city. And definitely get a good paper one-volume Europe guidebook, like Lonely Planet Europe. Browsing by flipping pages is better in many ways than clicking around, and you'll stumble upon new ideas more easily.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:01 AM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

For scenic routes. Traintrips might be the thing.

The Harz area in Germany, where there's still steamtrains running regulary, is fun. The area itself is beautiful and the towns are nicely small, old style mid-European.

Switzerland has the best mountain routes. You could travel to northern Italy by chaining some of them.

Oslo-Bergen in Norway is famous and spectacular.
posted by Kosmob0t at 9:14 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Highlands and Islands of Western Scotland (take the train on the West Highland line). On the other side, Edinburgh is just mind-meltingly beautiful. On a clear day (they do exist in Scotland, I promise), walk up to the top of Calton Hill in time for sunset.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:15 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Congratulations on your move and I hope that you have a great time living in Munich.
If you want to think about the really big ticket items then here is a list of the top 20 sites to see in Europe by visitor numbers. You will notice some heavy clustering here: Paris, Rome, London, Venice, Istanbul show up as the most obvious "must do" places. If I were you I would try to arrange visits to all of these places (they all merit a visit of at least a long weekend) during your stay.

But 3-4 years allows you go get into considerably more depth then you could on a whistle-stop European vacation - and you might discover that the less obvious places can be the most rewarding. Personally I would choose the Roman Amphitheatre in Pula over the one in Rome, I'd choose The Ring of Brodgar in Orkney over Stonehenge. I'd send you to Palermo and Helsinki and Santander and Utrecht and Cork, for example. This is also very much the sort of thing that you can ask your colleagues in Germany too. Happily Europe gives a very good ratio of variety per mile travelled - and many ways of travelling those miles easily with cheap flights.

Finally - here is a nice list of somebody's idea of the most over-rated tourist attractions in Europe (they missed The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen). Your mileage may vary considerably - but I would always ask around with local contacts because there are lots of places where your valuable visiting time and your money would be better spent somewhere else.
posted by rongorongo at 9:17 AM on November 13, 2017

Berlin is on my list for the obvious reasons, plus they have a vegan section of town, but ritter sport has a huge store there.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 9:22 AM on November 13, 2017

Nthing Prague. It's a smaller city (the historical area anyway), very walkable. Easy to sort the tourists from the locals; the tourists will be looking up at the building facades.

Lubeck in the north of Germany is a charming Hanseatic town. Off the beaten tourist path.

Nthing Venice, in the off season. We went in October, the locals were a bit weary of tourists by then. Maybe just before the start of the high season, depending on the weather.
posted by vignettist at 9:24 AM on November 13, 2017

The Netherlands is extremely day-trip-friendly, so you can easily focus on Amsterdam but fit in other sights as well. The Museumplein trifecta of the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum is certainly worth it, but there are a ton of smaller, niche museums. And of course, the Anne Frank House.

To the south, the Hague isn't far away and has the Mauritshuis and Escher Museum. And Rotterdam has the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and Kuntshal. If you visit in the springtime, you can go to Keukenhof, the huge flower garden near Lisse. The area around it is excellent for cycling, if your husband can do that (it's all flat land).

To the east, there's the Kröller-Müller Museum, which has the world's second-largest collection of Van Goghs and an amazing sculpture garden. It's set in a national park where you can also cycle (though you can also reach it by bus).
posted by neushoorn at 9:27 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Places I've seen that I would recommend for bucket lists:
-The Acropolis in Athens
-Knossos in Crete - heavily restored but still worth the visit. Crete in spring is really beautiful with wild flowers everywhere, on ground which is burnt and bare looking later in the year.
-The Alhambra in Granada
-Oxford, Cambridge, Salamanca for old university cities
-Venice, Amsterdam and Bruges for contrasting canal cities
-Edinburgh and Prague for atmosphere and architecture
-Isola Bella and the Borromean Islands in Lake Maggiore.
-If you're going to Stonehenge, include it with Avebury and the city of Bath.
-Lots of Italian cities; Rome, Florence and Venice are the obvious ones, but Siena and Verona are also very impressive.
posted by Azara at 9:34 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

The cathedral in Cologne is worth seeing. Also, there are boat trips to and from Cologne on the Rhine that are wonderful - you get a great view of the country and castles. Don't do what I did and take the fast boat though.

I lived in Mainz and took the boat trip from there to Cologne. If you can make it to Mainz, St. Stephen's Church has these beautiful windows that were done by Chagall. Mainz also has the Gutenberg Museum, and the cathedral there is nice as well.
posted by FencingGal at 9:34 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Budapest is The New Hipster Hotness city, by all reports - I don't know enough to agree with whether it's "in", and wasn't there long enough for a deep dive, but I can still recommend it. The spas are amazing, and I had a blast in one of the ruin pubs. And it is cheaaaaaaaaap.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:47 AM on November 13, 2017

I went to Venice in January, and somehow despite being an actual art historian had never seen photos of St. Mark's. It made me laugh out loud, giddily, with delight. Venice lived up to all my hopes, and my partner, who had been in the summer, loved how quiet it was at that time of year. I think most of the other visitors while we were there were from other parts of Italy.

I also love Amsterdam. On my last visit, I was so happy the whole time, except when we tried to eat out. Restaurant culture there is not strong. But picking up snacks at the Albert Heijn is a great way to lunch, and you can search out decent meals here & there.

I would go to Istanbul again too. Aya Sofya was high on my list of must see buildings, squatting red like the cover of an old edition of Dune or some other sci-fi classic. But the Chora monastery is also really amazing, with intact mosaics.

My wish list includes the Dalmatian coast and Copenhagen. I would like to get outside Oslo the next time I go to Norway, maybe on the train as suggested above.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:54 AM on November 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

I second trips on the Rhine, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, and Linderhof. In Berlin is the Asiatic Museum, the Dahlem with modern arts, and the Egyptische Museum. Great collections in all places. Trips to the German Alps in summer. I would like to see the Peenemunde area where the V2 rockets were made in WW2. I would go to Munich for the Oktoberfest. A little prize would be to visit Bingen am Rhine, while the Bing Cherries are in bloom. Bingen is picturesque is places. I would go up onto the Taunus Mountains. This is the German stuff. I would not miss the little Kroller Muller museum on Aachen, or the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, the town of Delft which is a canal city with windmills. I would attend one of the tulip festivals in Holland, especially one with the flower floats, those floats are extravagantly over the top. While in Amsterdam or Leyden for the cheese, find an old school Pension, where they give you the amazing breakfast of cheeses in your room. This is cheeses, jam, breads, butter, coffee, and a variety of sausages too. I would see the Musee d Orsay in Paris, with the Impressionist collection, the Louvre takes an entire day, walk on the Champs Elysee take a long walk, go in the early fall, so the lit autumn trees reflect in the Seine in the evening, it is truly romantic and a direct link to what the French painters loved about Paris. Go to the French country side, tour the Taittinger champagne factory, it is fascinating to watch their process. Go to Normandy and see the beaches. Don't miss Portugal, it is the most comfortable and secure place to spend a few days near the sea, I have heard the food is outrageous. It is hard enough to get to and an understated destination, that people are still nice to tourists. In Italy I would go extreme south, just to get the feel of the older parts of Sicily, and the smaller churches, and places near the sea, see the volcanoes.
Anyway, the northern hills of Italy are a nice place to spend time, on the land. The Swill Alps are incredible, and if I could stay in Beatenburg I would, it is the quintessential Swiss town high on the shoulder of the Alps, in summer it is a walk to get there, it is lush with views of the craggiest peaks.
posted by Oyéah at 10:05 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sorry but the OP's list sounds like tourist hell! Apart from the Azores and Straights of Gibraltar - you will experience long queues at most of those sites.

Why not substitute Bologna for Pompeii?
Why not got to Galway instead of the Blarney Stone?
Why not go to Cambridge or Bath instead of the Houses of Parliament?

Some of richest travel experiences can be got off-the beaten track not at tourist mega attractions!
posted by jacobean at 10:09 AM on November 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oslo-Bergen in Norway is famous and spectacular.

Seconding this. Spring for the "first class" tickets; it's not much extra and it comes with all the free hot cocoa you can drink. Trondheim-Oslo is less famous but also quite spectacular. (And Trondheim is definitely less touristed than Bergen.) Norway is insanely expensive, though.

Vienna, Prague, and Budapest are all nice places to spend some time, but in all three cases I regret that I didn't see more of the surrounding countries. Parts of Prague and Budapest are swarming with twenty-somethings from more expensive parts of Europe who clearly came to get drunk - be aware of this when choosing accommodations.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:11 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Okay, seconding both Avebury (in my opinion better than Stonehenge) and the Vigeland sculpture park in Oslo.

I know you said back issues are a problem, but I would recommend at least driving around the Norwegian Fjords country, and if his back is feeling up to it doing Preikestolen (and even more unlikely, Kjeragbolten).

With Museums, in London I'd recommend Imperial War Museum as well, and the three along Exhibition Road - the V&A, Natural History Museum and Science Museum. Further afield I'd say the Train Museum in York, Big Pit (Welsh National Mining museum) in South Wales, the Eden Project (indoor rainforest) in the West Country and Imperial War Museum Duxford (airplanes and similar).
posted by MattWPBS at 10:13 AM on November 13, 2017

You like ruins? You'll love Ostia Antica - an easy-peasy day trip (or half-day) from Rome, most flat, it has shade (vs. Pompeii, which has NONE).
Seconding Venice in the off-season. I have found it lovely in ways that are hard to express.
Consider the "2nd tier" cities as well - Bologna is an awesome suggestion - the food there is incredible!
posted by dbmcd at 10:20 AM on November 13, 2017

Take a look at Rick Steves website, or Fodor's City Guides app. They've been leading tours and writing guidebooks on the most interesting places in Europe for decades. That's the best place to decide for yourself what to see.

I'd start with Rick Steves the Best of Europe in 21 Days tour, and then get into places (UK, Spain, Switzerland, Austria) that aren't covered on that tour. Definitely go into Italy in the off season if you can!
posted by cnc at 10:31 AM on November 13, 2017

Mont Saint-Michel.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:37 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agree with rongorongo that you shouldn't have a list that looks like a best-of list put together by a tourist who is only here for a few weeks in the summer.

Being here for 3-4 years gives you time to explore deeper. The best food and wine in Italy is in the North in the Langhe region. It is not in Tuscany, despite tourists wanting it to be so. Some of the best archaeological museums are in Berlin. The best ruins in the UK are not Stonehenge but places like Avebury or Skara Brae in Orkney.

On the other hand some things are truly amazing. And people will tell you not to go because it is too crowded. But, you see, thats because they went there in the summer and it was hell. In this list is places like Venice and Pompeii - architectural marvels that are best visited off-season. Or the caves in Southwest France such as Peche Merle.

You'll figure this out anyways after you move. Locals will give you tips or you will discover something amazing on a chance encounter. Living in Munich gives you the option of hopping on a train or renting a car and just travelling lazily through Europe and being part of it.
posted by vacapinta at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

my favorite water park in the world is near Munich. it's called Galaxy Erding. Every time my band goes on tour to Europe we make sure to set aside a day to go. It's so much fun. I know a guy that loves one of the waterslides so much he got a tattoo of it.

Trust me!!! Even if you don't like waterslides it's got amazing indoor/outdoor pools, spas, whirpools, mineral baths, and you can drink fancy drinks while you soak. You will love it.
posted by capnsue at 11:30 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

For impressive opera houses you want the Palais Garnier tour in Paris. Of Paris attractions you queue for (apart from museums covered by the Carte Paris Musées) in my opinion the only one truly worth it is the Catacombs. I much preferred the nighttime walk under the Eiffel Tower to actually riding up it, and either way the tower'll be done and over with in an hour. On the other hand, if you go to Saint-Denis on a sunny Friday, you can spend half a day gawking at rainbow-lit tombs of old kings and the other half touring the best kind of market with food and wares from all of France's ex-colonies. Monmartre is the touristy church actually worth the climb, especially if you catch some good street theatre at the top. Versailles may be a big attraction to actually base your trip on - wear sturdy shoes, wandering the grounds is half the fun.

And of course in the other direction there's Cracow and Gdansk and you know, the biggest freaking castle in Europe in Malbork (easy daytrip from Gdansk, less than an hour by train). You'll be in Germany, flights bought in advance can be so cheap it'll be less expensive to go east than stay at home and eat out on the weekend. I also recommend Budapest - lovely castle, fantastic Parliament building, and great food, plus Roman ruins at Aquinicum. In Germany itself, Cologne and Dusseldorf are charming.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:35 AM on November 13, 2017

Get ye to Zermatt and hike/walk around with the Matterhorn looking over your shoulder. Chamonix in France is similiarly impressive. Hike/walk to the difficulty level you desire then stroll right off the mountain and have a leisurely dinner outside.
posted by lpsguy at 11:58 AM on November 13, 2017

Congratulations! Munich is the best place to be for exploring Europe, and I'm certain you'll have the best time there.

Sights are sights for a reason, and many of them are truly worth standing in line for. In Paris, the Louvre is amazing, and actually takes more than one day to get through. The Eiffel tower is fine from any distance, and if you really want to go up there, pre-order tickets. For me, the real treasures of Paris are the Sainte Chapelle and the daily life in the streets and the little bars and bistros. Spend time just walking around or hopping on the metro, getting lost, exploring the little alleyways and the passages, forget the monuments (when you've seen the Sainte Chapelle. Did I mention the Sainte Chapelle?) And since I've been to Paris many times, I love exploring all the lesser known museums and areas. Next time I'm going there, Monet's gardens in Giverny will be my top priority. Obviously that has to be within the growing season, in spite of all the tourists and the lines.

I could write a similar paragraph for every place in Europe, but it would be very long, so think of it more as a principle. There is a reason something or somewhere is famous, and that is fair, but there is more to most places, and it's worth exploring that more. That said, some places have more layers of history and more amazing treasures. I love Prague, and I've been there a lot, but there's a lot more to see and experience in Berlin. So you need to think about how to prioritize: maybe one or two weekends in Prague and a holiday in Berlin. And maybe five weekends in Rome (there is so much more than the ruins) or a long holiday in Britain, including a week in London and a week traveling slowly up to Edinburgh with a couple days or more there.
posted by mumimor at 11:59 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm currently planning my road trip of Sommerrodelbahns.

The Dolomites are fantastic.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:18 PM on November 13, 2017

i want to physically climb all the italian locations in assassin's creed 2

posted by poffin boffin at 12:30 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think what is wonderful about being there is that you can take in some really spectacular festivals and experiences that you'd miss otherwise.

fête des lumières in Lyon is fantastic.
posted by raccoon409 at 2:46 PM on November 13, 2017

I would personally not go to Stonehenge, very anticlimactic, you can’t get near the thing. Plenty of nice things in the south of England that are a lot more interesting and not best viewed on TV (because TV crews can get a lot closer than you can get).

Nthing Rotterdam, Edinburgh, Prague. Also Budapest. Russia? I have also never spoken to anybody who disliked Croatia.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:16 PM on November 13, 2017

General recommendation: go to a bookstore and spend some quality time in the guidebook section. For any city you plan on going to, get a good guidebook and read it cover to cover. Mark anything that sounds interesting to you. Plan itineraries based on that, not on googling “top things to see in X”.

Places I’ve been that I would put on a bucket list:

- Florence (probably my favourite Italian city, and I’ve been to very many). Incredibly walkable, feels super compact. A week+ to see it properly. If you love museums do not miss the Uffizi (pre-book for the earliest possible entry time and go in the off season - I went in February - to get quality time looking at paintings without the crowds). Also: Santa Maria Novella, Santa Maria del Fiore (Brunelleschi’s dome, the baptistry... I’d tell you to go for the bell tower and dome climbs, because the view is amazing, but they’re long climbs), San Miniato...

- While you’re in Florence, take the train for a day trip to Pisa, if only for the leaning tower and associated buildings.

- Venice in the off season. (This is essential, because you’re not gonna enjoy the city very much at all if the things you want to see are so choked with people you literally can’t cross bridges. Also be mindful of Italian holidays, because I went in the off season and it was nice and quiet and then the last day I was there was the beginning of a long weekend and you seriously couldn’t move around St. Mark’s Square for all the people.) Do go see Murano, but don’t bother with a paid tour - just take the water bus over. Also, cross the Grand Canal and go up the bell tower of the San Giorgio Maggiore church (it has an elevator) - brilliant view.

- And while you’re in Venice, take the train for a day trip to Padua. The Scrovegni chapel alone is worth the trip, plus Saint Anthony’s basilica, Prato Della Valle, Palazzo Della Ragione, the botanical garden...

- For that matter, in that general area, Verona, Vicenza and Treviso are also worth seeing. And there are a lot of smaller cities which are lovely, some with medieval walls, and a scattering of beautiful villas.

- Also in Italy, the Val d’Aosta region is gorgeous. Lots of castles. Very mountainous though so may not work for you.

- I didn’t like Rome as much as other cities, but yes, there’s a lot more than just “ruins”.

- Barcelona, even just for Gaudí’s work.

- In Paris, don’t skip the Musée d’Orsay or the tiny-but-worth-it Musée de l’Orangerie. And while you’re near Notre Dame, yes, go see the Sainte Chapelle.

I could go on almost forever. You have some time, so take your time, investigate your options thoroughly, and don’t just go for the obvious sights.
posted by sailoreagle at 5:22 PM on November 13, 2017

You need to see the northern lights. We recently went to Iceland (and then hopped a plane to Munich, so it's pretty fly-able!) and fell in love. We saw 8 million waterfalls, glaciers, and black sand beaches galore. You can see puffins in the summer, and the loooong daylight hours were more captivating than I'd thought it would be. We didn't get to see the northern lights since we went in the summer, but it is our big regret.

Florence was the second-best part of our trip (after Iceland). Climbing the Duomo was arduous but the views were so worth it, and we loved stumbling on a summer concert at the Piazzale Michelangelo. We did 3 jam-packed days and hit most of the big museums.
posted by lilac girl at 6:22 PM on November 13, 2017

I'll nth Prague and Budapest, and add:

Bamberg - only ~2.5 hours from Munich, the old town has similar architecture to Prague, but fewer tourists.

Cesky Krumlov - a picturesque mediaeval village close enough for a weekend break.

All of your list is in the west. Don't neglect central/eastern Europe, there's lots to see and it tends to be less crowded, and of course your money goes a lot further.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:46 PM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sorry but the OP's list sounds like tourist hell! Apart from the Azores and Straights of Gibraltar - you will experience long queues at most of those sites.

I think that this is a mistake which we are all prone to making about places we don't know so well: we gravitate to the places we have read about in books, or seen on TV or learned about on a travel agent brochure. On this (other) list of The World's Most Overrated Tourist Attractions there are a number in the OP's homeground of Atlanta. As an outsider I might believe that The World of Coke and Skyview Atlanta should be at the top of my list. As a local you might steer me away from them - and you might even laugh at tourists who get fixated on these attractions at the expense of more interesting places.

This is one of the reasons I like "Atlas Obscura" (Munich page pre-selected here) as a source of inspiration. Some of their suggestions are mainstream and some niche - but they appear to have been chosen by a criteria of their being unusual - something you would not expect to find anywhere else. That seems like a good criteria for assembling a bucket list of destinations.
posted by rongorongo at 11:09 PM on November 13, 2017

There are two ways to look at this stint in Germany: places and people.

The first view is to take advantage of your Munich posting to visit the main European tourist attractions - a lot of which are listed in this thread - so you can check them off your list. It may sound a bit performative but it is certainly enriching and provides ample fodder for future dinner party conversations.

The second, and in my view the most important, is to learn the language and make friends while there. In my experience of living overseas, what truly makes the difference in how much you enjoy a place is the sense of belonging. Much more so than the number of museums. It is by feeling at home in Munich that you’ll probably be invited to spend a weekend to the countryside with some local friends, or go horse-riding at the farm your neighbors grew up in.

I’ve been happy in towns with no cinemas or museum and miserable in major international cities. It all boiled down to the friends I made and the community and support network I was able to build. Or not.
posted by Kwadeng at 2:35 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thank you for all the helpful suggestions! It seems like everywhere we look is going to be interesting and gorgeous so it helps to have something concrete to keep things from getting overwhelming.

Again, thanks for all the helpful tips but really didn't need the judginess about whether or not you like my initial list or the assumption that I would only be going to the most popular attractions to the exclusion of all else. It's right there in my question: and using extra time to explore smaller, less popular sights. Reasons why something on my list may be overrated (like no shade in Pompeii, not actually being able to get close to Stonehenge) are helpful but otherwise, I just wanted to know some must-see stuff to do from people who have visited/live there.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:08 AM on November 14, 2017

Venice was on my Bucket List. Spent 4 nights there 2 years ago. I must return.

Best to visit Venice on days when the 'port load', that is, the passenger capacity of cruise ships scheduled for any given day, is low or zero. Nine - 10 thousand people traveling in groups changes the experience. Link to port load for June 2018, for example.

Staying on Venice was way more expensive than doing it as a day trip from the mainland. The relative peace before and after the daytrippers was worth it. Probably less so for those who don't get out and about before the hordes arrive.

Rovinj, Croatia is about 4 hours from Venice by land or ferry. Why go? Google Images had me at hello.
posted by Homer42 at 7:44 AM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I use the UNESCO World Heritage sites as a start point for interesting places to visit that are both obscure and well-known.

But post Croatia, I'd love to go back and go island hopping by sailboat or go from Split to Dubrovnic via the islands on the way (incl Hvar)
posted by eyeofthetiger at 11:49 AM on November 14, 2017

I think what is wonderful about being there is that you can take in some really spectacular festivals and experiences that you'd miss otherwise.
Oh, yes! Also on my bucket list is to visit the Lötschental valley of Switzerland during Tschäggättä.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 5:07 PM on November 14, 2017

First two are not for everyone. The Porsche and Mercedes-Benz museums in Stuttgart exceeded my high expectations last year.

Still on my Bucket List is the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

I've wanted to do this next one since my first visit to Italy in 1986. Travel slow with another couple in a rented car. Stick to small towns and minor roads as much as possible. Timed to begin in the south with the first vegetable harvests of Spring, we'd eat our way to the Alps, seeking the regional dishes described in this classic Italian cookbook Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni.
posted by Homer42 at 7:06 AM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

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