European travel is in our DNA! When we first started as a travel company, over 25 years ago, our focus was on offering exceptional tours exploring European destinations by coach - which is why we called ourselves 'European Connoisseurs Travel'.
Much has changed since then and, now re-branded as 'ECT Travel', we take people on extraordinary experiential holidays all over the world. Our love of Europe however, remains as strong as ever. A multifarious melange of countries and cultures offering an unrivalled range of experiences, from extraordinary natural beauty and epic history to dazzling artistic and culinary heritage, Europe is a truly fabulous holiday destination. And it's so easy to reach too, whether you opt for one of our flight packages or a bespoke coach tour.
Our short tour breaks to destinations in Europe have been created to provide you with new insights, fresh perspectives and lasting memories of unique and special experiences, whether that is wine-tasting at vineyards outside Zagreb and in picturesque Alsace; visiting specialist flower growers in The Netherlands; hunting for rare Alpine botanics in the Swiss Berner Oberland Alps, or learning the secrets of a Master Belgian floral designer first hand.
Gorgeous Gardens and Fabulous Scenery
Stretching from the Arctic in the north to the Mediterranean in the south, and from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to Asia in the east, Europe is a wonder of the natural world.
Gardens have a long and proud tradition in Europe and their design is inextricably linked to the continent's historical importance. From the medieval gardens of Kings and Queens and cathedrals and monasteries, to Renaissance gardens fashioned after Roman and Greek antiquity, or the richly ornamental and complex Baroque style of Versailles in France, Hampton Court in the UK and Het Loo in The Netherlands. More recent times have seen the rise of informal garden layouts and parklands such as Keukenhof in The Netherlands with its magnificent annual display of flowering Spring bulbs; Monet's charming gardens in Giverney and Gertrude Jekyll's delightful garden at Le Bois de Moutiers, both in France, or the bold, contemporary gardens of Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf. And let's not forget Europe's many thriving botanical gardens with important research centres, from Kew and the Eden Project in Britain to The Netherlands' Hortus Botanicus, the oldest botanical garden in Western Europe where the modern tulip was first cultivated.
Europe boasts some of the best museums and cultural institutions in the world, from the internationally renowned to quirky hidden gems.
Europe's great museums house some of the globe's most recognisable and celebrated works of art - think of the Louvre in Paris, home to such must-see masterpieces as the 'Venus de Milo', Titian's 'Woman with a Mirror' and Leonardo da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa'. Or the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam where you will find Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch' and Mauritshuis House museum in The Hague, whose incomparable Dutch Golden Age collection includes Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', 'The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp' by Rembrandt and 'The Goldfinch' by Carel Fabritius.
There are numerous smaller, specialist museums to discover in Europe too. Zagreb's Museum of Broken Relationships, for example, tells stories of love and heartache from around the world through an array of personal artefacts; Museum Pakhuis Koophandel in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands contains a a fascinating textile gallery that includes a unique series of European lace pillows, while in Austria, there is a museum devoted entirely to the Christmas song 'Silent Night' and another, Swarovksi Crystal Worlds, filled with breathtaking crystal installations created by leading international designers.
Festivals and Celebrations
Whether it's music, literature, food, flowers or textiles, there will be a festival somewhere in Europe where you can celebrate in style. As specialists in floral and garden tours, we offer holidays to the continent's best flower festivals, including the fabulous Fleuramour in Belgium with its boundary-pushing floral installations; Floraliën, in Ghent, where exhibitors from across the globe gather every four years to display their horticultural and botanical wonders in a series of inspirational gardens, pop-up displays and extraordinary floral concept rooms and Holland's once-in-a-decade world fair of horticulture, Floriade, which will next take place in Amsterdam in 2022.
Textiles are another of our specialisms and Europe offers a rich array of inspiring textile festivals, from those such as the European Patchwork Meeting in Alsace, France and Quilt Festival Noord Groningen in The Netherlands, which see historic buildings such as churches and windmills transformed into galleries, to city-based events including Pour l'Amour du Fil in the French city of Nantes and Patchwork and Quilt Days show in the Dutch town of Rijswijk.
Best Christmas holiday destinations in Europe
Christmas brings a flurry of festivals, especially in northern and eastern Europe where towns and cities celebrate the season by filling their streets with sparking decorations, music and the scent of winter spices. In the medieval towns of France's Alsace region, streets fill with pretty wooden chalets, each one lit with fairy lights and piled high with decorations and festive gifts; in the British city of Bath, the annual Christmas market sets the elegant Georgian streets twinkling, while in Austria, Christmas markets turn towns from Rattenberg to Innsbruck into sparkling winter wonderlands offering an authentic taste of traditional Tyrol. In Poland, Krakow's 13th century Market Square becomes a giant Christmas market where delicious edible treats, from dumplings and grilled oscypek (sheep cheese served hot with cranberry jelly) to gingerbread and warm and spicy Galician mulled wine, tempt at every turn, and in the Croatian capital Zagreb, the season is celebrated with market stalls, live music and lanterns hanging along avenues of trees.