Empires were born in Europe. And even today, the continent’s influence extends far beyond its geographical boundaries, shown here in our mp of Europe.

This is a place where dozens of languages and nations are stitched together by shared values – and even a shared parliament. But Europe remains tantalisingly diverse, and thanks to its relatively relaxed border controls, it’s super-easy to explore.

With just a short time in Europe, you’ll soak up history and culture by the bucket load. Castles and cathedrals are high up on many visitors’ wish lists, but Europe is also home to fantastical palaces, ancient ruins and extravagant galleries that are stacked with centuries-old art.

Away from the classic city-break destinations (London, Rome and Paris could all eat up weeks of your time), options for exploring are almost limitless. Spot polar bears in Svalbard, embark on your own island odyssey in sunny Greece, or search for tranquillity – and distilleries – in the misty glens of rural Scotland.

The only real problem is choosing where to start.

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