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Home to a mosaic of lush mountains, rolling hills, grasslands, vineyards, valleys, and large lakes, Switzerland’s flawlessly groomed countryside seems like a landscape architect’s fantasy and a nature-lover’s paradise. Also impressive are the clean, green, nature-filled, commuter-friendly, and perfectly-sized cities and towns. Switzerland is a united, affluent, and highly prosperous country known for organization, efficiency, and punctuality. Historically comprised of Italians, Germans, and Frenchmen, Switzerland is a prime example of how different European ethnic groups can not only coexist but can flourish as well. Simply put, few countries have it together as impressively as Switzerland does.

Although the Habsburg dynasty’s reign ended in the wake of World War I, an “Air of Royalty is still very much evident in Austria’s overblown architecture and social scene. Mozart music and grandeur sites, elaborate cuisine and incredibly well-maintained national landscapes, breathtaking scenery (especially around the Alps) surrounding perfectly-sized towns, in many ways has Austria set the standard for contemporary and quality living.

Fortunately, good governance means that the country has a rather efficient tourist industry which helps visitors enjoy their stay. Become immersed in the beauty and class that the rulers left behind, not least discovered in the streets of Vienna, Salzburg, Graz, and Innsbruck – and even in the villages or small towns found along the countryside. These rulers usually spared no expense in exemplifying aesthetic value and otherwise cultivating a rather sophisticated society. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Austria is home to one of the most refined cultures on Earth.

Although Western Europe’s most populous nation is the home of several world-renowned scientists and inventors, and is more respected internationally for its durable economy and quality exports rather than for its social scene, Germany is a place to have loads of fun – make no mistake about it. The alternative vibrancy of the capital, the port life and nightlife of Hamburg, the half-timbered houses and overall romanticism of Lubeck, Heidelberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and the rich Bavarian traditions of Munich are only small parts of Germany’s allure.

This highly urbanized and forward-thinking country is also home to some of Europe’s most unspoiled yet easy-to-access natural wonders: rivers, lakes, forestry, Alpine peaks, and even sandy beaches which provide ample opportunity for outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, and bicycling. Definitely not least, no trip to Germany is complete without a visit to the Biergarten (beer garden).

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