Europe’s great capitals are famous for their rich Royal and Imperial heritage – but for some of the most intriguing sites, visitors need to ‘make a day of it’ and venture beyond the city centre.
Experts at The Leisure Pass Group, the world’s leading city pass specialist, have recommended their five best Royal sightseeing day trips for travellers in Europe this summer:
- At home with the Queen … Windsor Castle, London
About 20 miles outside London is the historic and impressive Windsor Castle …which just happens to be Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite residence. The largest occupied castle in the world, Windsor plays an important role in the monarch’s life; she takes up residence for a month over Easter and spends most weekends here throughout the year.
Get there by rail from central London and make a day of it by discovering charming Windsor and nearby Eton – the exclusive and renowned Eton College, where Princes William and Harry were educated, is just half a mile from the castle. Travel from London Paddington via Slough for free with the London Pass.
Normally priced at £21.20 for adults, entry to Windsor Castle is included with the London Pass, which provides access to more than 70 attractions, museums and tours in the British capital city.
A one-day London Pass is priced at £69 per adult and £49 per child. www.londonpass.com
- Louis XIV’s grand vision … Palace of Versailles, Paris
Some 10 miles outside central Paris, the Palace of Versailles is one of the world’s largest and most opulent castles. Originally a countryside hunting lodge, it was developed into a Royal palace and the centre of the French court by the ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV in the 17th century.
Get there from central Paris by RER or SNCF trains and make a day of it by exploring the Palace’s 250 acres of landscaped gardens. These are the largest palace gardens in Europe and their geometric paths and manicured lawns are simply breathtaking.
Normally priced at €18 for adults, entry to the Palace of Versailles is included with the Paris Pass, which offers access to more than 60 Paris attractions and tours. A two-day Paris Pass is priced at €131 per adult. www.parispass.com
- A Habsburg country hideaway … Imperial Palace Schloss Hof, Vienna
The former country residence of the Habsburgs, the Imperial Palace Schloss Hof is just 26 miles from central Vienna. The stunning 18th century palace includes the private apartment of Empress Maria Theresa, the only female Habsburg ruler, and is surrounded by 120 acres of terraces, orangeries and manicured baroque gardens.
Get there by hop-on/hop-off shuttle bus from the city and make a day of it by stopping off at nearby Schloss Niederweiden, a hunting lodge which was used to host lavish private parties.
Normally priced at €13 and €9.50 respectively, entry to Schloss Hof and Schloss Niederweiden is included with the Vienna PASS, which offers access to more than 60 attractions and tours in the city. Also among them is the hop-on/hop-off bus tour to the palaces. www.viennapass.com
- A cruise back in time … Rosersberg Palace, Stockholm
Situated 19 miles from the historic centre of Stockholm by the breathtaking Lake Malaren, Rosersberg Palace is one of Sweden’s hidden gems. A Swedish royal palace since the 18th century, its untouched period features, furniture and collections make it a living embodiment of royal life from that era – with magnificent French baroque gardens as an impressive backdrop.
Get there and make a day of it with a nine-hour excursion aboard M/S Evert Taube. Cruise the spectacular lake Rosersberg, then enjoy a fully guided tour of the palace, all included with the Stockholm Pass.
Normally priced at 545 Swedish Krona for adults, the Lake Malaren and Rosersberg Palace excursion is included with the Stockholm Pass. www.stockholmpass.com
- Hampton Court Palace, London
Twelve miles from central London, Hampton Court Palace is the former home of King Henry VIII, who ‘acquired’ it from his ill-fated chief minister Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s. Since then it has been a home to a number of monarchs from different historical periods, who have decorated the palace with decadent tapestries and paintings throughout the centuries.
Get there by rail from central London and make a day of it by exploring the palace’s 60 acres of formal gardens, taking care not to get lost in the palace’s famous and challenging maze. Watch out for the ghost of Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, and pay a visit to the larger-than-life King’s favourite tennis court!
Normally priced at £20.90 for adults, entry to Hampton Court Palace is included with the London Pass – which also enables pass holders to skip the lines. www.londonpass.com
ABOUT THE LEISURE PASS GROUP
The Leisure Pass Group is the largest attraction pass company in the world, operating in 33 destinations in 16 countries on five continents, enabling travellers to save money and time on their sightseeing activities. www.leisurepassgroup.com