European Sampler

Not up for a bicycle ride through Puglia? Here, a quick guide to other fun new things to see and do across the pond, and the best new places to stay.



At Two New Must-Sees ...

Brussels, Belgium: The Musée Fin-de-Siècle Museum explores the artistically rich period at the turn of the 20th century, spanning movements from impressionism and symbolism to realism and early photography. Collections highlight Belgian artists, including art nouveau architect Victor Horta and realist painter and sculptor Constantin Meunier, alongside other European masters, including post-impressionist Paul Gauguin, pointillist Georges Seurat, and early filmmaker Max Linder. 011-32-2-508-3211;

Rodez, France: Come May, Musée Soulages, featuring works of painter Pierre Soulages, opens in the Midi-Pyrénées region in Soulages' hometown. Its collection of nearly 500 works covers the contemporary French artist's work in sculpture and print, as well as paper and canvas. The museum and its seven-acre gardens are a day-trip distance from the Romanesque abbey in nearby Conques, where the soaring windows inspired Soulages to become an artist. 011-33-056-573-8260;

And Three Improved Museums

Lausanne, Switzerland: After a 23-month renovation, the expanded Olympic Museum has reopened with almost double the exhibition space devoted to the history, champions, and glory of the global games. More than 300 screens encourage visitors to interact with displays, and surrounding gardens now feature Olympic-inspired artwork by Niki de Saint Phalle and others. 011-41-21-621-6511;

Paris: Closed since August 2009, the Musée Picasso Paris is expected to reopen in June. The project set out to modernize the 17th-century mansion in which the museum resides and double space for its vast holdings of more than 5,000 artworks. 011-33-01-42-71-2521;

St. Petersburg, Russia: The State Hermitage Museum marks its 250th anniversary with a new wing housing 20th- and 21st-century art in the General Staff Building, a crescent-shaped neoclassical building designed by renowned St. Petersburg architect Carlo Rossi. While leaders banned the acquisition of modern art during the Soviet era, curators are now actively adding contemporary pieces, including works by Annie Leibovitz, Sol LeWitt, and Jacques Lipchitz in galleries that will open gradually throughout the year. 011-7-812-710-9079;

A Trio Of Parks Offers New Artistic Appeal

London: In Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, Britain's tallest sculpture, opens to the public in April for the first time since the 2012 Olympics. See the city from viewing platforms at 250 and 260 feet.

Nantes, France:
A 10-mile arts trail called Le Voyage à Nantes strings together parks, châteaus, and museums, many with public artworks installed outdoors. 011-33-272-640-479;

Oslo, Norway: On a hillside above the Oslo Fjord, the 63-acre Ekeberg Sculpture Park, opened last fall, hosts 30 sculptures ranging from a relatively realist nude by Auguste Rodin to abstractions by Louise Bourgeois and Richard Hudson. 011-47-97-567-165;

Whether by Car or on Foot, Two New Long-Distance Trails Aim To Get You Off Beaten Paths

Ireland: The roughly 1,500-mile Wild Atlantic Way, the world's longest defined coastal route, runs from northern Donegal south to West Cork, linking popular circuits such as the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula to less-well-known but equally dramatic regions, including the mountainous Connemara, the quiet farm country around the Beara Way, and the craggy coast of Donegal.

Portugal: The 217-mile Rota Vicentina follows the cliffs and coves along the Atlantic coast from Santiago do Cacem in Alentejo to southernmost Cape St. Vincent in the Algarve. This year REI Adventures launches new weeklong guided trips here with four days on the coastal route preceded by three in the Sintra Mountains and Arrábida Natural Park, both near Lisbon. From $2,899. 800-622-2236;;

Glasgow, Scotland:
The 20th Commonwealth Games features Olympic-style competitions among former British colonies. Boxing, cycling, judo, and more. July 23-Aug. 3.

Sainte-Mère-Église, France: The first village liberated by American paratroopers on D-Day hosts a parade in tribute to the 70th anniversary of the World War II invasion. June 6.

Stratford-upon-Avon, England:
Literary fans honor William Shakespeare's 450th birthday in his hometown with walks, talks, and street entertainment. April 26-27.

Toledo, Spain:
A yearlong series of exhibits titled "El Greco 2014," primarily in Toledo, marks the 400th anniversary of the death of the influential Spanish painter.

London: Since the Bard first brought his plays to the stage on the banks of the Thames River, London has been the center of the theater world. The scene is now even more robust with the addition of the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. The 340-capacity indoor theater complements the existing Globe Theatre, a seasonal, outdoor-only stage, by making it possible for the company to perform year-round. While the Globe still offers 16th-century-compliant Shakespeare, the playhouse stages more intimate plays, operas, and concerts, including Jacobean Court music by Andreas Scholl, June 15-16. 011-44-20-7401-9919;

Greek Islands:
The villa rental company Think Ionian Islands just added 11 new villas to its portfolio of sunny isle retreats. Options range from a five-bedroom seafront mansion on Corfu with its own jetty and cook, to an Antipaxos two-bedroom that overlooks vineyards in one direction and the sea in another. From $3,210 per week. 800-490-1107;

Vevey, Switzerland:
Apprentice with the craftsmen at the fifth-generation, family-owned Swiss watch company Lionel Meylan in this town on Lake Geneva's shores. The masters of tiny gears open their workshop to the curious for three-hour sessions by appointment. $325. 011-41-21-925-5050;

Sample One of These New-on-the-Radar Stops

For Bubbles
Copenhagen: The clubby Balthazar Champagne Bar, Denmark's first Champagne bar, resides in the recently remodeled, 250-year-old Hotel d'Angleterre. 011-45-33-12-1262;

For Cocktails
Hampshire, England: Bombay Sapphire's new distillery, Laverstoke Mill, opens this spring in southern England, offering tours and a gin-stocked riverside cocktail bar.

For Dessert

Tain-l'Hermitage, France: La Cité du Chocolat from chocolatier Valrhona in France's Rhône-Alpes region combines a cocoa-centric museum with tasting opportunities and a café. 011-33-4-7509-2727;

In Germany, the interactive, river-focused exhibition Romanticum covers the history of the Rhine River in multimedia displays and offers visitors the chance to pilot a steamship on the waterway - at least virtually. 011-49-261-19433;

Among the most celebrated newbies to Europe's culinary scene, Tom's Kitchen Istanbul marries British chef Tom Aikens' love of comfort food with Turkey's abundant produce (011-90-212-353-66-77; In London, seafood purveyor Wright Brothers - which harvests bivalves on the Prince of Wales estate - has opened the sea-to-plate Wright Brothers Spitalfields in the Old Spitalfields Market (011-44-20-7377-8706; In Monaco, chef Nobu Matsuhisa opens another Nobu, serving sashimi tacos and brick-oven wagyu at the Fairmont Monte Carlo (011-377-9770-7097,

River cruising is the fastest-growing segment in the cruise biz as measured by new-ship launches. Here, a peek at the latest in small-scale sailings.

A-Rosa Cruises
What's new: 158-passenger A-Rosa Flora launches April 10
Routes: Rhine River through the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland
Special features: Wine bar, sauna, miniature golf, all-inclusive pricing that includes bar and shore excursions
Info: 855-552-7672;

What's new:
Barge cruises on four 22-24-passenger ships beginning in May
Routes: French regions of Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, and Provence
Special features: Can dock in small-town centers, and loaner bikes carried on board
Info: 800-768-7232;

Viking Cruises
What's new:
14 new 190-passenger Viking Longships begin launching in March
Routes: All major European waterways, including the Danube, Main, Rhine, and Rhône
Special features: Retractable glass-walled dining rooms, organic herb gardens, suites with wraparound verandas
Info: 855-884-5464;

Check In at 10 of Europe's Best New Addresses

Aix en Provence, France: The modern, 133-room Renaissance Aix-en-Provence Hotel bridges business facilities and leisure interests with a restaurant from a Michelin-starred chef, indoor swimming pool, and full-service spa. 011-33-4-86-915-500;

Dunblane, Scotland: Wimbledon champ Andy Murray opens the 15-room Cromlix in his hometown in April. On a 34-acre estate with a tennis court, of course, the 1880-vintage house features a restaurant from acclaimed chef Albert Roux.

Florence, Italy: Fashion's Ferragamo family adds to the clan's portfolio of hometown hotels with the Portrait Firenze, opening May 1. Interiors pay homage to 1950s Florence in 23 riverfront rooms, just a stone's throw from the landmark Ponte Vecchio bridge. 011-39-552-726-4000;

Istanbul: Opening in spring, the Raffles Istanbul overlooks the Bosphorus with 181 rooms, each with original artwork and butler service. The public areas include two bars, two restaurants, a 32,300-square-foot spa, and a helipad. 800-768-9009;

The oceanfront 34-room, 54-residence-to-let Regent Porto Montenegro will open this summer adjoining a 250-berth marina. Modeled on a Renaissance palace, the resort includes two swimming pools, a spa, and four restaurants and bars. 866-630-5890;

Moscow: The 1870-vintage home of the politically powerful Count Orlov-Davydov now hosts the 211-room Hotel Nikol'skaya Kempinski, trimmed in silk wallpaper and crystal chandeliers and with a modern rooftop bar. 011-7-495-967-7776;

Paris: Lodged in a gracious Beaux Arts building, the upcoming Peninsula Paris, opening Aug. 1, will house 200 rooms and suites, an eight-treatment-room spa, and a rooftop restaurant near the Arc de Triomphe. 866-382-8388;

Rotterdam, the Netherlands:
If you're an architecture fan, you'll want to check out the nhow Rotterdam, a 278-roomer with sleek interiors in a mixed-use building of seemingly stacked boxes from celebrated designer Rem Koolhaas. 011-31-10-206-7600;

Venice: Opening in July, the 266-room JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa overlooks the Venetian lagoon from the 40-acre private island of Sacca Sessola. Amenities include a cooking school, expansive gardens, and a rooftop pool, all a 15-minute boat ride from the city itself. 011-39-41-803-5916;

Vienna: Beginning in June, a 100-year-old former bank in the heart of the city's shopping district will house the 143-room Park Hyatt Vienna, with a swimming pool in the original vault. 011-43-122-740-1234;

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