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How to immerse yourself in the culture when traveling

Updated: Apr 1

About the author: I have spent years traveling around Europe and now I want to share my first hand knowledge and expertise to help others fall in love with it as well!

Rhine river

The 5 best ways to immerse yourself in the culture while in Europe 

When you are traveling to Europe there are always so many sites on the must see list. You

will want to visit all the famous buildings, landscapes and locations and hit all the places you have seen on Instagram, in brochures and on travel sites. All of these are iconic for a reason. They are awe inspiring and beautiful. The Eiffel tower in Paris, The Duomo in Florence, Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and the Acropolis in Athens are all examples of amazing sites to visit. For each one mentioned there are hundreds more.  Because Europe is chalk full of unbelievable sites, it is easy to get caught up in ticking items off the list. While the sites are absolutely breathtaking, Europe is so much more than the well known must sees. Experiencing the unique cultures, history and people of the region can turn an great trip into an unforgettable one.

Here are 5 ways to help you immerse yourself in the culture and take your trip to the next level.  

1. Take a class 

tile painting class Lisbon Portugal

Taking a class is a fantastic way to learn about the local culture. Find out what is unique to the country you are visiting - a special craft, a certain type of music, a kind of dance - and find a class that helps you participate in this aspect of the culture. A tile making class in

Lisbon, painting class on

perfume making class Grasse, France

Santorini, perfume making workshop in southern France and a gingerbread making class in Torun Poland are some of the classes we have participated in. These have been some of our favorite memories. You take home what you create and these souvenirs are unique and more meaningful than many of the common items from souvenir shops. Consider a flamenco class in Spain, a chocolate making class in Switzerland or even a graffiti workshop in Paris. The options are endless. 

Pro tip: Classes are a wonderful way to engage kids and teens who are weary of walking around museums and listening to guided tours. These hands-on experiences let the kids learn through doing. They are moving their bodies and creating instead of just listening.

gingerbread making class Torun, Poland

Added bonus: We have found the teachers of our classes to be absolutely wonderful. They are excited to show you a part of their heritage. Interacting with them, asking questions about life in their country as well as learning the history and cultural importance of the craft they are teaching adds to the richness of our experience.

2. Get to know the food 

pierogi in Poland

Food is such an enormous part of any culture. The food of a country is infused with history and tradition. It is a window into the lives of the people, how they celebrate, how they connect with others and even how they mourn. When you are traveling in Europe, tasting the local specialties is an integral part of immersing yourself in the culture. Before you leave home, have a list of the dishes that are unique to the area you will be and make sure to try some. Even if you are a picky eater there are usually a few things on the list you can try. Paella and roast suckling pig in Spain, Turkish delight and baklava in Turkey, beef bourguignon and escargot in France, goulash in the Czech republic… every country, and usually regions within the country will have food that will give you a glimpse into their culture. 

cooking class in Austria

Cooking classes are a wonderful way to learn about and enjoy the local cuisine. Included in many is a trip to the local market to buy the ingredients you then cook with. As with other classes, they are often taught by locals who can give you a glimpse into the local traditions around food. These are also great for kids and teens as they get their hands dirty and they get to eat what they cook. We have made pierogi in Poland, pasta in Italy, tarts in France and strudel in Austria. Every time we go home with great memories, a belly full of good food and recipes you can make at home.

3. Experience the music and dance

flamenco dancer

You can learn so much about a culture from its music and dance. It is steeped in history and often speaks to the traditions and struggles of the people. Music and dance can bring you into another world and show you the heart of the country. When in Croatia, make sure to see a klapa choir. Go to a gypsy jazz concert in Hungary, a fado concert in Portugal, a flamenco show in Spain, watch live music at an Irish pub and listen to the bagpipes in Scotland. Music and dance are the heart and soul of a culture. Experiencing them will make that culture come alive and will be a treasured memory.

4. Get out of the cities 

horse-drawn cart in Romania

European cities are fabulous!! There are so many sites to see and things to explore. While you can absolutely find culture in cities, one of the best ways to get a more in depth picture of a country’s culture is to leave the city and explore the country. Often, once you are in the country you get a clearer vision of the people and their lives. Many times they are still living in a way that is closer to their history and traditions. You can see a farmer plowing his field with a horse-drawn plow in Romania, or join a couple of kids playing soccer on the only patch of flat ground in their tiny Andalusian village. Go to a neighborhood pub in a tiny English town on horse-racing day and join in the cheering. These experiences will add so much to your trip.

Cesky Krumlov Czeck Republic

The towns themselves are often preserved beautifully, showcasing centuries old architecture. Exploring these towns makes you feel like you have stepped back in time and helps you experience the culture more fully. Wandering small towns and villages is one of my very favorite things to do in Europe. There are hundreds of picturesque places to choose from. Getting out of the city and into these enchanting villages is a must if you want to really immerse yourself in the culture and get to know a country.

5. Enjoy the sports 

polo match

Sports are huge in almost every country. They bring a community closer and are a  reason for fun and celebration. Many times they can teach us about the history of a country and give us a glimpse into the lives of its people. Attending live sport is a fantastic way to experience the culture on your trip. Watch a cricket match in England, go to the highland games in Scotland, attend a ski race in Austria or go to a soccer (football) match pretty much anywhere in Europe. 

Pro tip: If you can't find live sports being played on the dates you are in town, consider touring a stadium or other sport facility. You can get a behind the scenes look at a soccer stadium including the press area and locker rooms or tour a Spanish bull ring. Even though you are not watching the live sport, you can still learn about the history, hear some entertaining stories and see areas you wouldn't get to see when attending a sporting event.

soccer stadium

Immersing yourself in the culture will transform your trip from a great vacation to a life long memory. It will enhance your trip and take it to the next level. You will come home feeling much more connected to the country and its people making your trip absolutely unforgettable.

Ready to travel to Europe? Contact us at and let us make a custom itinerary that will be perfectly tailored for your ideal trip.

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