12 Years of European Adventures
This year’s Early Bird prize is as amazing as you’ve come to expect – a lifetime of travel!
This globe-spanning prize package includes 12 vacations, each worth $10,000, enough to take you anywhere and everywhere you’ve ever dreamed or imagined of visiting. Spread it all out over years or use them up as fast as your passport can be stamped – and take your family, your husband or wife, or a best friend.
In honour of this year’s Early Bird, here are 12 amazing European trips you could jet off to:
Toledo and Madrid
Start in cosmopolitan, metropolitan Madrid, Spain’s capital city, for a delicious tour of museums, gorgeous boulevards, charming squares and cobblestone streets – not to mention paella, tapas, red wine, and chocolatey churros! And don’t miss a day trip to medieval Toledo, a magical hilltop city only a couple of hours from Madrid – stop to take a panoramic picture you’ll keep forever, swing into the town square for pizza, coffee, and sausage, and cap every night off with a cold drink and a golden sunset.
The Lisbon Coast
Lisbon is one of Europe’s most alluring and gorgeous cities – with vintage style and modern taste, highlighted by the tiled walls and streets that envelop its landmarks and hotels. Stare down on the orange roofs above the ancient Alfama neighbourhood (top left), cruise to Belem and up the Avenida on a famous yellow cable car, ascend the hills to Lisbon’s Castle, or shop, eat, and drink your way through the winding Bohemian streets of the Bairro Alto.
But don’t stop there… only a short metro ride away, escape Lisbon’s energy and float over to Cascais and Estoril, two charming beachside resort towns, for a dip in the water or some seafood and Piri Piri chicken. Further afield, you can head south to the Algarve, or train north to Porto and Braga.
Overflowing with history, Berlin was the site and centre for much of the politics and events that defined the 20th century. Now, it’s a cinema set of landmarks and trendy culture – from the Brandenburg Gate’s grand shoulders to Checkpoint Charlie’s fascinating museum, walk along where the Berlin Wall once stood and indulge on food and shopping in the city’s now-super trendy East side. Wind past the Reichstag and Alexanderplatz, sample the world’s best currywurst and pilsner, and fall in love with a city and country that’s seen it all.
Prague and Budapest
These two beautiful Central European cities straddled the Iron Curtain and world war for much of their recent history, but they have emerged glowing and vibrant! Prague is gothic and enchanting – from the Old Town square across the Charles Bridge and up to Prague Castle, then back to Wenceslas Square, you won’t be able to get enough of what many consider to be European’s most beautiful city. Then, take a night train or a quick flight to Budapest, and discover the charms of Hungary’s royal and regal capital – dip in a thermal spa, cruise on the Danube River, snack away on the water’s edge and knit and needle your way through the high-end shops and restaurants lining Andrassy Avenue.
Left behind from most travellers’ lists, often in favour of more obvious choices like Prague, Budapest, and Germany (which are also on this list), Poland’s beauty and cheap, low-maintenance charm make it one of Europe’s most worthy visits. From the gorgeous fairy tale feel of Krakow and it’s walled city to touristy made-for-postcard cities like Gdansk and Poznan, to its hub capital Warsaw, the once-ravaged country is full of light, colour, stuffed perogies, and rich history.
The Croatian Coast
Split. Hvar. Dubrovnik… all the way down Croatia’s now-famous coastline, a trail of sunny and sensational cities are calling. Swim in crystal blue waters, lounge on beach chairs and towels, sip from delicious red wines, and indulge in seafood and truffles in one of the continent’s still up-and-coming destinations.
It’s the birthplace of much of Western Civilization, the home of incredible landmarks like the Acropolis and the Parthenon, where gods reigned and kings ruled. GREECE. Island hop between Mykonos, Corfu, and Santorini. Kick back in ancient Athens and historical Crete, and dine on the world’s best salad, luscious tomatoes and oozing olives. Tours of Greece have been some of Europe’s most popular vacations for decades, and there’s a reason why – you’ll never forget your endless nights or evergreen, everblue days in some of the world’s truly terrific locales.
With rolling green hills, charming towns, rows of pubs and restaurants, endless humour and personality, not to mention once-in-a-lifetime sights like the Cliffs of Moher or Giant’s Causeway, Ireland will capture your heart and never let go.
From the castles and windy cobblestone streets of regal, royal Edinburgh to the famous rolling fairways and plunging bunkers at nearby St. Andrew’s golf course, a few days in Scotland will give you memories to last a lifetime. Don’t sleep on day trips into the country, or a jaunt to Glasgow. There’s just something so magical about this almost surprisingly romantic country of kilts and Celtic pride…
Paris’s Latin Quarter
This is the Paris of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Picasso, and many more. It’s the world-famous Left Bank, the still-thumping and vibrant home to artists and dreamers. This is romantic Paris, the France you’ve longed for and maybe already travelled to – and good chances are, if you’ve been here, you can’t wait until to get to come back. Landmarks like Notre Dame Cathedral and Shakespeare and Co. bookstore appear in front of you like free treats to devour. And if you’re hungry, there are plenty of sweet shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes in the winding boulevards and Rues of the Latin Quarter to keep to eating and drinking the flavours France is famed for.
Few cities in Europe combine Western coolness and convenience with historical and Medieval beauty. And perhaps none do it was well as Stockholm, Sweden’s largest city and capital. From the colourful row houses, cafes, and shops lining the narrow streets of the Old Town (Gamla Stan) to the modern chic shops and nightlife spots in Sodermalm (the city’s southern corridor), to the bustle and boutique of downtown’s shopping centres and parks, Stockholm will keep you busy and have you staring in awe every day of your trip.
Rome’s Eternal City
You know Rome. You know it, even if you haven’t been here. It’s warm and cuddly pizza and pasta – the best you’ve ever tasted, as delicious as you imagined it’d be. It’s historical wonders like the Coliseum, the Forum, and the Vatican. It’s the past, today, and tomorrow all rolled into one ‘Eternal City’ for right now. In the words of Russell Crowe’s hero from Gladiator, “Rome is the light.” Spend one hour here, and everything you’ve seen or tasted or everywhere you’ve been before suddenly feels like it was in black-and-white, and Italy’s capital is a rainbow of colour and sensation.
Travel prizes in this year’s Hometown Heroes lottery can be won in our $30,000 Travel Bonus draw, the $135,000 Early Bird draw – with 12 $10,000 vacations – and the $2.1 million cash Grand Prize draw, as well as our individual $5,000 travel gift card draw.