The most popular tourist destination in the world, Europe offers as many unique journeys as it has travelers to take them. The continentís fame is age-old, and some things never change. Aspiring writers still spin impassioned romances in Parisian alleyways; a glass of sangria at twilight on the Plaza Mayor tastes as sweet as ever; and iconic treasures, from the onion domes of St. Basilís cathedral to the behemoth slabs of Stonehenge, inspire wonder in another generation of wayfarers. Yet against this ancient backdrop, a freshly costumed continent takes the stage at the beginning of a new act. As the European Union has expanded from a small clique of nations trading coal and steel to a 25-member commonwealth with a parliament and a central bank, Eastern and Western Europe find themselves more intimately connected than ever before.

The results are impressive: While Prague and Budapest may have been the hot spots of the 90s, emerging cities like Krakůw and Stockholm are poised to lure travelers off the beaten path in the early years of the new millennium. Just-minted cultural meccas like Bilbaoís Guggenheim and Londonís Tate Modern have breezily joined the ranks of timeless galleries like the Louvre and the Hermitage, while a constant influx of students and DJs who verge on pop icons keep the nightlife dependably hot.

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