The most powerful travel experiences are often the least expected. They happen when we go beyond the usual checklist of sites and choose to explore a place more deeply. A dance class, an indulgent treat, or even just time spent in a colorful neighborhood can be transformative — opening a window into another culture and expanding our sense of what is possible.

Lufthansa can take you the first step of the way, with flights from the US to dozens of destinations in Europe and beyond, via connections in Munich and Frankfurt. Once you land, here are some creative ways to expand your travel horizons — and discover just how transformative travel can be.

Choose your city

1. Berlin, Germany: Spice up your wardrobe…and your outlook.

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Berlin is one of Europe’s edgiest cities, and there’s no better place to experience the alt-vibe than in its hip vintage shops. Kreuzberg has the biggest concentration of them, from higher-end places like Kryza and Loppis Vintage to overstuffed secondhand stores like Picknweight, where you literally pay by the kilo. Cross the Spree River to the Lichtenberg neighborhood for yet more vintage shopping options. You won’t just see the real Berlin — you’ll likely fly home decked out in duds that let you bring Berlin’s creative spirit back with you.

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2. Munich, Germany: Explore Europe’s most interesting park.

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Munich’s Englischer Garten has long been a great place to spend time in the summer. Relax in the sunshine, check out one of its four beer gardens, and discover the park’s most unusual feature: the Eisbach River. There are two surf spots — you heard right, surfing! — on the river, one for the more experienced and another downstream that’s easier for beginners. You’ll see surfers out here all year long, transforming your notion of the urban greenspace.

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3. Mumbai, India: Spelunk with the gods.

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Elephanta Island, reachable by ferry from Mumbai, is packed with cave temples filled with stone carvings dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva that date as far back as 200 BC. The main cave houses the Trimurti, an almost 18-foot-tall, three-headed Shiva depicted in the stone. Buddhist relics can also be found in the caves, reminding us of the ways in which the world’s religions both converge and differ — and offering some ethereal food for thought.

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4. Delhi, India: Dance like a Bollywood star.

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Dance has the power to uplift us, and you can perfect your moves at the Delhi Dance Academy. From floral folk dances to Bollywood boogying, you’ll have an opportunity to dig deep into this important part of Indian culture. Depending on the class, you may even receive traditional outfits to dance in. With every step, feel your connection to India grow stronger and your spirit rise.

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5. Meteora, Greece: Sense the spiritual wonder of the ancients.

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Meteora’s stunning natural columns, which soar as high as 1,800 feet into the sky, will fill you with awe. You’ll appreciate how the pious ancients, who built the monasteries atop these columns 1,000 years ago, must have felt nearer to the divine there. They were also isolated from the outside world, as the only way to reach the monasteries was via baskets hauled up by rope or temporary rope ladders. Six monasteries and convents remain in operation today. And while you don’t need to be pulled up in a basket — nor climb up the rock face, as James Bond did in For Your Eyes Only — these stunning UNESCO World Heritage sites still feel close to the heavens.

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6. Barcelona, Spain: Overcome your fears.

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Beyond Barcelona, the area’s mountainous topography is packed with stone walls and canyons that you can surmount on a via ferrata, or “iron path.” Metal stairs bolted into stone allow you to scale sheer cliffs, rope bridges take you across gorges, and skinny platforms hug mountainsides on the dozens of via ferrata routes throughout the province of Catalonia. A via ferrata tour will provide the guide and the equipment — from helmet to harness — needed to explore the area’s natural beauty with a generous helping of adrenaline. By conquering your fears, you’ll realize what you’re really capable of.

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7. Rome, Italy: Ride on two wheels to change your perspective.

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The Appian Way is a 2,300-year-old trail outside of Rome that takes you past ancient relics, mausoleums, and aqueducts, and the best way to explore it is on a rented e-bike. Studies show light exercise and time outside refreshes the mind, priming it for learning and taking in new information. Cycling the Appian Way will invigorate you and turn your attention fully to where you are now, letting go of thoughts of the daily grind back home — gifting you that moment of transport that travel can provide.

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8. Milan, Italy: Let the high notes carry you away.

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The 250-year-old La Scala is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, where the best-known works have been made even more eloquent by the range and power of the most illustrious singers of our time. When a soprano like Renée Fleming hits the high notes, you are enraptured. Indeed, in decades past at La Scala, productions were designed specifically around Maria Callas, so stirring was her voice. If an opera performance doesn’t fit into your schedule this time, take a guided tour of the glorious interior and glimpse the undeniable power of song.

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9. Naples, Italy: Indulge in the taste of summer.

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Capri’s picturesque landscapes, including the Blue Grotto, make it the perfect oasis to take in the sites while indulging in gelato. Gelateria Buonocore may be the most famous ice creamery on the island, but Capri Crema Caffè is equally scrumptious. Even if you’re here in the spring or fall, the bright flavors of handmade gelato will remind you of the carefree pleasures of summertime.

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10. Venice, Italy: Create your alter ego.

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Venice’s many museums and its magical, canal-filled cityscape are an artistic inspiration. You’ll find an outlet for your own creativity through the ancient craft of Venetian mask-making. At Ca Macana, you can fashion your own papier-mâché mask or pick an existing mask and learn how to paint it in a festive Venetian style. In doing so, you’ll come closer to understanding the importance of the masks over the centuries. Scholars say they blurred the lines between social classes and lowered inhibitions. Who will you become when you try on your mask?

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