Unforgettable experiences make the best holiday gifts

Les Secrets Gourmands De Noémie is a cooking workshop offered in Paris. A trained chef shares her love of cooking and baking in various teaching sessions, including a macaron class. (Stock)

It’s the season to be on the hunt for the perfect gift for a spouse, friend or family member. If that special someone on your list loves nothing more than hitting the road to explore the corners of Europe, they’ll likely enjoy an unforgettable experience once they get there. From painting lessons to culinary tours, Europe is full of bookable experiences.

While in the past such experiences were typically offered by schools, rental companies or other businesses, today’s multitude of apps and online platforms allow individuals to share their skills, passions and local knowledge with visitors to their hometown. The options mentioned below provided for inspiration represent a mix of offerings from established businesses and enterprising locals.

Taste the best beers in Belgium

Belgian Experience Brussels is a tour operator offering the opportunity to learn the basics of Belgian beers and brewing techniques. In a former downtown private bar, patrons receive instruction on the proper way to enjoy a beer and insight into the history of different brewing styles. Each style discussed, from fruity mild beers to 9% strong ales brewed by the monks, comes with a 12cl sample. The 75-minute experience including five tastings is available from 7:45 p.m. most nights and costs 18 euros per person. On line: beerexperiencebrussels.com

Learn to make macaroons in Paris

Les Secrets Gourmands De Noémie is a cooking workshop offered by an independent facilitator. Noémie, owner and course instructor, chef by training, shares her love of cooking and baking during various educational sessions, including a macaron course. Participants are guided through the preparation of two different types of melt-in-the-mouth cookies, which they can enjoy over a cup of tea or coffee or take home to show off their newly mastered skills. A 2h30 lesson costs 95 euros. On line: lessecretsgourmandsdenoemie.com

Experience an escape room aboard a houseboat in Dublin

Escape Boats Dublin offers an escape room experience in an extraordinary setting. Billed as the first-ever live escape room on a boat, groups of two to 10 players must work together to solve puzzles, crack codes, and escape the perils of the barge Zorg Ella within the time limit. Players can choose between two games: SOS or Convicts. The experience is open to people 12 years and older; under 18s must be accompanied by an adult guardian. The cost of the one-hour experience starts at 25 euros and can be booked most days of the week. Gift vouchers are available. On line: escapeboats.fr

Taste the wines of northern Italy

Tenuta Santa Maria Valverde is a small winery in Valpolicella, a wine-growing area in the province of Verona best known for its red wines. The family-run estate offers a wine discovery experience consisting of a walk through the vineyards, a visit to its 17th century cellar and a guided tasting accompanied by extra virgin olive oil, local cheese and salami. Valpolicella, Ripasso and Amarone are the grape varieties in the spotlight. A 2 1/2 hour experience as part of a group of up to 18 participants costs $63.84 per person. On line: tinyurl.com/2bcxe9nn

Painting tiles in Lisbon

Former kindergarten teacher Ana Dominguez uses the Airbnb Experiences platform to share her love for one of Portugal’s most iconic decorative elements. Classes take place at A Casa do Azulejo, a ceramic workshop located in the Benfica district of Lisbon. Each participant receives a small tile and learns to transfer a design, choose colors and paint it while enjoying soft drinks and chatting. The finished product, which must be baked in an oven for several days, can be picked up or mailed (additional charges apply). The two-hour course costs 37 euros per person. On line: airbnb.com/experiences/503358

Savor tapas in Madrid

Enjoy Tapas Madrid is a small company that uses the getyourguide platform to promote its various culinary walking tours. The Food and Wine Walking Tour of Old Madrid takes guests to three different bars to sample each establishment’s most famous food and drink. Groups of up to 10 people will taste products such as Iberian ham, Manchego cheese and other delicacies while visiting top attractions such as Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. The visit from 2h30 to 3h costs 68 euros per person, one drink per bar included. On line: tinyurl.com/5ypm2nr5

Hone your photography skills in Amsterdam

With its vibrant nightlife and dazzling neon lights reflecting in the waters of the canals, Amsterdam at night is a photographer’s delight. In this AirBnB-listed experience titled Night Photography Workshop with a Professional, attendees are coached on how to take stunning images by a veteran photographer and a university lecturer. By using long exposures, the beauty of the Red Light District and its surroundings can be captured in stunning images. Groups are limited to five people, and the host will provide cameras and tripods for those who don’t have their own equipment. The 90-minute workshop costs 79 euros per person. On line: tinyurl.com/57wphs48

Explore WWII history in Munich

Munich Walk Tours, an organization working in partnership with the city’s tourist board, offers a walking tour that delves into the dark history of the Nazi movement in the Bavarian capital. The tour traces the birth of Nazism, the rise of Hitler, and the Third Reich with stops at sites such as the Hofbräuhaus, Feldherrnhalle, and Königsplatz. A two-hour non-private tour in English costs 20 euros and can be booked through the getyourguide platform. On line: tinyurl.com/4wzcr53p

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