Many countries in Europe realized the economic and cultural value of travel a long time ago. Regions that considered themselves as travel destinations advertised their attractions with painted posters, and a number of countries established a central tourism office whose mission was to promote travel in the region. Here is a selection of European vintage posters from the early years of international leisure travel.
Andorra is a small country in a valley on the Pyrenees mountains. France and Spain are its neighbors. Vacation-goers in these countries know when and where is the best time to ski and the best time to ride a bicycle in Andorra. Do you happen to know what language is the official language in Andorra? I didn’t know either. I had to ask the tunnel road toll collector during my first visit. The answer: Catalan.
The coasts of England feature long fine beaches that attract visitors in summer. Every coastal town wants visitors on their beaches, not on the neighbor’s beach.
The beautiful poster focuses on the sea because the advertiser happens to be a Swedish ferry business, but the real attraction of Estonia is the medieval town of Tallin. It is a magnificent town to explore and to enjoy fine food in neat and tidy ancient setting.
The poster is calling tourists to visit the winter sports wonderland of Finland. The advertiser is the national railway company, an increasingly relevant travel method today. The best skiing destinations are in Lapland, North Finland, almost a day trip on a train away from Helsinki.
France features so many fabulous destinations that it is impossible to advertise the country in a single poster. Regions and towns have published their own posters, like Menton in this image. Menton is the town where the famous French Riviera (Cote d’Azur) ends in the east. The western end of Riviera is in St Tropez.
The river Rhine, depicted here in Central Germany is a perfect place to escape the busy industrial cities and congested autobahns of the region. Rhine is a large waterway where special river ships carry cargo and passengers. In addition to hopping on a river tour, bicycle and car are perfect methods to explore ancient villages, vineyards, and castles of the region.
The most visited destination of Hungary, the city of Budapest, is built on both sides of the mighty Danube River. Hungary used to be a large, powerful state in the eastern Europe, but it shouldn’t be confused with Istanbul, the capital of Turkey. The vintage poster portrays an odd angle to the Budapest city center, but it is a beautiful ad – although it looks more like Istanbul.
Iceland is a windy volcanic island in North Europe that didn’t attract tourist masses until social media influencers discovered the country’s unique natural environment. Fitting volcanoes and whales into the same poster is quite a feat, but Iceland is unique.
Ireland is often called as Green Island for a reason (most likely the rain that keeps plants on the island happy). Well, I have discovered wonderful pubs and museums in Dublin when I have searched shelter from heavy showers. In any case, ancient villages and castles (and pubs, of course) attract tourists to enjoy the hospitality and beauty of the island.
Italy, like France, has an endless selection of must-see sights. Planning a tour in Italy is a challenge because it is difficult to skip any Da Vinci, natural sights, or Roman history. Tuscany region and the town of Siena is a beautiful place to start. After that, head north for the Alps and lakes, or south for Rome and Napoli.
Norway is a gorgeous country to explore for everyone who loves the great outdoors, mountains and rugged scenery. A region not widely known among foreign tourists is the archipelago of Lofoten in the north. Years ago, the painter of the travel poster discovered the same spot that visitors today use as their selfie background.
Sweden’s popular travel destinations Stockholm (plus its archipelago) and Gothenburg (along with the West Coast) have a connection that not many tourists know about. An inland waterway connects the cities. The canal was built so that it takes advantage of the many lakes along the way. The Göta Canal is like the Canal du Midi – both provide a waterway from a sea to another.
The poster paints a romantic picture of Switzerland, but on the Alps it still is really like the image portrays the scenery. Villages in valleys, huts on mountains, and cows enjoying their never ending buffet. Today, mountainbikers and hikers add color to the mountain slopes. People who haven’t visited Switzerland often believe that the entire country is on high mountains. No, it is not. Large regions in the west and north are hilly with lakes and rivers here and there, and mountains cover the rest.
If you had to choose your next travel destination based on these vintage posters, which one would you choose? Our team agrees the impression given by each presented poster is still valid. You will find what you see in the poster of the chosen destination. Our votes go to Germany, France, and Norway.