Norway: First of all, there is probably no cheaper place to get into Europe from North America thanks to Norse Atlantic Airways. Norway is not the first place on everyone's list so don't expect the mass crowds you will see in other parts of Europe. However, that does not make it any less desireable. The Professor loves Norway for its majestic and scenic ferry and rail routes. The mountain views rival any place in the world. Oslo, with its Munch Museum and National Gallery is full of culture. And with the most favorable exchange rate in decades, it is now more than affordable. Get out into the dramatic, and we mean dramatic, countryside in places like Andalsnes, Trondheim, Geirganger, and Alesund. They are places to enjoy instead of waiting for 2 hours 95-degree weather battling the crowds to get into the Vatican Museum in Rome.
The Veneto Region of Italy: We're talking about Padua, Bassano del Grappa, Verona, Vicenza and smaller towns in the surrounding area. Lodging is a fraction of the price in Padua as compared to Venice (only 20 minutes away by easy train ride). Easy train transportation all over the region is available. Padua is a city full of art (Scrovegni Chapel), history (The University of Padua, where Galileo taught for 18 years) and religion (the Basilica of St. Anthony) are all here. The food is terrific and the whole scene is fun. If you want to see the real northern Italy, this is where you go. And as a bonus, it is another easy trip to Trieste, a seaport city that gives the most unusual taste of Italy in that it was not Italian until after World War I. James Joyce spent much of his time here and so should you.
Small Cities of Germany: Germany is well-connected by train. The Professor has visited delightful places like Bamberg (the only place outside of Italy where a Pope has been buried), Amberg, Garmisch (1936 Olympic games were held here) and charming Bremen, the cultural hub of northern Germany. Not only are the famed Bremen Musicians (from the Grimm fairytale) sculpture here, but a visit to Beck's brewery should be on your list too. Be like The Professor and get a ticket and hop all over Germany with bratwurst and beer keeping you going. If you want to see the real Germany, you want to go to these types of places.
The Highlands of Scotland: While The Professor does not recommend Scotland in mid-summer, anything Inverness and north is going to the place to go. Train connections will get you to Skye, Fort William, Aberdeen, and even up the coast to Wick and Thurso where the ferry to the Orkney islands.