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

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

‘Tis the season to be on the lookout for that perfect gift for a spouse, friend or family member. Should that special person on your list love nothing more than hitting the road to explore Europe’s corners, they’re likely to appreciate an unforgettable experience to indulge in once they get there. From painting classes to culinary tours, Europe is awash in bookable experiences.

Whereas in the past such experiences would typically have been offered through schools, rental outfits or other businesses, today’s wealth of apps and online platforms enable private individuals to share their skills, passions and local knowledge with visitors to their hometowns. The below-mentioned options provided for inspiration represent a mix of offerings from both established businesses and enterprising locals.

Taste Belgium’s best beers

Belgian Experience Brussels is a tour provider offering the chance to learn the basics of Belgian beers and brewing techniques. In an old private bar in the city center, guests are instructed on the proper way to taste a beer and provided with an overview of the history of various brewing styles. Each style discussed, from sweet fruity beers to the strong 9% ales brewed by monks, is accompanied by a 12cl sample. The 75-minute experience inclusive of five tastings is available from 7:45 p.m. on most evenings and goes for 18 euros per person. Online:

Learn to bake macarons in Paris

Les Secrets Gourmands De Noémie is a cooking workshop offered by an independent host. Owner and course instructor Noémie, a trained chef, shares her love of cooking and baking in various instructional sessions, including a macaron class. Participants are guided in the preparation of two different types of the melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, which they can enjoy over a cup of tea or coffee or take home to show off their newly mastered skills. A 2 1/2-hour class goes for 95 euros. Online:

Experience an escape room onboard a barge 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 from two to 10 players must work together to solve puzzles, crack codes and escape the perils of the Zorg Ella barge within the allotted amount of time. Players can choose from two games: SOS or Convicts. The experience is open to those ages 12 and above; those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult guardian. The cost of the hourlong experience begins at 25 euros and is bookable on most days of the week. Gift vouchers are available. Online:

Sample the wines of northern Italy

Tenuta Santa Maria Valverde is a small winery in Valpolicella, a viticultural zone 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 wine tasting paired with extra-virgin olive oil and local cheese and salami. Valpolicella, Ripasso and Amarone make up the wine varieties under the spotlight. A 2 1/2-hour experience as part of a group made up of no more than 18 participants goes for $63.84 per person. Online:

Paint tiles in Lisbon

Former nursery school teacher Ana Dominguez makes use of the Airbnb experiences platform to share her love of one of Portugal’s most iconic decorative elements. Classes take place at A Casa do Azulejo, a ceramics workshop located in Lisbon’s Benfica district. Each participant receives a small tile and learns how to transfer a pattern, choose colors and paint it while enjoying soft drinks and small talk. The completed product, which must be fired in a kiln for several days, can be picked up or mailed (additional fees apply). The two-hour course costs 37 euros per person. Online:

Savor tapas in Madrid

Enjoy Tapas Madrid is a small company that makes use of the getyourguide platform to promote its various culinary walking tours. The Old Madrid Walking Food and Wine Tour takes guests to three different bars to enjoy the most famous food and drinks of each establishment. Groups of no more than 10 will sample products such as Iberian ham, Manchego cheese and other delicacies while taking in major attractions such as the Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. The 2 1/2 to three-hour tour goes for 68 euros per person, inclusive of one drink per bar. Online:

Hone photography skills in Amsterdam

With its vibrant night life and dazzling neon lights reflected in the waters of the canals, Amsterdam by night is a photographer’s delight. In this AirBnB-listed experience titled Night Photography Workshop with a Professional, participants are coached on how to take dazzling images by a seasoned photographer and university lecturer. Using long exposures, the beauty of the Red Light District and its environs can be captured in stunning images. Groups are made up of no more than five persons, and the host will provide cameras and tripods to those who don’t have their own equipment. The 90-minute workshop goes for 79 euros per person. Online:

Explore WWII History in Munich

Munich Walk Tours, an organization working in partnership with the city’s tourism office, 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 including the Hofbräuhaus, Feldherrnhalle and Königsplatz. A two-hour, non-private tour in English goes for 20 euros and is bookable through the getyourguide platform. Online:

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