I have been to England, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria. Will share thoughts later.
England was my most limited experience. I visited on the tail end of a 3 week blitz and was tired by the time i got there. London is a fun city, but I would love to check out the countryside, Scotland, and Ireland.
My first trip with my wife was Germany, Switzerland, and Austria (99). This was a driving tour (pick up OUR car in Munich). We dipped down into Italy to explore the northern lakes but it was over Easter and everything was booked and crowded so went back up to Switzerland. This was the the trip that pushed me into wanting to open a little inn in the Alps.
Germany: I really enjoy the history, culture, food and beverage. My wife did not enjoy bier until this trip. We visited Munich, Rothenburg (fairy tale, walled city), Frankfurt, Mozel (one major wine region of Germany), Trier, Koln, Lake Konstanz, Neurchwanstein (Cinderella's castle), Nuremberg, Garmisch, Oberammergau.
Switzerland: Zurich, Lucerne, Gruyere, St.Moritz, Interlaken beautiful lakes, mountains, clean, precise. It is a small country centrally located... they have Italian, French, German, and Romansch regions that share culture/language with those other countries.
Austria: Innsbruck, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Vienna. my takeaway from the 3..... Germany is more cosmo/metropolitan. more city life. Vienna has high culture..... but Austria and Switzerland seemed more serene and rustic. It is the rustic, alpine setting that I adore and had me in awe.
Italy: Venice, Florence, Siena, Verona, Italian Riviera, Northern Lakes. A majority of my time in Italy was train and bus travel. Certainly more chaotic than the northern countries I had visited. Culture, food, art, museums, appreciation for life. There is not much not to like about Italy. Would like to visit cinque terre, sorrento, naples, bologna, and boarder town near austria (great lesser known ski regions in the Italian alps). Venice can be polarizing. I loved it. no cars, I had wonderful meals, palazzos, wine bars, people watching. also, my preference was to stay in siena vs florence (and do day trips into florence).
France- We did this one a couple of months before I started culinary school. This trip we picked up another car in germany and drove into france. Alsalce, Macon, Beaune (burgundy), Avignon, Nice, Monacco, les eaux, provence, Cannes, Marseille, Arles, Carcassone (spanish/french influence), Sarlat, Chinon (loire valley), paris, , st emillion (bordeaux), lyon I am certain i am missing several towns.... paris is probably my favorite big city. great stimulation, food, cafes, museums, parks, with an amazing history.
while german, swiss, and austrian towns/cities can resemble each other. the regions of italy and france are more distinct from one another. it is reflected in their architecture, food, geography/topography, and art. I could go into much more detail but am fairly pressed on time. pm me for more info.
I really want to visit Seville, Barcelona, Valencia, the Pyrenees, and Madrid