10 December 2018
If you’re looking beyond the Eurozone for your next holiday, we’ve picked out some of our favourite destinations around Europe that you may not yet have discovered. Pick from the following exciting and unique destinations and book with a Travel Counsellor to benefit from the services of our 24-hour duty desk during your travels.
Exquisite centuries-old architecture, picture-perfect Adriatic beaches and sprawling forests perfect for hiking make Croatia an ever-more popular destination. And with more than 1,000 islands, islets and even reefs to discover, it’s a perfect spot for both sun-seekers and those keen on diving, sailing, sea-kayaking and other water sports.
"Ask me where my favourite place in the world is and I’ll answer you in a heartbeat: Croatia. I’m smitten with the crystal-clear sapphire sea, the endless beautiful islands and the delicious seafood, wine and gelato. I dream of the summery background hum of cicada tree crickets and the smell of hot crunchy pine needles and sea salt carried on a warm breeze. I admire the humour and warmth of the infinitely welcoming Croatian people.”
From chic cities to deep, remote forests, Northern Europe – including Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland – is ideal both for style mavens and for those who love hiking in the wilderness or taking part in other wonderful outdoors pursuits, including kayaking, glacier-walking, whale-watching, bear-spotting and hopefully seeing the Northern Lights into the bargain. In summer, think long mild days perfect for cycling and boating.
“Once you get into the Norwegian fjords, there is much to see from a cruise ship […] Waterfalls cascade down the mountain-sides, snow glitters on the mountaintops and lush green pastures, and lovely small villages line the fjords. Fishing villages and apple orchards cling to the shoreline. This is a land of contrasts, from gentle and mild to rugged and wild, all natural and unspoilt.”
Back on the tourist agenda as of 2018, this long-standing favourite combines fabulous beaches with world-class historical sites and delicious but healthy cuisine. Linking Europe and Asia, it mingles different cultures everywhere you look, from architecture to music.
“I can honestly say that Olu Deniz is my favourite European beach holiday so far. This was my second visit and it certainly won’t be my last.”
While the capital Budapest is increasingly popular for city breaks, this central European nation has so much more to offer travellers, whether it’s a ‘beach’ holiday at pretty Lake Balaton with all its water sports or discovering the steppes of the UNESCO-listed Hortobágy National Park with its csikósok (Hungarian cowboys).
“We returned to Pest to take part in a Fine Wines & Ruin Bars Tour, which without a doubt was a highlight of our trip […] What a fun way to learn about Hungarian wine traditions (while tasting some really tasty wines with traditional snacks) and discover some quirky ruin bars. I find these small tours a real highlight of any city break, and always include them in any itinerary I create.”
From the up-and-coming seaside town of Gdansk on the Baltic to the history-drenched cities of Warsaw and Krakow, and from fantastic summer hiking to skiing in the Tatras Mountains, Poland is easy to reach, fantastic value and all-round fascinating.
“I have to say without doubt Krakow is now one of my favourite cities in Europe, to which I will return, and a really amazing short-break destination in so many ways – culture, history, gastronomy, architecture and museums.”
Long famed as an inexpensive beach holiday destination, Bulgaria has diversified and now offers a greater choice both in terms of where you can go and what standards you can expect. Most popular with holiday-makers is the Black Sea around Varna and Burgas, with safe, calm waters and milder summers than the Med. Bulgaria is also popular for beginner-to-intermediate skiing on a budget.
“This was my fifth time in Borovets and the main reason I chose this resort is that we have a mixed ability group from complete beginner to advanced and we have a budget to work to […] For a different après-ski trip, we took a horse-ride into the beautiful Rila forest, through snow-covered pine trees. After an hour’s trek (just walking, so suitable for all abilities), we stopped at our campsite, where we were cooked home-made local specialities on an open fire.”
With its future uncertain, now is the time to visit ‘The Rock’, a unique place where Spanish, North African and English cultures intersect. It’s most famous for its Barbary macaques, Europe’s only wild primates, but you also see the place where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, explore the Siege Tunnels and take a dolphin-watching trip.
“The girls loved the cheeky macaques – Daddy not so, as they kept jumping onto his shoulders to try and see if there was food in the rucksack! […] We loved our four days in Gibraltar, with the history, the tunnels, the rock, the beaches, the fabulous waterfront marinas and quays and the wonderful restaurants we had the pleasure of dining at. I would definitely like to return again, even as a short break.”
To book your holiday in one of these alternative European destinations, contact your Travel Counsellor today.