It’s World Europe Day, a day to celebrate everything European, including the travel destinations we love to return to again and again. Here’s a selection of must-visit destinations in Europe from 13 international travel writers.
1. Porto, Portugal
Built into the cliffs at the mouth of the Douro River, this compact hilly city is best explored on foot. It is an architectural gem. Meander through neighborhood squares, stroll down medieval alleyways and make your way down to the water. The Ribeira district is located alongside the river and is one of Porto’s oldest neighborhoods. It is part of the city’s historic center and protected by UNESCO. Shops, wine bars, and restaurants line the quayside making it a picture-perfect spot for a drink overlooking the Duoro.
Dana H. Freeman | www.danahfreeman.com
2. Puglia, Italy
Puglia, tucked away in the heel of Italy, doesn’t get as many visitors as the rest of Italy and for that reason alone it deserves to be on your travel list. We found it less crowded, more laid-back, and more welcoming of tourists. Even the drivers are more polite! On top of that, Puglia has stunning coastal scenery, amazing food and wine, rich layers of history, and so many places of interest, from the capital Bari, where the bones of St Nicholas lie (yes, the St Nicholas who inspired Santa Claus), to historic Brindisi (end of the Appian Way from Roman times), Alberobello with its whitewashed trulli houses, and the Baroque masterpiece of Lecce.
Christine Salins | www.foodwinetravel.com.au
3. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is the perfect starting point for a river cruise up the Danube River, as we did. It is rich with history—-a castle towers above the river, an ancient basilica is right in the center of town and there are shopping promenades, elaborate spas, thermal baths, a gigantic three storey market hall and captivating views. It is an enchanting city and perfect for walking and exploring.
Deirdre Michalski | www.TastesAndTravel.com
4. Bilbao, Spain
Whenever I think of Europe my thoughts turn to Bilbao’s glistening titanium jacket that encases the city’s celebrated Guggenheim Museum. It is mesmerizing to watch that metal change hues with ambient light through the day. Then, it is time to succumb to the city’s laidback lifestyle in cobblestone lanes where lively cafes spill out on pavements as locals sip wine, nibble pintxos (little bites that can be savory or sweet), and gossip late into the night. The world’s best chefs will soon enjoy Basque fare as the Oscars of the culinary world are presented in Bilbao on June 19 when the World’s Top 50 Restaurants are named.
Veronica Matheson | www.australiancruisingnews.com
5. Nice, France
Exploring the city of Nice, located along the French Riviera, is like discovering where old meets new. You step back in time wandering through the narrow streets of Nice’s Old Town (Vieux Nice), then made your way, in this very walkable city, to see the Water Mirror at Place Messina. It’s a city whose charms beckon you to return to discover more.
Lori Sweet & Sylvio Roy | www.voyagewriters.com
6. Val d’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy
My pick is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Val d’Orcia, a picturesque region of Tuscany. It’s my pick because of the Spa Hotel Adler Thermal, a very European hotel where you can indulge in many spa services offered and relax in the hotel’s thermal springs. You can also hike or bicycle around the Tuscan hills or visit wineries, especially those famous for the region’s notable wine, Brunello di Montalcino.
Cori Solomon | www.writtenpalette.com
7. Athens, Greece
Why visit Athens? If you need only one reason to visit one of the world’s oldest cities, let it be the Acropolis, UNESCO World Heritage site of the Parthenon and other 5th century sanctuaries dedicated to the goddess Athena. Nearby is the Acropolis Museum, which houses most of the artefacts found on the 10-acre rock and surrounding slopes. Also recommended: the Cyclades Museum, the Plaka district, a prime tourist destination filled with tavernas, small shops and markets, and Syntagma Square, location of the Parliament, with its hourly ceremonial changing of the guard, conducted in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Athens is also home to the largest passenger cruise port in Europe. Leave from Piraeus Port to cruise the Greek Isles.
Debbra Dunning Brouillette | www.tropicaltravelgirl.com
8. Athens, Greece
I’m with Debbra when it comes to picking Athens, Greece as my favorite European destination. The rich history and urban evolution of Athens creates a wonderful contrast where ancient history resides amidst modern metropolitan life. You can view the Acropolis from an elegant roof garden of a 5-star hotel, while enjoying ‘new Mediterranean cuisine’ then moments later view the changing of the guard at the Parliament. This is just one of many activities at your disposal while you explore this intriguing city.
Joy Steinberg | www.givejoy.me
9. Bradford-on-Avon, United Kingdom
Situated on the Avon River on the edge of the Cotswold, Bradford-on-Avon offers visitors great food, good shopping, and fun activities that include both the historical and modern. Beautiful Bradford, as its residents call it, is a perfect base for cycling, hiking, and exploring the town’s history—the Tithe Barn, the old Saxon Church, the Shambles, Kennet & Avon Canal, and more. Afterwards, enjoy tea or a pint at any one of the town’s cozy cafes or pubs. Bradford’s central location allows visitors to easily explore Wiltshire, Bath, Salisbury, Stonehenge, and more.
Christine Cutler | coldpastaandredwine.com
10. Eze, France
High on cliffs of the French Riviera, nestled 20 minutes between Nice, France and Monte Carlo, Monaco, sits the beautiful medieval village of Èze. Learn about the art of French perfume making on a tour of Fragonard. Stroll through the winding cobblestone pathways where buildings date back to 1300s. Enjoy luxurious meals with award winning, Michelin star chefs. And revel in the breathtaking panorama that awaits you at the Jardin Botanique d’Èze where the Earth Goddess statues of Jean-Philippe Richard gaze out along with you at the rolling hills and deep blue of the Mediterranean. Èze is truly one of the brightest jewels of the Mediterranean, perfect for a day trip or a tranquil retreat for a longer stay as you tour the Cote d’AZur.
Suzanne Bair | www.accessiblefamilytravel.com
11. Yverdons-les-Bains, Switzerland
Yverdons-les-Bains in the French portion of Switzerland is a quintessential European city with mountains, solar boat rides on the lake, thermal springs, Roman ruins, a 13th century castle, a historic luxe hotel, unique shops, and even a science fiction museum.
Melanie Votaw | www.TripOutonTravel.com
12. Sitges, Spain
Sitges is a medieval town which is only 35 minutes by train from Barcelona’s city center. Its 17 beaches and 14th century church anchor this coastal town, a town surrounded by mountains. Sitges’ lovely beachfront promenade plays host to many great restaurants, cafes, and bars while the charming, steep streets feature homes, mansions, museums, art galleries and a hot nightlife. Stiges is also well-known for its diversity and inclusiveness of different races, religions and sexual orientation, making it a perfect holiday retreat or day trip for travelers.
Melissa Falk | www.soloroamer.com
13. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is a destination that appeals to all travelers – history buffs, music lovers and anyone who appreciates fine dining at its best. Whether you visit Vienna to see exquisite palatial architecture firsthand or to lose yourself listening to a live performance at The Vienna Mozart Orchestra or, my favorite, to indulge at the highest gastronomy level in Vienna’s Michelin star eateries, Vienna truly caters to every traveler.
Brigitte Hasbron | www.thefoodtease.com