It was the time of Enlightenment in Europe when the idea of personal experience being best way of acquiring knowledge began to do the rounds. Upper class men took breaks from their academics and embarked upon what was then known as ‘the grand tour’. Much has changed in the 300 or so years that have followed. The shift from steam engines to airplanes has transformed the meaning of travel all together. A holiday in Europe is no longer restricted to a special section of society. In fact low-cost, no-frills airlines and budget accommodations have ensured that for anyone with even a hint of wanderlust, the world is an oyster indeed.
So here’s a hand-picked list of places in Europe you could visit this year to keep alive the tradition of the grand ol’ tour!
The historic town of Lagos is one of Algrave’s most enchanting towns. From the walls that are almost a thousand years old at the mouth of a scenic estuary called Ribeira de Bensafrim to its serene beaches, Lagos has a lot under its sleeve for the discerning traveller. Dotted with an array of arresting rock stacks, caves and coves, there is so much to explore in this medieval Portuguese town.
DON’T MISS: Lekki Conservation Centre, Lekki Market, Central Mosque, Black Heritage Museum, Tarkwa Bay Beach, Cathedral Church of Christ and Ponta da Piedade.
Krakow is one of oldest cities of Poland. It is said to have been inhabited since the Stone Age, the earliest settlement being a hamlet near Wawel Hill. According to a popular legend, Karakow was founded by the mythical ruler Krakus who built the city above the lair of a terrifying dragon called Smok Wawelski. Wawel Castle is a major attraction, while the towering churches, impressive museums and the sprawling market square of Rynek GÅ‚Ã³wny, add to the enchanting atmosphere that permeates through the city. While the remaining synagogues in Kazimierz, the erstwhile Jewish Quarter remind you of the tragedy of the 20th century, its bustling squares and streets stand as a symbol of the of the 21st century. There are hundreds of restaurants, clubs and bars all around Kazimiers and the Old Town. However, there’s more to the former royal capital than history and nightlife. The beautiful play of architecture and light add to the mystical charm of the city which is an essential part of a holiday in Poland.
DON’T MISS: Sukiennice, The Dragon’s Den, Wieliczka Salt Mines, Auschwitz-Birkenau, OjcÃ³w National Park, KoÅ›ciuszko Mound
Technically two cities i.e Buda and Pest combine to create the magnificent capital of Hungary which is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most charming destinations. Straddling the Danube river, the city offers a variety of things to see and do. One of the first things to do here would definitely be a visit to one of its countless spas with their traditional baths. Apart from that you could ride through the hills on a narrow gauge, visit its tremendous Baroque churches or head straight to the city’s famous ruin bars and lovely coffee houses. Add to that the city’s vibrant food scene and you have the perfect summer holiday in Europe right there.
DON’T MISS: Great Synagogue, Budapest Zoo, Buda Palace, Castle Hill, Jewish District, Memento Park
With 2724 sunny hours of sun each year, the island of Hvar off the Dalmation coast is one of the sunniest bits of Croatia. With fancy hotels, classy restaurants and all things posh, it is one of the most luxurious beach destinations in Europe.The towns famous beach bars see hundreds of partygoers have the time of their lives every year. The coastal towns of Stari Grad and Jelsa in northern Hvar are perfect if you’re looking for something more low-key. In the islands more interior regions lie the ruins of hamlets older than time, dramatic peaks, vineyards and of course the picturesque lavender fields that the island is so well-known for. On the south of the island are beautiful and isolated coves. In spite of getting popularas a party destination, this lovely island has definitely managed to maintain its Mediterranean magic.
DON’T MISS: Fortica, Dominican Monastery, St. Stephen’s Square, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Episcopal Museum, Stari Grad, Tvrdalj Castle
The ancient fortress town of Bonifacio on the southern tip of Corsica is one of the most beautiful locations in Europe thanks to its stunning limestone formations. Stretching along a narrow strip, the town itself is undercut by dramatic limestone cliffs formed by centuries of non-stop waves. Below the town lies a modern marina skirted by sapphire blue waters connected to the town by a steep footpath a narrow winding roads. Tourist activities are concentrated at the port . The older part of the city is an intriguing web of narrow alleys lined by faded pastel-coloured houses that date back to the medieval era. A number of ferries carry travellers to the best vantage points, most of which are accessible only via water.
DON’T MISS: Grottes de Bonifacio, Bonifacio Citadel, Plage du Petit Sperone, Iles Lavezzi boat trip, King Aragon’s Steps, La Tonnara Beach, Ancien Ermitage de la Trinite