Lonely Planet has announced its Best in Europe list for 2019, highlighting the European destinations that should be on travellers’ radars this summer. Travel experts at the world-leading travel media company have been scouring the remote coastlines, buzzing cities and unheralded regions of the continent to bring you the best of the best right now.
High Tatras, Slovakia takes the top spot as Europe’s number one destination this summer, where travellers can experience a mythical landscape of “crooked peaks and plunging waterfalls”, as well as spot brown bears, which, now eradicated from most parts of Europe, “thrive in this wild, rugged region”.Away from wildlife watching, travellers can also enjoy hikes to the summit of Slovakia’s highest peak, Gerlach (Gerlachovský štít), boating on the glacial Štrbské Pleso and traditional hospitality in high-altitude mountain huts (chaty).
The UK’s northernmost point, the Shetland Islands, have also bagged a place on this year’s European hotlist, coming in at number six. Cut adrift in the North Sea, Shetland is left largely to the hardiest of adventurers. But those who make the journey to this enchanting archipelago, which can be reached by plane, or an overnight ferry from Aberdeen, will be rewarded with “awesome coastal trails, wicked wildlife watching, and fabled fish and chip shops”.
Also featured in the list are: Madrid, Spain which is “springing back into step with renewed vigour” and now boasts “one of the continent’s coolest nighttime streets”, Calle de Ponzano –a strip of standing-only tapas spots and minimalist cocktail joints; Iceland’s newly-founded Arctic Coast Way, which winds between 21 villages and four islands along Iceland’s elemental north coast, offering the best of Iceland minus the crowds; the once down-at-heel port city, Bari in Italy, which is enjoying a renaissance that’s been a decade in the making; and “beautiful”,“food-obsessed” and “cultured” Lyon in France,set to become the new French darling of international visitors as it steps into the global spotlight hosting the finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July.
Lonely Planet’s VP of Experience, Tom Hall, said: “Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2019 list showcases the European destinations which are worth planning a trip around right now. From cultural city breaks to awe-inspiring scenery, buzzing foodie destinations and the best spots to escape the crowds, there are a wealth of experiences to be enjoyed across the continent this summer. Whether they are firm holiday favourites that have something new to offer, or places you may never have come across, these destinations should be on any traveller’s wish list.”
Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2019
1. High Tatras, Slovakia: A mythical landscape where “snow willow blankets the ground and fearsome beasts patrol the forests.”
2. Madrid, Spain: “The city’s nightlife, always among Europe’s best, just keeps improving” and“an emphasis on sustainable living has led to wide-scale pedestrianisation, bicycle lanes and rental schemes, widened footpaths, and new emissions controls transforming the city.”
3. The Arctic Coast Way, Iceland: “Wowing with the natural wonders for which Iceland is rightly famed –thunderous waterfalls, colossal glaciers, steaming fumaroles –and endless opportunities for snow sports, wildlife watching and wilderness adventures…the best of Iceland minus the crowds.”
4. Hercegovina, Bosnia and Hercegovina: Potter around the streets of medieval Počitelj, explore the Vjetrenicakarst wind tunnels, hike to the traditional mountain village of Lukomir, and take a trip along the CIRO cycling trail –all will provide a new perspective on this picture-perfect region.
5. Bari, Italy: has “a spring in its step…areinvigorated old town sets the tone, the boarded-up shop fronts replaced by family-run eateries…cultural spaces are reopening, from the ornate Teatro Piccinni theatre to once-condemned heritage hotels like the Oriente.”
6. Shetland, Scotland: Adventurers to the UK’s northernmost point will be rewarded with “awesome coastal trails” can “spot otters and orcas from craggy headlands” and enjoy “fabled fish and chip shops.”
7. Lyon, France: Set to become the new French darling of international visitors it steps into the global spotlight hosting the finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July. “Beautiful”, “food-obsessed” and “cultured”, Lyon has also recently received a nod from the EU for its efforts to make tourism accessible and sustainable.
8. Liechtenstein: Walk around an entire country in a weekend thanks to the Liechtenstein Trail. Created as part of the celebrations marking 300 years since Liechtenstein became a sovereign nation, this scenic 75km hiking path “twists over peak and pasture” through all 11 municipalities.
9. Vevey, Switzerland: Held just once every 20 years, Vevey will be popping more corks than ever as the three-week wine festival, Fête des Vignerons, comes to town in June. Visitors can line their stomachs at one of the Old Town’s myriad quality eateries, offering everything from 20-course tasting menus to cheap-and-cheerful fondue, before working off their food with a swim in the lake.
10. Istria, Croatia: Offering history (Pula’s imposing Roman Amphitheatre and Poreč’s Unesco-listed mosaics for starters), beaches, gourmet cycle tours during spring, music festivals in summer and truffle-hunting excursions come autumn, expanding European flight connections make this heart-shaped peninsula easier to reach than ever.