Best in Europe - Lonely Planet’s list of ultimate travel destinations for 2016
The world’s best known publisher of travel guides, Lonely Planet, has recently released a list of Top 10 most interesting destinations to visit in 2016. For as surprising as some of the items on the list may seem, without a doubt they will attract the interest of visitors, due to Lonely Planet’s opinion-making potential.
1. Greece: the Peloponnese
The Peloponnese is the name of both the peninsula and the region in southern continental Greece. In the past greatly overlooked by mass tourism (headed mostly to the Greek islands), Peloponnese is claiming its worth as a travel destination in Europe. Among its greatest assets as: a rich historic and cultural heritage, diverse landscapes inviting to all sorts of outdoor activities - from scuba diving to mountain hiking, excellent climate and, last but not least, the ease of access. The southern Peloponnese coast can be accessed by road from Athens in about 3 hour time. Additionally, there are two international airports serving the Peninsula: Araxos Airport (GPA) and Kalamata Airport (KLX).
2. Denmark: Aarhus
The city of Aarhus is a new reference in the Scandinavian city tourism trend. The second largest urban centre of Denmark is located in the central part of the eastern Danish coast and served by an international airport.
Lonely Planet experts valued high Aarhus’s modern city vibe with innovative architecture and design, gourmet cuisine (several Michelin-starred restaurants are located in Aarhus) and a generous choice of cultural events, music festivals. Extra interest is expected to be drawn to Aarhus in 2017 when the city will become the European Capital of Culture and the European Region of Gastronomy.
3. Italy: Venice
Considered to be the world’s most romantic city, Venice is a regular runner for the title of Europe’s best travel destinations. The unique urban layout, with the emblematic gondolas cruising Venice’s channels, amplified by beautiful architecture and superb Italian cuisine are simply unbeatable. In 2016, however, an extra effort has been put into boosting Venice’s cultural potential as the city commemorates the 500-year history of its most central past, the Venetian Ghetto. A variety of cultural events, expositions and plays dedicated to the Jewish history will be held in Venice throughout 2016.
4. France: the Dordogne department
Those who have felt in love with the French region of Provence, will most likely feel at home in the Dordogne, a department, located in south-western France, east of Bordeaux. Much like Provence, Dordogne enchants visitors with beautiful rural landscapes and an abundance of medieval villages and châteaux, being, however sill unspoiled by the mass tourism. Hard to say how long it will continue this way, as the Dordogne is quickly becoming famous as a foodie destination due to the abundance of locally grown/produced seasonal delicacies: truffles, wild mushrooms, walnuts, cheeses and, naturally, wine.
Two small international airports serve the Dordogne area: Bergerac Airport (EGC) and Brive-Souillac Airport (BVE). Much larger Bordeaux Airport (BOD), with a large selection of routes, is probably the most viable option of flying to the Dordogne.
5. Ukraine: Lviv
A rare item on the list of popular city destinations in Europe, Lviv was proclaimed a ‘gem of western Ukraine’ by the Lonely Plan editors. Compared to the cities as Krakow or Prague, Lviv is presented as a safe and affordable location, offering a wealth of historic heritage and a splendid gastronomy.
The city is served by an international airport, Lviv Danylo Halitskyi Airport (LWO) which operates a rather limited choice of international routes. Travelling via Ukraine’s main airport in Kiev, may be a better option. Alternatively, Lublin Airport (LUZ) in Poland, approximately 3.5 hour drive from Lviv, offers several routes from the UK.
6. England: Warwickshire
Often referred to as ‘the heart of England’, the landlocked county of Warwickshire may lack scenic coastline, but is surely no short of attractions. Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare is, by far, the most famous of them. Do visit, however, also the splendidly restored Warwick Castle and the vibrant city of Coventry, which, also in administrative terms belongs to West Midlands, historically and culturally is deeply linked to Warwickshire.
7. Spain: Extremadura
Bordering Portugal, the autonomous community of Extremadura in western Spain has gotten on Lonely Planet’s radar mainly due to its ‘undiscovered’ quality. The outstanding historic heritage of the cities and towns, amongst them Mérida, Trujillo and Cáceres, as well as the natural, unspoiled beauty of the region have yet resisted the tourist masses flooding other regions of Spain.
An important criteria in all Lonely Planet reviews and trending topics – food, weighs heavily on the evaluation of Extremadura’s tourist potential. Locally produced cheeses and jamón are one of the reasons to make a visit to this corner of Spain worthwhile.
8. Spain/Canary Islands: Tenerife – Eastern Coast
While Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands does not require an introduction itself, this time Lonely Planet has taken a new approach towards this hugely popular destination. The attention goes to the eastern coast of the island and its low key resorts as for example El Médano, as well as to the picturesque villages of Abades and Candelaria. Relaxed atmosphere, great seating for a range of outdoor activities and fascinating folk culture are appointed the as the major assets of Tenerife’s Eastern Coast.
9. The Netherlands: Texel
Probably the greatest surprise in the Top 10, the Dutch island of Texel is relatively little known in the tourism context. Outside the Netherlands and maybe Germany not many people have heard about Texel at all. The island lies on the Wadden Sea, off the coast of Holland and can be reached by ferry from Den Helder. The island is a paradise for beach and nature lovers. A large part of it is occupied by a national park (Duinen van Texel Park) established here to protect sand dunes. The desert-like landscapes, the abundance of wildlife and the pristine white sand beaches, as well as the variety of nautical activities and events available, helped to single out Texel among many more popular holiday destinations in Europe.
10. Croatia: Northern Dalmatia
Very similar criteria – the unexplored quality and pristine nature – placed in the Lonely Planet’s ranking Northern Croatia. The Adriatic coast of Croatia is a well-established tourist destination in the Balkans and both Dubrovnik and Split, in the south are hugely popular. Lonely Planet, however, recommends the less known, northern part of Dalmatia region. Apart from the natural attractions – the Velebit mountain range and biosphere reserves, the city of Zadar, with its rich cultural offer are pointed out as reasons to choose this Europe’s hidden treasure for your next holiday. Zadar Airport (ZAD) serves a reasonable selection of international routes.