With the weather brightening up, thoughts of summer spring readily to mind along with that great old question: ‘Where to go this year?”
Everybody has their own ideas about what makes a great summer holiday destination, and if you ask ten different European travel connoiseurs for their five favourite places to visit you will end up with at least 50 to choose from.
To help you make that all-important call, we’ve checked out a variety of newspapers, magazines and travel websites and we think we may just have come up with the five great summer holiday destinations for 2014.
Whether you like short, fun-packed city trips or a more leisurely tan-topping coastal resort holiday, there’s something that should appeal to you.
Scandinavia and Iceland
It seems it’s cool to be cool at the moment, and we have picked out three trending cities for you to explore:
Iceland is a country that always throws up a surprise or two. It is noted as much for its volcanoes and hot geysors as it is for its rich mythology which, even today, causes development projects to be amended to take account of the whims of elves. Reykjavik (which means ‘Bay of Smokes’) is the country’s modern-looking capital city which is largely heated by water piped from hot springs. Places to explore:
- Blue Lagoon – 40 minutes outside of the capital, this geothermal spa is very popular and incorporates a research centre for the curing of skin disorders.
- Great Geysir – Great Geysir and nearby Stokkur are two impressive erupting chutes of super-heated water.
- Laugavegir – A charming traditional shopping area which translates as ‘wash street’ as housewives used to travel to the nearby springs to do their laundry.
A short trip to Bergen in Norway is becoming a popular choice on the UK European travel scene, particularly as it’s only two hours’ flight from London. Prices may be a bit on the high side, but at least it keeps the crowds down to comfortable numbers. While in Norway’s second city, be sure to visit:
- Mount Floyen – The most popular of the seven mountains that surround Bergen. A funicular is available for tourists.
- Seafood markets – Bergen is well-known for the quality of its sea food and there are abundant suppliers throughout the city.
- Fjords – Scandinavia is renowned for its spectacular coastal inlets, known as fjords. A boat trip is a must.
Gothenburg (or Goteborg to the locals), is Sweden’s second city and is becoming renowned for its gourmet seafood eateries and friendly, welcoming atmosphere. While visiting, remember to take in:
- Liseberg Park – Proud host of the Balder roller-coaster, this old amusement park is among the best in the world.
- Scandinavium – Sports and architecture fans will be awed by this saddle-roofed sports complex.
- Universeum – Divided into six sections, this public science museum covers animals, science and technology.
France’s location on our doorstep makes it an everpresent on any top summer holiday list. Paris is a must-see for anyone who has yet to sample the delights, while surf paradise Biarritz gives you a completely different aspect on our near neighbours.
The romantic capital of Europe, holiday-makers will never tire of Paris. The only issue is booking enough time to see everything. Highlights include:
- The Seine – With charming cafe’s and rustic bookshops along the route, a walk along this historic river will leave you with lasting memories.
- The Eiffel Tower – Over 250 million people have visited France’s most iconic landmark. Add your name to the list.
- The Louvre – The most visited museum in the world, and one of the largest, the unmistakeable Louvre houses over 35,000 artefacts.
Biarritz hosts an annual surf festival and various museums, including one dedicated to chocolate!
Turkey is the Mediterranean getaway of choice for many UK families attracted by its affordable package deals, top rate all-inclusive hotels and miles of unspoilt beaches. While in Turkey, be sure not to miss Istanbul and Cappadocia.
Croatia’s breathtaking hills and valleys, tourist-friendly cities and convenient location has put it on the up-and-coming worldwide travel destination list for some time now. Rovinj in particular is proving a real hit with its Roman ruins, Venetian old town and secret coves.
The famous ‘boot’ of Europe has plenty to offer whether you are after a city escape or a relaxing week on the beach. Places to visit include:
- Lake Garda – Relax on the shores of this beautiful lake. There is plenty of walking and mountain biking opportunities as well as great views from the restaurants.
- Venice – Pop over for a day trip to this iconic city. Enjoy the sites and take a gondola ride on the city’s picturesque waterways.
- Rome – one of the world’s most photogenic cities, spend your time sightseeing popular tourist destinations such as the Colosseum and the Vatican or relax and watch the world go by in a café.