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The 10 best places to travel in Europe in 2020

Belvedere 21

Travel & Leisure has released its list of the 50 Best Places to Travel in 2020.

The list, which is compiled by Travel & Leisure editors as well as travel writers, advisors, and other experts, includes places that are “at the forefront of the global conversation” as well as “perennial favourites that are reinventing themselves in exciting ways,” according to a press release.

In Europe, places like Austria, the Douro River in Portugal, and Klitmøller, Denmark, made the list.

Here are the best places to travel in Europe in 2020, according to Travel & Leisure.

Austria

“Not long ago, Austria was viewed as the meringue of the Germanic world: beautiful to look at, yet somewhat dry when one actually bit in,” John Wray wrote for Travel & Leisure. “But the country has reinvented itself, pouring resources into cutting-edge arts institutions while lovingly elevating the cultural jewels that made it so beloved in days gone by.”

Vienna has poured $US240 million into a redevelopment project surrounding the central train station, which includes hip new hotels like Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere and Belvedere 21, Wray reported.

2020 is also a special year in Austria because it marks the 150th birthday of legendary concert hall Musikverein and the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, according to Wray.

The Douro River, Portugal

Portugal remains a popular getaway – and in 2020, it’s all about experiencing it from the water,” Hannah Walhout wrote for Travel & Leisure.

Viking River Cruises launched a Douro River itinerary last year, followed by AmaWaterways debuting the AmaDouro cruise on the picturesque river, according to Walhout.

“On land, wineries like Quinta do Portal and Quinta do Seixo serve light reds, vinho verde, and the ubiquitous port,” Walhout wrote. “Stay in Porto at recent additions like the Art Deco stunner Le Monumental Palace or the art-filled Torel 1884, whose 12 rooms and 11 standalone apartments feature art inspired by fabrics, materials, and spices from faraway lands.”

Klitmøller, Denmark

“Surfing in Denmark? It’s legit! Consistent breaks and large swells – ideal conditions for both beginners and pro surfers – earned the town of Klitmøller, on the edge of the North Sea, the nickname ‘Cold Hawaii,’” Mary Holland wrote for Travel & Leisure.

The tiny Danish town is a short drive to Thy National Park, which spans almost 100 square miles of rugged coastlines, dunes, lakes, and pine forests.

Lille, France

“Crowned as the World Capital of Design 2020 for its advances in urban development, the once-struggling industrial city of Lille is on its way to enjoying optimised public spaces thanks to a slew of sustainable design initiatives,” Sarah Souli wrote for Travel & Leisure. “It’s also quickly becoming a cosmopolitan oasis with new galleries, museums, restaurants, and boutiques.”

Highlights of the northern French city include “La Piscine, an Art Deco indoor swimming pool turned art museum” and “jaw-dropping restaurants like Coke, a brasserie and hotel serving French classics beneath ornate moldings and crystal chandeliers,” according to Souli.

Manchester, United Kingdom

“Once famed for its towering industry and more recently, vibrant music scene, Manchester is now one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, buoyed by an influx of digital and media companies,” Jemima Sissons wrote for Travel & Leisure.

This includes a boom in upscale and design-oriented hotels, such as Hotel Brooklyn, which sits inside a Victorian brownstone, and Native Manchester, a 166-apartment hotel, according to Sissons.

North Macedonia

“Refreshingly free of big-box chains and tourists (fewer than 1.5 million visitors were recorded in 2018), the Republic of North Macedonia won’t fly under the radar for much longer,” Courtney Lichterman wrote for Travel & Leisure. “The newly renamed country has a wealth of historic sights, like the Kale (or fortress) in the capital, Skopje; Kokino, a megalithic observatory; and the ancient city of Heraclea Lyncestis, on the outskirts of Bitola.”

In 2020, North Macedonia will host a food festival called Terra Madre Balkans, which will bring in chefs and experts from around the world to celebrate the “slow food” movement, according to Lichterman.

Paros, Greece

“Paros is a place overtourism forgot,” Stacey Leasca wrote for Travel & Leisiure. “The rugged Greek island, located smack in the middle of the Cyclades, can only be described as the cooler cousin of more populated islands like Mykonos and Santorini.”

Hip new hotels like Parilio are popping up on the island, but the crowds haven’t yet started to swarm, Leasca reports.

Rijeka, Croatia

The Croatian porty city of Rijeka has managed to so far avoid the overcrowding plaguing the city of Dubrovnik after its role as a “Games of Thrones” filming location.

“With amazing views of the Adriatic coast, blockbuster beaches, and a colourful Baroque heart – not to mention one of the world’s biggest Carnival celebrations – it’s a wonder that Rijeka isn’t better known,” Jonathan Thompson wrote for Travel & Leisure. “But despite ticking pretty much every conceivable vacation box (toss in world-class museums, a bevy of top restaurants, and cinematic hikes in the surrounding mountains), it remains an under-the-radar Adriatic treasure.”

Rome’s EUR District

Rome’s business district, Esposizione Universale Roma (EUR), was built in the late 1930s by Mussolini for a World’s Fair that never took place, Hannah Walhout reported for Travel & Leisure.

Now, the neighbourhood’s “bizarre fascist-neoclassical buildings and monuments” make it “a must-visit for architecture buffs and those who want to see another side of the city,” Walhout wrote.

Tbilisi, Georgia

“This city’s creative groundswell has been building for a few years now, with young designers, chefs, architects, and artists – many of whom never knew life under the USSR – lending a palpable energy to the place,” Walhout wrote for Travel & Leisure.

The Georgian capital is seeing an influx of cool concept stores, and “‘new Georgian’ cuisine is finding its footing as young chefs bring traditional foods into the 21st century, with a glut of wine bars and standout restaurants,” Walhout writes.

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The 20 Best European Destinations To Visit In 2020 Revealed

Bruges

Colmar, France: New European Best Destination 2020

European Best Destinations

The city of Colmar, in France’s northern region of Alsace, has been voted the #1 European destination for 2020, chosen from 20 ‘must-see’  locations that made the finalists’ list of contenders for the coveted title organized by European Best Destinations (EBD).

For its 11th edition, the competition collected a record of more than 600,000 votes for the trendiest destinations in Europe, a list that will be promoted throughout the year to millions of travelers — and will be authorized to display the title “European Best Destination” in their marketing.

Colmar got the highest number of votes since the creation of the competition in 2009. (179,723 votes). The previous record was Porto in 2017 with 138,116 votes.

“Whether you look forward to a city break, a romantic getaway, a family or beach holiday, a cultural or gastronomic trip, alone or with friends, you will be spoilt for choice,” the organization promises.

Since 2009, European Best Destinations (EBD), has been promoting culture and tourism in Europe to millions of travelers, tourism professionals and the media. Working with the European Commission to promote sustainable tourism, EBD organizes some of the main tourism competitions in Europe, including Best European Christmas Markets, Best European Beaches, Most Romantic destinations and Best European Ski Resorts.

In partnership with over 300 tourism offices in Europe and the EDEN Network created by the European Commission, the European Best Destinations is, for the eighth year in a row, the most visited website dedicated to travel in Europe.

As a result of their selection, the various destinations get a significant boom of tourists — +17% in growth for Porto after its selection in 2017, + 13% for Bordeaux in 2015, + 25% for Zadar in 2016 — as well as extensive media coverage.

This is the list of the 20 trendiest European Best Destinations to visit in 2020: Athens (Greece), Berlin (Germany), Bydgoszcz (Poland), Cascais (Portugal), Colmar (France), Cork (Ireland), Héviz (Hungary), Madrid (Spain), Menorca (Spain), Namur (Belgium), Paris (France), Prague (Czech Republic), Rome (Italy), Reykjavik (Iceland), Rijeka (Croatia), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Rochefort Océan (France), Sibiu (Romania), Tbilisi (Georgia) and Vienna (Austria).

Here you can find the complete guide to plan your next vacation.

Colorful facades of timber-framed houses in Colmar, known as Petite Venise, in Alsace, France.

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Colmar, France

First on the podium of best European destinations: a well-deserved award for Colmar, a destination known worldwide, that has it all: It’s the capital of Alsace wines and a leading wine-tourism destination. It’s also a perfect destination for romance, history buffs, foodies, music and culture lovers.

Colmar is known as the sunniest city in France, enjoying 300 sunny days a year. It is particularly magical at Christmas time. Around Colmar are the picturesque villages of Eguisheim, Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé. You can drive along the wine route and visit wineries or simply stroll among the vineyards.

Trendier than ever, Athens is a city in constant evolution

Best European Destinations

Athens, Greece

Trendier than ever, Athens is a city in constant evolution. Tradition meets modernity in museums and shops, restaurants and bars. Together with Rome, Athens is the cradle of our civilizations, an incredibly dynamic, lively, sparkling open-air museum.

With equal measures of grunge and grace, Athens effortlessly merges the past with the present. A city of paradoxes and great contrasts, in the country that first invented courtesy and generosity towards people who are far from their home, hospitality (xenia) reigns supreme.

An intellectual beacon of the ancient world with spectacular Mediterranean landscapes bathed in the famous light, Athens is a sophisticated cosmopolitan hub with many gastronomic offers, livelynightlife and a booming art scene.

An aerial picture shows the buildings of Old Tbilisi.

AFP via Getty Images

Tbilisi, Georgia

The Capital of Georgia is the ideal destination for culture, gastronomy, diversity and architecture lovers. 

Magnificent Haussmannian buildings mingle with structures dating from the Middle Ages. You can enjoy neo-classical, Soviet and extremely modern buildings — at the same time. “Be sure to climb to the top of Tbilisi and admire the Kartlis Deda statue, the protector of the city. This site offers an exceptional panorama of the Georgian capital, the Peace Bridge, the Metekhi Church, the thermal baths, the new theatre and the Mtatsminda Amusement Park for young and old,” EBD recommends.

Austria, Vienna, Graben, Street Scene.

LightRocket via Getty Images

Vienna, Austria

Along with ParisRomeBruges and Prague, it’s one of the European capitals of love. As one of the safest destinations in Europe, Vienna is also an ideal destination for families.

Vienna offers history with a capital H, gastronomy, wine, organic and local markets — as well as incredible architecture.

“Climb aboard one of the most beautiful big wheels in Europe and whistle Strauss’ Blue Danube,” advises EDB. “You can also make your marriage proposal or treat yourself to a guided tour of the Schönbrunn Palace and learn how to cook the famous ‘Strudel’.”

Cascais, Portugal.

Corbis via Getty Images

Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is one of the most beautiful and prestigious coastal destinations in Europe.

Located on the Lisbon Coast, Cascais is perfectly situated just two steps away from the capital city and other must-see locations such as Sintra (UNESCO Heritage Site), Ericeira (World Surfing Reserve) and Mafra (the Portuguese Versailles).

With its year-round mild climate, Cascais is known as the ‘Portuguese Riviera.’ “From pure leisure to business, golf, sun, sea and water sports, it simply has it all and offers a new definition of the concepts of eco- and activity based tourism,” according to EBD.

A street in Sibiu, Romania

European Best Destinations 2020

Sibiu (Transylvania), Romania

Which other destination can offer Bruges or Parisian-level culture and gastronomy, be as instagrammable as Prague or Santorini, as romantic as Rome or Venice? Look no further than Sibiu (in Transylvania).

There’s poetry and beauty on every street corner and eyes on every roof. This rich city, one of the most visited in Romania, represents 800 years of history in an unspoilt setting yet remains one of the most modern and dynamic cities in Europe.

A gastronomic tourism destination – the only city in Romania to be awarded three Michelin stars — Sibiu is a destination for history buffs, outdoor activities fans, photographers and hikers. 

A street in Namur.

European Best Destinations

Namur, Belgium

For foodies, instagrammers and those who love shopping, cocooning, culture, nature walks, evenings with friends or romantic city breaks, Namur is a must-visit.

A charming city with the Belgian surrealism of Brussels and the romanticism of Budapest or Bruges.

Among the most interesting destinations in Belgium, Namur is not just about relaxation and pampering. It also offers outdoor sports, paddling, hiking and other activities for young and old. “During your stay, do not forget to climb to the top of the Citadel and treat yourself to a romantic cruise on the Meuse,” recommends EBD. If you have some time left, don’t miss neighboring Dinant, where the river Meuse also flows. Both towns share the moniker “daughters of the Meuse.”

Rijeka, Croatia

European Best Destinations 2020

Rijeka, Croatia

One of the most fashionable cities in Europe, it’s at the top of the wish-list of travelers who have already toured major cities and are looking for something different.

Croatia’s third-largest city, it also was declared ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2020. Rijeka is a destination for discerning travelers who don’t want to choose between beach and city, culture and nature, tradition and modernity. It has it all.

“Do not miss the Rijeka Carnival, one of the most beautiful in Europe,” EBD insists. Art lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Hévíz, Hungary

European Best Destinations

 Hévíz, Hungary

Relaxation and wellbeing are key words for travelers to Hévíz, a name that means “hot water” in Hungarian. The city has the world’s largest natural thermal lake surrounded by lush forests.

Located near Budapest and Vienna, Hévíz has been welcoming spa visitors since the 18th century. It’s probably the only spa destination where you can swim among white, pink and purple lilies, relax with thermal mud massages on a floating pavilion on the lake, row a canoe in the steamy warm water of the stream or have a winter swim in the 24°C thermal lake while large snowflakes fall around you.

This destination is ideal for families and lovers of outdoor sports (kayaking, golf, cycling, hiking) as well as gourmets.

Bydgoszcz, Poland

European Best Destinations

Bydgoszcz, Poland

One of the trendiest destinations in 2020 for those who like to think outside the box and want an unforgettable urban break.

The city has an incredible cathedral, considered one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in Europe with its unexpected explosion of colors inside. EBD recommends that you take “a walk along the photogenic Brda River or relax on the Mill Island or go paddling.”

Looking for another place to blow up your Instagram account? Visit the Museum of Soap and History of Dirt, which attracts visitors from all over the world.

Bydgoszcz offers trendy and traditional bars and restaurant as well as affordable hotels.

Cork, Ireland

European Best Destinations 2020

Cork, Ireland

A colorful, jazzy, sporty, culinarily innovative and traditional destination. In one word, Cork is very…Irish. 

More than merely a common city break, this is a holiday by the sea, hiking or biking with the children, great restaurants, wellness retreats, kayaking, windsurfing. The point: Cork has it all, from dramatic natural landscapes and mountains to river valleys and coastlines.

Cork city and county offer visitors history, heritage and landmarks, artisan food and drink and a strong cultural, musical and artistic vibe.

Rochefort Océan, France

European Best Destinations 2020

Rochefort Océan, France

The most family-friendly of the 2020 selections, Rochefort Océan, located in Charente-Maritim, is a favorite sustainable-tourism destination in Europe and has been selected and rewarded by the European Commission for its commitment to the environment.

On the French west coast, Rochefort Ocean combines history and heritage, nature and scenery. “Go bird watching, have a cruise around Fort Boyard, visit the former naval rope-making unit, enjoy the thermal baths,” invites EBD. “Or what about lazing or sunbathing in the typical and historical French seaside resort of Fouras? Or fishing or sailing or windsurfing in Port des Barques?”

With a 25 kilometer-long coastline and five beaches, Rochefort Océan is a dream destination for seaside holidays. On the other side of the estuary, the oyster farming Port-des-Barques is ideal for a walk to Ile Madame, the smallest of the four Charente Maritime islands.

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Best Places to Visit in Europe in May

Amsterdam

Spring in Europe is guaranteed to dazzle and delight your senses, whether you’re looking to take off to an exclusive enclave, the newest hot spot, or a trendy metropolis for shopping and time on the beach. Here are the five best European cities to visit in May.

Best Places to Visit in Europe in May - Riga, Latvia1. Riga, Latvia – With classical music, elegance, and historic architecture, Riga is definitely one of the best places to visit in Europe in May. Get lost on the quaint side streets on a spring morning, and make sure to visit the city’s medieval center, which offers the largest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world. Visit the Baltic Sea, and take a boat tour even if the water might be cold to see the amazing scenery from the water. Take your Riga car rental to the Freedom Monument, St. Peter’s Church, Nativity Cathedral, or the Riga Film Museum. You don’t want to miss a tasty meal at the Skyline Bar, known as the “only cocktail lounge in the sky!”

2. Belgrade, Serbia – This city is a mix of languages, cultures, peoples, and history, the threads of which are most apparent in its architecture. Walking along Knez Mihailova, neoclassical Austro-Hungarian mansions rub shoulders with academic-style villas, while ornate Renaissance beauties pose opposite brutal Soviet-style offices. The city’s many theaters, museums, monuments, and opera houses boast a deep cultural life. While the beaches and rivers attract sunbathers, partygoers let loose on the popular floating river barges that serve as nightclubs. Belgrade is definitely a city you don’t want to miss!

Best Places to Visit in Europe in May - Matera, Italy3. Matera, Italy – As one of Italy’s oldest inhabited cities, this historical center is a treasure chest of Baroque palazzi, Romanesque architecture, rock churches, and traces of nobility. Work up an appetite exploring Matera’s nooks and crannies, and then head to Trattoria Lucana, a restaurant that boasts some of the best Italian around. If you love art, check out the cave museum Musma, or head over to Palazzo Gattini Spa for an utterly relaxing afternoon. It’s easy to see why Matera is on our list of the best European cities to visit in May!

4. Porto, Portugal – Known for its wine and coastal water view, Porto is a beautiful destination to spend March in. Built on the hills overlooking the Douro River, today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 14th-century São Francisco church is a main attraction, as are the local port wine cellars, mostly located across the river at Vila Nova de Gaia, but getting around is easy with your Porto rental car. For a bit of academic charm, check out Lello & Irmão, one of the most stunning bookstores in the world. Afterwards, dine at the Michelin-starred restaurant, The Yeatman, which also has the perfect city view.

Best Places to Visit in Europe in May - Lisse, Netherlands5. Lisse, Netherlands – The best time to visit Lisse, known as the Garden of Europe, definitely in May. The town erupts in hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, and lilies during the annual Flower Parade. Only a short half-hour drive outside Amsterdam by rental car, Lisse is more than worth it and was a given for our list of the best places to visit in Europe in May. See the Keukenhof Castle, Museum de Zwarte Tulp, and choose from the many food options in town, a wide range of French, Belgian, and Greek. To finish the day, walk around and see the miles of flowers while drinking your favorite glass of wine.
 

The Best European Cities to Visit in May

Because May is one of the best months to travel, be sure to plan ahead and call to make reservations anywhere you think may be crowded. From the Baltic Sea to The Garden of Europe, we hope our list of the best European cities to visit in May inspires a wonderful trip this month.

Best Cities to Visit in April | Best Cities to Visit in June

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