Although often seen as a beach holiday island, Lanzarote has far more to offer as a holiday destination than just lazing about on its many beautiful beaches that range from the purest white, to the almost black volcanic sands that the island is famed for; these beaches with their clear waters may offer some of the best surfing and diving in the Canary Islands, but the real beauty of the island is to be found further inland.
The Fire Mountains at the Timanfaya National Park are the landscape for which Lanzarote is really famed, the volcanic terrain appearing as the surface of the moon, this lunar landscape is breathtaking in its beauty and is home to some of Europe’s rarest plant species. The many resorts of Lanzarote are as varied as the island itself, from the lively and vibrant Puerto del Carmen to the superb peace of quiet Puerto Calero – more than a beach resort, Lanzarote is a destination that people return to year after year.
2. Italian Lakes
The Italian lakes take in some of the most beautiful countryside in Italy; the whole region is considered to offer some of the most charming driving routes throughout Europe and is almost certainly best enjoyed when seen from the narrow twisting roads that take in the charming towns and villages – the breathtaking natural scenery will stay with you forever.
Lake Como is said to be the most picturesque of them all, and merits more than a few days stay, the villages that line the shore have a rural beauty and give a gateway to the amazing walking routes that the region is famed for; Lake Garda is more about fun with its culture of livelier resorts and excellent water activities – the perfect holiday combines not only the drive through the staggering countryside but a stay at each of these equally spectacular lakes.
3. Disneyland Paris
No list of European destinations would be complete without mentioning Disneyland Paris, the place where young and old alike revel in the charm of a magical world that offers fun from the moment you arrive; excitement and thrills, fun and games, and a good dose of fantasy, this resort doesn’t pretend to be sophisticated, it just offers the chance to let yourself go, and to escape the realities of life.
The easiest way to experience the perfect stay at Disneyland Paris is to stay in one of the Disney associated hotels, you may pay a little more for the privilege, but the themed rooms, shuttle transport, and preferential treatment all add to the holiday experience. For an extra treat indulge in breakfast with Mickey at the Disney Village, or lunch with a Disney Princess –all you have to do is suspend belief and fall into the magic for the experience of a lifetime.
4. Golfing in Portugal
Whether you choose the Algarve or the Estoril Coast, there is plenty in Portugal to interest golfers of all abilities, the beautiful climate and the wealth of world class courses has given this county a well deserved reputation as Europe’s premier golfing destination; the Algarve is far and away the most popular of the two regions for the sport, particularly amongst serious golfers, with courses that include the Quinta do Lago which has played host to many prestigious tournaments, and the excellent San Lorenzo course with its official rating as second best course on the mainland.
One of Portugal’s enduring appeals is the wide range of activities that the family friendly resorts offer the non golf playing visitors; nobody need feel that they have compromised on their destination, when the range of available options really does have something for everyone.
For such a small piece of land the Rock of Gibraltar has a very colourful history, military battles have left their mark on its history and even today tensions are not unknown, this all adds to the mystery and appeal of this slice of Britain sat at the entrance to the Mediterranean, and neighboured by the might of Spain; the inside this piece of rock is where all the mystery lies, for Gibraltar is home to network of tunnels and caves, that have seen out more than one siege during its history, and even today remain home to the secrets of the land.
For such a small place, Gibraltar has plenty of things to see and do and most of them are perfectly accessible on foot; the Barbary Macaques are one of the best known and definitely most loved of the islands wildlife, and roam freely around the island – those that love wildlife will also appreciate the opportunities for dolphin watching in the bay, where there is rarely a shortage of these playful creatures.
Not just for the winter, Switzerland has plenty of appeal throughout the year and some would say comes into its own as the spring arrives and the alpine regions are filled with the uplifting air of a fresh new year; long before winter sports were the main attraction the alps were often prescribed as a place for restoration and healing with their clean, pure climate.
Be sure to visit Geneva, the beautiful but vibrant city on the shores of Lake Geneva, well known for its fabulous architecture, flea markets and cultural delights; if your intention is to purchase one of the famed Swiss Army Knives or a precision Swiss Watch then head to Interlaken (so named for its position between the lakes of Thun and Brienz) to get the best deal on these must have souvenirs.
7. Norwegian Cruise
What could be more spectacular than the once in a lifetime trip to see the Northern Lights, and although taking a cruise along the Norwegian coastline to the Arctic Circle, doesn’t guarantee that you will witness the natural phenomena of the Aurora Borealis, it certainly increases your chances; no photograph can truly do justice to this extravaganza of reds, greens and yellows set against the dark starry sky.
These cruises may appear to be quite costly, but when you bear in mind that they usually include flights, transfers, any hotel accommodation, your chosen grade of cabin, all meals and entertainment on board, and of course the opportunity for that once in a lifetime experience, then they seem much better value – if you want something out of the ordinary then this is probably the European holiday for you.
Scotland covers a small but incredibly diverse area, most of which it is perfectly possible to see if you plan an itinerary that makes the best use of your time, there is a lot to see but travelling between the major cities taking small detours allows you to take in the natural beauty of the countryside en route; be sure not to miss sightseeing around the cities themselves though, as they have much merit in their own right.
The one part of Scotland that sets it apart from the rest of the UK has to be the Cairngorms, and their surrounding National Park, the terrain becomes increasingly more rugged as you leave civilisation behind and climb higher into this mountainous region – this is the Scotland that you really shouldn’t miss, its beauty is almost beyond compare and has to be seen to be believed.
Athens is one of the great historic capitals of the world, many sun-seekers bypass this fabulous city and head for one of the Greek Islands. this totally misses the opportunity to see the very best that Greece has to offer and those that visit, soak up the culture knowing that that Athens is popular for very good reason.
The revamp of the city did not stop with the 2004 Olympics, they just gave a renewed interest to the region, new art and leisure facilities have been created, giving the city a fresh new feel; a gloriously fun loving city, the nightlife is as vibrant as the cities inhabitants, which when mixed with the history and culture, creates a well deserved mention as a top European destination.
Bavaria might be the largest state in Germany but it manages to make every one of its many miles as glorious as the last. The whole area appears to be one vast forest, albeit one that is crossed by the magnificent Danube and set against the backdrop of the snow capped Alps; Bavaria may be chocolate box pretty but it also holds onto its traditions, not to please the many visitors but because the Bavarians are fiercely proud of their unique heritage.
Whether you choose to see Bavaria from one of the many river cruises that wind their way through the state, taking in medieval strongholds, deep dark forests and the castles that cling to the alpine landscape, or prefer to base yourself in the lively city of Munich, your Bavarian experience will be one that you will never forget – men in lederhosen, slapping their thighs, tend to have that effect on even the most jaded of travellers.