Europe, the UK’s doorstep, but not for much longer
Are you like me? Comfortable being first off, a British citizen and secondly, a European? Knowing that Europe is right on your doorstep, always going to be there. One of those places you’ll eventually make it to but before that time comes, you’re way too excited by the bigger, further undoubtedly incredible countries, cities and landmarks of the world. Well, time’s up I’m afraid. Yep, time to stop the gallivanting to the other side of the world and time to buy a quick and easy flight to Europe this summer. Time is ticking and it’s quite frankly your last chance to travel in simplicity and more importantly, stress-free around all the extraordinary European countries that you’ve always taken for granted.
Not so simple trip anymore?
Brexit – that dreaded word. The word that must not be said. Well at least in my opinion anyway (but that’s another blog, for another time!). We are so very close to being stripped of our entitlement to travel anywhere in the EU and instead, become ‘third country nationals’ with no automatic right of admission. 2019 could see the introduction of ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) in the aim of strengthening the EU’s external borders. Once Britain leaves the EU, UK citizens will be covered by the same rules as, for example, Americans and Australians. Each traveller will be required to have an ETIAS, a halfway house between unrestricted entry and the onerous process of applying for a full visa.
Don’t worry – this blog isn’t all about the future intentions of Brexit. It’s about something a lot more fun and that’s HOLIDAYING. And it looks to me as if all your holiday plans for 2018 are sorted. Check out my list of the top 11 European destinations you MUST visit this summer. Or any time the year, actually. Pack your bags, put the rest of the world on hold and set off to EUROPE.
So here goes, just like they do it on the television – the destinations on my list for 2018 are, in no particular order:
The Colosseum – Rome, Italy
Oh, yes. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And what’s more quintessentially Roman than the Flavian Amphitheatre? While its history may be brutal, the Colosseum’s structure is one to behold, built of concrete and sand, in its day, it could hold up to 55,000 people! It also takes the top spot as the most famous tourist attraction in Rome. Well worth a visit.
The Eiffel Tower – Paris, France
One of Paris’ most visited attractions, the Eiffel Tower takes the top spot of most tourists visiting the City of Lights. And, with the structure standing at 342 metres in height, it is hard to miss. The tower actually welcomes around 7 million visitors each year which gives it the title of the most visited paid-for monument in the world.
Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain
Whilst Barcelona’s impressive Catholic Cathedral still stands unfinished, you can’t deny that the Sagrada Familia is pretty spectacular. Designed by architect, Antonio Gaudi, the cathedral has now entered its last phase of construction with the tallest of its new towers set to reach a whopping 172 metres! After 133 years in construction, if you’re waiting to see the finished piece, it is on track to be finished in 2026 which will also mark the centenary of Gaudi’s death.
Leaning Tower of Pisa – Pisa, Italy
Poor foundations it may have, but if this tower was up right it wouldn’t be as appealing, right? This is one human error we can certainly be thankful for. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a tourist hotspot, and you can be sure to see hordes of people trying to get that one picture showing them propping up the tower. Now safely anchored into the ground, you can even take a walk up the tower, crazy!
Brandenburg Gate – Berlin, Germany
One of the best-known landmarks in Germany, Brandenburg Gate, is a symbol of peace that was built in the eighteenth century, and it’s certainly something to look at. Originally, the designer’s concept for the gate was a ‘Friedenstor’, or victory arch, as we may know it. Through Berlin’s varied history it has also shared its existence as a political icon and a symbol of a divided city. Luckily, we can now enjoy the Brandenburg Gate as a symbol of unity. It’s certainly a unique and memorable place to visit during your time in Berlin.
Ancient City Walls – Dubrovnik, Croatia
Considered the most magnificent fortification monument in Europe, a walk around the walls of Dubrovnik are sure to be a highlight of your trip to this spectacular coastal city. Stretching around the city, the walls reach over 2km in distance. So, if you’ve indulged in some of that delicious Dubrovnik seafood, it’s the perfect excuse to fit in a post-lunch stroll.
The Acropolis – Athens, Greece
Mention an 80ft hill with a flat top and it may not sound overly impressive. Mention its name, and it suddenly becomes one of the most iconic monuments in Europe. The Acropolis, especially the Parthenon, are by far the most characteristic sights to see in Athens. A must on any trip to the city. It is considered to symbol the beginning of Western civilisation and the Parthenon was even dedicated to the patron goddess of Athens, Athena. Athena who is also the goddess of wisdom making it a real treat for culture enthusiasts and historians alike.
Duomo – Milan, Italy
An exceptionally large and elaborate Gothic cathedral found in the main square of Milan, the Duomo di Milano is one of the most famous buildings in Europe. It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world and its dazzling white facade is definitely worth a photograph. It took nearly six centuries to complete.
Northern Lights – Scandinavia/Iceland
It’s cold and it can be expensive. But there is no doubt that taking a trip to Europe’s northern reaches with the aim of seeing the aurora borealis appeals to millions of us. Head far out to the wilderness as possible due to light pollution making the green and blue lights less visible. As well as the jaw-dropping sky spectacle – take the opportunity to go mushing, sledding and snowshoeing and savour the deep silence of the frozen landscapes.
Red Square – Moscow, Russia
Stepping onto Red Square never ceases to inspire. For starters, the vast rectangular stretch of cobblestones, surrounded by architectural marvels, is an imposing sight, right at the very heart of Moscow. This celebrated Red Square, 400m-by-150m, separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and now the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitay-gorod. The word ‘krasnaya’ in the name means ‘red’ now, but in old Russian was the word for ‘beautiful’. The square lives up to the original meaning of its name. Furthermore, it evokes an incredible sense of awe to stroll across a place where so much of Russian history unfolded.
Lake Bled – Slovenia
With its emerald-green lake, picture-postcard church on an islet, a medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff and some of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps and the Karavanke as backdrops, Bled is Slovenia’s most popular resort. Drawing everyone from honeymooners lured by the over-the-top romantic setting to backpackers, who come for the hiking, biking, water sports and canyoning possibilities.
And just to spoil you, here’s a couple of extra favourites:
- Venice – Italy
- The Charles Bridge – Prague, Czech Republic
- Pamukkale – Turkey
- Seville – Spain (for Holy Week)
- The Matterhorn – Switzerland
- Chateau de Chenoncheau – Loire Valley, France
- The Atlantic Road – Norway
- Tuscany – Italy
- The Alhambra – Spain
- The black beaches – Iceland
- Mezquita de Cordoba – Spain
- Versailles – France
- Ephesus – Turkey
- Pompeii – Italy