It might be a relatively small continent but what Europe lacks in size, it definitely makes up for in staggering beauty. Expect abundant alpine views, limestone cliffs, rolling vineyards and idyllic islands – there’s so much to explore and admire.
Here are a few of our favourites you might like to include on your European travels:
The Azores, Portugal
These nine magnificent and remote islands off the Lisbon coast contain astonishing volcanic scenery, so bring your hiking boots, ready to explore. There’s also world-class whale watching, diving, sailing and canyoning to enjoy, as well as water sports, horse riding, cycling and even paragliding should you crave an adrenaline rush.
The Azores also host two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the old town of Angra do Heroismo on Terceira and the vineyards of Pico. Add to these an award-winning network of natural parks and marine reserves and you’ll see why we chose these as a favourite.
Galesnjak Island, Croatia
Looking for love? Galesnjak, aka “Love Island” lies just a few kilometres from Croatia’s ancient city of Zadar. It is named so because it’s the only island on the planet to be shaped in the form of a perfect heart. The views from the air are quite spectacular – if you can’t fly over, check it out on Google Earth.
Galesnjak measures just 130 square yards. You’ll find no restaurants or hotels there so it’s best to stay in Zadar and fly across or cruise over at sunset. As nobody lives on Galesnjak, romantics relish alone-time on this otherwise deserted island.
Bonifacio is ideal for lovers of unspoilt nature, beaches, turquoise sea and blue skies. The harbour is dominated by a sturdy citadel perched atop the creamy white cliff top overlooking the waters of Bouches de Bonifacio.
The old town has a distinctly Italian feel with its sun-bleached houses, washing lines and dark chapels gracing the alleyways of the ancient citadel. Bonifacio is perfectly placed for exploring the Îles Lavezzi.
Florence, Tuscany’s capital, sets the tone for this stunning and romantic region. Its gently rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves and Cyprus trees make for classic picture-postcard material.
While you’re there you’ll find fine Tuscan wines and gastronomy as well as Renaissance art and historic monuments like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the iconic Florentine cathedral dome. The cutting-edge street art in Florence and the countryside sculpture park bring the art scene to the 21st century.
The Faroe Islands, Denmark
Dotting the Norwegian Sea between Scotland and Iceland, The Faroe Islands are actually part of Denmark. Also known as the “Islands of the Sheep”, they contain 1,400 square kilometres of beautifully preserved nature within 18 islands. Don’t be put off by the wild winds and low temperatures (11 degrees centigrade in summer and 3 degrees in winter!) – the incredible flora, moorlands, fjords and wave-bashed cliffs more than make up for it. These islands are paradise for hikers who come to explore the remote footpaths criss-crossing the mountain passes and weathered headlands.