8 trending Euro destinations
From Mediterranean islands to the rugged Irish coast, it’s hard to go wrong in this amazing continent. Here are eight European destinations currently enjoying their time in the spotlight – and for very good reason. Story: Ben Groundwater
Skellig Michael, IRELAND
Although already popular among Star Wars fans – the final scene of The Force Awakens was filmed here – Skellig Michael in Ireland is set to become even more well-known this year with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The opening scenes of the soon-to-bereleased instalment were also shot on this spectacular, rocky island off the coast of County Kerry, so it’s worth getting there before everyone else does.
Skellig Michael is accessible by ferry from the town of Portmagee, and tourists are welcome to stand in the very spot our heroic Jedi once perched.
Uber-rich Europeans who need somewhere nice to park their superyachts have long known of Sardinia’s charms.
However, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea is only just becoming popular with regular travellers looking for something a little different than the busier islands, like Sicily.
Sardinia is affordable, friendly, stunningly beautiful and has a culture unique to its parent country, Italy.
Coastal towns, such as Castelsardo and Santa Teresa Gallura, offer beachside Euro charm, while Tempio Pausania, in Sardina's mountainous interior, is the perfect place to take respite from the heat.
Lisbon’s a city on the rebound, a cultural hub booming after years of financial turmoil.
Tourists are flocking right now to soak up the Portuguese capital’s mix of old-world charm and new-found optimism.
Its culinary scene, in particular, is a major drawcard, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever tried a ‘pastel de nata’, or Portuguese tart.
The city boasts a spate of new restaurants, driven by innovative chefs putting their own spin on traditional ingredients.
You can’t help but be swept up in the wave of enthusiasm.
Croatia has well and truly been discovered by the tourist masses, with cities such as Zadar and Dubrovnik crawling with visitors in the warmer months.
However, there's a quieter alternative if you head south.
With its ancient city walls, Mediterranean port, cobbled streets and buzzing bar and restaurant scene, the Montenegrin city of Kotor is easily a match for its northern neighbours – and with only a fraction of
the crowds to share it with.
The Swiss capital is a real surprise packet – a relaxed, affordable and fun city in a country that isn’t exactly known for being any of those things.
And, while Bern is great year-round, it comes into its own in summer.
Café tables spill out onto the cobbled streets; a series of arts festivals take over the sultry evenings; and many of the city’s residents spend the long, sunny days hiking up the Aare River with inflatable lilos, and floating back into town on its cool waters.
It’s the sort of laidback fun many other European cities would envy.
Cleaved in two by the River Danube – and with a history that takes in the Roman, Mongol, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires –Budapest is eastern Europe’s surprise hit.
It’s a city teeming with culture, both ancient and contemporary.
For a journey into the recent past, check out the House of Terror Museum, dedicated to the city’s former KGB surveillance network or, more pleasantly, the Central Market Hall, home of all things tasty.
To go further back in time, Budapest is well known for its huge network of thermal hot-spring baths, many of which are influenced by opulent Roman designs.
Simply pay an entry fee and soak in the baths for up to two hours.
While Bosnia’s still associated in some people’s minds with the civil war that wracked what was then Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the city of Sarajevo has bounced back in a serious way.
In fact, it’s a huge hit among tourists looking for culture and lifestyle, without the hefty European price tag.
There’s plenty of charm in modern-day Sarajevo, particularly in the old town, and the whole place is small enough to see on foot.
It’s becoming quite popular, so it might be best to get there before everyone else does.
Iceland’s gone from a moderately popular adventure destination to a booming tourist hotspot over the past few years – thanks in no small part to a little TV series called Game of Thrones being filmed there.
There’s no doubt the island’s ‘north of the wall’ scenery is spectacular; however, the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, has a surprising amount to offer travellers, including the sort of burgeoning arts and cultural scene you’d expect in a much larger city centre.
And, of course, no trip here is complete without a visit to the Blue Lagoon.
Set in the surreal surroundings of an ancient lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula, it’s the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate with several saunas and spa treatments in this mineral-rich and man-made lagoon.
Get more advice from our travel experts on the best European cities and other overseas getaway spots.