A new Year has begun and with it new travel plans. As the holiday season is winding down, we are all undoubtedly in the need for a fresh scenery. At least I am. While this post covers destinations previously visited by me and therefore tested, I'm also including places that are on my bucket list when it comes to Europe.
Of course a list like this can be expanded and reworked, but I also think that it includes a couple of gems that are not on too many "popular destination" posts I have previously read. Sometimes the list includes cities other times specific places, and I'll try to explain the reasoning within each selection. So without further ado here are in my opinion the Best Places to visit in Europe in 2016.
Best Places to visit in Europe in 2016
1. Berlin, Germany
2. Prague, Czech Republic
3. Bran Castle, Romania
Home to Count Dracula, the Bran Castle is probably the most stunning landmark of Romania. Commonly known as "Dracula's Castle" it is the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, but it is nonetheless a hub of lovers of Gothic castles and Medieval architecture.
4. Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
I know it seems like I'm on a Gothic trip, but bear with me. Watched over by the imposing castle, the symbol of the city, Edinburgh combines medieval relics, Georgian grandeur and a powerful layer of modern life with contemporary avant-garde. In Edinburgh, medieval palaces rub shoulders with the best of modern architecture, Gothic churches with amazing museums and galleries.Travellers should note that Edinburgh becomes overwhelmingly crowded (accommodation-wise) during the main festival periods of high summer (August to early September) and Hogmanay (around New Year's Day / 1 January). Visitors at these times should plan well ahead (even more than a year in advance!) for booking central accommodation and event tickets at these times.
5. Dublin, Ireland
Let's stay in the region of the previous place for a second and hop over to Ireland. Dublin is the capital city of Ireland. Its vibrancy, nightlife and tourist attractions are renowned and it is the most popular entry point for international visitors to Ireland. The center is relatively small and can be navigated by foot, with most of the population living in suburbs. The biggest reason I'm listing Dublin here are the various destinations outside the city that are worth a visit, like Howth. To the north, 14 km (9 mi) from the city center (still marked by 18th-century milestones), the peninsula of Howth is very nice for a walk and taking photos. Make note of places like Meath, Wicklow, Westmeath and Wexford as well.
6. Gothenburg, Sweden
Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden with approximately 500,000 inhabitants in the municipality. It is situated on Sweden's west coast at the outlet of the Göta river. It has a reputation of being a friendly place, even more welcoming than the Swedish capital. The most prominent feature of the city is Skansen Kronan (Crown Keep) which is a hilltop fortification, southwest of the city center, built in the 17th century. It has been used as a prison during the 19th century and as a military museum in the 20th century. Today, there is a restaurant and conference facility. Close to Skansen Kronan is Haga, a city district with picturesque wooden houses from the 19th century.
7. Sibenik, Croatia
8. Florence, Italy
Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Politically, economically, and culturally it was the most important city in Europe for around 250 years; from some time before 1300 until the early 1500s. Generally the north of Italy is much more fascinating to me personally. From Florence, make a road trip to Milan, then over to Bologna and eventually Venice.
9. Lisbon, Portugal
The capital of Portugal is often cited as the most beautiful city on the Atlantic Ocean in Europe. It's mild climate and friendly people make it both thrilling to visit as well as enjoyable. Lisbon enchants travelers with its white-bleached limestone buildings, intimate alleyways, and an easy-going charm that makes it a popular year-round destination. Make sure to visit Belem. This monument-packed neighborhood is a must-see place.
10. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is a place where the east meats the west, as one part of the city is located in Europe, and the other in Asia. It is a trilling place to see and explore. You can find more in my three-part travel series. Located on both sides of the Bosphorus, the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, Istanbul bridges Asia and Europe both physically and culturally. Istanbul's population is estimated to be between 12 and 19 million people, making it also one of the largest cities in Europe and the world.
11. Lukomir, Bosnia and Herzegovina
I wouldn't be fair to my own country if I didn't include at least one destination from it. During the last year I had the chance to visit Lukomir (the oldest village in Bosnia and Herzegovina). It enchants you as soon as you drive off the main road and into the mountains. From beautiful landscapes and scenes of the countryside, Lukomir is a must-stop during your stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Click here for the full Lukomir travel series.
12. Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart, is a city in central Austria, near the German border. If you have seen the movie The Sound of Music, you may think you know all there is to see in Salzburg. Admittedly, it is difficult not to spontaneously burst into song when you're walking along the Salzach River, or climbing up to the Hohensalzburg fortress which looms over the city. But there is a lot more to this compact, courtly city than Julie Andrews. Especially in the winter months it becomes a magical place. Plan a visit here during Christmas and be transformed into a winter wonderland.
13. Neuschweinstein Castle, Germany
This is the second castle to be featured in this post, but one without it wouldn't be complete. It's the Neuschwanstein Castle, which is a nineteenth-century romanesque palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner. The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886. Since then more than 61 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle and later, similar structures.
14. Budapest, Hungary
With a unique, youthful atmosphere, a world-class classical music scene as well as a pulsating night life increasingly appreciated among European youth and, last but not least, an exceptionally rich offering of natural thermal baths, Budapest is one of Europe's most delightful and enjoyable cities. Due to its scenic setting and its architecture it is nicknamed "Paris of the East". In 1987 Budapest was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for the cultural and architectural significance of the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue. See our extensive six part travel series by clicking here.
15. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland and with an urban area population of around 200,000, it is the home of the vast majority of Iceland's inhabitants. It is the center of culture and life of the Icelandic people as well as being one of the focal points of tourism in Iceland. The city itself is spread out, with sprawling suburbs. The city center, however, is a very small area characterized by eclectic and colorful houses, with good shopping, dining and drinking.
I hope you enjoyed my selections for Best Places to visit in Europe in 2016, and that you'll find this list inspirational. Lets see how many we can check off by the end of the year :)