My top 5 European holiday destinations

Now that summer is here and some of you are still thinking about a last minute getaway, I teamed up with Contact Numbers UK to tell you about my favorite 5 European holiday destinations and give you the opportunity to win a fantastic travel kit. Contact Numbers UK make it easy for you to access their customer service database to connect to the relevant department within the company you want to call. So why not take your phone out and book your last minute summer holiday right now?

Italy – Something for everyone  

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The first country I have ever visited outside my home one was Italy and I remember how fascinated I was by the beautiful light-coloured buildings, the cobbled streets, the delicious food. I immersed myself into the dolce far niente and for a week I explored every single corner of Rome, taking in as much as possible, walking all over until my legs started to hurt.

 Since then, I returned to Italy more than 15 times, visiting it from North to South.

I think Italy is the best destination for an European holiday because it offers everything for everyone, no matter what you are searching for and what kind of a traveller you are. I remember my first time in Rome, stepping on the cobbled streets of the Roman Forum, imagining how on the same stones, the Romans would walk thousands of years ago, with the Colosseum in the background.

Italy is the perfect destination for history lovers, with so many ruins left from the times when The Roman Imperium was ruling Europe. It is also the perfect destination for the beach lovers, with the stunning Sorrento and Positano on the Amalfi coast, or the serenity from Sicily. If you love hiking, Italy offers you the mighty Dolomites, with their peaks high in the clouds and green valleys at the bottom. Love food? Then head down to Napoli and enjoy the city which gave pizza to the world: a stone oven baked dough topped with tomatoes which grow on the volcanic soils at the base of Mount Vesuvius, mozzarella di Bufala Campana, basil and olive oil. So simple but so delicious! If you want to relax think about the spas in the golden hills of Tuscany in autumn, the season in which the wineries are picking the grapes to make the famous Chianti.

 

Norway – A hiker’s paradise

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When I first visited Norway I didn’t sleep for the entire night on the train from Oslo to Bergen because I couldn’t stop admiring the scenery.

If you plan on traveling to Norway in summer be prepared to experience the midnight sun, when there is light for the entire night. Walking on the cliffs of A, in Lofoten Island, at 2am while the sun was still present on the sky, was a unique experience. The entire country is full of hiking paths, passing on the edge of fjords and continuing up, towards the top of the mountains. Everywhere you look, the landscape will take your breath away. Very often, the paths will meet powerful waterfalls in which you will be able to refill your water bottle. Sometimes, while passing through the forest, you might be lucky enough and meet some of the local trolls (in the form of statues though).

I was impressed to see how the Norwegians were jogging the mountains paths, while I could barely keep up on a 12 miles hike around the cliffs of Bergen. If you fancy something special, you can always choose to hike on a glacier as well.

One of the most beautiful experiences I have tried in Norway, was the Flamsbana rail trip. Very often called “the most beautiful train journey in the world”, Flamsbana takes you on a 12 miles long trip, 863 meters high, with a maximum gradient of 5.5%. When the train stops at Kjosfossen waterfall make sure to get off and pay attention to the small power station on it. Soon enough you will see the seductive Huldra (a creature from the Scandinavian folklore) dancing and singing on a rock over the waterfall.

 

Romania – Discover Dracula’s country

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During the past few years Romania has become the trendiest Easter European destination, with great nightlife, cheap prices and unique natural attractions like the Danube Delta, the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea.

Romania is the home of many medieval castles and fortresses, some of them dating since the 1st century when the country was called Dacia. One of this castles is quite special: Bran. Bram Stoker, the author of the novel “Dracula” has fallen in love with Bran Castle seeing it in a book, and, inspired by the legend of the 15th century Wallachian Prince Vlad the Impaler, created his main character, famous now all over the world. However, if you want to visit the real castle of Vlad the Impaler, head over the Cetatea Poienari. Bran Castle, which is located near Brasov, used to be the residence of the royal Romanian family and the favourite home of Queen Maria.

If you are looking for some peace and quiet head over to the Danube Delta and sail on its narrow stream channels, observing the unique wildlife like the great white pelicans, the tufted ducks, the red-crested pochards or the great white egrets.

Bucharest, the capital of Romania, can be the perfect weekend city break. Head over to Lipscani, an area which has been developed from an old Middle Ages commercial area to the nightlife district of the city.

 

Mallorca – Secluded beaches and tapas

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Spain is such a beautiful country and I chose Mallorca in my top 5 because of my amazing experience there. Yes, Mallorca it is a party destination but it also has beautiful secluded beaches, great tapas restaurants and also high mountains to hike or cycle in.

One of the most beautiful calas that I have seen during my trip to Mallorca was Cala Boquer. This secluded tiny beach is accessible only by hiking for about an hour on a spectacular path crossing a valley between two mountains. It is not a hard hike, most of it being flat. However, you do need proper shoes and don’t attempt it while wearing flip flops as you will need some grip when going down towards the beach. The colour of the water is azure blue, changing as you look towards the horizon.

Another spectacular place in Mallorca is Sa Calobra, another tiny cala with a secret passage through the mountains which leads to a lagoon surrounded by high mountains. There is a small opening through which the sea smashes its powerful waves, a delight for the children to play with. The road to Sa Calobra, from Port Pollenca, is a very popular route for cyclists and the home of one of the most famous curves in the world, creating an angle of 360 degrees by turning underneath itself. You just have to see it with your own eyes as it turns like this on the very top of the mountain.

Mallorca is also the home of some really great traditional tapas restaurants which serve many dishes based on seafood. If you are a foodie you should definitely sit down and enjoy the island’s best cuisine over a glass of Rioja. You shouldn’t miss the market in Pollenca old town either from where you can buy the freshest local fruits and vegetables, manchego cheese and serrano ham.

 

Malta – An undiscovered gem

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When I chose to visit Malta I didn’t imagine I will fall in love so much with this tiny island or that there will be so many things to see and do that I would need to return.

Malta is a small island in the Mediterranean sea, close to Sicily, with an extraordinary cultural heritage and history. Did you know that Malta is the home of the oldest man-made structure on Earth, older than the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge as well? This is the Ġgantija megalithic temple complex dating all the way back from the Neolithic period.

Malta has been chosen many times to appear in famous movies like The Count of Monte Cristo, Troy, Swept Away and of course, Game of Thrones which chose Malta to film a lot of scenes from their first season. And no wonder, the entire island looks like a scene from the Arabian Nights stories.

If you love swimming in azure warm waters and sunbathing, you should jump on a boat and head over to Comino, the blue lagoon of Malta. The island of Comino is inhabited by only 3 permanent residents, with one priest and one policeman commuting from the nearby island of Gozo every day to look after the summer visitors.

Malta is a great destination for every season, with only three months a year of colder weather (an average of 16 degrees in December, January and February).  Malta enjoys one of the highest amounts of sunshine in Europe so it’s the perfect destination if you are searching for a warm climate.

What are your favorite European holiday destinations? Let me know and you can win a great travel kit which includes the following:

Flamingo 1

1x Giant Flamingo pool inflatable
1x Skinny Dip pineapple luggage tag
1x Pair of cat-eye mirror sunglasses
1x Nivea SPF 30 lip balm
1x Elephant & Camel Bohemian Beach throw

Good luck! (*Please note that you have to be a UK resident to enter the giveaway)

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Disclaimer: This post has been written in collaboration with Contact Numbers UK. As always, all comments and opinions in this article are my own.

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

202 Comments

  1. Apart from Mallorca – which I totally agree with you on (the tapas!) – I’ve never visited any of them with my family. I think for something a bit different, I would love to try Norway – all that fresh greenery and water feels like it would be so cleansing!

  2. I have a long love affair with Italy too! Malta and Romania are both on my list, hopefully I’ll do one this year. I’d also add Croatia to the list, especially the islands – they’re so memorable.

  3. I would love to go to Basel in Switzerland, as well as being part of Germany and Part of France with a history going back to B.C, it is also home to some magnificient museums.

  4. Norway looks breathtaking! I hadn’t considered it a place to go before this post, now I’m putting it on my list!

  5. I am honestly so jealous of every single place you’ve been! I’d adore to go to Italy or France at some point soon. Maybe even Prague. I’ll have to see what the bank account thinks haha.

  6. I’ve visited Italy and definately agree with you that you should try and go. I’ve not visited Malta before but it looks like I would enjoy it. I like to explore the history when I visited different countries.

  7. I love Venice – unfortunately, when I went there I was pregnant and got really seasick! I also couldn’t enjoy the fabulous food.

  8. Love you choices, I loved Italy too, prob my favourite. Norway sound beautiful, esp if you stayed up all night to look at it. Malta is another one I fancy too, I didn’t know so many films were made there though.

  9. I haven’t been to any of those places, and definitely need to put them on my bucket list! All of these locations would be amazing to photograph, explore and learn about the history and culture.

  10. Italy is one oh my all time favourites holiday destinations, so much to see and do and something for everyone. My favourite city I have visited there is Bologna, lots to do and delicious food.

  11. I love France! The wine, the food, what more could you ask for 😀 I have only been a few times but I am excited to go again and explore more!

  12. I’ve been to a few of the countries you mentioned and totally agree – I especially love Italy myself too and could happily go back time and time again

  13. Some gorgeous destinations. My favourites at the moment are definitely the Greek islands, perfect when you need somewhere close (with kids) but hot and with lovely scenery.

  14. I’ve been to Malta and mallorca bit I tend to go to the canaroes as my main holiday bit I really want to go to some cities for short breaks x

  15. Such beautiful choices! We are actually off to Mallorca next month, I’m hoping to get off the beaten track and see some beautiful spots. I’m also desperate to visit Malta! x

  16. Been to three of the above – Norway, Italy, and Mallorca – and I agree that they are amazing places to visit. Then again I love Europe and feel that most of it is great to visit no matter the time of the year. Personally, i’m a little biased towards Switzerland, Netherlands, and Germany.

  17. Tuscany – I’ve been there before on a coach trip holiday years ago but we only stayed in our Italian base hotel for 4 nights! We saw quite a few main places in that short time but I’d love to go back for a fortnight or more and properly explore the place. Love the scenery of the countryside and the architecture of the towns and cities – and the food? Lush! 😀

  18. Italy is my all time destination I wish to visit, I can’t believe we still haven’t been. We are hoping to go next year and I am so excited to see if it lives up to my expectations – it sounds like it will !

  19. Great choices! I absolutely love Italy – amazing food and even better wine! I would love to explore Norway one day, my friend is currently living there and she says it is amazing.

  20. I so want to do Italy and Spain and th’en the whole of Scandinavia 😀
    BTW, I am glad to see Norway in your list (confirms my love for Scandinavia is worth it).
    And to be frank, I didnt know much about Malta – seems like a very beautiful and interesting place!

  21. I loved Malta when I visited and Rome was one of my favourite trips so I am heading back in November to see there and Venice. Romania has been on my wish list for ages so maybe I’ll do that one next year x

  22. Italy, It is a stunning relaxing place to visit, we are always made feel very welcome the food is delicious and there is plenty to explore.

  23. Ah so many epic places to visit. How did you choose just 5? Norway is my pick from this list. Always wanted to go and get my hike on!

  24. Been to some of the places and definitely wanna go back to Romania. Well all are beautiful places as each of them has an a special things to offer.

  25. What a great post – I would love to visit all of these places!
    I have just booked to go to Rome for the first time with my best friend, cannot wait for the views and the food 🙂

    Dani x

  26. I would love to go to Paris. I have never been abroad so I would like to start off nearer to home and work my way further afield

  27. Italy is at the top of my Europe destination list to visit! I’d also love to visit parts of Eastern Europe. I’ve been to Bergen in Norway and I absolutely loved it!! Geiranger is another destination in Norway which is stunning.

  28. I have done Italy and Spain, but others are still on my wishlist. Malta looks very cultural and full of ancient houses. Norway being a hiker’s paradise is full of nature and so green.

  29. Norway is on our bucket list as well. Actually all the places mentioned are on our to do list which makes it such an interesting read. Thanks for sharing

  30. I love Vienna. I’ve been twice and it’s amazing for the art and culture although I wouldn’t recommend the boiled beef.

  31. The Algarve, partly as my wife’s grandfather came from there but also because the folk are delightful and the seafood is excellent as long as you stay away from octopus with ink left in

  32. We have always had wonderful family holidays in Greece, but would love to try Majorca one year. To go back to St Lucia one day with the kids would be amazing!

  33. I love Greece, it’s so laid back and relaxing. I really want to visit Tuscany though. I have never been but it’s on my ‘to go’ list.

  34. We love Portugal. Great for city breaks – e.g. Lisbon and Porto or family beach holidays – e.g. The Algarve. We did both last year and had a blast!

  35. I have always loved the Balaerics but this year we are going to greece for the first time and i am so looking forward to trying somewhere totally different 🙂

  36. I would love to have a French roadtrip with my family someday visiting the places I’ve always wanted to see, the Dordogne, Provence, Ancachon, and the South of France.

  37. We love Spain especially Costa Blanca as we have family there and it was my daughters first holiday so special to us 🙂

  38. I love Spain this year we are lucky to go to Salou! Which is the perfect flight time for little kids and has the most amazing theme park there!! And I love to swim in the sea so a flamingo would be the best addition to my suitcase !!

  39. I have always wanted to go to the Algarve in Portugal. Thanks for the chance to win and good luck all 🙂

  40. We were booked to go to Lake Garda, Italy in August for my sister in law’s wedding. We’ve since cancelled it because my partner of 8 years has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He’s absolutely gutted to be missing out on his sister’s wedding and a big family holiday. Instead we’re going to book a celebratory trip for summer 2018 and the whole family will be welcome. Fingers crossed x

  41. I love the Balearics and have visited them all, my particular favourite was the uninhabited island of dragonera. It’s so beautiful and unspoiled. There are thousands of little lizards running around the island and the sea and views are outstanding. You must visit! You can only stay on the island for an hour as that’s all the government will allow but it’s totally worth it and the boat trip involved is just perfect x

  42. I love Menorca, we had such a lovely holiday here a few years ago , we hired a car and drove all around the island , so many fab memories of Menorca .

  43. Anywhere in Europe I just love travelling. I have been to Berlin, France (Alsace), The Black Forest in Germany, Turkey, Spain and Gibraltar. I love all of them places and want to explore Europe even further.

  44. Paris is one of my favourite places in the world but for a great all round family holiday it would have to be the Algarve. Beautiful beaches, laid back atmosphere and great climate.

  45. Wow, I didn’t expect to find Romania (my home country) on this list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful country, but people often choose other, more popular destinations instead.

  46. Interesting pick, Joanna! You have described the destinations so well.
    I am planning a Euro Trip in December or next year in March. I didn’t even think of Romania earlier. Will have to reconsider my plans now. 🙂

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