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Lonely Planet’s top 10 places to visit in Europe in 2019

The High Tatras mountain range in Slovakia has been named as the best place to visit in Europe in 2019 by a prestigious travel guide.

The region has topped Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2019 list, with well-travelled judges praising its ‘mythical landscape of crooked peaks and plunging waterfalls’, as well as the opportunity to spot rare brown bears, which ‘thrive in the wild rugged region’. 

The UK’s northernmost point, the Shetland Islands, has also bagged a place on this year’s European hotlist, coming in at number six, with Lonely Planet describing the archipelago as ‘enchanting’.

The High Tatras mountain range in Slovakia has been named as the best place to visit in Europe in 2019. There you can spot the brown bear – a rare creature indeed in Europe 

The UK's northernmost point, the Shetland Islands, comes in at number six, with Lonely Planet describing the archipelago as 'enchanting'. Pictured is a sandbar that connects St Ninian's Isle with the mainland of the Shetland Islands

The UK’s northernmost point, the Shetland Islands, comes in at number six, with Lonely Planet describing the archipelago as ‘enchanting’. Pictured is a sandbar that connects St Ninian’s Isle with the mainland of the Shetland Islands

Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe is compiled annually by the travel company’s European experts to reveal their pick of the most exciting and underrated destinations to visit across the continent.

The unheralded High Tatras also impresses thanks to its hiking possibilities – ‘to the summit of Slovakia’s highest peak, Gerlach – boating on the glacial Strbske Pleso and traditional hospitality in high-altitude mountain huts (chaty)’.

Madrid has bagged the No2 spot, with the travel guide adventurers claiming that it is ‘springing back into step with renewed vigour’ and now boasts ‘one of the continent’s coolest nighttime streets’, Calle de Ponzano – a strip of standing-only tapas spots and minimalist cocktails bars. 

Madrid has bagged the No2 spot, with the travel guide adventurers claiming that it is 'springing back into step with renewed vigour'. Pictured is the Catedral de la Almudena and the Royal Palace

Madrid has bagged the No2 spot, with the travel guide adventurers claiming that it is ‘springing back into step with renewed vigour’. Pictured is the Catedral de la Almudena and the Royal Palace

The newly founded Arctic Coast Way in Iceland also makes the podium, in third. It winds between 21 villages, explains Lonely Planet, and four islands along Iceland’s elemental north coast, ‘offering the best of Iceland minus the crowds’. 

Hercegovina, which was hit by a devastating three-year war triggered by the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, takes fourth place thanks to being ‘picture perfect’. 

What to do there? Lonely Planet has some suggestions: ‘Potter around the streets of medieval Počitelj, explore the Vjetrenica karst wind tunnels, hike to the traditional mountain village of Lukomir, and take a trip along the Ciro cycling trail – all will provide a new perspective on this picture-perfect region.’ 

The Arctic Coast Way, a road which winds between 21 villages and four islands on Iceland's north coast, has come third

The Arctic Coast Way, a road which winds between 21 villages and four islands on Iceland’s north coast, has come third

Hercegovina, which was hit by a devastating three-year war triggered by the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, takes fourth place thanks to being, in the words of the judges, 'picture perfect'. Above, the medieval village of Počitelj

Hercegovina, which was hit by a devastating three-year war triggered by the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, takes fourth place thanks to being, in the words of the judges, ‘picture perfect’. Above, the medieval village of Počitelj

Bari in Italy sails in at fifth place. 'It is enjoying a renaissance that's been a decade in the making,' says Lonely Planet

Bari in Italy sails in at fifth place. ‘It is enjoying a renaissance that’s been a decade in the making,’ says Lonely Planet

WHY IS SHETLAND SO SUPER?

Lonely Planet praises Shetland’s ‘awesome coastal trails, wicked wildlife watching, and fabled fish and chip shops’, and suggests visitors ‘spot otters and orcas from craggy headlands, then ease into the evening at one of Lerwick’s local pubs’ or experience the Viking-inspired Up Helly Aa festival which ‘bursts into fiery life each January’. 

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: ‘Shetland’s appearance as the only UK destination in Lonely Planet’s prestigious Best In Europe 2019 is testament to the islands’ strong pull for visitors.

‘Shetland, a Unesco Global Geopark, has something for everyone – it boasts breathtaking scenery, unparalleled opportunities to see amazing wildlife and birds, a stunning coastline, delicious local food and drink, unique culture and heritage, and an incredible historical and archaeological story to tell. It is somewhere you can enjoy both a relaxing break and an activity-fuelled trip.

‘We can’t be complacent, however, and it is important that we encourage the tourism industry to provide world-class service, facilities, events and attractions to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands and ensure visitors continue to have memorable experiences in Shetland.’ 

The once down-at-heel port city of Bari, in Italy, sails into fifth place thanks to a newfound ‘spring in its step’.

‘It is enjoying a renaissance that’s been a decade in the making,’ says Lonely Planet.

Sixth-place Shetland Islands, the guide book says, ‘is left largely to the hardiest of adventurers’. But it stresses: ‘Those who make the journey to this enchanting archipelago, which can be reached by plane, or an overnight ferry from Aberdeen, will be rewarded with awesome coastal trails, wicked wildlife watching, and fabled fish and chip shops’. 

‘Beautiful’, ‘food-obsessed’ and ‘cultured’ Lyon, in France, takes seventh place. 

The historical city, which sits at the junction of the Rhône and Saône rivers, is set to become the new French darling of international visitors as it steps into the global spotlight as host of the finals of the Fifa Women’s World Cup in July.  

The tiny 25km-long principality of Liechtenstein also made a big impression on judges. It walks in at eighth place.

Visitors can ramble around the entire country in a weekend thanks to the Liechtenstein Trail. 

Created as part of this year’s celebrations marking 300 years since Liechtenstein became a sovereign nation, this scenic 75km (46 miles) hiking path ‘twists over peak and pasture’ through all 11 municipalities. 

Nabbing the ninth spot in the Lonely Planet listing is Vevey, which is situated on Lake Geneva in Switzerland and considered to be one of the ‘Pearls of the Swiss Riviera’. 

This June the town is set to host a three-week wine festival, Fête des Vignerons, which is only held once every 20 years. 

Attendees are advised to line their stomachs at one of the Old Town’s myriad ‘quality eateries’, which offer everything from 20-course tasting menus to cheap-and-cheerful fondue. 

A swim in the lake might be a good way to work it all off, suggest the judges.

'Beautiful', 'food-obsessed' and 'cultured' Lyon, in France, takes seventh place. Pictured is the Saint-Georges church on the banks of the Saone river

‘Beautiful’, ‘food-obsessed’ and ‘cultured’ Lyon, in France, takes seventh place. Pictured is the Saint-Georges church on the banks of the Saone river

The tiny 25km-long principality of Liechtenstein made a big impression on judges. It walks in at eighth place. Above, a view of Vaduz Castle with snow-covered Alpine mountains behind

The tiny 25km-long principality of Liechtenstein made a big impression on judges. It walks in at eighth place. Above, a view of Vaduz Castle with snow-covered Alpine mountains behind 

Nabbing the ninth spot in the Lonely Planet listing is Vevey, which is situated on Lake Geneva in Switzerland and considered to be one of the 'Pearls of the Swiss Riviera'. This June the town is set to host a three-week wine festival, Fête des Vignerons. It's held just once every 20 years

Nabbing the ninth spot in the Lonely Planet listing is Vevey, which is situated on Lake Geneva in Switzerland and considered to be one of the ‘Pearls of the Swiss Riviera’. This June the town is set to host a three-week wine festival, Fête des Vignerons. It’s held just once every 20 years

Rounding out Lonely Planet’s 2019 Best in Europe list is Istria in Croatia.

The peninsula, which is located at the head of the Adriatic between the Gulf of Trieste and the Kvarner Gulf, was lauded by the experts for its historical sites, beaches, gourmet cycle tours, music festivals and truffle-hunting excursions.

Thanks to expanding European flight connections, this heart-shaped landmass is easier to reach than ever.

Beaches, history and great cuisine – Istria has something for everyone. It's in tenth place on Lonely Planet's 2019 Best in Europe list

Beaches, history and great cuisine – Istria has something for everyone. It’s in tenth place on Lonely Planet’s 2019 Best in Europe list

A map showing the top 10 destinations to visit in Europe in 2019 according to prestigious travel guide Lonely Planet

A map showing the top 10 destinations to visit in Europe in 2019 according to prestigious travel guide Lonely Planet

Commenting on the list results, Lonely Planet spokesperson and VP of experience, Tom Hall, said: ‘Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2019 list showcases the European destinations which are worth planning a trip around right now. 

‘From cultural city breaks to awe-inspiring scenery, buzzing foodie destinations and the best spots to escape the crowds, there are a wealth of experiences to be enjoyed across the continent this summer. 

‘Whether they are firm holiday favourites that have something new to offer, or places you may never have come across, these destinations should be on any traveller’s wish list.’ 

LONELY PLANET’S BEST IN EUROPE 2019

1. High Tatras, Slovakia: A mythical landscape where ‘snow willow blankets the ground and fearsome beasts patrol the forests’.

2. Madrid, Spain: ‘The city’s nightlife, always among Europe’s best, just keeps improving’ and ‘an emphasis on sustainable living has led to wide-scale pedestrianisation, bicycle lanes and rental schemes, widened footpaths, and new emissions controls transforming the city’.

3. The Arctic Coast Way, Iceland: ‘Wowing with the natural wonders for which Iceland is rightly famed – thunderous waterfalls, colossal glaciers, steaming fumaroles – and endless opportunities for snow sports, wildlife watching and wilderness adventures… the best of Iceland minus the crowds.’

4. Hercegovina, Bosnia and Hercegovina: Potter around the streets of medieval Počitelj, explore the Vjetrenica karst wind tunnels, hike to the traditional mountain village of Lukomir, and take a trip along the Ciro cycling trail – all will provide a new perspective on this picture-perfect region.

5. Bari, Italy: It has ‘a spring in its step… a reinvigorated old town sets the tone, the boarded-up shop fronts replaced by family-run eateries… cultural spaces are reopening, from the ornate Teatro Piccinni theatre to once-condemned heritage hotels like the Oriente’.

6. Shetland, Scotland: Adventurers to the UK’s northernmost point will be rewarded with ‘awesome coastal trails’ can ‘spot otters and orcas from craggy headlands’ and enjoy ‘fabled fish and chip shops’.

7. Lyon, France: Set to become the new French darling of international visitors it steps into the global spotlight hosting the finals of the Fifa Women’s World Cup in July. ‘Beautiful’, ‘food-obsessed’ and ‘cultured’, Lyon has also recently received a nod from the EU for its efforts to make tourism accessible and sustainable.

8. Liechtenstein: Walk around an entire country in a weekend thanks to the Liechtenstein Trail. Created as part of the celebrations marking 300 years since Liechtenstein became a sovereign nation, this scenic 75km hiking path ‘twists over peak and pasture’ through all 11 municipalities.

9. Vevey, Switzerland: Held just once every 20 years, Vevey will be popping more corks than ever as the three-week wine festival, Fête des Vignerons, comes to town in June. Visitors can line their stomachs at one of the Old Town’s myriad quality eateries, offering everything from 20-course tasting menus to cheap-and-cheerful fondue, before working off their food with a swim in the lake.

10. Istria, Croatia: It offers history (Pula’s imposing Roman Amphitheatre and Poreč’s Unesco-listed mosaics for starters), beaches, gourmet cycle tours during spring, music festivals in summer and truffle-hunting excursions come autumn. And expanding European flight connections make this heart-shaped peninsula easier to reach than ever. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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