With Europe on our doorstep we have an abundance of different countries, cultures and cuisines at our fingertips. Why not make 2020 a year of adventure and explore all the continent has to offer? For inspiration on where to head, whether it’s an epic road trip, inter-railing or even a cycling tour, take a look at our 20 destinations to head to in 2020 below.

1. Paris, France

A visit to Paris is a delight for tourists, whether travelling as a couple, with friends or with a family, there is plenty to see and do. Marvel at world famous art at The Louvre, climb the steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower or choose to see the sights from the Seine on a river cruise. Head to local areas like Montmartre to find quaint cafes and bars, stroll the Champs-Élysées to browse the department stores and stop by the Arc de Triomphe to see the towering memorial to those lost during the world wars.

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2. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Dutch capital is a melting pot of culture, with world-famous museums, historic architecture and a great arts scene. Visit the world’s only floating flower market, hire a bike to explore the city like a local and sample some delicious Dutch delicacies such as bitterballen and poffertjes. Visit in April for street celebrations to mark King’s Day. Traditionally people wear orange and spill out into the streets celebrating the birthday of the King of the Netherlands.

3. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is a hot bed of history. The remains of the Berlin Wall, Check Point Charlie, Brandenburg Gate and The Holocaust Memorial are all historical monuments worth seeing to bring German history to life. Visit in the summer for open air festivals, the winter for their famous Christmas markets and springtime to see the cherry blossoms bloom. Food is another great reason to visit the German capital, with delicacies such as currywurst, pork knuckle and pretzels. Some of Berlin’s world-famous museums can be found on the UNESCO heritage Museum Island, located on the river Spree.

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4. Ardennes, Belgium

The Ardennes region of Belgium provides an abundance of activities for those who love the great outdoors, with great hiking, cycling and camping spots. The landscapes of forests, caves and cliffs offer so much to explore for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of big European cities. Delve deep into the caves of Hans-sur-Lesse to see stunning stalagmites far beneath the ground and visit the Castle of Vêves to see one of the oldest and best-preserved medieval Belgian castles. The city of Liège and town of Namur are both great places to stay in the area too.

5. Lake Bled, Slovenia

For a fairytale getaway, complete with a glassy lake, mountainous backdrop and a castle on a hill, the Slovenian town of Bled is perfect. Villa Bled was once the home of Yugoslavian President Tito and is now a premium hotel with rooms on the banks of the lake that look out onto the water. Hop on a traditional pletna boat to the island in the lake and ring the wishing bell in the church to make all your wishes come true. Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the lake and climb the cliffs to Bled Castle which offer breathtaking panoramas and a premium dining experience with unforgettable views.

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Photo credit: Edward Ashley Photography

6. Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt is the financial centre of Germany but there’s so much more to the city. Sweeping over 22 hectares, Palmengarten includes plants from all over the world. Enjoy a picnic there or in one of the other parks in the city after picking up local produce from Kleinmarkthalle, where over 160 stalls sell regional cheeses, meats, breads and Apfelwein which is a cross between cider and wine – very refreshing! Visit Römer, a row of gabled buildings which have housed Frankfurt’s town hall since 1405 and stroll the streets of Old Sachsenhausen, to see medieval buildings and sample traditional German fare.

7. Utrecht, The Netherlands

Just 30 minutes on the train from Amsterdam, Utrecht offers 2000 years of history, beautiful parks and gardens, and a thriving cultural scene. The botanical gardens are a delight to discover in all seasons and are located around the 19th century Fort Hoofddijk. Visit the striking, neo-gothic De Haar Castle, climb the Dom Tower for views across the city or head underground and DOMunder to discover the history of the city right back to when the Romans arrived in the area. As night falls head to the Sonnenborgh Observatory to scour the night’s sky through high powered telescopes.

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Photo credit: NBTC Holland Marketing

8. Athens, Greece

The Romantic poet Lord Byron wrote ‘Athens holds my heart and soul’ and after a visit there yourself you may feel the same. Visit the Acropolis and famous Parthenon temple and stroll the city streets to see ruins at every corner. If you fancy a shaded spot away from the hustle and bustle, head to The National Gardens, where you’ll see a statue of Lord Byron, who fought with the Greeks in the 19th century war with the Ottomans. Explore the independent shops and cafes in the Plaka neighbourhood and drop by a local bakery for Spanikopita, a spinach and feta pie which is just delicious!

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9. Lille, France

Located by the border with Belgium, Lille’s blended influences can be seen through its architecture, language and food.

The Old Town’s Flemish inspired architecture houses bars, cafes and shops and is a pleasure to explore. The stunning Palais des Beaux-Arts, the Belle Époque summer palace is now a museum housing art from the 1400s to the 1900s. Other beautiful buildings to see include La Vieille Bourse, Palais Rihour and Lille Citadel.

For a spot of shopping visit Marché de Wazemmes, one of France’s largest outdoor markets where you can find anything you like, from antiques to fruit and veg.

Visit in October for their annual Beer Week where you can taste a range of local beers and enjoy their special programme of events.

10. The Hague, The Netherlands

The Hague is well known as a centre of Dutch politics but there is so much more to it than that. The Invictus Games are being held there in May and museums such as Humanity House and The Madurodam Model City are well worth a visit. Madurodam is a huge scale model representation of various parts of the Netherlands including the Rijksmuseum, Dutch tulip fields and of course windmills.

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The Hague’s proximity to Scheveningen beach can turn it into a beach break too. Walk the promenade, splash in the sea, or enjoy an ice cream at a beach-side bar. You can even try the ferris wheel on the pier for a traditional seaside experience.

11. Antwerp, Belgium

The train from Amsterdam to Antwerp takes just two hours and the sights start as soon as you arrive. The gothic architecture of Antwerp Central Station will take your breath away and start your trip to the city on the right foot. Antwerp is the diamond centre of the world and for some ultimate retail therapy, head to the diamond district, with over 1,800 shops selling the sparkling stones.

Visit the city’s iconic cathedral to see paintings from Antwerp’s beloved painter Rubens. Walk through the historical heart of the city with its medieval buildings and seasonal markets and you must sample some of Belgium’s famous food, including waffles, beef stew and chips with plenty of mayo.

12. Rüdesheim, Germany

Visit in summer to sample the local Reisling and seasonal asparagus or head there in winter to see the streets adorned with Christmas lights.

There is so much to explore including an enchanted cave, castles, ruins and the charming town to stroll at your leisure. There are also fantastic walking routes and stunning views across the Rhine and surrounding hillsides.

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Take the cable car up to the Germania monument to see panoramic views over Rüdesheim’s oldtown and the shimmering waters of the Rhine or explore the fabulous frescoes and sample some fine wine from the vineyards of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Hildegard where a community of nuns still reside.

13. Budapest, Hungary

The capital of Hungary is bursting with history, which can be seen through its grand buildings and separate islands, Buda and Pest. It’s also famous for its hot springs and spas. One of the largest is Gellért Baths, which look more like a stately home than a public pool. The complex includes an open-air pool, a Finnish sauna and a range of spa treatments in luxurious surroundings – an ideal place to relax and unwind after a day sightseeing. As night falls head to one of the city’s ruin bars or take a moonlight boat trip down the Danube while sipping some Hungarian wine and eating some traditional Hungarian goulash.

14. Brittany, France

Brittany is renowned for its beautiful landscapes and coasts, with destinations including Mont Saint-Michel, Saint Malo and Nantes. Head to the golden sands of Saint-Malo, explore the colourful streets of Quimper and its awe-inspiring cathedral and stop by Vitré, one of few European medieval towns that has remained so intact. Brittany is also famous for its cuisine, with cider, oysters and galettes being some highlights. Cancale is known as the ‘oyster capital’ and you can enjoy freshly caught oysters washed down with a glass of dry white wine at many restaurants in this area. You can even try to catch them for yourself on an organised boat trip!

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15. Madrid, Spain

Madrid is a capital city that still feels homely, with local markets selling authentic Spanish fare, bars and restaurants which spill onto the streets, and sprawling city parks with for walking, cycling or simply relaxing.

Head to Retiro Park and hire a rowing boat on the lake, visit the Royal Palace in the centre of the city and marvel at the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple, gifted to the Spanish by the Egyptian government in 1968.

For lunch head to Mercado de San Miguel, for a choice of tapas washed down nicely with some vermouth and for dinner head to Cava Baja, a street full of individual tapas bars, serving specialities. If you fancy something sweet head to Chocolatería San Ginés for churros which is open all night long.

16. Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The second largest city in the Netherlands has plenty to explore including fantastic museums, a thriving arts scene and interesting architecture. The central train station blends modern and traditional design, the Cube Houses are a row of housing designed to resemble a forest and the Church of Saint Laurence is the only piece of medieval architecture that survived the heavy bombing of WW2.

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For a lunchtime pit stop, Markthal has many stalls under the one roof offering a selection of meats, cheeses, breads and more to keep you well fuelled for all that sightseeing.

Head to the museum quarter to see world famous art, learn more about its seafaring history and to delve into the stories of past inhabitants of the city. If you’re heading there in May make sure you pack your dancing shoes and warm those vocal chords up for the Eurovision Song Contest.

17. The French Pyrenees

While the French Alps are popular with skiers and tourists, the Pyrenees shouldn’t be overlooked either. Located in the south west of France, close to the border of Spain, the French Pyrenees offer amazing walking trails, skiing opportunities in the winter and gorgeous scenery in the summer. The charming spa town of Saint Lary Soulan offers all of this and more, including thrilling outdoor pursuits such as canyoning, rafting and sky diving. If you’re driving you can travel to the north western towns of Biarritz and cross the border to Spain to visit the foodie destination, San Sebastián too.

18. San Sebastián, Spain

Known as Basque country’s culinary capital, you won’t go hungry while in San Sebastián, with a multitude of bars, cafes and restaurants serving traditional pinchos, small snacks that come with your drink. Stroll down the seafront promenade and see if you can spot the famous sculpture, Comb of the Wind, made of three curved steel sculptures welded into the huge granite rocks by the sea. The waves crashing against them make for a dramatic sight. Further up the beach is also a great spot for surfing. Stroll the old town, taking in the architecture and tantalising your tastebuds with the smell of food wafting from the street side café and take the funicular up to Monte Igueldo for amazing panoramic views.

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19. Cannes, France

Make like Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief and soak up the glamour of the French Riviera in the popular beach resort of Cannes in the south of France. Explore the Old Town, sample fresh seafood at the waterfront restaurants and do some celebrity spotting if you visit in May which is when the annual Cannes Film Festival takes place. Whether you’re wanting to splurge in the designer boutiques or pick up some local produce at Marché Forville, shopping in Cannes is a must too.

20. San Remo, Italy

Take the train from Cannes for just over two hours or drive for hour and a half to get to Italy’s Riviera, with golden beaches, stunning villas and a medieval district called La Pigna. Known as the City of Flowers for its colourful blooms, it also is host to the world’s longest professional one-day cycling race, the 298km Milan – San Remo classic. It also holds an annual music festival which is said to be the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest (held this year in Rotterdam, another place on our list to visit in 2020!)

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20 European Destinations to Travel to in 2020 – Lucy Chambers

February 19, 2020 17:35

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