The Best Cities to Buy Property in Europe

There is no better time than right now to purchase property in Europe, especially if you’re looking to snag a hot deal. Whether you are looking to settle down in an Irish cottage where waves crash against the dramatic cliffs or you’re looking to earn rental income in the heart of Turkey, here are the top 15 cities to buy property in Europe.

15. Istria, Croatia

Head to Southern Europe to the super affordable corner that is Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, where apartments and houses are cheap. Croatia borders the Adriatic Sea and offers two appealing retirement lifestyle options, whether you want to be on the coast or inland- where meadows, vineyards and olive groves are your backyards. The Romans invested in some of their best buildings here back in the day, as did the Venetians when they ruled. What that means for retirees here is a landscape full of fortresses, bell towers, and an architectural legacy.

Rovinj at sunset, Istra region, Croatia.

14. Athens, Greece

Greece took a big hit during the economic crisis which has created a great opportunity to purchase real estate now. Athens, the capital of Greece offers year-round entertainment and inexpensive flights from the UK. However, it’s important to be wary about where you buy, just as you would in any major city. It may be best to consider an apartment in the city center or invest in the Kolonaki and Plaka neighborhoods as these areas are far more affordable.

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13. Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia’s capital is a gorgeous city that is rich in history dating back to Roman times. It’s predicted that Zagreb will see serious growth in the next couple of years which means this is a city you’ll want to have on your radar. In 2018, the country only saw an 8.5% increase in asking prices for condos, however, condos located in Zagreb saw a 20% increase. Further, in 2019 there was a 30% increase in Airbnb homes located in Zagreb which is a great indicator that the city is seeing a surge in vacation rentals. It’s evident that the city’s real estate market is booming and if you want to get in before the prices reach an all-time high, now is the time to buy!

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12. Algarve, Portugal

Home to more than 100,000 resident expats, it is clear that for decades this place has been the hot place to buy. Luckily for those looking to experience the 3,300 hours of sunshine per year this place gets, the market is still affordable. The Algarve’s 100 miles of Atlantic coastline is full of jagged rock formations, lagoons, and sandy beaches. The waters are azure in color and the cliff-top vistas are spectacular, Add in 42 golf courses in the region, plenty of time for sailing and boating and you have yourself one heck of a place to live. Plus the average price per square meter for real estate is just $1,345 US, a pretty good bargain for a pretty special place.

Algarve, Portugal

11. Feldkirch And Bludenz, Austria

Austria is experiencing a real estate boom which is making the secondary cities more appealing. This is because property prices in secondary cities like Feldkirch and Bludenz are far lower than major cities like the country’s capital, Vienna. Feldkirch and Bludenz are both charming alpine cities that are surrounded by stunning forest mountains. Both towns saw a 20% increase in real estate prices in the last couple of years which is higher than the country’s capital which came in at about an 18% increase. These low prices won’t last for long, so now is the best time to buy.

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10. Beara Peninsula, Ireland

There has been a strong surge in demand for family homes in desirable areas of Ireland’s main cities, but that shouldn’t discourage buyers who are looking to purchase in Ireland, it just means you need to go elsewhere. The buying place right now is on Ireland’s Southwest coast, that is if you are looking for a charming cottage or seaside house. This is not where you want to buy as an investor but instead, as a homeowner. The Beara Peninsula is the largest and most remote on this coast and houses here are quite inexpensive. Locals here are opting to buy new houses rather than renovate old traditional farmhouses and prices are rock bottom. Think $80,000 US for a typical Irish farm cottage that is steps away from the ocean and needs a little fixing up. Giant waves crashing onto cliffs, miles of sandy beaches, mountain range and warm air — there seems no good reason why we all shouldn’t be buying a second home in this beautiful country.

Beara Peninsula, Ireland

9. Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey’s property market wasn’t hit as hard as others in the world in the years 2008 and 2009, with recovery times only take about a year and a half. Despite that, Istanbul remains a bargain when it comes to real estate with starting market prices at about $1,000 a square meter. Turkey is a country of the future, with half of its population younger than 30 years of age, which means the time to invest, is now. With the economy growing and being diversified between Europe and Asia it is easier than ever for foreigners to invest here. A construction boom is also taking place in Istanbul as half the current housing stock in the country needs to be replaced or renovated, thus making it easy to get in on buying pre-construction apartments. Getting in early on a new build means discounted pricing and the expectation of price increase over the construction period. The time to invest in Turkey is now.

Istanbul, Turkey

8. Abruzzo, Italy

Abruzzo, Italy is a region that one may not think to consider when exploring properties in Italy but because it’s undiscovered it’s full of inexpensive properties. Abruzzo is full of charming ancient towns and has a landscape unlike anywhere else Italy from boasting hills to mountains. That said, you’ll still be able to indulge in all the things you love about Italy from delicious wine and food to stunning architecture and of course their hot summers. Purchasing a home in Abruzzo will cost you about $50, 000 US dollars, give or take depending on what town you choose to buy property in. Many of the homes are built of stone which helps to keep the homes cool in the summer and they’re also often equipped with open fireplaces to keep the home warm and cozy in the winter.

Source: leoks / Shutterstock.com

7. Rotterdam, The Netherlands

About an hour away from The Netherlands capital, Amsterdam is a quaint city called Rotterdam. Rotterdam is a port city and is full of hip art, plenty of shopping, and has a bustling nightlife. Most importantly, Rotterdam inspires so much innovation that it’s considered the architecture city of Holland. Rotterdam saw a 17% increase in home prices in the past year which far surpasses the country’s average of 10%. In 2019 properties sold in about 33 days which is 11% faster than in 2018. As you can see, the property demand in Rotterdam is growing at a fast rate, making Rotterdam a city you’ll want to invest in sooner rather than later.

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6. Rennes, France

Rennes, France is rich in history, full of luscious green space, and has the appeal of a big city but on a much smaller scale. While there are 90 historic monuments in the old center, you will notice Rennes feels youthful. This is because over 200, 000 residents are students. Between the attractive property prices and the new High-speed rail that can get you from Rennes to Paris in about an hour and a half, there’s no wonder why Renne’s should be on your radar. But keep in mind the high-speed rail will continue to make this an attractive city so now the’s time to buy if you’re thinking of investing in property in France.

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5. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe and is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, right behind the country’s capital, Sofia. The town was built around seven hills which is a large part of the city’s history. In 2019, The European Union named Plovdiv the European Capital of Culture which made the city a big focus for the whole year. This title also sparked a number of urban revitalization projects that have caused the city to see steady growth in real estate sales that is consistent with the country’s capital. With the city holding the European Capital of Culture title for a full year now, it’s predicted that the real estate will sky-rocket even further making it a great city to buy into now.

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4. Budapest, Hungary

There is great value to be found all over Budapest and the time to get into the market is now when others haven’t. From 2007 to 2014 the market in Budapest was in a major slump, causing housing prices to hit rock bottom, and it is only now that they are starting to recover. Budapest is truly a beautiful place, both to live and work and that is great for any investor when it comes to real estate as the demand for rental properties continues to increase. Budapest also happens to be a year-round tourist destination offering amazing bathhouses, dining options, and architecture; drawing visitors who often seek out private rentals to stay in. With good yields, low to moderate transaction costs and pro-landlord laws, it is easy to understand why buying property here is the right choice.

GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com
GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com

3. Seville, Spain

Spain is a popular destination, between the pleasant climate, and stunning landscapes there’s a lot to see and do. But for those looking to buy a piece of real estate in Spain now is the time to do so. Spain’s economy suffered immensely during the economic crisis, however, after 2013 the decline started to slow. Now, the demand in real estate is beginning to grow again making it a great country to invest in. If you’re looking to buy property in Spain, the city of Seville is where you may want to start. This stunning city is famous for flamenco dancing and is home to major landmarks from the ornate Alcázar Castle complex to the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb and more. The markets have shown that Seville has great revenue growth and for those looking to invest in a rental property, the rental demand is high as this city experiences low seasonality.

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2. Apulia, Italy

This is the region that forms the heel of the Italian boot, a region not always thought of when you speak of Italy. But it is here where you can find low-priced properties in a stunning setting. Trulli houses, beehived shaped rural houses are the norm around here and there are plenty on the market for less than $100,000 US. Apulia features numerous sandy beaches on two coastlines, country land overflowing with vineyards and olive groves, and a slew of historic towns worth exploring. Living costs are low, there is an abundance of churches and palaces, medieval streets beckon you and craftsmen line the streets. This laidback, eccentric area is perfect whether you are buying a second home or starting over in life. A true bargain for a slice of Italian history, loaded with incredible scenery and people.

Apulia, Italy

1. Lisbon, Portugal

Time and time again we hear that this is the most affordable capital in Western Europe and it’s a wonder how long this will last as foreigners start to grab up inexpensive houses. For now, though it is quite inexpensive to buy here. A 2-bedroom apartment in a charming neighborhood will set you back about $100,000 US. Lisbon is a city where you can enjoy a European lifestyle, complete with history, romance, astonishing hospitality, and a seaside location for Latin American prices. The climate here is mild, the amenities are plenty and the people are among the most polite and friendly. With a low cost of living, charming hilly narrow streets and the sea at your fingertips. This is the perfect place to scoop up a second home.

Lisbon, Portugal

Exciting Nautical Adventures Every Aquaphile Should Experience

There’s nothing quite like getting out to sea and sailing the mighty waters and if you’ve ever experienced it, there’s a good chance you’re hooked. For some, sailing around the world is a dream but for others, a blithe reality. Whether it’s your first time sailing or you’re an accomplished ocean master, the spray of the sea and the feel of the salty wind in your hair never gets old. Moorings and anchorages are easy to find alongside dynamic coastal destinations, from classic sailing points such as the British Virgin Islands to exotic stops like Zanzibar.

7. Galápagos Islands | Ecuador

Sailing in the Galapagos Islands is like cruising through one of the world’s most magical places filled with so many different species it’s literally a wild kingdom. Sailing around the volcanic peninsula, the name Galapagos conjures images of some of the world’s most important wildlife but it’s also a lesser known yet equally thrilling sailing destination. A live-aboard boat is one of the best ways to experience sailing throughout the area–take a week-long cruise aboard a yacht (but don’t worry, there’s usually a motor just incase the wind’s not sufficient). The days can be wiled away diving or snorkeling or just relaxing offshore or head to land and cavort–while treading carefully ofcourse–among the vast numbers of giant tortoises, playful sea lions, emerald iguanas, and bounty of bird species in this ecological Eden. Get there on any of the daily flights leaving Quito, Ecuador’s capital, via Guayaquil.

6. Bay of Islands | New Zealand

Over the last decade, there have been an abundance of cruising boats around the Bay Islands in Honduras–spectacular scenery and world-class worthy diving and snorkeling are easy guesses for why this small island region has been named one of the largest per-population estimated rates of boat ownership around the globe. From 25km to 50 km off the northern mainland coast, Honduras’s three main islands–Guanaja, Roatan, and Utila–are home to barrier reefs that are the world’s second largest, churning with fish, sea turtles, sponges, whale sharks, coral, and rays. Dozens of coves make for an interesting nautical adventure, where clear waters beckon into the cool, refreshing turquoise depths. Most of the other islands, numbering around 150, are free of the advancing development found on the three favourites, making it a choice area for exploring. Anchor offshore and spend weeks discovering some of nature’s finest, uninhabited islands.

5. French Riviera

The glitz, the glamour…the sailing! Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Monaco, Nice–this revered coastline is brimming with myths and legends and scandals of the rich and famous. This is where ultra-luxurious yachts host some of the most enduring, hedonistic lifestyles in the world but not to fret, there’s still room for the average sailor swapping the sometimes-pretentious coast for offshore pursuits. You don’t need a monumental yacht–you can hire a classic sail boat and crew for a trip around the Cote D’Azur–or if you’re a greenhorn, take an independent journey around the calm waters. One of the best places to avoid the crowds is to sail to Port Cros and I_le de Porquerolle, a beautiful, pristine paradise several nautical miles from the Cote-D’Azur’s stratospheric indulgences. These unspoilt islands are the best place to be unseen, showcasing the pretty, rocky inlets, rugged shorelines, and some of the riviera’s finest stretches of sand.

4. British Virgin Islands

The name British Virgin Islands swiftly brings to mind nature’s most unsullied landscapes and one of the best-known destinations for getting your sails wet, whether as an experienced captain or complete novice. Stretched out in front, like in a sailor’s most vivid dream, is the Sir Frances Drake Channel, the main focus of the nautical crowd. The trade winds are so beautifully consistent, the sun shines almost every day, cerulean water is all about, and most surrounding islands are so close they’re navigated by eye alone. The total navigating area in the British Virgin Islands is a broad 51 x 24 kilometers, a perfect amount of space for an easygoing journey. With hundreds of anchorages across more than 40 islands, this is one easy place to sail. With hundreds upon hundreds of protected bays ideal for mooring for a day–or days on end–and such tame currents there’s virtually never a cause for concern, the BVIs are seafarer’s Shangri-la.

3. Croatia

Croatia has headed in one direction only when it comes to the travel world, and that is up-way up. Called the “new Tuscany,” and reminiscent of both the Riviera and the Greek Islands, Croatia has gained substantial attention from the sailing world. The in-crowd is here, taking full advantage of the incredible conditions and lower costs of sailing in the Adriatic. Less trend-setting and more timeless, Croatia’s 1777km coastline and no less than 1184 islands practically begs to be discovered and there’s really no better way to achieve that then by sailing. It puts you in the perfect position for all the best places. Dubrovnik, Kornati, Split, Zadar, Skradin, and countless other coastal cities keep sailors tied up for weeks, even months. Traditional fishing villages, clandestine coves, and remote islands like Elafiti make the decision between land and water difficult but the clear choice is both. Gateway cities like famed and stunning Dubrovnik are history-filled, landmark dotted travel havens–be sure to set your feet on dry land, even if just for a while.

2. Nile River | Egypt

One of the most relaxing and euphoric experiences in Egypt is sailing up the Nile River on a traditional Felucca boat, a wood vessel used in calmer waters of the Nile and rigged with one, and sometimes two, canvas lateen sails. Crewed by two or three people and taking up to ten passengers, a Felucca is still a great way to slow-travel outside of the popular and most frequented ferries and motorboats. Feluccas are more than just budget-friendly, but that’s one of the great things about them. You can hardly believe how inexpensive a journey up the Nile can be–a fraction of the cost of sailing on a dahabiyya, extravagant houseboats that have become the Nile’s version of a Rolls Royce. Following a millennia of transportation over one of the world’s oldest trade routes, a sailing journey will take you deep into nautical history and tradition. Start in Aswan and take the well-sailed route to Edfu, stopping at landmarks and smaller islands en route.

1. Zanzibar

Arty, edgy, and historically rich, Zanzibar is a proper archipelago off Tanzania’s east coast in the Indian Ocean. It’s a destination ideal for stepping off Tanzania’s beaten path–in fact, get right off any path and onto the waters surrounding Zanzibar and the area’s wild, raw backdrop will take your breath away. It’s not hard to feel as if you’ve slipped back a century or two, as the flat-topped, low-rise buildings in Stone Town’s (a World Heritage accredited town) come into view off the ocean, laid out along the coast while the Muslim call to prayer reproduces itself endlessly across the water. Old town, with it’s twisting, narrow streets and fabulously adorned doors evoke memories of a Persia lost, ancient kingdom, sultans, and caliphs. If you’re not up for manning a boat yourself, hire a dhow, an ancient traditional Arabic vessel, to whisk you off into the distance where snorkeling and diving are first-rate and the beaches are stunning.

The Most-Breathtaking Balkan Peninsula Cities

A large swath of Europe’s landscape is occupied by the Balkan Peninsula, one of the continent’s oldest and largest settlements. Natural wonders and historic landmarks dot the territory, merging with unique culture, making it a popular destination with people from around the globe. From untainted beaches to towering mountains, luxurious resorts to ancient buildings, tempting dishes to homemade brews–the Balkans will draw you in, surprise you, excite you, and ante up abounding and unforgettable hospitality. From Albania to Macedonia and breathtaking Serbia, a journey across the Balkans offers a unique angle on Europe.

9. Bitola | Macedonia

Bitola is the second largest city in Macedonia yet the atmosphere feels so much more small-town than anything large. Sophisticated and charming, central Bitola is an easy place to get around, the food is fresh, uncomplicated, and tasty, and the locals have an easy, friendly way about them. Bitola has a handful of attractions to engage you easily for a few days. Sirok Sokak Street is the main artery, a lively backdrop of bars, restaurants, and shops lining the pedestrian-only, broad lane. Café culture is full-blown, creating endless opportunity for people-watching. Macedonian’s, along with the rest of the Balkans, love chatting over coffee, showcasing a social and relaxed way of life. Historical sites also abound, from fetching mosques to the imminent Clock Tower visible from all across the center of the city. The 15th century enclosed Bazaar, imposing Church of Sveti Dimitrij, and views from Bitola’s towering position at the base of Pelister Peak, the city is filled with appeal.

8. Belgrade | Serbia

Belgrade is Serbia’s most celebrated capital where layers of history, abundant cultural points, and a party almost each and every night has given the city an appealing reputation. Proud, outspoken, and adventurous, Belgrade is one of Europe’s most lively capitals, and though it’s more gritty than pretty, the rolling city hills showcase immense charm. Slowly, things are changing from good to better with plenty of gentrification happening citywide, seamlessly pairing with Hapsburg leftovers, art nouveau mastery, and socialist quarters, all dramatically contrasting with relics from the Ottoman empire. In Belgrade, the renowned Danube meets the Sava River where parkland unfolds alongside chaotic urban sprawl. A new world is evolving while keeping the old within its clutches. Quirky sidewalk kiosks, magnificent coffeehouses, and restaurants passed through generations flank Knez Mihailova, a vibrant pedestrian avenue lined by historic buildings leading to Kalemegdan Citadel, the city’s crown jewel.

7. Kotor | Montenegro

Magic seems to carve through every crevice of Kotor, Montenegro on the stunning Adriatic Coast. Enfolded in the Bay of Kotor’s south side, the city is enveloped by panoramic mountain scenery. Charm and authenticity are more than evident here, even with swaths of people spilling into the city during the later summer months, flocking to Kotor’s medieval and divine Old Town. Tucked between Kotor’s unpredictable bay and lofty mountains, the town of Kotor is ideally at one with its comely backdrop. History here began in the 9th century, evident in old buildings wedged together in one perfect assembly. At night, Kotor’s walls are spectacularly illuminated, seemingly protecting the treasures within–labyrinthine lanes of marble, small family-run shops, drool-worthy restaurants, and animated bars set around clandestine colonnades. Marina’s are crowded with the yachts of the super elite in warm weather but there’s no real downside–decent swimming conditions are lacking–any true history, romance, or architectural enthusiasts will have a hard time finding the heart to leave.

6. Split | Croatia

Croatia’s second biggest city, Split is one of the most profound of all European cities showcasing abounding ancient ruins. Traditionally one of the main ports for visiting the Dalmatian Islands, it’s become more of a destination than merely a gateway. Split has blossomed, and beautifully so, offering very much to fill the curious mind. Planning in the city has been fruitful with plenty of new, elegant hotels and trendy restaurants and with Krka National Park and the Mosor Mountains close by, the list of possible endeavors is plentiful. As the Riva (seafront) gets an old look updated by marble, the journey into Split is even more impressive and the atmosphere along the old walls immeasurable. Authentic Dalmatian life is at its best here, and always lively, it perfectly balances tradition with vicissitude. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most dramatic of Roman testaments and more than enough to wow even those who have “seen it all.”

5. Ohrid | Republic of Macedonia

Ohrid is one of those must-see places, a traveling cliche but a truth nonetheless. If in Macedonia, it is the place to go. Sitting on the sidelines of dramatic Lake Ohrid, Europe’s deepest, oldest, and most endearing lakes, it’s one of the Balkans’ most prominent summer resorts. Glorious Ohrid is Macedonia’s crowning jewel, stunning historic churches lining a rolling hill in the ethereal Old Quarter topped by ancient St. Jovan Kaneo, and with close by Gali_ica National Park and the not-so-distant and fairly isolated beaches on the lake’s east side, there’s not much to complain about. Most of Macedonia seems to make their way to the lake between mid-July and mid-August. From that point, nightlife is utterly chaotic and prices skyrocket–best to visit outside of the festive season. May and June, or late summer and early Fall are excellent, and far more quiet, times to visit.

4. Plovdiv | Bulgaria

Plovdiv is an explorer’s utopia–smaller than Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia but just as interesting. Delve into the ancient Philippopolis amphitheater–this Roman relic is a 2nd century marvel, only stumbled upon in 1968. Plovdiv is considered one of the oldest cities in Europe to have been constantly inhabited–the enormity of this fact is hard to swallow until a walk through the gorgeous amphitheater. The center is entirely charming, with cloisters of houses each topped with unique roof lines and architectural details so pleasing to observe and with just the perfect amount of eye-catching steeples for a small town. Cobblestone streets wind through Plovdiv, diverting to beatnik cafes, high caliber museums, and art galleries, captivating until the sun sets and another kind of entertainment comes alive. The nightlife in Plovdiv is excellent with a good choice of lively bars and clubs catering to the university town that also boasts some of the best Bulgarian, Thracian, Byzantine, and Roman antiquities in Europe.

3. Prizren | Kosovo

Prizren is Kosovo’s cultural capital and a top choice to strike out and explore one of the world’s most newly formed nations. Under the Ottoman Empire, Kosovo was thriving, and today, architectural details remain from the Ottoman period. Scenic Prizren is a shining star with plenty of infectious post-independence elation and eagerness. In August, Dokufest sees the city come entirely alive and fill up with film-industry people from around the world. The international short film and documentary festival takes over the town with parties, exhibitions, and screenings. When on route from Albania to Pristina, the enchanting mosque and church-laden old town deserves a few hours of your time. The old town is one of the most impressively preserved in the Balkans, with a horde of buildings dating back to the 14th century. Check out an art exhibit in the old Pristzen hammam, explore the remains of the Serbian Quarter, see a panoramic view of Prizren from Roman-era city castle, and don’t miss the Shadervan, the city’s old stone piazza and social gathering point.

2. Bled | Slovenia

Lake Bled steals the show in Slovenia with seemingly glowing aquamarine water, waterfront homes nestled along the riverbanks, and a 17th century castle smack dab in the middle of it all on its very own island. Idyllic it is, scenic and relaxing, and on almost every postcard you’ll find in the country. Blue skies seem to crack open above the lake, shining down on calm waters and illuminating all that’s naturally perfect in the surrounding area. Walk the two-kilometer path encircling Lake Bled and you’ll what it means to take the “perfect walk.” If romance is in the cards, Lake Bled is a great choice but it’s also an exciting destination for canyoneering, cycling, hiking, and boating so bring your adventurous side along. As with any fantastic lake, Bled is swarming with tourists come summer–they come from far and wide. A fall or spring visit is just as picturesque and although the water temperature isn’t quite as soothing all of Lake Bled’s finest points stay strong.

1. Tirana | Albania

A possibly unforeseen addition to the list, Tirana makes the cut as a quirky and vibrant portal into Albania and a city with some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches. One of the most unusual capitals on the continent, Albania’s isolation from the rest of the globe for more than 50 years has created a city unlike any other. Spirited and dynamic, Tirana is Albania’s thumping heart, this diminutive part of the country has high aspirations that have coalesced into an animated scene of unabashed fun and bold consumerism. Since its communist period, Tirana has undergone an evolution of massive proportions, with a transformed city center and bold, vibrantly painted buildings, pedestrian-only boulevards, and public piazzas. Sweeping avenues are flanked with Ottoman empire relics and pieces of its communist and Italian past, from flagrant socialist murals to exquisite cupolas while traffic congests the streets in a stifling way, meeting headlong with pedestrians in a kind of controlled chaos that’s dazzling to watch.

The 8 Best Off the Beaten Path Honeymoon Destinations

Throw everything you ever thought about honeymoons out the window. Forget the typical all-inclusive resorts, cruises or cottage getaways. Instead, let us introduce you to the best off the beaten path honeymoon destinations you’ll ever find. From sleeping in a glass igloo with the Northern Lights overhead to wandering through waterfalls and jungle, to a National Park that offers both beach and safari; it is a wonder why people still insist on taking traditional honeymoons. These eight incredible destinations will transform your thoughts on where you might want your honeymoon to be.

8. Saadani National Park, Tanzania, Africa

If you are looking to combine beach and adventure, there is no better place to do so than Saadani National Park in Tanzania. Here honeymooners can have both an epic safari and a great beach vacation. Stay at Saadani Safari Lodge where you will spend the morning bathing in the Indian Ocean before jumping into a 4X4 jeep to explore wildlife such as lions and hippos. The 15 tented cottages are hidden amongst palm trees on a tranquil beach and provide the utmost privacy. Enjoy two decked pools, a hidden treehouse overlooking a waterhole that is home to baboons, giraffes, lions and buffalo, a boat bar and restaurant on stilts overlooking the water. Honeymooners should stay in the Siri Suite, a suite situated on top of a sand dune, away from the others complete with its own plunge pool, outdoor kitchen area with personal chef, a bar and a personal butler. Enjoy your own private beach, private safaris and personalized experience. You can truly have it all here.

Photo by: Scott Dunn
Photo by: Scott Dunn

7. Pucon, Chile

This Chilean city offers adventurous honeymooners the ultimate experience when it comes to climbing, hiking and diving. Stay at Hotel Antumalal, which offers an incredible forest chalet, surrounded by woods and with views of the beautiful Villarrica Lake from your private terrace. Spend the days climbing Villarrica, an active volcano or soothing your muscles in the hot springs. Tours depart right from the front door of this hotel and can include walking tours of the many surrounding waterfalls, kayaking, horseback riding, rafting and more. Head back to the hotel at the end of the day to enjoy the beautiful spa which features a heated indoor/outdoor pool, sauna with views over the lake, hydro massage pool and an abundance of massage and therapies available. The open air restaurant with its fresh seasonal ingredients and exceptional wine menu are sure to delight all honeymooners.

Photo by: Hotel Antumalal Pucon Chile
Photo by: Hotel Antumalal Pucon Chile

6. Durness, North Scotland

If your idea of a honeymoon is escaping reality and having incredible views of water, mountain and sky, and you don’t mind a self-catering option, Croft 103 is for you. It is here where you will find two incredibly cool boltholes with walls of glass looking out onto some of the most beautiful views on the planet. These cottages are completely private and set apart, featuring stone bathrooms, magnificent kitchens and huge terraces. Think leather sofas in front of a fireplace, an outdoor claw foot bathtub and views that go on forever. Honeymooners will spend their days exploring deserted beaches and hiking empty mountains, taking in storms from the huge terrace and gazing at stars by candlelight. It is self-catering at these cottages, which means you will need to bring your own groceries, or arrange to have homemade meals awaiting there on your arrival.

Photo by: Croft 103 / John Paul Photography
Photo by: Croft 103 / John Paul Photography

5. Sanya, Hainan Island, Southeast China

It was once deemed as China’s “gate of hell”, but Hainan Island is now full of breathtaking white sand beaches, thick rainforests, highland mountains, traditional Chinese villages and a slew of luxury hideaways. Honeymooners can spend their days volunteering with sea turtles, visiting ancient temples, snorkeling in the clear waters and hiking in the rainforest. Stay at the awesome beachfront resort on Haitang Bay, The Royal Begonia, which is set against pristine sands and azure waters. Honeymooners should book one of the private villas, which feature a private butler, marble bathrooms, private pools and glittery chandeliers. Enjoy exotic cocktails and local cuisine at the indoor/outdoor restaurant on-site. A state of the art fitness center, spa and accommodations combined with an incredible island full of activities to explore make this the perfect honeymoon destination.

Photo by: Luxury Collection Hotels and Resorts
Photo by: Luxury Collection Hotels and Resorts

4. Port Antonio, Jamaica

It is easy to choose the Caribbean as your destination honeymoon but if you are looking for something a little more private and off the beaten path, Port Antonio is the perfect choice. This quiet and beautiful haven is known for its incredible white sand beaches, beautiful waterfalls, clear water perfect for diving and snorkeling, nearby rafting and epic sunsets. Honeymooners will spend days tasting freshly caught seafood, relaxing in the sun and walking through the towns and markets. Stay at Geejam Hotel, a beautiful private hotel made up of only seven double rooms. Rooms range from cabins with an outdoor jacuzzi and lush rain forest settings to a villa complete with private pool and personal chef. Make sure to eat your meals at the exquisite Bushbar, the restaurant that features a forest-to-ocean view, outdoor pool table and savory Jamaican and Asian-influenced dishes.

Port Antonio Jamaica

3. Hvar, Croatia

Although this town certainly attracts its share of party-goers, it is actually the perfect destination for honeymooners as well. Think endless lavender fields to wander through, gourmet seafood dinners straight from the sea, relaxing days on the beaches of the Adriatic Sea, day trips to the Paklinski Islands and more. Stay at Hvar’s spa boutique hotel, Adriana, where you can indulge in cocktails on the rooftop bar that offers a wrap-around view of the ancient city, yacht harbor, bay and Paklinski Islands. Book one of the romance packages where you will be treated to in-room love themed daily breakfast, outdoor candle lit massage for two, romantic dinners and more. Splurge on the spa suite, which features extra luxurious furnishings and even more spa access. And hey, if you want to go out and party with the locals and other tourists, there is no shortage of that in this city.

Photo by: Adriana Spa Hotel
Photo by: Adriana Spa Hotel

2. Costa de Prata, Portugal

Northern Portugal may not come up on the list of top ten places you want to have your honeymoon, but after reading this, you may just change your mind. It is here where you will walk on the beach, swim in the sea, walk through the walled medieval city of Obidos, play a round of golf or take part in an eco-adventure. Honeymooners should consider staying at Aerias do Seixo as this stunning hotel is located just 35 minutes from the city of Lisbon and features just 14 romantic rooms. Think driftwood beds, pod-like wood stoves suspended from the ceilings and warm colors throughout. Nature pervades everything here, from the impressive environmental credentials to the home-grown organic produce served in the restaurant. Relax in the spa pool, sauna or Turkish bath, book one of the hotel experiences such as a fishing/mussel harvesting morning or take one of the hotel bicycles and explore the surrounding area.

Photo by: Areias do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences
Photo by: Areias do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences

1. Lapland, Finland

Forget about soaking up the sun for your honeymoon and instead embrace the winter by heading to the city of Lapland in Finland. Honeymooners will experience husky dog safaris, northern lights tours, snowmobile excursions, ice-fishing and more. Perhaps the best part about a winter wonderland honeymoon is cuddling up inside at the end of the day. One of the most unique accommodations in Lapland is Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, which offers several different types of rooms including glass igloos built right into the ground, which happens to offer stunning views of the Northern Lights. For those less adventurous couples, stay in one of the log cabins or wood-lined earth lodges that were created specifically with couples in mind, complete with an en-suite sauna. On-site dining at two exceptional restaurants, including one awesome ice bar, a wealth of activities at your fingertips and a city that comes alive in the winter time makes this one of the best off the beaten path honeymoon destinations in the world.

Photo by: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Photo by: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

 

10 Jaw Dropping European Beaches

Travelling to Europe this summer? When you’re there, make sure to travel outside of the city centres to explore the breathtaking coasts along the ocean. There are some incredible beaches for you to lounge on and explore the underwater wonders of these countries. Whether it’s a well known tourist destination, or a top secret location, these beaches will ignite your love for the ocean, warm sunshine and the wildlife that surrounds you.

1. Oludeniz Beach, Turkey

Oludeniz, translated to “Dead Sea” is a national nature reserve blue lagoon that will stun you the moment you set eyes on it. It is listed as one of the top five beaches in the entire world due to it’s location and the aquamarine color of the water. Paragliding is a frequent activity surrounding this beach, so if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, this beach fits the bill.

 

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

2. Navagio Beach, Zakynthos Island, Greece

In 1980, a freightliner ship sailed too far inland due to stormy weather and poor visibility. It was left there to rest and is now the reason for the nickname “Shipwreck Beach”. Navagio Beach is only accessible by boat and is visited by thousands of tourists each year.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

3. Benagil Cave, Portugal

Yes, it’s really this incredible to look at in person. Technically you can swim to this location but it is strongly discouraged due to the unpredictability of the waters. Take a boat ride to this beautiful cave for some amazing photos and to check it off your bucket list.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

4. Cala Macarella, Mallorca, Spain

This beautiful inlet of calm waters in the perfect location to go and relax on a Sunday afternoon, especially with a Sushi Bar on site selling group sized tapas. A short walk away is a nudist beach for those tourists who want the full nude beach experience.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

5. Zlatni Rat Beach, Brac-Dalmatia, Croatia

This beach is translated to “Golden Horn”. It is truly one of the most stunning beaches in Croatia and is surrounded by the Vidova Gora Mountain Range. Swim in the sea and stare up at the mountains with this beautiful tourist destination.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

6. Calo Des Moro, Mallorca, Spain

Looking for a free activity while in Spain? This beautiful beach is accessible by the road and is privately owned by owners who care deeply about the well being of this location. They prevented a hotel from being built here and are very conscious of the wildlife and plants being well maintained. Sounds like a pretty picture we want to be apart of!

Photos By: Shutterstock

7. Durdle Door Beach, Dorset, England

Looking for a stroll on the beach without the swimming? This beach is so picturesque you could fill up your camera’s memory card with just shots of this location. Known for it’s beautiful arch in the ocean, your eyes will feast on all the greenery and textures on this beach.

Photos By: Shutterstock

8. Nissi Beach, Cyprus

Ready to party? Nissi Beach is known for it’s foam parties, shockingly clean and clear waters and the nightlife. This beach is great for those enthusiastically social travellers looking to make a few friends along the way.

Photos By: Photostock

 

9. Vik Beach, Iceland

Go see the most impressive and memorable black sand beach in Iceland. Vik Beach is filled with icy water and dark sand that will be a completely different beach experience from any other beach in Europe. Car rentals are cheap in this area so you can hop on the road and go see the beach first hand quite easily.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

10. Chia, Sardinia, Italy

You would think you had gotten lost in the tropics when you arrive at Chia Beach. Other than the crystal clear water, peachy sand and stunning views, there is a flamingo breeding ground in the lagoon behind the beach. If you are visiting in July or August, be sure to arrive very early as the beach can get crowded. In June and September, you’ll be able to find a peaceful beach waiting your arrival.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

10 Vacation-Worthy Towns on Croatia’s Stunning Coastline

Having shaken off its war-torn past, Croatia, the European Union’s newest member, is primed to make the most of its future. That means showing off its gorgeous Adriatic coastline to the ever-increasing number of tourists arriving at its shores. The southern city of Dubrovnik has long been a half-hidden European gem, but other coastal towns are following its example. Travelers can explore the walled medieval cities in the morning, search for isolated beaches for an afternoon swim, and at night sample seafood caught fresh that morning. Read on for details on the allure of our top 10 towns on Croatia’s Adriatic coast.

10. Korčula

Wine lovers will adore the island of Korčula, filled with vineyards and said to produce the country’s best white wine. Walls enclose Korčula town, an ancient city filled with narrow, stepped streets. The town itself is overlooked by a number of defensive towers, previously designed to warn away invaders but now used for everything from housing museums to cocktail bars. The town, believed to be the birthplace of Venetian merchant and world traveler Marco Polo, loves to share its history with modern day explorers. Visitors should make a point of seeking out a Moreška performance, routinely given for tourists. This traditional sword dance pits two groups in a mock dance battle over a veiled woman, and its participants are required to be natives of Korčula.

Korčula Croatia

9. Rijeka

For those after more than just a pretty beach (Rijeka proper has few) this is the town to visit. Home to Croatia’s largest port, Rijeka feels more like a Rotterdam or a Naples than a glossy tourist destination. But that grit churns out some polished diamonds. The city, a famous musical hub in its Yugoslav days, boasts a number of venues featuring live music, as well as playing host to other cultural events. The city center reflects Rijeka’s days under Habsburg rule, with its Baroque clock tower its main centerpiece. When done wandering the pedestrian streets of the Korzo, climb the 561 stairs to Trsat Castle. The fortress, dating from the 13th century, is now another great place in Rijeka to catch a concert or take in a performance. Even when there’s nothing going on, the views from the top of the hill make climbing all those stairs worth it.

Rijeka Croatia

8. Pula

Leave the Coliseum to the bustling crowds in Rome and head for Pula instead. This ancient town’s most famous landmark is a 1st century Roman amphitheater, one of the best preserved in the world. Other sites from Roman times include the Temple of Roma and the Arch of the Sergii, while the streets of the old city are still lined with Roman paving stones. Also known by its Italian name Pola, this bilingual city makes the most of its heritage, hosting summer events that recreate gladiator fights and offer visitors the opportunity to taste Roman food and beverages. Those seeking to get away from it all should head 10 kilometers south to Kamenjak National Park on the southernmost point of the Istria peninsula. Jump the cliffs, snorkel the coves or simply find a deserted beach and gaze out at the nearby islands.

Pula Croatia

7. Šibenik

Lacking, as it is, ancient ruins or Roman heritage, many visitors to Croatia don’t bother to stop in Šibenik. But as the oldest Croatian town on the Adriatic, missing out on Šibenik would be missing out on a part of the country’s history. The four fortresses still surrounding the town remind visitors of the natives’ continual resistance to outside rule, dating from the 11th century and the many rulers, including Venice, Hungary, Austria and Italy, that it has seen since. The most noteworthy sight in Šibenik is the St. James Cathedral, a renaissance era church made entirely out of stone and featuring external detailing composed of human faces, said to represent town inhabitants of the 15th century. Šibenik is located near Krka National Park, a similarly overlooked destination which features waterfalls and lakes similar to that of the more famous Plitvice Lakes further east.

Cathedral Šibenik Croatia

6. Zadar

Visiting some towns along the Adriatic coastline can feel more like stepping inside a museum, a room which time forgot. Not so with Zadar. This small city has enough year-round residents to make for some hustle and bustle during the day, while at night Zadar’s bars and restaurants fill up with a mix of tourists and locals eager to sample their delights. That’s not to say Zadar is just any old town, however. When heading out for a walk along the water, visitors might literally stumble upon ancient Roman ruins, like the Augustinian forum near the center of the old city. Newer installations give Zadar a new flavor as well – along the seafront is the Sun Salutation, whose colored glass plates not only create a light show but also collect enough energy to power the harbor’s lighting system, as well as the Sea Organ, which uses the waves to make music.

xbrchx / Shutterstock.com
xbrchx / Shutterstock.com

5. Trogir

The historic city of Trogir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an excellently preserved medieval town with few modern blemishes. Located just a short drive from Split (another city on our list) Trogir makes an excellent day trip, or visitors might choose to stay just outside of town on one of the many gorgeous beaches. Stroll along Trogir’s seafront and admire its little harbor stuffed with sailboats before ducking inside the city’s gates. Have a look at the Cathedral of St Lovro and its renaissance chapel, then seek out the fortress at the water’s edge. Both sites offer the chance to climb their towers and drink in the view. It’s all too easy to lose several hours within the town’s walls, wandering the narrow, winding streets and discovering charming cafes and interesting shops.

Trogir Croatia

4. Rovinj

Rovinj is one of the few towns in the world where visitors can wake up in a five-star hotel, then head down to the harbor to watch fisherman haul in their catch. Known as Rovigno to the Italian speakers of this bilingual town, there exists plenty of reminders of its Venetian heritage. The Church of St. Euphemia in Rovinj’s center is topped by a bell tower modeled off the famous cathedral of St. Mark’s in Venice, and a climb to its top offers lovely views. While climbing the hill to St. Euphemia’s, take time to stop in the shops along Grisia, where local artists display their work. Those interested in feasting off the fish they watched pulled ashore in the morning should visit the open-air market, selling fresh seafood as well as olive oil, truffles and other culinary treasures.

Rovinj Croatia

3. Hvar

The fabulous nightlife of Hvar is best when the summer crowds swell its population, but September may be the ideal time to visit the island and its eponymous town. The island’s beaches, like nearby Uvala Dubovica, won’t be crowded, but it will still be warm enough to sunbathe and swim. When it’s time to return to town, the central piazza will no longer be stuffed with tourists, making for great people watching as the residents use the early evening to stroll and catch up on one another’s lives. Take in the Renaissance-era harbor, then wander through the old town’s marble-paved roads and browse the quirky shops. Follow the path up the hill to the fort built high above the town, where the best views of the town and nearby islands can be found.

Hvar Croatia

2. Dubrovnik

Long the crown jewel of Croatia, Dubrovnik misses out on the top spot because it’s just too well known. (Relatively) high prices and large crowds make this southern town a bit less idyllic than others on our list, but its treasures mean Dubrovnik can’t be ignored. The old city is simply breathtaking, paved in marble and surrounded by walls dating back to the city’s time as the Republic of Ragusa. Experience that history with a walk around the walls, or dive into the fantastical by seeking out the sites featured in HBO’s popular Game of Thrones series. Seek out Buža, a bar hidden amidst the walls, famous for its incredible views across the Adriatic. But those seeking beaches should bypass the rows of loungers near the center of the city and catch a ferry to the nearby islands instead, where the vibe is much more chill and the seascape spectacular.

Dubrovnik Croatia

1. Split

A town that’s grown from the ruins of a Roman emperor’s palace, now that’s pretty hard to beat. Diocletian’s Palace, which dates from the 4th century A.D., is today a UNESCO World Heritage site, but still hosts homes, shops and restaurants within its walls, descendants of those built by the local population who took up residence here way back in the 7th century. Be sure to take a tour of the underground areas of the palace, and those unafraid of heights can climb the steep, winding stairs to the top of the Bell Tower of St. Domnius for incredible views over the harbor. Split has recently revamped its seafront as well, making it the perfect place for a drink after exploring the center of the city, or just for a stroll at sunset.

Split Croatia Palace

6 Essential Croatian Destinations

It seems like everyone and their dog is flocking to Croatia these days, and for good reason; this country is has everything- beaches, nightlife, history, culture, scenery… all at a relatively low price.  So naturally, it is hard to find a time of the year when Croatia is not overwhelmed with tourists.  But, there are still places you can go that are still undiscovered; little hidden pieces of paradise there just for you with all the wonders of Croatia and none of the crowds.

6. Istria

Located in Western Croatia, Istria is more remote than some of the other Croatian destinations, which is why it has remained hidden from the tourists for so long.  If you are feeling an Italian influence in this part of the country, you are not wrong; Istria has a heavy Italian population and is rich in vineyards, wine and olive oil, rolling hills and rustic hill towns.  Best reached by car, this mode of transportation gives you the chance to really soak in the atmosphere and the scenery; you can stay as long as you want, go where you feel, and you don’t have to be reliant on bus transportation. Istria has a plethora of small towns with friendly locals and amazing food- be sure to try a fresh pasta dish with truffles local to the area!

Istria

5. Losinj

Situated in the northern Adriatic, this small, relatively untouched island is less famous than its neighbours to the south, but it is just as beautiful.  It has a classic Mediterranean vibe, with a great fishing port town and beautiful waters, but it also has a slower, more peaceful way of life.  The beaches are empty and the prices far from hostile.  If you are searching for a true, Croatian experience, this island is definitely where you need to be.

losinj

4. Galesnjak

This a romantic destination, although it can absolutely be enjoyed as a single traveller.  The island itself is shaped like a heart, almost perfectly so, and thus, is accurately nicknamed “Lover’s Island”.  It is still relatively uncrowded, although crowds are growing.  It is small and completely surrounded by water and bush; most people enjoy camping here as the landscape is so unspoiled.

Hieronymus / Shutterstock.com
Hieronymus / Shutterstock.com

3. Cavtat

Just south of Dubrovnik is Cavtat, a quintessentially pretty village situated on an idyllic bay.  Tradition still reigns here; surrounding the village is miles of fields and red-roofed homes.  Catvat is a relatively close escape from the crowds of Dubrovnik; it maintains all the charm, but has a slightly less stressful atmosphere.

Cavtat

2. Plitvice Lakes National Park

Few places in the world evoke such magic that you feel as if you have stepped into another world.  Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of them.  Located about an hour from Zagreb is this stunning national park; if you were going to visit one place in Croatia, this should be it.  Miles and miles of waterfalls and rivers, lush green trees and crystal clear lakes are what you can expect when you step into the park.  Here, the water seems to effervesce; the trees bloom greener, the waterfalls run fuller; everything is almost indescribably breathtaking.   The crowds are common, so be sure to visit early in the day to get the most out of your visit, but in a place like this, crowds really don’t matter, it is that pretty of a place.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

1. Korcula

The only way to reach this island off of the Dalmation Coast is by ferry, which is perfect because you get the best view of Korcula and its walls and medieval towers this way.  The town is quaint and charming, although small, although it is the relaxing atmosphere people come here for.  As with most islands in Croatia, it is surrounded by the clearest of waters and the whitest of beaches, but here there are less crowds, so you can have the experience nearly all to yourself.

RnDmS / Shutterstock.com
RnDmS / Shutterstock.com

The Best Places To Spend New Year’s Eve in Europe

New Year’s Eve is a time most of us look forward to putting the old year behind us and starting with a fresh slate in the new year. Many people believe that how we ring in the new year also has bearing on what the year will bring us. For travelers, what could be better than celebrating with friends new and old in a far-flung locale, experiencing local traditions and creating new ones? These 10 European cities know how to ring in the new year; get your year started on the right foot by visiting one of these parties.

10. London

More than 250,000 people will crowd along the banks of the Thames to ring in the new year. Big Ben performs countdown services and the stroke of midnight marks the beginning a spectacular 10-minute display of lights and fireworks. The London Eye, the Shard and Parliament are among the iconic buildings lit up to welcome the new year. Looking to stay out of the cold and rain? Head to the soiree at the London Sky Bar, where you’ll find food and a live DJ, plus fabulous views of the revelry in the streets below. Free public transport all night will help get you to one of many after-parties around the city. Visit the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and, on New Year’s Day, take in the annual parade, which features a procession of the Queen’s horses, among others.

London New Years Eve

9. Dubrovnik

Croatia may not be a top destination for New Year’s revelers, but the city of Dubrovnik gets extra points for managing to host an almost intimate party, despite the number of people who come out to celebrate. Less claustrophobic than parties in Zagreb and Split, the festivities in Dubrovnik center on Stradun, the city’s main street, where you’re likely to bump elbows with locals on their way to bars and restaurants filled to bursting with celebrating crowds. The city also hosts a number of Croatian performers, offering up a rich program of music and entertainment for the evening. Start with a cozy meal with friends or family, or, if you’re traveling with your honey, consider splurging on a meal at one of the city’s upscale establishments. Join the crowds in Stradun for the stroke of midnight, then keep the party going by stopping off at a local bar.

Photo by: Eventfully Croatia
Photo by: Eventfully Croatia

8. Stockholm

The Swedes celebrate Christmas in a relatively subdued style, which means they’re all the more ready to let loose and party on New Year’s Eve. Revelry is the order of the day in the nation’s capital, with parties becoming raucous and celebrations pouring into the streets. Fill up on a seafood at a restaurant before moving your party to Skansen, which has been the center of Stockholm’s celebrations since 1895. At the stroke of midnight, a well-known Swede will read the poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” as streamers fill the air. Party trumpets and fireworks erupt all around the city. After midnight, participate in some club-hopping and keep the party going late into the night; bars and clubs are often open until 3 or 4 in the morning, giving you plenty of time to celebrate the new year.

Stockholm New Years Eve

7. Paris

It should be little wonder that one of Europe’s most iconic cities makes the list as one of the best places to spend New Year’s. The Eiffel Tower is lit up to mark the occasion and crowds of revelers swarm the Champs-Elysees, which provides fantastic views of the tower. The area turns into a massive street party, with both champagne bottles and fireworks popping everywhere. If you’re looking for something a little different, try Montmarte for excellent views of fireworks without the crowd. If you want something romantic, book a dinner cruise along the Seine and listen to a live orchestra as you sail through the City of Lights. Restaurants and nightclubs also hold soirees so you have no shortage of options for how to ring in the new year. On New Year’s Day, the Grande Parade de Paris caps off the celebrations.

Paris New Years Eve

6. Vienna

Vienna, once the center of empire and a beautiful city beloved by intellectuals and artists, is perhaps the best place in Europe to experience an “Old World” New Year’s celebration. The city’s most famous party is the Grand Ball held at the Hofburg Palace, but there are plenty of other opportunities for revelry in the Austrian capital. The city’s famous Christmas markets transform into fairs and the New Year’s Eve Trail will lead you through the Old City. The party begins at 2 in the afternoon and continues long after the clock has struck midnight. Mulled wine is the drink of choice for this crowd. A spectacular fireworks display highlights the Wiener Prater fair at midnight. On New Year’s Day, join the crowd gathered outside City Hall to watch the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s concert on a giant screen.

Photo by: Room Suggestion
Photo by: Room Suggestion

5. Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known as something of a party city for North Americans, and on New Year’s Eve, the city shows that it deserves that reputation, with impromptu street parties filling the spaces between large, organized revelry in public places like Rembrandtplein, Nieumarkt, Museumplein and Dam Square. Outdoor concerts are complemented by indoor parties at bars. Fireworks go on sale the day before the celebrations, so you can be sure to see plenty of displays. Grab a perch on one of the city’s many bridges and watch the colors explode across the nighttime sky, mirrored in the water below. Grab a glass of champagne and some fried treats (like oliebollen, viamse frites and bitterballen) from the street vendors, then head to the club to keep the party going.

Photo by: Amsterdam
Photo by: Amsterdam

4. Reykjavik

Reykjavik receives only 4 hours of sun on New Year’s Eve, which means the locals are more than ready to celebrate with a festival of light. They start with community bonfires, meant to burn away the troubles of the old year. There are no official fireworks displays organized by the city; rather, there are numerous displays put on by private citizens. Fireworks will often start about half-an-hour before midnight, lighting up every corner of the city as almost 200,000 people get involved. Head to Perlan or Landakotskirkja church for the best views of the city. Plenty of small, private parties keep things hopping, and bars and clubs remain open well after midnight. Since Icelanders tend to go out late anyway, you’ll often find revelers up until the wee hours of the morning, dancing the night away.

Photo by: Guide to Iceland
Photo by: Guide to Iceland

3. Istanbul

Istanbul has been on the rise as a must-see destination for travelers, and what better time than New Year’s? While visiting this vibrant European capital is an experience and a half at any time of year, Istanbul one-ups itself on New Year’s Eve. Start your evening with a traditional Turkish meze dinner in a restaurant in Bebek or Istiklal Caddesi, where celebrations are a little tamer. Afterwards, join the jubilant crowd in the streets of Taksim or another part of the city, where revelers will organize impromptu street parties. If the crowded streets aren’t your scene, you can always book a river cruise along the Bosphorus and watch the celebrations from afar as you sail through the city. The best part is that you’ll have one of the best views for the stunning fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

Istanbul new years eve

2. Prague

Prague is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and one of the most beautiful in the world. The “city of a hundred spires” comes alive on New Year’s Eve, which is also known as Silvestr. The streets will be packed with a rag-tag crowd of revelers, and bars, clubs and restaurants will be filled with party-goers. Much of the fun takes place at Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square. Fireworks are set off all around town (and perhaps with a bit of dangerous abandon), with one of the best displays occurring at Letna Gardens, which can be watched from nearby bridges and embankments. Champagne bottles are smashed during the celebrations, which means you might want to bring a helmet to this party, but who could resist ringing in the new year in the heart of Europe?

Prague New Years Eve

1. Berlin

Germany’s capital has something of a reputation as a party city throughout the year, so it makes sense that the city has a go-big-or-go-home attitude toward New Year’s festivities. The highlight is undoubtedly “Party Mile,” a 2-km stretch between Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, lined with bars, food stalls, music stages, party tents and laser light shows. The fireworks begin promptly at midnight, as do the toasts to the new year. Many people then hit the dancefloors of the city’s clubs, partying until well after sun-up. The Berliner Silversterlauf, the infamous New Year’s Eve “pancake run,” is another tradition in the city. Some people run the free 4-km race on New Year’s Day. Berlin expects to welcome approximately a million revelers to help ring in 2016—maybe you’ll be one of them.

Berlin New Years Eve

 

10 European Attractions Every Kid Should Experience

Taking your kids on vacation is always a gamble, will you be able to find enough fun, engaging activities to keep them satisfied and tired out at the end of the day? While on the surface, Europe may seem like it’s more stuffy museums and ‘please don’t touch signs’ than anything else but that’s simply not true. For fun and educational experiences, these 10 family-friendly destinations are sure to be the highlight of any European vacation, and will create life-long memories for your children. Here are 10 European attractions every kid should get to experience:

10. Legoland Billund Resort, Denmark

It’s not the only Legoland theme park in the world but it is the original. Legoland Denmark opened in June of 1968 on a piece of land right next to the original Lego factory. This 45-acre park devoted to all things ‘blocks’ is divided into 9 theme areas: Duplo Land, Imagination Zone, LEGOREDO Town, Adventure Land, Lego City, Knight´s Kingdom, Mini Land, Pirate Land and Polar Land. Treat your kids to a visit to the original Legoland for an experience they won’t forget!

Olena Bloshchynska / Shutterstock.com
Olena Bloshchynska / Shutterstock.com

9. Plopsaland De Panne, Belgium

First opened in 2000, Plopsaland De Panne is a colorful theme park on Belgium’s coast near the French border. The park is divided into several zones, each with a different theme and in the zones you’ll find popular characters from Belgium children’s TV shows like Big & Betsy and Mega Mindy. With 6 roller coasters, playgrounds, gardens, a theater, boats and a farm with real live animals, this park is a fun filled experience for children of all ages.

"Ingang Plopsaland De Panne 4" by Druyts.t - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Ingang Plopsaland De Panne 4” by Druyts.tOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

8. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

If you’re looking to provide your children with a glimpse of nature at its finest, a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is a must do. This UNESCO World Heritage park is one of the oldest in Southeast Europe and is famous for its beautiful cascading lakes, separated by naturally formed travertine. Children will love running through the open spaces of this beautiful park and reportedly colorful dragonflies are in abundance, sometimes even landing right on you.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

7.  Natura Artis Magistra, Amsterdam

Any family with little animal lovers must make a trip to Natura Artis Magistra (or just Artis for short). This spectacular zoo is located in the heart of Amsterdam and provides a natural oasis in the bustling city. Enjoy the manicured gardens, over 200 species of plants and of course the animals (there’s over 900 species of them to be seen here!) With an aquarium, planetarium, playgrounds and Zoological Museum, it’s safe to say that Artis is much more than the average zoo.

hans engbers / Shutterstock.com
hans engbers / Shutterstock.com

6. Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, England

Whoever said museums are boring has obviously never visited Eureka! This interactive children’s museum in Halifax, England provides education along with fun, through hands-on exhibits. The museum is geared for children ages 0-11 years and encourages that parents get in on the fun with their little ones as well. In Eureka’s four main galleries, children can enjoy a miniature town square, gardens from around the world and the science and sounds of music.

Photo by: Fairytale Town
Photo by: Fairytale Town

5. Efteling, Netherlands

This beautiful, old school theme park in Netherland’s south end will appeal to kids with an imagination and love of fairy tales. The fantasy themed park focuses on myth, legend, fairy tales and folk lore in its numerous attractions. Opened in 1952, Efteling is the largest theme park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world. Children of all ages will enjoy this park which offers a wide range of rides and attractions, plus there’s lots going on for parents too.

"Efteling Entrance" by Stefan Scheer - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons.
Efteling Entrance” by Stefan ScheerOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons.

4. Discover Children’s Story Centre, London

If your kids are big into books and the kind who never want story time to end, they’ll love Discover. This London institution is the “UK’s first hands-on creative literacy centre for children aged 0-11 years and their families, carers and teachers.” At Discover, children and their families can play, learn and enjoy making up stories as they go. Discover secret caves on the Story Trail, climb on a space ship in the Story Garden, or step inside a giant chocolate cake in the new Michael Rosen Exhibition.

Photo by: The Independant
Photo by: The Independant

3. Italia in Miniatura, Italy

Even kids can feel like giants in this tiny town and leisure park in Viserba, Italy. This park features 273 miniature scale versions of famous Italian and European buildings and landmarks which you can walk through. The landscape is completed by a monorail, 10,000 miniature plants and 5,000 miniature trees. But that’s not all there is to enjoy here, either; the park also offers several attractions like a log ride, playground, cinema and merry-go-round.

oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com
oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

2. Natural History Museum, London

The London Natural History Museum has a lot to offer anyone interested in our natural world, but makes sure kids can get in on all the fun and education with many kid friendly exhibits and hands-on learning experiences. Discover dinosaurs and even have a sleep over under the skeleton of a Diplodocus, or explore the solar system in the Otherworlds exhibit. Winter brings the added treat of the Swarovski outdoor ice rink; a seasonal activity for the whole family.

Daniel Gale / Shutterstock.com
Daniel Gale / Shutterstock.com

1. Disneyland, Paris

No children’s attractions list is complete without the addition of a Disney park. Disneyland Paris is not only the most visited theme park in France but also in all of Europe. At Disneyland Paris you’ll find some of the same rides and attractions that made the North American Disney parks so famous like It’s a Small World, Space Mountain: Mission 2, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. 

Photo by: The Guardian
Photo by: The Guardian

The 12 Best Scenic Tram Rides in the World

Some may call them gondolas, others may call them cable cars or aerial tramways but we call them trams. By tram, we aren’t talking about the light-rail or streetcars that run through most of Europe; we are talking about the cable-suspended cabins that seamlessly float through the air. All over the world these trams offer incredible sweeping views of oceans, mountains and cities. From trams that offer free public transportation to those with glass floors, here are 12 of the best tram rides in the world.

12. Roosevelt Island Tram – New York City, United States

It is one of America’s only aerial tramways used for urban mass transit and that fact alone makes this tram pretty incredible. It serves more than two million commuters and tourists a year connecting Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Each cabin can hold up to 110 people and the trip only takes three minutes. The draw for tourists seems to be the sweeping views of Manhattan and the East River it provides from 230 feet in the air. This Tram has been featured in many television shows and movies and continues to be one of the most loved trams in the world.

Stuart Monk / Shutterstock.com
Stuart Monk / Shutterstock.com

11. Gibraltar Cable Car – Gibraltar, Spain

Many people have never heard of Gibraltar mainly because it is a very small British Overseas Territory that is located on the south coast of Spain, often referred to as “The Rock.” One of the highlights here is a trip on the cable car. It has been around since 1966 and not summiting the top via cable car would be like going to the Grand Canyon and not looking over the rim. The ride to the top only takes six minutes, but visitors are provided with an audio guide that talks about the history of the area. Sweeping views over the strait and into Northern Africa accompany riders. At the top visitors will be privy to the view of two continents, three countries and the meeting point of two great bodies of water. There is only one hitch to being at the top of this rock and that is the thieving resident apes that are waiting for you. Make sure to leave all food below and hold onto your camera as these apes love to steal right from your hand.

Gibraltar Cable Car , Spain

10. Table Mountain Aerial Cableway – Cape Town, South Africa

It is one of three trams in the world where each circular cabin rotates a full 360 degrees during the ascent to Table Mountain. The five minute trip up provides spectacular views and has been enjoyed by over 20 million people. A quick fact about this cable car, it was actually one of Cape Town’s first tourist attractions and opened in 1929. On the ride up and at the summit visitors are granted 360-degree views of Cape Town, Table Bay, nearby mountains and the rest of Table Mountain National Park. Also at the top is where you will find three hiking trails, a guided walk, self-serve restaurant and souvenir shop. One of the more popular times to ride this tram is sunset as there seems to be no better place in Africa to watch the sun sink away than on top of Table Mountain. If you are feeling really adventurous, skip the cable car ride back down and rappel down the cliff face.

Table Mountain, South Africa

9. Sandia Peak Tramway – Albuquerque, United States

It is hailed as North America’s longest aerial tram and has the world’s third longest single span. That alone is enough for us to want to get to Albuquerque and ride it today. At 2.7 miles long the tram provides sweeping views of the steep rocky terrain. The trip starts off in the suburbs of northeast Albuquerque and spends 15 minutes taking visitors up to the high desert peaks of the Sandia Mountains. Riders should expect an elevation change of about 4,000 feet and a temperature drop of 30 degrees. It works on a double system where one tram ascends and the other descends, each being able to hold up to 50 people. When this tram was first constructed in 1966 the engineering company touted it as being one of the most difficult tramway construction projects because of the terrain. You can just imagine what those views look like from 3,000 feet in the air.

Sandia Peak Tramway

8. Telluride Gondola – Colorado, United States

This ultra laid back ski town offers an equally cool form of public transportation. It offers a 13 minute tram ride between Telluride and Mountain Village. What makes this tram even better, riders can ride it as many times as they want for free. Since it opened in 1996, this tram has always been free and motors along leisurely at 11 mph operating from 7 am-midnight. This tram offers incredible 360 degree views of the San Juan Mountains and locals refer to it as the “best commute in the country.” Everyone is welcome on this tram including your four legged furry friends as long as they are on a leash. Equipped with ski and snowboard racks in the winter, bike racks in the summer and blankets all year round. This tram has truly thought of everything to make your ride unforgettable.

Telluride Gondola, Colorado

7. Skyline Gondola – Queenstown, New Zealand

The views from this gondola, the steepest of its kind in all of the Southern Hemisphere, are epically amazing. This tram takes visitors 450 meters above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob’s Peak. You can even take your bike up on it. But what awaits visitors at the top is what makes this tram one of the best. Besides the awesome viewing platforms and outdoor terraces, there is a plethora of activities that await visitors on this peak. For the adrenaline seekers, paragliding, bungee jumping and luge racing are all offered at the top. For those not quite daring enough, there are plenty of mountain biking trails, stargazing tours and scenic dining options as well. The 222- degree view of the Remarkable Range, the town center looking like a Lego city and the plethora of activities at the top make this one amazing tram ride.

ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com
ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

6. Dubrovnik Cable Car -Dubrovnik, Croatia

Soar up above Dubrovnik’s orange-roofed walled Old Town on this amazing cable car that goes 1,329 feet up into the air. The original cable car that was opened in 1969 was actually bombed out during the 1991 Balkan conflicts, but has since been replaced and re-opened in 2010. It only takes four minutes to do the entire run, but it remains one of the best ways for visitors to take in the Dalmatian coast anytime of the day. It is possible to buy a one-way ticket up and that often gives visitors the best of both worlds, as the walk down is just as scenic and only takes a mere 30 minutes. We suggest aiming for sunset as the sky lights up with color when the sun sinks beneath the Adriatic Sea over this twinkling city with its snaky roads and rocky islands.

Dubrovnik Cable Car

5. Hakone Ropeway – Hakone, Japan

With over two million riders a year, the Hakone Ropeway is hailed as the world’s busiest gondola, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. This 30 minute journey takes visitors 2.5 miles from Togendai Station on the shores of Lake Ashi to Sounzan Station in Hakone, an area known for its hot spring baths. It makes two stops along the way and promises views of the snowcapped Mount Fuji, the crystal clear blue waters of Lake Ashi, the volcanic fumes of Owakudani and forested mountains. The trams run at one minute intervals to the tourist busy town of Hakone, where locals tell visitors to eat a hardboiled egg that has been soaked in the sulfur rich water in order to add seven more years to their life. We aren’t too sure about the jet black egg, but we are sure about making this tram ride a must do while in Japan.

Hakone Ropeway, Japan

4. Langkawi SkyCab – Langkawi, Malaysia

The SkyCab is located at the oldest part of South East Asia and whisks visitors over jungle and rock that is 550 million years old. There are actually three parts of this tram ride, first the base station located at the foot of the Machincang Mountain where visitors catch the tram. The second station is in the middle at an elevation of 650 m above sea level that provides panoramic views of the main island. There are viewing platforms available and here is the chance to get up close to the unique flora. The top station sits at an elevation of 708 m above sea level and features two viewing platforms that offer dramatic views. The entire journey takes about 15 minutes if you choose not to get off and takes you to the island’s second highest peak, Mount Machincang.

Langkawi SkyCab

3. Ngong Ping 360 – Hong Kong, China

It is hailed as being one of the world’s best cable car experiences and with its choice of cabins, incredible views and cultural village, it is easy to see why. The journey is 3.5 miles one way and takes visitors between Tung Chung Town and Ngong Ping on Lantau Island. To start off the gondola makes a hard turn to begin its journey over the stunning Tung Chung Bay and into the lush green mountains of Lantau Island. The views include the South China Sea, the Tian Tan Buddha Statue, the International Airport and the flora and fauna of North Lantau Country Park. For those visitors wanting to splurge, book the incredible crystal cabins that are outfitted with a glass floor, giving you a bird’s eye views over all the sights. You will end up at the touristy Ngong Ping Village where you can visit the monastery, see the giant Buddha statue and explore the museum of cable car replicas from around the world.

Ngong Ping 360

2. Stanserhorn CabriO – Stans, Switzerland

It is the world’s first double-decker, open-top tram in the world and for those of you who are afraid of heights – you may want to skip it. Opened in June 2012, this cable car zips visitors 3,737 feet to the top of Stanserhorn. The lower level of the car with floor to wall windows fits a comfortable 60 people. Taking the staircase to the top is most recommended where an additional 30 people can fit. Fresh mountain area, 360 degree panoramic views and the wind in your hair is what you can expect up here. It takes just six and a half minutes to reach the top and before you know it the rolling green hills, towering mountains and bright blue waters will be below you. It may be the first open-air tram but we doubt it will be the last.

Photo by: Stanserhorn-Bahn
Photo by: Stanserhorn-Bahn

1. Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car – Grenoble, France

Since 1934, a steel cable has connected Grenoble to the summit all year round, in the world’s first urban route that opened with 12-sided cabins painted blue. Nowadays the cable cars look a little different in their ultra modern bubble shape with floor to ceiling windows in a cool silver and red color. Made of plexi-glass and steel these cabins fit six people each and are responsible for taking visitors from the banks of the Isere River to the ancient Bastille fortifications, in just four minutes. Safety is their number one priority here and in January these cable cars shut down for 20 days in order to perform drills, checks and maintenance. On a clear day, not only will visitors have sweeping views of the city of Grenoble but can also see the gorgeous Alps including the iconic Mont Blanc.

Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car