Travel guide Lonely Planet has released its choices for the top European destinations for 2013 and nowhere in sight is Paris or Rome.
Marseille, France has been named one of 'Lonely Planet's' top European destinations for 2013. Photo: AFP/Rudolf Tepfenhart/shutterstock.com
Instead, editors chose cities and regions that are predicted to be the next big thing in travel, or old favorites that have “timely and fresh reasons” to be revisited this year.
For example, instead of heading to Prague, which has become an increasingly popular tourist destination in recent years, editors suggest planning a trip to the Czech Republic's lesser-known wine country, Moravia, reputed for producing robust red wines and its picturesque landscapes.
Likewise, Marseille is offered as an alternative to the City of Light after the French port city was named the European Capital of Culture for 2013.
Here are the top 10 destinations editors say travelers should be headed to in Europe right now:
Porto & Douro Valley
Porto is more than just fortified wines, say Lonely Planet editors. Art lovers may be interested to know that the city best known for its port is actually at the vanguard of the bohemian art scene, for example. Travelers looking for a quiet countryside retreat should also consider Douro Valley, home to vineyards and terraced hillsides.
The Hungarian capital is doing one thing very well right now: ‘retro-chic.’ That’s the overriding theme in new hotels, bars, food and restaurants. The city is also worth a trip for its thermal baths.
While Reykjavik may be the most popular destination among travelers to Iceland, editors point out the merits of heading northbound away from the madding crowds where nature lovers can visit dramatic geysers, lava fields and towering waterfalls.
Cinque Terre Italy
After a catastrophic flood wiped out much of the area in 2011, locals have gone to “heroic” lengths to rebuild the string of five towns that ring the rugged Liguria coastline, editors point out. The resulting restoration efforts have cleaned up the region and invite travelers to explore each village and small hidden beaches along the way.
Moravia, Czech Republic
While the country is better known for its beer than wine, the vineyards of Moravia offer a “quieter, authentically Czech experience,” says Lonely Planet. Travel ideas to this region include harvest festivals and leisurely bike rides through the vineyards.
Lonely Planet describes Bern as “the most underrated captial city” on the European continent for its artsy boutiques, intellectual bars and “cutting-edge” locavore cuisine. Travel ideas include an Emmental Cheese Route by bike, and an annual busker festival.
As the European Capital of Culture for 2013, Marseille has significantly cleaned up its act and is described as one of Europe’s greatest comeback cities. This month, for instance, the city opened the doors to a brand new museum, the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée. But the city is also worth the trek for its bouillabaisse alone, says Lonely Planet.
While the Balkan country has enjoyed soaring popularity among European travelers, most visitors head to the 2,000-km coastline, ignoring the merits of inland cities like Zagreb, a charming pedestrian city with a vibrant café scene, and Plitvice Lakes National Park, a “nature-lover’s paradise” for its turquoise lakes and waterfalls.
As the UK City of Culture for 2013, Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland is undergoing a renaissance, says Lonely Planet. The region is also riding high off the popularity of the TV series "Game of Thrones" which uses the area as filming locations. Maritime buffs may also be interested in a new museum dedicated to the Titanic which opened in Belfast.
Lonely Planet calls the Danish city “Scandinavia’s coolest capital city” and lauds it for its focus on sustainable food, green building and bike-sharing programs. Copenhagen has also made a mark in gastronomic and foodie circles for being home to Noma, which has snagged the title of the world’s best restaurant for three years by influential trade publication Restaurant magazine. The city’s summer jazz festival is also reason enough for going, editors say.