The Best Places to visit in Europe in 2021

An old town square surrounded by colour buildings

Over the last year travel has been hit very hard. Airplanes have been grounded, we have been stuck in our homes and the world has become a very different place.

While it is hard to predict what travel in 2021 will look like, we can keep our fingers crossed that boarders will begin to open and travel will be back on the cards.

One thing is certain, travel will be completely different. We will finally be able to reconnect with each other and the excitement of visiting a new place will be even more than it was before.

To help you plan your 2021 travel plans, I asked some amazing travel bloggers to come up with a list of the best places to visit in Europe in 2021.

Pinterest Graphic for the best places to visit in Europe in 2021

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Here are the best places to visit in Europe in 2021

Iceland

Meliss, Meliss Meets World

A water fall below a grassy hill

If you’re looking for that next destination that won’t compare to anywhere else you’ve yet traveled to yet, that choice should be Iceland! Imagine the country as a cross between a European winter destination meets a Star Wars film set.

Depending on where you’re traveling in Iceland, the views and landscape can be much different, and change rather quickly.

The two most important questions you’re going to want to ask yourself when traveling to Iceland is when do you want to travel, and what vast extent of the country do you want to see.

The summer and fall months are the most popular times to travel to Iceland, but later in the fall and early in the winter is the perfect time to try and catch two seasons, less tourists, and the Northern Lights.

If you’re wanting to travel to Iceland, the best way to get around is by car or camper van! Iceland is a vast but sometimes desolate country, so make sure you stock up whenever you can.

We enjoyed seeing the country at our own pace, and stayed at various points in Airbnbs, or my favorite the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon. The architecture of the hotel is quite stunning, and the south facing side looks upon the roaring sea.

One of my other favorite memories of Iceland was the night we stayed in this hotel and saw a marvelous show of the Northern Lights dancing above Fjallsárlón Lagoon’s ice cap.

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Jade, The Migrant Yogi

A horse monument in an old town square

Cluj-Napoca, Romania is often overlooked when planning a trip to Europe.  But the Transilvanian capital city has so much to offer its visitors and is a solid choice for 2021 travel. 

Cluj-Napoca is a city in North-West Romania with an extensive history and a large Hungarian population due to the region’s territorial history.  It’s one of the friendliest cities in Europe and is among the safest in the world.

There are a number of hotels and hostels in the city, as well as affordable AirBnb’s.  Hotel Transilvania is a great mid-range option conveniently located in the city center, walking distance to the city’s main attractions.  If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, try the Grand Hotel Italia.

Regardless of your interests, Cluj, as it is affectionately called by locals, has something for everyone.  Some of the highlights include wandering the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, spending the day at the Botanical Garden, learning about rural Romanian life at the open-air Ethnographic Museum, or taking in the views from Cetățuia Park.  

Cluj is a major international student city, meaning the nightlife here is superb.  There are also a number of acclaimed festivals including TIFF (Transilvanian International Film Festival), Electric Castle, and Untold.  Both Electric Castle and Untold are international music festivals with world-renowned performers.

Buildings lined with trees

There are a ton of great restaurants in Cluj, as well as a food truck park situated atop Cetățuia Hill.  Cluj even has its own dish – varză a la Cluj, a cabbage dish with minced meat and a sour cream sauce – which is nothing short of delicious.

If you’re looking to get out of the city for a day, there are many convenient day trips accessible from Cluj. 

Turda Salt Mines is under an hour away and has been internationally recognized as an underground phenomenon. 

Hike in the Apuseni Mountains or take a boat out on Lake Tarnița for some fresh air.  Or, visit nearby cities such as Oradea or Sibiu.

Bucharest, Romania

Violeta, Bucharest Inside Out

Trees lining the river bank

Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, has been around since the 15th century when a shepherd named Bucur chose to settle in this area and built a church which is still here today.

As Bucharest has its own airport, it is very easy to reach from many other cities in Europe.

The best time of year for visiting this city is May-June or September-October, when temperatures are mild. Summer in Bucharest can get very hot. Besides, most locals leave the city for their summer holidays, so the overall atmosphere is less animated than during spring or fall.

In winter, Bucharest is beautiful only when it snows. A couple of days after snowing, though, everything becomes a gray, watery mess that enters your shoes and your soul. If Bucharest is on your European cities bucket list, avoid visiting it in the winter.

An old romanian building with a dome roof

Among the best places to see in Bucharest, The Village Museum Dimitrie Gusti is an absolute must. This museum is in an outdoor space by Herastrau Lake and it features traditional houses from all regions of Romania.

Other things to see in Bucharest include The Old Town, The Carturesti Carusel bookstore, The Palace of the Parliament, and the many churches scattered around the entire city.

The best place to stay in Bucharest is the central area. You’ll be within walking distance from many of the best things to see in this city. Hilton Garden Inn, Continental Hotel and Novotel Hotel are among the nicest options.

If you travel on a budget, though, you may choose a hostel or a bed and breakfast. 

Prague, Czech Republic

Renata, Bye Myself

A view over an old city with orange roofs

Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic – located in the very center of Europe. Beautiful Prague was nicknamed by its admirers as The Golden City for a reason.

Until the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved in 1918, Prague had been one of the realm’s most important metropolis. Intellectuals and artists got inspired by its beauty and worldly spirit.

No wonder that Prague has become one of the most popular destinations when it comes to city-breaks in Europe.

Therefore, to beat the crowds, my summer-break took me straight to this mesmerizing place. Not only are there tons of incredible landmarks but also beauty at every corner – even many of the regular houses from the turn of the 19th century are lavishly decorated and will make your jaw drop.

Coming from the historic old town square where you can admire the famous astronomical clock on the tower of the old town hall, you’ll cross the river Vltava over the iconic Charles bridge towards the medieval castle on top of the Hradcany hill.

Contrary to many other castles around Europe, the Prague Castle is not just one majestic building with some stables. It’s actually the largest coherent castle complex in the world.

A bridge lined with old lamps

On an enormous area are many stately buildings of various architectural styles, houses of worship, and the structures of the original residence building. One of the loveliest parts is the so-called Golden Lane where tiny tenements are well-preserved.

All this sightseeing will make you hungry and thirsty. Don’t worry, Prague’s restaurateurs won’t let you down. Czech cuisine consists mostly of lots of meats, accompanied by hearty dumplings and some very tasty cabbage. Quite heavy, yes, but certainly delicious.

The Czechs drink more beer per capita than any other nation in the world and have exported their brew not only to their European neighbors but also to the United States since 1874. You know what you have to try.

Especially if you have only a couple of days to explore this incredibly interesting and beautiful city, conveniently located accommodation is key.

Therefore, I recommend The Emblem Hotel. It is located only two minutes from the old town square and maybe five minutes from the Charles Bridge as well as the Jewish Quarter Josefov. It simply cannot get more comfortable.

There are various airlines serving Prague’s Václav Havel Airport in Ruzyně. However, within Europe, you can also get there easily – and cheap – by train or long-distance bus. For instance, it’s about four hours to either Berlin or Vienna.

Pilsen, Czech Republic

Becky, Becksplore

The view over an old town square surrounded by coloured buildings

Pilsen (or Plzeň) is the 4th most populated city in the Czech Republic and around a 75-minute car ride away from Prague. There are also busses and trains running regularly between the two cities. If you are coming Germany, Munich is around a 3-hour car ride away and Nuremberg only 2 hours away by car.  

Pilsen is a great city for all beer-lovers as it is the place where the Pilsner beer has originated from. When you are visiting you can pay a visit to the famous Pilsner Urquell Brewery and taste some Czech beers. 

If you are spending a day in Pilsen, you should also walk up the steps to the top of the cathedral of St. Bartholomew, which is located right in the middle of the main square. To walk up will cost you 50CZK for adults and 35CZK for students and you will get to experience some amazing views of the entire city. Furthermore, you can visit the Great Synagogue which is the second biggest synagogue in Europe. 

You can also find a lot of great restaurants and bars in Pilsen. You can probably see most of the highlights within a day, so I would definitely recommend combining your trip to Pilsen with a visit to some other cities as well.

Karlovy Vary is only a one hour car-ride away and also Mariánské Lázně isn’t too far away. Both are two spa cities with incredible architecture. 

As the city of Pilsen is not too big, most of the hotels are located near the centre. I had stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Pilsen Hotel which was located right by the brewery. The location was great and the facilities as well, so I would definitely recommended the place if you are visiting Pilsen.

Haarlem, The Netherlands

Lisa, FlipFlopGlobetrotters

An old church

Haarlem is a lively Dutch city with a rich history, dating back to pre-medieval times. Haarlem was granted city rights in 1245 and walking around the city center you’ll see a lot of historic buildings.

The famous 17th century Dutch master Frans Hals came from Haarlem and did you know that in 1911 Dutch aviation pioneer Anthony Fokker flew his first airplane, the Fokker Spider, around the St. Bavochurch? 

Despite it being a proper city, with lots of bars and restaurants, a move theater, numerous museums and great shopping, Haarlem still has that small town feel. Its city center is compact and easy to navigate. Haarlem is often called Little Amsterdam, as it has similar historic buildings and canals, but is much less busy.

The Grote Kerk or St. Bavochurch at the Grote Markt (the market square in the city center) is Haarlem’s best known landmark and definitely worth a visit. Its famous and impressive Müller organ was played by young Mozart when he visited the city. If you enjoy museums you really shouldn’t miss the Frans Hals Museum, Teyler’s Museum and De Hallen.

Also, Haarlem was named best shopping city numerous years in a row. The Grote Houtstraat houses all the big chain stores, but in the smaller streets around de Grote Markt you’ll find some lovely boutiques. If you’re on a budget, there are also plenty of free things to do in Haarlem.

Like most Dutch towns and cities, Haarlem has a few weekly markets. On Mondays and Saturdays the Grote Markt in the city center is transformed into a large weekly market.

This is great chance to score some lovely streetfood, try the famous Dutch stroopwafels and find some great bargains. If you want to see more of Haarlem, why not do as the Dutch do and rent a bike? It’s a great way to see the city and surrounding areas. In the summer months another fantastic way to explore the city is by renting a boat.

Lots of people prefer a stay in Haarlem over busy Amsterdam, especially if they’re looking to experience the real Dutch culture. For both location and price Joops City Center Hotel is a great choice. 

San Marino

Pamela, The Directionally Challenged Traveler

A castle sitting on top of a mountain covered in trees

An amazing hidden gem in Europe, is the tiny micro-country of San Marino. The oldest country in the world boasts breathtaking views of the Italian countryside while being home to an impressive castle. San Marino is one of the best European destinations to visit in 2021. Breakaway from the crowds of the cities in Italy, and travel to San Marino.

You cannot get to San Marino by train or flying. Renting a car from Venice or Bologna is the most convenient way to visit. You can drive right to the top of the mountain – just be careful with hairpin turns. Before climbing up the mountain, stop at the Visitor’s Center for a stamp in your passport. Not many people can say they have visited the oldest country in the world! 

The first thing one notices about San Marino is the towering castle on the peak of Monte Titano. There are three towers to explore, dating back to the 11th century! The First Tower, Guaita is the oldest tower built in the 11th century and most famous.

The Second Tower, Cesta, is on the highest peak and is home to a museum holding over 1500 weapons dating back to the Medieval Era. The Montale, the third tower, is on the smallest summit and is not open to the public. 

Craving hand-tossed, fire-grilled pizza with local wine overlooking the countryside? Head to Ristorante II Beccafico for a delicious meal. On the second day, enjoy some of the museums that San Marino has to offer such as the National Museum, the Basilica de San Marino, or for a bit off the tourist track – the Torture Museum. 

Hotel Cesare is located at the top of the mountain and has a patio overlooking the hillside. Enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset over the Italian countryside. They also have reserved parking spaces at the top of the mountain so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to park.

Florence, Italy

Linn, Brainy Backpackers

A enclosed bridge crossing a river lined with grassy banks

The capital of the romantic wine region of Tuscany is without a doubt one of the best places to travel in Europe. Florence is jam-packed with history, art, and culture.

Not only is it the perfect gateway to the rest of the region, making it perfect to go on a day trip from Florence to Lucca, San Gimignano, or Siena, but it’s also a good place to start or end your Italy trip as it’s got an international airport.

There are a lot of things to do in the city, so start with visiting the impressive cathedral and climb the 463 steps to the dome for stunning city views.

To get even better city views, take the trip to the Piazzale Michelangelo where you can admire the cathedral towering above the rest of the city.

You will also see the unique Ponte Vecchio from here, which you should definitely go and take a closer look at. The old bridge was the only one to survive World War Two and now it’s full of jewelry and antique shops worth checking out.

Walk across the bridge and you’re in the old town of Florence, jam-packed with great restaurants, café’s, mouthwatering gelato, and narrow cobblestoned streets waiting for you to get wonderfully lost. Stay centrally at Residenza D’epoca Historia Luxury.

Rome, Italy

Dymphe, Dymabroad

The skeleton of an ancient building

“Rome is a great city to visit in 2021. The Eternal City has such a rich history, delicious food, great culture, and many amazing sights. You’ll never get bored when you travel here, three days in Rome is the perfect way experience the city.

Furthermore, you can easily get to the city of Rome. The most convenient way to do so for international travelers is by airplane. Rome has its own airport from where you can reach the city centre very quickly.

Alternatively, you can take a train from within Italy or from its neighboring countries, take a bus, drive there yourself, take a taxi or go by ferry.

Some of the best things to do in Rome include visiting the Colosseum, hanging out at the Spanish steps, throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, having a look at the Parthenon, stroll over Piazza Navona or walk through ancient ruins of Rome at the Forum Romanum!

Why not tick off another country on your trip to Italy by visiting the Vatican City. This is a small city-state within Rome and it is the place where the pope lives. The most well-known landmark here is the St. Peter’s Basilica, which looks spectacular. From the top of the St. Peter’s Basilica you have an amazing view over the city!

A great place to stay in Rome is Eitch Borromini Palazzo Pamphilj, located at Piazza Navona! The rooms and the views are amazing!

Stromboli, Italy

Diana, The Globe Trotting Detective

Two cars in front of white houses surrounded by a volcano

Stromboli is probably the most picturesque island not only in Italy but in Europe. It’s an Aeolian island located off the coast of Sicily. The island itself is a mountain and a volcano as well.

It’s one of the most active volcanos in the world and one of the three active volcanoes in Italy. It’s been erupting continuously for 2,000 years now. The last major eruption happened on 3 July 2019 without warning. The explosion created a 5 km long ash column above the volcano.

Stromboli is only accessible by boat. You can easily get there from the Sicilian port town Milazzo by slow ferry or by speed boat.

The number one activity to do there is to hike close to the craters of Stromboli to admire the serene sunset over the island and witness its fiery explosions. Generally, you will see a few short and energetic bursts. They are maximum a few hundred meters high and contain ash, incandescent lava fragments, and stones.

The highest summit crater of Stromboli is 926 meters high above sea level. Unfortunately, today, due to the powerful volcanic eruptions and molten lava flows, you can only hike up to 300 meters above sea level without a guide, and up to 400 meters with a guide by joining a guided sunset trek.

Spending several days on the island of Stromboli is recommended.

You can discover the volcano island walking on its black sandy beaches and climbing scrambling over huge colorful volcanic rocks.

While trekking on the island and swimming in the sea, you can always witness the spectacular explosions of Stromboli Volcano.

Moreover, having a splash and swimming in the Tyrrhenian sea around Stromboli is an extraordinary and out-of-the-world experience. Its water is tranquil, warm, and balmy.

You may hire a boat or kayak and observe Stromboli spewing ballistic ejecta. It’s spine-chilling to be in the middle of the water in a kayak in front of a volcano constantly making noises like a rumble of thunder, smoking and generating small avalanches. But it’s a mind-boggling and unforgettable experience that you should definitely not miss.

If you are looking for accommodation in Stromboli, you can’t go passed Terrazze Fronte Mare e Vulcano.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Izzy & Phil, The Gap Decaders

A bike sitting in front a park surrounded by buildings

Home to fabulous Scandi design and cuisine, with a large dose of cool, Copenhagen has become one of the European cities to visit.

This visually delightful city will captivate you with its simple and understated architecture and design. Everywhere you look, you’ll find stylish glassware and ceramics, Copenhagen’s staple offering.

Add to this superb furniture and lighting design, intriguing contemporary buildings and hip interiors for a visit to excite anyone with an eye for great aesthetics.  

With fifteen Michelin starts across the city’s restaurants, Copenhagen is becoming a destination for foodies.

If you like your food organic, local and simple, then Copenhagen’s chefs will live up to expectations, and then some.

An anchor sitting in front of a colourful street

For traditionalists, there are enough historic buildings, castles and towers in the city to satisfy, and there’s plenty of pomp and ceremony too, with the daily changing of the guard between royal palaces.

Colourful Nyhavn, one of the most recognisable streets in Europe, and the Little Mermaid are amongst the most popular visitor attractions. 

Segue between those attractions, the entertaining Tivoli Gardens and alternative neighbourhood of Kristiana on your city bike (what else?) whilst admiring one of the world’s most clean, green and sustainable cities, where even the water of the harbour is clean enough for a chilly swim.

Fly to Copenhagen from across Europe, or take a road trip through Germany and cross Denmark’s spectacular bridges to arrive in the city.

Stay at the hip citizenM Copenhagen Radhuspladsen, close to the Tivoli Gardens and City Hall Square. This well located hotel puts you in the centre of the city, making it an ideal base for exploring Copenhagen.

Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain

Linn, Andalucia Hiking

A mountain view

Sierra Nevada National Park in southern Spain is an amazing destination that you should add to your Europe bucket list. This is where you find the highest peak in mainland Spain and the whole Iberian Peninsula, Mulhacen (3479m), which makes an amazing summer hike.

In winter, you can go skiing on the neighboring peak of Veleta (3398m) which makes the southernmost ski resort in Europe. But if challenging treks and winter sports isn’t your thing, don’t worry.

There are a lot of easy walks you can do in the national and natural park like the unique Ruta de Los Cahorros in Monachil which goes along a stunning gorge across hanging bridges, past waterfalls, water holes, and narrow paths along the canyon wall where you’ll have to crawl under or hold on to metal handles in the rock to get past the rocks.

There are also a lot of charming white villages like Capileira and Trevelez which are all starting points for mesmerizing nature walks. There are also a lot of wild Spanish Ibex, commonly known as mountain goats, hanging around and there are major chances of spotting them on one of your walks.

The historic city of Granada is right on the outskirts of the national park and a perfect place to stay to mix nature with culture. Stay at Eurostar Puerta Real and relax in their Turkish bath after exploring the national park.

Tbilisi, Georgia

Kami, My Wanderlust

Old houses below an old castle

Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is one of the most fascinating cities you can find in Europe. The city was founded in the 4th century and over the years it’s been under the influence of numerous cultures – you can find this particular mix all over the place. The list of things to do in Tbilisi is really long and will keep you busy for at least two days.

Be sure to wander around and get lost in Old Tbilisi – the most charming part of the city and Rustaveli Avenue with fancy buildings, visit beautiful churches (there are plenty of them, the oldest one is from the 6th century), take the cable car to Narikala fortress and see the city from above.

Old city buildings looking over a river

Don’t be afraid to step into yards as these are often really pretty and hide the real soul of Tbilisi. And don’t miss the Georgian food – it is among the most delicious cuisines in the world.

Tbilisi can be also a great base to explore some amazing places in Georgia, such as cave cities, UNESCO-listed monasteries, or stunning Caucasus mountains.

Getting to Tbilisi is rather easy – you can fly directly there from many cities all over the world or take a low-cost flight to Kutaisi where at the airport you can find the direct bus to the capital. 

Budapest, Hungary

Matt & Lorna, Two Souls One Path

A parliament building on the banks of a river at night light up

The Hungarian capital, located on the banks of the impressive Danube River is a real gem in the heart of Europe. 

Although not the most conventional European city destination, Budapest definitely has a great deal to offer any perspective travellers that are looking for a long weekend away without breaking the bank.

Compared to other capital cities on the continent, Budapest is amazing value for money and does not compromise on quality and luxury. The city has many fine dining eateries where you can order a 3 course meal for two (and a bottle of wine) for around £80.

As well as luxury hotels and beautifully decorated Air BnB apartments for under £100 a night. We would recommend finding accommodation in district 5. As a fairly central location to most sights in the city, it also is home to a variety of bars and restaurants.

There is a great deal of historical architecture to explore in Budapest, in particular its world renowned thermal spas. There are a number of baths that are located around the city, however the largest and most impressive is the Szechenyi bath which is home to spectacular large out door heated pools and is over 100 years old.

Other must see spots include Fisherman’s Bastion on the west side of the river, the chain bridge, as well as the imposing gothic parliament building which is lit up at night to dramatic effect.

Travel to and around the city is fairly straight forward with the airport a short 30 minute taxi from the centre. Downloading the “Bolt” application for your phone is also a must to make getting about hassle free (essentially Uber).

Also be sure to check out the ‘lime’ scooters that are dotted around the city. If the sun is out there is no better way to get around the city than on one of the many electric scooters that can be rented for use through an app on your phone.

Greece, Athens

Chrysoula, Athens and Beyond

Greek houses surrounded by flowers

Athens, capital of Greece and once the heart of Ancient Greece is the perfect city break all year through and there are flights there from most European cities. Athens is the ‘city that never sleeps’ and is dominated by its Acropolis, the 5th century BC citadel.

There are so many classical landmarks to visit, markets to browse in and walks to enjoy, that it is best to book a room in a central hotel, pack comfortable clothes and your favourite walking shoes and look forward to a memorable trip!

The city is a World Heritage Site and if you want to immerse yourself in ancient history there is so much to discover. The Acropolis is a must – but try and get there early before the crowds. There are other fascinating monuments, but the most famous is the magnificent Parthenon – an impressive temple dedicated to Athena.

The Archaeological Museum is also well worth a visit. Built over ancient ruins, with glass floors so that the ruins can be seen, the museum contains thousands of artefacts and over three floors, clearly portrays the history and power of Ancient Athens.

 In sharp contrast to the archaeological sites, there are colourful markets to explore. Plaka is a delightful area with a maze of twisting alleyways with 19th-century buildings covered in bougainvillaea with numerous shops.

It is fun to take the funicular railway up Mount Lycabettus for great panoramic views. In the evening there are restaurants with roof terraces overlooking the floodlit Acropolis or you can book tickets for a performance in the splendid Odeon of Herodes Atticus. If you enjoy the good nightlife, Psiri is where to go!

 Two hotels I recommend are the Hotel Bretagne near Syntagma Square with is ultra-luxe with a rooftop restaurant. Ava Hotel is a very comfortable hotel located in delightful Plaka and just minutes from the Acropolis and Ancient Agora.

Crete, Greece

Gabi, The Tiny Book

A fort in the ocean with boats in front

The Greek Island of Crete, and in particular its capital city, Heraklion, can definitely be considered among one of the best places to travel in Europe in 2021.

The city, which is also the capital of Crete’s main region, is a vibrant place with great museums and cultural exhibitions, but there are also unique bars, restaurants, and stunning hotels for an unforgettable stay.

The best way to get there is with a direct flight from Europe, or taking the night ferry from Athens.

Among the many things to do in Heraklion, start by walking along the old port. Here you’ll be able to admire the Fortress of Koules, built by the Venetians in the 13th century, to protect the island from pirates and invaders.

No visitor should put off a visit to Crete’s most important archaeological site, the Minoan Palace of Knossos. The site is located about 15 minutes from the center of town, and can be easily reaches by bus or with a taxi.

Given the impressive complexity of the palace, it’s a great idea to join an organized tour in order to better understand the different rooms and chambers that you’ll be able to admire.

Combine the visit with a tour of the Archaeological Museum of Knossos to learn everything about the mysterious Minoan civilization, which strived on Crete and the rest of the Mediterranean from 3000 BC to its final decline around 1100 BC.

The region of Heraklion is also known for its fantastic vineyard which has put the area among the most important wine regions in Greece. When visiting Heraklion, it’s a great idea to rent a car and explore different wineries to learn about the local grapes, and even taste a few Cretan labels.

If you like reds, try the Mantilari variety. If, instead, you prefer white wines, then do not leave without sipping a glass of Vidiano, a unique grave variety native only to Crete.

There are several beaches you can discover in the region, if you head to the southern coast, make some time to explore Matala Beach, a former hippie settlement facing the Libyan sea.

The beach is surrounded by ancient caves, some of them carved in the rock, which in remote times used to be homes for the Roman civilization that dwelled on the island about 2000 years ago.

In the sixties, the caves facing the sea where the improvised homes of a generation of flower power expats who arrived to Crete (mostly from the USA) looking for a simpler way of life. Today, the beach and the village of Matala is a modern, but colorful settlement which still exudes some nostalgic flower-power vibes. 

For younger crowds, the northern resorts of Malia and Hersonissos, a few minutes east from the center of Heraklion, are good places to go clubbing, or to spend a great time in a beach club, listening to music, or dancing until the sun rises.

Where to stay in Heraklion: Galaxy Hotel Iraklio is a fantastic hotel close to the city center, with an amazing pool and serving one of the most delicious Cretan breakfasts I’ve ever tried.

 Isles of Scilly, England

Annabel, Smudged Postcard

Houses surrounded by plants over looking the ocean filled with boats

If you’re looking for somewhere off the beaten track for your 2021 holiday, it’s worth considering the Isles of Scilly.

Located some 28 miles off the coast of south west England, the Scilly Isles are a group of 5 inhabited and countless uninhabited islands.

Even in the middle of summer, you’re able to find a beach to yourself. Visitor numbers to the Isles of Scilly are limited and cars cannot be brought to the islands so taking a Scilly Isles family holiday is perfect for a relaxing break in 2021. 

Aside from time at the beach, there are lots of water sports available in the Scillies – swimming with seals, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are all popular. 

Of the five islands to choose from, St Mary’s is best if you want plenty of choice when it comes to eating out. If you’re looking for more of an escapist experience, head to the islands of Bryher or Agnes – there are few inhabitants.

The private island of Tresco is perfect for travellers looking for luxury while the island of St Martins has arguably the best beaches. But there’s no shortage of good beaches across the whole of the archipelago.

There is a good range of self catering accommodation on the Isles of Scilly. If you’d prefer a hotel, beachfront Karma St Martin is a popular choice.

The Isles of Scilly take a bit of getting to but it’s definitely worth the journey – drive to Penzance in Cornwall and take the ferry (your car stays on the mainland) or there are flights from Exeter in Devon along with Newquay and Lands End in Cornwall.

The Cotswolds, England

Lauren, Pack and Paint

Stone cottages on the bank of a creek

The Cotswolds are without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Europe. Located in South England, this area has been named an area of outstanding beauty. It isn’t hard to see why.

As you drive around The Cotswolds you will come across beautiful views, charming villages and picturesque locations.

The area spans across several counties over 2038km including Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. This means there is a lot to see in The Cotswolds. Due to this, you will need to plan your route based on your personal preferences and what you wish to see.

Some of the most popular places to visit in The Cotswolds include Bibury, Castle Combe, Burford and Bourton on the Water. Furthermore, there are also tourist attractions worth adding to your must see list. These include Broadway Tower, Blenhiem Palace and The Roman Baths.

To ensure you make the most of your trip, take note of these tips:

Don’t travel without your camera: Trust me. There are photo spots around every corner.

A stone house covered in ivy

Wear comfy shoes: You will be doing a lot of walking!

Plan ahead: Having an idea of your route before you travel means you will make the most of your time. It also means you can book tickets for tourist attractions in advance. Sometimes it pays to be organised!

I highly recommend planning for at least two days in the Cotswolds. Two days in the Cotswolds will allow you to explore a decent amount of the charming area.

Travel by car: Whilst some areas of The Cotswolds are well connected, others are not. You will find it difficult to get between the smaller villages using public transport.

Travelling by car allows you to make as many stops as you wish without having to rely on public transport.

If you are looking for somewhere to stay in The Cotswolds, there are a number of highly rated hotels and Air B&B’s. The Manor House in Castle Combe is well loved amongst Instagrammers for its stunning grounds and Michelin starred restaurant.

For something a little more affordable, consider booking a stay at Patricia’s Retreat in Cirencester.

This caravan is the perfect spot for a cosy getaway with everything you need at your finger tips and the most ideal location for exploring!

National Parks, Ireland

Cath, Travel Around Ireland

Rocks leading in to a lake surrounded by mountains

Some of the best places to visit in Europe in 2021 are the national parks of Ireland. Being a small island, Ireland has only six national parks and all are located within the Republic of Ireland. Currently there are none in Northern Ireland but that may change in the future.

Of the National Parks of Ireland, only the Wicklow Mountains National Park is located in the east, located about an hour south of Dublin. It is here that you will find the historical site of Glendalough, a monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by Saint Kevin. With two lakes, the monastic site and walking trails in the surrounding hills and mountains, this is a great place to visit close to Dublin. Stay in Powerscourt Hotel nearby.

One of the most popular National Parks is Killarney National Park located in the southwest corner of the country. Containing the MacGillycuddy Reeks (Ireland’s highest mountain range), three lakes and more, this is one of the most beautiful spots to visit on the Emerald Isle.

This is located 4 hours from Dublin and there is a wealth of things to see and do including visiting the Torc Waterfall, Ross Castle and driving the Ring of Kerry. Hotels in Killarney Town are ten-a-penny.

Moving northwards, the Burren National Park located in County Clare on the West Coast of Ireland is a rugged limestone landscape that almost looks lunar. This is a great park to visit in conjunction with a visit to the Cliffs of Moher.

The other hugely popular National Park is that of Connemara. A wild, yet beautiful National Park that sits within County Galway. This is an area of outstanding beauty and people enjoy this park when visiting Galway city. There are trails to hike, beaches to enjoy and be on the lookout for Connemara Ponies. One of the best places to visit on the edge of the park is Kylemore Abbey.

Continuing north, Ballycroy National Park is Ireland’s newest National Park and is located in County Sligo. It is an area which contains the last intact active blanket bog in Western Europe and is a boggy and mountainous terrain, along which walking and hiking is the most popular activity.

And finally, the most remote of them all, Glenveagh in County Donegal is one which is often overlooked but is a gem. Dominated by lakes, mountains and woodland, it is a beautiful spot in Ireland with a castle, trails and stunning nature. This is one not-to-be-missed.

No trip to Ireland would be complete without adding at least one of the National Parks to your itinerary.

Algarve, Portugal

Nichola, Family Hotel Expert

Flowers over looking the blue ocean

The Algarve is the perfect tonic to get away, it has everything you could need for a perfect break. Situated at the very bottom of Portugal the Algarve is well known for its beautiful sandy beaches and stunning landscapes.

There’s plenty to do here though, from water parks to boat trips. If you like the great outdoors then the Algarve can’t be beaten – there’s mountain biking, some of the best golf in the world and a chance to go horse riding too.

The Ria Formosa Natural Park is a wonderful place to get away from the world and spot some of the wildlife in this area. Take a trip to the end of the world at Sagres to see the place the Romans believed the world ended.

You can drive in to the Algarve from Spain, take the train in from Lisbon or fly in to Faro airport from almost anywhere. This is probably somewhere you will want to hire a car to get around in.

There are some fabulous Algarve family resorts, one of the best being Pine Cliffs resort which has pools and gorgeous grounds. It also has its own beach to walk down to and relax on.

The Algarve really is a breath of fresh air and the perfect place to really relax and feel grateful for all that we have on offer this year.

St Petersburg, Russia

Ellis, Backpack Adventures

A square with a grand blue building

With new and free electronic e-visas for St Petersburg, visiting the former capital of Russia is now easier than ever. Allowing you to stay for 8 days, it is barely enough for everything there is to see and do in this city full of palaces, museums, cathedrals, canals and royal architecture. 

The Hermitage alone can take up a full day of your St Petersburg itinerary. It is not only one of the largest art museums in the world, it is also housed in one of the largest palaces from the Romanov tsars that once ruled the Russian empire.

It’s the Romanovs that are responsible for most of the extravagant beauty that you will find in this city. Peter the Great that founded St Petersburg wanted it to become a civilized European city and was inspired by his journey to the UK and the Netherlands. It is therefore no surprise that the canals of St Petersburg somewhat resemble that of Amsterdam. 

The Romanovs liked luxury though and the canals were soon lined with opulent mansions and palaces to house the elite. St Petersburg was a city for the wealthy. One only needs to visit the palaces of Peterhof, Tsarskoe Selo or Pavlovsk to understand how much money the Romanovs spend. 

It is maybe therefore no surprise that The Russian revolution started in St Petersburg. Lenin soon moved the capital to Moscow. While its glory days were over, St Petersburg remained one of the most pleasant cities in Russia.

For travellers, St Petersburg remains one of the best places to visit in Europe. Be it to go shopping in the famous Nevski prospect or indulging on Russian delicacies like blinis or caviar. Most cities in Europe have direct flights to St Petersburg. Once in St Petersburg you can choose between a range of hostels or apartments to stay.

Lofoten, Norway

Katalin, Our Life Our Travel

Red cabins on the edge of a lake surrounded by mountains

The Lofoten archipelago is one of the most popular locations for nature-lovers and photographers in Norway that you should visit in 2012. Lofoten offers a variety of spectacular hikes for beginners and advanced hikers as well.

Some of the most popular locations on the islands are Svolvaer, Reine, and A. You can reach Lofoten via ferry from Bodo to A, or fly to Svolvaer. The easiest way to explore the surrounding is by car. As it allows you to take photo stops as frequently as you want, and I must tell you, you will want to stop very often. Considering the hikes, Reinebringen, Munkebu, and Kvalvika beach are some of the most spectacular and popular ones.

Summer is the best time to travel to Lofoten if you want to enjoy the midnight sun and the warm weather. In winter, the northern lights dance in front of these impressive steep backdrops called mountains, but it is mostly dark during the daytime too, so you can’t do too many things outdoors.

Although tenting is also possible across Lofoten, we can recommend having a base or two, for example, in Svolvaer or Reine, and exploring the nearby walking trails. Other popular activities you can try are whale watching safaris and surfing. Don’t forget to visit the caviar factory in Henningsvaer.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Martina and Jürgen, PlacesofJuma

Old buildings with orange roofs surround a bay filled with boats

One of the most amazing places to travel in Europe in 2021 is certainly Dubrovnik in Croatia. It is located in Dalmatia, in the very south of the country and is one of the most important Croatian attractions.

The city is especially famous for its historic old town, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979 and attracts visitors with its many interesting sights and museums.

Another important attraction is the city wall of Dubrovnik, which surrounds the entire city center with a length of about 2 kilometers. During a walk over the wall you can also enjoy a breathtaking view over the red roofs and the deep blue sea.

The countless beautiful beaches in Dubrovnik are also unique. During a summer vacation you can enjoy a whole series of picture book dream beaches with turquoise blue sea, fine pebbles and fantastic flair. The many cool beach clubs also provide for an exuberant time at the sea.

But also the area around Dubrovnik is worth visiting. One of the most popular spots for an excursion is the offshore island Lokrum, which is under nature protection and can be easily reached by ferry from the old town.

Boat trips to the Elaphites, to Mjet or Korcula are also popular. If you like, you can also take a day trip to Montenegro, which is only 50 kilometers away from Dubrovnik. For a vacation in Dubrovnik, you can either stay directly in the historical old town or even better, on the peninsula Lapad.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Nina, Lemons and Luggage

An old cathedral with a green and gold domed roof

When looking at the best places to travel in Europe in 2021 you shouldn’t overlook the Bulgarian capital Sofia. As one of the cheapest capitals in Europe, it’s one of the best choices if you’re traveling on a budget. But the cheap prices aren’t the only thing you can look forward to on your trip to Sofia. The city actually has a lot to offer whether you’re into history, food, or nature!

Getting to Bulgaria’s capital is pretty straightforward. Sofia has its own airport which is connected to the city’s metro system so you can easily reach your accommodation. If you want to stay as close to the center as possible this Airbnb is the perfect option. Located just off Vitosha boulevard, Sofia’s main commercial street, it’s a very cozy place and ideal if you want to explore the city on foot or by public transport.

One of the best ways to get an overview of Sofia is to go on a guided walking tour of the city. That way, you get to see all the major sights and can decide which ones to go back to on your own.

Sofia’s landmark is Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and will undoubtedly be the star of your visit. It is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and was completed in 1912. Aside from this enormous cathedral, there are older churches that played important roles in Sofia’s history, such as St. George’s Rotunda and St. Nedelya Church.

But Sofia also has several other places of worship you can visit. From the Russian Church, to Banya Bashi Mosque, or the Sofia Synagogue, many religions are represented in the Bulgarian capital.

Of course, there’s more to see in Sofia than just churches, synagogues, and mosques. There are several interesting museums that help you understand the history of the city. The Regional History Museum displays the history of Sofia until the 1940s and is located in the stunning former Central Mineral Baths.

If you want to know more about the rest of the country make sure you visit the National History Museum or the National Ethnographic Museum. If you love history but museums are not your thing absolutely set aside some time for the excavations of ancient Serdika, Sofia’s Roman origins. The excavations can be seen around the Serdika metro station.

After a long day of exploring you will certainly want to fill your stomach with delicious food. But vegetarians or vegans don’t have to worry, there are several vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Sofia for you to try. As you can see, Sofia really has a little bit of something for everyone.

Which European destination is on your bucket list in 2021? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo
A pinterest graphic for best places to visit in Europe in 2021

My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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