Lonely Planet reveals its top 10 European destinations

Planning a summer break to Europe? How to get to Lonely Planet's must-visit picks from the UAE

Lonely Planet, the world's leading travel guide brand, has announced its top places to visit in Europe this summer.

Topping the list are the bear-stalked mountains of High Tatras in Slovakia picked for its alpine vistas and natural beauty. Coming in at number two is the Spanish capital of Madrid while the number three slot goes to Iceland's new Arctic Coast Way.

Click though the gallery above to see all of the picturesque destinations. 

There are also historical cities, remote beaches also covers capital cities and gastronomic delights to be found in Lonely Planet's top 10 list. What's more, all of the 10 best destinations in Europe this summer can be visited visa-free by Emiratis, opening up a whole new bucket of travel inspiration to fuel this year's summer travel plans.

1. High Tatras, Slovakia

Glassy mountain lakes, brown bears and alpine peaks, Slovakia’s High Tatras are ranked number one for summer visits this year. Something of a national treasure, the mountainous region transforms every summer from a wintersports playground to a craggy natural beauty spot. Home to Mount Krivan, a revered spot for many Slovakians, travellers should also check out Tatra National park, a Unesco-listed region where chamois, brown eagles and brown bears roam.

Flights with Emirates to Bratislava from Dubai take just over six hours and economy fares start from Dh2,360 return in July. It's about a three-hour drive from Bratislava to the Tatras.

2. Madrid, Spain

The Spanish capital is ranked number two thanks to its bustling nightlife – Lonely Planet calls Calle de Ponzano 'one of the continent's coolest night-time streets'. But Madrid has a lot to offer in the daytime too. A city of colour, life and tradition, it's perfect to two-wheel around. The Gran Via oozes with over 100 years of history, El Retiro Park offers gorgeous green spaces and there's a fully persevered Egyptian temple at Templo de Debod. And that's not even mentioning the city's tapas reputation or that the Museo del Prado – arguably Spain's most important art museum – is celebrating its bicentenary this year. 

Flight time is less than eight hours and fares with Etihad and AirEuropa from Abu Dhabi start at Dh2,805 in July. 

3. The Arctic Coast Way, Iceland

Having starred in HBO's Game of Thrones and as the backdrop to Justin Bieber's uber popular I'll Show You music video, Iceland has been battling over tourism issues of late. The newly founded Arctic Coast Way hopes to fix the problem by sending tourists north to the unexplored natural wonders for which Iceland is known. Think roaring waterfalls, jagged glaciers and endless wilderness, far from the hordes of tourists bathing in the Blue Lagoon or stomping around at Fjadrargljufur canyon.

Fly from Dubai with KLM via Amsterdam or Lufthansa via France with summer fares starting at Dh2,993.

4. Hercegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Shadowing Croatia's Dalmatia Coast, the sunshine-soaked, mountain-filled Herzegovina makes up a quarter of the country. The unofficial capital of Mostar is where most tourists venture to see the 16th century Stari Most bridge while Christian tourists can be found visiting Medjugorje. According to Lonely Planet, now is the time to explore the newly formed Austro-Hungarian railway-line-turned-cycling-trail that threads through the countryside. The medieval streets of Počitelj, the Vjetrenica karst wind tunnels and the traditional village of Lukomir along the route are sure to inspire.

Go with Flydubai to Sarajevo with July fares from Dh1,909. From there, it’s a two-hour drive south to Hercegovina.

5. Bari, Italy

Capital of Italy’s southern Puglia, the port city of Bari was a major gateway to the Adriatic Sea in the days of the Romans and the laid-back heel of the country is undergoing something of a revival. While it retains its history and degage vibes, it is also forward-thinking with new cafes, eateries and family-run restaurants opening their doors in the old town centre. When it comes to culture, things are thriving with the reopening of the ornate Teatro Piccinni and the Teatro Margherita which is now a gorgeous art space on stilts tottering over the sea. Elsewhere, the city’s beaches are cleaner than ever before thanks to Puglia’s recent ban on single-use plastics.

Fly with Etihad and Alitalia via Rome with flights in July from Dh3,050 and a flight time that's less than nine hours.

6. Shetland, Scotland

While Scotland has long been known for its beauty, the rugged wilderness of the Shetland Isles, the UK’s northernmost point, needs to be seen to be believed. Getting here involves what can be a unnerving overnight ferry journey depending on the sea, but the reward is a remote archipelago adrift in the North Sea. Just 1,000 miles from Iceland, Shetland is also Scotland meets Scandinavia, the Old Norse culture is everywhere in the seafaring capital of Lerwick. When it comes to scenery, think rugged and wild with untouched coastlines, pristine beaches and towering cliffs inhabited by otters, orcas, puffins and more.

Fly to Aberdeen via Manchester with Etihad. The journey takes around 10 hours and fares this summer start at Dh2,283.

7. Lyon, France

According to Lonely Planet, Lyon is worth a visit this summer as it will be hosting the finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup in July and is the European Union's 2019 European Capital of Smart Tourism. Both great reasons to go but the city also has a lot more to offer.  As the pinnacle of French cuisine, it's perhaps the most famous gastronomic city in the world so foodies in particular will love this easy to navigate city flanked by the Saone and Rhone rivers.

Fly direct from Dubai to Lyon in July for Dh2,639 with Emirates, flight time is six and a half hours. 

8. Liechtenstein

Tiny Lichtenstein is celebrating 300 years of being a nation, and doing so by opening the Liechtenstein Trail. This 75-kilometre hiking trail takes outdoor enthusiasts through mountain pastures and peaks across the country's 11 municipalities. Sandwiched between Austrian and Switzerland, travellers can visit castles, spot alpacas and check in to mountain spa retreats in this tiny country. To see the very best of the birthday celebrations, be there on August 15.

There's no airport in Liechtenstein so fly to Zurich from Abu Dhabi with Etihad or from Dubai with Emirates with July fares from Dh1,825. From there it's less than a two-hour drive. 

9. Vevey, Swizerland

Nestled on the edge of beautiful Lake Geneva, Vevey is gearing up to celebrate a three-week festival in July that comes to town only once every 20 years. Expect flamboyant costumes, elaborate parades and outdoor concerts and that's not to mention the array of fine food and drinks on offer at the Fete des Vignerons. Summer days in Vevey are spent swimming in the lake, meandering on a yacht or strolling through vineyards taking in the amazing Swiss Riviera views - what's not to love?

Fares for the six and a half hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Geneva with Etihad start at Dh3,773. 

10. Istria, Croatia

Away from the throngs of Game of Thrones tourists flooding Croatia's Dubrovnik, heart-shaped Istria in the country's north is a history-filled trove surrounded by glorious beaches and lush green lands. The pretty hilltop towns of Porec and Umag have a gorgeous Italian influence and the the Brijuni islands near Pula are perfect for a day-trip by the water. Don't miss Motovun, one of the region's most beautiful medieval towns, situated in a fort on top of a hill that dominates the Mirna river valley -every July the Motovun Film Festival takes place here.

Fly direct from Dubai to Pula with Swiss Air via Zurich with fares from Dh2,681.


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