2015 is all about holidays in Europe as the pound remains strong against the euro, new travel routes open up more exciting places to add to your bucket list and Brits look to going off the beaten track and exploring lesser-known regions of popular holiday destinations. We've rounded up six of the hottest places to visit in Europe this year, starting with one of the most stylish islands on the continent....
Mykonos is the new Ibiza for 2015, according to Skyscanner. The Greek island has been tipped as one to watch by the travel search engine, which has seen a 31 per cent increased in holiday searches from the UK over the last three years. Popularity for the party island is expected to soar this year following celebrity visits from Jennifer Lopez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lindsay Lohan last summer. The island was a popular destination for the jet set in the 60s but recent luxury hotels openings, new BA flights from Heathrow and endorsements from superstar DJs such as Afrojack, who has claimed that tourists will get a "cheaper and more fun" experience in Mykonos than in Ibiza, ensures it will be the place to see and be seen in summer 2015.
From May until the end of October, the exciting EXPO 2015 takes place in Milan. The massive exhibition, which over the years has introduced inventions including the telephone, has the central theme of 'Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life' in 2015. Focusing on the problems surrounding nutrition and our planet's resources, more than 140 participating countries are showcasing technology that offers a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the planet. Coinciding with EXPO 2015 is the opening of The Museum of Leonardo's Vineyard, where experts hope to recreate the crisp white wine that da Vinci once enjoyed. Book a stay at the Carlton Hotel Baglioni for a glamorous break in Milan, from €290 per night. It is the only hotel in Milan that has a pedestrian entrance from Via della Spiga, the most famous shopping street in the city.
Half the size of Switzerland and with a population of just over two million, Slovenia is often dubbed Europe in miniature: it is possible to explore the Slovenian Alps in the morning and swim in the Venetian city of Piran in the afternoon. It may be one of Europe's less-visited destinations but with stunning natural scenery and neo-classical architectural castles and historic villages, Slovenia is a destination that can be easily explored in a short period of time. Being one of the continent's hottest destinations for 2015, Cox & Kings has introduced a collection of self-drive tours and short breaks to Slovenia, from £465 per person for a three-night holiday. This summer, the country's national carrier Adria Airways also launches new flights from London Southend Airport to Slovenia's second city Maribor.
Thanks to a new Eurostar service from St Pancras International, Marseille is set to be one of the hottest European city break destinations for British travellers in 2015. Holidaylettings.co.uk has reported a 148 per cent year-on-year increase in holiday enquiries for Marseille since Eurostar launched the new route, with return travel from £99. Famed for its soap factories, it is the second largest city in France and enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a wonderful place to escape on a rail break. The Old Port, Maison Diamanté and the Notre-Dame de la Garde are just a few of the must-sees. Some of the prettiest places to stay on a self-catering city break in Marseille include L'appartement (£144 per night), Dame de la Garde Apartment (£44 per night) and Terrasse du Port (£152 per night).
North Coast 500, Scotland
This year, brand new touring route North Coast 500 launches in Scotland to rival the likes of the iconic Route 66. The open-road route begins in Inverness, following the west coast, snaking along the coastline up through the North West Highlands to John O'Groats and back down to Inverness. Drivers, cyclists and walkers alike can witness the spectacular beaches, stunning mountain ranges and fairytale castles along the way. Offering the highlights of the area and with particular focus on food and drink, culture, landscapes and adventure-based activities, you can experience several trips along the route with Wilderness Scotland. Walking holiday Wilds of Assynt costs £1,195 per person for six days and takes in the beautiful regions of Assynt and Coigach in the North West Highlands, a boat trip to the Summer Isles and a visit to Achmelvich Beach, which on a sunny day can be easily mistaken for the Caribbean.
Catalonian restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona recently won the top prize at the prestigious 2015 World's 50 Best Restaurants awards putting the Spanish region firmly on the foodie map, but there's much more to Catalonia than fine food. With 580 kilometres of coastline and over 340 beautiful beaches, coves and bays, it is a wonderful spot for family seaside fun. Beyond the well-trodden board walks of Barcelona's beachfront lay countless communities ready to explore, and there are nine awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage attractions to discover, including the Romanesque churches in Vall de Boi and the Castellers human towers. Whether you fancy relaxing on the beaches of the Costa Brava, discovering the interesting wildlife (Pyrenean chamois, marmot, roe deer) in the national parks, or being a culture vulture in the cities of Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona, there is something for everyone in Catalonia.
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