Earlier this year, Lonely Planet produced its “Best in Europe” ranking of the 10 European destinations people should be visiting in 2017.
Some of the choices were surprising. The UK’s very own Leeds, a major student city which boasts a thriving nightlife, made the top five.
From foodie weekends away to off-the-beaten-track adventures, or even just a staycation, the list provided plenty of holiday inspiration.
Scroll down for the 10 best places you needed to visit in 2017, ranked in ascending order.
10. Le Havre, France.
- Shutterstock/Yuryev Pave
One of the best places to visit this year, according to Lonely Planet travel experts, was the Norman city of Le Havre, which celebrated its 500th anniversary with a five month long art and music-filled fête. The harbour town boasts “eye-catching modern architecture,” it said, and lends itself as a good base for exploring the rest of the Normandy region.
9. Paphos, Cyprus.
Named the European Capital of Culture for 2017, the ancient port of Paphos and birthplace of Aphrodite is steeped in Greek mythology.
Lonely Planet said: “The island of Aphrodite has weathered so many occupations that history has piled monument upon monument on its sun-kissed shores: catacombs, temples, castles, medieval baths, Roman-era mosaics, and the Unesco World Heritage sites of Kato Pafos and the Tombs of the Kings all bring to life a fascinating bygone era.”
This “country of secret wine cellars and cliff-perched monasteries is truly Europe’s final frontier,” according to Lonely Planet. Its capital city Chişinău also apparently boasts a Parisian-style cafe and bar scene.
7. Northern Germany.
Travellers looking for an alternative to Berlin or Bavaria were advised by Lonely Planet to try the northern region of the country. “This is big-sky country with a pristine coast hemmed in by shimmering beaches and buttressed by pint-sized islands,” it said.
6. The Alentejo, Portugal.
- Shutterstock/inacio pires
Portugal’s Alentejo has “magnetic allure,” according to Lonely Planet, and has to offer rolling vineyards, medieval villages, looming clifftop castles, and rugged coastlines.
5. Leeds, UK.
- Shutterstock/Shahid Khan
Leeds, a major student city, boasts a thriving nightlife (which rivals London’s) and is surrounded by stunning Yorkshire countryside.
4. Northern Montenegro.
One of Europe’s more under-the-radar destinations, Northern Montenegro boasts the stunning Adriatic coastline and is brimming with off-the-beaten-track adventures, according to Lonely Planet.
3. Galicia, Spain.
Galicia is one of Spain’s most popular gastronomic destinations and is famed for its seafood. “Over 1000km of coast snakes around long inlets, plunging cliffs, pretty fishing villages and hundreds of beaches,” Lonely Planet said.
2. Gotland, Sweden.
Located off the Swedish coastline, the island of Gotland is most famous for its Midsummer celebrations.It offers “breathtaking scenery, with pastoral countryside, mysterious forests, time-warped fishing villages and tranquil sandy beaches.”
1. Zagreb, Croatia.
Zagreb was Lonely Planet’s number one European destination for 2017. While many travellers are drawn to the crystalline waters of Croatia’s extensive coastline, the capital city offers a “mix of Brutalist architecture and sun-splashed Austro-Hungarian squares brimming with coffee drinkers,” the guide said. It is also home to a “blossoming food and craft beer scene.”