The last few weeks before the end of the year and the first few weeks of January for me are the time to look back at the year which passed and to make plans for the new year. And while I will not be the person to advise you on career changes, healthy eating or exercising more (although I would love to, try me!), I can try and give you some inspiration of the places in Europe I think you could put on your list to visit next year.
Some of them are cheaper, some of them more expensive. Some are warm, and some can be a white winter fairy tale. Many of them can be combined into a longer trip, but all of them can be enjoyed for at least several days on their own. I may have written about some of them already, and I will share the links. Some I have not gotten around to write about, but believe me that I have visited all of them at some point myself and loved in one way or another. So feel free to ask me questions in comments, if you are curious about one or another place.
Table of Contents
- 1 Puglia, Italy
- 2 Budapest, Hungary
- 3 London, United Kingdom
- 4 Vilnius, Lithuania
- 5 Strasbourg, France
- 6 Peak District, United Kingdom
- 7 Crete, Greece
- 8 Tirana, Albania
- 9 Matera, Italy
- 10 Black Forest, Germany
- 11 Klaipeda and Curonian Spit, Lithuania
- 12 Lombardy, Italy
- 13 Tenerife, Spain
- 14 Jerusalem, Israel
- 15 Wroclaw, Poland
- 16 Basel, Switzerland
- 17 Montenegro
- 18 Brussels, Belgium
- 19 Copenhagen, Denmark
- 20 Wales, United Kingdom
- 21 Liked this post? Save it for later on Pinterest!
Come winter, spring or summer, Puglia is beautiful at any season. It is a region in the south of Italy, which is packed with natural beauty, architectural wonders and amazing food.
It is also well-connected, so could be a perfect trip destination for those who want to ditch the car and use public transport – by the way, something else which can be put on our resolutions for 2020.
You will probably start your trip in Bari, but make sure to visit the towns of Alberobello and Polignano a Mare. And although it is already in the other region of Basilicata, Matera is definitely a place to explore.
Check out some more posts on Puglia:
7 Best Things to Do in Bari, Italy
Your 4 Day Itinerary In and Around Bari
Polignano a Mare: Things to do
Whichever city in Eastern Europe opens a couple of shabby-looking bars, often gets to be called the New Berlin, but trust me, Budapest is really cool in a similar-to-Berlin-style. It has a huge scene of ruined bars, pop-up design boutiques, but also so much more.
If you haven’t visited Budapest, head there for amazingly beautiful (and decently priced) thermal spas, massage, great food and unbeatable views across the Danube. Oh, and don’t forget the wine of course!
Check out some more posts on Budapest:
Ultimate Guide to Drinking Fröccs in Budapest
Your Eastern Europe Itinerary: 2 Weeks in 6 Countries
London, United Kingdom
London is always a good idea, so I probably don’t need to convince you here. For me, London is a great destination to travel especially during shoulder seasons, when it’s wet and rainy or way too cold in Northern Europe, but I’m not planning to go really far south. In London, there is so much happening, that you are very likely not to notice the weather at all, even if it’s not perfect.
And it is one of the prettiest sights in Europe in spring, with all the blooming magnolia and cherry trees.
Check out some more posts on London:
10 Reasons to Experience Spring in London
8 Totally Awesome Things to Do in London with Toddlers
10 Coolest Places to Stay in London
If you know me, you already know I come from Vilnius myself. So whatever list of European cities I am compiling, you are likely to find the capital of Lithuania on it. And I have good reasons for it! Vilnius is a true gem of Eastern Europe. Now the locals may throw stones at me for calling it Eastern European, but I will continue to do that until my last breath – Eastern Europe is the coolest place and I will do my share in reclaiming the coolness of the region.
So, Vilnius is a (still affordable) city with the charming walkable old town, great local craft beers, some of the best coffee you will find in Europe and magical atmosphere, which captures your heart if you just let it.
Check out more posts on Vilnius:
Areas of Vilnius: Your Ultimate Guide to the City
10 Best Things to Do in Vilnius for a First Time Visitor
10 Must-Visit Cafes in Vilnius
Where to stay in Vilnius, Lithuania
Pavilnys Trilogy (Part One): Places of Pavilnys
Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories: Just Perfect
Salionas, Vilnius: Great Cocktails and Best Pickles
Backstage Cafe Vilnius: A Kind of Home
Strasbourg is a city so beautiful, especially in spring, that it will take your breath away. I have been many places in Europe, but I have probably never seen anything so perfectly European and fairy-tale-like (except for maybe Colmar, which is just a stone-throw from Strasbourg, so do visit it on your way).
I used to live there for a while, and after a series of unfortunate events, my passion for Strasbourg turned into bitterness. It is probably not a city I would recommend you to move to, especially if you don’t speak French. But I definitely recommend visiting it!
Peak District, United Kingdom
Another place where I have lived for just over a year, and no bitterness here. Peak District is a hilly heathery beautiful part of England on the border of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. If you have heard of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, this is precisely the place where the heroines used to wander around. The house of Bronte sisters is also located there, as the houses and places they have used as inspiration for their books.
The heather blooms in August and September, so if you prefer purple to green, you can try to time your visit to the blooming season.
Check out more posts on Peak District:
8 Places I Love: Inspire Your Wanderlust
The biggest of the Greek islands, Crete has something for anyone. Chania is a historic old port town, Malia is a party place, and the rest of Crete has white beaches, eco villages in the mountains, canyons and waterfalls, plains and olive tree groves. The weather is the best from March till November, but the orange season is during the winter, so it’s a winning destination all year round.
Check out more posts on Crete:
One week in Crete: Top 7 Places to see OR “Good road, asphalt”
Malia, Crete: A great family holiday destination?
Meropi Hotel & Apartments in Malia, Crete
Albania is a less explored county in the Balkans, but its capital Tirana is definitely a worth-visiting place in Europe. It is not yet very touristic but has to offer a lot during any season.
Definitely check it out, if you love good coffee and hearty food. And remember that both the sea and the mountains are so close that you can easily go there for a day trip.
The otherworldly town of Italy, Matera was one of the biggest surprises for me. It is a cave city, which used to be really poor and led almost medieval life until mid-last century when it was “discovered” and re-branded as a cultural destination.
Go there to stay in a real cave and see the out-of-this-world sunrises and sunsets over the ravine and the cave churches and houses of the city. Matera is easy to reach from Bari and is a great day-trip destination.
Check out more posts on Matera and around:
Best Things to Do in Matera, Italy
Your 4 Day Itinerary In and Around Bari, Italy
Black Forest, Germany
The place where all my favourite childhood fairy tales (the slightly dark and moody ones) took place. Imagine how thrilled I was to find out that this place really exists and I can buy a train ticket to visit it.
Chose a bigger city like Freiburg or Heidelberg as your base, or stay in one of many small villages to explore the woods. The Black Forest is beautiful in any season, but my favourite would be autumn and winter. There are fewer people, and you can enjoy a Black Forest cake by the fireplace in the evening after a long hike.
Check out more posts on the Black Forest:
10 Autumn Things To Do in the Black Forest
Klaipeda and Curonian Spit, Lithuania
If I have to pick my favourite place in the world, this will probably be the Curonian Spit in Lithuania. A part of it is also in Russia, but that one I actually know nothing about and can only recommend the Lithuanian part.
Go to Klaipeda to experience the unique blend of sea life with a good influence of German, Lithuanian and Russian cultures. And then take a ferry boat over to the Spit and enjoy white sandy beaches and pine forests. Oh, and smoked fish and sunsets. And… Ok, someone please stop me, before this part becomes too long!
Better check out some posts about Klaipeda and Curonian Spit:
Your Guide to Klaipeda, Lithuania
10 Things to Do on the Curonian Spit in Summer
Zunda Guest House in Nida: Affordable Cosiness
My favourite part of Italy is the northern part. There are so many places to see there. For fashion and big city life visit Milan and smaller Bergamo. And then for sure head to one (or more) of the lakes. Lakes Garda and Como are better known, but Lake Iseo is loved by the locals and less explored by the tourists.
Check out some posts about Lombardy, Italy:
Things to do in Lake Como: Towns and Food
Hiking in Italy: Via Valeriana near Lake Iseo
They say that the island of Tenerife in Spain has some of the best climates in the world and for what I know it may be true. It is not too hot and not too cold all year round, so is a perfect place for any time of the year.
It is very affordable, has some bigger cities with museums and restaurants, as well as more secluded beaches. The volcano of Teide in the centre of the island has a natural park around and some Martian landscapes you should put on your bucket list.
Check out some posts about Tenerife:
Best Things to Do in Costa Adeje, Tenerife
Ok, maybe it’s not actually Europe, but as long as Israel participates in the Eurovision, it can also get on my list. Jerusalem is one of those important cities you probably should visit in your lifetime, whatever your religious affiliation is.
Jerusalem is also a great place for winter sun and amazing Middle Eastern food. And if you have more time, Tel Aviv is close by and has the sea access.
Check out some posts about Jerusalem, Israel:
What to do in Jerusalem, Israel
Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem
Jerusalem Biblical Zoo: Fun without Cruelty
Wroclaw is one of the coolest towns in Poland. In addition to super friendly people, great food (and huge portions) and lovely architecture, which you will find in many Polish old towns, in Wroclaw you will also find the dwarves.
There are many small dwarf sculptures all around the city, so you can go on a hunt and see how many you can spot.
Check out some posts about Poland:
10 Best Cities in Poland for Your Next Trip
Bialystok by Locals and Newcomers
Lomza, Poland: A Town Full of Love
Best Cities to Visit in Eastern Europe in Winter: Secret Gems You Haven’t Heard Of
There are many cool things about Basel – accessibility, museums, food, cultural life and day trip possibilities. The coolest for me is the river Rhine and the way they use it.
Basel is home to the Wickelfisch. It is a water-resistant bag in the shape of a fish, which you can buy there. Then go to the river, undress and pack your clothes and money in the fish bag and roll it, so it doesn’t let the water through and also becomes inflated with the air. You can hold on to the bag and float in the Rhine until you get fed up with it. In August Basel holds a swimming-in-the-Rhine Day, when there were around 4.000 people swimming (floating) at the same time.
Check out some posts about Basel, Switzerland:
A Long Weekend in Basel, Switzerland
Have you noticed that until now it was always a city or region + country and now it is just Montenegro? I have toyed with the idea to put only Durmitor National Park, but have decided that the distances in Montenegro are so short and both the coast and the mountains are so beautiful that I will not choose any particular location.
Do pay a visit to Kotor, but keep in mind it will be very touristic in summer. Check out Ulcinj and Sveti Stefan, and then head to the mountains to see the Black Lake, Zabljak and Durmitor National Park.
Check out some posts about Montenegro:
Travelling Alone in Montenegro
Brussels is my current home and has been for over a year. And while I didn’t have so much time for exploring in this year because of some major life events, I would recommend this city to everyone interested in current Europe. The European Quarter is where all the European Union decisions take place, and you can visit the Parliament and the Commission.
And outside from this, Brussels is a charming busy city which also happens to host amazing Christmas markets, so is a perfect destination for December.
Check out more posts about Belgium:
Places to visit in Brussels in half day
Belgian Chocolate in Galeries Royales, Brussels
Brussels Attitude & Why I Have Been Away
5 Best Places to Visit in Belgium in Autumn
Motel One in Brussels: When Pretty Meets Comfortable
Antwerp Zoo: Tickets, Prices and Other Practicalities
Another home for less than a year – many years ago. Copenhagen is a place which many of my friends loved so much that they have decided to live there. Copenhagen has the best New Nordic restaurants, trendy opera and great selection of museums and shops as well as coolest party places in Nørrebro.
While you can normally catch a cheap flight to Copenhagen and the airport is located within the city itself, the rest will cost you a lot compared to other places in Europe.
Wales, United Kingdom
Wales is a place where I have been planning to come back to for ages. It has some of the most beautiful beaches on the coast and the greenest foggy Snowdon mountains – really hard to describe beauty. But it also has some of the most unpredictable weather, and if you are unlucky, your walks there may feel like hiking inside the washing machine.
So I’ll let my kids grow a bit older before we head there, but I would definitely recommend it for all nature and outdoors lovers.