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Paris Can Wait: 6 European Destinations On People’s Lips Right Now

Save your Paris trip for another year and try exploring these 2018 must-go-to European destinations that guarantee a great mix of the expected, surprising, and, humorous. We’ve done some research and got some valuable tips and side trip suggestions from two seasoned travellers who have lived and been in and around Europe for the last decade or so.  While Budapest, Brussels, Oslo, Berlin, Barcelona, Ghent, and Athens all made it to their list, these six offer you just as much diversity, detours and, distractions for that unique introduction to this great continent.

 

1. Wroclaw

This Polish city, the fourth largest, recently got Trip Advisor’s 2018 Travelers Choice seal, as well as the top vote for Best European Destination. The site besteuropedestinations.com describes it as the “Polish Venice” for its many canals. It has 120 bridges that link it to 12 islands. In 1997, the city became a virtual lake after being hit by the biggest flood recorded in the city’s history. Today, it is alive, vibrant, glorious, and colorful as its very photographable medieval buildings and market squares. Walk around Rynek and Ostrow Tumski for some shopping and a bit of history.  Be part of the many festivals and activities—film, literature, theater, guitar, jazz, you name it—that happen year round. The most famous festival is the Wratislavia Cantans which happens every September and features choirs, soloist and entire orchestras. If you are up to playing a little hide and seek, you can hunt for dwarf figurines scattered around the city. There are 350 (and counting) of them, bearing touches of art, humor, and irony, installed to memorialize the Orange Alternative that protested the communist regime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Amsterdam

This city is great for the young and adventurous what with the Instagram-friendly sights, the laidback laws (let’s just say that what’s a crime in your city is just leisure here), and relaxed ambiance. For one, you can take an afternoon nap under a tree in a public park and wait to be stirred awake with goose peck on your cheek and no one will judge you. Immerse yourself among locals at Vondelpark, the largest park in the city. It will be crowded during the tourist season but it gives you easy access to the works of great painters. Check out the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum for Rembrandt, and the Stedelijk for modern art. Make sure to stop and smell the flowers and stay in one of its many hip hotels, which the city is known for.

 

 

 

 

#vondelpark #holland

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3. Copenhagen

Lonely Planet called this compact city the “epitome of Scandi cool” what with the modern Nordic aesthetics of its public spaces, museum-studded streets, calming canals, and yes, 15 Michelin starred restaurants. Consistently voted as the most livable city in the world for its greenness, sustainability, and cleanliness, Copenhagen is a worry-free place and perfect for a traveller with a bit of money to spend. If you want to stir the rebel in you, take a sidetrip to Freetown Christiana where the rules will be a bit radical—and not because of its carless streets. This bike-riding, art-steeped borough is Copenhagen’s answer to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury, thanks to its rich, independent hippie culture. The area has its own currency, flag, and even societal rules independent of the Danish government. The art and humor is as ubiquitous as the weed stores and should you find yourself in Pusher Street, wonder no more because it is what its name says it is.

 

 

 

 

Colors from Christiania ??????????‍????

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4. Prague

Mention Prague to anyone who has been there and the word “beautiful” only comes second in their description. But that’s because the adjective is flanked by the quantifiers “most” and “in the world.” Its historic city is the largest UNESCO Heritage site listed in the world. When in Prague, walk on its famed Charles Bridge and admire the spires, sculptures, and centuries-old architecture from the vantage point of the Vltava River. Visit its many museums, theaters, and opera houses to get a taste of just how alive the city’s cultural landscape is, then end each day in a pub with their famous pilsner beer in your hand. If you are travelling with kids, find time to visit one of its several toy museums. Surrounded by five other European countries, Prague is also a great point from which to visit the equally charming cities of Budapest, Warsaw, Munich, and Bratislava.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Istanbul

Istanbul will always give you a taste of a different side of Europe. It is perfect for the adventurous because it dares you to “survive” new experiences. Be prepared for the heat and long walks as you navigate the mazes of its Grand Bazaar. This is the only way to take in the sights and smells authentic to this city. Expect a mad crowd of hungry shoppers converging at the shopping street of Istiklal Cadessi. During the weekend, visitors in this area could swell to the millions because the one kilometer street hosts all forms of entertainment from pubs, nightclubs, libraries, theaters, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops. This will be real Istanbul for you. Once you manage to get the perfect IG shot and pluck yourself from the crowd, get a taste of Ottoman legacy at The Hagia Sophia, and some Byzantinian influences at the Basilica Cistern. If you have time, take either a sidetrip to Izmir (one hour plane ride from Istanbul) to reorient yourself on Roman civilization and mythology, or get on a hot air balloon to admire the surreal landscape of Carpadoccia (10-12 hour bus ride from Istanbul).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Bohinj

Bohinj ranked 10th as the best European place to discover for 2018 by Best Europe Destination. The great and glorious outdoors await at this unspoilt Slovenian spot because of the quiet, clean, green, and sustainable tourism it offers. It boasts of activities that will introduce you to breathtaking landscapes of its forests, lakes, alps, and waterfalls. Get here in time for the International Wild Flower Festival in May and June. Visit the country’s only national park in Triglav that will give you inspiring views of the Julian Alps. Just 15 kilometers away from Bohinj is Lake Bled. Get on a boat and experience the most romantic cruise of your life. Slovenia keeps finding ways to boost its tourism and it found a gem of an idea when one of its own, Melania Knavs Trump, became First Lady of the United States. When you’ve had your fill of nature, treat yourself to a walking tour of Melania’s little-known hometown of Sevnica, two hours away from Bohinj. For the fun of it, trace the her childhood by visiting her elementary school, communist era apartment, and the factory where her mother used to design children’s clothes. Cap your walking tour (it costs $90) at a local bakery where they sell a tart named after her. A tour and a sweet bite is a sure way to break your ice-cold impression of the FLOTUS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soca trail is a path that leads visitors of the Triglav National Park along the Soca river from its spring towards Bovec. It connects the tracks and quiet, less known parts of the valley, away from the road and noise. Soca is an emerald thread of the trail, which offers a tour of all known and lesser known natural and cultural sights in the valley. A special attraction are the picturesque footbridges, over which we cross the river several times. The entire route from the spring of the Soca river along the Trenta valley to the border of the park near Kršovec is about 20 kilometers long. We can adjust the visit of the Soca trail to our time and purpose, and we only see the parts that we want to visit the most. LOCATION??: Soca ARTIST??: @blazkramaric Visit @blazkramaric gallery and show some support! ?? And don't forget to tag #igposocje to get a chance to be featured on our page. #soca #socariver #socavalley #triglavnationalpark #slovenija #socatrail #igposocje #igslovenia #slovenia #visitslovenia

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Credits to Ewelina Wdzieczna and Karen Arive for sharing valuable insights about Europe. Wdzieczna is from Poland but is currently based in Oslo to find her inner Frida Kahlo, while Arive is a Filipino whose job in the International Trade Fairs Network industry requires her to shuttle between Manila and cities all over Europe in the last 13 years.