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Best destinations in Europe 2019

It’s that time when we reveal our  top ten destinations in Europe.The countdown starts right here.

10 Istria Croatia

  There’s something regal about Istria’s heart-shaped peninsula, with its limestone riviera, grand  monuments and abundant fine produce. Perhaps that’s why the Romans,Venetians and Austro Hungarians tussled over this beautiful, fertile land for centuries. Today, you can fly direct from all over the uk. begin with the history pula's roman amphitheate and porecs unesco listed mosa ics. then laze, with dozens of beautiful beaches to idle on, from Mulini, with its relaxed atmosphere and beach bar, to secluded  Felsen Strand. Diversify with a gourmet cycle tour during spring, music festivals in summer, and truffle hunting excursions come autumn.

9 Vevey Switzerland

  Vevey will be popping even more corks than usual when the Fête des Vignerons kicks off in July. Held once every  generation every 20 years or so this  three week festival is one of the biggest  and oldest of its kind, an all singing, all dancing ode to bountiful harvests, wine growing culture and grand cru grapes. Expect costumed shows, cowbell clanging  parades, alphorn concerts and, above all, the chance to sample local pinot and chasselas at pop up stalls  and open door cellars. It’s not just its wine pedigree that makes this Swiss town so appealing. On the edge of Lake Geneva, the tiny Old Town is crammed with places to eat, serving everything from 20 course tasting menus to cheap and cheerful  fondue. You can work off lunch with a swim in the  lake or a walk along the edge of the vineyards.

8 Liechtenstein

  Fancy walking around an entire country in a weekend? That’s the prospect on offerin little, lovely Liechtenstein. As part of celebrations to mark 300 years of sovereign nationhood, the country will open the Liechtenstein Trail, a scenic 47 mile hiking path that twists over peak and pasture on a route that takes in all eleven of its municipalities. Even if you leave the hiking boots at home, Liechtenstein is a fascinating place to  visit: a rural yetrich state ruled by a prince from  a hilltop castle above the petite capital of Vaduz. The anniversary is an added incentive  to go, with special exhibitions (such as highlights of the Princely Collections at the Museum of Fine Arts) and parties, the biggest bash falling on the  country’s National Day, 15 August.

7 Lyon France

  Industrious Lyon may not have Paris’s heart throb reputation or major crowds but it does share some of its winning traits. It’s beautiful, with two hills (Croix-Rousse and Fourvière) and two riverfronts (Rhône and Saône), and food obsessed,  with its scores of legendary bistros and bouchons. It’s  also highly cultured, with a miscellany of museums  ranging from the new science and ethnology hub at confluence to the pretty garden and puppets of Musée Gadagne. Thanks to the remodelling of the confluence district virtually from scratch, and bold architecture projects galore,this is a city transformed.  Go now, before it wins the international darling  status it deserves.

6 Shetland Islands Scotland

  To get truly away in the UK this year, head to its northernmost  point, the Shetland Islands, some 105 miles off the tip of mainland Scotland. This windbeaten archipelago, poised between the Atlantic and the North Sea, is heaven for lovers of puffins, craggy coastal trails and excellent fish and chip shops. you have to earn a visit to Shetland, with the overnight ferry from Aberdeen an adventure in itself. Once you’re here, spot otters and orcas from remote headlands, see Iron Age brochs and Viking longboats, and wind down with a dram in one of Lerwick’s locals.

5 Bari Italy

  Don’t call it a comeback, but the port town of Bari, always a jumping  off point fortourists headed to Puglia’s big hitters further south, is enjoying a renaissance that’s been a decade in the making. A reinvigorated Old Town sets the tone, boarded up shop fronts replaced by traditional trattorias in pretty piazzas. And change here is more than cosmetic cultural spaces are reopening, from the ornate Teatro Piccinni to once condemned heritage hotels such as the Oriente, and not forgetting the Teatro Margherita, an Art Nouveau playhouse repurposed as an art space on stilts overthe sea. With the nightlife offering refreshed ( cocktails in a former ticket office,anyone? ), streets safer and beaches cleaner, Bari is bouncing once again.

4 Hercegovina Bosnia and Hercegovina

  Think of Hercegovina the historical region on which Bosnia geographically piggybacks and Mostar’s magnificent stone Stari Most bridge may spring to mind. What you won’t picture are the crowds who arrive each summer, smartphones aloft,fidding with filters, widen your focus in 2019 to hercegovina's other highlights with a trip along the ciro cycle trail, which threads through the countryside from Mostar to Dubrovnik, tying together some of the region’s top sights. Accommodation in atmospheric old train  stations offers the chance to lock up the bikes and  explore further. Potter around the streets of medieval pocitelj, explore the vjetrenica karst wind tunnels or hike to Lukomir, a traditional mountain  village, to gain a new perspective on the region.

3 Arctic Coast Way Iceland  

  Riding high on bucket lists for some time, Iceland has  yet another ace to play. Of the millions of people who visit each year, most focus on Reykjavík and the famous Golden Circle. Some trailblazers set course for the west and far flung east, but few have headed north until now. Running 500 miles from Hvammstangi in the west to Bakkafjorour in the east, the newly founded Arctic Coast Way winds  between 21 villages and four islands along Iceland’s  elemental north coast. Come to see the natural wonders for which Iceland is rightly famed thunderous waterfalls, colossal glaciers, steaming fumaroles and to exploit opportunities for snow sports, wildlife watching and wilderness adventures. It’s the best of Iceland, minus the crowds. 

2 Madrid Spain

  Madrid has managed to style out a stumble during the economic downturn, springing back into step with renewed vigour. The city’s nightlife, always among Europe’s most exciting, just keeps getting better: Calle de Ponzano, a strip of standing-only tapas and cocktail joints, now has its own trending hashtag. But it’s not just night  owls who’ll clock the changes. Sustainability projects have opened up greater pedestrian access and new green spaces, such as Madrid Río Park and its urban beach. Even the historic Museo del  Prado has a fresh face, thanks to a Sir Norman Foster designed extension marking the national art museum’s bicentenary in 2019.

1 High Tatras Slovakia

 There’s a mythical feel to the landscape of Slovakia’s High Tatras, a lofty realm of crooked peaks and plunging waterfalls, where elusive beasts prowl the forests. Eradicated from most parts of Europe,  brown bears thrive in this wild, rugged region, and  a growing number of tour agencies lead adventurers out on foot to spy them, walking through woods where lynx, wolves and the endemic Tatra chamois  also roam. As well as spotting bears, you could hike to the summit of Slovakia’s highest peak, 2655m Gerlach (also known as Gerlachovsk˝ atít), take out a boat on the glacial lake of atrbské Pleso, and enjoy  traditional hospitality in high altitude chaty.