I’ve traveled to every continent (except for the Arctics!) and love parts of each of them. They’re all obviously very diverse, different not just from each other but within themselves. One country can have a number of cities which all look completely different from each other. But there’s something about Europe that makes me want to go back over and over again.
I’m mostly talking about Western Europe, but the Eastern parts have their charms as well. Throughout Europe I have found incredible towns and cities which have wowed me over and over again. These days, I have a preference for luxury travel, and so I’ve started cataloguing the best destinations to travel in comfort and ease.
These are my favorite luxury destinations in Europe — I don’t know about you, but my ultimate bucket travel list in Europe is mostly luxury!
Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como is a popular honeymoon spot for a reason. It is one of the most romantic places on earth – see here for top rated villas in Lake Como. Set against a backdrop of mountains and hills, Lake Como forms an inverted Y shape and is stunning in its beauty. So stunning that the region has been popular with aristocrats since way back in Roman times. Taking a vacation to Lake Como is what the rich and famous have been doing for thousands of years!
There are a range of towns to choose from. Vassena is a great choice for those looking for a quaint town with miles and miles of streets to explore. Bellagio is perhaps the better-known town, with its cobbled lanes and picturesque location drawing visitors from around the world (and inspiring countless hotels and resorts to use the name).
No matter what type of traveler you are, Lake Como can be your perfect destination. You can stay in one place on a romantic retreat with your partner, or you can go with friends from one town to another. If you’re visiting Italy, Lake Como should at least be on your list, even if you’re not going to spend the whole vacation there.
Santorini is one of the most well-known Greek islands. Considered the perfect spot for both romancing and partying, its white and blue hillside buildings are iconic. Oia is home to the most luxurious hotels and apartments. You’re not going to find a spacious villa there. Rather, you’ll find little cottages with their own hot-tubs and, more importantly, a view to kill for.
Stay on one side of the hill and you’ll get incredible views of the Caldera. The results of the ancient volcanic eruption which formed Santorini, you’ll be taking photos every few hours to catch it in yet another incredible light.
Alternatively, you can stay on the other side and get front row seats to one of the best sunsets you’ll ever catch. People flock to the streets to watch the sun slowly go down over the course of an hour, but by staying in a home there you can watch from the comfort of your hot-tub.
There’s plenty to do in Oia, with restaurants serving fresh seafood in Grecian style and shops selling fashionable linen clothing. You can also hire a catamaran and party on the open seas, or go diving in nearby Fira.
Unless you travel often, you’ll probably only think to visit France once. Chances are, you’ll spend most of your time in Paris, getting to know the City of Love. I’m sorry to break it to you, but Paris stinks. Literally. Paris’s streets could be a lot cleaner, and while walking around the city is the best way to see it, you may well get tired of the smell. The truth is that the Eiffel Tower is one of the most overrated monuments in the world and unless you’re a true art fanatic, the Louvre will underwhelm you.
Which is not to say you shouldn’t visit Paris. Rather, make it a small part of your trip to Provence. You can do Paris in a couple of days. Then make your way to the South of France, known for its beauty, luxury, and (odor-free) romance. Traveling through Provence, you will find luxurious destinations, with landscapes that vary from the Alps to the plains to vineyards and olive farms.
Stop by in Marseille if you want a big city that’s not Paris. Swim in the Calanques at Cassis to appreciate the natural wonders of the world’s beauty. Shop in markets where vendors are not rude and are willing to help you even if you don’t have much of a grasp of the language.
Iceland is experiencing a tourist boom. People from all around the world are discovering that it is one of Europe’s most underrated countries. The word “ice” in the name does a lot to put people off!
Iceland has incredible natural beauty that is also very different to what you’ll find at the other destinations on this list. You can get a chance to see the Northern Lights, which is definitely a bucket list experience. Their electricity seems more magical than scientific.
There are also hot lagoons, mountains, volcanoes, and incredible ice caves. You can also see Iceland’s glaciers in various parts of the country if you want your trip to live up to the name!
All in all, Iceland can be one of your most luxurious and exciting vacations. With landscapes so different to what you’ve seen before, you don’t have to search far to find wonder and adventure.