Reykjavik, Ljubljana, Wroclaw, Amsterdam and Hull fly the flag for Europe in 2016.
No sooner is 2016 upon us than one of the UK’s trusted travel guides, Rough Guides, publishes its list of must-visit recommendations for the coming year. This year’s selection of top 10 cities sees quite a mix of destinations, with 50% of the places to be situated both in the UK and mainland Europe. Further afield meanwhile, the remaining top 10 sees places awarded to Mexico City, Seoul, Nashville, Vancouver and Agra.
Hull, UK city of culture in 2017, leads the charge for England and indeed the whole of the United Kingdom, whilst the European hotspots for 2016 go to Reykjavik, Ljubljana, Wroclaw and Amsterdam. Here’s what the Rough Guide has to say about these essential European city break destinations…
Increasing numbers of tourists are heading to Reykjavik for the city’s arts scene, cool nightlife and the slew of natural wonders that lie right on its doorstep. Amid the colourful scattering of toy-like, painted houses you can gorge on the freshest fish, head out on a famously messy rúntur (round tour) – the Reykjavík residents’ Friday night boozy blowout – or let loose in booming nightclubs in which almost anything goes. And there’s no better way to tackle your Icelandic hangover than with a dip in one of the country’s steamy hot pools or on the edge of a wind-battered cliff, just a few hours’ drive from this small but brilliant capital.
Winning the well-deserved accolade of European Green Capital of 2016, the elegant Slovenian capital boasts a wealth of green spaces – 542 square metres, in fact. If you’re feeling green yourself, the car-free centre is perfect to explore by bicycle, or else you can navigate a stand-up paddleboard along the gorgeously green Ljubljanica River that flows through the centre. Low prices mean you can find brilliant budget food and accommodation options without compromising on quality, plus it’s just a hop to the country’s stunning mountains, vineyards and beaches.
After a devastating flood in the 1990s Wroclaw was painstakingly rebuilt – its mammoth Germanic churches, Flemish-style mansions and Baroque palaces have been restored to their former glory. Though Wroclaw has yet to attract the large crowds of other Polish hotpots, it’s all set to change with its title as European Capital of Culture and World Book Capital in 2016. Join the lively student population and scores of Nobel Prize winners who call Wroclaw home, as plenty of special events run throughout the year alongside the many arts festivals that earned the city its reputation as a cultural hub.
With a new London to Amsterdam Eurostar service (calling at Antwerp and Rotterdam) set to start in 2016, the Dutch capital is about to get a whole lot more accessible. The city is well prepared, with revamped museums, a state-of-the-art film institute and a flourishing hub of avant-garde culture in the regenerated NDSM shipyard – a hangout housing restaurants, bars and a skate park. New visitors and new venues are just the start of it – Amsterdam’s going to be buzzing this year.
From a country perspective, Albania and Romania are the only European nations (apart from the Wales) to appear in a top 10 featuring a melting pot of destinations from Nepal, Colombia and Cuba to Jordan, El Salvador, Kenya and Sri Lanka, whilst the regions A-list featured coastal Calabria in Italy, the wine-producing region of Castilla y Léon in Spain and Scotland’s gorgeous Western Isles. In the people’s choice category meanwhile, only Iceland and Greece, ranked amongst the winners alongside countries as diverse as Nepal, the Philippines, Myanmar, India, Vietnam, the USA, Peru and Thailand.
Happy New Year to you all, and happy travels.
Reykjavik, Ljubljana, Wroclaw and Amsterdam copy copyrighted to and adapted from the Rough Guides’ “The Rough Guide to 2016 – top 10 cities”.