It’s always difficult to exactly point out the top ten most beautiful places in the world as each place has its own uniqueness in terms of natural beauty, stunning architecture or great landscapes. However, the following 10 places have been selected for ideal family vacations and couple travel, if you prefer privacy.
The Azores, Portugal
Location: A group of 9 volcanic islands located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the Azores are an autonomous part of Portugal. It constitutes the European Union’s ultra peripheral region.
Ideal for: It scenic beauty, cycling facilities, hill climbing or sailing between the islands. Visit Horta, one of the most renowned sailing points of the world on an island called Faial. See natural spots like Lagoa das Sete Cidades, Lagoa das Furnas, the fire lake or Lagoa do Fogo, Capelinhos and Faial Caldera volcanos and Pico and Terceira Islands.
Getting there: Fly into Ponta Delgada Airport, the main aerodrome of the Azores. The other islands also have their own airports and flights are operated to New England, Canada, Oakland, Toronto and Boston. Flights are also available from London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Paris.
Visit in: Because of its subtropical climate and high humidity, the best time to visit the Azores is between end November and February end.
Tuscany & Florence, Italy
Location: Italy’s west coast overlooking the Tyrhenian sea.
Ideal for: Their breathtaking landscapes, history, traditions, artistic legacy and culture. This is where the Renaissance started and it was home to some of the greatest scientific and artistic figures. Stroll in the numerous vineyards, take in the majestic villas and quaint Italian towns, steeped in history. In short, romance in Italy is synonymous with Tuscany & Florence.
Getting there: You can fly to Milan or Rome airport and take the train or drive to Tuscany and Florence, since the latter is a Tuscany province.
Visit in: April and June as also between September & October when the weather is pleasant.
Location: Lucerne is located in Switzerland’s heartland overlooking a lake from the town of Altdorf.
Ideal for: Lucerne forms an ideal base for exploring famous sites like Rütli Meadow and Mount Rigi. Visit its Old Town and Mount Pilatus, take boat & guided tours or go paragliding from Rigi and Pilatus.
Getting there: Take a train from any Swiss city or fly into Zurich Airport and take the train from there. You can also take a boat traveling on the Vierwaldstättersee, one of Switzerland’s busiest waterways.
Visit in: June – September, when it’s peak season time.
Halsttat & Salzburg, Austria
Location: Central Austria close to the border of Bavaria
Ideal for: Their historical importance, culture, music, beer festivals, grand scenic beauty, Salzach River, Hohensalzburg fortress, ice caves, salt mines and the Salzburg casino.
Getting there: Drive from either Vienna or Munich. Or, take the train from Munich which is a 90-minute ride. Trains also run from Zurich, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Budapest. You can also travel by bus from Cesky Krumlov, Linz and Budapest. Air travelers may land at Salzburg’s W.A. Mozart International Airport and take the trolley bus to the city’s center. Flights operate from Rotterdam, Brussels, Amsterdam, Birmingham, Dublin, London, Exeter, Palma de Mallorca, Istanbul, Saint Petersburg, Paris, Zurich and Moscow.
Visit in: September – October or March—April as the temperature is just right and there are fewer tourists.
Location: Close to Slovenia’s Triglav National Park.
Ideal for: Great natural scenery (its Vintgar Gorge is a must-see) as also facilities for golfing, fishing and adventure sports like stand-up paddling, hiking, swimming, skydiving, paragliding and summer tobogganing.
Visit in: December & March for skiing; and between April & September for adventure sports.
Getting there: Fly in from any major European city into the Joze Pucnik Ljubljana Airport and take a bus or taxi to Bled. You can even take a bus leaving to Bled from Ljubljana. Alternately, you can avail of the train from Ljubljana which will drop you off at the Lesce-Bled station and take a 4km ride on a bus to Bled from there. Trains are also available from Nova Gorica and Jesenice to Bled’s Jezero Station, which is 1.5 km from the town’s center.
Cote d’Azur, France
Location: On the Mediterranean Sea’s French coastline. Also called the French Riviera, this place is called the playground of the rich and famous.
Ideal for: Its glamour, gambling facilities and scenic beauty.
Getting there: Fly into Nice Airport from Paris and drive to Cote D Azur. If you decide to motor down, you may use A8 motorway from Italy or France’s Aix-en-Provence. You mayy also drive down from Avignon, Geneva or Turin. Take the express train leaving Paris and reach any of the towns of Nice or Cannes . There are also trains from Genoa in Italy.
Visit in: May — July if you are a film buff and wish to attend the prestigious Cannes Film Festival or be a witness to Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix car races. August is ideal for its perfect weather.
Location: Islands situated to Norway’s north, between the Arctic Ocean and the Barents, Greenland and Norwegian Seas.
Ideal for: Scenic beauty, wildlife & whale watching, hiking through the extremely rugged terrains and unusual flora and fauna. Visit the museums at Longyearbyen as also its church — the planet’s northernmost, Barentsburg and Pyramiden.
Getting there: Take the flight from Oslo or Tromsø and land at Longyearbyen Airport or take a chartered flight from Moscow. In high season, you may also take a sea cruise to visit the Ny-Ålesund archipelago. Cargo ships are also available from Tromsø on a weekly basis.
Visit in: June – August (summer) and from March to May if you are a winter sports enthusiast.
Location: The Vatna Glacier or Vatnajokull is Iceland’s biggest ice cap and located in the island’s south-east part.
Ideal for: Grand scenic beauty and rugged landscapes that make it ideal for hiking. The average tourist may visit the Höfn and Skaftafell visitor centres any time of the year. The Jökulsárgljúfur, Kirkjubaejarklaustur and Skriduklaustur visitor centres may be visited between early spring and autumn.
Getting there: Reach Höfn in Vatnajökull by air from Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital or take a bus from either Reykjavík or Akureyri during summer. You can even drive down from Reykjavík, provided the vehicle has a 4X4 wheel drive during summer or early autumn.
Visit in: End February to May.
Costa Brava, Spain
Location: Situated in north-eastern Spain and overlooks the Mediterranean.
Ideal for: Its sandy beaches, tranquil villages, rocky coves and mountain scenery as also its golfing, tennis, soccer, scuba diving and water sports facilities. Visit the valley of Sant Daniel for trekking and mountain biking.
Getting there: Land at the Girona-Costa Brava airport on flights from most major European cities as also Morocco. Alternatively, you may also land at Barcelona-El Prat airport from either Girona or Barcelona. Costa Brava is also accessible by rail from Barcelona.
Visit in: May, June and September when the temperature is warm and there are fewer tourists and hotel rates are lower. February — April & October — November is also good for the pleasant weather.
Location: Mykonos belongs to the Cyclades group of Greek islands located in heart of the Aegean Sea.
Ideal for: Mykonos Town, which is stunningly picturesque and characterized by churches, its beautiful harbour, cosmopolitan culture and typical Cycladic architecture. Visit Delos for its world heritage sites.
Getting there: Take the ferry or catamaran services that operate daily from both Rafina and Piraeus. There are also boat connections from other islands like Andros, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Naxos, Santorini, Ios and Crete. There is also an overnight ferry from Samos and Ikaria. You can also travel by cruise ship and take the shuttle bus or a taxi to the Mykonos Town center. Alternatively, you can land at the Mykonos airport from Athens or from Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini and Volos. Mykonos is also accessible directly by air from Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Nuremberg, Vienna, Istanbul, London, Rome, Geneva, Milan, Berlin, Paris, Manchester, Zurich, Cologne, Bonn, Bologna, Verona, Brussels, Amsterdam, Naples , Venice and Madrid. On arrival, you may take a taxi or a free hotel transfer offered by your hotel. Bus services are infrequent.
Visit in: Between mid-May and mid-October.