The top five countries to visit in Europe

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According to the World Tourism Rankings, the top five holiday destinations (excluding the United Kingdom) in Europe for 2009 were:

  1. France
  2. Spain
  3. Italy
  4. Turkey
  5. Germany

So, today we’re looking at these wonderful countries in detail and recommending one or two cruise journeys that will let you explore these places in more detail.

France:

France boasts a myriad of different experiences for holidayers, as it is one of the most geographically diverse countries in Europe.   From trekking the summits of the Pyrenees to relaxing on a beach along the Mediterranean Sea coast; from skiing down a mountain in the Alps to enjoying the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Spain:

Spain is a wonderful, relaxed country with a thriving and vibrant nightlife, plus plenty of festivities for everybody to enjoy.  Those seeking outstanding beauty will be pleased  to hear that Spain is home to the second-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world!

Holidayers can enjoy hot temperatures, great beaches, fun nightlife, historic cities, cultural diversity and lush countryside.  The geographical diversity of the country means you can experience both snowy mountains and baron deserts when travelling from west to east.

Italy:

Italy cruise guide

Bike on the wall. © Perrimoon, Flickr

Italy has much to offer for travellers: it is home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, perfect if you’re wishing to holiday in an area that’s outstandingly beautiful.  Enjoy high art, historic monuments, gorgeous coastlines, alpine lakes and great skiing in the mountains.

The country has a magic atmosphere that offers a pleasant and unforgettable experience for everyone visiting.   Although there are plenty of modern cafes, nightclubs, bars and fashionable outlets to shop in, around every corner there is a romantic building steeped in history that will transport you back to ancient times within an instant!

Turkey:

Turkey is classed as Eurasian, as most of the country is located in Western Asia but the “Eastern Thrace” (known as European Turkey) is geographically located in Europe.   The country offers Mediterranean beaches, Roman ruins, Byzantine-influenced mosques and wonderful landscapes.

One of the most unmissable places in Turkey is the outstandingly beautiful white  travertines of Pamukkale that are located in the southwest of the country.  If you’ve never heard of Pamukkale before, you may be excused for thinking that the picture above depicts cold, white snow, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!  Pamukkale is actually a city of hot springs and the white appearance is actually formed from calcium and other minerals; the area is classed as a World Heritage Site due to its outstanding natural beauty and unique nature.

Visitors can pay to bathe in the pools and take in the stunning views of  Hierapolis, the ruins of a 12,000-seat Roman Amphitheatre that lie close by.  If you’ve paid to visit Pamukkale, you can also tour Hierapolis for free too.    If your cruise docks at Turkey, you MUST ensure you make an excursion to Pamukkale!

Germany:

Germany is made up of many different regions, each with their own distinct cultures.  Although Germany is regarded as one of the economic “powers” of Europe and known for its engineering and high-tech products, many revellers also enjoy the old-world charm, coziness and hospitality on offer.  There are many historical regions to explore and plenty of local diversity to enjoy.  Travellers can also look forward to breathtaking views in the stunning valleys of Western Germany, the ancient forests located in Central Germany, and plenty of historical and eccentric cites located in Eastern Germany.

Cruising around Europe:

If you’d like to book a cruise trip around Europe, visit this page.  There are plenty of cruise liners visiting the continent, offering both long and short breaks.

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About Author

Belinda Goodman

Cruise 1st veteran Belinda has a passion for travel, especially cruising. She has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years, including a 3-year stint working on cruise ships as a croupier. Belinda regularly writes for the Cruise 1st blog, with a focus on company news and advice for first-time cruise travellers.

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