Slovakia’s High Tatras named best European destination to visit this summer

Helen Coffey

The High Tatras in Slovakia has been named as the best destination in Europe to visit this summer.

It topped Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe list for 2019, which highlights the most exciting places to visit across the continent.

Described by the guide book publisher as a “mythical landscape of crooked peaks and plunging waterfalls” where brown bears still thrive, the High Tatras mountain range also has great hiking terrain, boating (or ice skating, depending on the time of year) on the glacial Štrbské Pleso lake, and traditional hospitality in high-altitude mountain huts known as chaty.

In at number two is the Spanish capital of Madrid, often passed over by tourists in favour of Barcelona, and in third place is the Arctic Coast Way in Iceland.

The Shetland Islands in Scotland, ranked sixth, is the only UK destination to make the 10-strong list. Though hard to reach, the archipelago is commended for its “awesome coastal trails, wicked wildlife watching and fabled fish and chip shops”.

“Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2019 list showcases the European destinations which are worth planning a trip around right now,” said Lonely Planet’s VP of experience, Tom Hall.

“From cultural city breaks to awe-inspiring scenery, buzzing foodie destinations and the best spots to escape the crowds, there are a wealth of experiences to be enjoyed across the continent this summer.

“Whether they are firm holiday favourites that have something new to offer, or places you may never have come across, these destinations should be on any traveller’s wish list.”

Top 10 European destinations 2019

1. High Tatras, Slovakia

“Snow willow blankets the ground and fearsome beasts patrol the forests.”

2. Madrid, Spain

“An emphasis on sustainable living has led to wide-scale pedestrianisation, bicycle lanes and rental schemes, widened footpaths, and new emissions controls transforming the city.”

Madrid is upping its sustainability game (Getty Images)

3. The Arctic Coast Way, Iceland

“Wowing with the natural wonders for which Iceland is rightly famed – thunderous waterfalls, colossal glaciers, steaming fumaroles – and endless opportunities for snow sports, wildlife watching and wilderness adventures…the best of Iceland minus the crowds.”

4. Hercegovina, Bosnia and Hercegovina

“Potter around the streets of medieval Počitelj, explore the Vjetrenica karst wind tunnels, hike to the traditional mountain village of Lukomir, and take a trip along the CIRO cycling trail – all will provide a new perspective on this picture-perfect region.”

5. Bari, Italy

“A reinvigorated old town sets the tone, the boarded-up shop fronts replaced by family-run eateries…cultural spaces are reopening, from the ornate Teatro Piccinni theatre to once-condemned heritage hotels like the Oriente.”

Bari has a reinvigorated Old Town (Getty Images)

6. Shetland, Scotland

“Spot otters and orcas from craggy headlands” and enjoy “fabled fish and chip shops.”

7. Lyon, France

“Beautiful”, “food-obsessed” and “cultured”.

8. Liechtenstein

“Walk around an entire country in a weekend thanks to the Liechtenstein Trail.”

Vevey, Switzerland (Getty/iStock)

9. Vevey, Switzerland

“Vevey will be popping more corks than ever as the three-week wine festival, Fête des Vignerons, comes to town in June.”

10. Istria, Croatia

“Offering history, beaches, gourmet cycle tours during spring, music festivals in summer and truffle-hunting excursions come autumn, expanding European flight connections make this heart-shaped peninsula easier to reach than ever.”