If you thought European destinations were all about snowy mountains, lush vineyards, and romantic rolling hills, think again. The region is definitely one of our top travel destinations to visit and absolutely jam-packed with countries featuring singular and unexpected landscapes. Why not discover a different Europe the next time you visit by adding one or more of the following enchanting locations to your bucket list?
8 Furnas, Portugal
While many associate Portugal with its sun-streaked Algarve coastline and cosmopolitan cities, few picture it as a region home to lush green jungles and bubbling volcanoes. To see this sort of scenery, you’ll have to head to the Azores. Around 1,000 miles west of Portugal, this dreamy archipelago is a paradise for outdoor and adventure lovers.
One of the most distinct landscapes you’ll encounter in the Azores is at Furnas on the main island of Sao Miguel. It’s a huge dormant volcanic crater dotted with steaming hot springs, many of which have been turned into therapeutic thermal spas.
7 Skaftafell, Iceland
Forming part of Vatnajökull National Park on the country’s southeast coast, Skaftafell offers a stunning backdrop of craggy volcano peaks and glittering glaciers that have been molded into works of frozen art over millennia.
Depending on the time of year you visit, you might spot meadows dotted with colorful wildflowers, tumbling waterfalls framed by lava columns, or magnificent ice caves straight out of fairytales.
Wonders of South Iceland
7 Days: $ 3,290 / person
Road Trip: Highlights of the Ring Road
9 Days: $ 3,690 / person
6 Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Away from the coastline though, you’ll find a nation brimming with forest reserves, magnificent mountains, and glassy bodies of water. Plitvice Lakes National Park lies at the very heart of Croatia and is famous for its magical lakes and waterfalls.
There are 16 lakes in total which are all connected by a network of cascades tumbling down into a limestone canyon. You won’t believe the bright turquoise, emerald, and cerulean shades of the water! The vibrant hues change depending on the time of day and the level of minerals present in the rocks.
Highlights of Northern Croatia and Slovenia
10 Days: $ 3,590 / person
13 Days: $ 4,590 / person
5 Mallorca, Spain
The Mediterranean island is a paradise for those after a relaxing getaway in the sun, with many of its golden beaches reminiscent of coves featured in Caribbean travel brochures! Beyond the sand, you’ll also find dramatic mountains and charming towns dotted with Byzantine, Roman, and Medieval ruins.
Mallorca is equally as popular for an active vacation as it is for R&R. In particular, its excellent roads and miles of gorgeous scenery make it a prime destination for cycling.
Best of Spain: Flavors, Flamenco and Fiestas
12 Days: $ 6,190 / person
4 Meteora, Greece
The UNESCO World Heritage site sits at the heart of the country and within the region of Thessaly. Picture sandstone rocks protruding from the earth topped with several ancient and ornate Eastern Orthodox monasteries.
Meteora has been a sacred destination for centuries and it’s not uncommon for Orthodox Christians to plan pilgrimages to the magnificent region. Visit one of six holy sanctuaries on foot to admire breath-taking vistas and inspect myriad relics dating back to the Byzantine era.
Greece: Luxury Honeymoon
12 Days: $ 8,090 / person
Highlights of Greece
10 Days: $ 3,290 / person
Flavors of Greece
10 Days: $ 4,390 / person
3 Mount Etna, Sicily
If you’ve never seen a volcano up close, book a vacation to sunny Sicily. The Italian isle is an oasis for beach lovers and those obsessed with delicious, homemade gastronomy.
One of the best things to do in Italy has to be soaking up the lunar-like landscapes of monumental Mount Etna. The unmissable peak sits on Sicily’s east coast and measures over 10,000 feet high! It’s Europe’s largest active volcano and constantly on the verge of erupting, with ash plumes and lava clouds not unusual sights.
While you’ll be able to see Mount Etna on the horizon from many points in Sicily, it’s best viewed up close. Why not take the cable car up to its summit and embark on an exciting guided hike around some of its craters?
Sicilian Cuisine and Heritage
8 Days: $ 4,290 / person
Southern Culture and the Amalfi Coast
9 Days: $ 4,590 / person
2 Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Walk in the footsteps of giants, or at least along a stone pathway large enough for them to stroll along, with a trip to the Emerald Isle.
Ireland and Northern Ireland are best associated with rich green landscapes and gorgeous Medieval castles. Much of their scenery is caught up in Celtic myths and legends, including the otherworldly Giant’s Causeway.
Found on Northern Ireland’s north coast, it’s a series of 40,000 huge columns of basalt stone which, from afar, look like a highway for giants! The natural phenomenon is backed by steep cliffs and offers uninterrupted views across the wild Atlantic Ocean.
Grand Tour of Ireland
16 Days: $ 10,890 / person
Scotland: Heritage Cities and Loch Ness
10 Days: $ 2,890 / person
12 Days: $ 10,290 / person
1 Franz Josef Land, Arctic Circle, Russia
Transport yourself to a real-life Winter Wonderland with an adventure in Franz Josef Land.
Nestled at the edge of the Arctic Circle and within Russia, it’s one of the closest points to the North Pole in Europe and a must-see for fans of polar exploration. The sub-zero archipelago is named after a former Russian Emperor and made up of nearly 200 tiny islands that are covered in ice and snow for much of the year.
Sail through Franz Josef Land on a once-in-a-lifetime Arctic cruise and glimpse sheer glaciers, bell-shaped mountains and the remains of research stations once occupied by some of the world’s most intrepid explorers. The region is also well-known for its plethora of wonderful wildlife – think polar bears, walruses and flocks of arctic seabirds.
Feeling inspired by these unusual and utterly unique sights? Get in touch with our travel experts and start planning a dream vacation to one of these top travel destinations across Europe.