Lonely Planet’s top 10 European destinations for 2019 revealed

Ireland fails to make the list – the closest destination to feature is Shetland, in Scotland

High Tatras: Lonely Planet’s top destination, in Slovakia, is home to brown bears. Photograph: iStock/Getty

High Tatras: Lonely Planet’s top destination, in Slovakia, is home to brown bears. Photograph: iStock/Getty

 

Destinations in Slovakia, Spain and Iceland have been named Lonely Planet’s top three must-see destinations in Europe this year.

Its Best in Europe 2019 ranking puts the High Tatra Mountains, in Slovakia, top of the list. The range – the highest in the Carpathians – has 25 peaks over 2,500m (8,200ft); sitting in the Unesco-protected Tatra biosphere reserve, it features canyons and waterfalls, alpine meadows, and lakes, and is home to brown bears, lynxes, martens and wolves.

Madrid is second on the list, Lonely Planet particularly praising the Spanish capital’s emphasis on sustainable living, bicycle lanes and rental schemes, and wide footpaths – but not forgetting tapas and cocktails on Calle Ponzano.

Third place goes to the Arctic Coast Way, in Iceland. The country’s first official touring route, which is being launched in June (and may have been inspired by the success of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way), “traces 900km of untouched and remote coastline and is your chance to experience captivating extremes, heart-pounding elemental drama and tranquil escapes from modern life, all with welcoming villages along the way”, according to Lonely Planet.

Arctic Coast Way: the 900km touring route traces Iceland’s northern coast; this pool is in Hofsos. Photograph: iStock/Getty
Arctic Coast Way: the 900km touring route traces Iceland’s northern coast; this pool is in Hofsos. Photograph: iStock/Getty
Shetland: the Scottish archipelago is Ireland’s nearest Lonely Planet must-see destination. Photograph: iStock/Getty
Shetland: the Scottish archipelago is Ireland’s nearest Lonely Planet must-see destination. Photograph: iStock/Getty

The closest destination to Ireland is Shetland, in Scotland. The archipelago of 100 or so islands, 650km northeast of Co Donegal, comes sixth. The guide praises its “awesome coastal trails, wicked wildlife watching, and fabled fish and chip shops” and suggests visitors “spot otters and orcas from craggy headlands, then ease into the evening at one of Lerwick’s local pubs” or experience the Viking-inspired Up Helly Aa festival, which “bursts into fiery life each January”.

Lonely Planet’s top 10 summer destinations in Europe

  • 1 High Tatras, Slovakia
  • 2 Madrid, Spain
  • 3 Arctic Coast Way, Iceland
  • 4 Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • 5 Bari, Italy
  • 6 Shetland, Scotland
  • 7 Lyons, France
  • 8 Liechtenstein
  • 9 Vevey, Switzerland
  • 10 Istria, Croatia

– PA, agencies

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