Although budget travel seems to have become all the rage these days, it can be nice sometimes to just kick back, relax, feel like a celebrity, and not worry about pinching pennies.
Europe, of course, is no stranger to luxury—but when trying to figure out where to vacation in Europe, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by all the information that’s out there. Rather than spend extra money on a travel agent or get frustrated trying to plan on your own, check out our choices for the best luxurious destinations:
Beach Pick: French Riviera
Nothing says relaxing like laying out on a beautiful beach in the warm sunshine, and the Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera, is the perfect place for that. The French Riviera stretches along the Mediterranean in the southeast part of France and has long been known as a glamorous destination. The area can get crowded during June and July, especially when there are festivals going on, but there’s a reason for that—the landscape is beautiful and the cities are fun, and it’s an excellent place for getting a tan to make all your coworkers jealous.
You have your choice of cities—Monaco, Cannes, Nice, and more—as you can see in this episode of Rick Steves, which barely scratches the surface of what the French Riviera has to offer. (Remember, you may need to get a VPN set up on your iPad or other device prior to streaming shows abroad!) Whichever city you pick, though, you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time—you really can’t go wrong with any of them!
Winter Pick: The Swiss Alps
If you’re keen on a winter vacation, nothing says opulence like the Swiss Alps. Here, you’ll be ensconced in some impressive mountains which are home to some of the best winter sports in the world—from skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing or cross-country ski trekking. Of course, you’re not obligated to partake in those activities—it’s perfectly acceptable to chill in the lodge hot-tub and see the snow from a place of warmth.
For cities, you have your pick of Geneva, Berne, or Zurich, or you might want to hit up one of the glitzy resorts like Zermatt or St. Moritz. Or if you’re looking for a more rustic charm, head to one of the little alpine villages like Wengen or Interlaken.
Cultural Pick: Greek Islands
The Greek Islands have long been a choice for luxury travellers given their interesting history, beaches, and stunning vistas. What could be more luxurious than taking a cruise around the Mediterranean and then watching the sunset on a glorious beach? Don’t worry if boats aren’t your thing—you can catch a flight out to many of the islands.
You have tons of options when it comes to choosing your island. Interested in medieval fortresses, harbors, and nightlife? Check out Corfu. Interested in scenic landscapes, nightlife, and luxury hotels? Try Santorini. Interested in beaches, archaeological sites, and harbor towns? Rhodes might be for you. You might be better off just throwing a dart at a map, though!
Photographer’s Pick: Tuscany
Tuscany is actually a well-rounded choice for a luxurious vacation. Photographers will love it for its sweeping hills and eye-catching architecture, but the region of Italy is also famous for its food and wine, its art, and its beaches. Whatever your interests, you’re sure to find an excellent adventure!
You might head to Florence, the capital city of the region and home to many museums and historical sites. Or head to equally interesting Sienna or Pisa. But the real treat of this area is to get out into the countryside, away from the cities—see the vineyards and the castles and stay at small, cozy guesthouses or B&Bs.
Off-the-Beaten-Path Pick: Scotland
When you think of luxurious travel destinations, Scotland may not be one of the first countries that comes to mind. But head up into the highlands and you’ll find yourself in a romantic place of rolling landscapes full of castles and trees, among some of the friendliest and most charming people you’ve ever met.
From quaint cottages to castles, your options for accommodation are unlimited. Try Liberton Tower, located not far from Edinburgh. Or head to Saddell Castle in Kintyre, where you can not only feel like a king but also build a bonfire out to the beach to while away an evening with friends. You’ve got options, whatever part of the country you choose to explore.
Of course, there are many, many other luxurious destinations in Europe, but the best thing about all these is they offer different options for different types of luxury travellers—at each of these places, you have options for sightseeing, relaxing, or outdoor activities. Regardless of your preferred travel type, there’s something there for you. Get ready for a fantastic trip!