Sightseeing in Europe is a nearly overwhelming concept. Between its age-old attractions and the new and emerging sights cropping up constantly across the continent, there are seemingly endless ways to satisfy the curious tourist within you. Here are just a few of our favourite ideas for the sights to take in this summer.
1. Kinsale, Ireland
Charles Fort, Kinsale
Quaint Kinsale is renowned for its charming atmosphere and colourful streets, but it’s got a few brilliant historic sites up its sleeve, too. Among its most standout cultural locales is the 17th century Charles Fort, much of which is still in its original condition. Elsewhere, sightseers with a steely eye should track down Desmond Castle: a tiny castle that’s served as a prison, workhouse and more. Tucked away in a quiet street, it’s easy to miss if you don’t know where to look! On a different note, Kinsale is coastal: meaning you can split up your days of sightseeing with fun on the beach, and make the most of the summer rays while you’re vacationing.
Where to stay? From our Collection, two glorious hotels are based in historic Kinsale. Blue Haven Hotel is a veritable food lover’s paradise, and has won numerous awards for its fantastic fare – prized for everything from its amazing breakfasts to Fish Market Bistro, which dishes up local seafood. Old Bank House is another gem: a luxury Georgian guest house decorated throughout with period pieces and original art. A converted bank, this special building now includes 17 rooms that capture the very essence of comfort.
2. Mělník, Czech Republic
Get off the beaten track while sightseeing in Europe with a trip to Mělník: a town in the Czech Republic with historic roots in the wine industry. First on your agenda should be a visit to the impressive castle, the Mělník Chateau. Aside from its opulent interior, it also has over 20 hectares of vineyards that nod to the town’s roots in wine production, along with expansive cellars that date back to the 11th to 14th centuries. Make sure to squeeze in some time to see the Church of St. Peter and Paul, too. This church sits aesthetically at the cross-section of a variety of influences, ranging from Romanesque to Gothic and Renaissance to Baroque. It’s an astonishing sight that history lovers will appreciate.
Where to stay? If you’re a fan of the chateau theme, Chateau Liblice should be your number one choice on where to stay while exploring the Czech Republic. Architecturally astonishing and home to a stunning restaurant and spa, every moment in this elegant property has the potential for bliss.
3. Lesvos, Greece
When you think of an island holiday, sunbathing and strolls on the beach probably spring to mind. But did you know that many islands are brilliant places to go sightseeing in Europe, too? Among them is the dreamy island of Lesvos: a drop of Greek heaven surrounded by the waters of the Aegean Sea. Take your camera on a hike to Moni Pithariou, a monastery that’s settled beautifully within a bed of coastal cliffs. Lesvos is also home to 200 caves with Neolithic origins, which historians believe were once used for worship. The ‘caverna de Orfeu’, or ‘cavern of Orpheus’, is an especially beautiful spot to bear in mind.
During your adventures in Lesvos, make Eressian Hotel your home away from home. Though modernised with a glistening pool and beautifully furnished rooms, this property hasn’t lost touch with its storied past. Did you know that in the 1850s, its Sappho Suite was the Master Suite of a tower house?
4. Angera, Italy
Magnificent views are aplenty at the hilltop castle, Rocca di Angera. Feel transported as you wander its spectacular rooms and buildings, filled with frescoes and artefacts that whisper of times gone by. One of its most interesting parts is its Museum of Dolls and Toys, established in 1988 by Princess Bona Borromeo Arese. It’s filled with over one thousand dolls of unique and wide-ranging origins. Lake Maggiore, which neighbours the castle, is also an amazing spot for sightseeing in Europe. The second largest lake in Italy, it’s a scintillating blue dream in the summer sun.
Where to stay? Locanda dei Mai Intees is an excellent choice regarding where to stay. Not only is it near Lake Maggiore, it’s close to the famous Lake Como and Milan as well, putting you right at the heart of some of Italy’s most exciting activities. The hotel is a real treasure trove of historic discoveries, too – it was once a small medieval village in the 15th century.
5. Krakow, Poland
Saint Mary’s Basilica and Rynek Glowny (main square) Krakow
Krakow’s Old Town is an enchanting place to while away a summer’s day. Between filling up on coffee and pastries in the cafes lining the main square, soak up some nineteenth-century art at the Cloth Hall, and make sure to stop and admire the spectacular St Mary’s Basilica. For a taste of something more modern, travel to the architectural wonder that is the Molopolska Garden of Arts. Built in 2005, this glass-walled building is dedicated to modern creativity in the form of art, theatre and more. Its ultra-contemporary look is in total contrast to the older buildings around it – creating a striking fusion between the old and new.
Where to stay? Not far from the city, you’ll find Sierakow Manor: a four-star hotel with an attentive staff ready to cater to your every need. Enjoy delicious ‘slow food’ at the on-site restaurant, a wooden hot tub, and peaceful countryside views during your stay. We couldn’t recommend it more.
6. Dalen, Norway
Don’t be mistaken. Despite Dalen’s sleepy surface, there’s a world of wonder that awaits here… particularly if you’re a fan of the outdoors. The Ravens Gorge is an incredible place to hike while enjoying panoramic views of the river Tokkeåi snaking between tree-filled cliffsides. Cruising down the Telemark Canal is also a wonderful way to soak up more of rural Norway, which connects Skien to Dalen: covering 105 km. Don’t miss Eidsborg Stave Church, either. Dedicated to St. Nicholas and built between 1250 and 1270, it’s considered one of the best preserved stave churches in the whole country.
Where to stay? Dalen Hotel is something like the centrepiece of Dalen. Built in a dramatic ‘dragon style’, there’s no mistaking the jagged mustard walls, towers, spiers and more that festoon its exterior. Along with its other glorious facets, this hotel includes a ‘floating spa’ dubbed Soria Moria, which sits like a glimmering jewel in the centre of a lake. Book a room this summer for an experience you’ll never forget.