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Top 5 European destinations to escape the Australian winter

Spring to early summer is typically the best time to visit Europe. The weather is warm not sweltering, the locals are still around and the tourist crowds are yet to arrive. Here’s our pick of the top 5 destinations in Europe to visit during the Australian chill:

Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal is still relatively off the mainstream travel radar compared to the other destinations in this list. First-time visitors to Lisbon fall for it because the city offers a much-needed break from the must-see lists of monuments and museums that beleaguer the more well-trodden European capitals. Lisbon calls for wandering the streets and taking in the Gothic architecture, climbing the hillsides for stunning views of the colourful landscape, passing time in charming cafes and hip bars, and relishing some of the world’s most delicious seafood.

If you have the time, take day trips to the gorgeous coastal towns of Cascais and Estoril which are only a 20-minute drive each from Lisbon.
 

Italian Riviera

A jaunt around the Italian Riviera will make you feel like a glamorous Hollywood star from the 1950s rediscovering the beauty of the 15th century. Petite beaches, breathtaking views, charming towns and rustic villas dotted along the Ligurian Sea, from the border Italy shares with France, down to the top of Tuscany (another must-see region!). Start at the Ligurian capital, Genoa, and work your way down through pretty Portofino and the famed, beautifully rugged Cinque Terre, “The Five Lands”, which comprises of five terraced fishing villages set boldly along the cliffs. 

Barcelona

Gritty and beautiful, serene and wild, modern and historic, Spain’s capital Barcelona is a city of enchanting paradoxes.

From the plazas and buildings of the Gothic Quarter, to the Late Gothic meets Art Nouveau Sagrada Familia Catholic church which has been in construction for over 100 years; from  the quirky Park Güell with its otherworldly Gaudí sculptures, to the extravagant nightlife - Barcelona is truly electric. Be ready to turn your routine upside down: Catalonians sit down for dinner at 9pm and head to the bar at midnight.  

French Riviera

If you love elegance, glitz and glamour, and are nostalgic for the Belle Epoque, head to the French Riviera. Known in French as Côte d'Azur, the Riviera boasts the quaint resort towns Nice, Cannes and St-Tropez, which have been adored by celebrities and the well-to-do the world over since the late 1800s.

Take in the bright blue Mediterranean, pebbly yet pristine beaches, palatial villas, hillside views of the sparkling Côte d'Azur and the super-yachts hugging it, world-class restaurants and - if you fancy yourself a high roller - glitzy casinos. 

Greek Islands

The Greek Islands are worthy of an entire article to themselves. The Greek Archipelago consists of 6,000 islands, 227 of which are inhabited. 

The Greek Islands exemplify Greece: the mythology, terrain, ruins, culture; the blue sky and the blue sea. There is an island to suit every type of traveller’s style: Ios and Mykonos for beach bars and nightlife; Tilos for quiet, uncharted territory; Santorini for unrivalled beauty and chic restaurants; Naxos for ancient ruins and outdoor adventures. 

Compared to the French Riviera, the Greek Islands are more laidback, rustic and sensual. Island-hopping is easy, simply jump on a ferry.

 

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