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5 European Dream Destinations

The Summer season has drawn to a close in North America and Europe, which means it's time to begin daydreaming about where to go next year!

Amongst the holidays with Cosmos, there are a bunch of sunny seaside destinations I have my eye on.

Photos inspire me, perhaps more than anything else, when choosing a destination.

I hope these serve to inspire you when thinking about where to vacation next Summer.

Mykonos in Greece is a European dream destination for many. (photo: Sol@rpowered)
Mykonos (photo: [email protected])

1. Greece

Greece is quickly becoming my Thailand of five years ago.

I feel like everybody's been there, partied there, and island-hopped there but me.

I passed up my first opportunity to visit in 1998, during my backpacking trip through Europe.

I'd been in Italy for two weeks and only had as much time left on my trip.

Instead of hopping a ferry, I high-tailed it to Ireland, but that's another story.

As recently as last year, I thought again about heading to Greece, but I was in Europe during the Fall and felt it wouldn't be quite as lovely as Spring or Summer.

Mykonos is my top pick, if only for the beautiful seaside setting, with white-painted buildings contrasting against the deep blue waters. I'd love to photograph it.

Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia (photo: Mike McHolm)

2. Croatia

Croatia is another seaside country I'm long overdue to visit.

My parents were there long ago on a cruise, and as recently as last year, my brother and best friend went for yacht week.

I've also heard its praises sung by many travel bloggers in recent years.

For such a small country, there's a lot of cities to visit, including Dubrovnik (pictured above), Hvar (party central), Split, and Zagreb (the capital).

But, because it's small, it's perfect for a quick vacation; a week or two should suffice.

I know nothing of Croatian cuisine, though I imagine it's heavy on seafood.

It'd be interesting to discover that aspect of the country and culture.

Playa de Agaete on Gran Canaria
Playa de Agaete on Gran Canaria (photo: Vin Crosbie)

3. Canary Islands

The Canary Islands were recently featured in the Hollywood blockbuster Fast and the Furious 6.

Located 100km off the southern coast of Morocco, this archipelago belongs to Spain.

Known for its friendly climate, beaches, and varied landscapes, the Canary Islands attract millions of vacationers every year.

Surprisingly, they feature the world's third tallest volcano, Mount Teide, according to Wikipedia.

Kaputas Beach in Kalkan, Turkey
Kaputas Beach in Kalkan, Turkey (photo: Marcia Taylor)

4. Turkey

Turkey is another destination I hadn't thought much about until friends started visiting and spending time there over the last few years.

The crossroads between Europe and Asia, there's a lot of history there, and foreign culture to me.

My top priorities would be to explore Istanbul and experience a Turkish bath.

The latter is something I've wanted to do since seeing Anthony Bourdain suffer through it on one of his old TV shows.

Santa Margaita on the Italian Riviera
Santa Margaita on the Italian Riviera (photo: Rodrigo_Soldon)

5. Italy

My fifth and final European dream destination is Italy, and specifically, the Italian Riviera.

Last year I visited the Spanish Riviera, known as Costa Brava, for the first time, as well as the French Riviera for the second time, but I've yet to experience Italy's version.

The main hub is Genoa. And while I still find it humorous that their beaches are often a pile of round rocks, it seems to deter the Europeans from enjoying the sun in Summer.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Brad F.

Thursday 2nd of June 2016

Many places to visit in Turkey. Great Sandy beaches, great history, crazy night life, historical baths and of course the food. You should visit Istanbul, Izmir, Bodrum (gay capital) and Antalya. Pamukkale and Cappadocia are also deserve a week to stay

Peter Taylor

Wednesday 12th of March 2014

I can recommend the Island of Krk in Croatia. Most of the public beaches are full, but there are so many little abandoned islands a few hundred meters off the shore that are stunning. There are people who operate as water taxis. You pay a fair, and they take you to hidden spots, where you can enjoy your day, and they come back for you in the evening. I have spent two weeks like this with my family, catching fish, octopus, shrimp and clams, which we cooked in the evening.

Morgan

Wednesday 12th of March 2014

Most islands in Croatia - even the far too touristy island of Hvar - have secret spots. I'm not even sure I know any public beaches. But catching dinner there is truly special, in the amazingly clean Adriatic. I'd love to be there right now. :)

Jonathan

Friday 4th of October 2013

Great list! I've only been to Italy, but would love to visit the 4 other countries. I never knew that Turkey such a great place to visit. :D

Kevin Post

Wednesday 2nd of October 2013

Turkey is the shit! So much variety to choose from. I recommend visiting in April-May because the weather is perfect. However, it depends where you visit, the east can still get cold during Spring.

Morgan

Monday 30th of September 2013

If you go to Croatia, don't waste too much time in the tourist trap that is Dubrovnik. Go, by all means, but I think you'll prefer non-touristy islands like Mljet. Don't miss the Blue Grotto of Biševo.

There's a lot of outdoor activity - hiking, biking, kayaking, great scuba, amazing rock climbing and its sub-discipline deep water solo (climbing in a swimsuit and falling into the gorgeous Adriatic).

The food is a mix of Italian and Greek, with a lot of excellent local olive oil. Grilled fish, lamb and sausages - and the hobotnica ispod peka (octopus under the bell) is heavenly out on the islands.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH7e8ynqwC0

Istria is truffle heaven. Produce everywhere is fantastic. Gelato. Great coffee nearly everywhere. And the rakija! It's grappa infused with a myriad of flavors, from herbs to fruit to carob pods, and my favorite, Orahovac, a sweet walnut rakija.

The Greek islands are wonderful, too - Mykonos can be touristy but still has groups of European artists. I prefer Santorini.

I'll be in Croatia next summer, and will probably visit friends in Vienna, Ljubljana, and Belgrade. Might get in a trip to Mykonos, too.

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