When it comes to luxury breaks and experiences, few places do it better than Europe. Home to a plethora of unique and interesting nations boasting rich history, intriguing culture and a thriving food and drink scene, it’s also known for its opulent hotels and high-end experience, and attracts wealthy visitors from across the globe, each and every year.
But with plenty of other breath-taking destinations to choose from around the world – from Dubai and Tokyo to Las Vegas and Macau – just what is it about Paris, Lisbon, London, Amsterdam and the like that makes them so captivating?
The great thing about Europe is that you can get to more than just a couple of countries, even if you only have a few days to play with. Via train, plane or boat, you can be in a different city or country in just a few hours – and of course, there are VIP options for all three.
From spending days floating on a superyacht on the crystal blue waters of Italy’s scenic coast, to spinning the roulette wheel in the deluxe casinos of Monte Carlo, Monaco, whatever your dream getaway is made of, Europe truly does have it all, and with memorable experiences around every corner and exclusivity guaranteed, the question isn’t whether to visit Europe this summer, but which country to head to first.
After a difficult couple of years, you owe it to yourself to make up for lost time and splash out on some of the most memorable experiences of your life, and with plenty of stunning options on offer in Europe, it can feel impossible to pick just one – so we’ve rounded up three of the finest destinations to consider jetting off to this year, where luxury is guaranteed.
With its rolling green hills and endless wineries, there are many reasons you should head to Tuscany, and with historic and beautiful cities like Florence and Siena and quaint walled towns like San Gimignano offering a rich and captivating cultural experience, you could easily get lost here for a few weeks or months and still not find it to be enough.
When it comes to accommodation, you can choose from opulent five-star hotels in the thick of the bustling city action, or opt for a remote, countryside location in the wine region of Chianti, where you’ll find lavish villas nestled in the hillsides, and the fragrant scent of orange blossom and jasmine perpetually in the air.
The people of Tuscany worked, thrived, and created through the Bronze Age, Iron age, Roman rule, Etruscan times, and the Renaissance, and this intriguing history is ever-present. Add to that the region’s mouth-watering foodie scene, and it has everything you could want from a luxury getaway, and more.
If you know your flavours, you’ll know that there are truffles, and then there are authentic Tuscan truffles. Truffles are difficult to grow, and even more challenging to find, making them something of a delicacy in much of the world, but in Tuscany they are a regular feature on some of the region’s finest menus. From simple, al-dente spaghetti dishes to burrata with truffle-infused oil, here you can enjoy this highly sought-after ingredient for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The real prized truffles only grow in the wild and only in a select few places in Europe, so if you want to enjoy the real deal, as close to their origins as possible, book yourself on a truffle hunting tour whilst you’re there. You’ll get to experience the smell and taste of the truffle as freshly as possible, a truly luxurious experience, and one you’ll be unlikely to enjoy elsewhere.
Known as one of the most colourful cities in Portugal, Lisbon offers some incredible sights, sounds and smells – and with its quaint, winding streets and vibrant Portuguese azulejos, it’s a photographer’s dream.
If delighting in culture is your thing, then there is nothing more wonderful than spending time in the fine art museums, including the breath-taking Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, while visiting world heritage sites like the Belém Tower and the breath-taking Castelo de São Jorge is a must.
From the bustling Avenida da Liberdade, in the centre of the city, to the vibrant neighbourhoods of Bairro Alto and Baixa, there are plenty of intriguing locations to stay in whilst visiting the city, and viewpoints like the Miradouro de Santa Luzia offer breath-taking vistas down over the city below. In fact, as one of the hilliest cities in Europe, viewpoints are in no short supply – and sundown is the perfect time to visit and soak up the heady atmosphere, where live music and cocktails are a regular feature.
If you’re looking to turn up the luxury factor, then book yourself a table at the opulent Chapitô à Mesa – which offers an entirely unique dining experience and some of the most stunning views in the city. What makes it so unique is that Chapitô itself is a non-profit organisation that supports young performers and promotes social inclusion, using various locations including the restaurant to raise money for the cause. The dishes aren’t cheap, but they are most certainly worth the splurge – offering a modern twist on traditional Portuguese dishes like salt cod and steak.
Home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world, it’s hardly surprising that everything about this city is dipped in luxury. If you really want to arrive in style, then treat yourself to a helicopter ride from France to Monte Carlo, which offers incredible views and will ensure you make a memorable entrance, but be prepared to spend a few thousand for the privilege.
There is an endless list of restaurants in the city offering a range of delectable dishes that will make for an opulent dining experience, but for absolute luxury, you should book a table at the Le Louis XV – the only three-star Michelin restaurant in Monte Carlo. Headed up by globally esteemed French chef Alain Ducasse and tucked away within the iconic ‘Hôtel de Paris’, you can expect inspired dishes made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and finished with unmatched flair, with impeccable experience guaranteed.
After enjoying some of the most delicious food you’re likely to have anywhere in Europe, what could possibly make the experience of visiting Monte Carlo even more decadent? Climbing on board a superyacht, of course. While the land offers boutiques, cafes, and plenty of stunning architecture, taking in the views from the water is unmissable, and while most people can’t sail, there are plenty of options for hiring a superyacht with a skipper and a whole team for a few days in many locations along the French Riviera. Many of the high-end operators won’t book out their yachts for less than a week, and the higher price brackets sit in the millions of dollars for a week, so ensure you have plenty of time to soak up the experience and really make the most of the lap of luxury.
Of course, no trip to Monaco would be complete without channelling your inner James Bond and playing some poker in some of the most stunning casinos in the world. What makes the Monte Carlo casinos unlike any others is that the residents of Monte Carlo aren’t allowed to use them – but they are often packed with celebrities and are a popular playground for the rich and famous, as well as some of the world’s biggest high-rollers.
Europe offers jet-setters with luxury in mind the ability to travel with ease and speed from city to city, soaking up as much of the local culture as they can and indulging in plenty of the most exclusive events and experiences available along the way. So, if you’re seeking the perfect destination for an opulent summer getaway, then this is one continent that ticks all of the right boxes and more.