Filled with quaint, historic cities, rolling hills, sprawling vineyards and spectacular coastlines, Europe is a diverse and awe-inspiring continent that offers endless cultural experiences and will take you on a journey of discovery through the ages. From the artists of Italy to the chefs of France, each nation offers up its own unique take on European charm, and whether you’re partial to a short and sharp city break or a longer exploration that takes in various countries along the way, you’ll never be short of bucket list destinations to tick off during a luxury trip.
Now is the perfect time to start planning your next big adventure, and it just so happens that Europe is home to some of the world’s very best luxury hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and champagne bars. Here, it couldn’t be easier to combine the finer things in life with an awe-inspiring trip to remember – so if you add only four European countries to your travel list for the new year, then make it these.
Famed for its ancient Roman architecture and notable artists including Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, there is no shortage of historical and cultural sights to see in Italy, and the capital city of Rome – which is home to the iconic Colosseum – is a city you simply must see at some point in your lifetime. Add to that the quaint canal city of Venice and art enthusiast’s dream, Florence, and you could quite easily spend several weeks here just wandering the winding, cobbled streets and perusing the many museums and art galleries this breath-taking country has to offer.
But Italy is about far more than just history, and from the jagged coastline of the Amalfi Coast to the verdant, rolling hills of Tuscany, it offers up a mix of pretty, pebbled beaches, colourful buildings and acre upon acre of vineyards that are an essential stop off for the wine connoisseur. Wine tasting in Chianti is something you won’t want to miss, and a great big tick of any luxury lover’s bucket list.
The magic of Paris is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime, although the likelihood is that that very first trip will leave you forever wanting to come back for more. Known as the ‘City of Love’, it exudes romance and charm at every turn, with its green, flower-filled parks and stylish riverside champagne bars and Michelin-starred eateries juxtaposing magnificently with iconic sights like the Arc de Triomphe and of course, the Eiffel Tower.
Add to that its string of opulent five-star hotels – many of which go a long way back into history and have often been frequented by royals – and it’s safe to say that Paris has a unique charm like no other city in the world.
Beyond the capital, this vibrant nation has plenty more to offer, too, with the breath-taking French Riviera, in the south of the country, home to a plethora of stunning beaches and attracting wealthy holidaymakers from around the world during the summer months. From Nice and Cannes to St. Tropez, here, you’ll find marinas lined with superyachts and more than enough lavish hotels and eateries to cater to the luxury lover. And given that this spectacular region is accessible by train from northern Italy, it couldn’t be easier to combine the two into one trip.
If you’re less concerned about beaches and sunshine and more about unique historical experiences, then head to the Czech Republic. Famed for its great beer and majestic castles – we’re talking over 2,000 of the latter – it is also popular for its spa culture, so if you’re after a little reviving, then you can head to one of the country’s many sanatoriums and spend a day unwinding in the sauna, immersing yourself in a mud bath or enjoying a long and relaxing massage.
The capital city of Prague is the jewel in the nation’s crown, and although it has earned itself a reputation as a popular stag and hen party destination over recent years thanks to the cheap beer and accommodation on offer, don’t let this put you off. Prague certainly knows how to do luxury for those who want it, and from sophisticated wine bars and chic hotels to opulent eateries, it ticks all the right boxes and more.
The magical city of Vienna and the snow-capped mountains and rolling hills of the nation as a whole make Austria a more than worthwhile inclusion on your travel list for 2022 and beyond.
The Prague to Vienna train journey only takes four and a half hours, making it an easy addition to your trip to the Czech Republic, and it’s well worth the extra travel time to sample the capital’s decadent cakes and pastries and immerse yourself in its alluring café culture. Add to that a vast catalogue of architectural and artistic masterpieces and some excellent luxury shopping, and there’s plenty of reason to spend a few days here, getting lost in the classic Viennese charm.
Outside of the city, Austria’s dramatic Alpine landscapes make it a popular destination for skiing and hiking – but even if you’re not the active type, it’s impossible not to be blown away by its snow-capped mountains, rolling green hills and quaint villages.
If you visit just four European countries in 2022, then make it these – because offering the perfect blend of cultural magic and all-out luxury, they are the perfect package and more.