The traditional summer holiday may have been cancelled for millions this year due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. If your plans have been put on hold, now could be the perfect time to research some new European destinations for 2021.
With social distancing measures still in place and uncertainty over when they’ll end, getting away from the usual tourist traps next year could mean you’re still able to enjoy your trip without worrying. So, why not consider swapping Paris, Rome or Barcelona for one of these seven city destinations?
1. Kotor, Montenegro
Montenegro is rising up the list of popular holiday destinations and with good reason. There are stunning mountain views to take in and plenty of beaches if you’re hoping to catch some sun. Kotor is a coastal city nestled between mountains so you get the best of both worlds. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the centre is a medieval maze that’s earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Aside from exploring the bustling old town, walking up to the ruins of Castle of San Giovanni promises beautiful views or you can take in some of the picturesque villages along the Bay of Kotor.
2. Graz, Austria
When you think of places to visit in Austria, Vienna no doubt springs to mind. But the second-largest city of Graz has plenty to offer too. Once again, the compact centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is filled with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture to take in.
Art lovers will find plenty to capture their attention in the city, which was a UNESCO City of Design between 2011 and 2013 and is home to the modern-art museum Kunsthaus. However, if you want to get away from the city, you don’t have to go far to experience the beautiful countryside and walking trails. Kesselfallklamm and Bärenschützklamm gorge are ideal for seeing another side of Austria.
3. Viseu, Portugal
For charm, Viseu’s hilltop location coupled with quaint plazas and alleyways to explore is ideal. The magnificent cathedral square is a must-visit and if you’re a fan of history, you can find elegant historical houses, old fortifications and arachnology museums as you walk down the hill.
The city is also close to the Dão region, one of Portugal’s top wine-producing areas. So, expect rich red wines to enjoy with a meal or in the evening.
4. Ghent, Belgium
Ghent is one of Belgium’s oldest cities and has become one of the largest and richest cities in northern Europe in the Middle Ages. Despite that, it’s still easy to get around. There is a stark contrast here between medieval and classical architecture with post-industrial areas.
Some of Belgium’s best museums can be found in the city too. Among them is Museum voor Schone Kunsten, which houses classical art. You can stroll down sparkling canals as you head to beautiful castles and medieval structures, including Gravensteen that dates back to 1180. Today, it houses the Arms Museum plus boasts stunning rooftop views.
5. Utrecht, Netherlands
Built around Dom Tower, originally built as part of St Martin’s Cathedral, which was never fully completed, you can wander pretty tree-lined streets and stunning canals lined with cafes and terraces here. As a university town, it’s vibrant and has plenty to offer.
Among the attractions that are well worth a visit are The Oude Hortus, the former botanical garden of Utrecht University, the Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory, and a boat excursion down the famous canals.
6. Gdansk, Poland
Gdansk is often overlooked by those visiting Poland in favour of Warsaw and Krakow but you could be missing out. Sat on the Baltic coast, it’s history as a place for wealthy merchants means it’s set apart from other Polish cities with unique architecture and atmosphere.
While significant parts of the city were destroyed during World War II, there are still some historic hidden gems to find in the old town and along the waterfront, both are perfect for taking a stroll. Be sure to dig into some Polish cuisine while you’re here, including pierogi, delicious dumplings that can have a savoury or sweet filling.
7. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
For an East-meets-West atmosphere, Bosnia and Herzegovina is an excellent place to visit with a mix of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian histories. For some people, the country may still be associated with the civil war in the 90s but the beautiful mountain vistas and historical attractions mean it’s a great destination to head to in 2021.
Mostar’s enchanting town centre is stunning and spans a deep valley. It’s well known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, one of the most photographed places in the City. It’s also the perfect location to explore some of the natural sights of the country, including the Kravica Waterfalls.
Booking a holiday amid uncertainty
If you’re planning to book a holiday in 2020, keep in mind the Covid-19 situation is still developing. Carefully check what insurance will cover and providers’ refund policies
Where possible, pay with a credit card. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act means a credit card provider has equal responsibility with a seller if something goes wrong after you’ve paid. It could mean if trips or services are cancelled, you’ll be able to apply for a refund through your credit card. This applies to single purchases that cost between £100 and £30,000.