Europe’s Top Three

2011 has been a difficult year for Europe, gripped by a debt crisis and mired in political wrangling. On a brighter note, summer started in March and finished in October (although it did rain a little bit in between), and tourism continues to grow. If you’re thinking that now winter has arrived it’s time to batten down the hatches and wait for the spring, think again, with big companies offering deals (such as Thomas Cook last minute holidays) there’s still time to get some late sunshine.

The official list of Europe’s top three tourist destinations has seen a change this year, whilst the top two remain forever fixed, Greece has dropped out of the top three due to its debt struggles and a new destination has taken its place.

At three…


The newcomer to the list, Barcelona has developed beyond all measure in recent years as a tourist destination. The city is blessed with a great transport network, astonishing sites, and packed with cheap accommodation – it even has a beach, which is more than can be said for the other cities in this list. Top of the list for all tourists has to be the Sagrada Famiglia, but make sure you check out Park Guell and take a stroll through the old quarter. Even if part of the appeal of Barca is the Spanish sun, in the winter there are fewer tourists and loads of clear, fresh days, so it’s a good time to visit.

At two…



The Eternal City really is eternally one of the most popular places to visit. The only thing the city really lacks is a comprehensive transport system to help you get around (the Metro has seen better days), however, on the plus side, it’s a surprisingly small city centre and with a good map you can walk everywhere in half an hour – which is good, because during the summer, half an hour is at least what you’d expect for the queue. Perhaps not quite so good as a winter destination, Rome is, nonetheless a place for seeing things, rather than doing things. Check out the Vatican, climb to the top of St Peter’s, wander through the Colosseum and take in Circus Maximus at dusk (not on the usual tourist guides, that one, but it is amazing).

At one…



The City of Lights (and lovers) Paris never fails to take the breath away and is so firmly anchored to the position of number one tourist destination that everywhere else may as well give up. The city has everything, but most of all, a certain laid back charm that never fades. Beautiful in Autumn as the leaves give up their colours and the lights on the Champs D’Elysees spring into life earlier, it’s a wonderful place to wrap up warm and stroll through the streets. Check out the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the D’Orsay, the Champs D’Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe…the list goes on and on.