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10 must-see destinations in Europe this year, from Lonely Planet

June 21, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
  • The Douro River and surrounding valley in northern Portugal was the No. 1 pick for Lonely Planet's places in Europe to visit this year.
The Douro River and surrounding valley in northern Portugal was the No.… (Davis McCardle / Getty Images…)

Portugal's wine-making city of Porto and the surrounding Douro Valley top Lonely Planet's list of 10 European destinations to see this summer. Budapest, Hungary; Northern Iceland; Cinque Terre, Italy; and Moravia, Czech Republic, in that order round out the five destinations Americans should consider if they're heading abroad.

Editors and writers in the guidebook company's Oakland and London offices selected the destinations with American travelers in mind, weighing value and touring options. Here's what they liked about these destinations:

--Porto, described as a "sleepy riverside city," has a mix of fine new restaurants and historic port wine lodges open for tours and tastings. The surrounding Douro Valley includes hillside vineyards as well as options for train rides and river cruises.

-- In Budapest, Lonely Planet recommends hitting the retro chic old hotels (Brody House, Hotel Palazzo Zichy) and the 16th century Turkish baths at the Racz Hotel, which only recently reopened the spa.

-- Iceland has been a hot travel destination for several years now, but Lonely Planet advises going beyond Reykjavik to the northern part of the country. A connector flight will take you to the city of Akureyri and geysers, lava fields and waterfalls.

-- Anyone who has hopped Italian trains along the Venice-Florence-Milan loop will have seen signs to La Spezia and the Cinque Terre. It's a rugged part of Liguria's coast that's been named a UNESCO World Heritage site and best explored on foot from village to village ("cinque terre" means "five lands"). 

--If Prague feels overly done, Moravia promises to be the more real Czech experience. Instead of top restaurants and high-end boutiques, Lonely Planet says look for harvest festivals, tastings at family-run wineries and bike rides.

Other destinations that made the list are Bern, Switzerland; Marseille, France; Croatia (just about anywhere in the country); Northern Ireland; and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Need more inspiration? L.A. Times staff writer Christopher Reynolds offered up these picks for 2013.
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