Milan, Valletta, Zermatt, Plovdiv and Vienna Fly the Flag for Europe in 2015
Having just published their ‘Best in Travel’ series for 2015, the Lonely Planet’s travel recommendations for the year ahead make for some interesting reading. Of particular appeal to us at Cities Direct is, perhaps unsurprisingly, their top 10 cities list for 2015, with a number of worthy and well-known candidates standing alongside some less obvious contemporaries. The North and South American continents are well represented, with Washington DC, Toronto and El Chaltén in Argentina making the top spots. Also on the list is Chennai in India.
Yet, flying the flag for Europe, making up 60% of the top 10, are some fabulous city destinations, both perennial city break favourites and up-and-coming new additions. Salisbury leads the charge for the UK whilst Milan, Zermatt, Valletta, Vienna and Plovdiv in Bulgaria complete the group. Here’s what Lonely Planet has to say about the continent’s quintet…
Milan is a city of lavish wealth and almost frightening elegance. But in 2015, Italy’s second-largest city will welcome all kinds of travellers. Expo 2015 – the latest of the world fairs held since the mid-1800s – will take place between May and October with a focus on food. The 1.1 million-square-metre fairgrounds will be laid out like a classical Roman city. Explore the ‘future food district’, watch cooking demos, wander a plaza full of street musicians, or indulge in nighttime wine-tastings.
Intrepid hikers, mountaineers and ski fiends drool over the Matterhorn that rises above Zermatt. In 2015 this diva of resorts celebrates the 150th anniversary of the first ascent. Edward Whymper led his party of seven to the summit of the 4478m-high Matterhorn on 14 July 1865 – only for four to crash to their deaths on descent. Anniversary action includes the opening of Hörnli Hut at the base of the Matterhorn and nail-biting theatre recreating Whymper’s journey on Zermatt’s open-air stage.
Valletta has had an architectural overhaul, introducing Renzo Piano’s new gateway to the city, his parliament building faced with laser-cut stonework and an open-air auditorium. Valletta’s unspoilt 17th-century buildings line a beautifully laid-out grid of streets. The contrast between old and new is what makes the new additions all the more startling. This year the city will also commemorate 450 years since the Great Siege, with remembrance particularly strong on 8 September, Victory Day.
One of Europe’s most beautiful Old Towns, a backdrop of the Rhodope Mountains, historical treasures, smouldering nightlife. There’s a wealth of reasons to explore Plovdiv, but recent decades have polished Bulgaria’s second city. Its remarkable ruins (including a Roman theatre in the centre of the shopping precinct) were slowly excavated throughout the 1970s and ’80s. And throughout the 2000s, heritage buildings left to gather dust have been lovingly restored into museums, restaurants and hotels.
In 1865 Emperor Franz Josef got cracking on his architectural tour de force: the Ringstrasse. The ‘Ring’ stitched together trophy sights from the Rathaus to the Staatsoper. 150 years later, a line-up of special events and exhibitions is cranking up the celebratory feel – not to mention this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Forget compromises – this is a city where you can go clubbing in your dirndl, talk opera at the sausage stand and live out your very own 21st-century fairytale.
Milan, Zermatt, Valletta, Plovdiv and Vienna copy copyrighted to and adapted from the Lonely Planet’s travel tips & articles “Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015 – top 10 cities”.