Five of the top European destinations for women travelling in groups
As much as we may love solo getaways, there’s something refreshingly fun and surprisingly relaxing about group travel. Here are five of the top European destinations for women travelling in groups.
When you’re visiting an exceptionally diverse destination such as Europe, creating an itinerary could get way out of hand, considering how much there is to see.
Being with a group means you don’t have to plan the trip all by yourself. Exploring new places with like-minded people makes the experience more meaningful. You’ll have someone to bond with and share ideas, perspectives, life stories, drinks, even expenses. You also don’t have to worry about who’s going to take your pictures!
Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced globetrotter, your travel adventures will be more enjoyable when shared with others. But have you decided what part of Europe to visit? To inspire you, here are five of the top European destinations for women travelling in groups.
1) Rome – Italy
Imagine the striking frescos in the Sistine Chapel, the gruesome history of the Colosseum, the coin-tossing lovers at Trevi Fountain, and the eerie darkness of the Catacombs, and you have Rome and all its contradictions. Steeped with incredible beauty but also laced with a dark side, no other city in Europe is as historically and culturally fascinating as the Italian capital.
You can best explore the Eternal City on foot, so be ready with your most comfortable pair of walking shoes. Wander around the Roman Forum, head up to the Palantine hill, look for Raphael’s grave in the Pantheon. Get a gelato in Via della Panatteria, go shopping in Via condotti, drop by Piazza del Popolo for some Spritz Veneziano and canapés.
Even if you’re not religious, go on a day trip to the Vatican to explore the impressive St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, the museums, and the Sistine Chapel. If you want some quiet, head to Villa Borghese or spend an afternoon at the gardens on Aventine Hill. Don’t forget to climb up Pincio to watch the sun go down against the outline of St. Peter’s Dome.
Rome may be chock full of incredible sights, but it’s not the only must-see city in Italy. Check out the intricate canals of Venice, the fashion industry of Milan, the renaissance architecture of Florence, the stunning beaches of Cagliari, and the rich culinary culture of Bologna.
2) Dordogne – France
If your idea of a perfect escape includes hearty food combined with charming towns and castle-dotted countryside, then Dordogne is tailor-made for you. Nestled between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees mountains, the region enjoys plenty of sunshine, making it suitable for hiking, horse riding, cycling, canoeing and kayaking.
Its flower-clad meadows, dramatic valleys, verdant oak forests and meandering streams create the ideal setting for camping, especially if you are looking for campsites around Europe for motorhomes or campervans.
There is much to discover in Dordogne aside from its stunning landscape. The famous Vézère Valley is home to cave systems and rock shelters decorated with prehistoric art, such as the wall paintings in Lascaux Cave. The region is also known for its scenic clifftop villages and bustling markets that date back to medieval times.
The mild climate of the region is perfect for cultivating sweet strawberries and a variety of grapes. Various types of mushrooms, including wild ceps, morel and the famed white and black truffles, grow there, too. Because of this, Dordogne boasts a rich and fabulous culinary heritage, making it the foie gras and truffles capital of France.
If it is good wine you want, Dordogne doesn’t disappoint. The wine-growing region of Bergerac produces exceptional blends, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chenin Blanc and Muscadelle.
3) Kefalonia – Greece
Exquisite coastline, medieval castles and vibrant nightlife – what’s there not to love about this Greek island? Mountainous and rugged, Kefalonia’s raw and wild beauty contributes to the uniqueness of its beaches. Limestone cliffs encircle the sandy shores of Petani and Myrtos, pine-covered hills fringe the shingle cove of Antisamos, while loggerheads nest on the 2-km coast of Kaminia.
The mystical Melissani Cave, a shimmering blue underground lake illuminated by a crater in the rock, is a wonder to behold. And a climb up the 1,628-metre peak of Mount Aenos gives you an incredible panorama of the coastline and the surrounding mountains.
The villages are as equally stunning as the beaches. The island’s capital, Argostoli, is famous for its seaside promenade, clock tower and sea turtles swimming on the waterfront. The harbour town of Assos is home to the ruins of a 16th-century castle and a scenic quay lined with tavernas and cafés, while the fishing village of Fiscardo is famed for its mishmash of colourful boats and yachts and Venetian architecture.
4) Salzburg – Austria
From Mozart to The Sound of Music, Salzburg is famed for its rich musical heritage. The legendary Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born here. Many of the city’s attractions center on this legacy, including Mozart’s residence, the music festivals at the Festival Theaters, the Glockenspiel Bell Tower that chimes some of the composer’s famous symphonies.
But Mozart was not the only musical influence in Salzburg. Several scenes from the film, The Sound of Music, were shot in the city, particularly at the Hellbrunn Palace, Mirabellgarten, and Nonnberg Abbey. You can visit these locations by foot or bike rental. If you want to see the scenic mountains shown throughout the movie, head up to Untersberg on a cable car ride.
The Old Town remains the main tourist draw. At the heart of this bustling complex is Residenzplatz, a spacious square lined with medieval homes, boutique shops and terraced cafés. Here, you will find the resplendent Residenzbrunnen, a 15-metre Baroque fountain that features sculptures of horses, dolphins and the gods Atlas and Triton.
Perched on the southeastern summit of Mönchsberg, the imposing Fortress Hohensalzburg soars over the Old Town’s jumble of buildings. On the western part of the city stands the impressive Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter, a monastery that dates back to 690 AD.
5) Lisbon – Portugal
Stretched over a network of hills close to the mouth of the Tagus River, Lisbon has a wealth of incredible views, rich maritime history, and colourful culture. The city is thoroughly modern and vibrant but at the same time fascinatingly laid-back and bohemian.
Ramble through the twisting alleys of Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest quarter, then explore Castelo de São Jorge before climbing up to the rooftop terrace of Belém Tower. Hop aboard Tram 28 and cruise the scenic neighbourhoods of Baixa, Estrela and Graca. Ride the 19th-century funicular Ascensor da Bica as it ascends the steep hills going to Bairro Alto. Visit the manicured gardens of the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira, shop at Feira da Ladra, walk along the Águas Livres Aqueduct.
A trip to Portugal is incomplete without seeing its beautiful beaches. Take a side trip to Caxias Beach in the suburbs of Lisbon, head to the coastal resort town of Cascais on the Portuguese Riviera, or drive to the picturesque parish of Costa da Caparica. Make the best of your beach holiday by staying in a luxury Portugal villa with spectacular sea views.
Photo by Evan Verni