If you’re edging towards retirement or are already reaping the benefits of a now job-free lifestyle, more often than not you’ll have more free time and money to spend on travelling. At the end of the day, the world is your oyster, so who says that you shouldn’t get out there and enjoy it all?
With mainland Europe on our doorstop, the continent really does have something to suit all tastes; it’s historical, cultural and can be as warm or cool as you’d like, depending on the country you’re travelling to. There are an abundance of outstandingly beautiful spots and places of significant interest to visit, so, now you’re asking, which ones should be at the top of my travel list?
In this handy travel guide, Stairlifts Akron explore a selection of 5 of Europe’s must-see destinations, for some inspiration ahead of your next excursion.
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
Italy’s Amalfi Coast extends 50km along the south of the Sorrentine Peninsula. It’s famous for its quaint fishing villages and small beaches that many relax upon. If this is somewhere that you are considering travelling to, avoid holidaying between November and Easter as many hotels and restaurants are closed during this period and you will miss the exciting hustle and bustle of the destination. Instead, spring and autumn are perfect times to visit when temperatures are around 15-26°C and precipitation levels are between 3 and 4 inches.
If relaxation and luxury are your thing, the Positano town is the place to visit. Here, streets are lined with colourful houses, impressive hotels and shops filled with beachwear and ceramics — you can get even your own pair of sandals made for you.
Sorrento, which faces Mount Vesuvius, offers magnificent views of this volcano in the Bay of Naples. Sightsee by boat around the coast of Sorrento either on a rented small vessel or as part of a group excursion. There’s plenty of photo opportunities such as the rugged coastline of Italy and the turquoise sea,
When you spend time at the Amalfi Coast, you’re never too far away from other wonderful locations either, such as the ancient city of Pompeii. Here, you can visit the amphitheatre which dates back to 80BC and relax in the preserved baths.
Crete Island, Greece
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands. Renowned for its rich history and long sandy beaches, it is a perfect destination for a balance between culture, adventure and relaxation.
For history buffs there is the Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum showcases artefacts between Neolithic and Roman times (a time span of 5,500 years). This museum taps into the imagination with detailed descriptions of jewellery, pottery and other famous pieces from ancient sites.
If you enjoy being by the sea, visit the Venetian Harbour on the west side of the island, in an old town called Chania. Take a relaxing sunset stroll out to the trademark of the town — a lighthouse that sits near the harbour entrance.
This destination is perfect for food lovers too. Locals produce their own meat, wine, cheeses and even catch their own seafood — it’s guaranteed that your dish will be as fresh as it can be. The local wine is tasty too — find the ideal one to complement your meal for a one-of-a-kind taste sensation.
When you picture a trip to the French capital, it’s likely that the iconic Eiffel Tower will spring to mind. But there’s so much more to see and do if you only know where to go…
A 45-minute train trip plus a 10-minute bus ride from the capital will take you to Monet’s Gardens in Giverny. The spectacular garden is split into two parts, both of which are equally impressive — one is called Clos Normand and is full off symmetries and complementing colours, and the other is a Japanese inspired water garden.
Although it is suggested that Paris is explored à pied, there are other ways to get around and see what the city has to offer. The open top hop-on, hop-off bus tour takes you to the Louvre, Montmartre and Notre Dame — giving you time to get off where you please or take memorable photos from the comfort of your seat. Many of the buses provide you with headphones too for a private commentary of the attractions you’re passing.
If you a have preference to travel by boat, take one of the popular river cruises down the Seine. This is a great opportunity to put your feet up after a long day exploring. Admire the picturesque streets, bridges and cathedral as you’re taken on an adventure through the city.
The Highlands of Scotland
If you’re on the hunt for stunning scenery, then make sure to pencil in a trip to beautiful Scotland. With many areas of natural beauty, it’s hard to choose just one area to visit, but thankfully given the small size of the country and the transport links on offer, you can explore much of this country in a single trip.
Train travel is an ideal way to navigate Scotland’s hilly terrain, taking in as much of the country as possible and gaining a panoramic perspective on the gorgeous landscape. The West Highland Line is a train service that operates from Glasgow and travels to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig. The route is largely considered to be the most picturesque in the world — and with its rugged mountains, it’s easy to see why.
Another option is exploring the Highlands via boat. Include a stop at Moray Firth in your itinerary, located near the tip of Scotland. The water is home to around 130 bottlenose dolphins, and regular boat tours operate. You may be able to spot seals, whales and porpoises further out, while you’ll also enjoy dazzling views of the coastline.
Once you’ve seen enough of the stunning scenery, pay a visit to Edinburgh. This vibrant and historic city has much to see and do, whether you spend your time visiting the zoo, exploring the old town, touring the underground vaults or enjoying a bite to eat in one of the city’s many cafes or restaurants. For even more culture, plan a visit in August — the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world — is in town for much of the month.
The Algarve, Portugal
With its spectacular coastlines and warm temperatures all-year round, Portugal is another beautiful destination to add to your travel wish list. The Algarve, in particular, is a popular choice, especially for those who enjoy outdoor pursuits.
If you’re a fan of golf don’t forget to visit one of the region’s many golf courses. Coastal courses are a perfect choice for panoramic views as you play and, as the country receives a staggering 300 days of sunshine a year, there’ll be little chance of rain spoiling play.
The Algarve is ideal to escape the cold and soak up some sun, with its many stretches of sandy beaches and plethora of luxurious hotels and apartments. It is renowned as a tourist destination but take full advantage of not being limited to travelling in the school holidays and visit in the quieter months such as October and June.
If you’re keen to learn the historical culture of a destination, why not visit one of the many churches that line the Algarve landscape. Unlike the stone churches and cathedrals present in many countries, some of those in Portugal are lined with spectacular tiles and azulejos that make them stand out from any religious building you’ve seen before. Or head down to the Old Town where you can relax in the Old Town Square (Praça da Vila) and admire the surrounding architecture.
As this guide has shown, there are several beautiful destinations that are suitable for older travellers – with opportunities to put your feet up if you need to or take time out to learn about the rich history of the area. What are you waiting for?