Size isn’t everything: Europe is just one quarter the size of Asia, one third the size of Africa, but its pull for travellers is unmatched around the world. If you’re exploring Europe this year – or just dreaming about it – some destinations are bound to come to mind: East London with its shiny post-Olympics makeover, or Amsterdam with its newly reopened Rijksmuseum (not to mention a freshly crowned King). But if you’re the type of traveller that looks for the next step – the destinations that are just starting to get the buzz right now, the overlooked places that are poised to be the next traveller find, and the old favorites that have timely and fresh reasons to visit this year – we’re here to help. Our editors, wide-roaming authors and local experts pitched in and crafted this list: Lonely Planet’s Top 10 European Destinations for 2013, the ten places we think travellers should be heading in Europe right now.
Calling Croatia a hotspot is somewhat old news in travel circles – its popularity is firmly established among European travellers and steeply on the rise among Americans as well. But many travellers are only seeing one sunny slice of the country, lured to the nearly 2000km-long coastline meanwhile missing the diverse charms of the inland cities, national parks and countryside. Zagreb, soon to be the EU’s newest capital city, is a hip city with walkable streets and a café scene so ingrained that some refer to the city as one large outdoor café. Surpassing even the notable beauty of the coast, Plitvice Lakes National Park is a nature-lover’s paradise with ribbons of bright turquoise lakes and waterfalls set against a backdrop of karst cliffs and mossy travertine. Back on the coast, historic Dubrovnik will delight visitors even if they don’t know that they’re standing in King’s Landing from the popular Game of Thrones television show.
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July 1, 2013