This Underrated Mediterranean Spot Was Voted ‘Best Place to Visit in Europe’

Best European cities Marbella Spain

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Australians flock to Europe during its summer months. The route usually starts or ends in London, with stints along the Amalfi Coast, French Riviera or Greek or Croatian islands.

This year, if you’re looking to go somewhere different in Europe, but somewhere that’s still equipped for tourists, consider consulting the European Best Destinations 2024 list for inspiration. The 20 spots on the ranked list were selected from 172 countries in Europe and voted for by over 1 million travellers around the world.

Top of the European Best Destinations 2024 list is Marbella, Spain, a city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, part of the Andalusia region. Marbella comprises 24 beaches along a 27km coastline and is well-known in Spain for its food.

“With three Michelin-starred restaurants serving excellent cuisine, plus hundreds of smaller eateries dishing up everything from Mediterranean and Thai to paella and succulent local tapas, luscious food is a major part of Marbella’s allure,” writes European Best Destinations.

Best European cities Marbella Spain
Image: Getty Images

“Moreover, with more than 300 guaranteed days of sunshine per year, al fresco dining by the beach or beneath the stars is practically guaranteed.”

Though Marbella might not be at the forefront of many Australian travellers’ minds, in the last decade or so, it’s become increasingly popular as a holiday spot for Europeans, particularly the British. Its rising appeal may be due to its culture – Spanish, but with influences by its proximity to Northern Africa. Moroccan port city Tangier can be visited from Marbella on a day trip.

“What sets Marbella apart from, say, Capri in Italy or Mykonos in Greece is that its Old Town neighbourhood feels like a real place that wasn’t built solely around the whims and price point of the 1%,” reads a 2023 CNN travel feature on Marbella. “Yes, there is much luxury to be found — Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci, to name a few — but there’s also a low-key beach-town vibe and sensibility.”

Best European cities Monaco
Image: Getty Images

Next on the European Best Destinations 2024 list is the principality of Monaco, with the judging calling out its gastronomic delights, cultural and sporting events, exceptional nightlife, shopping and spas. Located on the Mediterranean coast, surrounded by France, Monaco is the second-smallest independent state in the world after Vatican City.

Third on the list was Malta, an archipelago in the Mediterranean. It’s home to several fortresses, megalithic temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a subterranean complex of halls and burial chambers dating to circa 4000 B.C.

“Malta’s culture is a unique blend of influences from various civilizations that have inhabited the islands over thousands of years, from the prehistoric megalithic people, to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Knights of St. John,” writes European Best Destinations.

Also on the list were Riga in Latvia, Reykjavik in Iceland and Siena, Italy. The full list of European Best Destinations 2024 is below.

  1. Marbella, Spain
  2. Monaco
  3. Malta
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Batumi, Adjara Region, Georgia
  6. Riga, Latvia
  7. Madeira, Portugal
  8. Florence, Italy
  9. London, UK
  10. Reykjavik, Iceland
  11. Lege-Cap-Ferret, Nouvelle Aquitaine, France
  12. Siena, Italy
  13. Ponza Island, Italy
  14. Porto-Vecchio, Corsica, France
  15. Champagne Wine Region, France
  16. Faroe Islands
  17. Sirmione, Lombardy, Italy
  18. Piran, Slovenia
  19. Newquay, Cornwall
  20. Thassos, North Aegean Sea, Greece

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