For its 12th edition, the European Best Destinations competition collected a record of more than 600,000 votes from travelers scattered around the world: 192 countries in total. The list of destinations will be promoted throughout the year to millions of travelers. This year, voters were asked a question to spark their imagination and feed their wanderlust: Where would you like to go on holiday in Europe as soon as it is safe to travel?
Since 2009, European Best Destinations (EBD), has been promoting culture and tourism in Europe to millions of travelers, tourism professionals and the media. Working with the European Commission to promote sustainable tourism, EBD organizes some of the main tourism competitions in Europe, including Best European Christmas Markets, Best European Beaches, Most Romantic destinations and Best European Ski Resorts.
Thanks to a partnership with more than 300 tourism offices in Europe and the EDEN Network created by the European Commission, European Best Destinations is the most visited website dedicated to travel in Europe for the ninth year in a row.
These competitions have a real impact. They bring significant growth of tourists for the rewarded destinations with + 17% in growth of tourism for Porto rewarded in 2017, + 13% for Bordeaux rewarded in 2015, + 25% for Zadar rewarded in 2016, +41% for Zagreb, European Best Christmas Market 2016-2017-2018, +18% for Budapest awarded the title of European Best Destination 2019 as well as tens of millions of media coverage.
Winner Best European Destination in 2021: Braga
Braga is a lively city in North Portugal, one of the oldest cities in the country with plenty to offer both visitors and residents. The heritage of the city goes back to Roman times, when “Bracara Augusta” was built more than 2,000 years ago, and there are many impressive historical buildings, museums and festivals where visitors can rediscover this heritage.
List of contestants: European Best Destinations 2021
2. Rome, Italy
On the 2nd position, with 78,124 votes, Rome was voted among the 2 best destinations to visit in Europe. Rome is the capital of Italy and was created, according to the legend, by Romulus and Remus more than 2,750 years ago. Rome is an antique city and we can say that Rome, besides modern buildings and infrastructures, is like an “open museum city”.
3. Cavtat, Croatia
On the 3rd position, with 50,025 votes, Cavtat was voted among the 3 best destinations to visit in Europe. Cavtat is a town on the Adriatic Coast of Croatia, southeast of Dubrovnik. It’s known for its beaches, and the many ancient Illyrian necropolises dotted around the area. Near the tree-lined Cavtat harbor is the Rector’s Palace, a Renaissance mansion that displays the manuscript collection of 19th-century scientist Baltazar Bogišić.
4. Florence, Italy
On the 4th position, with 46,484 votes, Florence was voted among the 5 best destinations to visit in Europe. Florence is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. The Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.”
5. Sibiu, Romania
On the 5th position, with 45,699 votes, Sibiu was voted among the 5 best destinations to visit in Europe. Sibiu is a city in Transylvania, central Romania. It’s known for Germanic architecture in its old town, the legacy of 12th-century Saxon settlers. Around the city are the remains of medieval walls and towers, including the 13th-century Council Tower. In the upper town, Brukenthal Palace now houses the Brukenthal National Museum, with European paintings.
6. Paris, France
On the 6th position, with 39,584 votes, Paris was voted among the 10 best destinations to visit in Europe. Its 19th-century city landscape is characterized by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Beyond such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, the city is known for its cafe culture and designer boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
7. Kefalonia, Greece
On the 7th position, with 36,551 votes, Kefalonia was voted among the 10 best destinations to visit in Europe. Kefalonia is an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. It’s marked by sandy coves and dry rugged landscapes. Its capital, Argostoli, is built on a hillside overlooking a narrow harbor. Kefalonia’s indented coastline is made up of limestone cliffs, bays and short strips of white sand, like Myrtos Beach in the north.
8. Kotor, Montenegro
On the 8th position, with 32,481 votes, Kotor was voted among the 10 best destinations to visit in Europe. Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro. It is located in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor. The city has a population of 13,510 and is the administrative center of Kotor Municipality. The old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period. It is located on the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska), one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea.
9. Soca Valley, Slovenia
On the 9th position, with 30,088 votes, Soca Valley was voted among the 10 best destinations to visit in Europe. The Soča or Isonzo is a 138-kilometre long river that flows through western Slovenia and northeastern Italy. An Alpine river in character, its source lies in the Trenta Valley in the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia, at an elevation of 876 metres.
10. Canary Islands, Spain
On the 10th position, with 26,432 votes, Canary Islands was voted among the 10 best destinations to visit in Europe. The Canary Islands is a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa. It’s a set of rugged volcanic isles known for their black- and white-sand beaches. Tenerife, the largest island, is dominated by the sometimes-snowy active volcano Mt. Teide, which has its own astronomical observatory and is part of Teide National Park. Tenerife hosts a huge pre-Lent Carnival in the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
11. Tübingen, Germany
On the 11th position, with 25,586 votes, Tubingen was voted among the 15 best destinations to visit in Europe. Tübingen is a city in southwest Germany and home to one of Europe’s oldest universities. In the old town, Stiftskirche St. Georg is a late-Gothic church with stained-glass windows and city views from its tower. The ornately painted 15th-century City Hall is topped with a functioning astronomical clock. Hilltop Hohentübingen Castle is home to the Museum of Ancient Cultures.
12. Dordogne Valley
On the 12th position, with 24,427 votes, Dordogne Valley was voted among the 15 best destinations to visit in Europe. Dordogne is a department in southwest France, set between the Loire Valley and Pyrenees mountains. It’s known for prehistoric cave paintings in the Vézère Valley, like those in Lascaux Cave. The town of Périgueux is home to the Cathedrale St-Front, with its 5 domes, and the Vesunna Museum, built around Roman ruins. The medieval town Sarlat-la-Canéda centers on the Rue de la Republique and the Cathédrale St-Sacerdos.
13. Tahiti, French Polynesia
On the 13th position, with 22,356 votes, Tahiti was voted among the 15 best destinations to visit in Europe. Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia, the South Pacific archipelago. Shaped like a figure-8, it’s divided into Tahiti Nui (the larger, western section) and Tahiti Iti (the eastern peninsula). With black-sand beaches, lagoons, waterfalls, and 2 extinct volcanoes, it’s a popular vacation destination. Its landscapes and daily life were captured by French painter Paul Gaugin.
14. Capri, Italy
On the 14th position, with 18,420 votes, Capri was voted among the 15 best destinations to visit in Europe. An island in Italy’s Bay of Naples, Carpi is famed for its rugged landscape, upscale hotels and shopping, from designer fashions to limoncello and handmade leather sandals. One of its best-known natural sites is the Blue Grotto, a dark cavern where the sea glows electric blue, the result of sunlight passing through an underwater cave.
15. Ghent, Belgium
On the 14th position, with 16,503 votes, Ghent was voted among the 15 best destinations to visit in Europe. Ghent is a port city in northwest Belgium, at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers. During the Middle Ages it was a prominent city-state. Today it’s a university town and cultural hub. Its pedestrianized center is known for medieval architecture such as 12th-century Gravensteen castle and the Graslei, a row of guildhalls beside the Leie river harbor.
16. Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia is a semi-arid region in central Turkey known for its distinctive “fairy chimneys,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered in Monks Valley, Göreme and elsewhere. Other notables sites include Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes (cave dwellers) and later used as refuges by early Christians. The 100m-deep Ihlara Canyon houses numerous rock-face churches.
17. Calpe, Spain
Calpe is a coastal town located in the comarca of Marina Alta, in the province of Alicante, Valencian Community, Spain, by the Mediterranean Sea. The town is located 67 km from the city of Alicante and lies at the foot of the Natural Park of Penyal d’Ifac. Many Iberian, Roman and Arab archeological sites exist in the town because of its strategic coastal location.
18. Vienna, Austria
Austria’s capital lies in the country’s east on the Danube River. Its artistic and intellectual legacy was shaped by residents including Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. The city is also known for its Imperial palaces, including Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs’ summer residence.
19. Cornwall, United Kingdom
Cornwall is a county on England’s rugged southwestern tip. It forms a peninsula encompassing wild moorland and hundreds of sandy beaches, culminating at the promontory Land’s End. The south coast, dubbed the Cornish Riviera, is home to picturesque harbour villages such as Fowey and Falmouth. The north coast is lined with towering cliffs and seaside resorts like Newquay, known for surfing.
20. Lofoten Islands, Norway
Lofoten is an archipelago in Norway. Its known for its dramatic scenery, with peaks like the Svolværgeita pinnacle jutting up into the sky. Himmeltindan Mountain sits on Vestvågøya Island. The nearby Lofotr Viking Museum features a Viking longhouse reconstruction. Cycle routes cover the islands, passing through fishing villages like Henningsvær, which has colorful buildings lining its waterways.