Europe might be the second smallest continent on the planet, but it packs more in than you could fit into a lifetime’s worth of getaways. From snow-packed slopes to grand, historic cities and golden shorelines; there’s something for every kind of traveller.
If you’re looking to experience the best our corner of the world has to offer, it’s about time you put together your European travelling bucket list. And though you’re sure to have plenty of your own ideas, some destinations are simply unmissable. Here are just a handful of our favourite spots…
1. Step alongside history at the Berlin Wall, Germany
There’s perhaps no greater metaphor for Europe’s modern history than the Berlin Wall. Once a stark and brutal manifestation of a continent torn in two, its falling nearly three decades ago marked the arrival of the peaceful and unified Europe we know today.
Both poignant and fascinating, visiting the wall’s remaining segments should be high on any pan-European bucket list. The most intact run is now known as the East Side Gallery, with the works of over 100 artists from 20 countries adorning the concrete façades.
Thankfully, the German capital has largely healed its divide, and you’ll find yourself at the heart of one of Europe’s most exciting cities when you visit. Whether you party until the early hours in an industrially-set mega-club, or take a relaxing bike ride through the trees in Tiergarten, is entirely up to you.
Direct flights to Berlin from Manchester Airport are operated daily, by airlines including Ryanair and Easyjet. Find out more >
2. Food-fight in Buñol, Spain
With centuries of culture to call upon, you’ll find weird and wonderful festivities right across the continent. But Buñol’s La Tomatina might just take the prize for the downright strangest.
For over 70 years, on the last Wednesday of August, this quaint and unassuming town becomes home to what is surely the world’s most famous food-fight. Almost out of nowhere, trucks piled to the brim with tomatoes arrive, which thousands of spectators then pelt at each other for over an hour. Once 150,000 kilograms have been thrown, and the town entirely painted red in the process, local fire engines come to hose down the crowds.
Buñol is just half an hour’s drive from Valencia Airport. There are several direct flights to Valencia from Manchester Airport each week, operated by Ryanair. Find out more >
3. Party at the Garden Resort, Croatia
For a party unlike any you’ve experienced before, put Croatia’s Garden Resort top of your bucket list. Nestled away on Croatia’s Adriatic Coast, a stone’s throw from the picturesque town of Tisno, the site boasts a packed-out festival schedule with gatherings running right through the summer.
This year, you can catch the cool and chic Love International festival from 27th June to 4th July. SuncéBeat in mid-July boasts a uniquely family-oriented vibe, while the last ever Soundwave festival, a week later, promises to be a spectacular send-off.
Whichever festival takes your fancy, you’ll enjoy the Resort’s incredible setting, with stages set between olive groves, sun-soaked terraces, a private beach and even a secret island. If any European festival destination needs to be on your bucket list; it’s this one.
Tisno is an hour’s drive from both Zadar and Split airports, with direct flights to the latter being much more frequent. During Summer, there are several flights to Split from Manchester Airport each day, with airlines such as Jet2, EasyJet, TUI and Thomas Cook Airlines – while Ryanair fly to Zadar. Find out more >
4. Feel the thrill at Europa-Park, Germany
While Disneyland Paris might hog the limelight, Europa-Park could easily stake a claim to be the continent’s best theme park; and we’d be inclined to agree.
As a matter of fact, you can explore the whole of Europe when you visit; hopping from England to Switzerland, Greece, Italy, France, Ireland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Portugal, Spain and Austria in a single day. Each immersive zone expresses the quintessential culture of its country, right down to the style of the architecture and food that’s on offer there.
That’s all well and good; but you probably came for the rides. If so, Europa-Park more than delivers, with some of the continent’s most extreme coasters among its line-up. Blue Fire is a real standout, with twists and turns that dive through Iceland’s volcanic landscape, while the 239ft tall Silver Star is not for the faint-hearted. For gentler, family thrills; Wodan promises a high-speed mythological adventure, without ever going upside-down.
To get to Europa-Park, you’re best flying into the Swiss city of Basel. Its airport, though, is a hop over the border in France, while the park is an hour’s drive from here, in Germany. There are regular, direct flights to Basel from Manchester Airport, operated by EasyJet. Find out more >
5. See the sunset in Santorini, Greece
With its whitewashed towns that spill down cliffsides to the waters of the Aegean, it doesn’t get more picturesque than Santorini. This tiny island is bursting with character, a world away from the roar of day-to-day life.
To take in Santorini at its best, bag yourself a spot on a chic rooftop hangout and order over some cocktails as the evening draws in. With a vista right out to sea, you’ll take in an uninterrupted view of the gorgeous sunset as beautiful colours filling the sky. Once night finally falls the fun really starts, as DJs take to their decks and the open-air parties begin.
There are regular, direct flights to Santorini from Manchester Airport. The route is served by both EasyJet and Thomas Cook Airlines. Find out more >
6. Drive the Amalfi Coast, Italy
Frequently listed among the most picturesque spots on the entire planet, a car journey along the Amalfi Coast may well be Europe’s best drive. Right along the stretch of cliffs that tower over the Med, quaint towns step their way to the sea, with beautiful cafes spilling into cobbled streets at their base.
The region’s charm is simply unbeatable, a romantic snapshot of an era gone-by. Whether you drive through in a day, or stick around for a week lazing on the beaches, you won’t soon forget it.
The nearby city of Naples serves as a great base to start your Amalfi adventure. You’ll find direct flights to Naples from Manchester Airport, with airlines including Jet2, Ryanair and Thomas Cook Airlines. Find out more >
Get these incredible experiences, and many more, ticked off your Europe travel bucket list with flights from Manchester Airport.