25 best experiences in Europe and the Caucasus
In our 25th birthday year, we're choosing 25 of our best experiences to be enjoyed in Europe and the Caucasus.
1. STEP INTO THE WILD IN THE ACCURSED MOUNTAINS, Albania
Home to isolated mountain villages and remote forest trails, the Albanian Alps offer some of the most stunning scenery in Europe. Enjoy picnic lunches complimented by dramatic views, and soak up the local hospitality of the farming families you stay with within this very special unexplored northern region.
2. WALK ALONG PRISTINE COASTAL TRAILS, Albania
Make your way along the southern coast on foot and soak up magnificent mountain vistas on one side and breathtaking panoramic views of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas on the other.
3. VISIT THE STRIKING SEVAN MONASTERY, Armenia
The largest and highest lake in the Caucasus, at Lake Sevan you can visit the picturesque Monastery of Sevan, built in 874 and on a small peninsula overlooking the lake.
4. LEARN HOW TO MAKE LAVASH, Armenia
Visit a nearby village and take part in a bread-making masterclass in a local home. Armenia’s national bread, called “lavash”, is included in the UNESCO intangible heritage list and is a delicious snack enjoyed across the nation.
5. VISIT THE LAND OF SACRED FIRE, Azerbaijan
Home to an abundance of natural oil and gas deposits, Absheron is a fascinating area to visit. Discover the ancient and modern methods of oil extraction, as well as the various religious cults associated with oil, with a visit to a Zoroastrian fire temple.
6. HUNT FOR SILK ROAD TREASURES, Azerbaijan
Sheki is one of the oldest towns in the Caucasus, founded more than 2,700 years ago. Here discover the work of jewellers, potters, engravers and embroiders, who for centuries have sold their goods to Moscow, St Petersburg and even Western Europe.
7. EXPLORE MOSTAR'S OLD TOWN, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Explore Mostar's winding cobbled streets and the iconic Stari Most bridge.
8. SAMPLE TRADITIONAL BULGARIAN FOOD, Bulgaria
Sample Bulgarian food in a ‘mekhana’, a traditional tavern, in the Old Town of Bankso.
9. FIND ANCIENT FRESCOS IN A CAVE TOWN, Georgia
Discover the mysterious cave town of Vardzia, as you explore the remaining 500 caves which are home to stunning 12th-century frescos, small churches, living quarters and even wine cellars.
10. STOP BY A FAMILY-OWNED WINERY, Georgia
Take a wine tour at Chateau Ateni; a family-owned vineyard and winery, located just 15 minutes drive from Gori, offering a relaxed alternative to the busier wineries of Telavi.
11. CLIMB THE SPECTACULAR METEORA, Greece
Experience the most captivating views as you follow in the footsteps of the first monks who arrived here more than 15 centuries ago. The hike offers a great way of seeing the unique rock formations and learning the history of the region.
12. FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF EXPLORERS, Greece
Discover the history of the spectacular Via Egnatia, a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century which linked the east and west of their ever-growing Roman Empire. Access spectacular scenery and remote communities, delving deep into this unspoiled region of Greece.
13. WITNESS THE MOST SPECTACULAR SHOW ON EARTH, Iceland
Although during the summer months Iceland sees no darkness, from September to March you should have a very good chance of witnessing the ethereal aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. With a backdrop of majestic volcanoes and thundering waterfalls, you couldn't ask for a more dramatic stage.
14. GO IN SEARCH OF WHALES, Iceland
Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see whales, welcoming a huge variety of species to its waters, from humpback and killer whales to blue and minke whales. Enjoy spending a few hours out at sea looking for these majestic marine mammals.
15. ENJOY SPECTACULAR WALKS, Italy
This part of Italy offers some of the most spectacular walking, as you explore on foot the San Bartolo Natural Park, the Cesane Forest and the Metauro River Valley, and of course the famed Furlo Gorge, known as Italy's Grand Canyon.
16. WANDER THE COBBLED STREETS OF PRIZREN, Kosovo
Discover the historic capital of Prizren, including the Kalaja Fortress.
17. EXPLORE TARA CANYON, Montenegro
Explore Tara Canyon, Europe’s deepest gorge, in Durmitor National Park.
18. HIKE AMONGST THE LANDSCAPES OF THE MAVROVO AND GALICICA NATIONAL PARKS, North Macedonia
19. EXPLORE A SPECTACULAR SALT MINE, Poland
20. EXPERIENCE THE ANCIENT RURAL TRADITIONS OF THE MARAMURES REGION, AND VISIT THE UNIQUE MERRY CEMETERY AND WOODEN MONASTERY OF IEUD, Romania
21. SOAK UP THE VAMPIRE MYTHS OF VLAD DRACUL, Romania
22. TRACK BEARS IN THE WILD, Slovakia
Journeying deep into the heart of the Tatras Mountains, one of the last regions in mainland Europe where we can still see bears in their natural environment in significant numbers, and track wild bears with your experienced guides.
23. MEET MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES AND EXPLORE CASTLES
Uncover the Medieval charms of Levoca and the Spiš region, and learn about the culture and traditions of the Goral people, who have lived in the shadow of the High Tatras for generations and their villages and architecture still retain a uniquely distinctive style.
24. EXPLORE TURKEY'S NORTHEAST, Turkey
Home to spectacular mountains, clifftop monasteries, age-old traditions and a bloody past, this fascinating region offers a unique escape from the more popular western Turkey.
25. GET LOST IN ISTANBUL'S GRAND BAZAAR, Turkey
Experience the extensive Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, a shopper's mecca since just after the mid-15th century. As one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, it includes 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops, so make sure to leave plenty of time to explore!