With so little travel in the strangest of times, for this year's Wanderlust Travel Awards we made some slight adjustments to our categories. We asked you what destinations you want to go to, once you can travel again. Brimming with charming old towns, dazzling cuisines and beautiful architecture, here are the results for your 10 most desirable short-haul cities.
As one of the world’s oldest cities, there’s always something new to discover in the Portuguese capital. Boasting pastel-coloured buildings, historic castles, and of course, Lisbon’s iconic yellow trams, we think this European gem is a fitting winner chosen by our readers. It also claimed the title of European Green Capital 2020 for its environmentally friendly transport and efforts to increase green spaces.
The region capital of Andalusia, Seville is best known for its monuments, history and being the birthplace of Flamenco dance and music. Packed with incredible attractions including the Seville Cathedral and the Royal Alcazar of Seville in the Barrio of Santa Cruz, there is much to explore in this Spanish city. One of the best times to visit is during the Semana Santa, a week-long celebration during the holy week before Easter.
With a mix of eclectic architecture, delightful cuisine and a dazzling Old Town, Georgia’s capital is one of the most excitingly diverse cities in Europe. Meander through the Old Town’s streets and squares where there are bohemian cafes, ancient churches, and modern additions including the Peace Bridge and the ‘Leaning Tower of Tbilisi’. The city’s skyline is dominated by its 4th century Nakala Fortress, and the Kartlis Deda (Mother Georgia) monument, built in 1958 to celebrate the Tbilisi's 1500th anniversary.
Morocco’s 'Pink City' sits on the edge of the Sahara desert and offers UK travellers a taste of Africa without the long flight. Visitors to Marrakech are undoubtedly attracted to its UNESCO-listed Medina quarter, where the cobbled lanes are lined with traditional Moroccan souks selling spices, lanterns, colourful rugs and ceramics, just to name a few. At night, expect to encounter snake charmers and folk dancers.
Croatia has been growing quickly in popularity with tourists over recent years, and its not without reason. Encased in an ancient wall and overlooking the sparkling Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik Old Town will impress any traveller. Walk the limestone streets, admire the baroque architecture, and take the cable car up to the top of Mount Srđ and gaze down at the city blanketed in rustic orange rooftops.
Experience authentic Italy in this hidden gem. Bologna deserves recognition for its fascinating medieval centre, incredible culture and for also being home to Europe’s oldest university, still buzzing with students today. But without doubt it’s mostly adored for its cuisine. Dubbed the food capital of Italy, expect piles of pasta wherever you choose to eat, as Bologna has taken ownership of over 30 different recipes, including favourites such as tagliatelle, tortellini and lasagne.
It's like stepping into a storybook when visiting the Estonian capital. From red-tiled turrets to cobbled lanes, exploring the Old Town is a joy. Gorgeous cafes and boutique shops are hidden throughout the streets, which have maintained their medieval structure so well it has been listed by UNESCO. Most travel here during Christmas for a truly magical experience, but Tallinn is certainly a year-round destination.
There are many pulls towards stunning Salzburg. First of all, the natural landscapes which encases the city, with snow-capped mountains, luscious greenery and the Salzach River brings a feeling of serenity. Enter the city and the baroque architecture, palaces, concert halls and mosques in the UNESCO-listed Old Town will charm any visitor. Plus, it's the home of Mozart and the Sound of Music. What more could you want?
This picturesque destination is worthy of any Instagram feed. Stockholm is the largest city in Scandinavia and is scattered across 14 islands, but still quite compact. Perhaps because of this it feels completely unique, and many visitors say they feel at ease in this contemporary city as they walk across bridges or hop on public ferries from island to island. Find the charming colourful buildings and cobbled streets in the city’s historic centre Gamla Stan, the star attraction of the Swedish capital.
With a flight time of less than three hours, Russia’s second largest city and imperial capital is often compared to the likes of Venice, and with waterways weaving throughout and nearly 350 bridges to cross, there are certainly similarities. St Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703, who’s successors then continued to build European style architecture across the city, resulting in the grand palaces and cathedrals it’s lucked out with today. But being an artistic hub, it also has its modern touches which fit in surprisingly well with its old-world charm.
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