Travel insights from VAX VacationAccess

2018’s Unique European Destinations

Each year travelers set their sights on new and exciting destinations, places that transport them out of their everyday lives and into worlds that are unlike their own. That’s why it comes as no surprise that when Allianz released their 2018 top European summer travel destinations that places like Reykjavik, Nice and Florence made the cut. But what is it exactly that makes these destinations so memorable? Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s not just the infamous Blue Lagoon or the Galleria delgi Uffizi (ok, maybe it is this), but rather it’s the culmination of culture and experiences that travelers can’t experience anywhere else in the world. That being said, here’s a rundown of #trending European destinations that your clients must see.


Reykjavik, Iceland

In 2017, Reykjavik was ranked as the 17th top travel destination, according to Allianz’s findings. This year, it has made the jump to the number three spot, and we can see why. But even though images of Iceland’s black-sand beaches and the most famous tourist hot spot, the Blue Lagoon, fill social media sites, there’s still so much more to see and do in this remote paradise.

For starters, if your clients are looking to enjoy a day at the (geothermal) spa, there are several options that may be less crowded than the Blue Lagoon. Recommend they check out Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach and Laugardalslaug pool if they plan to stay in Reykjavik. But if your clients want to venture out into new lands then Krauma, a spa and restaurant in Reykholt, might be for them. Also be sure to recommend Mývatn, known as the Northern Lights capital of Iceland and home to the Mývatn Nature Baths. Keep in mind visitors will have to travel quite a bit further from Reykjavik to reach these other-worldly waters. Travelers should also make sure to stop by Hallgrímskirkja, which is the largest church in Iceland and gives way to a stunning view of Reykjavik from the top; visit Snaefellsjökull National Park; and tour Langjokull, a man-made cave that travels 1,640 feet into the ice. Before heading home, visitors should make the trip to Þingvellir, a volcanic national park or Jökulsárlón, which is a well-known, large glacial lake where visitors can witness awe-inspiring views.

Popular Reykjavik Hotels on VAX


Nice, France

Even though Paris has consistently ranked as the second-most popular vacation destination, we think Nice deserves some recognition, too. Not to mention, it is completely new on the annual list of trending spots, making it an exciting prospect to consider. This vibrant, seaside city rests on the French Riviera and is known for its lively streets, which visitors will definitely want to see. To help them do this, recommend they explore Vieux Nice, or “Old Nice,” where the streets haven’t changed much since 18th century. Here, travelers can wander through the alleys that are filled with local shops, discover the well-known market square (Cours Saleya), pop in boutiques and dine at one of the many restaurants. While in Old Nice, visitors should tour the inside of the 17th century Nice Cathedral and head to Colline du Château, which not only offers lush scenery with a spectacular view of the city, but is a historical landmark that was mostly destroyed by King Louis XIV in 1706. To this day, the 16th century Tour Bellanda remains. Visitors should also walk along the Promenade des Anglais, which takes them along the Baie des Anges for cinematic views of the Mediterranean. And if visitors time it right, they might be able to see a Saturday night fireworks display. Other noteworthy stops include Musée Matisse, Monastère de Cimiez and of course, the beaches.

Popular Nice Hotels on VAX


Florence, Italy

Another new and equally as charming city added to this year’s trending destination list is Florence, Italy. It’s almost impossible to think about Florence and not think about the breathtaking architecture, artistic legacy and renowned cuisine of this Tuscan city. As to why this city hasn’t made the top-twenty list until now, well that’s still news to us. In Florence, there are so many things for your clients to see, do and experience. You’ll want to recommend they visit the Florence Cathedral, which was completed in the 15th century and is the third-largest church in the world and the largest church in Europe. For awe-inspiring views, travelers should climb Giotto’s Bell Tower where they can get the best view of the cathedral. And, if we didn’t give it away earlier, travelers must explore the Uffizi Gallery where they can view artwork from artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian and Michelangelo, among several others. But remember, Florence is a city known as the Renaissance capital of the world, so art is all around. Travelers should take time to wander the city, by foot or bike, to truly get a sense of the thriving art scene.

Afterwards, suggest relaxing at the Giardino delle Rose where you can get a panoramic view of the city. Visitors can also bring snacks and drinks to enjoy while being surrounded by over 350 varieties of roses. To finish the evening, travelers have to stop for gelato. After all, Florence is the  birthplace of this Italian-style ice cream. Recommend places like Perche’ No, Vivoli and Gelateria Santa Trinita.

Popular Florence Hotels on VAX


Helsinki, Finland

Ok, so technically Helsinki wasn’t on the list of most popular destinations that we gave you earlier. But this is VAX’s pick – and for a good reason. Helsinki, Finland’s southern capital, has seen record highs in tourism over the past few years and there are no signs that it will be slowing down any time soon. While in Helsinki, your clients should visit places like Helsinki Cathedral. Visitors can relax on the steps in front of this remarkable landmark and take in the sights. And if travelers want to be even more impressed, they should check out Uspenski Cathedral, where the architecture of the building clearly reflects Russia’s historic past with Finland.

Afterwards, your clients can explore Market Square, visit one of the many museums (check out the Natural History Museum and the National Museum of Finland) and stop by Esplanadi, a lush, open space where people can picnic or enjoy live music if the time is right. Travelers should also make sure to explore areas like Kamppi for lively nightlife, shopping and the Helsinki Art Museum, as well as Puu Vallila, which is in the Wooden House District and is home to popular coffee shops, restaurants and bars. But if your clients are looking for a winter vacation, you might want to recommend Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland in northern Finland. Not only is this city known as the “official” home to Santa Claus, but visitors have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, as they are visible in Rovaniemi for about 150 days out of the year. No matter where your clients want to go in Finland, they should end their vacation with a classic Finnish activity: a trip to the sauna. When in Finland, right?

Popular Helsinki Hotels on VAX

Need more Europe travel inspo? See the top European cities on VAX (plus some hotel picks), learn the top destinations for this summer and get some European cruise inspiration for your water-loving clients.

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