With so many countries to visit and places to see in Europe, there’s no shortage of ways to explore and add experiences to your European bucket list. From Greek Island hopping to watching the Northern Lights from a glass igloo, staying at an Italian farm, cooking in Tuscany, and learning Paella making in Spain - these Europe adventures are absolute must-do's.
Here are some of our favourite experiences to help get you started.
1. Go Greek island hopping
Azure waters met by angel sand, barrels of feta and tavernas serving Ouzo. Greece is undeniably idyllic. More-so when hopping between islands via ferry. There are multiple islets, but Mykonos is most likely the head-turner you dream about, with sugar-cube buildings and bright blue doors. Santorini’s defined by its cliff-cascading position and cobalt domed roofs, while the islands of Chios and Samos are a little more sedate, famed for tiled villages and sweet Muscat wine. Ask about our island hopping holidays.
HOT TIP: “Discover the island of Sifnos – Greece’s best-kept secret! Enjoy a morning of gastronomic delights, cooking with a local family at Narlis Farm, a three-generation working farm” Grace Hadfield, HOT Ashburton
2. Marvel at the Northern Lights from your glass igloo
Located in Finland’s Lapland region, we all know who the most famous resident here is, and we’d put money on Santa spending most of his downtime at an igloo resort. These snow-tucked hotels boast multiple glass igloos accommodating between two and four guests. Thermal glass and zero WiFi allows you to take a cosy digital detox beneath a fluttering of snow and the best starlit sky in Europe. With a domed glass design, igloos boast the best seats in the house to see Aurora Borealis, AKA the Northern Lights. Marbling the sky from August through to late April, for a once-in-a-lifetime auroras experience, book a stay here.
HOT TIP: "For a truly unique experience spend a night in the Snow Hotel in Kireness – it literally is made of snow and ice and gets rebuilt each December in a different decorative theme!” Kelda Cawood, HOT Browns Bay
3. Explore The Loire on self-guided cycling tours
Get a taste for both the Loire’s famed scenery and elegant flavours. Provided with detailed route directions and covering up to 58 km per day, pedal your way from fortified villages to cave dwellings, absorbing ancient stories — and wine varietals — which saturate this region. From Amboise, Leonardo Da Vinci’s final home, to Fontevraud’s royal abbey, history is as commonplace as the grand châteaux. You have the freedom to start your journey any day of the week, with others, or riding solo. Hire a regular bike or request an electric one.
4. Live like a local with an Italian Agriturismo stay
Enjoy a unique, first-hand experience in rural Italy with an agriturismo stay. Bringing together “agriculture” and “tourism” it allows working farms to welcome guests for overnight stays. You’ll also be privy to generations of culinary know-how. The perfect way to experience authentic Italy.
5. Exploring the beauty of British seaside
Far removed from flashy resort towns, the Great British seaside is beautifully quaint. Coastal counties such as Devonshire and Cornwall are framed by placid harbours and small stone cottages built into cliffside. Burgh Island, a wild droplet of land reached only by foot or sea-tractor, remains in a charming Agatha Christie-style time warp. While Devon’s wee village of Thurlestone, offers a somewhat wistful summer holiday: lazy pub lunches, beach cove swims and rock pooling. Polished off with teashop scones, complete with clotted cream and jam.
6. Walking and cooking in Tuscany or Umbria
If you have a passion for cooking and love the idea of rambling through beautiful Italian countryside, enjoy a ten-day guided walk through Tuscany or Umbria. Meandering from one gem township to another, and staying in farmhouses, there are three cooking classes en route, with local market stops thrown in too.
7. Paella making in Barcelona
Return from Spain with the know-how to whip up a mean Paella. There are cooking schools with trips to La Boqueria market (Barcelona’s most famous) before you roll up your sleeves and learn how to make tapas. And then there are small group cooking classes in outdoor kitchens, or the chef’s own apartment. Discover recipes handed down through generations, and classes delivered with complimentary sangria.