A new year is here! Crafting travel plans brings the exciting prospect of exploring new destinations, experiencing different cultures, and creating lasting memories for 2024. Whether you're a seasoned traveller or someone planning their first big adventure, careful consideration and thoughtful planning can make your journey a seamless and enriching experience.
The first step is to research your destination. If you are looking for historical cities with timeless allure with a flavourful gastronomy and welcoming people, we got you! Portugal, Spain and Italy are enticing countries that captivate with their charming destinations. Each offers a unique mosaic of history, culture, natural beauty, delicious cuisine and a taste of authenticity. So, we created especially for you a selection of 10 amazing cities that should be on your bucket list for 2024!
Córdoba is a historic city in the southern region of Andalusia. It holds a rich and diverse cultural heritage that reflects the influences of various civilisations that have shaped its history. One of the most iconic landmarks is the Mosque-Cathedral, also known as the Mezquita. The intricate horseshoe arches and the prayer hall with its famous forest of columns are among the many captivating features of this structure.
The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, or the Castle of the Christian Monarchs, is another key attraction in Córdoba. This fortress served as a residence for various monarchs, and the lush gardens and impressive towers provide a glimpse into the city's royal history.
Córdoba's historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a labyrinth of narrow streets, charming squares, and picturesque courtyards known as "patios." Adorned with vibrant flowers and unique decorations, these strike out from the city's architecture and are celebrated annually.
Whether wandering through its ancient streets or marvelling at its iconic landmarks, you will be enchanted by the city’s whimsical tapestry of history, culture and architectural brilliance!
Located along the scenic Douro River, in northern Portugal, Porto is a city with a rich history, charming architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene, known for its iconic wine, friendly locals, and a UNESCO recognised historic centre.
The Ribeira district, situated along the riverfront, is particularly enchanting, featuring pastel-coloured houses, lively cafes, and a bustling atmosphere. Once there, cross the famous Dom Luís I Bridge, an impressive double-deck iron construction, and admire the stunning panoramic views of the city, Vila Nova de Gaia and Douro River below. While on the left bank, explore the historic port wine cellars for which Porto is renowned.
The Livraria Lello, often considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, is another must-visit. Its ornate wooden staircase and stained glass create a magical atmosphere. The Sé Cathedral is a Romanesque and Gothic masterpiece that stands as one of Porto's oldest monuments.
Beyond its cultural and historical attractions, Porto is a city that embraces a laid-back lifestyle. Enjoy leisurely walks along the river and savour traditional Portuguese cuisine!
Often referred to as the "Florence of the South," Lecce is a captivating city in the Puglia region of southern Italy. Celebrated for its "Barocco Leccese" style, a unique interpretation of Baroque architecture, its historic centre is a labyrinth of narrow streets and piazzas adorned with splendid examples of Baroque craftsmanship.
The city's distinctive golden-hued limestone, known as "Lecce stone," lends a warm glow to its buildings, adding to the allure of its architecture. The crown jewel of Lecce is the Basilica di Santa Croce whose façade is adorned with intricate carvings of animals, mythological figures, and ornate motifs.
In the evening, relax in the vibrant outdoor cafes and trattorias like the Lecce residents, savouring the flavours of Salento cuisine. Lecce is known for its delectable “pasticciotto”, a pastry filled with sweet custard, as well as other regional specialities like orecchiette pasta and local wines.
With a warm climate, rich cultural heritage, and inviting atmosphere, Lecce offers an enchanting experience that will linger in your memories!
Valencia, a vibrant city on the southeastern coast of Spain, is a dynamic blend of modernity and tradition. At its heart lies the City of Arts and Sciences, a futuristic complex that has become an iconic symbol of the city. The historic centre, with its medieval architecture and narrow streets, provides a stark contrast. The Valencia Cathedral, home to the Holy Grail according to tradition, stands as a testament to the city's religious history. La Lonja de la Seda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcases Valencia's mercantile past with its impressive Gothic architecture.
The Central Market, housed in a stunning Art Nouveau building, is a culinary haven to savour fresh produce and regional specialities. Valencia is particularly known for its paella, a rice dish that comes in various delicious variations. The liveliness of the city takes its pick at the Las Fallas, an annual festival where gigantic sculptures of paper-mâché are displayed before being ceremoniously burned in a spectacle of flames and fireworks.
In the tranquil Alentejo region in Portugal, lies the enchanting city of Évora, with its well-preserved white-washed streets and a rich heritage recognized by UNESCO. Its most iconic landmark is the Temple of Diana, a Roman temple dating back to the 1st century AD. The Cathedral of Évora, a grand Gothic structure, dominates the skyline and houses an impressive collection of religious art. The nearby Church of São Francisco is known for its Chapel of Bones, a macabre yet fascinating space adorned with human bones and skulls. Évora's Roman aqueduct, dating back to the 16th century, is another architectural marvel that speaks to the city's historical significance.
Praça do Giraldo, Évora’s main square, is a lively gathering place that is perfect for soaking in the local atmosphere and enjoying culinary delights. The region is known for its flavourful wines, olive oils, and hearty cuisine, making Évora a haven for food enthusiasts.
The Alentejo landscape that surrounds the city, is dotted with olive trees, cork oak trees and vineyards. The vast plains and traditional farmhouses contribute to the serene and authentic character of the region, making Évora an enriching experience.
The vibrant capital of Sicily, an Italian island, is a city that resonates with history, culture, and a captivating blend of architectural styles. Located along the Mediterranean Sea, Palermo has been shaped by diverse civilizations. In the city's historic centre, you will find bustling markets and architectural treasures. The Palermo Cathedral, a striking example of Norman architecture, features a mix of styles due to various modifications over the centuries. Nearby, the Royal Palace of Palermo showcases Arab-Norman artistry, adorned with intricate mosaics and geometric patterns.
Palermo's street life is a spectacle in itself, with lively squares such as Quattro Canti and Piazza Pretoria serving as focal points for socializing and enjoying the local ambience. The city's street food scene is also a highlight, with street vendors offering a variety of treats, from panelle (chickpea fritters) to sfincione (Sicilian pizza).
Its proximity to the sea allows you to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Mondello and Sferracavallo, where you can relax by the tranquil Mediterranean and savour fresh seafood in seaside trattorias. Altogether, Palermo is inviting you to discover its multifaceted identity and experience the unique charm of Sicilian culture!
7. San Sebastián
Nestled on the Bay of Biscay in Spain's Basque Country, San Sebastián is a coastal gem celebrated for its stunning beaches, culinary excellence, and a unique blend of Basque culture and history. La Concha, one of Europe's most beautiful urban beaches, is the focal point of the city. Its crescent shape is embraced by picturesque hills and the iconic Monte Urgull, creating a breathtaking backdrop. The La Concha Promenade, a scenic waterfront walkway, offers panoramic views of the bay and the elegant architecture lining the shore.
San Sebastián is renowned for its culinary scene, particularly its pintxos—small, delectable Basque tapas. In the Old Town, known as Parte Vieja, find a labyrinth of narrow streets bursting with character and the lively Plaza de la Constitución, where outdoor cafes and pintxos bars buzz with activity.
For breathtaking panoramic views of the city and its surroundings, climb to Monte Igueldo, accessible by a charming century-old funicular. The harmonious blend of natural beauty, culinary excellence, and cultural richness that characterize this Basque jewel makes it a must-visit on the Spanish coast.
The capital of the Umbria region in central Italy is a city steeped in history, art, and a rich cultural legacy. Nestled on a hilltop, Perugia offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and is renowned as the birthplace of the celebrated painter Raphael. The centrepiece of the historic centre of Perugia is the Palazzo dei Priori, an imposing Gothic palace that houses the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, showcasing a remarkable collection of Italian Renaissance art. The adjacent Piazza IV Novembre is a bustling square dominated by the Fontana Maggiore, a stunning 13th-century fountain.
Perugia's Etruscan Arch, one of the city's oldest structures, serves as a reminder of its ancient past. The city's Etruscan roots are also evident in the captivating Etruscan Well, a subterranean masterpiece with a spiral staircase leading to a water source deep below. The city's defensive walls, dating back to Etruscan and medieval times, offer a picturesque stroll with panoramic vistas.
Perugia's culinary scene is a delightful fusion of Umbrian flavours, with local specialities like truffles, olive oil, and traditional pasta dishes. Savouring the authentic tastes of the region and exploring Perugia’s historic streets, is a delightful experience that will warm your heart.
The capital city of the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, in the Atlantic Ocean is known for its colourful markets, botanical gardens, and warm, subtropical climate. The heart of Funchal is its historic old town where the Sé Cathedral stands as a prominent landmark. The bustling Mercado dos Lavradores, or Farmers' Market, is a sensory delight with exotic fruits, flowers, and regional crafts. The market offers a vibrant snapshot of Madeiran culture and is a perfect place to sample local specialities like the renowned Madeira wine and the traditional bolo do caco, a delicious flatbread.
One of Funchal's most celebrated attractions is the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, a botanical haven showcasing a diverse collection of exotic plants, sculptures, and sweeping views of the city and the ocean. You can reach the garden via a scenic cable car ride that provides a panoramic perspective of Funchal. The descent from Monte to Funchal is a thrilling experience in the traditional wicker toboggan sledges guided by "carreiros."
Additionally, the city hosts numerous festivals, including the famous Flower Festival and the New Year's Eve fireworks display, considered one of the largest in the world. Funchal's charm offers a delightful experience for those seeking the best of Madeira.
Located in the northern part of Italy's Veneto region, Verona is renowned for its well-preserved ancient architecture, charming streets, and associations with William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." The city's centrepiece is the Arena di Verona, a remarkable Roman amphitheatre that dates back to the 1st century. This iconic structure, still used today for concerts and operas, provides a stunning backdrop against the city skyline.
Verona's historic heart, with its Mediaeval and Renaissance buildings, unfolds around the Piazza delle Erbe, surrounded by colourful façades, outdoor cafes, and the Torre dei Lamberti, a Mediaeval tower offering panoramic views of the city. Casa di Giulietta, or Juliet's House, is a popular attraction associated with Shakespeare's tragic love story. The house features a balcony where, according to legend, Juliet stood as Romeo declared his love.
Verona's welcoming ambience extends to its cuisine. The city's culinary delights include risotto, Amarone wine, and the delectable Pandoro cake. The genuine warmth of its people and the romantic atmosphere that permeates its streets, make Verona a timeless destination!
Ready to book your 2024 travels?
While planning is essential, leave room for spontaneity and unexpected discoveries. Sometimes the most memorable experiences come off the planned path. As you embark on your travel plans for 2024, the key is to strike a balance between meticulous preparation and the freedom to embrace the unexpected. With thoughtful planning, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Count on us as your partner to create cherished memories that will last a lifetime!