With quiet country roads winding through vine-striped hills and wild stretches of coastal sand interspersed with misty islands, the Atlantic coast is where France gets back to nature. Much more laid-back than the Med (but with almost as much sunshine), this is the place to slow the pace right down. But the Atlantic coast can do cities and culture as well.
Salzburg & Salzburgerland
One of Austria’s smallest provinces, Salzburgerland is proof that size really doesn’t matter. Well, not when you have Mozart, Maria von Trapp and the 600-year legacy of the prince-archbishops behind you. This is the land that grabbed the world spotlight and shouted ‘visit Austria!’ with Julie Andrews skipping joyously down the mountainsides.
For most Russians, the word Caucasus (Кавказ) summons up images of fiery mountain folk, the high-tempo lezginka dance and the troubled history of volatile regions such as Chechnya. But there's more to this ethnically rich region than the stereotypes and the horror stories.
Continental Croatia meets the Adriatic in Istria (Istra to Croats), the heart-shaped, 3600-sq-km peninsula just south of Trieste in Italy. The bucolic interior of rolling hills and fertile plains attracts artsy visitors to Istria’s hilltop villages, rural hotels and farmhouse restaurants, while the verdant indented coastline is enormously popular with the sun-and-sea set.
Sheltered by soaring mountains, the Kvarner Gulf has long been loved by visitors attracted by the mild climate and cobalt waters, and those in search of more than just beach appeal. In the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the wealthy built holiday homes here, bestowing places like Rijeka and Opatija with a rich legacy of stately Habsburg-era architecture.
Easily the largest and most varied of all Danish regions, central Jutland encompasses dramatically different features, from the calm beaches of the sheltered east coast to the wild and woolly west coast, battered by North Sea winds. Lying in between, offering visual stimulation among the flatness, are the rolling hills and forests of the Lake District.
Serving that classic Dalmatian cocktail of historic towns, jewel-like waters, rugged limestone mountains, sun-kissed islands, gorgeous climate and Mediterranean cuisine, this region is a holidaymaker's paradise. Yet it's the cities and islands further south that hog all the limelight, leaving Northern Dalmatia, if not quite undiscovered, then certainly less overrun.
Istria's West Coast
The west coast of Istria is the tourist showcase. At the tip of the peninsula is Pula, the coast’s largest city. The Brijuni Islands, Tito's former playground, are an easy day trip from here. Rovinj is the most enchanting town and Poreč the easiest – and cheaper – holiday choice, with lodging and entertainment options aplenty.
The long stripe of the Costa Blanca (White Coast) is one of Europe’s most heavily visited areas. If you’re after a secluded midsummer strand, stay away – or head inland to enjoy traditional villages and towns. Then again, if you’re looking for a lively social scene, good beaches and a suntan… It isn’t all concrete and package deals.
Southern Jutland gets its inspiration from a few sources – from the North Sea, naturally, but also a little from the south. This is the only part of Denmark connected to mainland Europe (by a 68km-long border), and in some places you can feel the historic ties with Germany.