20 great agriturismos and farm stays in Europe: readers’ tips

The agriturismo movement started in Italy but readers have had breaks on working farms from France to Iceland and Croatia to Crete

This country is dotted with amazing organic farm stays but we love Pri Plajerju in the Trenta valley. There’s something pure and timeless about Slovenia and this farm. It has self-catering apartments, but we sleep in the hayloft – it’s incredibly good value. The hay beds are warm and cosy and it’s magical after a day walking the Soča trail. The mountain scenery is mind-blowing; you can help feed the animals in the morning, and the home-cooked food is fresh, filling and always served with a smile. It almost makes me want to move to the country.
Apartments from €70, barn beds €15pp, eko-plajer.com
Jo

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10 of the best city B&Bs in Europe: readers’ travel tips

After wolfing down breakfast at these comfy B&Bs, our tipsters were ready to explore the town – often with top recommendations from their hosts

Outside the city centre but only 20 minutes or so by bus, this B&B is beautifully furnished and great value. One of the best reasons to stay here is Yolande, the friendly owner, who couldn’t do enough for us. She recommended great restaurants and gave us tips on what to see in Bordeaux. Her incredible breakfast spread, complete with homemade jam, was the best breakfast I’ve had in France, and that’s saying something. Bordeaux is a fantastic city – a cleaner, friendlier and warmer version of Paris.
Doubles from €80, laferrade.com
Helena

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Off the beaten path – best travel destinations in rural Europe

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Travel broadens the mind and enriches life experience, and this is the reason it is so important to try to do as much of it as you possibly can. There are so many wonderful travel destinations these days, and the rise of budget travel has allowed more people to see much more of the world.

The most fulfilling travel experiences are those that take you off the beaten track and onto the road less traveled. Who knows what mysteries wait just around the corner, and where you can discover them? If you want an unforgettable break this year, away from the frenzied, tourist-filled streets, here are some amazing European gems just itching to be discovered.

Alentejo region, Portugal

If you’re planning on heading for a vacay soon, one of the best places to check out is Portugal’s stunning Alentejo region. This delightful part of southern Portugal comes alive in the springtime, presenting a smorgasbord of incredible floral colors. With pinks, oranges, yellows, and whites blanketing the ground, there are serene and elegant walking routes around Alqueva Lake and across beautiful countryside. Oh, and there are some amazing restaurants en route in the city of Evora as well.

Pyrenees, French-Spanish border

The Pyrenees Mountains are spread across France, Spain, and Andorra, and you can take an incredible road trip that allows you to travel across borders and see some of the most amazing parts of the Pyrenees. Hire a car and take a remarkable three-day road trip that scales mountain peaks, gorgeous valleys, and picture-postcard villages. Enjoy the 3,000m views from the top of the Pic du Midi mountain, accessible by cable car.

Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia is a must-visit destination in Italy, and it’s one you might not think is that unique. Well, how about experiencing this amazing island as part of a sea kayaking adventure?! This offers an invigorating and unforgettable break, where you can hit hidden beaches, secret coves, and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings of Porto Conte. Starting in April, these trips give you the perfect Sardinian experience, and something unique that lets you have the spring break you’ve always wanted.

Carpathian Mountains, Romania

The Carpathian Mountains demand discovery, and this is one of the places you need to check out for your spring break. There are so many amazing reasons to take a trip here, but one of the biggest is bison tracking! Yes, believe it or not, you don’t have to go on an African safari to get your bison fix. High up in the foothills of the Carpathians, a conservation project has allowed these majestic creatures to thrive. You can stay in Bucharest, and head out in groups (fronted by rangers) into the wilds of the Tarcu Mountains to see bison, bears, and other creatures.

How about these for some off the track destinations to explore the beautiful and majestic underbelly of Europe. These are some incredible choices that can take you away from the crowds, and allow you to experience things you might not otherwise have been able to. Indulge, slip away, and lose yourself in the elegance of European delight.

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10 of the best meditation retreats in the UK and Europe

We pick mindfulness and meditation holidays in beautiful surroundings – many combined with other activities like walking, singing and tai chi
More retreat top 10s: yoga | creative | by readers

In the Dart valley near Totnes, the Sharpham Trust meditation centre offers mindfulness retreats of different lengths throughout the year, including walking and singing breaks. Some are held in the estate’s mansion, others in the Barn Retreat nearby. For full immersion in the natural world, its Nature Connection retreat has accommodation in bell tents in the woods, with guided meditation and mindfulness activities, foraging and feasting on wild food.
• Three-night meditation retreats from £145 full-board. Three-night Nature Connection retreat, 25 July, £335 full-board, sharphamtrust.org

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10 of the best yoga holidays in UK and Europe

Beautiful locations and activities such as running or simply hanging out on the beach complement quality yoga teaching at these retreats

Combine yoga and Greek sunshine with a holiday on Santorini, the southernmost of the Cyclades islands, staying in whitewashed houses at a boutique hotel with pool outside the village of Oia. There are two daily classes for all levels with warm, encouraging teacher Louise Gillespie-Smith, who balances creative, breath-led flow with gentle, mindful yin. An optional 10-mile hike is included, and guests are also able to enjoy sailing, sea kayaking and wine-tasting if they wish. Louise also leads holidays in the UK and French Alps.
From £795, with breakfast and three evening meals, 29 June-6 July, adventureyogi.com

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New Year’s Eve: 10 last-minute city breaks in Europe

Ditch Auld Lang Syne and greet 2019 in a new setting: concerts and walks in Madeira, markets in Vienna, skating in Budapest … and fireworks everywhere

Why go Hungary’s capital sparkles in winter and likes to party, so it’s a great place to see in the new year. There’s festive cheer on tap, with fairylight-strewn streets, chestnut sellers and ice-skating in City Park (the largest rink in Europe), to a backdrop of Vajdahunyad Castle. The Christmas markets on Vorosmarty Square and at the Basilica run until 1 January, with concerts, folk dancing and stalls selling mulled wine or pálinka (fruit brandy) and traditional chimney cake (cinnamon and sugar-coated dough). New Year’s Eve (Szilveszter) is celebrated with fireworks over the Danube, and it’s worth booking one of the many river cruises with dinner and DJs. Fisherman’s Bastion at Buda Castle offers a near-perfect panorama over the city (free and open 24/7, but likely to be crowded).

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The most beautiful churches in Europe

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Europe has a lot of beautiful sights to see, and that makes it a desirable destination for anyone going traveling. There are so many different countries to visit, all with their own unique culture and tourist attractions. One thing that almost every European city has in common, however, is a church. Now, churches are relatively beautiful buildings as it is, but some of the churches in Europe are absolutely breathtaking. Here are some of the most beautiful churches in Europe.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

One of the most famous churches in the world, let alone Europe, is the Sagrada Familia. One of the reasons it’s so famous is because it’s not even finished! There’s still not an end date in sight, and yet it’s already been around for a very long time! It currently stands at over 160 meters tall and has some gorgeous, brightly colored stained glass windows to admire. If you’re hoping to pay a visit, you better book well in advance, because the queues can last for a good couple of hours.

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

Of course, the church within the confined walls of the Vatican City was going to feature pretty high on our list! The artwork within the church is absolutely stunning, created by some of the most world-renowned painters that we know and love today. Each room of the church has a different design, so whether you’re in the main hall looking up at the depiction of heaven on the ceiling, or in St. Peter’s crypt looking at the carvings on the wall, you’re going to find yourself being blown away.

Borgund Stave Church, Norway

Norway is a very popular European country to visit, but one of their most famous tourist attractions is the Borgund Stave Church in (you guessed it!) Borgund. It looks like no other church you’ll ever see! Small and stout with a rounded tiled roof, the church dates all the way back to the 12th century and actually looks a bit like a Nordic hut – which is probably what it started out as. However, it’s cute in comparison with other churches that tower over you with their spires and columns. This church feels more like a home.

St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

Located in Moscow’s famous Red Square, most people will recognize St. Basil’s Cathedral from the minute they lay eyes on it, due to its brightly colored walls and its unique and somewhat flamboyant domes. No other church in the world looks even similar to St. Basil’s Cathedral and this is part of its huge appeal to tourists from across the globe; everyone is desperate to catch a glimpse of this bizarre (yet beautiful) looking cathedral.

Pechersk Lavra, Kiev

If you want to visit a church that could very easily be mistaken for a palace, then Pechersk Lavra in Kiev should definitely be at the top of your list! White and gold in color, the exterior of the church is ornately designed with engravings, golden details and just looks absolutely dazzling when the sun shines down on it. And if you think outside is beautiful, well, just wait until you take a step through the doors of the church and catch a glimpse of the interior. It’s unlike anything else you’ll see.

If you’re planning a trip to any of these European cities then make sure you take in some of their beautiful churches. These should all make it onto your traveling bucket list.

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