Who said you need to slow down in later life? If you’re nearing retirement or are already enjoying your work-free lifestyle, you may find you have more free time and cash to spend travelling. The world is your oyster, so why not get out there and enjoy it?
As a continent, Europe has something for everyone; it’s rich in history, has plenty of culture and is as hot or as cool as you’d like, depending on where you’ll be visiting. There are some real beauty spots and places of interest to visit, so which ones should make it to the top of your travel list?
In this guide, we take a look the Europe’s must-visit destinations, provided by Stairlift Flint, for some inspiration ahead of your next trip.
1. Paris, France
When imagining a trip to Paris, it’s likely that the iconic Eiffel Tower will spring to mind. But there’s so much more to see and do if you only know where to go…
Monet’s Gardens is situated in Giverny, around a 45-minute train trip plus a 10-minute bus ride from the capital. The spectacular garden is split into two parts, both of which are equally impressive — one is called Clos Normand and is full off symmetries and complementing colours, and the other is a Japanese inspired water garden.
Although it is recommended that Paris is explored à pied, there are other ways to get around and see what the city has to offer. The open top hop-on, hop-off bus tour takes you to the Louvre, Montmartre and Notre Dame — giving you time to get off where you please or take memorable photos from the comfort of your seat. Many of the buses provide you with headphones too for a private commentary of the attractions you’re passing.
If you’d prefer to travel by water, take one of the popular cruises down the river Siene. This is a great opportunity to put your feet up after a long day exploring. Admire the picturesque streets, bridges and cathedral as you’re taken on an adventure through the city.
2. The Algarve, Portugal
With its year-round warm temperatures and stunning coastlines, Portugal is another beautiful destination to add to your travel wish list. The Algarve, in particular, is a popular choice, especially for those who enjoy outdoor pursuits.
Golfers of all skill levels who visit the Algarve can tee-off at one of the region’s many golf courses. Coastal courses are a perfect choice for panoramic views as you play and, as the country receives a staggering 300 days of sunshine a year, there’ll be little chance of rain spoiling play.
Of course, perhaps you want to travel to escape the cold and soak up some sun. The Algarve is ideal, with its many stretches of sandy beaches and plethora of luxurious hotels and apartments. It is renowned as a tourist destination but take full advantage of not being limited to travelling in the school holidays and visit in the quieter months such as October and June.
If you’re fond of learning the historical culture of a destination, lose yourself in one of the many churches that line the Algarve landscape. Unlike the stone churches and cathedrals present in many countries, some of those in Portugal are lined with spectacular tiles and azulejos that make them stand out from any religious building you’ve seen before. Or head down to the Old Town where you can relax in the Old Town Square (Praça da Vila) and admire the surrounding architecture.
3. Crete, Greece
Crete is Greece’s largest island. Renowned for its rich history and long sandy beaches, it is a perfect destination for a balance between culture, adventure and relaxation.
For history lovers there is the Heraklion Archaeological Museum which showcases artefacts between Neolithic to Roman times (a time span of 5,500 years). This museum taps into the imagination with detailed descriptions of jewellery, pottery and other famous pieces from ancient sites.
If you long to be by the sea, visit the Venetian Harbour on the west side of the island, in an old town called Chania. Take a relaxing sunset stroll out to the trademark of the town — a lighthouse that sits near the harbour entrance.
This destination is perfect for food lovers too. Locals produce their own meat, wine, cheeses and even catch their own seafood — it’s guaranteed that your dish will be as fresh as it can be. The local wine is tasty too — find the ideal one to complement your meal for a one-of-a-kind taste sensation.
4. The Highlands, Scotland
If you’re looking for breath-taking scenery, plan a trip to beautiful Scotland. With many areas of natural beauty, it’s hard to choose just one area to visit, but thankfully given the small size of the country and the transport links on offer, you can explore much of this country in a single trip.
Travelling by rail is a great way to navigate Scotland’s hilly terrain, seeing as much of the country as possible and gaining a panoramic perspective on the gorgeous landscape. The West Highland Line is a train service that operates from Glasgow and travels to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig. The route is largely considered to be the most picturesque in the world — and with its rugged mountains, it’s easy to see why.
If you’d prefer to explore the Highlands via boat, include a stop at Moray Firth in your itinerary, located near the tip of Scotland. The water is home to around 130 bottlenose dolphins, and regular boat tours operate. You may be able to spot seals, whales and porpoises further out, while you’ll also enjoy dazzling views of the coastline.
Once you’ve seen enough of the stunning scenery, pay a visit to Edinburgh. This vibrant and historic city has much to see and do, whether you spend your time visiting the zoo, exploring the old town, touring the underground vaults or enjoying a bite to eat in one of the city’s many cafes or restaurants. For even more culture, plan a visit in August — the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world — is in town for much of the month.
5. Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast stretches 50-kilometer along the south of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula. It’s famous for its quaint fishing villages and small beaches that many relax upon. If this is somewhere that you are considering travelling to, avoid holidaying between November and Easter as many hotels and restaurants are closed during this period and you will miss the exciting hustle and bustle of the destination. Instead, spring and autumn are perfect times to visit when temperatures are around 15-26°C and precipitation levels are between 3 and 4 inches.
If you want to relax somewhere truly luxurious to treat yourself, head to the town of Positano. Here, streets are lined with colourful houses, impressive hotels and shops filled with beachwear and ceramics — you can get even your own pair of sandals made for you.
For scenes of a striking silhouette, stay in Sorrento which faces Mount Vesuvius — a volcano in the Bay of Naples. Sightsee by boat around the coast of Sorrento either on a rented small vessel or as part of a group excursion. There’s plenty of photo opportunities such as the rugged coastline of Italy and the turquoise sea,
On the Amalfi Coast, you’re never far from other splendid locations either, such as the ancient town of Pompeii. Here, you can visit the amphitheatre which dates back to 80BC and relax in the preserved baths.
As we have discovered, there are many beautiful destinations that are suitable for older travellers — with opportunities to put your feet up if you need to or take time out to learn about the rich history of the area. What are you waiting for? The world is your oyster!