We don’t give little old Europe enough credit. Packed into a comparably small space to that of the rest of the world, it has pretty much got everything covered. From beaches to glaciers, our little continent has plenty to offer those unable to trot across the globe. So for every iconic picture you see of some Caribbean coastline or Himalayan mountain range, just remember that there might be an equally bucket list worthy alternative right on your doorstep (or indeed a budget airline flight away).
Many people dream of visiting one of Mexico’s beaches, to drink Mojitos and soak up the sun, but if you’re not able to make the 10 hour flight then a great alternative has to be Greece – one of the best countries for a full-proof beach holiday. Some of the most spectacular have to be in Zante, their white sands and clear waters make them a popular sun-bathing spot.
Australia’s Twelve Apostles limestone stacks in Victoria are incredible, but Portugal’s Praia da Marinha also packs a punch. The famous Algarve beach is surrounded by crooked rocks and cliffs and has many coves and caves to explore.
More: Australia: in pictures
3. Mongolian Desert vs. Gran Canaria
The Gobi desert is a fascinating place – there really is something romantic about the idea of setting forth into the wilderness to experience the isolation of this inhospitable environment, with only a camel as your companion. However, you can still experience a desert adventure while on your holidays in the Spanish island of Gran Canaria. Lying on the same latitude as the Sahara, it’s no surprise that the south of the island has some impressive sand dunes… and yes, you can still visit them by camel.
Ok, on this occasion, if this is something on your bucket list, maybe think about saving up for it sooner rather than later. Patagonia’s San Rafael Glacier is melting fast and experts estimate that it will have completely disappeared by 2030. BUT, if you don’t make it across the world in time, Iceland has some of the world’s most incredible ice structures – it’s in the name I guess. Glacier walks are a popular day trip for many tourists (Icelandic Mountain Guides offer a variety of tours) and chances are you might get to tick ‘seeing the Northern Lights’ off your list too.
Many head to Thailand to island hop around some of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful islands. However, in Europe there are plenty of opportunities to do the same. If you don’t fancy going so far away, Italy has many islands from large, popular ones such as Sardinia and Sicily to many more remote ones such as the Pelagi islands, two of which are completely unpopulated. You will still be able to enjoy fantastic weather and gorgeous scenery – without the long-haul flight.
The likes of Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park are enough to make anyone hop on a plane to Thailand but Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes’ rushing waterfalls and lush surrounding forests make it an equally popular place to visit – and justifiably so.
7. New Zealand’s mountain ranges vs. Italian mountain ranges
New Zealand is the ultimate adventure destination. It’s sprawling mountain ranges make it top of many avid hiker’s travel wish-list, wishing to tackle one of the nine ‘Great Hikes’ and witness some spectacular scenery at the same time. If your budget doesn’t allow you an around the world ticket, Italy’s Alps, Dolomites and Appennino mountain ranges still allow the trepid explorer to lace up their hiking boots and explore the rocky terrain.
Ok. Nepal has Everest. And seven other mountains that are among the top ten in the world. Fair enough. Keep them on your to do list. Europe’s mountains may not be able to compete in height, but they certainly can in scenery. The snow covered Swiss Alps for example, are unbelievably beautiful and are a rewarding hike for anyone willing and able to tackle them.
9. Indonesia’s volcanoes vs. Canary Islands‘ volcanoes
Many travel to Indonesia to stand face to face with some of the earth’s most violent and active volcanos. There are over 120 here that frequently erupt, making Indonesia the most geographically unstable country in the world. If you fancy your tumultuous volcanic activity in a slightly smaller, and closer to home scale, the Canary Islands have a chain of seven across the islands. Mount Teide in Tenerife boasts the title of being the highest peak in Spain and the third biggest volcano on earth. Surely that’s worth a visit?