While there’s really no bad time to take that European vacation you’ve been dreaming about, spring might just be the best season to actually book the tickets.
The weather becomes warm and inviting while the most coveted attractions have yet to be overrun by the chaotic summer crowds.
While picking the best time to visit Europe isn’t too difficult, choosing a destination is a whole other ballgame; after all, there’s a lot to consider.
If you don’t feel like going through the impossible decision-making process, you can always rely on data-backed rankings like the one recently released by European Best Destinations, an annual list based on the experiences of over 1 million travelers from 172 countries.
The poll set out to discover the top European destinations that international travelers deemed to be “the best,” and below, you’ll find the places that made it to the top 3 out of 500+ options.
This time, though, the small but mighty country has come to the center of international attention thanks to the impeccable impression it has left on the people lucky enough to explore its wonders.
Don’t let the island’s small size fool you, I once spent a week trying to see and do as much as possible in Malta, and I still missed out on many of the places I’d put in my must-visit list.
Luckily, though, I still got to explore two of the country’s most gorgeous hotspots: Valletta, the capital, and Mellieħa, a large village just off the northern coast of the main island that’s famously home to one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Europe, Għadira Bay.
Between the two, you won’t have to choose between the quintessential European city break and the Mediterranean beachy experience – you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Valletta will stun you with its elaborate baroque buildings overlooking the royal blue-colored water, while the long stretches of white-sanded beaches in Għadira Bay will have you feeling like you’re somewhere in the Maldives.
One of the biggest mistakes travelers make when choosing their next European destination is overlooking Monaco as yet another overpriced, overcrowded destination when, in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The microstate nestled along the French Riviera is much more than just another place to marvel at expensive-looking buildings and yachts.
Culture seekers will love exploring the Prince’s Palace, the famous Monaco Courthouse, and the Saint Nicholas Cathedral, whereas those looking to experience something new can try their luck in one of the iconic high-stakes casinos or time their visit so they can see the prestigious Formula 1 Grand Prix firsthand.
What’s more, a trip to Monaco doesn’t have to be too expensive, either (assuming that you’re not planning to go too heavy-handed on your gambling).
Return tickets from the U.S. start at $500 per person, whereas accommodation options are varied in both price point and style, with many great options costing as little as $100-$120 per night.
1. Marbella, Spain
With Spain recently setting one of its most impressive visitor records to date, the fact that one of its stunning beach cities holds the number one spot on today’s list should come as no surprise.
Once a small fishing village, Marbella has now evolved into one of the most coveted warm-weathered hotspots in the entire world, and considering how many dreamy places of the sort there are, that’s saying a lot.
In Marbella, visitors will spend their days taking in the Spanish sun at some breathtakingly beautiful beaches and their evenings strolling around the famous Old Town, complete with narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings, and vibrant-colored flowers that graze their walls.
The Orange Square otherwise known as the heart of the Old Town, is surrounded by more cafes, shops, and historical landmarks than you can count, so make sure to leave a little bit of time in your itinerary for everything.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.