• The Italian region of Emilia-Romagna is named as the best place to visit in Europe in 2018 by Lonely Planet 
  • Also making the top 10 is the Scottish city of Dundee, which comes in at number six in the expert rankings 
  • The judges lauded Dundee earning its place on the list for its growing cultural scene and historic waterfront

DUNDEE has been named one of the best places in Europe to visit this year by travel guide Lonely Planet.

It is placed sixth on the guide’s best in Europe 2018 list which includes Italy’s food heartland of Emilia-Romagna, the northern Spanish region of Cantabria, Provence in France and Kosovo.

The Italian region of Emilia-Romagna is the best place to visit in Europe for 2018, according to a prestigious travel guide.

It saw off competition from destinations across Spain including Cantabria which came second, the UK, France and Greece to top Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe list for 2018.

And a surprising entry on the list is Scottish city of Dundee, which was lauded for its growing cultural scene and exciting transformation of its historic waterfront.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe is compiled annually by the travel company’s European experts to reveal their pick of the most exciting and underrated destinations to visit across the continent.The experts say that this year’s list directly tackles the hot topic of ‘overtourism’, ‘aiming to inspire travellers to discover some of the best lesser-visited regions, alternative city breaks and hidden gems, beyond Europe’s busiest tourist hotspots.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, said: “With the arrival of V&A Dundee, the city is fast becoming the star of the Scottish travel scene.

“Now is Dundee’s time to shine. Now is the time for the world to discover Dundee.”

Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the £80 million V&A Museum of Design, Dundee opens on Saturday September 15.

Here’s the top 10 Lonely Planet’s Best Places in Europe 2018

1. Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Emilia Romagna came out on top of the list despite often being overlooked in favour of Italian favourites of Tuscany, Campania and The Veneto.

Judges said the area is increasingly carving out a reputation as the nation’s number one destination for food lovers.

It is the birthplace of Ragu, prosciutto di Parma, balsamic vinegar and even Parmesan cheese.
The experts noted that foodie legacy can be explored at Bologna’s newly opened FICO, the world’s largest culinary theme park, while new cultural openings in the cities of Ferrara and Rimini provide more for visitors to get their teeth into.

Lonely Planet says: Is Emilia-Romagna the best place to eat in Italy? With a quartetto of culinary traditions originating here, the case is strong: ragù – not to be confused with the misnamed spaghetti bolognese – hails from the delectable capital, Bologna; prosciutto di Parma comes from, you guessed it, Parma; balsamic vinegar is the pride and joy of Modena (along with Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant crowned the second-best in the world in 2017); and parmigiano reggiano (Parmesan cheese) was also born in the region.
Between wildly satisfying meals, new attractions like Bologna’s FICO (the world’s largest culinary theme park), Ferrara’s National Museum of Italian Judaism and Shoah, and Rimini’s restored Cinema Fulgor, which will soon feature a museum about legendary film-maker Federico Fellini, nourish the mind as well. Add new flights from London Stansted to Rimini, and Emilia-Romagna looks like a feast for travellers in 2018.

2. Cantabria, Spain

Coming in second is Cantabria, an autonomous region on Spain’s northern coast home to the city of Santander. The area was praised for its ‘land of wild, sandy beaches, mist-shrouded moutains and enchanting villages.’

Lonely Planet says: The invitingly green region of Cantabria is one of Spain’s unexpected treasures: a land of wild, sandy beaches, mist-shrouded mountains, enchanting villages like Santillana del Mar and Comillas, lost-in-time churches hewn from the Ebro River’s sandstone banks, and some of Europe’s finest prehistoric cave art.

Gateway to the region, the lively port of Santander has revitalised its waterfront with the opening of the Centro Botín – renowned architect Renzo Piano’s startlingly modernist cultural centre – and this year the city welcomes new visitors thanks to the introduction of direct ferries from Ireland. Forming a jaw-dropping backdrop to it all, Spain’s oldest national park, Picos de Europa, celebrates its centennial this summer, prompting a flurry of events, and offering another reason to explore the jagged peaks, alpine meadows and limestone gorges which lie to the west.

3. Friesland, the Netherlands

Lonely Planet says: Most people visiting the Netherlands make a beeline for Amsterdam, but this year the province of Friesland is stepping into the limelight. It joins its capital Leeuwarden, a small city with a thriving cafe culture, eclectic shopping and canals lined with historic houses, as European Capital of Culture in 2018. The city is going all out with a program of installations, festivals and events, including a major exhibition in the Fries Museum inspired by one of Leeuwarden’s best-known former residents: artist M.C. Escher.

Beyond the city, fertile fields criss-crossed by dykes frame a new art route – Sense of Place – that will celebrate the region’s beguiling landscape, a highlight of which is the peaceful quartet of islands in the Unesco World Heritage-listed Wadden Sea, the perfect spot to escape amid sand dunes, long beaches and tidal flats.

4. Kosovo

Coming in fourth is the tiny state of Kosovo, a young nation that experts say boasts dramatic hiking trails, Ottoman-era history and a growing cultural scene.

Lonely Planet says: Continually mentioned as an on-the-cusp destination, tiny Kosovo, wedged between two mountain ranges in the heart of the Balkans, has somehow stayed below the radar of most travellers. But with the country celebrating 10 years of (albeit disputed) independence in 2018, that looks set to change.

Coursing with energy, the world’s second-newest nation also boasts Europe’s youngest median population – and it’s their verve fuelling its development. The Kosovan section of the Balkans-spanning Via Dinarica hiking trail showcases the country’s peak-laden landscape to dramatic effect; more film fans each summer flock to Dokufest, an acclaimed festival in the sublime Ottoman-era city of Prizren; and when the trekking and movie-going ends, the burgeoning wine region of Rahovec beckons with more than a dozen vineyards.

5. Provence, France

Rounding off the top five is the Provence region of France, which is best know for its olive groves and lavender fields.

Lonely Planet says: Nowhere embodies the French l’art de vivre like Provence. Indulge your romantic side among the lavender fields and olive groves that have long captured the world’s artistic imagination; unwind on a coast blessed with charming towns and turquoise calanques (hidden, steep-sided coves); explore chic Aix-en-Provence and bustling Marseille, which offer cool back-street bars, Michelin-starred eateries and a grittier, contemporary arts scene.

The arts continue to flourish here this year with the opening of the Fondation Carmignac exhibition space on Île de Porquerolles, plus an impressive artistic programme taking over the refurbished railway warehouses at the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Luma in Arles. Getting to Provence will be even easier too as Eurostar reopens a direct route from London St Pancras International to Avignon and Marseille, offering services up to four days a week.

6. Dundee, Scotland

Meanwhile Dundee entered the list in sixth with Scotland’s fourth largest city being praised for its ‘head turning’ urban redevelopment, which is being spearheaded by the opening of the newest branch of the V&A museum in September.

Describing the city, Lonely Planet’s writers praised a creative scene in Dundee that ‘increasingly attracts some of the UK’s most visionary talent’, building on its selection by Unesco as the UK’s first City of Design in 2014.

Lonely Planet’s editorial director, Tom Hall said: ‘While visitors have always been assured of a friendly welcome, Dundee has often been overlooked by travellers to Scotland, but that should be set to change.

‘The opening of V&A Dundee is a really exciting moment that marks the city out as well worth a visit, but throw in nationally important museums and attractions, and its dynamic, creative spirit, and travellers will find a city boasting plenty to discover.’

Lonely Planet says: With the opening of the newest branch of the V&A this September, Dundee is a city with an eye on the future. Perched at the edge of Craig Harbour, architect Kengo Kuma’s angular concrete structure, which draws inspiration from the contours of a Scottish cliff face, will be the country’s leading centre for design, showcasing 300 years of innovation.

Remarkable ideas deserve a remarkable home and this space-age museum is the first step in a £1 billion, 30-year regeneration project that builds on Dundee’s Unesco City of Design award in 2014. The redevelopment will transform the historic waterfront, providing a social ‘living room’ at the edge of the silvery River Tay, while further fuelling a creative scene that increasingly attracts some of the UK’s most visionary talent.

7. Small Cyclades, Greece

Rounding off the top ten is the Small Cyclades islands in Greece, which includes Mykonos and Santorini, Lithuania capital Vilnius, the Vipava Valley in Slovenia and the capital of Albania, Tirana.

Lonely Planet says: Scattered in the Aegean Sea between Naxos and Amorgos, the Small Cyclades are off the radar of most visitors to this charmed part of the world, although one of them – Koufonisia – has become an increasingly sizeable blip for in-the-know travellers. Head to these beauties for a taste of the Greek Islands as they were decades ago, especially on Iraklia, Schinousa and Donousa.

Their charm lies in pristine, one-taverna beaches, a slow pace of life and a rare sense of timelessness – the ideal ingredients for switching off. Don’t take too long to visit though: more high-speed ferry companies are adding the Small Cyclades to their schedules, particularly Koufonisia, the rising star with seductive beaches and a long, whitewashed main street lined with restaurants and cafes.

8. Vilnius, Lithuania

Lonely Planet says: The other two Baltic states have been hogging the attention in recent years, but Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, has been quietly staging an alternative show. Its fascinating yet sometimes harrowing history remains palpable, from its splendid Baroque Old Town to painful memories of a WWII-era Jewish ghetto, but this is a city with a youthful energy, and it’s on an undeniable upswing.

Understated cool hangs in the air: regenerated artists’ neighbourhood Užupis boasts new creative spaces, while a flourishing craft beer scene complements a clutch of New Nordic-inspired restaurants to rival many across the Baltic Sea. This year marks the centenary of Lithuania’s Act of Independence, with year-long celebrations including a rousing song festival throughout July; a hundred years on, Vilnius has found its confident, quirky voice – and it’s only a matter of time before the world cottons on.

9. Vipava Valley, Slovenia

Lonely Planet says: Peppered with terracotta-tiled hamlets and gothic spires, and lined with grapevines stretching along gentle slopes, it would be easy to mistake the Vipava Valley for a rustic Tuscan idyll. But these fertile winelands, bounded by steep karst plateaus to the north and south, are still remarkably undiscovered – and they’re hiding in plain sight, just west of Ljubljana.

Vines have been cultivated in Slovenia for millennia, but today this is a land of boutique winemakers whose experimental varietals and techniques are producing outstanding results and attracting adventurous oenophiles. The valley is best explored on two wheels: local-led cycle tours pick their way down quiet lanes between vines, pausing at wineries for tastings and conversation with the makers.

10. Tirana, Albania

Lonely Planet says: Rounding off Lonely Planet’s list in 10th spot is Tirana, the capital of Albania known for its colourful Ottoman and Soviet-era architecture.

One would be hard-pressed to imagine a better-placed travel hub than Tirana, which sits between the Adriatic Coast and the Albanian Alps. But this is no gateway town; rather, it’s a vigorous metropolis that has undergone a transformation thanks to its former mayor (now Albania’s prime minister), who had drab buildings painted in primary colours, encouraged commuters to eschew their cars for bikes, and placed greater emphasis on the city’s green spaces. The result is compelling.

A typical day might include catching a cable car from the centre to the city’s peak, Mount Dajti, for panoramic views, lingering over a slow-food experience at a local bistro, and then a night-time tour of the cocktail lounges and designer boutiques of the fashionable Blloku neighbourhood, once the territory of corrupt communist bosses.

SCOTLAND’S MUST-SEE CITY PERCHED ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER TAY 

 It was once famed for jam, jute and journalism.

But now Dundee has has transformed into a home to some of the country’s most exciting examples of design, innovation and culture.

Here are some places to visit on a trip to the city:

V&A Dundee

Dundee cultural credentials increased when the city was named as the home of the only other V&A museum in the world outside of London. Set to open on September 15, the Kengo Kuma-designed attraction will be the jewel in the crown of the city’s tourism offering and provide an introduction to over 500 years of brilliance, ingenuity and achievement in Scottish creativity and the best examples of design from around the world.

A feast for foodies

No trip to Dundee is complete without trying an authentic Dundee pie or ‘peh’ at a local butchers such as Scott Brothers or a slice of the iconic Dundee cake. This bakery favourite is still lovingly created at bakers like Clarks’ Bakery or Goodfellow & Stevens.

The Comic Capital

Dundee is the birthplace of the Beano – Britain’s longest running children’s comic published by DC Thomson. Every week, children and adults across the world can follow the antics of legendary characters like Dennis the Menace.. Read an issue of The Beano Comic on the newly named Bash Street or check out the city’s best-loved comic characters, like Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx in statue form.

A city built on design

Dundee was in competition with 50 other global cities to join the City of Design network in 2014. It was named the UK’s first City of Design by the United Nations for the diverse design innovations. Dundee’s contributions to the world, include aspirin, biomedical research which has led to hundreds of new cancer drugs, comics including the Beano and Dandy, orange marmalade, and video games including Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto.

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