Perched on an open plain circled dramatically by mountains, Sofia is an energetic and resilient city with a sparkling future. Often overlooked by travellers, this eye-opening place strikes a mesmerising balance between natural wonder and urban sprawl. Boutique hotels nudge up against neo-Stalinist architecture, Russian insouciance mixes with Mediterranean flare and the local hospitality is second to none. It’s official: Bulgaria’s capital is truly beguiling.
Stately Gothenburg, gleaming beside the bracing North Sea, will have you hooked in a heartbeat. With a distinctly cosmopolitan feel that contrasts with its ancient cobbled streets, it’s a Scandi enigma that will keep you coming back for more. Home to the largest harbour in Scandinavia, which provides the gateway to an eye-popping archipelago, expect fresh coastal breezes, incredible seafood and bags of local character.
Think of Rome, Florence and Venice, and it’s easy to see why Italy is Europe’s richest destination. Deciding where to go is the hard part.
Make for Milan. In ambition, the Duomo Cathedral matches the best of Rome, and then lets you walk it’s roof; compared with Venice, its canals are cool, quiet and carefree, while art lovers can feast on The Last Supper. Then only one decision remains: football at the San Siro or opera at La Scala?