Amy Bertrand, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 09, 2012
The results of Fodor's Travel's first-ever Best of Europe Survey provide some fun (and informative) insight into European travel. The winners were ranked by Fodors.com visitors. Averaging visits to 3.5 countries and 7.1 cities per person in the last two years, these European travelers recommended destinations based on select criteria including: food and wine, art and culture, family travel, best value and more.
Here are some highlights of the survey.
Hot spots - Iceland was voted Europe's emerging hot spot and now is the perfect time to visit as 2012 marks the best time in more than 50 years to see one of nature's most awe-inspiring wonders: the Northern Lights. Other emerging destinations from the survey span Europe, from buzzy cities like Berlin and Edinburgh to lesser-traveled locales like Croatia's Dubrovnik and Greece's Crete.
Best value - Spain, Austria, and Ireland are the best places for travelers to stretch their Euros, providing high style for a fraction of the price. All these picks provide unique hotels, affordable shopping, and restaurants and nightlife that won't put travelers over budget.
Art and culture - Whether you like to view the classics in Rome or trend toward modern art installations in Basel, Switzerland, Fodor's Travel users ranked Europe's best arts and cultural destinations. The revealing list includes traditional favorites like Florence and Paris, plus a few surprises, like Spain's Granada, the site of the Moorish Alhambra palace.
Food and drink - Unsurprisingly, perennial foodie favorites Burgundy and Tuscany came out on top, but some unexpected newcomers on the scene include Austria's Danube Valley and Croatia's Istria.
Family destinations - The Scottish city of St. Andrews came in as the top family-friendly vacation spot, followed by Southwest Ireland, and Iceland. All three destinations have plenty of outdoor activities, are accessible by train or car after arrival and aren't crowded, easing the journey for parents.
Find the Fodor's Travel complete "Best of Europe 2012" list along with relevant destination guides at www.Fodors.com/world/europe.