If you're wanting to escape the winter blues with a vacation in Europe, Lonely Planet has done the hard work for you. The travel authority just released its 2018 Best in Europe guide, a compilation of its editors' top choices for the buzzy destinations that are worth visiting this year.
The list had a number of surprising entries. Travel editors looked beyond predictable destinations like major cities or beach hubs to suggest a roundup of hot spots, many of which are lesser-known among U.S. travellers. Coming in at number one is Emilia-Romagna, a foodie hub that includes some of Italy's top gems, like Modena and Bologna.
Take your pick from these European vacation ideas below. If Lonely Planet editors are to be believed, they don't disappoint.
1. Emilia-Romagna, Italy
This Italian region is a mecca for foodies: Ragù hails from Bologna, prosciutto di Parma originated in Parma, and some of the best authentic balsamic vinegar can be found in Modena.
2. Cantabria, Spain
Lonely Planet calls the verdent region of Cantabria "one of Spain’s unexpected treasures." The landscape spans pristine beaches, misty mountains, historic cobblestone villages, and some of Europe's best prehistoric cave art.
3. Friesland, the Netherlands
Think beyond Amsterdam and plan a trip to the province of Friesland. It's capital Leeuwarden has been dubbed the European Capital of Culture in 2018, and there is a long list of festivals and events to celebrate.
Kosovo is celebrating 10 years of independence this year, which should see the small Balkan destination gain a bit more attention among travelers. Lonely Planet recommends hiking or exploring the burgeoning wine region of Rahovec, home to more than a dozen vineyards.
5. Provence, France
Though hardly an under-the-radar destination, Provence, France, made the list as one of the top spots to visit in 2018. "Indulge your romantic side among the lavender fields and olive groves … unwind on a coast blessed with charming towns and turquoise calanques (hidden, steep-sided coves); explore chic Aix-en-Provence and bustling Marseille," LP recommends.