You don’t even have to be a sports fan to know that this summer, the England football team will be heading off to the latest major international tournament with the hopes of a nation resting on the shoulders of the likes of Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli.
The fact that the tournament has expanded this year to include no fewer than 24 nations means that the eyes of Europe will be firmly on France throughout the month long festival of football.
The downside to that is that if you aren’t a fan of football, it could prove difficult to escape the competition, with bars across many of the popular resorts in countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy set to be packed out with fans cheering on their respective teams as they go for glory.
However, if you want to get away during the month long tournament and plan to escape the football at the same time, then there are still plenty of options you might want to consider…
Having finished third in the World Cup in Brazil two years ago, it was a major surprise that Holland failed to even qualify for the European Championships; losing out to the Czech Republic, Iceland and Turkey in Group A.
Dutch fans will probably be keen to forget all about the football this summer, which could make June the ideal time to take a trip to one of the most popular destinations for a city break in Europe; Amsterdam.
Okay, so there are plenty of bars that will no doubt be showing a game or two to cater for the large number of foreign visitors, but you could easily avoid that as you head out to explore the sights – with attractions like Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, the Royal Palace, the Heineken Museum and famous canal network worth considering.
Hardly a footballing powerhouse, there should be little surprise in the fact that Malta won’t feature in the Euros; having finished plum last in Group H.
Whilst the small Mediterranean island has some way to go to be classed as one of the best football nations in Europe, it is however one of its more popular holiday destinations, thanks in no small part to a range of historical sites – including three that are UNESCO World Heritage listed.
The capital city Valletta is a popular option for foreign visitors as is the region around Sliema and St Julian’s; where many of the top resorts can be found.
One of the best ways to see Malta is to take a boat trip around the coast, which also allows you to visit the neighbouring island of Comino, where the chance to take a dip in the clear waters of the Blue Lagoon is a must.
They may have finished ahead of Malta in Group H (not that that was hard) but Bulgaria will also be watching from the sidelines having failed to make it to France this summer.
Whilst it might not be the first destination that springs to mind for a break in the sun, Bulgaria has actually become an interesting alternative for those looking to holiday within Europe, with a number of resorts along the Black Sea coast.
Chief amongst them are the historical cities of Nessebar (one of Europe’s oldest) and Varna, as well as the popular beachside resort of Sunny Beach; where you’ll find a plethora of bars, restaurants and shops.
Away from the beach, you could elect to explore mountain ranges and verdant forests – offering an fascinating opportunity to get closer to nature and to enjoy the great outdoors.
A disastrous qualifying campaign saw manager Claudio Ranieri (wonder what happened to him…) get the boot, with the 2004 winners finishing bottom of Group F.
The obvious plus for travellers is Greece’s abject performances on the football pitch should mean that the locals aren’t keen to be reminded of what might have been, making the Mediterranean country a first rate alternative for those keen to escape the football.
Whilst there is plenty of appeal in a visit to the mainland to explore the capital city Athens or resorts like Thessalonika, a trip to Greece could see you head for one of its many islands.
Crete, Rhodes, Corfu and Kos are amongst the islands most popular with those looking for a break in the sun and with good reason – with family friendly resorts, white sandy beaches lined by clear blue water, quaint towns and villages and historical monuments amongst the things that await.
Another nation not known for its football skills, Cyprus crashed out of Group B having only finished ahead of minnows Andorra.
The Mediterranean island ranks much higher however as a holiday destination, with it’s first rate beaches being a major draw for those who want to relax in the sun.
The city of Limassol is one of the most popular destinations with visitors from overseas, whilst Paphos and Ayia Napa are two instantly recognisable as two of the top beach resorts to be found anywhere in the Med.
Whether you want five star luxury or somewhere cheap and cheerful to rest your head whilst exploring the sights, Cyprus will provide something to suit.
Norway made it through to the play-offs from Group H having finished third in Group H but failed to make it any further, losing both legs to Hungary to crash out 3-1.
Okay, so it is the place to go if you want to enjoy the sun but it does provide an interesting alternative if you want to escape the football during the summer, with stunning scenery that you won’t find anywhere else in Europe.
The awesome fjords dotted across Norway are a sight to behold and are more than worth a trip north rather than south when considering your summer break, whilst the chance to gaze at the Northern Lights is another thing to consider.
With Viking history, music, food and culture to explore, Norway is a destination you should give serious consideration to when considering where you want to enjoy your next overseas adventure.
To discover the best deals we have to any of these destinations, or indeed to anywhere else that might take your fancy, simply give us a call on 01332 920171 and we’ll do the rest…