Destination Europe – the enduring appeal of scenery, history and culture

Destination Europe – the enduring appeal of scenery, history and culture

  • Positive growth in international arrivals across Europe (European Travel Commission)
  • 4 in 5 long-haul travellers from Brazil, Russia, China and the US head to Europe (Long-Haul Travel Sentiment Survey)
  • 4 of top 5 destinations by expenditure for Brits are within Europe (ONS)

“Everywhere you turn in Europe, history is waiting to speak to you. The continent just oozes with it.”

Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, of luxury fractional ownership holiday home company Appassionata, lived in the UK and the US before settling down in Italy. She feels passionate about promoting Europe’s unique charms.

“It’s not just the well-known monuments and famous landmarks,” she continues. “You can feel the depth of the ages in everything from tiny rural churches to ancient fortifications.”

This sense of history certainly pervades Appassionata’s latest holiday home, Casa Tre Archi (fractions available from £75,000), which features the curved turret wall of the town’s fortifications as part of its living room. Within the property, exposed brickwork blends beautifully with modern, bespoke lighting, creating a wonderfully ambient mix of old and new.

Nor is it just the appeal of history that is bringing so many visitors to Europe. Everything from London’s theatres to Portugal’s beaches serves to make Europe one of the world’s most varied and exciting holiday destinations.

Last year, 38.5 million UK residents set out to explore Europe on their holidays, according to the Travel Trends 2014 report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), spending some £24.4 billion – up 4.5% from 2013. The continent attracts extensive interest from locations that are further afield, as well as domestic travellers, with the Long-Haul Travel Sentiment Survey reporting that four in five Chinese, Russian, Brazilian and US citizens who were planning to travel long-haul this summer planned to make Europe their destination. Enjoying nature and scenic landscapes, visiting famous landmarks and enjoy historical and cultural heritage were all cited as reasons for Europe drawing their interest.

“Spain is definitely one of Europe’s highlights when it comes to combining stunning scenery with an interesting culture and great cuisine,” observes Martin Dell, Director of Spanish property portal, which lists more than 200,000 homes from 3,000 estate agents. “The country has some really rich variety: incredible architecture in Barcelona, a legendary flamenco scene in Seville, fabulous tapas and wine in Madrid… as well as beach and mountain scenery that will take your breath away.”

The European Travel Commission survey of travel trends in Europe showed 4% growth in international arrivals and overnight stays in Spain for the first five months of 2015, evidencing the effectiveness of its distinctive offering. Italy also showed positive growth (4%), as did the majority of European destinations.

Albania, just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, is one country enjoying the heightened demand. Traveller interest there has increased so significantly that the country is developing one of the Mediterranean’s most luxurious and desirable resorts at Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa. The resort masterplan has been created by world international architects Woods Bagot and will feature first class accommodation and leisure facilities with cutting edge design, using traditional and sustainable materials. All property will be built with a focus on exceptional quality and attention to detail, with everything that holidaymakers could wish for all on site, from shops and sports facilities during the day, to restaurants and a range of funky bars and clubs for when evening falls.

From a British perspective, four of the top five countries where holidaymakers are spending their money are within Europe: the ONS reported the top five countries by expenditure as being Spain, the US, France, Italy and Portugal.

“Portugal attracts visitors from across the world,” enthuses Chris White, Founding Director of boutique real estate agency Ideal Homes Portugal. Here in the Algarve we see visitors from the UK, Ireland, the US, China, Iceland… all over the place. Portugal’s wonderful scenery is a big draw – the beaches are just spectacular – and the reliable climate over the summer months means that holidaymakers are all but guaranteed sunshine every day during their visit.”

Chinese visitors in particular are increasingly falling for Portugal’s charms, including its ‘golden visa’ programme, which grants residency to those spending in excess of €500,000 on property. With luxury coastal villas in abundance along its 1,793 km long coastline, such as this four bedroom seafront villa with hot tub in Praia da Luz, which is on the market for €825,000, Portugal certainly has plenty to offer those looking to pick up a high end property with scenic views.

When it comes to investment, Berlin is also generating serious interest right now. The German capital’s buy-to-let market is booming. According to the JLL Residential City Profile Berlin – 2nd half-year 2014, the city saw almost €2 billion of investment in residential properties and portfolios in 2014, marking it out by far as the most popular German investment location so far as residential property is concerned.

Low owner-occupier levels, rising rents and low purchase costs are driving the interest, along with a cultural shift that is encouraging Germans to invest in property themselves, creating a viable exit strategy. Ray Withers, Chief Executive of Property Frontiers, which is offering high specification studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments for investment from just €109,600 at Stadtpark Steglitz in south western Berlin, comments,

“Germany is not just a fascinating country to visit, it’s also emerging as a really interesting investment destination. We’re experiencing heightened levels of interest in investment in Berlin from around the globe – the buy-to-let market there is really taking off.”

As well as booming investment, the positive start to 2015 for Europe when it comes to travel looks on track to continue for the rest of the year, according to traveller intelligence from Forward Keys. Based on bookings processed by travel agencies worldwide (both online and offline), that data shows an 8.3% increase in on-the-book reservations in mid-July for the rest of 2015, over the same period the year before. The appeal of Europe’s scenery, history and culture is here to stay.

For more information please contact:

Appassionata: +39 33154 13225 or 

Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa: +44 845 125 8600 or

Ideal Homes Portugal: 0800 133 7644, +351 289 513 434 or

Property Frontiers: +44 1865 202 700 or