Linda Meads picks the coolest European destinations to visit in 2020.
The Early Bird sales are upon us - when airlines and tourism operators launch competitive fares for the 2020 European summer season - so it's time to start booking your next long-haul jaunt.
We've narrowed down five hot European destinations to add to your bucket list for next year.
Latvia's small capital city is popping up on lots of hotlists as word spreads about its hipster neighbourhoods, beautiful gardens, interesting architecture, vibrant restaurants and edgy art scene.
You'll likely spend most of your time in Old Town Riga, or Vecriga, its 800-year-old historic centre, which has been recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage site. A wander around the cobblestone streets and town squares will reveal building styles from Gothic and Baroque to Romanticism and Modernism.
Of particular note are The Three Brothers - a trio of homes built closely together, which span the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The three buildings, which now house the Latvian Museum of Architecture and the State Inspectorate for Heritage Protection, are the oldest medieval dwellings in Riga.
Make sure you also visit the spectacular Riga Cathedral, which dates back to 1211, and St Peter's Church (1209), which has a 72m-tall tower offering panoramic views of the city and has an interesting history of its own.
If you're after a more modern vibe, you'll be wanting to hang out in the arts quarter of Miera, named by Skyscanner a few years ago as "the most hipster neighbourhood in the world". Located a few kilometres northeast of the town centre and reachable by tram, Miera is where you'll find great coffee, art, craft beer and vintage shopping.
For a more sobering experience, visit The Corner House which once housed Riga's KGB headquarters and is now a haunting and moving museum. You can take guided tours of its basement prison cells and learn about the KGB's presence in Latvia during the Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1991.
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This lively seaside town, just 35km southwest of Barcelona, makes for a nice change of pace during a Spanish holiday. Often described as the Saint-Tropez of Spain, Sitges is known for its LGBTQ-friendliness, glamorous beach set and close proximity to Garraf Natural Park.
When it comes to beaches you can be pretty specific as to your wants and needs with 17 in the town and surrounding area to choose from, each with slightly different offerings.
Naturist? No problem, head for Cala Balmins behind the Sant Sebastia cemetery or Cala Morisca among the cliffs of the Garraf area. Into sports? We suggest Platja de la Fragata, which has volleyball and soccer facilities. Families tend to head for the Platja de Sant Sebastia to the east of the town, while the largest gay-friendly beach is the Platja la Bassa Ronda.
If you're a fan of horror and sci-fi films, try to time your visit around the annual Sitges Film Festival in October. The highlight is the Sitges Zombie Walk, held on the first Saturday of that month, which sees more than a thousand people dress up as the undead and make their way through town to Passeig de la Ribera on the waterfront before heading out to the bars and clubs to dance the night away.
Known for being one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Northern Europe, the picture-perfect capital of Estonia offers visitors an intoxicating mix of the old and the new.
Tallinn's Old Town is the number one attraction here, entered via the towers of its 14th century stone wall. From there on in, the charming cobblestone lanes of the compact city centre are easy to negotiate, but we recommend taking a free walking tour with a friendly guide to learn about the Unesco World Heritage site's fairy-tale architecture, interesting history and day-to-day life.
The Kiek in de Kok Fortifications Museum is a great starting point for your exploration of the limestone wall of the city, about half of which still stands. Here you can explore some of the wall's defence towers - one of which, the Maiden's Tower, is now a charming cafe - as well as its above and underground passages, view historical weapons and have a go on a shooting simulator. For panoramic views of the Old Town and its surrounds, head to Toompea Hill's Kohtuotsa viewing platform where you'll often find local musicians serenading the crowd.
But there is a lot more to Tallinn than its historic heart. The "hipster quarter" of Kalamaja just northwest of the Old Town can be reached by foot, bus, tram or bicycle and you'll find the 2km trip worth the effort.
A magnet for the city's creative community, Kalamaja is known for its colourful wooden houses with bright panel doors and its former industrial factories and harbour buildings, which have been repurposed into cool cultural venues, museums, shops, eateries and bars brimming with craft beer.
Along similar lines is Telliskivi Creative City, an artist-friendly bohemian complex in a reclaimed factory area to the west of the Old Town that hosts a popular flea market every Saturday.
Forget any preconceptions you might have about Spain's Costa del Sol region and consider a visit to its largest city, Malaga. It's one of the country's most culturally vibrant destinations and has a fantastic foodie scene for gourmands too.
Like the destinations above - this is Europe after all - you'll probably want to start your exploration wandering the streets of the Old Town where you'll find most of Malaga's historic monuments, including Alcazaba, a hillside Moorish palace-fortress. Dating from the 8th century, here you'll get a close look at the architecture of the time as well as spectacular views, gardens and exhibits of Islamic pottery.
Malaga is home to many excellent galleries and museums and a couple pay tribute to the city's most famous son, Pablo Picasso, who was born there in 1881. You can visit his birthplace, Casa Natal, on Plaza de la Merced, which houses a few of his paintings as well as memorabilia from his childhood, before moving on to the nearby Picasso Museum. Here you'll find a larger collection of works, mostly from his formative years in the early 1900s.
To really experience the local culture, make sure you're in town during the third week in August for the week-long Feria de Agosto (August fair) festival, which commemorates the city's return to Christian rule in 1487. During the day, flamenco dancers and horse-drawn carriages take to the city streets, which are decorated with paper lanterns and floral displays; at night the action moves to a fairground at Cortijo de Torres.
There are many cool neighbourhoods, or barrios, in Malaga, among them Picasso's La Merced which is a magnet for street performers and is home to a brilliant covered market and great eateries and bars on Calle Alamo and Calle Carreteri. Another popular spot is the street art mecca of Soho, near the port. This grungy part of town had largely fallen into disrepair before the street artists started working their magic on its abandoned buildings and crumbling facades and now it's a cool spot to spend an afternoon exploring.
This pretty town surrounded by mountains on Montenegro's coastline is a popular port stop for cruise ships and a double Unesco World Heritage site.
Fortified in 535BC but dating back much longer than that, Kotor has a hugely interesting history, some of which can be explored walking the narrow cobblestoned lanes of the Old Town. Here you can visit ancient attractions such as the beautiful Cathedral of Saint Tryphon (1166), which has been restored twice following devastating earthquakes in 1667 and 1979.
The ancient city is known for its large populations of cats and is home to a museum dedicated to the subject, complete with resident felines and a large collection of memorabilia from Italian Countess Francesca di Montereale Mantica.
Take to the hills and hike the Ladder of Kotor high up into the mountains behind the town, a strenuous walk that will take you about five hours but which will reward you with incredible views of the Bay of Kotor and beyond.
Or you can jump in a kayak and explore the beautiful Bay of Kotor, which serves as a gateway to several attractions reached by boat, including Our Lady of the Rocks, the Catholic church on a tiny artificial islet near Perast called Gospa od Skrpjela. The islet - and the church - were constructed in the 1400s after two sailors returning to Perast saw an icon of the Madonna and Child on a rock in the sea they believed was there to guide them home. They marked the spot with rocks and later returned to build the island from rocks and sunken ships, then constructed its famous chapel, which has an adjoining museum and gift shop.