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Whether you're embarking on a tour of Spain or a making your way through Greece, Europe is home to some of the most appealing destinations in the world. Anywhere you visit is sure to provide a fulfilling experience, but there are a few places that stand above the rest. LonelyPlanet recently released its picks for top European destinations for 2013, and it included several spots that some may find surprising.
A tour of France brings you to some of Europe's historically and culturally significant cities, but Marseille stands above the rest this year. In fact, the coastal city was named as Europe's Capital of Culture for 2013, so it's an especially good time to check out this Mediterranean hotspot. There are plenty of highlights of the city - which dates back to around 600 B.C. - but you should make a point to visit Vieux Port, arguably the city's most historic area.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Few countries in Europe offer quite the variety of Italy tours. Whether you want to sample delicious cuisine, tour the ruins of Rome or visit the iconic city of Venice, there's something for everyone. There are even opportunities for adventure travelers, and that is certainly the case at Cinque Terre - a collection of five cliffside villages along the country's west coast. It's also a great place to sample uniquely Italian fare.
"They have a sense of fishery stewardship, allowing line-caught fish only," Andy Murdock, Lonely Planet's U.S. digital editor, told CNN Travel. "There is really lovely seafood coming out of the waters in Cinque Terre."
A tour of the United Kingdom brings you to some of the best scenery in Europe, and that is especially true when it comes to Northern Ireland. There are a number of places that are the perfect example of the natural beauty offered by Northern Ireland, but if you're having trouble deciding, the Giant's Causeway is arguably the best option. Located on the northeast coast, this unusual feature is comprised of tens of thousands of basalt columns that are the result of ancient volcanic activity. A large tourist draw, the columns are truly a one-of-a-kind experience you can't find anywhere else in the continent.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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