Azure coastlines of sparkling beauty on the French Riviera, the dusky allure of Spanish Andalucía's golden cities and the timeless romance of Italy's Amalfi Coast - Southern Europe is a treasure trove of sights, sounds, smells and tastes, drawing in visitors with its timeless charm.
Southern France's allure comes from its reputations and history as a holiday destination for the rich and famous of the early twentieth century. Glamourous, star-struck and iconic, the stunning Côte d'Azur from the Franco-Italian border to the beautiful St Tropez has entertained larger-than-life celebrities for decades.
On the southeast point sits the glittering jewel that is the city of Nice. Emblematic of the time period which made this remarkable stretch of coastline such a glamorous offering, Nice's stunning seafront features classic 1920s architecture, a superb old town and a thriving population of Mediterranean charm. Not far from here, closer to the Italian border is the sensational city state of Monaco. Prestigious, elegant and built as a playground for the incredibly rich, Monaco's centerpiece is the bell-époque wonder that is the Monte-Carlo casino which has played host to royalty, oligarchs and celebrities, with its most famous attendee being the fictional James Bond in the film version of Casino Royale. Further along the coast is the ideally located St Tropez. Made famous in the 1960s as the destination for discerning travellers, San Tropez's azure bay and quaint cobbled streets have been attracting visitors for decades.
Down further south across the stunning Pyrenees Mountain range lie the seductive shores of Spain. A land of beauty and diversity, Spain embraces its reputation as a laid back country with a culture celebrating art, dance and music while catering to the passionate throes of its people. With impressive cuisine, a love of sports and a friendly disposition, Spain is one of Europe's most cherished destinations.
In the north of Spain is the majestic state of Catalonia, made up of alluring coast and the impressive presence of one of the continent's largest and most important port cities, Barcelona. This glorious city is the capital of the state, and is Spain's economic powerhouse. This affluence is apparent in the striking old buildings, the wonderful Las Ramblas streets, and the magnificent Sagrada Familia at the heart of the city. Further towards the centre of Spain lies the sprawling capital city of Madrid. Filled with the age-old splendour of imperial Spain, with grand palaces and sumptuous parks, Madrid is an excellent place to discover the history and diverse culture of this marvellous country. Further south is the honey-coloured, sun-drenched province of Andalucia. Characterised by four major Spanish cities each with their own colourful identity, Andalucia truly takes on a life of its own. Very much a traditional symbol of Spain, Andalucia is a land of bull fights, flamencos, Moorish palaces and tapas - all of which are celebrated in their own individual way. Seville's wonderful architecture and fiery style, Granada's resplendent Alhambra palace, Cordoba's ancient legacy and Malaga's turquoise promenades all provide different faces on what Andalucia, and indeed Spain, has to offer.
Across the Balearic Sea and beyond Corsica, sits the truly magnificent shores of Italy. Iconic in every sense of the word, Italy has given the world more than it could ever take away. From modern civilisation on behalf of the Romans, to priceless works of art and science in the Renaissance, and from the world's finest cuisine to glorious pieces of architecture, Italy is simply incomparable.
In the far north of Italy are the indomitable Alps. These noble mountains are a sight to behold, snow-capped for most of the year and curving down into the equally impressive Italian Lake District. This entire region is made up of natural wonders, dense green forests encroaching upon crystalline lakes and enormous Alpine peaks stretching across blue skies as they lord over the valleys below. A little further south is home to stunning cities of Renaissance charm. From the ageless romance of Verona, to the cinematographic fame of Venice, from the artistic prowess of Florence and the seaside cheer of Genoa, there is something here for everyone. Towards the centre is the throne of Italy and what was the head of the Roman Empire, the spectacular city of Rome. This incredible place is home to countless archaeological wonders, innumerate priceless art galleries and enough pasta to tie around the earth. Its unbelievable history takes it back right to the birth of civilisation across the sea in Egypt, and since then it has created Empires, pioneered science and astonished visitors across thousands of years. The true star of southern Italy meanwhile, is the wonderful nature on show. Curving around the foot of Italy is the picturesque Amalfi Coast, miles and miles of crisp, sparkling coastline, framed by sandy white beaches, green rolling hills and steep stone cliffs.
While Europe's nations are all enchanting and absorbing in their own way, nothing can quite cast the same spell as the magic of Southern Europe.