Boasting sun, sea, and a rich history and culture, Mediterranean Europe is a place everyone should visit at least once. It’s a popular destination with 81 million international tourists flocking to Spain in 2018 alone, according to the Spanish Minister of Tourism. One of the best ways to explore Mediterranean Europe includes following the coastal route across Barcelona, Andorra, Montpellier, and the French Riviera. You’ll need at least ten days to complete the trip, but you can always stay longer in areas you want to see more of.
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is a charming, laidback seaside city. Book a stay at hotel Primero Primera in the quiet Tres Torres neighborhood for a taste of upscale living at an affordable price (doubles from about $155). Catalonia has a unique history dating back to the Middle Ages when they formed their own cultural identity separate to Spain — learn about it at the Museu d’Historia de Catalunya (free admission on the first Sunday each month). There are also excellent options for wining and dining in Barcelona with even cheaper eateries offering delicious fare. If you want to splash out, visit Lasarte, a three Michelin-star restaurant, for fine Catalan cuisine in stylish surroundings.
Andorra la Vella, Andorra
Once you’ve seen all Barcelona has to offer, take the bus (roughly $35) from Barcelona Nord to Andorra la Vella, the capital of Andorra. The three-hour journey gives you chance to relax and take in the magnificent views of the Pyrenees. Stay at least one night in this historical, picturesque town and visit Casa de la Vall, Andorra’s most famous sixteenth century monument. Next up on your exploration of Europe, rent a car and drive across Andorra’s border to Carcassonne, France, the largest citadel in Europe. The best way to explore the Medieval citadel is on a guided tour. When you get hungry, visit the nearby Le Jardin de l’Eveque for a quiet meal alfresco.
Montpellier and the French Riviera
When you’re ready to leave Carcassonne, make the under-two-hour drive to Montpellier, a dynamic city on the edge of the French Riviera. Since it’s student-friendly, you’ll find affordable places to eat — grab an Argentinian pastry from Empanadas Club as you explore the elegant, historic town. Then bed down in Hotel du Parc, a lovely eighteenth century manor, for $60 per night. When you’re ready to explore the French Riviera, make Nice your central base. From your hotel, you can take day trips to Cannes and watch the magnificent yachts in the marina; visit the glamorous Saint-Tropez, sunbathe on Pampelonne beach and tour the perfume factories and fragrant gardens in Grasse.
Before your trip comes to an end, try and fit in a visit to Monaco. Here you can see the famous Prince’s Palace and walk around the Princess Grace rose garden. When you’re finally ready to return home, drop off your rental car and get a flight from Nice airport. All in all, this route takes you across three countries and showcases some of the best beauty, history, and culture in Mediterranean Europe.