It is arguable that nowhere on Earth has as much variety and vibrancy as the European continent. A powerhouse on a global scale, Europe stands as an eclectic cultural melting pot, a place where East meets West and one may find themselves anywhere from the rugged wilderness of far Russia and the intoxicating bazaars of Turkey to the sunswept coast of the Mediterranean and the vineyards of Tuscan Italy. Europe is brimming with iconic travel destinations, the legions of gawking tourists that line the streets around Paris' Eiffel Tower and London's Buckingham Palace are evidence of that. The continent is also home to a host of less-trodden paths and destinations no less deserving of recognition. These locations featured in Tripadvisor's Rising Destinations for 2016.
Sprawled out along the banks of the Douro is the charming Portuguese city of Porto. Synonymous with sweet port wine, the second largest city in the country is also one of its oldest, having first stood as an Atlantic outpost of the Roman Empire.
Porto has undergone a vast renovation in recent years, with funding have been poured into revitalization projects around the city that has resulted in the building of a variety of architecturally unique museums and art galleries celebrating Portuguese culture and heritage as well as the city's more famous, hip port area. The city centre however, is one of the oldest on the continent and still retains its historical charm. The main attractions in this UNESCO protected district include the ancient Porto Cathedral and the imposing Palácio da Bolsa. Of course, no trip to Porto would be complete without a stroll down to the famous "caves" at Vila Nova de Gaia. It is in these riverside cellars that the very first batches of port wine was fortified and stored and continues to be in many cases until this day.
If Europe is a powerhouse then that status is partly down to the Russian capital of Moscow. The burgeoning city has a long history intertwined with many of the grander events of the past few centuries. A bastion of one of Europe's most powerful royal empires and later, the seat of Communism and the Bolshevik dictatorship.
Any visit to Moscow must include the iconic Red Square, the central hub of the city and one of the most historically important landmarks in the world. Red Square is surrounded by many architectural wonders, from the mighty Kremlin to the famous multi-coloured tops of St Basil's Cathedral and the sombre Lenin Mausoleum.
The Andalucian city of Granada in the historically Moorish region of Spain is a beautiful blend of East and West, where Spanish culture meets Islamic heritage. The city's ties to the Muslim world are evident in its architecture, nowhere more obvious than the UNESCO listed Alhambra Palace. One of Spain's cultural jewels, it is the former Royal palace of the Moorish emirs and proved a key fortress during Islamic rule over this area of Mediterranean Europe. Across the way from the Palace is the Moorish Albayzin, a district of whitewashed walls and narrow winding streets so typical of medieval Islamic society.
Dating back to the 7th century, Krakow is one of Poland's oldest cities and is rich in cultural heritage. The charming Old Town district, complete with the former royal residence at Wawel Hill, was one of the first sites to be inducted into the UNESCO Heritage list. Near to the city is the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine, an amazing feat of human engineering that showcases man's ability to shape the natural world. The mine includes a myriad of tunnels and rooms and even an underground chapel, all hewn from the salt rock itself.
The site of one of Europe's most impressive Cathedrals, the Rhine-Ruhr city of Cologne is fast becoming a very popular destination for travellers seeking a less trodden path through Germany. The city has been extensively rebuilt in the past half century, having suffered the fate of being amongst the most heavily-bombed German urban areas during World War II, with the RAF dropping around 34.7 long tonnes of bombs on the city and its populace. The Cathedral however, remained relatively undamaged during the extensive raid campaign.