From intrepid Andean exploring and hot air ballooning to relaxing river cruises and beach holidays, this month’s guide caters both to thrill seekers and those who enjoy taking life at their own pace. Read on for our June travel inspiration and start your summer with a bang.
Best for: exploring/fascinating landscapes
Here at The Luxury Editor we often showcase some of the most breathtaking locations on Earth, but when it comes to eye-catching scenery few places can rival the mystifying geographical phenomenon of Cappadocia. Set in the heart of Anatolia, visitors come from far and wide to explore this ancient region’s distinctive honeycombed ‘fairy’ chimneys, rock formations created by volcanic erosion that seem to belong in a Lewis Carroll tale. Such is their enigmatic beauty that UNESCO made them the first Turkish World Heritage Site in the form of the Göreme National Park in 1985.
However, the Park’s interest is by no means confined to its chimneys – any visit here should also include a trip to the Göreme Open Air Museum, which features a plethora of astonishing rock-cut churches. Despite some of the churches dating as far back as the 10th century, they feature incredibly well-preserved frescoes depicting important biblical scenes. However, the best views of this fairy tale kingdom come from up above – take to the sky as part of the armada of hot air balloons so often emblazoned on postcards of Cappadocia.
Whilst Cappadocia is recognised for its majestic landscape, it is also home to a subterranean treasure trove in the form of numerous underground cities. Often caught in the midst of the Arab-Byzantine wars, the region’s inhabitants were forced to construct these cities as safe havens and they remain remarkably intact to this day. The most impressive example is the Kaymakli underground city, which is estimated to have housed up to 3,500 people in its heyday. To see this architectural marvel, which features stables, wineries and even a church, in all its glory, we recommend being shown round by expert guides on a private tour.
Best for: history buffs
Walking around Krakow’s historic old town, the city’s rich history is palpable. The former capital of Poland, Krakow generated huge riches as a key trading city during medieval times: the grandiose Wawel Royal Castle is testament to this fact. Perched on top of Wawel Hill, the castle was the seat of the now defunct Polish monarchy and manifests an exquisite fusion of gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, which inspired later castles across the continent. It also boasts an extensive art collection, the highlight of which is undoubtedly 87 beautiful Italian renaissance canvasses. Just a ten-minute walk away lies the impressive gothic St. Mary’s Basilica. As a devoutly religious city (Pope John-Paul II hailed from Krakow), the Basilica is considered one of Poland’s most important religious sites and as such it should be on any traveller’s itinerary.
Krakow’s recent history is somewhat more chilling, given its Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Many visitors use the city as a base to visit nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most infamous of the Nazi extermination camps. The camp is now home to a harrowing museum experience, which highlights the atrocities committed during the Holocaust in the hope that such horror will never be witnessed again. During this haunting period of Polish history Krakow businessman Oskar Schindler showed immense courage, putting his own life in extreme danger in order to save hundreds of Jews from being deported to concentration camps. His story was immortalised by the 1993 Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List and you can learn more about his inspirational actions at his factory, which has been converted into a museum.
Best for: fishing & picturesque ports
Croatia has become one of Europe’s leading luxury destinations in recent years and the small coastal town of Rovinj can lay claim to be the jewel in its crown. Located on the idyllic Istrian peninsula, the town’s lifeblood was once a thriving fishing industry, which was the envy of the Adriatic Coast. Whilst fishing may now have taken a backseat to the growing tourist sector, Rovinj’s rich maritime heritage is still reflected in the traditional handcrafted batana boats that continue to be moored in the port. A number of fishing companies still offer personalised excursions, allowing visitors to try their hand at catching the region’s prized fish, the Bluefin tuna. Back on land, it is worth taking a stroll around the charming old town, not least for the Church of St. Euphemia, which dominates the town’s skyline. Its impressive bell tower, which can be seen for miles around, features a statue of the saint, a martyr who refused to renounce her Christian faith in the face of brutal persecution, whilst inside you will find an array of stunning artwork. Rovinj is also just a stone’s throw away from some of Croatia’s most picturesque islands. The pick of the bunch is Red Island, which, with its gorgeous swimming beaches and impressive array of water sport activities, is perfect for all the family.
Best for: medieval charm
Widely considered as the finest example of a preserved medieval fortification in Europe, it’s not surprising that Carcassonne is one of France’s most popular tourist sites. Stretching over 3km and featuring no less than 52 watchtowers, the city’s walls are accessible to the public and offer superb views of the Aude valley and its verdant vineyards below. Inside the city itself it is easy to spend hours wandering around the labyrinth of cobbled streets, but make sure not to miss the Basilique St. Nazaire, Carcassonne’s most beautiful church, which features a unique blend of romance and gothic architecture. To make your trip to the city even more special, we recommend taking a luxury barge journey along the nearby Canal du Midi. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cutting edge engineering, the canal links the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and river cruises are the perfect way to switch off from the outside world in tranquil surroundings.
Peru & Machu Picchu
Best for: mysterious wonder
One of the seven wonders of the modern world, visiting Machu Picchu is a once in a lifetime bucket list experience. Constructed over half a millennium ago, this Incan citadel is remarkably well preserved and as such has given archaeologists unprecedented insight into the great Incan empire. With so much to see the best place to start is the Sacred Square, which is encompassed by some of Machu Picchu’s most famous monuments: this offers the best vantage point of the main temple, which is thought to have been dedicated to Viracocha, the Incan ‘creator’ God, as well as the house of the priest. However, it is only by hiking the imposing Huayna Picchu that you will be rewarded with the most famous views of this staggering monument. Whilst in Peru you also should take the time to visit its capital, Lima. A bustling modern metropolis with a fascinating colonial past, Lima’s historic centre is a microcosm of the city’s diverse past. Look out for beautifully carved wooden balconies, which typified colonial architecture, as well as the striking Plaza de Armas.