Previously the famed thinking spot for saints and scholars since the years of Saint Patrick, the city of Armagh has since faced its fair share of turbulent times. Today, the area’s rich history and stunning natural landscapes draws everyone from ecclesiastical wanderers to outdoor enthusiasts. The Armagh County Museum is a good place to start to hear centuries of stories, while the Armagh Robinson Library also holds a cherished first edition of Gulliver’s Travels annotated by Jonathan Swift. From there, you may like to head to the ornate St Patrick’s Cathedral, or families will love exploring the universe at the city’s interactive planetarium. End your trip with a voyage out to the tranquil Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles, perfect for fishing and water sports, as well as walking and cycling routes suitable for the whole family.

English author Michael Morpurgo poignantly described the Belgian settlement of Ypres as “a sad town, but an enormously positive one”. Located in Flanders, Ypres will forever be fettered to its tragic past. It is known first and foremost for being the site of three colossal battles during the First World War, the biggest of which was the Battle of Passchendaele, which took place in 1917 and claimed the lives of 325,000 Allied and 260,000 German soldiers. Thousands of people visit Ypres each year to pay their respects to the fallen at monuments such as Menin Gate and Tyne Cot Cemetery. Learn about the area during the Great War years with a visit to the displays and bunkers of the In Flanders Fields Museum, arguably the world’s most comprehensive exhibition on the First World War. But while remembering the past, the inhabitants of Ypres prefer to think of their town as a homage to peace. The whole area has been lovingly pieced back together since the war years, and the medieval core of Ypres features the restored Ypres Lakenhalle, one of the most remarkable buildings in Belgium.

Known for holding some of the world’s finest produce, Normandy, in Northern France, is a gastronomical wonder. The region’s delicacies and restaurants owe a lot to its expansive coastline and idyllic countryside surroundings, with menus often based around local, seasonal ingredients. The area is also home to the monumental D-Day landings, which today are brought to life on the region’s beaches by expert guides. If you’re planning a self-drive holiday, the 80-mile Alabaster Coast is a true spectacle, with enormous white chalk cliffs that span from the scenic town of Etretat to the coastal village of Dieppe.

Located along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Galway is a medley of bright, painterly shops, heady live music venues and quirky eateries – making it the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. The city, often referred to as Ireland’s cultural beating heart, is a hub of activity crammed full of innovative art, theatre and stand-up comedy. In fact, its much-applauded creativity has seen it named the European Capital of Culture for 2020. Best appreciated on foot, the city’s network of cobbled streets are a joy to explore for all ages - where you can while away the day listening to traditional folk music, sampling the area’s famous fresh oysters at the local restaurants, and partying up a storm at the famous Latin Quarter.

Situated in northern France just a few miles from the Belgian border, Dunkirk is renowned for its beaches, which provided the setting for one of the most miraculous escapes in military history. The Battle of Dunkirk saw the evacuation of 330,000 Allied troops against Nazi Germany across Dunkirk’s 15-mile shoreline during World War II. Today, the immaculate beaches are lined with beautiful Belle Époque buildings, cosy cafes and tiny bars, but you’ll find the events of 1940 remembered in many important sites. The Dunkirk 1940 Museum and the nearby Dunkirk Memorial are both good places to learn more about the evacuation. Nowadays, the city has a working harbour, making it the ideal place for boat trips around the citadel or relaxing walks by the sea. Dunkirk is a 40-minute drive from the port of Calais.

Situated on the westernmost edge of continental Europe, Brittany is easily one of the most intriguing regions of France. Its strong Celtic heritage has given birth to Breton culture, making it feel far removed from archetypal French destinations like Paris. Centuries ago, a wave of people from south-west England settled here after escaping the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons - consequently, the traditional language of the Breton people is related closely to Welsh and Cornish. Brittany hosts an abundance of medieval towns and mysterious forests, with plenty of museums telling the area’s story from the prehistoric times - but history isn’t the only thing you’ll find here. The region’s wild coastline boasts some of the most beautiful untamed beaches in France, and its fresh lobster, oysters and scallops are among the best in the world - perfect served up with a glass of the locals’ favourite drink: cider. World-famous locations such as the walled port city of Saint-Malo, regal Dinard and the tiny town of Dinan are essential stops when visiting this captivating area.

Take a proper break in the relaxing city of Breda, where each street takes you to another picture-perfect scene. Walking past serene lakes, colourful buildings and fairy-tale castles, you’ll never believe the historic tales of invasion, revolt and Charles II’s exile that have come to shape the city. As well as the intricate man-made structures which have stood for many hundreds of years, including the tower of the Grote Kerk that can be seen almost anywhere in Breda, the area also boasts incredible natural beauty. Head just a few kilometres south of the city and you’ll find Mastbos, one of the oldest pine forests in the country, which is just perfect for easy hikes with the whole family.

You can venture far and wide, but you’ll have trouble finding a place so steeped in natural wonder as County Antrim. It’s not just one of the most beautiful parts of Northern Ireland, but quite possibly on Earth. From Ballycastle to Portrush, the isolated and rugged landscape of the Antrim coastline is widely regarded as an amazingly scenic drive. The Giant's Causeway, a 60 million-year-old rock formation consisting of 40,000 basalt columns, is a geological phenomenon and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Steeped in magic and mystery, the iconic Dark Hedges of County Antrim is an old avenue of beech trees that line the Bregagh Road near the village of Armoy have been used as a filming location in HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones.

The beautiful County Fermanagh is Northern Ireland’s equivalent of England’s Lake District, with a third of its area covered by water. As home to the Annals of Ulster, considered the most significant documents of old Celtic tribes, as well as many an ancient ruin, this county is one of the most important historical areas in Northern Ireland. Be swept away by the natural beauty and stories at Lough Erne, where the White Island figures are believed to have stood since the ninth century. Go exploring with a boat ride through the Marble Arch Caves, or head to the friendly market town of Enniskillen, which sits on an island surrounded by the River Erne – the perfect meeting point of rural surroundings and high street buzz.

The glacial ski resort of Chamonix is one of the oldest in France. Situated at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, this alpine playground attracts droves of skiers and snowboarders every year. Many skiers come here to qualify as professional instructors and guides, as the fast cruising pistes and famous 20km Vallée Blanche glacier run really put their skills to the test. Chamonix village is charming with its traditional Belle Époque look, offering riverside cafes, interesting shops, galleries, museums, bookshops and speciality food stores. Although the area is well known for its winter sports and mountaineering, summer is also a popular time to visit, with great opportunities for hiking and cycling around the crystal waters of Lac Blanc.

Ireland's county of Waterford shares its name with the country's oldest city, a Viking settlement steeped in history. Whether it's the awe-inspiring Mahon Falls, or the pristine Tramore Beach, much of the area's scenery remains untouched since its inception. So as you wander around this idyllic coastal setting, you'll stumble across fascinating relics, rugged landscapes and unspoiled beauty right at your feet.

With majestic buildings steeped in centuries of history, five-and-a-half miles of golden beaches and a host of museums and nightlife options, Ostend is a hub of art, culture and adventure. Beautiful murals cover walls throughout the city, and the intricate Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is a stunning feat of neo gothic architecture. Be sure to relax in the lush greenery of Maria Hendrikapark, which holds tranquil walking routes, as well as its own miniature island.

A stone's throw from the Dublin capital, Kildare not only holds a traditional Irish charm, it's also home to a thriving cultural scene. Wandering amongst its intertwining canal network, discover the magic of the Japanese Gardens, or experience a bygone era at the Lullymore Heritage Park. If you can fit in a round of golf, Kildare is home to the Republic of Ireland's oldest course - the game has been played at The Curragh since 1852.

The picturesque city of Dinant is found in the heart of Belgium's spectacular Walloon region, just an hour's drive southeast of Brussels. As well as playing a huge part in the evolution of jazz (saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax hails from this city), the local area is widely celebrated as an outdoor paradise, with great hiking, kayaking and caving activities widely available. With its lush green valleys and fairytale castles, a trip here offers a real escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Tilburg is the sixth largest city in the Netherlands and well worth the 80-minute drive from Rotterdam Europoort. This lovely Dutch destination is a former nucleus for textile production, its rapid growth quickly made it one of the most historically significant locations in Europe. That rich industrial heritage has given way to urban renewal, and it's now an innovative and spirited university town with a substantial student population. Known for its open air art exhibitions and music festival programme, this culture-filled gem is the perfect pick for a long weekend.

If you're happiest sipping fine red wine in picturesque countryside, then a trip to Burgundy is a must. Situated slightly east of central France, this breathtaking area is a vision of gently rolling hills, sun-drenched vineyards and mustard fields, making it perfect for scenic strolls. World class pinot noir and immaculate medieval sites such as Fontenay Abbey and the village of Vézelay make the lengthy drive from Calais well worth it.

A traditional streetscape that's remained relatively untouched since the 18th century, Lisburn sits just southwest of Belfast, nestled along the river Lagan. Now a hub of speciality coffee shops, home bakeries and traditional pubs, this city's car-free centre was once bustling with a large scale production line, turning out pristine fabrics for the finest European courts. Between whiling away your afternoon in the city's parks and castle grounds, head to the Irish Linen Centre to learn all about this idyllic setting's place in history.

The perfect balance of metropolitan life and culture, Düsseldorf is a city of innovators and artists . Enjoy the bohemian art and architecture of the Old Town before heading to the tree-lined streets of Königsallee for an afternoon of shopping. Take a wander down the stunning riverside Rhine Embankment Promenade, which leads to some of the finest bars in the city, or explore the historic gardens of Schloss Benrath, home to the candy pink Baroque Palace. Whatever your interests, Düsseldorf is a little gem just waiting to be discovered.

Ghent is a treasure trove of pretty canalways and cycle-friendly streets, art from the Flemish masters and fine local cuisine. At the heart of the city's stunning medieval core is the imposing Gravensteen castle, built in the 12th century and magnificently restored.

Set on a verdant, green island surrounded by five rivers, Dordrecht's beautiful surrounding scenery make it the perfect place for walks and cycle rides. With its quaint leaning houses and windmill right at its heart, this city is a wonderful slice of Dutch culture.

Known as the 'Royal City by the Sea', The Hague is full of pleasing contradictions. On one hand, it's a corporate metropolis that hosts both the Dutch parliament and its monarchy. On the other, it also boasts deer-filled parks and densely wooded forests, as well as a beautiful 11-kilometre stretch of sand on the North Sea coast, lined with bars and restaurants.

The beautiful island of Texel is found off the mainland coast of north Holland, and boasts panoramas of white sand and peaceful forests as far as the eye can see. If you can drag yourself away from the beach, there are hiking and cycling trails, horse riding lessons and boating to be enjoyed too.

County Clare is home to one of Ireland's most popular attractions, the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. Enjoy a walk along the breathtaking clifftop path or head inland to hike the limestone landscape of the Burren National Park.

With Ireland's 10 highest peaks, a national park full of ancient trees and the spectacular Dingle Peninsula all within its boundaries, County Kerry is a green paradise in southwest Ireland.

Found at the northwesternmost tip of Ireland, the ruggedly beautiful land of County Donegal is a walker's paradise. For those seeking a true adventure, this is the perfect place to start the stunning Wild Atlantic Way, a road that stretches along the untamed west coast of the country.

A short walk in Arras will see you discover incredible architecture of the Town Hall and the towering Belfry in the Place des Héros. For those seeking a cycling adventure, Arras is a gateway to the Artois countryside and the historic First World War memorial sites like the Canadian National Vimy Monument and the Thiepval Memorial.

Home to the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Amiens Cathedral, this charming city is one of France's best kept secrets. For scenic delights, explore Les Hortillonnages, Amien's famous floating gardens set on islands surrounded by a network of canals.

The Loire Valley is abundant in spectacular castles, exquisite banquet halls and extravagant gardens; no wonder it's called the Garden of France.

Experience the champagne city of France, where architectural masterpieces, grand champagne houses and Michelin starred restaurants go hand in hand.

Relax by the beach in fashion conscious Le Touquet, a chic seaside resort in the Nord-Pad-de-Calais

Armagh, United Kingdom

Ypres, Belgium

Normandy, France

Galway, Ireland

Dunkirk, United Kingdom

Saint-Malo, France

Breda, Netherlands

Antrim, United Kingdom

Fermanagh, United Kingdom

Chamonix, France

Waterford, Ireland

Ostend, Belgium

Kildare, Ireland

Dinant, Belgium

Tilburg, Netherlands

Burgundy, France

Lisburn, United Kingdom

Dusseldorf, Germany

Ghent, Belgium

Dordrecht, Netherlands

The Hague, Netherlands

Texel, Netherlands

County Clare, Killane X, Clare, Ireland

Kerry, Ireland

Donegal, Ireland

Arras, France

Amiens, France

Loire Valley

Reims, France

Le Touquet, France