This evening, millions will be watching the world’s greatest singing contest (Eurovision) take place. Some 182 million tuned in to see it on telly last year, including 8.4 million from the UK, which makes it the perfect opportunity for the countries taking part to showcase themselves to potential visitors…
The annual singing contest is hosted by the previous year’s winner, so when, in 2017, Salvador Sobral stormed to victory with the song ‘Amar Pelos Dois’ (translation: ‘Love For Two’), it gave Portugal its first ever win and means proceedings will be taking place in Lisbon tonight.
So it’s only fair to begin with the Portuguese capital, which incidentally was voted 10th best in our 2017 best city breaks in Europe survey.
This hilly, waterfront city is a favourite for sun and food lovers alike. Whether it’s enjoying the panoramic city view from the Castelo de Sao Jorge, walking the medieval streets of the Alfama district, riding a tram along the seaside suburb of Belem, exploring boutiques in the cobbled, post-industrial landscape of LX Factory or quaffing the local port, Lisbon is more than just a hotbed of great songwriting talent.
The winner takes it all
While the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy are guaranteed their spot in the final, they’re not always the favourites to win Eurovision (especially not the UK, which hasn’t won since 1997).
According to Eurovision World, odds-on favourite (at the time of writing) is Cyprus, followed by Israel (yes, we know it’s not in Europe, but it has long been in the Eurovision Song Contest), Ireland and France.
If none of these are on your list of countries to visit, how about one of Eurovision’s previous winners from recent(ish) times?
There was a run of Western European winners from 2009 to 2015: Norway, Germany (with my favourite Eurovision entry of recent years: Lena, who sang ‘Satellite’), Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Sweden again….
All are classic European destinations, but if you’re looking for somewhere slightly further afield, how about Ukraine (2016’s victor), Azerbaijan (2011) or Serbia (2007)?
Eurovision Down Under
If you know anything about Eurovision at all, it’ll be the politics of the voting system. But there’s another, more recent controversy: the well-known European country of Australia. The country was set to perform in a one-off 2015 entry but has somehow entered every year since (to its credit, it has been broadcasting the contest since 1983).
If Australia’s status as a Eurovision entrant causes some disagreement, the country’s reputation as a travel destination certainly doesn’t, with 8.9 million international visitors in the year to February 2018, including 734,000 from the UK.
And with Qantas having recently launched non-stop flights from the UK to Perth, Australia, the country is closer than ever before… so where in Australia would you recommend as a must-visit?
Have you ever travelled abroad to watch Eurovision? Which countries in the competition would you recommend visiting?