/ Travel & Leisure

What are the best Eurovision holiday destinations?


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?


I am a big Eurovision fan, mainly because it’s super cheesy and a good excuse for a night in. I really liked Israel’s entry and am glad they won – hoping to next year, but tickets are hard to come by.

I went to Malmo the year after they hosted the competition, I was quite unimpressed with the town and soon drove back to Copenhagen.

Did anyone else watch the show?

“Did anyone else watch the show?” Not me! I avoid it like the plague. Watched Dad’s Army instead, and the finale of a rather silly “Salamander”. But Montelbano’s back next Saturday; looking forward to that.

I find it odd when we are (were?) the home of so much innovative and successful pop music, even though most is not to my taste, that we regularly do so badly. 24th out of 26 this year. Maybe we’d do better with one of the Brexit song’s?

Yes, it is disappointing to continuously rank so low. I thought we had a nice song and she did well, despite the stage intruder.

It’s definitely the marmite of competitions 😂

Oops. I’ve missed the Eurovision Song Contest again, apparently for the 63rd time.

🙂 Great news wavechange. You don’t have to miss it. It’s all here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0070hvg/episodes/player
No, please don’t thank me; just my altruistic nature. 🙂

Hi, I thought Eurovision was fantastic this year – really strong songs, unlike the usual bad/embarrassing stuff. It’s a great night of entertainment to play along with, and the amusing quips by Graham Norton make it all the better.

Anyone tempted to go to Jerusalem next year?

We chose the winner – again. It’s simple, really; most of the songs – almost all, in fact – are very similar. The one that stands out will usually win.

I don’t agree with you, Patrick; the songs, almost to a one, lacked originality, melodic variation, interesting harmonic shifts, effective motifs and well-drawn compositional lines. And it’s worth remembering that the past winners have always stood out – like Waterloo for instance. One man’s bad and embarrassing…

Which was your favourite song Ian?

Under the circumstances, the Tel Aviv suggestion was better. 🙁 I’d prefer to see the BBC Young Musician and the Leeds International Piano competition.

Patrick: I record the entire show, then skim through the songs – listening to the first 16 bars or so. Norway, Denmark and Portugal all had miniscule plus points in the sense I didn’t switch them off as quickly as others. The only one that had a shred of originality was the winner’s, and that followed a long tradition of the absurd wining at Eurovision.

I hear you on originality – but then most of the pop chart is not original these days!

That’s always been the case with music, in fact; for as long as we have had music, the entire history of it is littered with plagiarists and only thinly sprinkled with those of genius.

That’s why we celebrate the truly great: Mozart was instrumental in evolving music to a peak of perfection, Beethoven in changing the course of Western music dramatically, Brahms for trying to reverse all the changes (and failing, but is attempts were magnificent), Ravel for giving us Gershwin, Holst for eventually mastering the tone-poem genre, Schoenberg for creating music everyone hated but which has permeated the entire musical landscape since.

What are the best Eurovision holiday destinations? That does seem to be the topic for conversation here. Ireland ( has won it more than anyone else) & the UK (yes we did win it several times). However coming a close second I would nominate Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Tallinn and of course Australia. Best to visit them all whilst on a cruise I find.

Good job Switzerland never won, then 🙂

Lake Geneva Ian! Switzerland hosted the first contest in 1956 (Lugano), and won it themselves. They won the contest again in 1988. (Only Celine Dion!)