World: DESTINATION: Europe - EURSURE TO BE A WINNER; ENJOYGOOD FOOD, SHOPS, CULTURE AND HISTORY ON A CITY BREAK

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Byline: By Laura Davidson

THINK of Europe in the summer and thoughts turn instantly to lazy days on the sun-drenched beaches on the Mediterranean coast.

But a European holiday can offer so much more and many countries are now more accessible than ever, thanks to a surge in direct flights from Scotland. Here are the top five European destinations to put on your wish-list...

PARIS Paris is a beautiful city to visit at any time of year. The magnificent L'Arc De Triomphe, the exquisite Sacre Coeur and the breathtaking Eiffel Tower are all easily reached via the Metro. But scratch beneath the surface of picture-postcard Paris and you'll discover a few hidden gems. Venture into the bohemian Left Bank and life takes on an altogether more laid-back feel. Hidden away in the St Germ a in area, you'll find some of the city's best-value bars and restaurants.

See www.ryanair.co.uk for flights and accommodation.

BARCELONA Bustling streets, Gaudi architecture and fantastic shopping make Barcelona one of the top destinations for a city break. Las Ramblas is home to street wise vendors, stunning sidewalk flowers talls and a great spot for people watching. Make sure you take in some of the awe-inspiring buildings in the medieval Barri Gotic area. The area surrounding the revamped Port Vell is home to a new shopping centre, Imax theatre and nightclubs and bars.

See www.ryanair.co.uk or www.flyglobespan. com for flights and accommodation.

AMSTERDAM One of the best ways to get around the city is to take the canal bus, which runs through the city and stops at many of the main tourist attractions. A good starting point to link up with the canal bus is at the Rijksmuseum, one of the must-see stops in any tour of Amsterdam, featuring many of Rembrandt's famous works. …