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Brussels, 27 September 2010
Twenty five tourist destinations from across Europe were awarded the title of ‘2010 European Destination of Excellence in Aquatic Tourism’ at a Gala Awards ceremony in Brussels today. EDEN is the acronym for 'European Destinations of Excellence', a project promoting sustainable tourism development models across the European Union. The project is based on national competitions that take place every year and result in the selection of a tourist “destination of excellence” for each participating country.
The twenty five European Destinations of Excellence 2010 are:
Austria - Seelentium
Austria’s Seelentium is famous for its beautiful lakes, nature reserves and pristine nature. It is a paradise for those looking for an aquatic holiday as water is everywhere in Seelentium! The nearby city of Burghausen offers plenty of opportunities for historical and cultural activities. The Burgenhausen castle is the longest in Europe, and is a ‘must’ when visiting the Seelentium area.
Belgium - Les lacs de l’Eau d’Heure
Located in the south-western Belgium, the Lakes Eau d’Heure is a true hidden European treasure. Its unique feature is the balance between man-made lakes and precious natural heritage. It is an ideal place for an aquatic holiday – swimming, rowing, kayaking and windsurfing and other activities are offered at this destination. Taking a tour on the ‘Red Crocodile’ – an amphibious bus which travels on land and water, is an unforgettable experience!
Bulgaria - Regional administration of Silistra
Located in north eastern Bulgaria on the south bank of the lower Danube River, you will find the oldest city in Bulgaria, Silistra. Dotted with fountains, springs, traditions and legends about water, the best way to see and appreciate this beautiful aquatic destination is by taking a boat excursion along the Danube and Suha rivers. The unique natural beauty of the region, combined with centuries-old traditions, create a unique holiday destination in Silistra.
Croatia - The town of Nin
Nin is located in a shallow lagoon about 14km away from the regional centre of Zadar. It is the oldest Croatian royal town and is situated on a small island connected to the mainland with two bridges which were built in the 16th century. The destination offers spectacular sandy beaches and salt pans. Not far from Kraljičina beach there is the famous site for healing mud (peloid) and a wetland with wetland inhabitants. Many wetland birds, which attract nature lovers, have found their home here.
Cyprus - The village of Kato Pyrgos
Kato Pyrgos is a small village lying on the roots of the Troodos Mountain, overlooking the sea. The beaches in Kato Pyrgos are famous for their cool and lucid waters, ideal for the hot summer months. The beaches are some of the cleanest on the island and if you are lucky you might spot a school of dolphins playing far out in the sea. Kato Pyrgos is also famous for its rich history and culture, its monuments, chapels and churches are a true gift for history-enthusiasts.
Czech Republic - Bystřicko region
Bystřicko is located in the north-eastern tip of the Czech Moravian Highlands, known for their exceptional rough beauty and their abundance of rivers, creeks and dams. The region is drained by river Svratka which offers endless possibilities for water-sports, such as rowing, boating or wild-water slalom. One of the highlights of the region is the Vír dam which has the third-highest dam wall in the Czech Republic reaching a staggering 76.5m.
Estonia - Lake Võrtsjärv
Lake Võrtsjärv is the second largest lake in the Baltic States. There are more than 20 rivers, streams and ditches which bring their water into the lake making it an important habitat for more than 30 different species of fish and birds. Võrtsjärv offers recreational opportunities for people seeking cultural, nature and active holidays and its eco-tourism products succeed in uniting the past and the present day in a superb fashion.
Finland - Saimaa Holiday
Saimaa Holiday is located in the centre of the Saimaa Lake system. The Lake of Saimaa was formed by glacier which melted at the end of the Ice Age. With the size of approximately 4 400 square kilometers, Saimaa Lake is the largest lake in Finland and the fourth largest in Europe. There are plenty of opportunities for swimming, rowing or ice-skating in winter. It is also home to the rare Saimaa Ringed Seal, which has only 260 species left.
France - The Grand Site du Marais Poitevin
The Grand Site du Marais Poitevin is rightfully called the Green Venice of France. This labyrinth of waterways, lined with tall and dense vegetation, is worth visiting as it is the largest wooded marshland on the Atlantic coast (49,000 hectares) and it has one of the richest natural habitats in France. The magical beauty of the area has been captured in numerous artistic representations.
Germany - Western Pomeranian River District
The tranquil river valleys and impressive cultural heritage left by the Slavic and Viking tribes are the landmarks that make the Western Pomeranian River District a true jewel waiting to be discovered. One of the main attractions of the region is the canoe trips that are organised along the endless rivers. Thus, it is not surprising that the tour received the name ‘Across the Amazon of the North’.
Greece - Prefecture of Serres
Stretching from the Strymonikos bay to the Bulgarian boarder, The Prefecture of Serres, is Greece’s treasured possession. Today, both the Strymon River and Lake Kerkini constitute invaluable wetlands of great ecotourist and ecological interest. In other locations in the area such as Agistro and Sidirokastro, you can take advantage of the medicinal water springs that the locals believe have been offered to them by the ancient gods.
Hungary - Lake Tisza
Hungary’s largest man-made Lake Tisza is an emerging destination in the area of aquatic tourism. The beauty of the region is miraculous. A few kilometers away from the lake you will find Europe’s largest field of blossoming water lilies and fringed water lilies. Various activities are offered in the area, ranging from guided tours that will show you the best spots to spa facilities where you can regenerate your energy and get healthier.
Iceland - The Westfjords region
The Westfjords region is situated in a remote area in the north-west of Iceland. Virtually separated from the rest of Iceland and sparsely populated, the area is characterised by dramatic fjords and towering angular cliffs rising sharply from deep blue seas. Its fjords, endless meadows, glacier, waterfalls and impeccable flora and fauna make it one of the most enchanting places in the area. The region is also home to incredible delicious cuisine.
Ireland - Loop Head Peninsula
The Loop Head peninsula retains beauty and isolation while still being in a position to offer visitors a professional and unique experience of an Ireland that is forgotten by many mainstream tourist destinations. The waters were declared by Jacques Cousteau to be the finest for scuba diving in Europe. Visitors can take tour boats to admire dolphins, whales and numerous sea birds. It is famous for its impressive cliffs that dive dramatically into the sea and an incredible diversity of marine life.
Italy - Municipality of Monte Isola
Monte Isola is the largest inhabited island of the European lakes, in the province of Brescia, Northern Italy. Monte Isola rises in the middle of the blue lake Iseo giving to the lake its impressive and nearly mystically dramatic appearance at all seasons. Monte Isola has joined the "Club of Italy's most beautiful villages". These quaint villages really are worth exploring and can be done so on foot or bicycle along the stunning coastal paths or by boat cruises between the islands.
Latvia - Sea Resort Jūrmala
Jūrmala is situated in the largest resort city in the Baltic States. It is known for its natural treasures – the mild climate, sea, healthy air, curative mud and mineral water. The main attraction of Jūrmala is the 32,8 km long white sandy beach, surrounded by large pine forests and the river Lielupe. Covered by white quartz sand, the long beach of Jūrmala is a great experience for the whole family and is free of charge. In the shores of Lielupe river there are several yacht-clubs where you can order boat or yacht trips in the river.
Lithuania - Zarasai Region
Famous for its beautiful lakes and forests, the Zarasai region in Lithuania impresses its visitors with the diversity, uniqueness and flamboyance of its nature. Twisting and bending rivers, scattered blue lake patches, peaceful woods and scarcely populated areas are the main attractions of the region. The two regional parks in the region, Gražutė and Sartai, encompass more than 100 lakes in their territories. Boat tours of different durations and complexities are offered, but the most unique experience is designing your own trip from the 6000km water network.
Luxembourg - The Nature Park of the Upper Sûre
The Nature Park of the Upper Sûre is located in the North-Western part of Luxembourg close to the Belgian border. The park is primarily an area of conservation and a specially protected area for wild birds. At the heart of the park is the Upper Sûre Lake, the largest area of water in Luxembourg which provides 70% of the population with drinking water. Water activities are allowed on most of the lake, and the rivers are popular with canoeists. A great way to discover the area is to make a boat-trip on the dammed lake Upper Sûre with a solar powered boat.
Malta - Isla (Senglea)
Isla is a true cradle of history and is home to beautiful views, maritime scenery and architectural treasures. The fact that Isla is one of the oldest cities in Malta can be surely felt when walking around the city, with its strong Mediterranean influence. Strolling around the city down to Ġnien il-Gardjola (the look-out garden) at the tip of Senglea Point, will allow you to savour a blend of history, architecture and local Mediterranean culture.
The Netherlands - WaterReijk Weerribben Wieden
WaterReijk Weerribben Wieden is situated in the north-eastern part of the Netherlands, in the province of Overijssel. It has the most extensive area of wetland in Northern Europe. In the WaterReijk Weerribben Wieden, scenic landscapes with stretches of water, reeds and woods are interlaced with historic towns and villages. One of the main attractions of the region is the national park Weeribben Wieden. Here you can explore the area on both land and water with a choice of hiking trails and recently introduced silent electrically powered boats.
Poland - The Biebrza Valley and Wetlands
Located in the north-eastern part of Poland, this area is often called the Green Lungs of Poland for its natural beauty and clean, fresh air. Biebrza is one the biggest national parks in Europe and one of the rare biologically intact marshlands of the continent. The main attractions to the area are survival trips with a qualified guide in the vicinity of the Red Marsh (an area of strict protection), as well as all forms of ecotourism including bird watching and photo-safari.
Romania - Geoagiu Băi
Hidden in the heart of the historical region of Transylvania, you will find the watering and climatic resort of Geoagiu Băi. The rich hydrographic network featuring the Homorod, Geoagiu and Mureş rivers, together with the picturesque mountains create a unique natural landscape. The Natau Lake is considered a paradise by passionate fishermen. Here you can take part in activities like intense water rafting on the Mures River or go on an exploration mission in caves in the nearby mountains.
Slovenia - River Kolpa
The River Kolpa is a destination in the far south-eastern part of Slovenia. This green beauty is comprised of a 113km-long strip of land which borders the Republic of Croatia. The river is considered the longest Slovenian "coastline" and one of the warmest and intact rivers in Slovenia. The river is particularly popular in the summer months, as the water's temperature rises up to 30°C. You can choose among a wide range of sports and recreational activities, such as boating, canoeing, kayaking or rafting.
Spain - A Guarda
Looking out over the Atlantic and flanked by the Miño river and the mountain of Santa Tegra, you will find A Guarda, one of the most traditional fishing heritage villages in Galicia, Spain. A Guarda is known as the "Capital of lobster" because of its quality seafood and beautiful coastal beaches and landscapes. A traveler coming to A Guarda will discover that over two thousand years of history have endured within the area. Its walled town, declared to be Historic-Artistic Heritage, is a significant example of Galician hill-fort culture.
Turkey - Nemrut Crater Lake, Bitlis
Nemrut Crater lake is the largest crater lake in Europe and the second largest in the world. It is located inside the crater area of Mount Nemrut, one of the youngest volcanoes in Eastern Anatolia. Main attractions in this area are the hot and cold water crater lakes on top of the mountain. The still waters of the Nemrut crater lake are ideal for swimming and boating. There are thermal baths located in small ponds close to the lake, which attract visitors who regularly come to receive treatment.