Among European capitals with no direct flights from Britain are Yerevan in Armenia, one of the continent’s oldest cities, established in 782BC (30 years before Rome), and Tbilisi, capital of neighbouring Georgia. Claire Allfree recommends getting lost in the splendour of the latter.
She writes: “These days, its fine art nouveau buildings and pretty, traditional balconied houses are what some would call shabby chic. Yet new hotels and shopping malls are springing up and gentrification is under way in its more historic districts. Tbilisi feels like a city finally coming into itself. In other words, get here fast before everyone else does.”
Katie Melua, the singer, is another fan – it is, after all, her childhood home. “It’s steeped in history – the Old Town, with its twisting alleys, is particularly fascinating,” she says. “It’s a city that’s very much off the beaten track. Not many tourists have been there, which makes it all the more worth visiting.”
Visitors to the Swiss capital Berne must fly via Basel, or take the train from Zurich – enough to put off potential travels. This is a shame, says Nigel Richardson. He writes: “The city’s perennial attractions are its state of preservation, which has earned it Unesco World Heritage status; its manageable size (you can walk the Old Town end to end in 20 minutes); and a laid-back, friendly ambience.
“Two towering figures of the 20th century – Albert Einstein and the artist Paul Klee – have Berne connections and sites associated with them attract tourists from all over the world.”
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina
Another European capital without a UK connection has a tragic modern history, but is ready for tourists, says Adrian Bridge. “With its extraordinary cultural and religious mix, and rich Ottoman heritage, Sarajevo is a city that merits a visit,” he writes.
“Surrounded by green hills and bisected by a river, it is a place of spectacular beauty, and though the scars of the siege of the Nineties are still evident, Sarajevans display heartening resilience and vitality.”
One can fly to Dresden from Barcelona, Amsterdam and Zurich – but not Britain. “Dresden is a middle-European jewel, hidden from view during the 40-year lifespan of Communist East Germany,” writes Ivan Hewitt.
“Before that, it suffered an even bigger misfortune. In February 1945, the historic Old City was completely destroyed by Allied bombers. You still see the scars, here and there.
“But Dresden’s rise from the rubble is inspiring. The centre is a meticulous reconstruction of Dresden’s baroque glories, but if you tire of the almost too-perfect Old City, there’s the genuine antique of the New City across the river Elbe, the elegance of the White Hart district, the castles along the river and fine classical music performances.”
The Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway, above; Piazza Umberto in Erice, in the Trapani region of Sicily, right