New flight routes, anniversaries and a stellar year of Capital of Culture activity highlights some lesser-known group-friendly places this year. 

1. Bodø, Norway

Located on the northeast coast of Norway, above the Arctic Circle, Bodø is one of three European Capitals of Culture for 2024 and the city is putting on more than 1,000 events and initiatives throughout the year in celebration, including a huge midsummer eve bonfire and a ‘takeover’ of the City Museum to showcase local Sami culture.

Activities for groups include boat trips to Saltstraumen, the world’s strongest whirlpool, visits to the 10,000 square metre Norwegian Aviation Museum, trips to Svartisen Glacier, the second largest glacier in Norway, and the opportunity to see what local life was like in the Stone Age at the immersive Tuvsjyen storytelling and food-tasting experience.

Bodo, Norway

Norway’s Bodø is one of three Capitals of Culture in 2024.

2. Reus, Spain

On 2nd April, EasyJet will start flying to Reus from both London Luton and Manchester airports. Located in northeast Spain, 20 minutes from the coast, the city is best known for being the birthplace of Gaudi and a heartland of vermouth production. Groups can find out more about the former at the 1,200 square metre Gaudi Centre or on a Gaudi-themed walking tour (bookable through the tourist office) and delve into the latter at The Vermut Museum, which offers bespoke tasting menus for groups.

A day trip to nearby Tarragona is also a must while visiting Reus. Highlights of this cathedral-crested coastal city include a 2nd-century amphitheatre, a Roman Circus chariot racecourse, and a Roman Forum. Alternatively, PortAventura theme park, with its five kilometres of roller coasters, is a 15-minute coach ride away.

3. Tartu, Estonia

Another of 2024’s European Capitals of Culture, the red-roofed city of Tartu, in eastern Estonia, is the country’s second-largest city. Highlights of a group visit include a barge cruise on the Emajõgi River; a guided tour of the Estonian National Museum, which is the biggest museum in Estonia and shines a spotlight on the life, traditions and culture of the Estonian people; a visit to the Beer World beer museum, which delves into the story of beer culture; a street art tour; and a trip to the Lodjakoda ‘barge theme park’ where groups can learn all about the art of boat building and get hands-on with old-fashioned boat building tools.

Tartu Town Square in Estonia

Source: Maanus Kullamaa

Tartu is Estonia’s second-largest city.

4. Maastricht, Netherlands

Nuzzling up to the Meuse River, Maastricht in southern Netherlands, is the hometown of André Rieu, and the award-winning violinist and conductor will be performing several concerts in the city in 2024. To coincide with two of these performances, Just Go! Holidays has created two bespoke coach breaks.

The four-day 14th July trip includes tickets to Rieu’s open-air concert in Vrijthof Square in the Old Town while the four-day 14th December departure gets visitors into the MECC Maastricht where the virtuoso will perform against a backdrop of chandeliers, candelabras and ice-skating performers. The tours include sightseeing time in the city, which is speckled with more than 1,600 national heritage buildings – the second highest number in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam.

Maastricht, The Netherlands

Music lovers can head to Maastricht in southern Netherlands, where André Rieu will be performing in 2024.

5. Pesaro, Italy

Peering out over the Adriatic Sea on Italy’s east coast, Pesaro has been crowned the Italian Capital of Culture for 2024. It’s not the only title this seaside city holds, though. In 2017, it became a UNESCO City of Music, in part for the fervent way it celebrates Rossini, who was born in the city. Groups who want to delve deeper into the composer’s life can visit the house where he was born and the Rossini National Museum, which offers discounts for parties of 15 or more. The Sonosphere is another must for music lovers.

Palazzo Ducale, Pessaro in Italy

Source: Luigi Angelucci

Pesaro’s Palazzo Ducale in Italy offers guided tours.

This acoustically perfect amphitheatre offers ‘deep listening’ experiences and groups can arrange to visit outside of the usual opening times of Saturdays and Sundays. Groups with a bit more time on their hands can also day trip to Urbino, a hilltop town engulfed by Renaissance city walls that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.