5 most desirable Europa League trips for Hearts and Aberdeen

A trip to Budapest for a clash with MTK would sit well with many Hearts and Abedeen fans. Picture: istock/Getty
A trip to Budapest for a clash with MTK would sit well with many Hearts and Abedeen fans. Picture: istock/Getty
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Next Monday, Hearts and Aberdeen will find out which sides they will face in the first round of the Europa League.

On the day of the draw, Uefa will separate the seeded and unseeded teams into smaller groups. Until that time there are 48 potential destinations for our two Scottish sides in the opening round.

The good news is that each will be expected to advance as the seeded side, with Hearts also seeded for the following round, where Hibs will hopefully join Aberdeen as an unseeded team. However, as nothing is guaranteed in football, fans will consider biting the bullet and choosing the first round destination as their trip away this campaign.

For those wishing to start the season on June 30 along with their favourites, we pick the five best options from the mammoth list.

HIBERNIANS FC (MALTA)

Sun, sea and a team called ‘Hibs’ to potentially defeat. What else is there to say? This may be the number one choice among most Hearts fans, and dare say a few Aberdonians as well.

Hibernians play their football in Paola, which is just around the coast - no more than a 15-minute drive - from the walled capital city of Valletta. Fans can sample a bit of local culture there, or enjoy a beer or 10 in the sunshine.

Each club will fancy their chances at progressing past their Mediterranean opponents as Hibernians haven’t won a European tie since defeating Shelbourne way back in 2002.

Travel - Flights go direct from Edinburgh to Malta International with current prices beginning at £199. Dates may have to be played about with to ensure a return that doesn’t go through London Luton.

Stadium - There’s only a 15-minute drive between Malta International Airport and Hibernians Stadium.

Average price of a local beer - £2

Average price of a three-course meal for two - £40

Local average temperatures on June 30 - 26°C

READ MORE - Conor Sammon and Faycal Rherras complete Hearts moves

VALUR (ICELAND)

Reykjavik may be a bit pricier than you’re average trip away in Europe, but what better excuse to sample one of the most highly recommended cities to visit in Europe?

The Icelandic capital boasts six of the country’s 12 top flight football sides, of which Valur are the most successful in terms of titles won. However, similar to Hibernians, it’s been a while since they tasted European success with only two brief appearances in the past 10 years.

Though beer may come at a higher cost than some Eastern European destinations, Reykjavik is famous for its weekend nightlife. Fans may wish to stick around for a couple of days after the match on Thursday evening, though whether they sample sheep’s head or whale kebab in local eateries is up to them.

Travel - There are direct flights available from Scottish airports, though the cheapest returns at present are starting at £359.

Stadium - Valur play their football at the Hlíðarendi, which is located very close to the city’s airport.

Average price of a local beer - £5.70

Average price of a three-course meal for two - £60

Local average temperatures on June 30 - 13°C

MTK BUDAPEST (HUNGARY)

Budapest in the height of summer is one of the most desirable locations in Europe. It’s a picturesque setting along the Danube river, has plenty of cheap beer and food, and enjoys average temperatures in the mid-20s.

Anyone wishing to extend it into a longer holiday should check out the thermal baths, where you can relax in a pool around 35°C in temperature, before capping off the night with a trip to one of the city’s famous ruin bars.

MTK have faced Scottish competition in Europe before, losing to Celtic in a 2003 UEFA Champions League qualifier.

Travel - Direct flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh are available with one deal currently sitting at favourable £151. Sod the football, just book it anyway!

Stadium - The Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion is a 26-minute drive from the airport and situated just outside of the city centre on the Pest side of the river, where you’ll find most of the bars, restaurants and nightlife.

Average price of a local beer - £1

Average price of a three-course meal for two - £20

Local average temperatures on June 30 - 24°C

UE SANTA COLOMA (ANDORRA)

Though maybe not ideal for those who prefer easily accessible resorts in Europe, it is a destination that would arouse interest in the more adventurous travellers among the Hearts or Aberdeen support.

A public bus or car hire would be needed to take supporters from Barcelona, the nearest international airport, which is situated over two-and-a-half hours from Andorra. However, once there fans can take in the sights of Andorra la Vella, which is the capital of the principality and, at 3,356 feet up, is the highest capital city in Europe.

Santa Coloma are the most successful team in the Andorran league’s history with 10 league titles, including the 2015-16 crown. The season before last they successfully won their first ever European tie, defeating FC Banants across two legs.

Travel - There are flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh direct to Barcelona, starting at £175.

Stadium - Though Santa Coloma is a small town just outside Andorra la Vella, the club play their games inside the city at the Estadi Comunal d’Andorra la Vella.

Average price of a local beer - £1.20

Average price of three-course meal for two - £20

Local temperature average - 17°C

READ MORE - How the signing of Miles Storey improves Aberdeen

CORK CITY FC (IRELAND)

Having travelled to Liverpool and London in recently seasons, Hearts fans would probably loathe another ‘European’ trip to a city within the British Isles. At least on this occasion they’ll actually leave Great Britain and, unlike the clashes with Liverpool and Tottenham, they can be a lot more confident of progressing to the next round, meaning they can make a cheaper, and more hassle free, hop over the Irish sea and still have enough left in the pot for a second round clash.

Cork, who boast former Celtic midfielder Colin Healy among their current side, only made it back into Europe last term following a seven-year absence. They were swiftly eliminated by KR Reykjavík. They have, however, tasted greater success in the past with wins over Dutch side NEC and - slayers of Celtic and Hibs - Malmo in the 2004 Intertoto Cup.

Travel - Flights direct from Glasgow start at £120 for a return.

Stadium - Turners Cross is just a 10-minute drive from the stadium on the way to the city centre.

Average price of a local beer - £3.90

Average price of three-course meal for two - £45

Local temperature average - 15°C

READ MORE - Rumour Mill: Old Firm eye Gwion Edwards | Celtic keen on Robson-Kanu | Bradshaw to Rangers? | United want Bell

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