Taking the road less taken usually leads to unexpected yet beautiful locations, especially when you are in Europe.
Europe is a magnet for tourism. Its colourful cities and towns spark curiosity and awaken the inner explorer. The derelict monuments, underwater caves, and the windy roads lead to the most unexpected yet beautiful destinations. Here is a list of the coveted hidden gems in Europe that one must explore on their next trip.
Costa Tropical, Spain
Located in Granada province this small stretch of Spanish coastline, along the Mediterranean with 320 sunny days a year and all-around temperature of 20 degrees is a perfect destination to visit all year round. It is also far less crowded than most of the conventional Spanish Costas. For the lover of sun and outdoor activities, Costa Tropical is the perfect escape from the mundane life.
Douro Valley, Portugal
Flavoursome ports and wines, scenic verdant vistas, and moreish restaurant, the Douro valley is an enchanting region of Portugal that remains virtually unknown. There is always something new to discover in terms of food, wine, history and culture in the Douro. The Douro is unsurprisingly sleepy, yet incredibly captivating.
Castle Comb, England
From magnificent gothic cathedral to fairytale-like towns and villages to large fortresses that dot the landscape, castle comb offers all of the above. Dubbed as one of the most beautiful villages in all of England, this perfectly preserved slice of medieval history and architecture looks like something ripped straight out of the pages of a folktale. Situated five miles northwest of the town of Chippenham in Wiltshire, this hidden gem has been welcoming history buff and medieval architecture enthusiast for a long time.
Best known for Juliet’s house, Verona attracts a multinational gaggle of tourists to its pretty piazzas and knot of land and most important in search of the famous balcony of Juliet. Besides all of that, Verona is a bustling centre, its heart dominated by a mammoth, remarkably well preserved first-century amphitheatre, the venue for the city’s annual summer opera. Along with that when you add countless churches, few well preserved medieval bridges over the Adige, regional wine and food from Veneto hinterland, Verona shapes up as northern Italy’s most attractive cities.
“As a lover of literature Verona was always on my list, and when I got an opportunity to visit Italy, I knew I wanted to visit Verona. This is where Romeo met Juliet. I have heard so much about this place, and visiting Juliet’s house was an experience I will never forget. The heartbroken and the ones in love, from all across the globe come to Verona, to find solace and inspiration. Though the entire city is vibrant with its culture, art, food, the main attraction for me still lies in Juliet’s house. There are so many small rituals that people do which makes this place so special, for example, there’s a legend saying if you rub the breast of Juliet’s statue in the courtyard you will find true love. If you are a lover of Shakespeare you cannot miss this place,” tells Diksha Gautam to India Outbound.
Fondly known as the Albanian Alps, Prokletije is a gorgeous spot to visit in the country. The highest place you will find is Maja Jezerce. It is a beautiful region in the Balkan to explore.
Vipava Valley, Slovenia
Much of the country remains blissfully off the beat path and Vipava valley remains one of Europe’s best kept hidden spots. The joy of visiting Vipava is cycling or hiking between villages. If you’re looking for a place where you can take a break from the fast-paced life and take things slow. This is the place for you. With an unknown number of wine cellars and countless restaurants, Vipava is where you stop and smell the roses.
Perched upon a rock and with a history that can be traced back around 1,300 years, the colourful houses, castle ruins and cathedrals packed with architecture spanning through different periods come together to create a world of its own. Stepping into Cuenca is like stepping back in time. Krast Mountains coupled with crystal blue rivers make Cuenca a location straight out of an artist’s imagination.
The holy city clings to a steep rock at a dizzying height, displaying layers of houses and chapels. On the way to St James, the basilica of Saint-Sauveur and the crypt of Saint-Armadour both featured in UNESCO’s World Heritage list can be seen. Rocamadour is enveloped in a blanket of beautiful natural parks and scenic beauty which makes it a village truly blessed by the gods.
Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia and an underrated destination in Europe. The Old Town of Tbilisi consists of art nouveau architecture. From the sulphur hot baths available all around the city to the cuisine that dates back to 7,000 years, Tbilisi will take you back in the medieval days.
Zell am See, Austria
Zell am See or better known as Zell am See-Kaprun, is a picturesque village sprinkled with the chic cottage, narrow streets and old churches. The main attraction of Zell am See is the huge lake. It is surrounded by the Austrian Alps, offering a splendid landscape in all seasons. In spring the meadows are covered with flowers while in winters it’s coated in a thick layer of snow.
Hydra islands in the Saronic Gulf is an off the beaten path destination and must-visit in Greece. Considered as one of the most beautiful Greek islands its proximity to Athens makes it a perfect European getaway.
Mdina & Zebbug, Malta
A Mediterranean jewel and the ninth smallest country in the world, Malta attracts travellers with stunning coastline, breathtaking landscape, rich medieval heritage and delicious food. Mdina is famous for its grand palaces, cultural treasures and baroque architecture. Zebbug has fascinating Arabic influence and it is famous for a three day or more fiestas.
Pag Island, Croatia
Croatia once a hidden European destination is now quite popular among tourists. The island of Pag is one of the most stunning spots in Croatian Adriatic Coast. Known for its moon-like landscape, salt, cheese and lace, the heat of hot summer days, is a perfect partner to the crystal blue waters.
Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain
Setenil de las Bodegas is a small town in the south of Spain that’s etched into the cliff. Tucked between Seville and Granada, Setenil de las Bodega is one of the most unique places in Spain and among Andalusia’s best-kept secret. The dwellings in the town are whitewashed, providing a stark contrast from the dark cliff looming overhead.
Just north of Kotor, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe lies a small coastal village called Perast. With sixteen churches, Perast probably has the most churches per capita in the world. The town is surrounded by scenic mountains which watch over the bay below.
The largest city in the Baltics, Riga always surprises its visitors. The Old Town (Vecriga) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting medieval and art-nouveau building, vibrant bars and colourful alleys.
The first place you think about when you visit the Netherlands is Amsterdam, but just 53 km away from Amsterdam lies the charming city of Utrecht. Described as a small version of Amsterdam, it has its best bits without mass tourism. Canals, quaint restaurants line the city.
Brno, Czech Republic
Like the Netherlands, when we think about the Czech Republic, we think about Prague or Beer but it has way more to offer. Brno is a small old town located in the South Moravia region. The city is booming with unique architecture and history. It is the perfect destination for food lovers.
Located in northwest Ireland, this coastal country is the perfect destination to appreciate the natural beauty of Ireland yet not get swarmed by tourists. From picturesque beaches moulded by the North Atlantic Ocean to scenic mountains and forest, this place has it all. To accompany that, there’s a small town where people can enjoy some Irish culture.
Strikingly different from Krakow and Warsaw, Torun is Poland’s one of the best-kept secrets. As the birthplace of the famous astronomer Nicolas Copernicus, the city is filled with landmarks including a statue built in his honour and his home which now has been converted into a museum. Torun is especially known for its gingerbread.