These Under-The-Radar European Destinations Are About To Be Huge
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Europe’s a big place, so why do we limit our options? London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona – sure, they might be famous but there’s a tiring ‘been there, done that’ sensibility to the beaten track and many of the most popular tourist destinations end up being the most familiar (and the least exciting).
With that in mind, we scoured the continent for some of the best cities and towns often ignored by Euro-travellers. From wine markets and music festivals to mountain ranges and dreamy natural backdrops, here are six European destinations to visit now – before everyone else hears about them.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Simply put, Portugal is a wonderful little country on Europe’s easternmost border, and though Lisbon and Porto are the most popular and famous cities, the lesser-known areas carry a particularly special, truly authentic feel to them, untouched by the hand of tourism. Speaking English won’t get you very far in these parts, so make sure to learn at least a few Portuguese phrases first. The Alentejo region in the south is made up of vast, rolling plains stretched out as far as the eye can see. The rich soil and local agriculture led to the area’s reputation for wines, cheeses and meats, meaning you need to look no further for a taste of indulgent, delicious Portuguese paradise.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A trip to Eastern Europe typically involves a jaunt through Budapest, Prague or Warsaw. Lithuania is often left untouched by tourists, but there’s so much to explore – and Vilnius is the perfect place to start. You’ve got your classic cobblestone alleys and centuries-old monuments, along with the museums, galleries, restaurants and more. The Old Town, in particular, is one of the most immersive, historically striking regions in Eastern Europe (not to mention the largest in Europe), with stunning, diverse architecture from a range of styles, including Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance, as well as castle ruins, and breathtaking views.
Riga has got to be one of Europe’s most untapped capital cities. Latvia is rarely on the travel itinerary, although momentum has been picking up over recent years. Like much of Eastern Europe, the blend old and new architecture has an uncanny ability to make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time – to more than one era at once. While Old Riga offers up monuments, churches and cobbled lanes, art nouveau lovers will obsess over the city’s phenomenal architecture, with more than 750 art nouveau buildings, including facades and museums, dotted throughout this gorgeous capital city.
Omodos is a small village on the island of Cyprus. And when we say small, we mean small – the population clocks in at less than 300. Situated in the Troödos Mountains, it’s only about 80km from the capital, Nicosia. Omodos is a haven for wine-lovers after a road-less-travelled experience. There’s a stunning 17th Century monastery and many antiquated cobblestone lanes, but the village is most notable for its wine – there are wine markets every weekend, and many wine sellers (who love doling out free samples, hint hint!) as well as an annual wine festival each August. It doesn’t get more authentic than this.
Monschau is a little North Rhine-Westphalia town in Western Germany. Nestled in the hills of the North Eifel, Monschau is surrounded by a mountain range, the High Fens-Eifel Natural Park and the Rur river – so needless to say, the natural beauty is unbeatable. On top of the breathtaking landscape, you’ll also find the Monschau Castle, which holds more than 900 years of history within its walls, Baroque architecture, museums – including a museum of stuffed animals – and centuries of military history. The town also hosts an open-air music festival every August, the Monschau Klassik, which includes theatre and opera, classical performances, contemporary folk and more.
Close your eyes and picture a fairytale. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? If we’re to take a guess, it’s a sprawling countryside, snow-capped peaks, towering castles, looming churches and crystal clear lakes. Well, welcome to Bled, Slovenia, a real life fairytale town with some of the most jaw-dropping natural scenery in the world. Bled itself is a small town situated at the foot of Lake Bled; not only is it perfect for anyone who wants to soak up the stunning backdrop, but there’s plenty of action and adventure, from hiking and boating to skiing and cycling throughout the year. There’s a little island in the middle of the lake, a castle, churches and more to explore, but these are just embellishments; the location itself is the real winner here, so much so that Bled is worth a visit, even if you don’t plan to indulge in a single activity at all.
Inspired to tick these destinations off your bucket list? Head here.
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