Europe is such a destination that everyone wants to explore. Europe has some of the most photogenic and heart-stopping beautiful destinations to offer. Starting from historic buildings, fairy-tale castles, towering cathedrals, cobbled streets and unending natural beauty, the charm of Europe is undeniable. While Paris, London, Rome, Prague, Dubrovnik and others are visited by millions of tourists every year, some travellers like us also look for the hidden gems in Europe.
There is something beautiful about looking for unexplored and untouched destinations. Although as the entire world travels today, very few places remain offbeat per se. But every country has some hidden town that is yet to be explored by tourists and travellers from other countries or states. These places are secretly nurtured by the locals and are often overlooked.
So I decided to ask my fellow travel bloggers to name their favourite hidden gems in Europe that is more on off the beaten path. Read on to know about their choices.
Best Hidden Gems in Europe recommended by Travel Bloggers
1. Minsk, Belarus
Explored by Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan
It’s rare these days to find a capital city in Europe that’s not overrun with tourists, but Minsk is just such a place. And while you won’t find any medieval, Baroque or Renaissance architecture here, what you will find is an intriguing mix of Soviet relics and a hip, artsy scene. Perhaps tourists have been scared away by Belarus’ reputation as the “last dictatorship in Europe”. But part of its appeal as a destination is the eerie feeling of stepping back in time to the days of the Soviet Union. Lenin Square might have been renamed Independence Square, but it still boasts a giant statue of Vladimir Lenin.
The most interesting finds in Minsk are the spots where Soviet monuments are juxtaposed with images of a more modern, Westernized world. Like the KFC building that’s topped with a huge Communist sculpture. And then there are parts of the city, like Vulica Kastryčnickaja, that don’t fit at all into most people’s ideas of what Minsk is like. It’s full of amazing street art, hipster cafés and Minsk’s best restaurants, many of which offer vegan and vegetarian options.
The best season to visit Minsk is definitely in the summer, when the weather warms up and the locals enjoy being outside after their long winter hibernation. Lots of outdoor events are held then, such as music festivals and open-air cinemas. Europe Hotel is a great place to stay, as it’s conveniently located in a historic building right in the centre. The airport is about 40 kilometres away and is connected to the centre by bus. There are also direct trains to Minsk from cities in the Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Lithuania.
2. Dinant, Belgium
Explored by Mayuri from ToSomePlaceNew
Dinant in Belgium is one of the best hidden gems in Europe. Located in the province of Namur in Belgium, Dinant is a historic town with a perfect blend of slow travel and nature that makes it an ideal weekend destination.
Dinant is easily accessible by public transportation (trains) from Brussels or by road from Luxembourg City. You can also explore Dinant as a day trip from either city.
One of the most popular things to do in Dinant is to visit the Citadel. The Dinant Citadel towers the little town and the Meuse River and is home to military remnants. A hike to the top of the fortified tower welcomes you with stunning views of Dinant. There is a museum located here, as well, which is worth checking out.
Dinant’s Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the iconic structures in the city. It adorns the river banks and is located in the heart of the city. Located near the church is a museum of Adolphe Sax’s saxophone exhibits. He was born in Dinant, and you will be amazed to find many colourful saxophones all across town. Both the church and the museum are free to enter.
Dinant is perfect for a couples getaway. You can arrange for a river cruise, or go beer tasting in one of the vintage cafes by the Meuse. For a night’s stay, book a room at the Auberge de Bouvignes – it is a fine bed and breakfast hotel in Dinant.
3. Ozalj, Croatia
Explored by Dagney from Cultura Obscura
Ozalj is an hour’s drive from the Croatian capital of Zagreb and located just north of the city of Karlovac. However, very few tourists seem to know about Ozalj, making it the ideal spot for anyone looking to spend a relaxing day off the beaten path. One reason for this is because Ozalj is difficult to access by public transport, so it is recommended you drive there.
The two main sites of interest in the town are the Hydroelectric power plant Ozalj “Munjara” and the Ozalj Fortress. The Munjara power plant was built by Nikola Tesla in 1908, and is the oldest power plant in Croatia (and one of the oldest in the world). Even over 100 years later, it still operates perfectly fine. Although you’re unlikely to be able to go too close, you can still admire it from a distance and enjoy a peaceful view of the river it sits on.
The Ozalj Fortress sits on top of a mountain overlooking the town and the Kupa River at an elevation of 146 m. This means the views are quite beautiful, especially on a clear day. The fortification has been converted into a castle, which visitors can pay to walk around and enjoy the view! There is also a museum within to learn more about the history of the stronghold and Ozalj in general.
4. Olomouc, Czech Republic
Explored by Veronika from Travel Geekery
Olomouc in the Czech Republic is the perfect hidden gem. The 6th largest Czech city features a charming historical city centre, plenty of greenery surrounding it and excellent tourist infrastructure.
Must-see sights in Olomouc include a Renaissance City Hall with an astronomical clock, UNESCO-listed Holy Trinity column, as well as a series of Baroque fountains scattered around the Old Town. A number of churches from Baroque to Gothic adorn the historical centre and are well worth a visit too.
It’s easy to get to Olomouc. The most comfortable way to get there from Prague is to take a train – it takes only 2 – 2,5 hours. Getting to the city centre from the train station is simple too – either hop on a tram (5-10 minutes) or just walk (20 minutes). Everything is within a walking distance in Olomouc.
I can highly recommend staying at the boutique hotel Sophie’s Hotel or, if your budget is tight, at the design hostel called Long Story Short. Both feature an amazing café too.
You can visit Olomouc year-round. Since it’s a student town, it gets quite empty in summer. But it’s wonderful any time of year. In winter, you can find beautiful Christmas markets and a festive vibe.
5. Helsingør, Denmark
Explored by Derek and Mike from Everything Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark is an often-overlooked capital of Europe, and an hour north of the city lies an even less-known destination that is a true hidden gem. That city is Helsingør, Denmark.
Helsingør sits in a historically strategic location along the Danish coast. It was a chokepoint along a body of water connecting the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. This allowed Denmark to profit from merchant ships sailing in and out of the waterway.
The town is also the setting for Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Hamlet. Yes, the literary Elsinore Castle is Helsingør’s Kronborg Castle in reality. In the summer months, actors portray famous scenes from the play and visitors can tour the royal apartments, chapel, dungeon and cannon towers. From the top, you have an amazing view of the picturesque town below and you can see across the strait to Sweden.
In the town there are other attractions like an aquarium and marine discovery exhibit for children. There’s a city museum and even a street food hall on the weekends. The best time to visit is a summer weekend when the weather is pleasant, the town is lively and you can catch Shakespearean actors in Kronborg Castle. Even in peak season, Helsingør is far from crowded and it’s a peek into a Danish town that has maintained its charming medieval stylings. The history of the city and castle are still off the beaten path which makes Helsingør a perfect escape in Denmark.
6. Blautopf, Germany
Explored by Diana Lesko from The Globetrotting Detective
Blautopf is a cute and small spring which is the source of the Blau River. That’s why it’s called the blue pot in German.
Blautopf is to be found in the medieval town, Blaubeuren, in the Swabian Alps, in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the southern part of Germany. The closest big city to this dazzling water spot is Ulm, 20 minutes away. Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg, is only 75 km and the famous Bavarian capital, Munich, is 185 km from Blautopf.
You can easily reach Blautopf either by car or by train. If you take the train, you need to change in Ulm.
The best time to visit this exceptional beauty is late spring and summer when the nature surrounding it is all sparkling green.
As for the time of the day, the most fabulous time is in the morning when the colours of the water of Blautopf is the most intense and shiny.
Anywhere around Blautopf, you will have an extraordinary view. For lunch, hit the Café right next to the spring. Make sure you get a table the closest to the spring. It might take some time but sitting in the best spot is worth the time and effort.
After your time around this tiny little shiny miracle, get lost among the half-timbered 15th century the medieval houses of the magical town of Bleubueren.
Furthermore, there are a lot of hiking opportunities around Blaubeuren which is a great opportunity for you to explore the pristine nature of the Swabian Alps. Therefore, I highly recommend staying there longer. You can find really awesome Airbnb options in one of the cute villages around the Blautopf such as this Holiday log house in Berghülen
7. Derry, Northern Ireland
Explored by Kalyn from Girl Gone London
Often overlooked by the larger city of Belfast, Derry is one of Northern Ireland’s most amazing gems, filled with a rich history, friendly locals, and an amazing foodie scene.
Derry is known to many as part of the “Troubles,” a time of unrest that plagued Northern Ireland for decades. Today, however, Derry is safe and welcoming, ready for visitors from around the world to come to take a stroll along the river, walk the city walls, and take part in the city of culture that’s emerging.
One of the best things to do in Derry is to walk the walls that stand at almost 20 feet high and are around a mile, surrounding the city in one of the only completely walled cities remaining in Europe.
When the weather’s nice, enjoy a picnic in the square in front of the Guildhall, a gorgeous red brick building with gorgeous stained glass windows.
Getting to Derry is easy with a train ride from Belfast. There is also an airport, with limited flights to and from surrounding areas, but the easiest way to get there is by train or to drive yourself.
Derry is beautiful year-round but tends to come alive in the summer months, much like the rest of the United Kingdom. The hours of sunlight are long and the weather has a higher chance of being sunny and warm.
When it comes to figuring out where to stay in Derry, anywhere along the Peace Bridge will give you amazing views and all of Derry is very walkable.
Don’t forget to stop and talk to the friendly locals, who will be happy to tell you more about the history of their city and point out hidden nooks and crannies for you to explore. When away its always advisable to try the local hop on hop off tours as they can show you alot in a short space of time.
8. Monteriggioni, Tuscany, Italy
Explored by Matt from Its All in Italy
Monteriggioni is a medieval hilltop town in Tuscany, just north of the city of Siena.
Built to defend against the strong Florentines to the north between 1214 – 1219, today it’s a sleepy town visited by tourists for its original look and feel.
With medieval fortifications and watchtowers still in place, it’s a popular place for those vacationing in Italy and seeking non-touristy places to visit.
Within the town itself, the top attractions include the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, built in the 13th Century, as well as the Museo Monteriggioni in Arme (Army Museum), which is filled with original objects, clothing and weapons.
Monteriggioni is featured in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, with specific mention of its impressive towers.
If you’re visiting Monteriggioni in July, check out the annual Medieval Festival where the small city comes alive to sights and sounds of former glory.
As a hilltop town, from the towers and walkways in between, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Tuscan countryside including wineries and rolling hills.
With tiny streets, quaint gardens, original homes and the must-see central town square with its ancient well, it’s a must-visit on your travels through Tuscany.
Pick up a few special things along the way such as Tuscan wines, handmade goods and memorable experiences in a quaint medieval hilltop town in Tuscany.
Monteriggioni is quite small so accommodation is limited, but be sure to checkout Hotel Monteriggioni, Camere Dentro Il Castello and La Signoria 1212 B&B.
Savour your visit to the memorable town of Monteriggioni, one of the special off-the-tourist-route towns in Tuscany!
9. Bagni San Filippo, Italy
Explored by Merryl from Merryl’s Travel and Tricks
The beautiful town of Bagni San Filippo is named after the secluded hot springs located there. It is situated in Castiglione d’Orcia in the province of Sienna in Tuscany. The town is just a few minutes’ drive away from the Instagram famous Val d’Orcia. Two or three days are enough to explore the area and visit these beautiful natural thermal pools.
The Baths of San Filippo are situated in a park in the heart of the little town. A small downward hike through the park brings you to the beautiful pools. The water flowing through these pools is rich in carbonate-calcic. Over the years, these deposits of Calcium have formed huge formations along with the flow of the water. The Fosso Bianco is one of the first noticeable formations here, but the White Whale is the most impressive one as it appears to look like a solidified waterfall.
The best time to visit the thermal baths is during the month from September to November. The warm waters in contrast with the cool climate can be extra calming. If you’re hoping for some privacy during your visit, I recommend early mornings or weekdays. Weekends here can get busy as it attracts locals and Italians tourists from around the country.
The town of Bagni San Filippo is just a short drive from Rome or Florence. It is perfect for a relaxing day-trip from either of those cities. If you do plan to stay and explore the area, I recommend staying in Montepulciano. But you could also find a few stay options in the town of Bagni San Filippo as well.
10. Alberobello, Italy
Explored by Ania from The Travelling Twins
When we think of Italy, the first places that come to mind are of course the big names like Rome, Venice, and Florence. But Italy has lots of hidden gems too. One of the less-known regions and chock-a-block with beautiful towns in Puglia (Apulia) right down in the heel and sole of Italy’s boot.
One of our favourite places here, especially for the kids was the small town of Alberobello. Alberobello is famous for tiny small round whitewashed houses with conical stone roofs known as Trullo. According to tradition, the roof-tops of these houses were designed to be removed so that the canny residents could claim that the building was unfinished when the tax collector came to visit. Now no one removes the roofs any more, and these charming fairytale houses have been restored for the tourists.
A visit to the Trullos of Alberobello makes you feel not only as if you have moved in time but also to a different dimension. Among these tiny whitewashed houses, you feel almost like Gulliver in a Lilliputian town.
Alberobello has a unique district composed entirely of trullo and is listed by UNESCO for the importance of its heritage.
If you plan to visit, it’s best to do so at the weekend – you will get less problem with parking as you can park within walking distance of the historic centre free of charge. On the other hand, if you come on a weekday, Alberobello will be less busy.
11. Ortigia, Italy
Explored by Marta from Temporal Globe
You have may never have heard of the island of Ortigia, in Italy, but once you visit it, it is a place you will never forget. A breathtaking small Baroque town in Sicily and the historical centre of the city of Syracuse, Ortigia is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Ortigia’s narrow seaside streets, its boutique shops, elegant buildings, and out-of-this-world eateries, turned it into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The local cathedral and the spectacular architecture also add charm to this picturesque town, making it one of my favourite places in the whole country.
The summer months are the busiest and extremely popular with day-trippers coming from the nearest cities. In fact, reaching Ortigia is very easy if you have a car. It takes one hour from Catania and only 10 minutes from Syracuse. Alternatively, you can catch a train from Catania to Syracuse and then walk to Ortigia for about 25 to 30 minutes.
Syracuse tends to be preferred by visitors for the price of the accommodation, as it tends to be a little cheaper. However, if you decide to stay in Ortigia, I suggest you stay at The King House AirBnb or Il Salotto di Maria Pia Guesthouse. The island is quite tiny so you wouldn’t have to stay longer than one night.
While in Ortigia you MUST try the local pastries at the Artale bakery, visit the inside of the town’s cathedral, enjoy a happy hour at MIKATú, try a delicious Borderi sandwich and get lost in the narrow streets. These are all non-negotiable.
Ortigia is a hidden gem that will soon be famous and overrun with tourists. It has already been attracting more and more people every year, so if you like some peace and quiet I suggest you visit the island in May. It will still look phenomenal, and you will also have more space to walk and to let the beauty of this place sink in.
12. Gaeta, Italy
Explored by Lisa from Planning Away
Gaeta, Italy is in the Lazio region and is known for its seven fabulous beaches. If you want to plan an Italy beach vacation this is the perfect spot.
Gaeta is a non – international tourist area mainly because it does not have a train station nearby. Gaeta is located a little over two hours from Rome and a little under two hours from Naples. So you will need to rent a car to get to the area.
There are many luxurious resorts located throughout the region. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Le Rocce. The grounds are absolutely beautiful. The private beach and pool were inedible. This may be one of the most romantic places in Italy!
Gaeta is such a hidden gem that we found that only locals enjoyed the area so be sure not to go in August as that is when the Italians flock to this area to enjoy a beach vacation.
Gaeta is a great addition to your Italy vacation!
13. Riga, Latvia
Explored by Eden from Rock a Little Travel
Riga, Latvia is one of the best hidden gems in Europe. This lively and fun city is known for its beautiful Art Nouveau buildings making it the perfect destination for those interested in art and architecture. The historic Old Town Riga is especially impressive, with some areas dating back to Medieval times. Photographers are going to love this city.
Riga also boasts an up and coming restaurant scene with innovative menus offering fresh takes on old Latvian favourites. For those looking for something a bit more traditional, the popular Lido Restaurant chain offers a cafeteria-style menu and the opportunity to sample dozens of traditional Latvian dishes.
In the evenings, consider watching a film at the famous Splendid Palace theatre or a live performance at the Latvian National Opera. After the show, the city’s trendy Beer District is the perfect place to end the night with dinner and drinks.
Riga is a budget-friendly destination that’s easy to navigate. Since there are virtually no crowds, you can experience much of Riga in one day. First-time visitors should plan to spend two or three days in the city before moving on to enjoy the rest of Latvia.
Riga is located in the Baltic region and is easiest to reach by plane. Many budget airlines fly into Riga from surrounding major cities. Visitors should plan to stay near the city’s historic centre to be close to the action. Since this is an affordable destination, you can expect hotels in the city centre will be reasonably priced.
The best time to visit Latvia is in the spring or fall. Be sure to dress in layers and bring comfortable walking shoes. Riga is a pedestrian-friendly city and you’re going to want to see it all.
14. Kaunas, Lithuania
Explored by Kami from Kami and the Rest of the World
Not many people consider visiting Kaunas but the second-largest city in Lithuania is full of attractions and will keep you busy for at least two days. The city was an important trading centre in the region from the 15th century on and still today you can admire many great remains of those times. You can visit the remnants of the castle that was originally built in the 14th century or admire beautiful churches and houses from those grand times.
In the interwar period, between 1920 and 1939, Kaunas was the capital of Lithuania and in that time numerous modernist buildings were built in the city. Today Kaunas is one of the best hubs of modernism in Europe, many of the houses were granted the “European Heritage Label” award. If you like street art and vibrant atmosphere you will enjoy Kaunas for sure.
The city is full of amazing murals and the main streets are lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants. Getting to Kaunas isn’t difficult, the local airport offers direct flights to many European cities and Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is only a bit over an hour away. The best time to visit the city and enjoy all the best things to do in Kaunas is between May and September when the weather is pleasant. There are plenty of accommodation options in Kaunas but the best area to stay is between the Old and the New Town so you will be within a walking distance to all the main sights.
15. Herceg Novi, Montenegro
Explored by Samantha from Sam Sees World
Tucked into the mountains of Montenegro lies the stunning city of Herceg Novi. In recent years Montenegro has become one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe with people from around the world yearning for a visit. The main cities in Montenegro like Kotor and Budva can become very full of tourists which is why escaping to Herceg Novi is the perfect alternative.
Herceg Novi is a coastal city located along the Adriatic Sea which makes it the perfect oceanside travel destination. This along with the beautiful old architecture and huge mountains surrounding it make it the ideal place to visit in Montenegro. If you are looking to see a more authentic and not yet commercialized side to Montenegro this is where you must go.
You can get to Herceg Novi by driving or by plane. There are three airport options; one in Tivat, Montenegro one in Podgorica, Montenegro, and one in Dubrovnik, Croatia. From Dubrovnik airport, you need to hire a driver to bring you from the airport to Herceg Novi and the drive takes about an hour. Tip: this will most likely be the fastest and cheapest option.
The best thing about staying in Herceg Novi is that you can choose to have accommodation on the beach or in the mountains. Each come with their pros and cons but try to stay as close to the Old Town as possible for close proximity to restaurants and such.
The best time to visit this stunning gem is in June or September when the weather is nice and there are fewer people.
16. Alta, Norway
Explored by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
Located at 70 degrees north latitude and well within the Arctic Circle, is the small town of Alta in Norway. It is known as “the town of the Northern Lights”, and is home to 20,000 people. This hidden gem is the largest town in the vast wilderness of the Finnmark County and can be visited all year round. During summer, Alta experiences the midnight sun when it is light throughout the day and night, and during winter it is the opposite. From late November to mid-January, the Polar night is present meaning when the sun never rises above the horizon, leaving the town in pitch-black darkness for 20-22 hours a day, with a dark blue twilight for the remaining few hours. the darkness takes some getting used to but it does provide perfect conditions for chasing down the northern lights with a trusted guide.
During the day there are plenty of other winter activities to experience such as snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledging, cross country skiing, ice fishing, and reindeer sledging. If sightseeing is more your thing, then a visit to the modern Northern Lights Cathedral is a must and the unique igloo hotel at Sorrisniva which also has an ice bar. There are plenty of places to stay in Alta, such as Trasti and Trine, a set of beautiful lodges known for their organic food experiences and the chance to dog sledge on your doorstep
17. Poznan, Poland
Explored By Or from My Path in the World
Located in Western Poland, Poznan is a hidden gem in Europe you can easily fall in love with. If you’re looking for an interesting yet laid-back little getaway, this budget-friendly city is a perfect choice.
There are plenty of things to do in Poznan, including visiting its historical landmarks, feasting on hearty Polish food, relaxing at its parks and gardens, stroll around its open-air markets, and the list goes on.
The top place to visit in the city is the Old Town, where you’ll find colourful streets packed with the cutest cafes and impressive landmarks like the Insta-worthy St Stanislaus Church, the Royal Castle, and even a museum dedicated to a local pastry called St. Martin’s croissant (which is so special that bakeries must have a certificate to be able to call it St. Martin’s croissant).
This city is also home to some unexpected points of interest like the oldest Cathedral in Poland (dating back to the 10th century), an old brewery turned into a shopping mall, the largest palm house in Poland, and a few other unique spots.
You can get to this beautiful city by train from other Polish cities, and Poznan’s airport is situated only a few miles away from the city centre, so you can also get there by flight. As for getting around, the city centre can be explored on foot, and other neighbourhoods are easily reachable by public transport.
18. Sao Miguel Island in The Azores
Explored by Oli from Not Brits Abroad
The Azores is a Portuguese nine island archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Sao Miguel is the largest and best for first-time visitors. The islands are easily accessible from mainland Portugal with lots of flights from Lisbon and Porto. Sao Miguel’s airport also has links to other European countries as well as the USA and Canada.
What makes the Azores such a fantastic place to visit is how unique it is. The islands sit on the junction of three tectonic plates resulting in beautiful volcanic landscapes. You’ll find hills, craters, lakes and caves everywhere. The beaches are pretty unique too with some being covered in black volcanic sand.
For freshwater bathing, the island has a number of hot springs including some that are naturally bright orange in colour due to the high iron content in the water. Aside from all the things to do on Sao Miguel, the food on the island is incredible with lots of fresh fish, beef, cheese and pineapples. The real highlight is Bolo Lêvedo, a fluffy, slightly sweet muffin-type bread.
The capital city of Ponta Delgada is the perfect place to stay as there’s a lot to do in the city as well as being centrally located to access other parts of the island. When visiting Sao Miguel, you really need to hire a car to be able to visit the most beautiful spots and have the freedom to explore.
As for the weather, it’s fairly consistent all year round. The warmest months are July to September with temperatures reaching around 22°c. In winter, there is more rain but the temperature doesn’t really drop below 10°c. You should be prepared for all climates though, it could be clear and sunny one moment then raining the next and the weather forecast is rarely right!
19. Rimetea, Romania
Explored by Sean from LivingOutLau
When you think of the country Romania, your mind will probably go to the capital city of Bucharest or the mythical legend of Dracula at Bran Castle. Though those are stunning attractions in Romania, many visitors don’t often see the countryside of Romania where lots of gems are hidden. In the countryside of Romania is where I stumbled on the village of Rimetea, one of my favourite hidden gems in Europe. A former mining town with only around 1000 residents, there is a chance you have never heard about this place. If you look in the guide books, you probably won’t see a single mention.
This idyllic Romanian village is the home of the stunning mountain known as Piatra Secuiului. Its strategic location at the bottom of the Piatra Secuiului creates a phenomenon where the sun seems to rise twice per day, once above the horizon, disappearing behind the mountain, and the emerges behind the geological beauty. The main attraction in Rimetea is undoubtedly hiking the Piatra Secuiului. At around 500 meters above the town itself, the hike itself is short but steep. Hikers have to be extremely careful at where they are stepping. Once you have arrived at the top, the panoramic views of the Romanian countryside will leave you in absolute awe.
Since Rimetea is a small village, there aren’t really any good places to stay. Most visitors usually take a day trip from Cluj-Napoca to Rimetea. The drive is only about one hour and it is the closest big city to this hidden gem in Romania!
20. Vipava Valley, Slovenia
Explored by Oksana & Max from Drink Tea Travel
Vipava Valley, in Slovenia is known for its rolling hills, medieval hilltop villages, and lush green vineyards. This region quickly became one of our favourite stops on our road trip through Slovenia. We spent our days exploring the narrow streets of villages like Goče, admiring the strong stone facades of 17th-century buildings and dining on delicious local food and wine.
The locals credit their excellent organic wine to the strong wind which blows through the area. Because of the “Burja” (which can reach speeds of 200km/hr) the grapes remain free of insects so there is no need for pesticides. There are countless cellars and scenic vineyards, largely owned and operated by local families in the Vipava Valley. However, tourism is somewhat new to the area so it can be difficult to find them on your own so we recommend exploring the region on a tour.
One of our favourite wineries in Vipava Valley was Burja Estate. Despite being one of the largest wineries in the region it still had a small town feel. Partly because the cellar tour and wine tasting was led by one of the area’s most prominent organic winemakers. We can’t imagine people will be able to keep a secret for very long! So if you are in the area, we urge you to travel to the Vipava Valley before the crowds discover this hidden gem.
21. Piran, Slovenia
Explored by Dean Johnston from Routinely Nomadic
The picturesque coastal gem of Piran may not be as well-known as other Slovenian standouts (Lake Bled, we’re looking in your direction) but it definitely deserves the Venice comparisons it occasionally receives. What it lacks in pungent canals it more than makes up for with stunning views, a fascinating Old Town and even some nearby beaches.
Unlike its extremely flat Italian neighbour, Piran is hemmed in against the Gulf of Trieste by a set of craggy hills topped by a surprisingly intact set of medieval fortifications that provide stunning views over the red-roofed little city. Both the architecture and sordid naval history are distinctly Venetian, as well, but in Piran the hours you spend exploring the compact Old Town can be enjoyed without the company of pushy tour groups.
Featuring a mild coastal climate, Piran is an excellent destination any time of year, although April-June and September-October are ideal thanks to great weather and fewer fellow tourists. Both the capital of Ljubljana and the Croatian beach resort of Rijeka can be reached in less than 2 hours by car, and the Italian port hub of Trieste is just 40 kilometres up the coast.
There is a good selection of excellent value AirBnBs in Piran, including the adorable 3-level Apartment Lea just off the main square. As for food and refreshments, Piran is a fresh seafood mecca, with none better for both rustic atmosphere and top-quality meals than Fritolin Pri Cantini on pretty little May 1st square. Meanwhile, the lengthy and dramatic malecón is lined with dozens of places to enjoy a quiet drink with dramatic sunset views.
22. Salamanca, Spain
Explored by Tara from Silly Little Kiwi
Salamanca is a northern city in Spain that is steeped in history and highly underrated as a destination in Europe. The city itself has a reputation for its stunning architecture. It’s also known for being the home of the third oldest University in Europe. As a student city, it’s quite affordable, but accommodation is pretty limited to hotels and a few private rooms for rent on AirBnB.
You only need a few days to see the best of Salamanca, but while you are there I highly recommend you check out the views from Torre del Clavero, grab a vegetarian tapas-style lunch at Cafe Magenta, stroll across the Roman Bridge, tour the local market, learn some local history at the Museum of Salamanca, and finally grab an evening coffee and churros in the main plaza for people watching.
Of course, to do all those things, you’ll want to plan your visit on any day except Sunday, when the whole town shuts down and you’ll be lucky to find a single supermarket open. From within Europe, especially if you are in the general region, it’s easy enough to get to Salamanca by bus. If you are an international visitor, it may be easier to fly into a larger city in Spain (usually Madrid) first and then make your way to Salamanca via bus, BlaBlaCar, or train.
23. Peak District
Explored by Jenny from Peak District Kids
When people think of England they perhaps think of Buckingham Palace, red phone boxes, historical towns like Bath or Cambridge, or fish n chips at a traditional seaside town like Blackpool or Brighton. But for me, it’s the green, rolling countryside that’s the true England, and overlooked by so many travellers is the Peak District, nestled in the heart of the country with it’s stunning landscapes, dramatic escarpments and quaint villages.
The Peak District is an outdoor lovers paradise and people visit the area to spend their days either hiking in the hills or cycling along the miles upon miles of disused railway tracks. However, there are also some fantastic underground caverns to explore, or perhaps take the cable car up to The Heights of Abraham.
Though the best thing to do after a long walk across the dales is to warm up in front of a fire at one of the many old and characterful pubs with a pint of Peak Ale and a home-cooked roast. And as this is the Peak District, muddy boots and muddy paws are always welcome!
It’s a popular weekend destination for those living in the UK, but a lovely way to experience the area is to hire a holiday cottage on one of the many farms. And whilst parts of the Peak District are accessible for the Trans-Pennine Express train that run between Manchester and Sheffield, you really need a car to get around this hidden gem.
Explored by Yukti from Travel With Me 24X7
Odesa / Odessa which is a Black Sea Port city – in Southern Ukraine is also known as Ibiza of Eastern Europe. Famous for wild nightlife, blackish-bluish shades of water of the Black Sea, hot & sunny weather, unique architecture, and loving people. Odessa’s history, culture, and architecture are influenced by many cultures like French, Italian, Greeks, Turkish, and Russian due to many invasions and it is also a great confluence of many cultures too. Odesa/Odessa which is known as “The Pearl of the Black Sea” was once used to be a powerful military base for the Black Sea & Mediterranean Sea.
There are many worth visiting places to visit in Odessa. Odessa can be reached by road or rail from Kiev/Kyiv capital of Ukraine. It does not have an international airport. There are many hotels in Odessa as it is a famous beach destination in Eastern Europe. I would recommend booking your stay on Deribasovskaya street. There are many open carts to take a city trip or day tour in the city. If you are beach lovers then book exotic beach resorts. Many prominent night clubs, bars, gambling bars, and cabarets are famous in this area. But always take precaution to go here as some can rip you off. So better to read reviews on Tripadvisor before heading to nightlife activities. Though not many people know about Odessa, if you are a beach lover and want to check some unique hidden gems in Europe then Odessa can be added to your itinerary too.
How many of these places have you been? When you start travelling, which one will you visit? Do let us know in your comments below.
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