Europe is undoubtedly a coveted destination for travellers. No wonder the destination is visited by a number of travellers all around the year. With its amazing natural landscape, historic towns, beautiful countryside, ancient castle sand forts, Europe is a winner. In this blog, we have curated some incredible and underrated and unique places to visit in Europe.
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To be honest, we have always been fond of off-the-beaten tracks. So we asked a few blogger friends about their favourite underrated destinations in Europe. This is what they had to say.
- Underrated and Unique Places to visit in Europe
- Madeira Island, Portugal
- Dugi Otok, Croatia
- The Ancient City of Laodicea, Denizli, Turkey
- Asturias, Spain
- Veliko Tarnovo Bulgaria
- Bray, Ireland
- Loket Castle
- Le Havre, France
- Matera, Italy
- Skofja Loka, Slovenia
- Schafberg mountain, Austria
- The Black Forest
- The Veluwe, Netherlands
- Bronte, Sicily
- Le Marche, Italy
- Hamburg, Germany
- Transylvania, Romania
- Zakopane, Poland
Underrated and Unique Places to visit in Europe
Madeira Island, Portugal
Explored by Edyta from Say Yes To Madeira blog
Some people love Madeira Island for its drinks and cuisine, some for its botanical gardens and some are attracted by the amazing hiking network. One of the things I love about this beautiful island is all its hidden gems, such as its fajã’s. Fajã is a Portuguese word used to describe a relatively flat geological formation found at the bottom of cliffs, created by lava flows or landslides. There is a couple of such fajã’s on Madeira and you can usually only get there by a cable car or by boat.
One of these places is Fajã da Rocha do Navio located on the north coast close to Santana. There is a big chance you will visit Santana as it is a popular tourist destination where you will find typical Madeira triangle house. Take a small detour and visit Fajã da Rocha do Navio- you won’t regret it. The easiest way to get there is with a cable car. A lovely hotel to stay around that area is Quinta do Furão located on top of a cliff.
Another one, which I strongly recommend visiting is Fajã dos Padres. It is not as secluded as Fajã da Rocha do Navio. It is located not far from the island’s biggest city – Funchal – so it is definitely more popular. On Fajã dos Padres you will find a beach, a pier, and a charming restaurant serving fresh fish and seafood with locally produced vegetables and fruit. It is a great place for an entire lovely afternoon and for an entire family. There are also a couple of rental houses on the fajã itself. I am sure that staying there for the night is an unforgettable experience.
Dugi Otok, Croatia
Explored by Martina & Jürgen from Places of Juma
The breath-taking beautiful island of Dugi Otok is located in the heart of Croatia, precisely at the Zadar region and is well known as a place of peace and relaxation. For sure this amazing island is one of the most hidden gems in Croatia! Compared to others, this island still has really quiet spots to visit and is not yet so touristy! This is one of the unique places to visit in Europe.
Dugi Otok is characterized by intact nature, authentic coastal towns and mind-blowing beautiful beaches. One of the most amazing beaches of this fabulous island is Sakarun Beach, a stunning white sandy beach with Caribbean-like flair. Several times this beach has been voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. Another highlight of the island is the Telascica National Park, where unspoilt nature, majestic cliffs and the Silver Lake Mir amaze its visitors.
The best time to visit Croatia, in general, is definitely from May till October. At that time of the year, you can expect fantastic weather and plenty of sunshine! Dugi Otok can be easily reached by ferry from Zadar and on the island, you will find plenty of private lovely apartments to stay.
The Ancient City of Laodicea, Denizli, Turkey
Explored by Vaibhav Mehta from The Wandering Vegetable
Built on the river Lycus, Laodicea is an ancient Hellenistic city in the Denizli province that not many people know about. It’s situated on a hill between the fertile valleys of the streams Asopus and Caprus, which are tributaries of the Lycus river. It is a well maintained ancient city and an extremely important part of Biblical history as it contains one of the ‘Seven Churches of Asia’ as mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Therefore, taking a day trip to this hidden gem is one of the best things to do in Pamukkale.
The major attractions at the site are the Colonnaded street, the ruins of the Lycus, the Western Theatre, the Church of Laodicea, Temple A, the West Baths, and the Stadium of Laodicea. The ruins are well-preserved and in the bloom season, the site looks splendid with the scarlet poppies. There are scattered information boards everywhere that help you explore this magnificent city. In fact, from the Western Theatre spot, you can also enjoy views of Pamukkale and Hierapolis.
I highly recommend you visit this site as firstly, it is a stunning archaeological city with a rich history and secondly, it is off the beaten path and unlike other sites in Pamukkale, you’ll rarely ever see a tourist bus here.
To get to Laodicea, you can take a direct minibus (“dolmus” in Turkish) from the main bus station called Denizli Otogar. Buses depart from the station’s Gate 76 every 20 minutes to Laodicea.
There are restrooms and a small cafe near the parking area. The entry fee is 15 Turkish Lira. The ideal time to visit the site would be early in the morning (around 8 am) so you can walk through the city and completely explore it before the heat picks up at noon. Places to stay near the site are the Dedeman Park Denizli Hotel and Akhan Kervansaray Hotel.
TIPS – Carry water with you because the city is well spread and you can get thirsty while walking through it. Other than the cafe at the entrance, there are no food stalls. Also, if you have an Aegean Museums 7-day pass, then entry to the site is free.
Explored by Alya & Campbell from Stingy Nomads
Asturias, a beautiful region in Northern Spain is often overlooked by foreign tourists. It’s a real hidden gem in Europe and a paradise for outdoor and adventure lovers. Asturias has a lot to offer; amazing sandy beaches, lush green forest, fascinating mountain ranges, and charming towns. The region is a perfect place to combine a beach holiday with visiting historical places and hiking in the beautiful mountains. You can chill on the beach and go on a hike in Los Picos de Europa National Park on the same day.
The park is one of the best places for hiking in Europe. The scenery there is amazing; high mountains, emerald fields, lush green forest, crystal clear rivers, beautiful waterfalls. There are several short hiking trails and multi-day routes in the park. Asturias has a couple of long-distance walks including two routes of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage network; the Northern Way and the Original Way. Hiking is not the only adventure activity in Asturias.
The Atlantic Coast is a great place for surfing. There are a couple of towns that are renowned for being good surfing spots. The Asturian Coast is a perfect place for a road trip, driving along the beautiful and unspoiled coastline and stopping at charming towns along the route is a great way to spend a holiday.
The best time to visit Asturias is between May and September. July and August are the peak months here, many locals come for hiking in Los Picos de Europa National Park. If you plan your trip for these months it’s better to book accommodation in advance. The easiest way of getting to Asturias from abroad is to fly first to Barcelona or Madrid and from there catch a local flight to Asturias Airport in Castillon.
Veliko Tarnovo Bulgaria
Explored by Laureen Lund from My Fab Fifties Life
Any list of hidden gems of Europe needs to include Bulgaria. And the cliff-hanging town of Veliko Tarnovo is a remarkable destination for history, culture, scenery, hiking, food and more.
Veliko Tarnovo, one of the oldest villages in Bulgaria, a country with recorded history back to the 3rd century. Once the seat of power for Bulgaria, it sits within the three mountains of Tsarevets, Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora. This protected location made it a favourite of the tsar in the middle ages, and a recreation favourite of tourists today.
The mountains offer a wide range of hiking for novice and experienced hikers. A full-day hike to the mountain town of Arbanassi provides wonderful views and a peek into small village life.
Not to miss in Veliko Tarnovo is the Tsarevets Fortress, the most popular thing to see in the village. If you are in town on a holiday, the city does an evening laser light show. One of the best ways to learn about history is to take the Veliko Tarnovo Free Walking Tour and spend time in the old town shopping and dining.
Don’t miss traditional Bulgarian food at any of a number of restaurants. Small hotels in the old town will put you in the middle of the action, but many guest houses and Airbnb’s a little further out will give you a chance to meet the locals.
To properly enjoy Bulgaria, you should have a car (although busses and trains are available), and there are many day trips easily accessible from Veliko Tarnovo including Tryavna and its famous wood carving museum and Ivanovo’s famous rock-hewn church.
Summer can be hot! Spring or fall is a perfect time to visit beautiful Veliko Tarnovo.
Explored by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages
Bray is one of the towns in Ireland you have to visit because it’s so beautiful and not super-touristy. Plus, it’s the town that the famous singer Hozier is actually from! It’s located just a little over 30 minutes south of Dublin by bus or DART, so it’s super easy to get to. This beautiful town is located right on the water, which makes for some amazing views.
There’s quite a few fun things to do in this quirky town as well. My top recommendation would have to be to do the cliff walk from Greystones to Bray, and it can also be done from Bray to Greystones. A little insider tip of mine is to definitely start the cliff walk in Greystones, so you’re rewarded with the amazing coast of Bray at the end. This cliff walk is approximately 7 km and can take around 2 hours from start to finish. The walk gives some amazing views of the coastal cliffs and the incredible blue water. Plus, it’s free! For most of the walk, there’s also a fence between the water and the walkway so even if you’re not a big fan of heights, you’ll feel super secure.
Some other fun things in this town and surrounding area are the Wicklow Mountains National Park and the Bray Promenade. I visited in May, and the Promenade wasn’t super busy yet. It’s a lot more lively in the summer when more of the shops across the promenade is open.
If you’re looking to stay in this lovely coastal town, definitely check out the Martello Hotel (it’s right on the water!), as well as Pat’s B&B and the Esplanade Hotel. You’re sure to get a feel for Irish life if you spend some time here, and you’ll steer clear of tourists.
Explored by Ana from Parenthood4ever
When we lived in Prague, we wanted to know more about the Czech Republic than just the capital. We used to hear that the Czech Republic is filled with fantastic medieval castles, hiking trails, national parks, and ski resorts with absolutely stunning views. Further the way, we have discovered one of the most beautiful places in entire Europe.
Loket is the town that is located only 15 minutes away from Karlovy Vary and is an absolute hidden gem. Not many tourists know about this place yet, perhaps this is why it remains so unique and authentic.
It is a one-way easy drive from Karlovy Vary, but in case if you travel without the car, take the early bus from Autobusy Karlovy or Arriva Vychodnicechy bus stations. The buses depart every three and four hours to Loket, and it is just a 20-minute ride.
There is a parking lot just before the entrance into the town. Loket is quite small but there is plenty to do. If you are short of time, half-a-day will be enough to visit the famous Loket castle filled with the history of the Czech Republic. If you have got more time, it is highly recommended to enjoy kayaking around the town. The views are seriously mind-blowing.
The castle area is the half size of the town. What important is that you will discover the exact lifestyle of Loket residents back in the 12th century. Apart from different halls featuring living spaces, kitchen and ceremony rooms, you will be able to get down to the basement and visit the torture room overlooking a variety of peculiar items and dangerous machines that people used to torture their criminals.
Don’t forget to wander around the town. It has lots of narrow streets, landmarks, and cafes where you can stop for lunch.
One more hidden gem that nobody knows about is the hill on the other side of the entrance to the town. Simply cross the bridge and driveway to enter the woods. Climb up the hill and you will see the most fantastic views overlooking the town. No drone is needed. Note, there are no special signs, so feel free to enter any place and climb.
Le Havre, France
Explored by Claire from ZigZag On Earth
If you are looking for a French city that has not been overtaken by tourism, I recommend heading to Le Havre, in Normandy.
It might not be the typical old French architecture you may have come to expect. However, this city, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surprises with its post-war reconstruction architecture and modern works found on the beach and in the streets.
You can plan 2 days to explore the city, which is only a 2h-train ride or 2h-drive from Paris. But you can also make it a longer holiday to enjoy the region (you can find much to see within a 1h drive such as the old charm of Honfleur or the impressive cliffs of Etretat).
Once there, you can stay close to the sea at the Hotel & Spa Vent d’Ouest for charm and location or the Hotel Pasino if you enjoy playing at the Casino or like large volumes.
- And as you explore the town, you should not miss:
- the buildings ingeniously constructed by Auguste Perret with prefabricated blocks (reason for the Unesco status),
- the church of Saint Joseph with its immense concrete tower and stained-glass windows,
- the Catène: arches of coloured containers imagined by Vincent Ganivet,
- the waterfront that has inspired many generations of artists from impressionists to street artists,
- the gardens inside the fort with views of the town and harbour,
- and much more…
Explored by Jeff from Life Of Y
Matera is rapidly becoming the place to visit in southern Italy. If you’ve seen the pictures of this unique landscape on social media, then you’ll know why!
The Sassi (meaning stones) is a spectacular maze of grottoes or dwellings, that is carved into the rock. There is even evidence that the caves were inhabited since 7000 BC.
To explore the labyrinth of small streets and stairs you will need to go on foot. This is the best way to make sure you don’t miss the many beautiful rupestrian churches built into the rocks, hundreds of years ago.
Matera can easily be reached by train from Bari. Be aware that the Ferrovie Appulo Lucane (or FAL) and is a completely separate line to the one at Bari Central Station.
A one-way ticket costs €5 and the journey are roughly 1.5 hours to Matera Centrale station.
Matera Centrale station is located in the new part of the city, you will need to walk for about 10 minutes. Just follow the signs for the Sassi.
If you want a real Sassi experience then you have to stay in a cave hotel! Many of the dwellings have been converted into clean, comfortable (and really cool) rooms for tourists. Prices are reasonable if booked in advance.
Matera can be very hot in the summer, so I recommend visiting in the off-season, either spring or autumn. The weather is still very pleasant and there is less chance of running into tourist groups.
The best tip I can give anybody about Matera is that you need to visit now! The Sassi is an absolutely stunning, and relatively unknown, destination. It surely won’t be long before it becomes another Italian ‘must see!’
Skofja Loka, Slovenia
Explored by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles
Škofja Loka, Slovenia, is a beautifully preserved medieval town located just a short distance from Ljubljana, the capital of the country. It’s perfect for a laid-back day trip, with many sights to keep you engaged for the day, or for a brief visit of 2-3 days, if you wish to add in some hiking in the picturesque Slovenian countryside.
The must-visit sight in the town is the hilltop Loka Castle, from where you get beautiful views of the countryside and the rooftops of the town. Wander the pretty streets, admire the colorful architecture, and visit the Church of Saint Jacob in the main square. Many of the buildings along the main street feature beautiful detail and even frescoes from medieval times. At the entrance to the town, the picture-postcard Capucchin Bridge is a must-stop spot for a photo!
You can drive to Skofja Loka from Ljubljana or Lake Bled if you have a car. If you want to use public transport, Skofja Loka is on the bus route between Ljubljana and Bled, and easy to reach from either place. Many buses run through the day.
The best time to visit pretty Skofja Loka is from spring until fall, when the hillsides are green and daytime temperatures are great for sightseeing.
Schafberg mountain, Austria
Explored by Darek from Darek and Gosia
There are many places in Europe that are worth visiting. Most of them are famous cities, beaches or landmarks. But Europe is also full of hidden gems – unique places that are less known and less crowded. One of the most stunning places you can visit is the Schafberg mountain.
Schafberg mountain, located in the Salzkammergut area, is probably one of the most beautiful mountains in Austria – a must-visit! In just under one hour drive by car from Salzburg, you will get to a small town called St. Wolfgang. From there you will need to take the Schafberg Railway.
The steam cog-railway is the steepest in Austria and it has been operating since 1893. The journey itself provides fantastic views during the 35 minutes ride. If you a hiker, you can hike to the top of the mountain too.
Whichever way you choose to get there, you will be rewarded with breath-taking views of many lakes and the whole Salzkammergut area. It really is worth the effort to visit this place. There is also a little restaurant, where you can have lunch or get a few refreshments.
So, would you add Schafberg mountain to your list of hidden gems in Europe?
The Black Forest
Explored by Hannah from Hannah’s Happy Adventures
The Black Forest is one of the best places to visit in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. It’s a stunning off the beaten path destination just outside of Freiburg. The region offers so many different things to do especially in its distinct seasons.
During winter, the Black Forests is famous for its ski resort at Feldberg. While some may consider it small compared with other European resorts, it’s great for a few days skiing for all abilities. From Feldberg, you can also participate in snowshoe hiking or cross-country skiing. In the summer, hiking is the main pastime here. Schauinsland became my favourite mountain to visit in the Black Forest during the year I lived in nearby Freiburg. It’s a full day hike to the top. Alternatively, take the cable car up and spend the day hiking around the top of the mountain.
If you fancy something less energetic, enjoy the scenery at the Todtnau Waterfalls. You can also take a dip here in the summer. Or visit the Hasenhorn coaster – an alpine rollercoaster down the mountain. There are also many beautiful lakes you can wander around, including Titisee and Schluchsee
The black forest is easily visited from Freiburg by public transport or by car. Freiburg offers many good accommodation options such as Green City Hotel Vauban, just outside of the city centre. Alternatively, accommodation options are available in the Black Forest itself. I recommend staying in Titisee.
The Veluwe, Netherlands
Explored by Lara from Both Feet On The Road
If you’re looking for beautiful nature without too many tourists in the Netherlands, The Veluwe is the place to go.
The Veluwe is a national park in the province of Gelderland and it’s an incredibly popular destination for Dutchies, but somehow always missed by tourists.
As the Veluwe covers an area of 1100 km2, you can find accommodation that suits all types of travellers, from budget camping to luxury hotels. Some of the villages and cities next to the Veluwe include Ede, Otterlo, Nunspeet and Hoenderloo, Apeldoorn.
Alternatively, you could visit the Veluwe as a day trip from Amsterdam, it only takes an hour by car, and about an hour and a half by public transport (depending on which village you decide to enter the park from).
What makes the Veluwe such a popular park for Dutch People?
It’s a unique landscape with thick coniferous and deciduous forest, woodland, heath, lakes, and the largest sand drifts in Europe. And even though, The Netherlands is not your traditional destination to spot wildlife, you can find different species of deer, wild boar, some snakes, foxes, wolves, and various species of birds in The Veluwe.
Besides the beautiful scenery, it’s the perfect place to try some traditional Dutch food, visit The Royal Palace Het Loo at Apeldoorn, and explore over 50 different museums! So plenty of things to do to keep tourists entertained.
Personally, fall (Sep-Dec) is my favourite time to visit The Veluwe as the leaves turn into a colorful pallet of brown, yellow and orange, and the forest ground turns into a vivid painting. But any time without rain is a perfect time to visit the Veluwe, as you can see it’s also stunning in wintertime when it’s covered with snow!
Explored by Pauline from BeeLoved City
If you are looking for a hidden gem in Italy, Bronte in Sicily will be perfect! Sicily is a land of culture and traditions.
Located in the province of Catania, Bronte is famous for being the Pistachio capital of the world! Catanese cuisine offers a lot of dishes made with pistachios. Gelato, pizza, pasta, granita… they all have a pistachio version there!
This is mainly due to the fact that the soil in Bronte is very fertile. Bronte is on mount Etna. The volcanic soils are perfect to grow pistachio which is why it was nicknamed the “green gold of Etna”.
The best way to get to Bronte is by car. It will take you about 1 hour from Catania. Alternatively, you can hop on a train but it will be longer.
When you get to Bronte, you can wander around the village. It’s very cute and traditional. The best thing to do is to experience the food though. You can pick one of the cafes or bakeries and order a Pistachio granita with a brioche. It’s the local speciality and it will blow your mind!
In September, Bronte is also home to the pistachio festival so if you are around at that time, it’s worth a visit!
There are a few hotels in Bronte, perfect for people who want to enjoy views over Mount Etna! You will also find a couple of agri-turismos.
Le Marche, Italy
Explored by Annabel Kirk from Smudged Postcard
Le Marche is a region in eastern Italy. It shares many of the great features of its popular neighbours Umbria and Tuscany: art, history and beautiful landscapes. However, Le Marche does not attract the same level of tourists despite its obvious appeal.
Urbino in the north has a wealth of art treasures. The birthplace of Raphael, the town has a museum dedicated to its famous son along with the excellent Palazzo Ducale, a regional art gallery with a host of incredible Renaissance art works.
In the south of Le Marche is the town of Ascoli Piceno which has what is often described as the most beautiful square in Italy: Piazza del Popolo. However, what makes Le Marche particularly special is the collection of lovely hilltop towns which dot the countryside. Steeped in tradition and devoid of tourists, many of these villages have gastronomic festivals each summer celebrating a regional cuisine. Matelica celebrates its frogs in June while Corinaldo celebrates polenta in July, to name just two examples.
Le Marche has a very varied landscape. Its border with Umbria is the mighty Sibillini Mountains which give way to rolling hills and plains. On the eastern side of the region is the Adriatic coast where there is an endless selection of sandy beaches to choose from.
Le Marche is a wonderful region to visit at any time of year. Spring brings wildflowers to the meadows and hedgerows. Visitors in summer are rewarded with cultural events and autumn is harvest time. Staying in agriturismo is the most rewarding way to enjoy a visit to Le Marche.
Explored by Rose Munday from Where goes Rose
Hamburg is one of Europe’s most underrated cities with impressive architecture, excellent food and a hipster cafe and bar scene. When most people think of Germany, they think of pretty timber frame buildings in Bavaria or well-known Berlin. But Hamburg has the trendy qualities of Berlin without the price tags or volume of tourism. Some of the best areas to check out during your Hamburg itinerary include the traditional Aldstadt or ‘Old Town’, fashionable Sternschanze with its street art and quirky cafes, and futuristic HafenCity where the futuristic €789 million Elbphilharmonie building acts as a concert hall, tourist attraction and block of luxury flats.
Despite being lesser-known, Hamburg is an excellent location for museum-hopping with the Art Mile dedicated to cultural centres including the Museum for Arts & Crafts with Asian and Middle Eastern Art. Then, there’s the Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest modern railway which is a replica of most of Planet Earth! For alternative pastimes in Hamburg, head to Sternschanze. You can see street art and head to the many hipster coffee roasteries. Most people don’t know but Hamburg’s shipping history means coffee has been passing in and out for centuries and the first coffee house in the country was here.
To reach Hamburg, fly into the international airport or catch a bus or train from other cities in Germany. Stay at Hotel Boutique 056 for charming rooms in the heart of town.
Explored by Lukacs from Gabriella Vendégház
The best tour I’ve ever was in Transylvania, in Romania, in Eastern Europe. I was with my family, and we were 3 days in this county, in Szeklerland. This region is full of mountains and waterfalls.
On the first day, we visited the mountain of Harghita. This is the largest andesite mess and the largest volcanic body in the whole of Europe. We’ve been hiking on the mountain for 5 hours. The view was amazing, we could see for a hundred miles away. On the peak of the mountain is a heritage site of Hungarians, full of headboards, and flags.
On the second day, we visited the Red Lake which is a natural dam lake, formed after an earthquake in 1838. In this time thousands of trees have come down into the lake, which can see nowadays on the surface of the lake.
On the last day we visited Varsag, where is a waterfall. This place is perfect for those who want a calm journey.
Our accommodation was in Gheorgheni, in a small city, in a guesthouse. All the sights are nearly in a range of 30 miles. We didn’t have a tour guide, only the host has given some advice for ours.
This region is low priced, the people were very kinds. A beer was over 1$, a hamburger 1.5$. This is a very good place whose love nature, the natural attractions and the long hikes.
Explored by Reshma Narasing from The Solo Globetrotter
Zakopane town, the winter capital of Poland, is one of Europe’s hidden gems. Located in the valley at the foot of the Tatra Mountains and Gubałówka Hill, it is a beautiful resort town. Zakopane is worth visiting during both winter and summer, each season offering different experiences. In summer, it is the base for hiking and winter adventure activities including mountaineering and skiing.
If you are here in winter, you can witness the celebrations of the arrival of winter with traditional dance performances and procession of decorated sleighs. The town is known for Goral culture, and you can try their food in many restaurants. You have plenty of adventure activities in winter to enjoy. For skiing, head to the two popular areas – Kasprowy Wierch and Gubałówka. You can try snowmobiling, snowshoe walks and Ice skating too if you want more adventure. Enjoy the views of the town by taking a funicular ride to the top of Gubałówka hill. During summer, you can hike the upper Tatra mountains, go quad biking and camp in the valleys.
You can reach Zakopane on trains or buses. It is within 2 hours from Krakow by car. The streets around Krupówki have many villas and homestays. Stay at Pokoje Gościnne Benita, close to the ski lift, which has comfortable rooms and excellent amenities.
So, what do you think of these places? How many have you visited? And which ones do you plan to visit when you start travelling next? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below. If you have more places to add to this list, do let us know.
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