5 Hidden Gem European Destinations
Places like Spain, France, and Italy are beautiful and certainly deserve a spot on your travel list. But if you’re looking for something different, then consider one of these lesser known gems for your next adventure to Europe.
Often overshadowed by neighboring Spain, Portugal is one of my favorite countries that I’ve visited in Europe and offers a little bit of everything for your trip at an excellent value.
Begin your journey in the capital of Lisbon, and you’ll enjoy colorful architecture and world class historical sites. Indulge in delicious seafood at a sidewalk cafe while enjoying Fado music, a cultural staple of Portugal. Take a day trip to the nearby castle at Sintra, perched atop a hill, or enjoy a day at the beach.
Heading north from Lisbon, stop at small towns like Coimbra, a well preserved medieval town, and Nazare, a fishing village known for surfing. Or, head straight into the Douro Valley, Portugal’s famous wine region. Spend a day exploring the various wineries, or take it slow on a river cruise and soak up the beauty of the region.
Along Portugal’s southern coast, known as the Algarve, you’ll find stunning beaches, caves, and cliffs, and sunshine all the time. There’s fun here for the whole family, including boat trips and dolphin watching.
It’s easy to rent a car and explore Portugal at your own pace, or you can take advantage of the ease of trains to take you between major destinations.
Located along the Adriatic Sea next to Croatia, Montenegro is a hidden coastal escape that offers a little bit of everything. The Venetian town of Kotor makes an excellent base for exploring the country, with stunning views of the bay from every angle and charming medieval architecture and cobblestone streets waiting to be wandered.
Inland, nature lovers will enjoy Montenegro’s mountainous terrain and national parks dotted with glacial lakes, canyons, caves, and scenic hiking opportunities.
Best of all, Montenegro is refreshingly affordable and offers a tremendous value for a beach vacation compared to destinations like Italy or Croatia.
While you’ll certainly want to visit Croatia next door too, don’t miss the chance to add Montenegro to your adventure.
Prague, Czech Republic
Nicknamed “The City of a Hundred Spires,” Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and known for its beautiful medieval architecture, Gothic churches, world class beer, and lively art scene. Prague Castle sits atop the city and has become an icon for Prague.
If you’re looking for a leisurely trip, base yourself in Prague and enjoy some day trips out of the city to the Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov, medieval castles, and Czechia’s wine country. Or, to see even more of the region, split your time between the iconic cities of Prague, Vienna, and Budapest.
Visit Prague in the spring or fall for beautiful weather and fewer crowds. Or, visit in the winter to explore the famous Christmas markets of the region.
Stepping into Tallinn’s Old Town will make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. The city was first established in the medieval era and has still retained its castle walls around the city center. Tallinn is compact and great to explore on foot. Spend some time simply exploring the various shops and restaurants throughout the cobblestone streets. In certain parts, you can even walk right along the castle walls above the city streets.
Situated right on the Baltic Sea, from Tallinn you’re just a quick ferry ride away from Sweden, Finland, and Russia, making Estonia an easy addition to your Baltic itinerary. You can even take a cruise through this region that will allow you to see a different one of these great destinations each day.
The tiny nation of Malta sits in the Mediterranean Sea and boasts a unique culture blending Italian and North Africa influences. The country comprises three islands - Malta, Gozo, and Comino - that together offer beautiful beaches with azure waters, some of the world’s oldest temples and historical sites, and ancient cities and towns filled with palaces, grand churches, and museums.
Malta has been recognized most lately as being a prominent filming destination for the show ‘Game of Thrones,’ particularly in the walled city of Mdina. Fans of the show can take a tour to visit the various filming sites around the island.
A visit to the Blue Lagoon is a popular stop on any Malta itinerary, from which you can enjoy Comino's crystal clear turquoise waters. Boat tours are a great way to see this area and include other stops for snorkeling or diving and caves.
Malta is wonderful to visit year round, with hot summers and warm, mild winters.
Ready for your next adventure? Exploroholic is planning and booking trips to Europe for 2021. Whether you’re dreaming of exploring Europe by train, car, tour, or river cruise, I’ll curate the trip that’s perfect for you. Send me a message today.
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