Know how your Instagram feed is forever filled with stories of people gallivanting through Venice or Paris or Austria? Quite cliché isn’t it? If you’re planning on taking a trip through Europe this year and want to steer clear of all the well-trodden cities, we’ve got a bunch of places you might want to visit that are anything but commonplace. These picturesque dream destinations are those corners of the world that are magically devoid of human alteration and havens of natural beauty. Read on about ten places in Europe you mustn’t have heard of but are absolute must-visits!
1. Porto Santo, Portugal
This long, sandy beach island is a gem to behold. Set in the North Atlantic Ocean, it’s north of the Madeira Islands of Portugal. The islands sports a bunch of spectacular dive sites and its warm waters are quite the attraction. Oddly enough, the island retains a dry climate most of the year despite the rains that plague neighboring islands. The island also houses a quaint museum which was once home to the famous explorer Christopher Columbus who married a Portugese noblewoman, resident to the magical Porto Santo islands. The airport connects most cities in Europe including the Lisbon airport and welcomes visitors all year round.
2. Sion, Switzerland
While a lot of people out there do visit Switzerland, most of their exploits are limited to Zurich or Geneva. Sion is a little town nestled in the southwestern Swiss Canton of Valais. The ruins of the Tourbillon Castle is a sight to swoon over. Built sometime in the 13th century, this monument unfortunately saw its downfall in a fire in 1788. A beautiful set of steps in stone that entwine around a hill leads up to this magnificent castle. Also known The Cathedral of Our Lady of Sion, the Sion Cathedral is an example of fine Roman architecture and the seat of the Diocese of Sion. Its Byzantine style compliments 15 altars and several Roman inscriptions.
3. Segovia, Spain
One of Spain’s most historically valued places, the lesser heard of Segovia also makes for an excellent vacation spot. The city lies north of Madrid, and somewhere in Leon. This city is an amalgam of everything medieval. From the gothic Cathedral to famous royal castles, and from Roman architecture in churches and palaces, heritage is prominent here. Hot summer-Mediterranean climate adds to the aura. The Alcazar of Segovia, a World Heritage site sits atop a mountain and is known for its spectacular architecture which has made it look like the bow of a ship. It has served as a fort, a castle and a prison which makes it a very popular attraction. The Aqueduct of Segovia is one other extraordinary monument and is believed to be founded in the first century AD, and preserved till date. Once transporting water from the mountains to the city, the Aqueduct now stands tall and is represented in the city’s coat of arms.
4. Nantes, France
France happens to be on the list of places to visit for every Europe trip. And while most people go straight to Paris, Nantes is our favorite spot. The Loire river runs through Western France’s upper Brittany area and that’s where Nantes sits. The port city is home to the magnificent Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne which used to house generations of Dukes. The Nantes Cathedral, Cours Cambronne and the Erde are famous reflection of the city’s architecture and culture. Machines of the Isle on Nantes however stands apart from everything else owing to its unique portrayal of machines on animals. The Great Elephant, Heron Tree and the Marine Worlds Carousel are some of their finest collections.
5. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Plovdiv is one city that’s everything you go to Europe for – Quaint little cafes, cobblestone lanes and spectacular architecture. Situated in Southern Bulgaria, the city is set around seven hills! All of the city’s history can be found in the Regional Archeological Museum which includes a display of mosaic panels, clay lamps and early coins. And not just that – invasion by Persians, Greeks, Turks and Romans make the city so culturally rich that it’s reflected in the architecture of the place. The Virgin Mary church and the Synagogue are must visits!
6. Gdansk, Poland
This port city is prettily perched on the Baltic coast and parades a wonderful feel of cultural importance with its marketplace through the city center. After the World War 2, the street was reconstructed and little shops and restaurants cropped up making it as lively as before. The city is also known as one of rare areas in the world where amber trading is highly prominent, not to mention the ossified resin available at most boutiques. Owing to all this, the city was the wealthiest city in Poland in the 18th century. The influx of several ethnicities is quite evident from the different kinds of people and cultural monuments here. Make sure to visit the Zuraw, the Green Gate, Neptune’s fountain area, Abbot’s Palace and the Museum of the Polish Post.
7. Treviso, Italy
While most people flaunt photographs of Florence or Venice, the lesser known Treviso is a beauty to behold. This canal city has water bodies weaving through it creating the aura of a city that stands on water. Historic battlements and arcades are displayed all over town give a medieval feel. One major attraction here is the Fontana Delle Tette which is a fountain which pours wine and red wine on special occasions. Further, the city is known to be house to the famous clothing brand, Benetton.
8. Lugano, Switzerland
Nestled in Southern Switzerland, Lugano is a jewel in the Italian speaking Swiss region. The cultural and ethnic mix dates back to days of Italy’s Lombardi which is reflected in the many cuisines available here. The glacial Lake Lugano is flanked by the city on one side and the mountains on another. Spend hours admiring the view through any sport of your choice be it hiking, mountain climbing or biking around the lake. Also, get a whiff of the cultural mixture by visiting the museum and the renaissance residence by the lake.
9. Sintra, Portugal
Sintra has evolved over the years to be a resort town what with its enchanting forests and villas. The city is wedged on Lisbon’s corner and has a Moorish charm to it. The Sintra National Palace is quite famous for its twin chimneys and domes that stand proudly apart high and tall. The Quinta da Regaleira and the Castle of Moors are also definite must-visits!
10. Meteora, Greece
Majorly known for its picturesque rock formations, Meteora is an excellent hiking spot for travellers. Mount Athos rises from the midst of all of this in all its foliage which is dotted with Orthodox Monasteries. Why could say no to such an adventure?
So, start packing your bags, ‘coz we’re pretty sure you’ve got your travelling plans for 2018 set! Go visit the magnificent ruins and castles you’ve seen above!