7 of Europe’s Best Hidden Gems
Go off the beaten path in Europe!Oh Europe… with its historic cities and fairy tale-like scenery! If, like us, you miss exploring the Old World and all it has to offer, but you may be worried about busy crowds around popular tourist attractions, follow us off the beaten path! Discover 7 of our favourite hidden gems across famous European destinations.
Ireland’s only fjordSnaking its way between the counties of Galway and Mayo, Killary Harbour fjord stretches for about 16 kilometres, from Aasleagh Falls to the Atlantic. Ireland’s only true fjord is flanked by the mountains of Connemara, glacial valleys and friendly towns. It’s also a hotspot for shellfish farming and birdwatching—so keep your eye on sea and sky as you visit the area by foot or by boat!
Recommended tour packages: Adventurous Ireland and Ireland in Motion—both stop in County Kerry, where you can find another fun Irish hidden gem: the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve, a must-see for astronomy nerds!
The jewel of the RivieraWhat if we told you that somewhere along France’s cinematic Côte d’Azur is a medieval town perched on a hill, overlooking the glorious waters of the Mediterranean? Welcome to Eze, an impossibly gorgeous town of old houses and small cobbled streets. The views from the hilltop will simply blow you away—take it all in before going back to beach-hopping along the Riviera!
Recommended trips: Nice & More tour package, or for more coastal hidden gems in France, opt for Flight & Hotel bundles to Marseille, where you’re near the fabulous Calanques National Park!
Surf’s up… in England?!Riding waves doesn’t just happen in the tropics—you could also squeeze in a lesson between visits to the historic castles and cities of the United Kingdom. Happily located on England’s sunnier southern coast, Bournemouth is a charming seaside resort destination luring the island’s surfers to its shores. Catch a wave or stroll from pier to pier to compare beaches and, of course, indulge in some fish and chips.
Recommended tour package: England Past, Present and Future, which also takes you to the coastal town of Brighton and the thermal springs of Bath to really make a splash.
“O Romeo, Romeo”“In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…” Yes, Verona is a real city in Italy, and not a figment of Shakespeare’s rich imagination. While it may draw many star-crossed lovers to its Romeo & Juliet-themed sites and streets, fewer travellers know that the city is actually the ideal gateway to the many jewels of the Veneto region: sublime Lake Garda, the pretty village of Sirmione and the wineries, Prosecco hills or grappa distilleries around Valpolicella and Vicenza. Rustic excursions by day, romance by night… that’s Verona!
Recommended tour package: Country Roads of Northern Italy and Lake Garda.
Just you, the locals… and the best view.Pop quiz: what’s the best view in Barcelona? You might get half-points if you answered “standing in front of the Sagrada Família,” but you’d be wrong. It’s actually the view from former military defenses built during the Spanish Civil War! Called the Bunkers of Carmel, the site sits atop a hill, Turó de la Rovira, offering an incomparable bird’s eye view of the city’s skyline, its landmarks and the Mediterranean Sea. Abandoned for years, the bunkers have now been completely renovated to include a small museum on the civil war, quickly becoming the best spot in the city to catch the sunset!
Recommended tour packages: All our tour packages in Spain begin in Barcelona, so take your pick! To stay off the beaten path in this bohemian city, don’t miss a jaunt around the up-and-coming Poblenou neighbourhood!
Medieval moment: preservedReady to step a few centuries back in time? Tucked away in Portugal’s Alentejo province, Évora is dubbed a museum-city for its impeccably preserved 14th-century walls and medieval architecture that’s earned it a spot on UNESCO’S World Heritage List. Pro-tip: the Alentejo region is also home to tons of beaches that are lesser known than the shores of the Algarve.
Recommended tour packages: Heart of Portugal Motorcycle Journey, which includes more medieval towns (Obidos and Marvao), as well as the surfing mecca of Nazaré, and Adventurous Portugal, which also takes you to beautiful Alqueva Lake.
The most romantic town in GreeceWhile we’re as obsessed by Greek islands as any savvy traveller, we also know that Greece harbours inland coastal gems. Nafplio, set on the Peloponnesian peninsula overlooking the Argolic Gulf, revels in its reputation as the country’s most romantic town. Once the capital of Greece, this seaside city is under two hours away from Athens and knows how to charm with its elegant architecture, winding streets and secret beaches.
Recommended trips: our Historical Greece tour package, also stopping in legendary locations like Olympia and Delphi. Alternately, if you’d like to soak in more secret slices of coastline for a little bit longer, opt for one of our Seaside Escapes: Seaside Escape at King Saron Hotel or Seaside Escape at Kalamaki Beach.