Europe has always captured many tourists’ attention. After all, it’s a magnetic continent filled with a rich history, beautiful architecture that dates back to ancient times, diverse landscapes, mouth watering cuisines that vary from village to village, and so much more. Due to this, it may seem like every corner of Europe has been already exploited by tourists.
And while that’s particularly true for the likes of big cities such as Paris, Rome, and Barcelona, there are still a lot of secret destinations in Europe for the curious traveller. Some are within easy reach while others require a little bit more effort—but all are definitely worth it!
Ready to see Europe in a different light? Check out these 7 must-visit hidden gems!
ETIAS Travel: Top 7 Hidden Destinations in Europe You Need to Explore
1. The Azores (Portugal)
Dubbed as Europe’s Hawaii, the Azores in Portugal boasts volcanic mountain peaks, crater lakes, untouched landscapes, ancient fishing villages, and so much more. No wonder the UNESCO listed it as a Biosphere Reserve back in 2009.
Despite its breathtaking beauty, these nine volcanic islands were cut off from the rest of the world until recently, with new direct flights now available. Fret not, though, as the Azores are still very much a hidden gem destination.
It’s definitely the perfect escape for a much-deserved holiday! Feel free to go sightseeing and take in the vast landscapes. Then visit the islands’ various natural geothermal hot springs for a relaxing day.
Tip: Want a unique sightseeing experience? Go explore the Azores’ yachting culture and set sail around the islands.
2. Bilbao (Spain)
Despite being awarded the 2018 European City of the Year, Bilbao still remains to be a relatively hidden destination in Europe. Perfect for travellers who prefer the urban landscape, this Northern Spain city is known for its art culture, unique personality, and world-class food!
One of the best attractions you should visit in Bilbao is the Guggenheim Museum. Here, you’ll see a wide range of work by some of the 20th and 21st century’s most important artists. You may also want to stroll along the Zubizuri river which is just a walking distance away from the museum.
Of course, you don’t want to miss the gastronomy scene the city has to offer. As the home to over 40 Michelin-starred restaurants, the serious foodie in you would surely not be disappointed. Must-try dishes include the pintxos, bacalao al pil pil, and pastel vasco.
3. Setenil de las Bodegas (Spain)
Another must-visit hidden gem in Europe is the Setenil de las Bodegas. This small, quaint town in Southern Spain is built into the cliffs. You’ll be surely drawn to the people who quite literally live under a rock and the overall peculiarity of the town.
Aside from its scenic cliffside setting, the top attractions in Setenil de las Bodegas are, without doubt, the Nazari Castle and the Church of La Encarnación.
Located at the top of the hill, the former was an Arab fortress that dates back to the 13th century. Most of the castle’s original towers were destroyed but it’s still worth stopping by to see the stunning view of the town below. The Church of La Encarnación, on the other hand, is by no means, the most beautiful church in Spain but it has its own charm. It provides tourists with a glimpse of how simple and peaceful life back then.
4. Bogliasco (Italy)
Situated in the greater Genoa area in Italy, there’s a humble municipality by the Mediterranean Sea known as the Bogliasco.
This hidden gem in Europe is the perfect place to spend lazy afternoons by the sea. And with the coral, turquoise and sunflower-yellow homes located by the shore, Bogliasco is definitely one of the must-visit destinations for a fun-in-the-sun holiday.
Apart from the beaches, the town also offers a distinct art scene, owing to its numerous museums such as the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, the Wolfsoniana, and the Frugone Collections.
Tip: As a coastal town, Bogliasco is also the place to be if you want to taste fresh, local seafood. Don’t forget to visit Al Solito Posto when you’re in the area!
5. Mittenwald (Germany)
For the ultimate alpine getaway, go ahead and visit Mittenwald in Germany! Tourists would definitely feel like they’re living in a musical show when visiting this quaint town, owing to its charming cobbled streets, colourful painted houses, and mountain landscapes.
Strolling along the Altstadt, or Old Town, is definitely one thing you should do here! And don’t forget to drop by the Obermarkt (Main Street) for a full display of timeless tradition.
Did You Know? Mittenwald is known for the art of crafting classical instruments, earning the nickname “Village of a Thousand Violins” for this reason.
6. The Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands is the only country in Europe included in this list—and for good reason! It is often overlooked in favour of popular and bigger Northern European countries such as Norway and Iceland but this archipelago offers the same (maybe even better!) impressive sights.
For one, it has one of the most stunning scenery not only in Europe but also in the world! From verdant mountains, rolling hills, crashing waterfalls to colourful little villages, this Scandivinian country has so much to offer.
Aside from the breathtaking sights, Faroe Islands is also the home to some of the most welcoming people in the world and several cool festivals during the summer.
7. Mdina (Malta)
Want to feel like you’re in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East all at once? Pack your backs and head to Mdina in Malta!
This hidden walled city in Europe has a rich history, evident from its encompassing range of architecture influenced by powerful empires such as the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Byzantines, and Normans.
Architecture aficionados and history buffs would surely enjoy touring around this city. One of the must-visit attractions is St. Paul’s Cathedral. Dating back to the 12th century, it has a prominent facade, complemented by an outstanding dome, that would captivate many visitors.
Mdina’s narrow, quiet streets and timeless charm definitely makes it one of the best hidden gems in Europe.
Did You Know? HBO’s hit TV series, Game of Thrones, filmed in location at the Mdina Gate and Fort to create the fictional King’s Landing. So if you’re a GOT fan, you’ll definitely want to add this town to your travel bucketlist!
When visiting Europe, most tourists instantly think of big cities such as London, Paris, and Rome. And while these cities offer an unforgettable experience, they are far too overrated. If you truly want to explore the beauty and culture Europe has to offer, it’s best to skip these big cities and visit hidden (and less popular) destinations instead.
Want to go to these hidden gems in Europe? Make sure you have your ETIAS Visa Waiver ready. For the year 2021 onwards, the European Union would strictly implement a new travel policy to ensure locals and tourists’ safety all across Schengen member states. Contact us today to learn how to apply for ETIAS!
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