Europe's best hidden gems
There are incredible destinations in Europe known worldwide such as Amsterdam and its canals, London for its shopping, its museums and atmosphere or Paris the City of Light. Europe also has thousands of hidden treasures. Discover a selection of the finest unknown destinations in Europe, from Piran in Slovenia to Eguisheim in France and Hvar in Croatia.
One of the most photogenic cities in the Mediterranean, Piran has preserved its unsurpassed charm. Enter the picturesque Piran, get to know its rich history and culture, and listen to the stories of our people.
The proximity to the sea and the rich history, which is mirrored in the architecture, draw magical scenes.
In Piran, you will feel as though you have stepped right into a picture postcard. You will be charmed by the narrow streets within the old town wall. In the main square, you will be greeted by the statue of the most famous man in Piran, the well-known Giuseppe Tartini, composer and virtuoso violinist who was born in a house just steps from the square. On the pier, you can catch sight of fisherman unravelling a fishing net. A market woman from Piran will have just delivered vegetables, fresh from her garden, to the market. Locals sitting by the sea, chatting and listening to sounds of the sea, greet you with a nod. (©portoroz.si)
A small village, Portofino, stretches crescent-shaped along the edge of this calm bay.” Thus wrote Guy de Maupassant when describing Portofino, tiny sea village on the Italian Riviera circumscribed by the green of the Natural Regional Park and Marine Reserve.
This splendid sea resort with its lux, Mediterranean personality, also boasts an ancient marine culture, and of course is another one of those spots beloved by artists, famous personages and writers that have long sung its praises.
The “Piazzetta,” meeting-up point for the international jet-set, is the symbol of Portofino, while the port, with its characteristic, brightly-colored houses, is the icon of this borgo’s maritime traditions, whose inhabitants were called delfini (“dolphins”) by the Greeks and Romans, so apt were they at sea navigation. (©Italia.it)
The city of Hvar is a unique fusion of luxurious Mediterranean nature, rich cultural and historical heritage, and mundane, tourist present.
It is situated in picturesque nature, facing the southern, side of the world that has given it all Mediterranean attraction and cheerfulness; facing sea, that gave it splendid and repeatable history, Hvar is an inexhaustible treasury of the scenery, atmosphere and adventure.
Its name derives from the Greek name for island and town, that stood where today Stari Grad (Hvar became an island’s centre in 13th century) stands - PHAROS.
Hvar gained glory and power during middle ages being an important port within the Venetian, naval empire. Today, it is centre of island’s tourism and one of the favourite destinations in Dalmatian riviera - a town of smiling and courteous people, who are almost only dedicated to tourism. (©tzhva).
The City of Coimbra has its own very special mystique, the result of a past full of important events and of the memories of the many thousands of Portuguese who, dispersed around the country or abroad, remember the carefree, easygoing, hopeful years spent here in their youth as students at the University. Prehistoric remains are scant but allow us to establish an early human presence on the site of present-day Coimbra.
From the Roman period we have the cryptoporticus. This is situated under the former Bishop’s Palace, which now houses the Machado de Castro Museum.
As the country’s first capital for 200 years during the reigns of the earliest monarchs, Coimbra’s profile was raised by the founding of the University which led to the formation of an urban nucleus full of noteworthy buildings. After 1537 there appeared numerous University colleges, and two areas – next to the Royal Palace in the upper town and in the Rua da Sofia (lower town) – were set aside for learning. (©Turismodecoimbra).
All visitors of Burano remain intrigued by the many colours and the coloured houses that are reflected into the green waters of channels, by the Oblique Bell Tower, by the tranquility and the calmness with which the elderly ladies embroider original Burano lace by their tombolo (or lace pillow), while they are laughing and chatting in squares among them. It seems to be in paradise. Children who dart freely with their bicycles, balconies with multicolored flowers, fishermen who put up fresh fish from their traditional boats. (©isoladiburano.it).
Many visitors are attracted to the region, summer and winter alike, drawn not just by Dinant itself, birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the jovial inventor of the saxophone, but also by a network of close on 2,000km of signposted trails, a great river, the Meuse, offering a wide range of activities, and a past full of historic incident.
This heritage of the past includes more than just romantic ruins, however. The Château and Farm of Falaën and two other famous sites, Annevoie and Freÿr, have successfully generated their own
value added and are now known primarily for their magnificent gardens. (©Dinant-tourisme.com).
Perched on a series of hills to the north-west of Malta lies the small town of Mellieħa. Its elevated maritime position, being surrounded on three sides by the Blue Mediterranean Sea, gives it magnificent views all around. It is about 150 metres above sea level and it overlooks the beautiful sandy beach of Mellieħa Bay.
Popeye Village, also known as Sweethaven Village, is a group of rustic and ramshackle wooden buildings located at Anchor Bay in the north-west corner of the Mediterranean island of Malta, two miles from the village of Mellieħa.
It was built as a film set for the production of the 1980 live-action musical feature film Popeye, produced by Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions starring Robin Williams. Today it is open to the public as an open-air museum and family entertainment complex. (©CC and Mellieha City Council).
Brittany - France
Ploumanac'h is a town in the commune of Perros-Guirec, in the Brittany region of the Côtes-d'Armor department in the west of France. The Pink Granite Coast, so-called because of the colour of its rocks, is one of the most beautiful stretches of Brittany’s coastline. The area is renowned for its unusual rock formations, the best of which can be found on the coastal path between Perros-Guirec and the port of Ploumanac’h.
Perros-Guirec itself is one of Brittany’s most popular resorts with families, primarily because of its three sandy beaches where you’ll find kids’ clubs and water sports in high season. In Ploumanac’h, once you’ve taken a walk around the natural harbour and had a look at the tidal mill, relax a while on St Guirec beach and admire the 19th-century Château de Costaérès, star of many postcards and now owned by a German celebrity. (©Brittanytourism).
Alsace - France
Ranked one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France since 2003, the National Grand Prix of flowering since 1989, gold medal contest of the European Entente Florale in 2006 ... Eguisheim, cradle of the Alsatian vineyard, wrapped in concentric circles and multicolored around his castle, no longer has his titles of nobility. (©ot-eguisheim).
Aquitaine - France
Cap Ferret is a headland, situated at the south end of the commune of Lège-Cap-Ferret in the French department of Gironde and region of Aquitaine. The headland takes the form of a spit, which separates the Atlantic Ocean from Arcachon Bay. At the same time, the entrance to Arcachon Bay separates Cap Ferret from the resort town of Arcachon.
Cap Ferret is famous for its lighthouse and as an up-market resort that has retained its natural feel at the heart of the Landes of Gascony and the Pays de Buch. It is known as a place of leisure for the high French society and remains a trendy destination for summer holidays.
Cap Ferret is accessible by road from the north, and by passenger ferry from Arcachon. The Tramway du Cap-Ferret, a diesel operated narrow-gauge railway, links the ferry landing at Bélisaire on the shores of Arcachon Bay with the beaches on the Atlantic coast. (©CC).
Wales - UK
Tenby is probably the most iconic seaside town in Wales, rivalling places like Mevagissey and Polperro for quaintness and charm. It was awarded a Silver award for the best UK coastal resort at the British Travel awards.
The classic postcard view of Tenby harbour is from The Norton, a road that runs along the cliff top above North Beach. You can find several good hotels here.
The Victorian seaside development on the west side of town, outside the town walls, was fairly limited so doesn't detract from the general ambience of the town. The imposing hotels along The Esplanade look over Tenby's South Beach towards Caldey Island. In the neighbouring streets you can also find plenty of B&Bs, guest houses and self catering apartments.
The centre of Tenby is a maze of narrow little streets. The roads are pedestrianised during the day in summer when the bars and restaurants set up al fresco seating. There are plenty of interesting and quirky shops. (©visitpembrokeshire.com).
Alsace - France
For Georges Duhamel (as he wrote in 1931), Colmar was the "most beautiful town in the world". It has also often been said that it is the most Alsatian town in Alsace! Without going over the top with superlatives, Colmar undoubtedly remains an exceptional town due to the wealth and variety of its historical and architectural heritage.
The capital of central Alsace, situated near Germany and Switzerland between the Vosges and the Rhine, Strasbourg and Mulhouse, the town offers visitors an exciting glimpse of 1000 years of European history.
Besides, with its 67,000 inhabitants, Colmar retains a 'country town' atmosphere which contributes so much to its charm. Wonderfully preserved from the ravages of time, its homogenous historical centre is classed as a 'protected area' and has benefited from careful restoration and ongoing improvements for more than 20 years.(©ot-colmar.fr).
Sveti Stefan is a town in Montenegro. Previously a fishing village, in 1960 it was converted into the old town, with its tower, narrow streets, shops and small churches, remained unchanged.
Sveti Stefan is an unusual and unique place not only at Montenegro or Budva's Riviera but in the whole Mediterranean. It stands on the cliff of a rocky island with roofs red like rubies. A sand isthmus looking like a stem connects it with the land. It came into existence in a unique way.