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. From Rothenburg in Germany to Preko in Croatia and Faial in The Azores, discover a selection of the finest unknown destinations in Europe.
Civita di Bagnoregio
Civita di Bagnoregio is actually two remote towns. Civita is on a hill accessible only by a long stone walkway that begins at the end of the road from neighboring Bagnoregio. Once, Civita was the larger community and Bagnoregio the satellite.
Today, Civita has only about 6 year-round residents, so few that Civita is nicknamed "the Dying City." Many of the buildings in Civita are being purchased by rich Italians who come here for vacation. However the town suffers constant erosion of its volcanic rock into the valley below.
Civita is a charming medieval city, almost utterly untouched by the Renaissance. (The facade of the church was remodeled during the Renaissance, but the city is otherwise entirely medieval.) The city's most famous native was the 13th Century philosopher and saint Bonaventure. Despite its nickname, during the tourist season, Civita bustles with day trippers.
The long bridge into Civita is steep -- and it gets steeper as it rises. This is a challenging climb for anyone not in particularly good shape. (©wikietravel)
Immerse yourself in medieval life. Take a trip to a thousand years of history that seems to pass in a moment! Let Rothenburg ob der Tauber bring the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to life before your eyes.
The unique atmosphere of Rothenburg can be experienced when you stroll through the high-ways and byways of our town, where you will discover evidence of a bygone age on almost every corner: lovingly restored house fronts, fountains, gables, bay windows and street signs all provide reminders of everyday life long ago. (©tourismus.rothenburg)
Samos is an island ruled by legend and beauty. It is the island of the father of mathematics, Pythagoras, the astronomer Aristarchus and the philosopher Epicurus. It is the home of Hera and the land that hosted Herodotus and Aesop. An important center of trade in the Aegean and a major naval force in antiquity, it came into contact with important Mediterranean cultures.
Samos is a place of overwhelming vegetation. Everything around the virgin landscape is made of colour and light. Each step one takes is a revelation. Whether in the imposing mountains, such as Mt. Kerkis and Mt. Ambelos – with alpine winter temperatures and endless rain – or in caves and canyons, the environment of Samos reminds one of the Greek hinterland in miniature. (©Visit Greece).
Preko is the road and administration center of the island of Ugljan, situated, as the name states, opposite Zadar. Its old center consists of typical Dalmatian architecture and numerous patrician family summer houses. The best way to feel the Mediterranean atmosphere is by walking along the quay or sipping a favorite drink on one of the terraces with a view of the Zadar Channel. (©tz-preko)
The holy city clings to the steep rocky cliffs at a dizzying height, displaying layer upon layer of houses and chapels. Down from the castle which crowns this audacious construction, it’s a sheer drop of some 150 metres with at the bottom the meandering river Alzou. On the Way of Saint James, the basilica of Saint-Sauveur and the crypt of Saint-Amadour, both featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, can be admired by visitors once the 216 marches of the Pilgrim’s Stairs have been climbed. But the jewel of the sanctuary is kept in the Chapel of Miracles, one of eight chapels built against the rocks. It is the Black Madonna, which has been worshipped here for over a thousand years.
The Regional Nature Park of the Causses du Quercy lies around Rocamadour like a beautiful blanket. An exceptional natural environment with limestone rock plateaus and verdant valleys, gorges, sources, rivers re-emerging in emerald green lakes, gnarly oak woods and dolmens, old mills and picturesque little bridges.
Rocamadour, a village blessed by the gods.. (©visit-dordogne-valley).
Bohinj – a unique, charming, wonderfully mysterious region in Slovenia, the Alps and Europe. Bohinj is located in the heart of the Julian Alps. The most extensive and highest mountain range in Slovenia is also the most south-eastern part of the Alps.
Bohinj encompasses the valley of Nomenj, the Upper and Lower Bohinj Valleys, Lake Basin, the Pokljuka and Jelovica plateaus and a high mountain range.
The most recognisable and astonishing natural site is Lake Bohinj, the biggest lake in Slovenia. The twenty-four villages in and above the valley hide the attractive riches of the past, the cheerfulness of the present and the mystery of the future. (©YourEDENExperience).
Azores - Portugal
Faial Island (the blue island) is part of the Azores central group, located about 66 miles from Terceira, 4.5 miles from Pico and 11 miles from S. Jorge. The surface area of Faial Island is approximately 67 square miles (173 km2). The island has about 15.000 inhabitants and its main municipal seat is located in the city of Horta. Different colours of blue decorate the houses, divide the fields and line the roadsides, giving Faial the name of Blue Island.
The green circle of a volcanic cone at the top of a hill; White houses in towns mirrored on the ocean; The masts of sailing boats sailing from all over the world; The ochre walls of a fortress that has witnessed countless naval battles; The unforgettable sight of sunrise with the island of Pico in the background; The quiet inlets with beaches of soft sand; The hydrangeas standing out against the landscape, framing houses and roads, reason why Faial has been christened the "blue island". (©VisitAzores).
Positano is a village and comune on the Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitana), in Campania, Italy, mainly in an enclave in the hills leading down to the coast. Positano was a port of the Amalfi Republic in medieval times, and prospered during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the town had fallen on hard times. More than half the population emigrated, mostly to America.
Positano was a relatively poor fishing village during the first half of the twentieth century. It began to attract large numbers of tourists in the 1950s, especially after John Steinbeck published his essay about Positano in Harper's Bazaar in May, 1953: "Positano bites deep", Steinbeck wrote. "It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone." (©cc).
At the border of two sovereign states, Italy and Monaco, Menton is the most eastern French city of the Côte d'Azur. It is surrounded by a circle of high mountains that dominate the Mont Agel (1149 m), Mount Ours (1249 m) and Le Berceau (1 200m). Nestled in the heart of a bay bounded to the west by Cape Martin and to the east by the edge of Mortola, the city is open to the Mediterranean and backed by the foothills of the Alps. (©menton.fr).
Tellaro is a small fishing village, perched on a cliff on the east coast of the Gulf of La Spezia in Liguria, northern Italy. It is a frazione of the comune of Lerici. It has been rated as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Tellaro has been the destination for many Italian and foreign artists. Mario Soldati made it his home in the last years of his life.
Tellaro is one of the seaside villages that annually participate in the Palio del Golfo, an annual boat race held in the gulf of La Spezia. (©CC).
Cavtat is the largest and the only urban centre in Konavle that has been built up deliberately. It is located on the peninsula of Rat, which surrounds the well protected and accessible bay together with the peninsula of Sustjepan. In its harmonious architecture, the centuries-old natural, spiritual and material affiliation to the Dubrovnik Republic can be observed.
Places like Cavtat offering so much to the visitors are quite rare. Its scenery, the rich cultural and historical heritage along with the range of services offered to tourists meet the demands of the present day tourists, thus making it one of the most attractive destinations on the Adriatic coast. (©visit.cavtat-konavle.com).
Madeira - Portugal
Santana (from Portuguese Santa Ana, meaning Saint Anne) is a municipality along the northern coast of the island of Madeira.
Santana is known for the traditional homes constructed with sloping triangular rooftops, and protected with straw. These were mainly rural homes, used by local farmers, during the settlement of the island, with white-paintd walls, red doors and windows with blue trim. Most of the surviving buildings are tourist attractions.(©CC).
The trulli, the characteristic cone-roofed houses of Alberobello, Apulia, make up one of the 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy.
The name derives from the late Greek word for dome (τρούλος; in Italian, cupola), and refers to the ancient stone houses with conical roofs, constructed with the abundant limestone from the plateau of Apulia’s Murge zone.
These impressive and unique structures, largely present in the Valley of Itria, can also be found in the Provinces of Brindisi, Bari and Taranto. They are a genius example of architecture that is spontaneous, yet imperishable; to this day they are still used as homes.
Alberobello, an inland village of the Province of Bari, is undoubtedly the Capital of the Trulli: its historic center is integrally constituted by these rather particular white, pyramidal structures that make it so famous and identifiable.(©italia.it).