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 Lugano in Switzerland to Cinque Terre in Italy and Sintra in Portugal.
The Meteora (Greek: Μετέωρα, pronounced [mɛˈtɛoɾɐ], lit. "middle of the sky", "suspended in the air" or "in the heavens above" — etymologically related to "Meteorite") is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka. The Metéora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. (©CC).
A region: Ticino – a city: Lugano
The latter, an international city and the crossroads and melting pot of European culture, constitutes one of the most interesting regions to be discovered. The city is open and welcoming and offers thousands of value added possibilities typical of a united and constantly open Switzerland, a sort of gate to Europe.
Lugano, the largest town in the holiday region of Ticino, is not only Switzerland's third most important financial centre and a conference, banking and business centre, but also a town of parks and flowers, villas and sacred buildings. With Mediterranean flair, Lugano offers all the advantages of a world-class city, combined with the cachet of a small town.
The Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre represent one of the best preserved natural and semi-natural areas of the Mediterranean. Historical and geomorphologic reasons have forbidden excessive housing development and the creation of major roadways (which instead are present inland in the Val di Vara). Human activity and especially viticulture, have contributed to create a unique landscape in which development of the typical stone walls is so extensive as to equal that of the famous Great Wall of China. All this, combined with the characteristics of a crystal clear sea, of architecturally interesting locations, of a varied and extensive network of paths (one of the most enviable in the whole Mediterranean), makes the Cinque Terre an increasingly sought after location among Italian and foreign tourists.
Situated in the heart of the Adriatic, Zadar is the urban center of northern Dalmatia as administrative, economic, cultural and political center of the region with 75,000 inhabitants. The coast is particularly indented, the islands and the untouched nature allures many boaters to this regions. The archipelago counts 24 bigger and about 300 smaller islets and rocks, 3 nature parks - Telašćica, Velebit and Vransko jezero and 5 national parks - Paklenica, Plitvice lakes, Kornati Islands, Krka and Sjeverni Velebit classifying Zadar and its surroundings at the very top of the Croatian tourist offer.
Sintra is a jewel set between the mountains and the sea, waiting to be discovered by all who dare lose themselves in its majestic historical heritage, luxuriant nature, cosmopolitan cultural offer and opulent gastronomy.
Sintra exudes a romantic aura that left a deep impression on the soul and work of the writers who, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, pioneered the Romantic spirit and celebrated subjectivity and the emotion of the human drama. Sintra is truly the capital of Romanticism. It is a place to experience!
Trieste was one of the oldest parts of the Habsburg Monarchy. In the 19th century, it was the most important port of one of the Great Powers of Europe. As a prosperous seaport in the Mediterranean region, Trieste became the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (after Vienna, Budapest, and Prague). In the fin-de-siecle period, it emerged as an important hub for literature and music. It underwent an economic revival during the 1930s, and Trieste was an important spot in the struggle between the Eastern and Western blocs after the Second World War. Today, the city is in one of the richest regions of Italy, and has been a great centre for shipping, through its port (Port of Trieste), shipbuilding and financial services. (©CC).
Madeira - Portugal
Porto Santo is one long beach with a bit of an island attached. Along its nine kilometres of soft white sands, you’ll find just a handful of hotels and restaurants, making Porto Santo one of the last ‘undiscovered’ resorts in Europe.
Part of the Portuguese archipelago that includes the island of Madeira – in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Africa – Porto Santo offers a superb chance to get away from it all. Its volcanic sands have long been held to have curative powers for all manner of aches and ills. (©porto-santo.com).
The present-day crescent shape of the island is a consequence of the activity of the volcano in prehistoric times feeding the myth of the lost Atlantis. Santorini is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion dated back 3,600 years and which created the current geological caldera; a giant central lagoon, more or less rectangular, and measuring about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high steep cliffs on three sides.
The mild activity of the volcano after this major eruption has built up two small islands within the caldera, Palea and Nea Kameni visited by hundreds of people everyday during the
tourist season. (©Santorini.net).
With immense natural beauty, Bled, together with its surroundings, ranks among the most beautiful alpine resorts, renowned for its mild, healing climate and thermal lake water. The beauty of the mountains reflected on the lake, the sun, the serenity and the fresh air arouse pleasant feelings in visitors throughout the year, guaranteeing an ideal base or a relaxing break or an active holiday. Bled attracts businessmen, artists, athletes, explorers, sport enthusiasts, the old and the young, from all over the world, enchanting them to return again and again.
Lofoten is an archipelago and a traditional district in the county of Nordland, Norway. Though lying within the Arctic Circle, the archipelago experiences one of the world's largest elevated temperature anomalies relative to its high latitude. Winter temperatures in Lofoten are very mild considering its location north of the Arctic Circle – Lofoten has the largest positive temperature anomaly in the world relative to latitude. This is a result of the Gulf Stream and its extensions: the North Atlantic Current and the Norwegian Current. Røst and Værøy are the most northerly locations in the world where average temperatures are above freezing all year. (©CC).
On the foothill of the mountain Lovcen, in the deepest part of the most beautiful Mediterranean bay and one of the most beautiful in the world, there is the old town of Kotor. A
town of rich cultural tradition and one of the best preserved sights in the Mediterranean area. (©tokor.me).
Corsica - France
Bonifacio is located directly on the Mediterranean Sea, separated from Sardinia by the Strait of Bonifacio. It is a city placed on the best and only major harbor of the southern coast and also is a commune covering a somewhat larger region including the offshore Isles Lavezzi, giving it the distinction of being the southernmost commune in Metropolitan France. The commune is bordered on the northwest by the canton of Figari and has a short border on the northeast with the canton of Porto-Vecchio. (Creative Attributions).
This town in the Málaga region sits on either side of the Tajo del Ronda, a narrow gorge more than 150 metres deep. Its old town has been declared Property of Cultural Interest. Celts, Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs all inhabited these lands, which were reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs. The historic quarter, reminiscent of the Arab age and with a medieval layout is scattered to the south of the Guadalevín, while more modern Ronda, the part which sprang up after the 16th century, unfolds to the north of the course of this river. Several bridges unite the two halves of one of the most interesting towns on the route of the Whitewashed Villages, in the heart of the the Ronda hills, only a few kilometres from the Costa del Sol. (©Spain.info).