Get off the Beaten Path in Europe

So many travels start with Europe. The continent has everything, despite its small size – the sheer number of countries allows for stunning diversity and vibrance. Many travellers (myself included for the time being) stick to the big names: London, Paris, Istanbul, Rome. I can’t wait until I’m established in Italy and I can explore more off the beaten path destinations in Italy and beyond – I’ve put together this article listing top travel bloggers’ suggestions for places to get off the beaten path in Europe!

Cantabria, Spain

 

I’ve visited Spain about 5 times and the area of Cantabria is probably one of my favourite spots that hold some of my fondest travel memories. Unfortunately many people skip this region and opt for the more touristy Madrid and Barcelona, but if you want to experience some beautiful coastal towns, gorgeous white sand beaches and awesome surfing then I suggest you explore what Cantabria has to offer.

Experience the culture and shopping in the small city of Torrelavega, then explore the amazing beaches of Santander and Suances. I spent lots of time on Los Locos beach in particular which I think could turn anyone into a beach bum. If you’re heading to the north of Spain, take time to explore this area, I promise you won’t regret it.

Lauren Marinigh is based in Toronto, Canada where she works full-time in marketing and runs her travel blog, Wanderlust. A blog not solely for young budget travelers but since Lauren is one herself, it seems to offer lots of tips and advice for the young and broke backpackers out there!


Elsingor, Denmark



It is no secret that I am a superfan of the one and only, the bard, the master of the English vocabulary, Shakespeare! So when I lived in Sweden I naturally had to find out about THAT castle that featured in Hamlet and served as the actual model. Just a 10 minute ride on the ferry from Swedish Helsingborg (worth a visit as well!) and I could already see the spires and walls rising from Castle Kronborg in the distance.
I had actually prepared a printout of the iconic skull but I forgot it at home! My devastation luckily didn’t last long because there are pop ups where you can stick your head through and hold Yorick high up in front of the castle. A much better option, if you ask me. Who travels with a cardboard skull anyway?! Inside the castle you can join a free tour that is also a re-staging of the play of sorts. The guide pretends to be Horatio and tells his side of the story, showing you the place of the first ghost sighting, Ophelia’s chamber and the hall where the final showdown took place. It is extremely entertaining and moving.

Regarding the town of Helsingør, it is super picturesque with medieval streets, cobblestones and romantic cafes. And did you know that Elsingor has the male coutnerpart to Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid? The statue is simply called Han (Danish for ‘he’) and shines bright in polished steel gazing out at the Culture Harbour. In contrast to the city centre, the harbour is super modern and impressive with its edgy architecture. Not being super big, the town can be explored in one day and is my secret European off-the beaten path spot.

Annemarie is a full time traveller, serial blogger and chronic foodie on her way across the big wide world. With restless feet and an insatiable curiosity, she wants to take you along on her whirlwind romance with travel and inspire you to follow your dreams. After all, if a chaos magnet like her can do it, so can you!  Check out her blog at Travel on the Brain.


Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

 

One of the best-preserved medieval walled cities in Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the cutest little towns in all of Europe. Rothenburg has an endless supply of charm, from the cobblestone streets, to the cheerful town center with its iconic clock tower, and the picturesque colored storefronts and houses. In German, the name means “Red fortress above the Tauber” and it’s not the only Rothenburg in Germany (hence the need to append “ob der Tauber”, in case you mistake it for one of the others). Rothenburg is certainly off the beaten path as far as typical European destinations go, but it has been discovered by tourists who flock there for the abundant Christmas markets, great souvenir shopping and the chance to walk along the wall that surrounds the city. The streets are often packed with tourist, but there’s plenty to do to get away from the crowds, like taking the Night Watchman walking tour, visiting St. Jacob’s Church or one of the many interesting museums, or just ducking into a pub for a pint of dunkelweizen.

Laura Lynch is the creator and writer of Savored Journeys, an avid world traveler and lover of great food and wine.


Sardinia, Italy



Sardinia is mostly considered a top luxury destination, and many would ignore it for fear it may be too expensive. But it actually can be very affordable. Furthermore, it is well known for its beaches and beautiful sea. Not many know, however, that it also has very pretty small cities and villages, interesting archeological sites, ancient culture and, most importantly, some of the best hikes in Europe. This means that some of the best off the beaten paths in Europe are in Sardinia! One of them is Su Gorropu canyon, which is the deepest canyon in Europe. There are several paths that lead to it. My favourite is one that starts outside the village of Urzulei and gets to Sa Giuntura, Piscina Urtaddala and Piscina Gorroppu, some lovely natural pools at the bottom of the canyon where you can also cool off on hot, sunny days. The overall hike is about 18 km, on some steep terrain, and offers some spectacular views over the Supramonte mountains of Sardinia. It is a medium difficulty hike and you will need good hiking shoes, as well as a proper backpack to carry plenty of water and a packed lunch.

Claudia is from Cagliari (Sardinia) and is obsessed with travelling. A former human rights lawyer and academic, after devoting her life to the protection of cultural identity, in November 2013 Claudia decided to give in to her biggest passion and started travelling around Latin America, and she has hardly stopped since. Blogging came as a natural consequence, for Claudia wanted to let her family and friends be updated with her adventures. Check out her blog at My Adventures Across the World!


Štramberk, Czech Republic

 

Many treasured memories can be held in small big places, in the allurement of details that can’t be expressed in words, but in the serendipity of the unknown. Štramberk is a petite small town in Czech Republic, who owns an enigma surrounded in about 10km2, and part of it, is revealed by a tower named Trúba, who seems to protect the town with the “dazzling and wooden houses”. If you ever get lost in town, you will be able to find your way back on the cobblestone streets by lifting your face to the hills to find your compass, Trúba tower. This small big jewel, Štramberk, will challenge you to sharpen your basic Czech words, because you will not find many tourists around with cameras buzzing “selfies”. In your journey through the town, you can’t miss the Kotouč hill where you can have a greater view of the tower and town. The view will seem impeccable as a post card. Then, you can visit the Šipka Cave which tells the story of the findings of a Neanderthal child bone.

What I love the most about this candid town was the feeling of forgetting about the business of life and enjoying the fullfilment of life itself. Moreover, I’m indebted with my international czech family for teaching me to enjoy the road less travelled.

The Wanderlure has the deepest interest to show you by first- hand experiences in a land that we all have, our world, our home. We believe that to have a better world, we need to understand it first. We want to show you the beauty of the people, and its culture in the allurement of unique places with a story to hear. TRAVEL is our instrument to have new eyes to see the world, to learn, to be free of labels. To travel is to LIVE, and just living we stay true to our humanity and be fulfilled of PURAVIDAness.


Malta

 

Malta isn’t usually the ‘must see’ destination on everyones lips when summer swings by. Sure, it isn’t artsy Paris. Or gourmet Italy. But it’s so much more than that to me. It’s beautiful, it’s historic and it’s my home country.  I grew up in Malta and have explored the entire island by car and public transport. It’s such a small island that you can explore every hidden corner but still feel like there’s so much more to see. I’m a beach gal and here you’ll find secluded beach coves, crystal clear lagoons and stunning bays overlooking Gozo. I spend hours walking through the cobbled streets of the capital city, Valletta soaking up the true Maltese culture. Were famous for our fresh fish, market stalls and stunning architecture. If you ever go, don’t forget to visit the famous Blue Lagoon which is paradise fro snorkelers, divers and sun worshippers. I can vouch that you’ll never want to get out of the water. Malta is definitely my fav location off the beaten path. So, shhh don’t tell too many people about it!

Jess is co-author of adventure and travel blog, freedomfromthenorm.com that features travel tips, inspiration, photography and world wide travel. It’s their mission to teach you that long term travel can be done & how to do it. 


Nin, Croatia

 

The charming town of Nin on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast has just 1,200 inhabitants and has historical importance and cultural significance for Croatia. The historical centre of Nin is a diminutive 500 metres in diameter, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty with Roman ruins dotted around the modern buildings and sandy beaches. The Bishop Gregory of Nin, known as Grgur Ninski was an influential political & religious figure back in the 10th century and large statue of him sits in the middle of the town centre. Rub his toe for good luck!

Take a 2-minute drive from the old town, and you’ll pass by a church on a small hill. The Church of Holy Cross was built in the 9th-century and is the oldest church in Croatia. It is also a must-see spot for those who love taking photos. Getting to Nin is easy, it’s a 20-minute drive from Zadar or an hour 30 minutes from Split.

Chasing the Donkey is your best guide for travel to Croatia. Written by two Australians who now live in, and travel around Croatia with their son. Follow the donkey, known as ‘Donkimir’, to discover the best of Croatian travel, food, and culture. 


Tours, France

 

Tours is truly in the heart of France. Located in the Loire Valley, Tours is the best city for visiting vineyards (Chinon and Vouvray are nearby) and châteaux (there are over a dozen in the region). While I’m partial to the Domaine Marc Brédif winery and the Château et Jardins de Villandry, you really can’t go wrong with where you visit! Like any other large French city, there is a huge wine culture—try to go at the end of May, so you can attend VitiLoire, a major wine festival with unlimited tastings for a mere 5€. Following all that wine, fill up on a specialty cheese dish at La Souris Gourmande, or galettes (savory crêpes) and dessert crêpes at Mamie Bigoude. So if you’re already in Paris, you have no reason not to visit Tours, whether it’s for a week or for a day.

Wanderlust in the Midwest aims to inspire young travelers and students abroad, offering weekend trip ideas and travel advice, all while sticking to a budget.


 Blagaj, Bosnia & Herzegovına

 

Bosnia & Herzegovina, located in south east of Europe, is home to many great hidden gems. My favourite was Blagaj- a small village town just 12km from Mostar, and thanks to the rocky mountains and high cliffs, Blagaj was untouched by the destruction of the war.

The town is situated at the spring of the Buna river, whose river source is one of the largest in Europe and boasts an average of 40,000 litres of water per minute.The town is famous for its Tekija (dervish monastery), which was built into the 200 meter high cliff walls in the 1500’s and was a spiritual place where dervishes performed rituals and praised the Lord. Be sure to walk down the steps of the house onto the river, and drink the water from the decorated metal cup. Legend says, if you make a wish and take a sip. it will come true. I also recommend taking the small paddle boat into the Zelena Pecina (green cave), which has a beautiful turquoise green water colour, and one area of it is more than 30 meters deep!

If you are in Mostar for more than one day, I do highly recommend to experience a small piece of a forgotten era and immerse yourself with the culture, beauty and nature of Blagaj.

My name is Ariana, I was born in Bosnia and now call Sydney, Australia home. I started blogging to show people the beauty Bosnia & Herzegovina has to offer, and why it should be next on your bucket list. My first trip back to Bosnia since the war was in 2013, twenty years since I left. Since then i have been back three times on different occasions and this summer, I am heading back and will be volunteering in Mostar, and doing promotional tours for the blog, as well as exploring other neighbouring countries. Check out my blog at The Bosnian Aussie!


Corfu, Greece

 

Booze cruises that take you cliff diving, four-wheeler excursions up to ancient monasteries, oh, and the breathtaking view of a Greek island’s coastline, are all reasons to discover Corfu! Also known as the “backpacker’s paradise”, Corfu is sure to appeal to any wanderlust appetite. Just a short ferry ride from Athens, followed by a scenic drive through the local town will bring you to the most popular hostel in the area; The Pink Palace. Yes, it is really pink, and yes, it is really awesome! You’ll likely meet people from all over the world at one of their famous “discotech” nights, or while you’re swimming through a bat cave off the coast.

It’s a little less luxurious than its infamous neighbor, Santorini, but it makes up for it in endless adventures and fun!

Living in LA can make you feel like you’re living in a drama movie, but Alyssa prefers the foreign films. After moving to the City of Angels on accident 4 years ago, she developed a severe case of wanderlust and thus her passion for travel and writing was born. She has since been to 6 continents and over 30 countries, and has been published in multiple magazines and travel websites. She also loves wine, happy hour, and her Pomeranian, Oscar.


Segovia, Spain



Segovia is a small city about an hour and a half north/ north-west of Madrid. It was once land of knights and kings, home to one of the oldest Roman Aqueducts in Europe, science, literature, food, magic. It has seen it all. It maintains its small city charm and the birds can still be heard chirping around. Children play in the streets while their yayas and yayos meet in the town square, one eye on them, one eye on their cards. It holds its last breath. Its remains alive. Medieval fairs are still in vogue here, and you can find the best artisan ceramic and leather goods at the crafts market. And please, let’s not forget the food. That deliciously mouth-watering jamón with olive oil on a toast, or perfectly roast pig that melts in your mouth. Barquillos or delicious sweets for dessert with your coffee, followed by a stroll up to the Alcázar to walk it all off among its medieval walls. Segovia, the long forgotten older sister, as beautiful and strong as only she can be.

Wanderwings is the life and travel musings of a twenty-something Spanish globetrotter, photography lover, & snickerdoodles baker turned travel blogger after moving from Scotland to Germany in May ’13.


Kosovo

 

One of my favorite off the beaten path places in Europe is Kosovo, the hidden gem of the Balkans and one of the least visited countries ever. It’s so off the beaten path that almost half of the world hasn’t recognised its legal right to exist! One of the main questions people ask me is: “Is Kosovo dangerous??” and in my opinion, not only is Kosovo 100% safe but it is also 100% legendary. Visit Kosovo, yo!

Hi, my name is Raphael, a World Traveler also known as The Man of Wonders. I was born in the poverty of a developing country and yet, I somehow managed to pull myself from the rubble and achieve my dream of traveling the world. I have the belief that everything is possible as long as you set your mind to it and that’s why I’m here to help YOU. Are you ready for unleashing your true potential? Follow my adventures as I empower you to travel beyond your wildest dreams! Yours truly, Raphael AKA The Man of Wonders. See you soon and…WELCOME TO JOURNEY WONDERS!


Zakopane, Poland

 

Zakopane is what I consider my “safe haven” in Europe. I accidentally stumbled upon this idyllic mountain village during my trip around Europe, and I completely fell in love. It’s the perfect combination of natural beauty and cultural entertainment. Endless hiking trails, magical lakes hidden in valleys, caves, you really have noshortage of things to do here if you like spending time in nature. Strolling around the streets of Zakopane you will feel that it is a very touristic spot, but don’t be mistaken: even though it is very popular amongst Polish people as a travel destination, it is highly unknown when it comes to foreigners. This was one of the things that made me extend my stay for three weeks, when originally I only had planned to stay there for 2 days. Meeting people from different corners of Poland every day gives you an interesting global perspective of the country’s culture!Tip: if you go during the Summer, you cannot miss the Festival of Highland Folklore, in the end of August. It’s one of the most important cultural festivals in Poland!

João Sá is a travel writer who dedicates his passion for traveling to the local culture of every place he visits. His fascination for nomadic communities and off-the-beaten destinations led him to embark on a nomadic lifestyle, always uncertain of what its next destination is going to be. You can follow his travel misadventures on his website Travelholic Nomad.


Heidelberg, Germany

 

Two years ago, I went to Heidelberg,Germany for an internship, and fell in love with the city. Though I stayed there only for six months, it left a great impact on me, and I still feel strongly connected with it. Heidelberg is a beautiful place, and looks like it is cradled by Nature. The majestic castle, the Neckar river, hills,forests, the Altstadt (old town), Bismarckplatz(the city centre), all alongwith great people and a lot of culture makes it my favourite city in Europe so far. Heidelberg introduced me to some very inspiring people and in all honesty, inspired me to explore my capabilities and follow my dreams. So, if you are a nature lover and happen to be in the South of Germany, I would strongly suggest visiting Heidelberg whenever possible. It is about forty minutes away from Frankfurt and an hour or so away from Stuttgart. You could easily go there for a short break and enjoy hiking,boating or just walking around the town. Thrice a year in the summers, the city organizes fireworks and castle illuminations, which are extremely beautiful.

Menorca is an expat living in Europe. She chronicles her experiences about living in Germany/Switzerland and travelling around Europe on her blog, Europe Diaries. Europe Diaries focuses on experiences, exploring places, travel sentiments as well as the culture,legends and stories from different countries. A recent series called Travellers’ Tales is open to contributions from other travellers, with the aim of sharing inspiring or memorable experiences with more people.

Comments

  1. Marge says

    I’ve visited a few of the places and they’re really lovely. The next time though I’ll do it less like a tourist since I did miss a lot of great spots. I just saw your itinerary and your schedule is really packed. Would have loved to travel the world back when I was younger.

    • bethanydickey says

      Thank you so much for contributing SJ! So much inspiration frm the bloggers that participated.

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