Incredible Places You Never Knew Existed in Europe

Lake Bohinj, in Slovenia, is one of the most scenic hidden spots in central Europe
Lake Bohinj, in Slovenia, is one of the most scenic hidden spots in central Europe | © Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy

What better way to explore Europe than by unearthing its secret spots – trust us, there are thousands. So, look beyond the likes of London, Rome and Paris and head to places such as Portugal, Norway and even Spain to explore these enchanting places for yourself. Your Instafeed is about to get a tonne of likes.
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Ronda, Spain

The people of Ronda used to throw women they suspected were witches from the top of its famous bridge, Puente Nuevo. Now it serves as a pedestrian crossing over the river, thank goodness. A city of dizzying heights and home to the first bullring in Spain, Ronda has been declared a Property of Cultural Interest area. Several peoples settled here, including the likes of the Celts, Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs.

Hvar, Croatia

Hvar effortlessly combines a unique fusion of absolutely luxurious Mediterranean nature, culture and rich historical heritage. The city rose to power during the Middle Ages and was an extremely important port within the Venetian Empire. Now most people visit for its infectious atmosphere, and it’s a favourite destination for tourists heading to the Dalmatian riviera.

Burano, Italy

If you ever need to escape Venice (how dare you even think this?), then head to this colour-crazy hideaway. Those who visit Burano may leave with a sense of bewilderment. Why? Simple – the houses. From the mammoth bell tower to the deep green canals, everywhere you look you’ll see something amazing to post on Instagram.

Isle of Skye, Scotland

One word: otherworldly. Skye is one of the few places in the United Kingdom that has been left relatively untouched by us humans. Most visitors come to snap the Old Man of Storr, a giant black basalt pinnacle that towers over the island, but don’t miss the fairy rock pools. They are straight out of the pages of a fantasy novel.

Kravice, Bosnia and Herzegovina

There’s so much to do in this amazing part of the globe, but these mini-Niagaras, consisting of 25m-high (82ft) cascades, should be at the top of your to-do list when you’re in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Come in the summer and you can swim in the pools.

Dinant, Belgium

Luckily for you, very few people have heard of Dinant. Great to visit at any time of the year, the lovely little town was the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the jovial inventor of the saxophone. Musical history aside, the area is great for those seeking a spot of solitude or a hiking holiday – there’s more than 2,000km (1,243mi) of signposted trails.

Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

Fancy a spot of visual luxury? Well, here you have it. Kylemore Abbey is a 1920s Benedictine monastery in the grounds of Kylemore Castle estate, in Connemara. It’s often voted one of the top attractions in Ireland, so come here to experience mystical woodland and lakeshore walks, magnificent architecture and one of the best walled gardens in the country.

Faial, Portugal

Known in English as “the blue island”, Faial is part of the Azores, a network of incredible volcanic landmasses in the Atlantic Ocean. Home to 15,000 people, it’s famous for its epic landscapes and cute blue houses. If you want a spot of beach fun, then this is the perfect place for you. You can cycle around crater lakes, abseil down waterfalls and soak in hot springs on our epic six-day trip to the Azores.

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Civita di Bagnoregio is a charming medieval city, left almost untouched by the masters of the Italian Renaissance. It’s home to around 10 people, which has earned the place the nickname the Dying City. Despite its grim moniker, thousands of tourists descend on the hilltop palace every year.

Bohinj, Slovenia

Unique, beautiful and charming in every way imaginable, Bohinj is a wonderfully mysterious and eccentric region of Slovenia. Located in the heart of the Julian Alps, Bohinj encompasses the lush Nomenj valley, the Pokljuka and Jelovica plateaus and the Upper and Lower Bohinj valleys. It’s also home to the largest lake in Slovenia – Lake Bohinj.

Piran, Slovenia

If you’re a budding photographer on the search for your next travel snapshots, look no further than Piran. Arguably one of the most photogenic spots in the whole of the Med, it’s one of the few European cities that has managed to preserve its charm. Expect rich history and culture, and very, very friendly locals.

Alberobello, Italy

A Unesco World Heritage Site, Alberobello is known far and wide for its characteristic cone-roofed houses, or trulli. The name of the town derives from the Greek word for dome (τρούλος; in Italian, cupola). They are made from limestone rock derived from the plateau of Apulia’s Murge zone. Bet you didn’t know that. Explore Alberobello on our 10-day adventure across Southern Italy.

Meteora, Greece

There’s a saying that goes: “It feels like you’re walking in the clouds.” Well, Greece took that very literally. The Meteora – translated into English as “middle of the sky”, “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above” – is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece. The six architectural marvels are perched high on top of natural sandstone rock pillars. And yes, it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Lugano, Switzerland

Lugano is fabulous: a town of parks, flowers, villas, unusual buildings and, of course, a vast lake, there’s much to see and do here. Rent a boat on the lake for incredible views. It really is the epitome of pure relaxation.

Ohrid, North Macedonia

Lake Ohrid is the jewel in the already sparkling crown of North Macedonia. Once you’ve snapped the beguiling lake to death, traipse through countless frescoed medieval churches and uncover ancient Roman amphitheatres. Ohrid really does demand a spot on this year’s bucket list.

Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace, in Sintra, which is half an hour’s drive from the capital

Sintra exudes a romantic aura unlike any other city in Europe. In fact, it’s so lovable that it inspired the works of countless romantic poets and novelists. You could even go so far as to say that it’s the capital of Romanticism – although some may protest. Set between rocky mountains and the glittering sea, get lost in a city that prides itself on history, architecture and extravagant gastronomy.

Lofoten, Norway

Lofoten is quite simply an archipelago of sheer grandiosity. Located in the picturesque tundras of Norway, you’ll never forget your first approach to the islands. From top to bottom, the craggy topography of the islands thrust out of the sea as though they were mighty, spiky sea dragons. Dramatic, we know, but the beauty of this landscape is immense.

Kotor, Montenegro

If you manage to survive the walk up the Lovćen (it’s a rather steep mountain), you’ll discover a little place called Kotor – a marvellous oasis of rich culture, fine food, uber-nice people and views for days. Go now.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

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