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
Photo of Luke Abrahams
19 May 2021

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 Russia, Norway and even Spain to explore these enchanting places for yourself. Your Instafeed is about to get a tonne of likes.

Hvar, Croatia

Natural Feature
Map View
Scenic view over Hvar Town at sunset, Hvar, Croatia, Europe - MFJEBM
© robertharding / Alamy
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

Historical Landmark
Map View
Burano, Italy - October 2018: Tourists walking around the colorful fishermen's houses in Burano - PYD8AD
© Salvador Maniquiz / Alamy

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.

Kravice, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Natural Feature
Map View
Kravica waterfalls, Bosnia and Hercegovina_KG4402
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy

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

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
DINANT, BELGIUM, 21 JULY 2020: Belgian town of Dinant built under a mountain and over a river - 2E11TXR
© Stefano Zaccaria / Alamy

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.

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Natural Feature
Map View
The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland - 2ATCBFW
© Charles Sperry / Alamy

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.

Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

Map View
Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
View of the hilltop village of Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio, Italy - WJKKT4
© Paul Brown / Alamy

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

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Map View
San Giovanni Church, Lake Bohinj_2ARGJM3
© robertharding / Alamy

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

Museum, Theater
Map View
Aerial view of Piran and Gulf of Piran, Slovenia _2DB8RKY
© RooM the Agency / Alamy
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

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Trulli houses on the Rione Monti at Alberobello, Apuglia_2D866T2
© Roy Conchie / Alamy

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.

Meteora, Greece

Natural Feature
Map View
Holy Monastery of Rousanou, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Meteora Monasteries, Greece, Europe - 2CNDX30
© robertharding / Alamy

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.

Sintra, Portugal

Botanical Garden, Building, Ruins, Natural Feature
Map View
Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal
Pena Palace, in Sintra, which is half an hour's drive from the capital | © Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy
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

Natural Feature
Map View
Panorama Lofoten is an archipelago in the county of Nordland, Norway. Is known for a distinctive scenery with dramatic mountains and peaks, open sea a
© Andrey Armyagov / Alamy
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.

Ronda, Spain

Natural Feature, Historical Landmark
Map View
Ronda, Spain. Evening view of New Bridge over Guadalevin River in Ronda, Andalusia, Spain with clear blue sky in summer
© Madrugada Verde / Alamy

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.

Kizhi, Russia

Natural Feature
Map View
KARELIA, RUSSIA - JUNE 17, 2020: An aerial view of the Transfiguration of the Saviour Church (L) and the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos Church in the pogost of Kizhi on Kizhi Island in Lake Onega, in Karelia, north-west Russia. In northern Russia
© ITAR-TASS News Agency / Alamy

The word “enchanting” really is dreadfully overused, but this Russian beauty begs exception. Kizhi is by far the most visited of the 1,600-plus islands in Lake Onega, thanks to its Transfiguration Church, which looks like it’s been whisked straight out of Harry Potter. Topped with 30 magnificent miniature domes, the church is one of the most treasured wooden landmarks in Russia.

These recommendations were updated on May 19, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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