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Our 5 Best Hidden Gems of Europe

Slovenia’s Countryside

river-kolpa-mountain-view-slovenia-eileen-cotter-wright

Along the border of Slovenia and Croatia is beautiful farmland, rolling rivers and plenty of opportunity for active pursuits. Over the summer we enjoyed a week at the Big Berry camp for some glamping, swimming, boating, hiking and wonderful Slovenian food. Although we didn’t go to the Mediterranean, we still got in plenty of sunshine and water sports. There also was barely any tourists, only a few local Slovenians on their summer vacations.

Vik, Iceland

black sand beach and basalts in vik iceland

People often forget that Iceland is part of Europe, as it’s halfway between mainland Europe and North America. But our trip to Iceland last year was one of the most memorable adventures we’ve had since moving to London. The flight was easy, and in the winter months the landscape is mysterious, never-ending and alluring. From hot spring soaks to encountering Icelandic horses, a road trip through this icy environment is magic. Although we didn’t make it to the Snæfellsjökull National Park on that trip, we did drive out to the village of Vik. There, you can see other-worldly black sand beaches and basalt columns.

Ravello, Italy

homemade pasta in ravello italy by eileen cotter wright

The drive along the Amalfi Coast in Italy is iconic any time of year. However, it’s well worth getting off the water’s edge and venturing to some of the small towns up in the hills. Ravello has amazing views of the sea below, as well as some wonderful mom-and-pop restaurants full of authentic Italian dishes. There are a few places to stay nearby, or snag an Airbnb like we did along one of the narrow cobblestone streets.

The Algarve, Portugal

Marketplace in Loulé  Algarve, Portugal

Another region away from the ocean, the hill country in southern Portugal is ready to welcome guests with open arms. I spent a lovely trip in this part of the world, learning about local handicrafts, history and the environment. People can tuck into hearty seafood at the cafes, peruse golden churches and still head down to the beach within a couple of hours. One of the best towns to stay in is Loulé, which has a little bit of everything to offer the curious traveler.

Bavaria, Germany

Neuschwanstein castle germany eileen cotter wright

We wandered through Bavaria because our final destination was Oktoberfest in Munich. Although we had a total blast drinking giant beers for the weekend, the highlights from the road trip were simply driving through misty landscapes and forests. We made stops at several towns along the way for authentic food and shopping, and even dipped in Austria for part of the journey. It’s well worth spending a whole day at the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria – get tickets in advance and see both castles in the same area.

If you’d like to discover even more of Europe’s hidden gems to help plan your getaway, have a look at this handy infographic to get started. Where is your favorite place in Europe? What’s your dream place to visit in Europe?

Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel writer, social media manager and owner of Pure Wander. She's been to more countries than your kindergartner can count, and she's our resident expat extraordinaire. Follow her on Twitter @Crooked_Flight

More posts by Eileen Cotter Wright

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