Hidden places in Europe to visit
Which European destinations you’ll find most enjoyable depends on your interests and likes, but there are some places that are just so special that virtually no one is immune to their charms.
London has some of the most impressive museums and historic sights in the world, but given the choice between London and Paris, we’d choose Paris every time. Seeing the lights on the Eiffel Tower go into overdrive is an all-out thrill whether it’s your first time or your fifteenth.
The are dozens of world-class attractions in Paris — the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame among them — but the real beauty of Paris is that strolling along the Seine, enjoying a glass of wine at a sidewalk café, or doing a little shopping in the Marais is just as enjoyable. Paris is intoxicating, magical, and seductive without even trying.
With its ubiquitous Vespas, insane traffic, and vendors selling Fendi knock-offs, Rome can be overwhelming. But like Paris, Rome always captivates and enthralls. Looking up at the oculus in the Pantheon — especially if it’s raining — watching the sunset from the Spanish Steps, or eating pasta in a Trastevere trattoria become memories you’ll always treasure.
Known as La Serenissima — the Serene One — Venice is absolutely one of a kind. The Doge’s Palace and Basilica San Marco are stellar attractions, but the amazing ambience is the real reason to come here. Even shopping in Venice is unique, whether you’re buying a Fortuny scarf at Venetia Studium, a chandelier made of Murano glass, or a carnevale mask.
Although it’s a tourist must-do, gliding down the canals on a gondola is just as romantic as it sounds.
Less well-known places to visit in Europe.
Few cities in Europe combine big-city amenities with spectacular natural beauty like Stockholm. Set on 14 islands, Stockholm has a vibrant old town, cutting-edge culture, and sparkling water everywhere. It’s museums and galleries showcase the best in Scandinavian design, and Viking history is proudly on display.
Seville is another one of those dreamy places that everyone wants to return to. Its Moorish architecture, white-washed buildings draped in bougainvillea, and pretty plazas make it one of the most appealing places in Andalusia. Wander the narrow streets and you’ll hear canaries and smell orange blossoms. The tapas here are the best in Spain, and the exquisite Alcazar is Mudejar design at its best.
Right in the middle of the French Riviera, Antibes is a delightful town that offers the best of all worlds. It’s within easily striking distance of Nice, Cannes, and the playgrounds of the rich and famous, but it’s a relatively low-key and affordable resort with great beaches, a fabulous food market, and a charming old town.
The beaches here are some of the best on the Riviera, the Picasso Museum in the old Chateau Grimaldi is a must-see for modern art fans, and the restaurants — which specialize in fresh seafood and Mediterranean cuisine — are terrific. Those with deep pockets can stay down on the peninsula at the Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc. Make reservations well in advance if you’re coming during the Cannes Film Festival.
Sardinia has some of the most luxurious resorts in the Mediterranean. Developed in the 1950s by the Aga Khan, Costa Smerelda is a jet-setters playground, but there are affordable resorts in Alghero which has beautiful beaches, an old town that dates from the 16th century, and cool caves and grottoes. It’s known as little Barcelona because of its Catalan roots. The interior of the island is forested and about a quarter of Sardinia is national park.
Those who love the outdoors will likely enjoy Corsica. With gorgeous turquoise bays, forested mountains, and the remains of medieval churches, citadels, and towers, Corsica is as wild as anyplace in Europe. But its location means there’s lots of history here too. Napoleon was born and baptized here — there’s a museum dedicated to him in the capital of Ajaccio. There are ancient monoliths, beautiful beaches, and the culture — and cuisine — are an interesting blend of French and Italian. The regional park here is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re planning some European travel, consider adding some of these lesser known destinations to your itinerary.