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City Skylines Paris London BerlinEven though Europe has a wide variety of wonderful places to experience, it immediately conjures up pictures of London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, and other traditional destinations. Many travelers miss out on the other treasures in Europe. The next time you explore your getaway options we recommend the following hidden gems which will bring you the most of your travel experience.

1. Scotland, a part of the United Kingdom with all its brave history attached

Haze over Edinburgh Castle

Haze over Edinburgh Castle (SMHutch Photography on Flickr)

Scotland has far more to offer than golf courses, Sean Connery, and castles. The late summer season provides festivals displaying dance, music and theater. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh offers seventy acres of green houses and lush gardens.  Tour the many world-famous Single Malt Scotch Whisky distilleries.  Enjoy the incredible fresh and smoked local seafoods.  A trip to Pinney’s of Orford, that offers arguably the best smoked salmon in the world, is a must. Visit the Highlands for outdoor adventure, home of the Loch Ness.  Not just the home of “Nessie” the fabled Loch Ness Monster, but also a center for culture, festivals, and the arts.

2. Hungary. Once a major political power Hungary has a great history

Dunabe River Bank

Dunabe River Bank in Budapest Hungary. Photograph by Jon Hicks/CORBIS

Budapest, one of the most beautiful and historical cities in Europe. It offers a balance between the old and the new cultural renaissance. Budapest is the home to many therapeutic public baths, including Széchenyi Spa, Budapest’s largest public bath. Enjoy 18 indoor and outdoor pools –fed by mineral springs – as well as several steam rooms and saunas under Baroque-style domes. Experience the incredible acoustics inside the Budapest Opera House, considered to be among the best in the world. Built in the 1880s, the Budapest Opera House stands as one of the most prestigious musical institutions in Europe. Catch a staged opera performance by Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, or Wagner.  A visit to Europe is not complete without visiting Budapest with its rich culture and wonderful food.

3. Portugal was the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires

Alfama Lisbon roof tops on hill side

Alfama, the old part of Lisbon. Photo credit: Miguel Vieira Creative Commons license

Portugal is situated on the right bank of the river Douro. Lisbon is a cultural mecca steeped in history with wonderful cuisine, wines, and of course, the best selection of Port Wine, from obscure vintners throughout the country. Porto is one of the oldest European centers, and registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Its settlement dates back many centuries, when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire.  Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost province, has become the country’s most popular travel destination, with some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, some of the continent’s top golf courses, magnificent cliff scenery, fantastic grottoes, and warm year-round climate.

Dona Ana Beach. Algarve, Portugal

Dona Ana Beach. Algarve, Portugal. Photo credit: Lacobrigo under Creative Commons copyright

4. France is not all about Paris

Pont de Pierre in Bordeaux, France

Pont de Pierre by Olivier Aumage under CC-BY-SA-2.0-fr license

For many people the word Bordeaux is synonymous with wine. But the region gives yearlong musical and theatrical programs to its local people and millions of tourists. Also, of note is the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum regularly organizes temporary exhibitions in the Gallery of Fine Arts. It also features a cultural program of events, concerts, conferences, and film screenings.  Essential works from the 16th to the 20th century, including Perugino, Brueghel the Elder, Pietro da Cortona, Van Dyck, Van Goyen, Rubens, Chardin, Magnasco, Corot, Delacroix, Matisse, Kokoschka, as well as a large collection of Bordeaux artists Odilon Redon, Albert Marquet and Andre Lhote.  And of course, the wine tastings, tours of the wineries, and cuisine are among the best in the world.

5. Austria. Was Mozart a good alpine skier?

Old Town Salzburg Salzach River

Photograph by Jiuguang Wang under Creative Commons

Salzburg is situated here and it is the home for many popular composers. It has so much to offer, particularly in July and August while the festival of Salzburg occurs, jam-packing drama, concerts and opera by famous performers from all over the world and composers into a period of 28 days. Mozart’s home is open to the public. The rooms of the residence have been maintained to show his style of life.

6. Ireland, look beyond the Temple Bar

Temple Bar in DublinThe capital city, Dublin, is a fascinating mixture of culture and architecture dating from medieval times to modern. The Chester Beatty Library houses an incredible collection of  manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and decorative arts assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). The rich collections from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe open windows to the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world. Egyptian papyrus texts, beautifully illustrated copies of the Qur’an, the Bible, and European Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts are among the highlights of the collection. In its diversity, the collection captures much of the richness of human creative expression from about 2700 B.C to the present day.  Don’t miss the Guinness Brewery.  The pubs and cafés provide tremendous entertainment and local color. Day tours are available showcasing the beautiful coast and lush green countryside.

7. Germany. What’s the oldest city here?

Cologne city view across the riverMunich, Berlin and Frankfurt are definitely great destinations, and very popular. But, Cologne, Germany’s oldest city, is an incredible place to experience culture and beauty. Located on the banks of the Rhine River, the beauty is astounding. Cologne Zoo was founded in 1860 and is one of the oldest, yet also one of the most modern zoological gardens in the world, with an elephant park covering 20,000 m² and the Hippodom, a unique re-creation of an African river valley landscape with hippos, Nile crocodiles and antelopes. The Cologne Cathedral is the landmark centerpiece of the city reflecting the best of Gothic Style architecture.

8. Czech Republic. Karluv Bridge is just the beginning!

Charles Bridge PraguePrague is rapidly becoming the premier destination for sophisticated travelers in Eastern Europe.  The city has a wonderful sense of humor, reflected in their nightlife and cosmopolitan feel.  At the same time the traveler is surrounded by churches, towers, and historical buildings, and parks—some dating back to the 14th century.  Burn a witch in effigy, decipher a 15th century clock.  The Astronomical Clock has been ticking and pulling in the crowds since 1490. Every hour on the hour, from 8am to 8pm, wooden saints emerge from trap doors, while below, a lesson in medieval morality is enacted by Greed, Vanity, Death, and the Turk.  Prague is a very popular wedding destination as well.  Enjoy a wonderful Michelin rated dinner, clubbing afterward, and don’t forget to try the most popular beers, Pilsner Urguell and Gambrinus.  Czechs are very proud of their beer.

9. Spain, be seduced by tapas and Flamenco!

Seville Cathedral AndaluciaSeville provides travelers with a wide variety of great choices.  Be seduced by the Flamenco. Graze the incredible Tapas Bars in Barrio Santa Cruz. Visit the Seville Cathedral–the cathedral is the largest gothic construction in the world at present, started in 1402, and the third largest cathedral in the world.

10. Italy. No longer the heart of the Roman Empire but what about its heritage?

Beautiful panoramic view of old city - Florence, ItalyOf course there are Rome and Venice, both wonderful—but Florence in the Tuscany Region is a treasure not to be missed. Beautiful countryside with the feeling of the 15th century.   Overload your senses at the Uffizi Gallery, housing the world’s greatest collection of Renaissance Art, followed by a visit to the Galleria Dell Accademia to view works of Michelangelo including the masterpiece “David”.  Enjoy incredible food in the city’s innumerable great restaurants or enjoy a simple picnic in the country with antipasti, a chianti riserva, smoked meats, artisanal breads and cheeses,  and some of the best olive oils and vinegars the world has to offer. A tour to Florence is a journey through time.

Today’s travelers have unlimited choices of how to spend their precious time away from their every day routine.  Before you decide on your next holiday destination, please take a moment to fill out the ESTA visa form and submit.  Our expert travel consultants will ensure that your next traveling experience will be truly memorable.

Have fun and enjoy!!!

Comments on: "Top 10 Hidden Gems for Your Next Trip to Europe" (5)

  1. Bert Woodson said:

    Hah! Looks great!

    On Thu, May 23, 2013 at 1:16 PM, Rentini Blog for Travel tips, adventures and marketing tips for homeowners to better connect with travelers. We know

  2. Thanks for sharing these hidden gems! Sometimes the lesser known places are the best.

  3. Hidden gems…. Really !!! Seville has a bigger population than Boston and San Fransisco. Budapest has a population that would rank it as the 5th biggest city in the US. Portugal is a whole country and I think most people (even in the USA!!) know about Scotland.. hardly hidden !!

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