There are always some major destinations that come to mind when you think about traveling to Europe. London, Paris, and Amsterdam are on most everyone’s list, the historic cities of Italy and Greece are popular draws, and plenty of other beautiful and historic destinations are dotted around the continent. But among the most popular spots to visit there are also plenty of others that can easily escape our attention. Sometimes it’s these smaller towns and remote getaways that actually make for the best trips.
Bristol is by no means unheard of, but compared to some other cities in the UK it gets relatively little attention. It is a charming town, not far from the coast but known widely for its river, which has been crucial for international trade throughout history. Visitors enjoy boating, local pubs, a vibrant music scene, and a memorable landmark in the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The bridge is one of the most beautiful in the world and is all the more noteworthy given that it was originally opened back in 1864. It’s also worth noting that a day trip to London is perfectly reasonable. So, if you want to see the English capital but you’d rather stay somewhere a little less crowded, Bristol is an excellent option.
Colmar could rightfully be called one of the most interesting towns in Western Europe, thanks to the various influences at play. It’s a French city and looks and feels like one in many ways. There are colorful, vibrant streets and excellent wines are known to be some of the best in the Alsace region. However, Colmar is also very close to the German border, and there remains some culinary and architectural influence from Germany. As if that weren’t enough, Colmar is also somewhat like a smaller Amsterdam in that it also imitates Venice with its construction around crisscrossing waterways. It’s a lovely town for a getaway focused on food, drink, and relaxation.
The idea isn’t to suggest two English destinations so quickly, but then Gibraltar isn’t English. It’s an overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, and though the new British prime minister recently vowed to keep it under British control, it feels almost like a large city without a nationality. Essentially a peninsula jutting down into the Mediterranean Sea near where it spills out into the Atlantic, Gibraltar is a fascinating destination. It’s marked by the “rock” of Gibraltar, a mountain topped by a preserved forest (where you can find Europe’s only native apes). It’s a fun place to explore both for its stunning scenery and its unique culture
Located a short distance north of Rome and toward the Adriatic coast, Norcia is the hidden European getaway personified. It’s incredibly picturesque, sitting alone with a surrounding of lush field and high hills, and much of the town itself still looks as if it was built hundreds of years ago (which it was). There’s plenty to see including a 13th-century town hall, a shrine to St. Benedict (who was born in Norcia), and plenty of old cathedrals and buildings. The town is also a dream getaway for foodies, given the popularity of traditional fare like local black truffles, aged cheeses, and unique salamis.
Prague tends to be the hot spot in the Czech Republic, and with good reason. It’s a beautiful and fun historical city. But if you’re looking for hidden gems, Cesky Krumlov may be more worth your time. You’ll enjoy sightseeing around the 13th-century castle at the core of the town, and also taking in older architecture around the city is a treat. Hikes to the top of Mount Klet’ are also popular among tourists, and according to one travel guide www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions-/cesky-krumlov-cz-jc-ck.htm you can see the Alps from Josef’s Tower atop the mountain on a clear day. Between general sightseeing expeditions, you’ll also get to know a selection of museums, as well as a few locations where art is on buildings, rather than in them.