With the rise of social media, some may say that no destination in the world is a secret and there are no untouched gems (especially in a region as popular as Europe). Of course, countries and cities fall in and out of being the ‘go-to’ place: Italy, France, Spain... you name it and travellers have probably been there. However, you may not have heard of the following 10 destinations, which absolutely deserve to be on your bucket list.
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From the mid-Atlantic to the heart and soul of Europe, check out these 10 cities and attractions that you simply must visit before they become over-crowded.
10 Asturias and Covadonga Convent, Spain
Located a stone’s throw away from the Bay of Biscay in northern Spain is the Asturias and Covadonga convent. Comprising of 4 UNESCO-listed reserves, this region boasts some of the world’s most magnificent historical architecture amid lush green hills and wilderness.
Why is the region such a gem? The hiking trails linking each town with each other, the lack of crowds on the beaches, and, most importantly, the fact that it remains a distant secret for most foreign travelers. Not only are prices for accommodation and meals affordable, there is next to no pollution.
9 Salzkammergut Region, Austria
The Salzkammergut region in Austria pretty much encompasses everything there is to want in a year-round paradise. What is even better is Lake Hallstatt, with snow-capped mountains towering over the quaint towns, reflecting off the banks of the pristine waters.
In the summer, visitors can hike, bike, canoe or go fishing; in the winter they can expect skiing, snowboarding and ice skating.
8 The Azores, Portugal
Whilst the Algarve may not be as forgotten as it once was, the Azores has taken its place and is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. What is the Azores, you ask? Well, it's an archipelago 800 miles off the main coast of Portugal, with 9 volcanic islands.
It was listed as a UNESCO Biosphere reserve a decade ago. It is referred to by many as the Hawaii of Europe, but you better get this one ticked off the list before it is ruined by tourists and pollution!
7 Piran, Slovenia
If you like the sound of enjoying a 1 euro coffee while overlooking the Adriatic Sea in perhaps the most relaxed location you’ll ever experience, Piran, Slovenia is for you. Sometimes called the Venice of Slovenia, it is set on the edges of Lake Bled with world-class beaches nearby. Vineyards, olive groves and dense wilderness are just a short drive away into the countryside.
You better hurry, though, because it is thought that Piran will not remain a secret for much longer, and you can see why.
6 Cochem, Germany
Forget the architectural perfection of Munich and the diversity of Berlin for just one second. Cochem provides travelers with both sides of the equation; traditional German houses with bright green wilderness in the background and it is simply spectacular.
If you are looking for an authentic German experience, then head straight here and start exploring the vineyards and medieval history, highlighted by the 1,000 year-old Cochem Castle.
5 Lauterbrunnen, Bern, Switzerland
We all know that the Swiss are perfectionists, and Lauterbrunnen is no different. Set among one of Switzerland’s most scenic Alpine Valleys, the Lauterbrunnen Valley offers travelers exquisite views of over 70 waterfalls, as well as traditional Swiss/German villages, quaint hotels and that all important fresh alpine air.
If you're one for hiking, then head up to Europe’s highest waterfall, Staubbach.
4 Saint Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, U.K.
When we think of the best European attractions, it isn’t often we think of something in the U.K. Well, let’s rethink that strategy, because here is one for the ages. Located in south-west England is the mountain of Saint Michael, which was named after fishermen claimed to have seen Saint Michael sitting atop the mountain in the 5th century.
Ever since these claims were made, it became pilgrimage central. Later, a monastery was built on the island. The reason why it is not very popular? Because no-one really ventures to the U.K. in search of hidden gems, but this is one for you and you only, so don’t share it with anyone! It truly is a special place.
3 Skadar Lake National Park, Montenegro
When people travel to Montenegro or Croatia, they usually do so for the amazing beaches, which is why Skadar Lake National Park has remained relatively unknown.
It's located in the south, bordering Albania. It is home to over 300 species of bird and over 40 species of fish that are native to the park, adding to the site's unique quality. You can take in the panoramic views by foot, or, if you prefer to see the wetlands from the water, you can take a traditional wooden boat.
2 Sentenil de las Bodegas, Andalusia, Spain
Who doesn’t love to venture off the beaten track every once in a while? Sentenil de las Bodegas can only be found if you decide to take the wrong turn and head in to the unknown, but to be honest, this is perhaps one of the best destinations to end up in.
Dotted with little white houses with rocks for roofs, the city has kept the tradition going with cafés built under stone roofs as well. 12 miles further down the beaten track will take you to Ronda, which is a hidden gem in itself and definitely worth exploring.
1 Vevang & Karveg, Norway
The stunning Atlantic Road simply must be explored if you are in Scandinavia. If you're a nervous driver, this one definitely isn't for you... that water looks awfully close, doesn't it? That's because it is.
The road connects two cities, Vevang and Karvag, and there are several picturesque islands along the way. The view is almost unrivaled, but you'll have to be a darn confident driver to venture along this path.NEXT: 10 Ways To Island Hop On The Cheap