If you’re thinking about using a travel agent or travel sites to book your European vacation – STOP!
There’s much more to Europe than the famous cities like London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam and Athens. While we already feel familiar with these places, much like visiting an old friend you’ve not seen in a while, there are other cities that are also rich in history and culture – maybe you should consider visiting one of them.
To call these cities ‘lesser known’ isn’t accurate, however we can say that they are less popular. Why? Because, us – the trusted traveler, has to work a little bit harder to get away from the main stream.
So here’s a little guide to those ‘Other Cities’ and the wonders that they have on offer.
Offering a celebrated club scene within its historic narrow and winding streets is quite a paradox – and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Antwerp is an artistic haven for a lot of cutting edge contemporary culture. So whilst you walk through the old streets you can take in the great masterpieces of artists such as Rubens and Van Dyke. Visit one of many modern galleries and stores, and if you’re looking for that special gift why not give the world-famous Diamond District a try.
There are plenty of restaurants, friendly bars and alehouses to choose from if you fancy eating out, or you’d like to sample the local beer. As previously mentioned, Antwerp has excellent nightlife, with lots of clubs and bars open till late, or early, depending on which way you look at it.
One for the adventurer, Koycegiz is getting rather popular with the backpacker and the more independent traveler.
Koycegiz translates to ‘small poor village’, but in fairness it’s nothing like that, just a little rough around the edges. This ‘roughness’ has seen its popularity grow, its not quite mainstream yet, but it’s getting there. With lots to do, it’s a great place for the adventurous spirited traveler. Visit mud baths and waterfalls, whitewater raft down the Dalaman River where the rapids can reach up to a Grade 4, or take in the ancient Caunos ruins.
There’s also a number of independent shops of all sizes, but after a hard day of exploring and adventure you may just want to settle for a homemade ice-cream that are sold in the town center.
Becoming more popular with travelers taking their vacation, this is a fine example of the European Destinations – The Other Cities.
Situated on Italy’s Northeast coast, the impressive ‘Five Villages’ are delightful. Located between Genoa and La Spezia, the stunning villages offer golden sandy beaches, steep cliffs and beautiful sapphire waters. Each village, or town (as some of them are bigger than typical villages found in Europe), offer a quiet alternative to some of the bigger tourist destinations such as Florence or Venice.
The ‘Five Villages’ are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore. At any one of them you can enjoy sleeping in and relaxing on the beach, or if you’re feeling a bit more energetic go hiking and take a picnic with you.
It is the second largest national park in the UK and one of the most breathtaking regions within it. The Lake District sits just under the Scottish border, in Cumbria Northwest England.
The Lake District was formed by repeated glaciations that have occurred over the last 2 million years. This carved through the landscape to create the magnificent lakes, mountains and valleys on show today.
If you’re Scotland bound, the Lake District makes an ideal stop off point. You can choose to relax and unwind by the many lakes or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can go hiking or climbing one of the many mountains in the area.
Tallinn has emerged from Soviet occupation as a thriving and exciting center filled with many awe-inspiring buildings, which have somehow escaped any damage from more difficult war-torn times.
The cities subterranean bars serve locally made vodka, amongst other alcoholic beverages, and their old stone doorways cast an enticing glow. Walk down dozens of winding, cobbled streets with high wall and ramparts. Stop off for a sandwich, made on native thin, dense black bread at one of the many cafés, or ‘kohviks’.
Estonia’s capital is one of the last remaining truly medieval cities in Europe, with breathtaking Gothic buildings, and is largely undiscovered by visitors from outside the EU.
This historical city is the capital of the Burgundy region in France, that lies Southwest of Paris and North of Provence, in the shadow of the French Alps.
Dijon is a lively Renaissance city and one of the great European centres of art, learning and science. It’s home to a large number of museums and churches, notably the Notre Dame de Dijon and Dijon Cathedral, the crypt of which is dedicated to Saint Benignus and dates from 1,000 years ago. The city has retained its varied architectural styles and is distinguished by, among other things ‘toits bourguignons’ – roofs made of tiles glazed in terracotta, green, yellow and black and arranged in eye-catching geometric patterns.
Dijon was largely spared the destruction of wars such as the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the Second World War, despite the city being occupied. Therefore, many of the old buildings such as the half-timbered houses dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries (found mainly in the city’s core district) are well preserved.
Another fine example of a Greek whitewashed village, perched high on a hill over looking the calm blue waters of the surrounding sea.
Chora is a traditional Greek village, complete with port and access to some amazing sandy beaches. During the day, it is a quiet village made for relaxing and sightseeing. If you want to get away from the beach for a while, why not take a walk through the village square, down windy cobblestone streets and take in the beautiful local churches. However, this all changes as the evening draws in as partygoers start filling the bars, cafés and nightclubs that occupy the once quiet cobbled streets.
At the top of the village hill there is a scenic amphitheatre where some local events take place. You can appreciate the vastness of your environment whilst here, taking in the stunning views of the sea, cliffs and sandy beaches.
Located in a valley, in the midst of the surrounding mountains, Innsbruck is a picturesque city that changes with the seasons.
During the winter months, Innsbruck is one of the top destinations in Europe for skiers, and is also internationally renowned for being a winter sports center, having plenty of excellent resorts to stay at. During the summer months the city explodes in greenery, exposing mountain lakes and superb hiking trails for you to conquer.
The natural environment is amazing, and is well complimented by the city’s architecture. With lots of museums, churches and parks there is plenty to see and do in Innsbruck.
Home to Holland’s Queen Beatrix, the Hague will enchant you with a colourful mix of culture, history and natural beauty.
One of the big attractions is the Maurithaus museum which presides over the canal and houses Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with Pearl Earring’. Take a wander down to the various flea markets, or enjoy a stop off at a smokers coffeeshop. You’re not too far away from the beach here too. Go for a stroll along the beautiful wide beaches and Victorian promenade, which becomes a popular club scene at night. Whatever time of day it is, there is so much to do here.
You would think it was the capital city, given that the Queen, Parliament and all foreign embassies are located here, as well as a center for the United Nations, but that title of capital city is given to Amsterdam. Strange.
This small town really punches above its weight. Full of history and culture, with resources typical of its capital city stature, Ljubljana makes an ideal case for being an ‘Other City’.
Ljubljana is a melting pot full of different influences, from Italians to Austro-Hungarian, so it makes for a rather unique atmosphere. Take a trip through the Baroque old town where you’ll find a number of quaint cafés and traditional shops, or take in the local street performers playing tunes in the main square. The castle is another popular attraction, dating back to medieval times it’s undergone some transformation which makes it all the more interesting.
Being centrally located in Slovenia, it makes the city an ideal base to explore the country’s mountains, lakes and caves. The city itself is full of kind and helpful people, willing to engage in conversation in a number of different languages.
If you’re heading in to Europe, or anywhere else on vacation, don’t forget to bring your Mobal World Phone.
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