Europe is a well-traveled road for many of us, and often when we think of taking a city break or a sunny getaway the first places we think of are Paris, Venice and Barcelona. These are all fantastic destinations, filled with fascinating historical and cultural exhibits, delicious foods to try and enough beautiful views to block up your Instagram feed. But if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, something with just as much history, culture and beauty, but a bit less Pinterest coverage, we’ve got just the thing for you.
Alternative travel destination are getting harder and harder to come by, what with social media increasing our knowledge of just about every corner of the globe, but there are still a few big cities in Europe that are often overlooked. Whether because of their lack of English-speaking shops or their failure to reach international fame for a monument, these places have been hugely underestimated by most of us, and that might actually be a good thing.
It isn’t often that you’re able to explore somewhere completely new to you anymore, that you haven’t seen a million photos of online and that – crucially – hasn’t become a cliche yet, but it is still possible. Europe is so special because of its hugely contrasting cultures and landscapes, many of which going unseen by those of us who stick to the more mainstream choices. So take a look at our three favourite alternative travel destinations in Europe and get planning your next trip!
For anyone who doesn’t know, Istanbul is located in the north of Turkey, near to the borders of Bulgaria and Greece. It is known around the world as the meeting place of the east and the west, and this is evident in its architecture, culture and amazing selection of markets. The locals are said to have an endless supply of hospitality, good-humour and insightful conversation at their disposal, and the skyline is one of the most beautiful in the world. The famous churches and palaces are adorned with with mosaics and frescoes, and equally beautiful mosaic creations are available to purchase all over the city.
The city’s cuisine is as diverse as its heritage, including kebaps, mezes and freshly caught fish, alongside fusion cuisine and even classic Italian restaurants. Be sure to grab some street food for lunch, as this really is your best chance to try out to local delicacies. The Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern are absolute must-sees, and of course the Grand Bazaar cannot be missed. Just make sure you have lots of spare room in your suitcase for all of the beautiful souvenirs you’ll want to bring back!
Dubrovnik is located at the south edge of Croatia, and is bordered by both Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. In latitudinal terms it is just above Rome, Italy, so it gets decently hot in the summer! Dubrovnik is a coastal city, and is known for its beautiful ocean bays and clear water, but it often overlooked by those searching for the perfect beach holiday. If you’re looking for some time to relax by the shore and take a dip in the sea, book an apartment outside of the city in one of the quiet bays along the coast. From there you can take the bus into town whenever you like and explore the incredible architecture of the Old Town.
The curiously named Cathedral of Assumption is a must-see, as it embodies the historical essence of Dubrovnik and highlights its cultural beauty. You can also take a trip up into the hills on a cable car, go on a snorkeling trip and go on a Game of Thrones tour to check out some of the filming locations! There’s so much to do in this beautiful city, you might just about have time to try the delicious local fish dishes, which are served at the many harbour-side restaurants near the Old Town.
Budapest is the capital city of Hungary, located close to the borders of Slovakia and Austria and bisected by the River Danube. The Chain Bridge, which was constructed in the 19th century, joins the hilly district of Buda to the flat area Pest, with the former being well known for its historic Old Town. The Royal Palace and Szechenyi Baths are at the top of our sight-seeing list, and there are far too many Basicilas and Synagogues toe even list! Needless to say, the architecture is stunning.
If you’d like to travel about a bit while you’re in the area, you can take a day trip to nearby Vienna, where you can sample a different kind of culture altogether. And if you want to unwind, be sure to take a trip to the famous thermal baths or try out a local day spa. With so much to see, you could get lost in this fascinating city for days. It’s the perfect way to beat the crowds, as well as the hefty price tag, so what are you waiting for? Better start booking your alternative travel adventure now!
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