10 emerging places for vacations without crowds
As relentless crowds flock to major sights in cities like Paris and Venice, travelers must face the truth – we are wearing each other out (and the cities we visit). It’s a common struggle across Europe, but it doesn’t mean that all of Europe has been overtaken by legions of tourists. There are many exciting destinations that may not be new, but they are emerging as exciting destinations worthy of a visit. Plus, the crowd hasn’t touched them yet.
Vipava Valley, Slovenia
Just two hours from Venice, the Vipava Valley is a paradise for adventurous travelers looking for space to explore. This little corner of Slovenia was recently named by Lonely Planet as one of Europe’s top destinations, and now is the perfect time to visit the valley before the crowds get carried away.
Rent a car and travel through this countryside to find plenty of adventurous activities, from easy bike rides through vineyards to stand-up paddleboarding on the Vipava River. And of course, frequent stops at some of the valley’s winemakers like Lepa Vida and the Burja estate are a must. Spice up your wine tasting with food stops to try locally produced staples like honey, cherries, and olive oil. For a bit of history, you can stop at Kostanjevica Monastery and visit the Bourbon Crypt, where members of the French noble family were buried after their exile after the French Revolution. Today the monastery is an art museum, and from the platform outside the church, visitors enjoy unobstructed views of the Italian town of Gorizia.
Where to stay: In the Vipava Valley camping and farm stays are the way to go, but if you prefer a hotel, check out the Majerija. This 300 year old guest house has built all of its guest rooms in the basement so as not to disrupt the idyllic countryside with new developments.
Great peninsula in South West England
To get away from the crowds of big cities like London, you can hop on a train or drive two hours south to explore a hidden corner of England – its southwest peninsula. Comprised of the regions of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset and the Isles of Scilly, the peninsula offers travelers 700 miles of coastal roads to explore and hundreds of castles and beaches to visit, as well as two national parks and four landmarks. of world heritage.
There are plenty of adventures to be had, whether you are searching for fossils along the Jurassic Coast or hiking in Dartmoor National Park. If you like surfing or music you can plan your trip around one of the famous festivals in the area like Boardmasters, an annual surf festival in Cornwall or the famous Glastonbury Music Festival.
Where to stay: Lympstone Manor is a boutique hotel in Exmouth worth planning your trip if you like good food. Its biggest draw is the Michelin-starred restaurant of the same name, where you can savor the best of modern British cuisine.
The west coast of Ireland
Leave the Dublin crowds behind as you extend your Irish trip west to the Atlantic Coast, aka the Wild Atlantic Way. A road trip along the coast will take you through charming villages and quiet bays. Stop at landmarks as famous as the Cliffs of Moher or drive the Ring of Kerry, while discovering cool landscapes like the Inishowen Peninsula to the north and Slea Head Drive to the south. Crowded travelers will find not only solace in Ireland’s remote and lush landscapes; there is also a lot of culture to be discovered in small villages like Doolin, famous as the music capital of Ireland, and Dingle, a small but prosperous town which is home to a famous concentration of traditional Irish pubs. With varied landscapes, hundreds of towns and villages and loads of charm, a road trip through the West of Ireland is the perfect way to feel like you have it all.
Where to stay: Set your GPS for the rural village of Cong and discover (or walk in) one of the best hotels across the country. Ashford Castle is an extravagant five-star hotel set inside a 13th-century castle, situated on the shores of Lough Corrib, Ireland’s second largest lake.
In the south of Spain, just on the border with Portugal, Extremadura is a region rich in history and gastronomy. Here you will not only find Roman and medieval ruins, but also the history of the Spanish Empire. In the city of Trujillo, you can visit the palaces built from the fortunes brought back from the Americas and taste the sweets and cheeses for which the city is famous. In MÃ©rida, not only can you visit one of the best-preserved Roman theaters in the world, but you can also taste gazpacho and feast on Roman-inspired tapas. Extremadura offers incredible landscapes like Garganta de los Infiernos, a magnificent gorge with rock pools in which you can swim; and the Monfrague National Park, particularly known for its birdlife.
Where to stay: Across Spain, paradores are luxury hotels located in a building of historical significance; in Extremadura you will find one of the best paradores in the city of Plasencia. The Parador de Plasencia is located in a former 15th-century convent and features authentic medieval architecture and a more modern interpretation of a large swimming pool.
South West Germany
Over the years, Stuttgart has become a popular Oktoberfest alternative for beating the crowds in Bavaria, but any time of the year is ideal for exploring this under-visited city and the surrounding southwestern region of Germany. Stuttgart is a wealthy city, best known as the headquarters of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, and is home to 15 Michelin-starred restaurants and numerous art museums. Outside of Stuttgart, there is much to explore in the German state of Baden-Wurtembourg, from the half-timbered town of Esslingen to the brilliant blue of Lake Constance. The area is full of castles and is famous for its quirky year-round festivals that celebrate everything from white asparagus to plums. You can also stop in Bad-Wildbad, a spa town where you can enjoy a classic German-style spa without the crowds of more famous spa towns like Baden-Baden.
Where to stay: Car enthusiasts shouldn’t leave Stuttgart without visiting both the Mercedes-Benz Museum and the Porche Museum. You can even stay at the V8 hotel, the automotive-themed wonderland of Stuttgart.
Languedoc Roussillon, France
Immerse yourself in the sunny side of the South of France in the Languedoc-Rousillon region (also known as Grande Occitanie). As the largest wine-growing region in France, this region rich in vineyards is the perfect place for wine lovers who wish to take a trip to the heart of the French countryside. Travelers to Languedoc can also enjoy special tastings at olive oil factories like L’Olibo; try the sweet lamb pastries in the town of PÃ©zenas; or taste the fresh oysters from the farms of the Etang de Thau, a huge lake that connects the Mediterranean to the region’s famous cruise route: the Canal du Midi. On the lake you will also find the small port town of Marseillan, where vermouth lovers can visit the Noilly-Prat distillery for a tasting and a tour of the modern factory.
Where to stay: Have you always dreamed of living in one of these picturesque French villages? Then, settle in at Village Castigno, a unique hotel concept that transforms an entire village into an original and colorful complex.
In Frankfurt, what is new is old again. As most of the Old Town was destroyed during WWII, Frankfurt has long been overlooked by travelers seeking historic architecture. However, this all changes with the completion of the reconstruction of the old town. This massive project included the construction of 35 new buildings and more than 30 shops, restaurants, museums and cafes to explore. Among the buildings reconstructed in their original location, you will learn about the history of Frankfurt, from its origin as a Roman colony to the Gothic styles of the Esslinger House.
Where to stay: Just because you’re visiting Frankfurt’s New Old Town doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the more modern side of the city at the Sofitel Frankfurt Opera. This elegantly decorated hotel is both classic and metropolitan, and enjoys a central location near the opera house.
It’s not hard to see why Italy is one of the most popular (and crowded) destinations in Europe. However, while Rome’s Spanish Steps and the idyllic Cinque Terre villages suffer from overtourism, the Puglia region remains unknown to most tourists. But as the heel that makes up the Italian boot, Puglia has all the flavor of Italy a traveler could want – ancient cities, incredible cuisine, and Mediterranean views. However, it also has its own cultural landmarks that you won’t find anywhere else in Italy, like the pasta-producing grandmothers of Bari and the cliffside town of Polignano a Mare with its famous Grotta Palazesse restaurant.
Where to stay: Trulli are unique round houses that are icons of Puglia, and in Tenuta Madia you can spend the night in one of them. The hotel also has a huge swimming pool overlooking the city of Ostina.
The baltic states
From historic cities to unique national parks, the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have a lot to offer travelers. In Estonia, discover the medieval city of Talinn, or visit the forested island of Saareema for a nature retreat. Latvia is often considered the most artistic trio in the Baltic, and when you see the colorful capital of Riga and the white sands of Cape Colka, you’ll understand why. Lithuania is teeming with culture with its castle-rich capital Vilnius and fascinating sites like the Orvidas Garden, which features sculptures by an eccentric artist considered a rebel in Soviet times.
Where to stay: In Estonia, you can sleep right in the center of Talinn’s old town at The Three Sisters, a hotel built between the walls of three 700-year-old merchant houses. Each room is unique, and for a five-star hotel the prices are incredibly affordable.
With its location in southern Sicily, the island nation of Malta isn’t the easiest Mediterranean destination to reach, making it perfect for travelers willing to go the extra mile to beat the crowds. Last year Malta made the headlines when one of its most famous rock formations, the Azure Window, collapsed into the sea. However, there is much more to discover among the rocky island in this small archipelago, as well as in the bustling capital of Valletta, which in 2018 was named European Capital of Culture. Visit the mysterious prehistoric temples scattered across the islands or go on an adventure to the neighboring island of Gozo, one of the Mediterranean’s top destinations for diving, rock climbing and hiking.
Where to stay: In the city of Mdina, enjoy a life of luxury at Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux, a hotel built in a 17th century palace.
This story originally appeared on SmarterTravel.com.
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