Every year, millions upon millions of people flock to Europe’s most famous holiday locations – from Italy’s Roman capital to the joy and fun of Paris’ Disneyland. But with the fame of these hotspots comes bustling crowds that can be more stressful than the experience may be worth. For those looking for a more relaxed, stress-free holiday, why not try an alternative to avoid the crowds? Explore some of Europe’s best kept secrets on your next break:
1. Split, Croatia
With only 600,000 visitors throughout the year, Split in Croatia is a perfect mix of old and new and a great alternative to the busy Dubrovnik.
The functioning seaport gives you a unique seaside experience, with lively markets, friendly locals and plenty to do and enjoy regardless of whether you visit in summer or winter.
In the warmer months, you can enjoy the plentiful eateries, bars, gelato shops and the pleasant climate, while the winter brings opportunities to enjoy winter carnivals, New Year celebrations and more. Come rain or shine, however, you can’t miss a visit to the palace-turned-old-town built by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 305.
2. Utrecht, Netherlands
Compared to the 15 million visitors that Amsterdam receives every year, Utrecht’s more modest 4 million means smaller crowds and a much more relaxed alternative.
The architecture, canals and atmosphere are very much similar to the capital, without the busy crowds or tourism traps that are likely to have you spending more than you bargained for.
Visit Dom Tower for city-wide views, and wander around the city’s heart for antiques, castles, unique architecture – and, of course, plenty of cycling opportunities.
3. Sardinia, Italy
While not exactly a hidden gem, Sardinia in Italy still has its fair share of off-the-beaten-path treasures that will give you the peace and quiet you crave.
The white sands, prehistoric coast and captivating Italian climate never disappoint, but it’s when you venture towards the smaller villages and rugged mountains that you’ll truly escape the hustle and bustle.
The charming atmosphere alone will treat you to a holiday full of unique experiences beyond a sweet summer drive or a dip in the warm sea.
4. Galway, Ireland
While Dublin holds all of the Irish charm you could want from a holiday in Ireland, Galway offers all of that and more, without the pressure of crowds.
This small yet charming alternative to Ireland’s capital is surrounded by stunning scenery, while venturing into the town will take you through alleyways and streets over half a millennium old, with fresh seafood eateries, antiques, jewellery and independent shops along the way.
You can still enjoy the Irish tradition of its plentiful pubs, with fiddlers and more in the Latin Quarter. There’s even Dunguaire Castle to spend a day exploring during the warmer months.
Europe has plenty of charm, charisma and hidden treasures to make any holiday unforgettable for all the right reasons.
Step off the beaten track and avoid the crowds, and you’ll be treated to some of the most unique and stunning locations the continent has to offer.
Where will you visit first…?