There are plenty of unforgettable getaways in the European Countryside for a visit and pass memorable times in the lap of nature forgetting the tussle and bustle of life. The getaways in the European Countryside have a panacea to refresh the mind and soul to energize the stress.
Europe, with its plethora of remarkable destinations, is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. While popular cities like Barcelona, Venice, Amsterdam, and the Amalfi Coast rightfully steal the limelight, their overwhelming popularity has resulted in overcrowding and exorbitant prices, leading some of these destinations to discourage further tourism.
However, amidst the bustling crowds, there exist hidden gems, unfairly overlooked and beckoning to be discovered. This summer, eschew the neck-craning attempts to glimpse the Mona Lisa, bypass the lengthy Vatican queues, and step away from the Sagrada Família crowds. Instead, set your sights on Europe’s lesser-known destinations—the cities, islands, regions, beaches, towns, and lakes that remain untapped by the mainstream traveler.
Prepare to embark on an extraordinary sojourn through the captivating expanse of the European countryside, where an abundance of awe-inspiring destinations eagerly awaits the discerning traveler in pursuit of solace, resplendent natural wonders, and immersive cultural encounters. Brace yourself for an enthralling revelation as we unveil a meticulously curated selection of travel spots that epitomize the irresistible allure woven into the tapestry of Europe’s bucolic landscapes.
Getaways in the European Countryside
This article will give an overview of some unforgettable getaways in the European Countryside. Let us embark on a journey from the Balkans to the Baltics, from the North Atlantic to the Adriatic coast, as we unveil Europe’s underrated marvels, guided by seasoned travel writers and local experts who have unraveled the continent’s best-kept secrets:
1. Asturias, Spain
Sandwiched between Portugal to the west and France to the east, Spain’s distinctive geography affords it not one but two spectacular coastal landscapes, which is one of the unforgettable getaways in the European Countryside.
Whereas Andalucia to the south is thought for its sizzling solar, Moorish influences, and well-developed coastlines, hilly Asturias to the north has extra reasonable Atlantic winds, colorful fishing ports lining quiet seashores, and mineral-rich soil that’s helped make this area’s cider well-known.
Inland is simply as lovely, the place the looming Cantabrian Mountains encompass medieval villages misplaced to time. Start your journey in Oviedo, the area’s cool capital with an eye-popping historic middle, then department out in any variety of instructions.
To the north, Gijón, a long-standing fishing village with a seafront promenade and lovely botanical backyard that spans greater than 60 acres, makes for an ideal weekend escape, as does Ribadesella to the east with its three spectacular prehistoric caves—Tito Bustillo, Cuevas del Agua, Argüelles—whose drawings date again greater than 14,000 years.
2. Scottish Highlands, Scotland
Within this rugged and picturesque expanse, the very essence of untamed splendor resides. Majestic landscapes, where breathtaking vistas unfold, collide with ancient castles that stand as silent witnesses to a bygone era. Traverse the mystical lochs and be captivated by the enigmatic allure of the legendary Loch Ness.
3. The Cotswolds, England
Enter a realm of unparalleled beauty as you traverse the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the United Kingdom—the Cotswolds. Allow your senses to revel in the idyllic villages adorned with quaint thatched cottages, while picturesque landscapes, dotted with grazing sheep, unfold before your eyes, akin to the embodiment of a quintessential English countryside painting.
4. Algarve, Portugal
Nestled within Portugal’s southernmost region lies the Algarve—a coastal paradise that unveils its treasures to those who yearn for golden shores caressed by the waves, dramatic cliffs that plunge fearlessly into the azure sea, and enchanting fishing villages pulsating with the rhythm of coastal life. Succumb to the tantalizing aroma of freshly caught seafood as it dances upon your palate.
5. Imotski Lakes, Croatia
Spanning most of the Dalmatian hinterland that stretches between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the barren terrain remains a sanctuary for goats and weathered locals. Amidst this lunar-like landscape, the vibrant town of Imotski stands out, adorned by two stunning lakes, each named after its distinct watercolor.
The Blue Lake (Modro Jezero), a deep sinkhole, entices visitors to swim in its azure waters, which plunge to a depth of 90 meters in spring, but shrink to a few feet during the summer months. Not far away, the Red Lake (Crveno Jezero) astounds from above, as rusty-reddish hues paint the sheer cliff faces, an artistic canvas forged by iron oxides. As evidence of Imotski’s growing popularity, tourist rentals, and modest restaurants have sprung up, providing further testament to the allure of this hidden gem.
6. Birmingham, England
Shedding the remnants of its industrial past, the UK’s second-largest city, Birmingham, emerges as a place of surprising beauty. Venture beyond the bustling city center and a world of verdant enchantment reveals itself. Take leisurely strolls along the Chad Valley walk, tracing the path of a disused railway, and revel in the leafy surroundings.
Explore the towering conifers and relish sweeping views of the city at ‘the Lickeys.’ Discover the quaint Quaker village of Bournville, an idyllic oasis. And, of course, traverse the miles upon miles of picturesque canals that weave through the city, offering a serene escape. Indulge in a great meal after a delightful walk, as Birmingham spoils you with its abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants, rivaling even those in London.
Buzzing neighborhoods like Stirchley and Moseley boast a multitude of independent eateries, with the compact, women-run Verbena in Stirchley being a recommended choice. It comes as no surprise to locals that Birmingham was crowned the country’s most exciting foodie destination by the esteemed Good Food Guide in 2022.
7. Dordrecht, Netherlands
Radiating historic charm and picturesque beauty akin to the heart of Amsterdam, yet with far fewer tourists, Dordrecht entices as the perfect destination for a bite-size Dutch city break. Nestled on a sweeping bend in the Oude Maas River, this medieval harbor town exudes a chocolate-box prettiness. Immerse yourself in artistry at the venerable Dordrechts Museum, housing a rich collection of Old Masters.
Explore the delightful indie shops and restaurants that grace the lovely stretch of Groenmarkt. Take a short stroll from the city center to discover the cultural hub of Energiehuis and indulge in a delectable meal at the garden restaurant of Villa Augustus, a cool hotel housed within a converted water tower. If time permits, venture beyond the city limits to explore the nearby Biesbosch, the largest national park in the Netherlands, accessible through a tranquil half-day boat trip.
8. Extremadura, Spain
In a country renowned for its sun-kissed beaches, it is no small feat for an inland destination to capture attention—particularly one lacking major cities. Such is the case with the western region of Extremadura, nestled along the Portuguese border. While miles separate it from the coast, barrenness is far from its defining characteristic.
In fact, Extremadura boasts the longest freshwater coastline of any Spanish region, offering opportunities to enjoy the beach-like atmosphere of Isla del Zújar. Spot Iberian pigs roaming freely across sprawling dehesa woodlands, immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of three biosphere nature reserves and a UNESCO-recognized Geopark, and uncover the region’s heritage sites, including the ancient Roman amphitheater of Mérida and the captivating historic district of Cáceres.
And let’s not forget the culinary delights that await—an array of hearty migas, local cheeses, the humble patatera sausage, and local cava from Almendralejo. Extremadura truly encompasses it all, except for the hordes of tourists.
9. Banja Luka, Bosnia, and Herzegovina
Banja Luka, the capital of Republika Srpska, the lesser-visited Serbian entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, invites you to immerse yourself in its rich heritage. The absence of overwhelming tourist crowds allows for a leisurely exploration of the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and the Ferhadija Mosque—strikingly rebuilt post-conflict landmarks that speak to the city’s history spanning 2,000 years.
Delve into the panoramic views from the Roman fortress, Kastel, and admire the Habsburg façades that grace the cityscape. Lively café terraces beckon, offering idyllic spots to savor your surroundings. Carnivores will revel in the plethora of Balkan restaurants, and affordability characterizes all facets of hospitality. Despite the dearth of international visitors, English-speaking staff are commonplace, ensuring a warm and welcoming experience.
10. Lake Annecy, France
Escape the bustling coastline of the French Riviera and embark on a swift, affordable, and direct train ride from Paris to the mountainous shores of Lake Annecy. Here, the clean, clear, and invigorating waters of an Alpine lake replace the vast expanse of the sea. Prepare to be captivated by the spectacular views that unfold, particularly from the grassy ‘beaches’ found at Talloires and Menthon-Saint-Bernard.
Should clouds obscure the sun, fear not—meander through the supremely picturesque town of Annecy. A charming blend of France, Switzerland, and Venice, it enchants visitors with its lakeside gardens, medieval alleyways, picturesque canals, and a shared love for melted cheese.
11. Matera, Italy
Matera, an extraordinary city carved into rocky mountains, stands as a testament to reinvention. As one of Italy’s oldest settlements, recently recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it stands apart from the bustling Amalfi Coast or Naples, despite being a mere three-hour journey away.
Limestone layers embrace history within the atmospheric cave dwellings of Sassi di Matera, a haunting labyrinth that has evolved into unique exhibition spaces, rock churches, boutique hotels, and restaurants. Traverse the labyrinthine old town, filled with feline companions, and bask in the ambiance of a bygone era.
Marvel at Matera’s allure as a muse for modern filmmakers or revel in the city’s skyline from the Belvedere Pascoli lookout. With history etched into its limestone foundations, Matera promises a profoundly captivating experience in one of Italy’s most extraordinary destinations.
12. Ring of Kerry, Ireland
Embark on an enchanting odyssey through County Kerry’s mesmerizing Ring of Kerry, an extraordinary scenic driving route that unveils a panorama of majestic mountains, their peaks reaching toward the heavens, while serene lakes mirror the ever-changing sky. Rugged coastal cliffs guard the secrets of the emerald isle, and idyllic Irish villages, steeped in rich folklore, beckon with an irresistible charm.
13. Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Prepare to be rendered speechless by the sheer majesty that the Swiss Alps bestow upon the fortunate beholder. Towering peaks pierce the cerulean sky, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle, while crystal-clear lakes, mirroring their surroundings, invite introspection. Charming alpine villages, nestled amidst this breathtaking scenery, offer a world of unparalleled adventure, with hiking, skiing, mountaineering, and a profound connection with nature.
14. Santorini, Greece
Beyond the fame of its renowned caldera and pristine beaches, Santorini reveals a serene countryside, where traditional villages cling tenaciously to the cliffs, vineyards stretch languidly across the horizon, and ancient ruins whisper captivating tales of a bygone era. Immerse yourself in a harmonious blend of natural beauty, history, and the irresistible charm that permeates this island sanctuary.
15. Faroe Islands
Picture an island paradise, and the rocky, weather-beaten Faroe Islands might not immediately spring to mind. Yet, braving the elements rewards you with dreamlike views at every turn—tumbling waterfalls cascading down lush slopes, quaint towns nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes, and towering mountains commanding your awe.
With tunnels connecting six of the archipelago’s 18 islands, embarking on a road trip becomes an ideal way to explore. As you traverse the roads, be prepared for sheep that rule the thoroughfares, pyramid-shaped peaks inviting invigorating hikes, and a coastline frequented by seabirds, seals, and majestic whales.
16. Tartu, Estonia
Named as one of the three European Capitals of Culture for 2024, Tartu stands as the creative and intellectual hub of the Baltics, revolving around its prestigious seventeenth-century university. Stroll through its streets, keeping an eye out for lively cafés and experimental architecture. The National Archives impresses with its fusion of Nordic and Baltic influences, showcased by its postmodern exterior.
Meanwhile, the Snail Tower captures attention with its Neolithic-inspired spiral top and irregular windows. In summer, outdoor festivals animate the city, including Tartuff—a celebration of romantic films—and the IDeeJazz festival. Come December, the city transforms into a dazzling ‘Christmas City,’ illuminating the dark nights with twinkling glass huts and ice rinks.
17. Pamukkale, Turkey
Nestled near the ancient Roman spa city of Hierapolis, Pamukkale emerges as a town famed for its mineral-rich thermal waters cascading down white travertine terraces on a hillside. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, crafted over millennia, showcases luminescent, snowy limestone formations, aptly earning its Turkish name, which translates to ‘cotton castle.’
Visitors can indulge in a dip in the travertine pools, traverse the terraces to marvel at this natural wonder, or even embark on a hot air balloon ride for an even more breathtaking perspective. While in Pamukkale, make time to explore the town’s Roman ruins, such as the well-preserved amphitheater and the antique Roman pool.
18. Ponza, Italy
While international travelers flock to the well-known Italian isles of Capri, Sicily, and Sardinia, the offshore beach playground of Ponza remains an undiscovered gem, cherished by Romans seeking respite from the capital. Life on this five-mile rocky island revolves around the surrounding waters. Swimmers revel in natural pools and ancient grottoes, while sunbathers bask on sandy beaches nestled within crescent-shaped coves.
Gastronomic delights await at harborfront restaurants like Cala Feola’s La Marina, where you can almost feel the sea lapping at your toes, as tables perch upon the rocks during low tide. Easily accessible by ferry from Rome or Naples, Ponza offers a shorter journey for those departing from the coastal city of Terracina, yet another overlooked seaside destination in Italy.
19. Ullapool, Scotland
Despite its modest population of 1,500, the tiny village of Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands boasts an unexpected array of attractions. Immerse yourself in the gorgeous scenery at nearby Corrieshalloch Falls, embark on a scramble up Stac Pollaidh mountain, or set sail on a ferry to the Outer Hebrides. After a day of breathing in the fresh air, find solace in one of the town’s cozy pubs or indulge in its burgeoning food scene.
The Seafood Shack tempts visitors with some of the freshest langoustines imaginable, while The Dipping Lugger—a new restaurant on the shores of Loch Broom—has already garnered 3AA Rosettes for its culinary prowess and emphasizes local produce. And while there, tune into Lochbroom FM, a local radio station, for a taste of the region’s vibrant culture.
20. Albanian Riviera
Look beyond the towering communist hotels that dominate the beach cities of Durrës, Sarandë, and Vlorë in Albania, and you will discover unspoiled seaside towns accessible via vertiginous mountain roads that trace the picturesque Adriatic coastline. Among these hidden gems lies the semi-abandoned village of old Qeparo, where white-stone buildings serve as evocative remnants of the past, offering glimpses into the future.
As many villagers emigrated to Italy in the 1990s, Albanians are slowly returning, renovating dilapidated structures into family homes and boutique guesthouses like Villa Rustic and Las Villas de Qeparo. The remarkably clean and inviting sea entices swimmers, even in winter. Don’t miss the Karavasta Lagoon, a coastal national park, and sanctuary for pelicans and rare wildlife.
Further south, between Vlorë and Sarandë, lies Tragjas Vlorë—a fishing town encircled by hills and enticing hiking trails. Experience mountain cuisine cooked over an open fire at the guesthouse Sofra e Vjeter.
21. Vilnius, Lithuania
In 2023, the tiny Baltic capital of Vilnius celebrates its 700th anniversary—an ideal time to unravel the city’s fascinating and tumultuous history. Begin atop Gediminas Hill, named after the city’s founder, and relish the views across the Old Town. Descend toward the dazzling Gate of Dawn, a testament to Lithuania’s Catholicization during its unification with Poland—an alliance that formed one of Europe’s largest states.
The Station District bears the influence of the Russian Empire, while Soviet-era buildings, scattered throughout the city, serve as eerie reminders of a dark past. Today, many of these buildings, such as the clubs Kablys and Loftas, along with the prison-turned-cultural space Lukiškės 2.0, offer vibrant nightlife rivaling that of Berlin. Here’s to another 700 years of Vilnius, hopefully with less conflict.
22. Sintra, Portugal
Just a stone’s throw away from Lisbon, the captivating realm of Sintra unfolds, reminiscent of a realm conjured from the pages of a fairy tale. Lush forests cloak the landscape, offering an emerald embrace to the wanderer’s spirit. Enchanting palaces, resplendent with architectural splendor, captivate the imagination, while impressive castles, including the vibrant and colorful Pena Palace, transport visitors to a realm of unparalleled wonder and awe.
23. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Immerse yourself in the enchantment that envelopes this UNESCO World Heritage site, where a symphony of cascading lakes and magnificent waterfalls coexists harmoniously amidst lush forests teeming with wildlife. Traverse the meticulously crafted wooden walkways that meander through this natural masterpiece, surrendering yourself to the symphony of sights and sounds that animate this ethereal wonderland.
These examples, though merely scratching the surface of the myriad enchanting countryside destinations strewn across Europe, offer glimpses into the tapestry of captivating realms waiting to be explored. Each country unfurls its unique charm, unveiling captivating landscapes and cultural encounters that remain etched in the annals of memory. Embark on an odyssey through Europe’s countryside, allowing the hidden gems to forge an indelible mark upon your soul, forever igniting the wanderlust within.
24. Provence, France
Everybody from Paul Cézanne to Brigitte Bardot has answered the siren name of Provence, which is one of the unforgettable getaways in the European Countryside, a storybook panorama of vineyards and lavender fields that stretches from the shores of the Mediterranean all the way in which into the French hills.
You may go fallacious with any of the native cities you select to go to right here, whether or not that’s the walled metropolis of Avignon or the sun-dappled streets of Aix-en-Provence.
Venture into the heartland of the French countryside, a realm where lavender fields sway in rhythmic unison with the gentle breeze, and sunflower meadows paint the landscape in vibrant hues, reminiscent of a resplendent artist’s palette. Quaint villages exude an irresistible allure, offering a delightful fusion of natural splendor and cultural richness.
For those who select the latter, seize a desk on the terrace (and a wholesome pour of rosé) at Les Deux Garçons—as soon as a hang-out for the likes of Picasso and Churchill—earlier than retiring within the close-by village of Les Baux-de-Provence at Domaine de Manville.
The 100-acre farm property turned lodge has a next-level gourmand restaurant, shaded pool, and loads of joie de vivre.
25. Franconia, Germany
Verdant rolling hills and river valleys, forgotten castles, timber-framed villages constructed up round steepled church buildings, a historical wine tradition that dates again to Roman instances.
Drives via Franconia, an area of northern Bavaria, are as dreamy as street journeys get, which is one of the unforgettable getaways in the European Countryside.
That is the house of Nuremberg (a medieval red-roofed metropolis with its personal fortified fortress), Coburg (well-known for its Franconian sausages), Bamberg (had been one part of town is named “Little Venice”), and numerous storybook villages constructed up across the area’s robust wine tradition.
You may get a style of the world’s standard Riesling and fewer acidic Silvaner in tiny cities like Escherndorf, residence to the family-owned vineyard Rainer Sauer Weingut, and Volkach, the place a 1692 bishop-built wine home is now the house base for 4th-generation winemaker Max Müller.
Mattress down at Lodge Vier Jahreszeiten, a captivating historic boutique on Volkach’s most important strip.
26. Tuscany, Italy
A round-up of the quintessential European countryside wouldn’t be full with no point out of Tuscany, which is one of the unforgettable getaways in the European Countryside.
The rolling, picturesque patchwork of vineyards and villages that comprise Italy’s heartland stays one of many world’s most visited areas—and with good motive.
That is the birthplace of vintages like Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino in addition to the Italian Renaissance, skilled in no place higher than at Florence’s famed Pitti Palace and Uffizi Galleries.
World Heritage Websites are in all places right here from Pisa’s Cathedral sq. to the historic city facilities of San Gimignano and Siena, whose labyrinth of medieval streets results in a central courtyard bordered by a gothic cathedral and amphitheater of eating places and bars.
Simply as charming is the city of Montaione, the place locals press their very own olive oil across the 2,700-acre property generally known as Lodge Il Castelfalfi.
The 800-year-old village turned five-star resort has cozy-chic farmhouses-turned-villa leases, glorious eating places, and an 11,000-square-foot spa.
27. Hampshire, England
It’s laborious to consider a wild, unenclosed expanse of forest, heath, and pasture lies lower than two hours outdoors one of many world’s most visited cities, however, that’s precisely what you’ll discover while you enter the New Forest, in Hampshire.
A lot of the woodland—now a delegated National Park—is because it was when William the Conqueror named it a royal-looking floor in 1079, which is one of the unforgettable getaways in the European Countryside.
That is the backdrop for the Lime Wooden Lodge, a formidable 13th-century Regency-looking lodge revamped into an effortlessly lovely 32-room retreat—we’re speaking Velvet French chairs, raw-silk wall coverings, grand fireplaces, in addition to a wonderful restaurant and retractable glass roof that lets mild shine down on the central atrium. Hampshire additionally lays declare to Winchester and its cathedral; the Nice Corridor (residence of “King Arthur’s Spherical Desk”); and Highclere Citadel, the setting for Downton Abbey.
28. Tyrol, Austria
Searching for the wellness advantages of the natural meadows, crystal-clear mountain streams, and contemporary alpine air you’ll be able to solely discover within the Alps?
Tyrol, within the higher reaches of western Austria, is a picturesque cure-all, which is one of the unforgettable getaways in the European Countryside.
Right here, snowcapped mountains descend into patchworks of sloping farmland roamed by grazing cows and sheep, and crisscrossing trails embody a number of the world’s finest mountaineering, biking, and rock-climbing routes.
The heat of spring and summer seasons, nevertheless, will not be the one time to revel in this area’s magnificence.
As quickly as temperatures start to drop, the native mountain tradition comes alive in über-chic ski cities like Innsbruck, Sölden, and Kitzbühel, the place jet-set crowds descend for aggressive downhill races, Christmas markets, and the magic of the snowy season.
29. Douro Valley, Portugal
A UNESCO designation has saved this quiet wine nation in northern Portugal utterly pristine—not that it wanted a lot of assistance, which is one of the unforgettable getaways in the European Countryside.
Whereas wine lovers have lengthy crowded into the winery motels and tasting rooms of Bordeaux, France, and Tuscany, Italy, Douro Valley has for hundreds of years remained comparatively off the radar—that’s, till Six Senses reworked a 19th-century terra-cotta farmhouse into their first European-based wellness resort.
The company right here has entry farm-fresh meals and drinks utilizing elements sourced from the property’s natural backyard, nightly wine tastings, an indoor pool, and a vacation spot spa with its personal yoga pavilion.
The valley itself is anchored by the river Douro—an exquisite setting for a number of space’s finest sights and eating places, together with DOC, which specializes in the area’s rural delicacies, and Regua’s Wine Museum.
As you venture beyond the beaten path and explore these underrated European destinations, may you revel in the allure of the unfamiliar and the joy of discovering hidden treasures. Let the spirit of wanderlust guide you, and may your journeys be filled with wonder, knowledge, and the thrill of exploration.
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