Santorini, Venice and the Amalfi Coast are all famed for their beauty, and as such are on pretty much every traveller’s bucket list. But this overtourism can often ruin the holiday experience and you may find yourself wishing you’d opted for somewhere, well… quieter. Here, we’ve unearthed some of Europe’s hidden gems that have sights to rival the go-to European beauty spots.
Th Greek islands are some of the worst hit destinations in Europe for overtourism, as limited space and high volumes of tourists collide. However if it’s somewhere you still feel a strong desire to go to, we’ve compiled a list of alternatives to the main Greek holiday islands. And it doesn’t get much more remote than Amorgos, which is a six-hour ferry from Athens, but we assure you it is worth it! Its far-flung location means that the island is untouched by tourism and remains as romantic and mysterious as ever. The main attraction is the Hozoviotissa Monastery, which was built into the side of a cliff in 1017. Today, it is still precariously perched 300 metres above sea level and windmills are dotted across the landscape, adding even more charm to the views.
Tourists flock to France to taste some of the finest wines in the world straight from the source, and the locations that immediately spring to mind are Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. But if you would rather avoid the crowds, Riquewihr is the destination for you. This small settlement in the heart of the Alsace vineyards is widely regarded as one of the prettiest towns in France and is also home to some delicious wines of its own.
Built in medieval times, the buildings have been beautifully maintained; some date back as far as the 13th century and still look as authentic today as when they were first built. For wine buffs, the 16th-century winemaker’s house is an absolute must-visit. Outside of the town, you can take a tour of the local wine route, which boats stunning vistas across the vine-filled fields and valleys. Santé!
Glencar Lough, Ireland
This freshwater lake sits at the bottom of steep cliffs that line the border between Leitrim and Sligo. Nearby, local attraction Glencar Waterfall cascades 50ft down the rocks and could be mistaken for a tropical rainforest. To get to the waterfall from the lake, you will wander through a wood, which only adds to the magical feel of the area. Famously, this waterfall was the inspiration for William Butler Yeats’ poem The Stolen Child:
‘Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,’
Tara Canyon, Montenegro
Montenegro has been growing in popularity in recent years as a tourist destination, with most visitors opting for a trip to Kotor Old Town, which is an UNESCO World Heritage site. But, don’t forget that beauty can also be found in the mountains (Montenegro literally translates to ‘Black Mountain’). Here, you can hike or paddle your way through the black cliffs of the Tara Canyon that stretches across 51 miles and is 4,300ft deep, making it the second deepest canyon in Europe. The deep blue water sparkles and is offset against the vibrant greenery that grows along the river bank. It’s a truly incredible spot for an off-the-grid adventure.
The Golden Valley, England
Now, we couldn’t have a 2020 travel blog without mentioning a staycation could we!? Herefordshire is a county that you will often drive through to get to popular Welsh holiday spots, and this means that it tends to get forgotten about or sometimes mistaken for the similar sounding ‘Hertfordshire’ (we’re looking at you Seann Walsh).
This is a real shame as Herefordshire is home to some of the most glorious countryside in the UK. One of our highlights is the Golden Valley, which follows the River Dore through western Herefordshire. Its enchanting natural beauty changes throughout the year; from the daffodils in spring and wheat and rape fields in summer, to the burnt amber leaves of autumn – whenever you choose to visit, the valley always seems to shine gold. You can even add a little something extra to the experience, such as the quirky local activity, llama trekking.