If you’re looking to explore Europe, then chances are you’ll have an itinerary or perhaps a tick list of places you would like to visit. Unfortunately, however, when travel becomes a tick list that follows the traditional tourist trail, you often leave each country feeling like you are missing out - almost as if you didn’t scrape the surface.
In that vein, this article looks at three destinations that are ideal for exploring if you’re wanting to have a slightly deeper experience than eating a Croque Monsieur outside the Eiffel Tower, or having a photo crammed into a traditional red phone box outside of Westminster Cathedral with a bag of fish and chips in your hand.
Spain is best known for its laid back culture, fantastic weather, and incredible gastronomy. Indeed, Spain has to be one of the most vibrantly sociable places to visit within Europe, with its alfresco dining culture and cheap cost of fantastic wines it’s certainly a place to head to if you’re a lover of the “good life”.
Spain does, of course, have a side to it that is somewhat tacky with holiday resorts dominated by British budget travellers where the streets are lined with The Sun newspaper and special offers on traditional English Breakfasts… Spain, at times, doesn’t feel like Spain at all. Yet, fortunately, these places are limited to a few pockets in popular coastal resorts - and the country as a whole has a very strong and proud identity of being Spanish.
Spain is also a relatively cheap country to travel to, when compared to other parts of Western Europe and finding decent accomodation at a reasonable price is made easy when you check www.interhome.co.uk as there are many good deals to be had on apartments and villas throughout the whole of Spain.
If you’re looking for fun in the sun, then you might want to consider heading to the Canary Islands as this cluster of large islands, just off the coast of Morocco, has one of the most reliably pleasant climates of anywhere in the world. A family favourite, it’s also a great place for adventure sports - particularly if you’re into surfing, kitesurfing or windsurfing.
Then, if you are looking to get away from it all, you could head to the North toward Santander and the mountain range of Picos de Europas which is said to have one of Europe’s most picturesque spots for taking a selfie! Whilst you’re this way, you could join the Camino de Santiago and undertake the famous pilgrimage walk on what is mostly flat and unchallenging terrain.
Finally, you have the large cities of Barcelona and Madrid that pack a lot of punch into any city break… with so much to see and do in each city, you could easily spend a week exploring the many shops, bars and restaurants without getting bored. Then, if you’re looking for a slightly less busy city environment you could head to Seville for a more atmospheric and local vibe than the larger cities offer due to the thwarts of tourists it attracts.
Bulgaria might feel like it has been and gone in terms of its prominence on the tourist radar, yet, Bulgaria offers a wide variety of holiday activities suitable for all. For instance, if you want sun, sea and sand then heading out to the Black Sea coast will satisfy your desire for cheap drinks and food, in a decent hotel, for much less than you would pay in other parts of Europe.
Then, if you fancied a more winter focused escape the ski resorts of Bansko and Borovets boast fantastic slopes, again at a fraction of what you would expect to pay in resorts such as Chamonix. Bansko, in particular, makes for an interesting escape as it remains a very traditional village which feels like you are in another world, a much simpler and authentic world.
In addition to sun and snow, the capital city of Sofia makes for an interesting weekend break that is becoming more and more hipster in its orientation. Here, you can find escape rooms, fine dining, and many cultural activities to enjoy that are on par with those offered by bigger cities in Eastern Europe; the nice thing, here, is that
The majority of people visiting England tend to focus their trip on London, perhaps venturing off to the home of Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon-Avon or the home of the Queen in Windsor… yet, few people scrape the surface of what England has to offer. Indeed, with so much focus on London, many visitors will have a very warped impression of the place, as London is a melting pot of so many vibrant people from various cultures that it has an identity of its own - in the sense that London is a truly international city, not necessarily representative of England as a whole.
If you want to scratch beneath the surface then you are strongly advised to head up to the North of England, where you’ll find the Yorkshire Dales, Lake District and Pennines - fantastic for those that enjoy hiking, cycling and nature. This is a more traditional side of England where the pace of life is a little slower and people take the time to get to know you. It’s home to beautiful cities such as York and Harrogate where you’ll meet many fellow tourists escaping the dominance of London.
Similarly, if you head into the South West toward Devon and Cornwall, you’ll find a much more traditional and natural feel of England. Whilst places such as the Cotswolds offer a chance to feel like you are in an episode of Midsomer Murders with its quaint cottages, beautiful scenery and tourist-friendly towns such as Stow-on-the-Wold.
The best advice, however, is to visit these places in Spring or Summer, as Autumn and Winter in England can be quite gloomy - meaning, if you visit in winter you might be better off visiting the larger cities such as Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and of course, London!