It can be difficult to discuss the best European holidays and travel destinations, as Europe is such a vast continent with so much to offer. So instead, we will just focus on the best hidden gems in Europe, the places worth a visit. These spots are so insanely beautiful, that you will be shocked to not have heard of them before. They have somehow managed to evade the tyranny of Europe tourism and remain untouched. So keep reading and enjoy our secret Europe travel guide!
#1 Quinta da Regaleira, Portugal
Located in the quaint city of Sintra, a small drive away from Lisbon, you’ll unearth the António Carvalho Monteiro dos Milhous’ estate. António was a famous Portuguese entomologist, and he filled this palace that he built with iconography, mysterious symbols and moe. He was known as an avid collector and bibliophile, and these can be viewed at his estate. You’ll be able to walk around the spectacular garden, searching for the secret passage and hideaways. We advise you to take a map, as getting lost here is a real risk! Combine this with a stay in Sintra, where you can also visit the home of Hans Christian Andersen, the famed author of fairy tales. It is clear why the renowned author settled here, as the city’s cobbled streets and candy coloured castles are almost too beautiful to exist outside of our imaginations.
#2 The Blue Grotto, Italy
Nestled in the coast of Capri, you will discover the most enchanting sight. The Blue Grotto is a cave in the side of a mountain, and can only be reached through squeezing through a narrow opening at water level. Once entering, you’ll be awestruck by the intense blue, which is the result of sunlight passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the water. The surrealistic blue reflection fills the entire cavern, creating a tranquility like no other. Combine this with a boat trip around the Coast, which can be costly but is considered to be worth every penny. It has sadly not been saved from traditional Europe tourism, so expect some waiting time, but know that the sight will stay with you forever. Also in Capri, consider taking the chair lift in Anacapri to the top of Mount Solaro, where you will have the best views of the island. It will give you a break from the pressing heat, and the ability to gaze out across the entirety of the area.
#3 Laguna Salada de Torrevieja, Spain
If you’re going on a European vacation, it is highly likely that you’ll be visiting the classical destination of Spain, and for good reason! If so, this is a necessary stop on your trip. Laguna Salada de Torrevieja, also known simply as Torrevieja Pink Lake, is one of the few lagoons in the world that have this coloration. It is situated in the Natural Park de les Lagunas de La Mata y Torrevieja and spreads across 1,400 hectares.. Not only is this lagoon the perfect background for your holiday photos, but it has numerous beneficial properties. The high salinity of the water allows you to float on it, similar to the phenomenon that occurs in the Dead Sea, and removes the toxins from your body and provides exceptional effects on your skin. The black muds that are in the vicinity of the lake is great for your skin as well. Try a deep exfoliation using white sand and then applying the black mud to moisturize the skin for 30 minutes minimum, and you’ll be amazed with the results. If you’re there near breeding season you’ll also get to spots the celebrities of this lake, the pink flamingos that match it so perfectly. There can be up to 2,000 flamingos in the natural park during breeding season, as well as numerous other migratory aquatic birds.
#4 Fingal’s Cave, Scotland
Fingal’s Cave is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa, situated in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland, it is an official National Nature reserve. It is renowned for its natural acoustics, as the peculiar rock formation creates a spooky sound when combined with the wind. You can take trips to the island and cave from the mainland, and enjoy the tranquil nature of it. A European vacation to Scotland is a must on any bucket list, particularly by campervan! Travelling around this gorgeous country will provide you with unbeatable views and the most dramatic landscapes you’ll ever see. Camping there is even better, and will get you back in touch with nature.
#5 Santa Maria Dell’Isola, Italy
Situated on the breathtaking coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea you will find Santa Maria dell’Isola, a 4th century monastery that can only be accessed through winding stairs carved into the cliffside. The land surrounding the monastery has changed so much since it was built, having been erected on an island that is now connected to the mainland through the built up slit. The building has gone from being a simple medieval church to being renovated in the Renaissance, the facade has also been rebuilt since being destroyed by an earthquake in 1905. It is a holy destination for pilgrims and home to a 12th century Byzantine portrait of the Virgin Mary that is considered to protect the area. In 1638, the Virgin from the portrait appeared to the Bishop in Calabria, and warned him of an impending earthquake. The Bishop evacuated the residents of Tropea, and an earthquake struck that same day. The monastery itself is stunning, but the view surrounding it is even more gorgeous. Pull on some sturdy shoes, pack a lunch, and go view one of the most beautiful sites the world has to offer.
#6 Camanito del Rey, Spain
Our Europe travel guide would be incomplete without the best hiking spot in Spain; the Camanito del Rey. These rocky cliffs provide an enduring hike, but the view during will make it worth every drop of sweat or aching muscle. The hike takes about 10 hours round trip, depending on your fitness level, so definitely plan an entire day for this and pack plenty of water and snacks. The highlight is reaching the gorge, and seeing the bridge that spans between. It is not for the faint hearted, but be assured it has been designed carefully and built to hold a large quantity of people. Looking down will be frightening, but will be a view that you will never forget. If you’re looking for a challenge and the chance to see a sight that the majority of the world will never know even exists, this is the hidden gem for you!
#7 Landmannalaugar, Iceland
A European vacation to Iceland is like no other, for this small country has dramatic regions that are simply shocking. Driving around the island non stop would take about 13 hours, but it would be a major waste to not stop and enjoy these incredible views. One of these is Landmannalaugar, a rare area, both geologically and aesthetically. It is nestled beside the raven-black Laugahraun lava field, and is made up of windswept rhyolite mountains. This rock type creates a full spectrum of colours, including shades of red, pink, green, blue and golden yellow. It is historically known for its natural geothermal baths, and is thus nicknamed as the People’s Pools. It has ideal hiking trails, where you can stop and soak your weary feet and body in the naturally occuring hot pools. Free jacuzzi? Yes please!
#8 Fountains Abbey, England
The largest and best preserved of the ruined Cistercian monasteries in England, Fountains abbey is located south-west of Ripon in North Yorkshire. It was founded in 1132 and operated for 407 years. It became one of the wealthiest monasteries in England until its dissolution in 1539 under the order of Henry VIII. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is owned by the National Trust. If you plan to visit the North Yorkshire region, which you should definitely do so for the stunning national parks, then ensure you take a few hours to wander around this beautiful hidden gem.
#9 Trolltunga, Norway
One of the most scenic cliffs in Norway, Trolltunga is a spectacular site. It is situated about 1100 meters above sea level, and hovers 700 meters above the lake Ringedalsvatnet. From here you can gaze out at the cliffs surrounding it and the piercing blue lake beneath. The best way to reach it is hiking from Skjeggedal, which takes you through the high mountains. However, this is an extremely long and demanding hike, so only partake in it if you are experienced and have the right equipment. The hike is possible from mid-June, depending on when the snows melts in the mountains. You can also join a guided hike, which is recommended for anyone who is not an expert hiker.
#10 Moravian Fields, Czech Republic
Moravia is a historical region situated in the eastern part of the Czech Republic. The name stems from the Morava River which flows from the north to the south of the land. It is mainly an agricultural point, which explains why the fields are so manicured and expansive. It is also renowned for its vineyards, so a glass of wine may be in order for gazing out at these rolling hills. It is filled with wildlife for you to spot, including large boars. Driving through the winding roads will be a calming experience and will allow you to explore this vast area.
#11 Rakotzbrücke Bridge, Germany
Nestled among the foliage in Kromlauer Park, this delicately arched bridge is also known as Devil’s bridge. Commissioned in 1860, the bridge was specifically built to create a circle when it is reflected in the waters beneath. The term Devil’s bridge stems from a colloquialism of the time that bridges were so dangerous or miraculous that they must have been built by Satan. The bridge can still be viewed in the park, however crossing the aging relic has been prohibited in order to preserve it. Even so, the Kromlauer Park is still definitely worth visiting, and you can enjoy a picnic there surrounded by the dense foliage.
#12 Keukenhof, the Netherlands
Given Goboony’s home in the Netherlands, we felt it highly appropriate to include a site close to home. The Keukenhof, also known as the tulip fields, dates back to the 15th century. The Keukenhof Castle was built in 1641, and the estate grew to cover an area of over 200 hectares. In 1949, leading flower bulb growers and exporters decided to use the estate to exhibit spring-flowering bulbs, and the park was opened to the public in 1950. It was an instant success, and in the 69 years since it has developed into a world-famous attraction. It displays tulips and other varieties of flowers, in different formations, colours and more. You’ll be able to spend hours strolling around the gorgeous views, and come to realise how much you have overlooked the beauty of the tulip. Then you can treat yourself to a traditional patat, french fries with mayonnaise!
We hope that you’ll take the time to visit some of out 12 best hidden gems for European holidays, as they are definitely worth the time, effort and money. This continent may be a small one but it is filled with breathtaking sites and natural features waiting to be explored. So what are you waiting for? Get exploring!