Beautiful Taormina in Sicily is just one of Europe's many hidden gem towns (Photo: Getty Images)

From Finland's snowy tundra to Portugal’s gorgeous hilltop towns, Europe is exceptionally diverse. The continent marries histories, age-old traditions, languages, cuisines and landscapes to offer a wealth of experiences to suit all tastes. And even in some of Europe’s most well-travelled countries, there are tucked-away destinations waiting to be discovered. Venture off the beaten path to discover these seven beguiling destinations on your next European adventure.

Soak up magnificent views of Mount Etna from Taormina

Taormina's Ancient Greek Theatre frames a superb view of majestic Mount Etna (Photo: Getty Images)

Perched on a hillside on Sicily’s eastern shore, the chic resort town of Taormina offers some of the most glorious vistas in Sicily. The second century BC Greek Theatre, which sits atop the town, frames the views most beautifully: before you, the slopes of snow-capped Mount Etna, Italy’s most active volcano, gracefully slope into the deep blue waters of the glistening Ionian Sea. Stroll the ruins or, better still, watch an open-air performance in summer in the amphitheatre as you marvel at the spectacle that lies before you. 

Some 55km south along the coast from Taormina – and sitting right at the foot of Mount Etna – is the bustling port city of Catania, where Four Points by Sheraton Catania Hotel & Conference Center serves as the perfect base to explore the area.

Explore the fairytale town of Sintra

The Romanticist Pena Palace sits in a majestic position high above the Portuguese town of Sintra (Photo: Getty Images)

Sitting atop a hill, the town of Sintra, a short drive west of Portugal’s capital Lisbon, is a charming mismatch of architectural styles, with flamboyant buildings, snaking roads and shaded woods that lend the place much charm and a heavy dose of mystery. Sitting above the town is the Romanticist Pena Palace, a striking yellow and red building with vibrant terraces and crenellated ramparts that is visible from as far as Lisbon. The palace is nestled in an expansive forested park bursting with exotic flora, with twisting paths, ponds and lakes designed by King Ferdinand II. 

Not to be missed, too, are the ruins of the Castelo dos Mouros, which sits 412 metres above sea level, its medieval walls dominating the surrounding forest – on a clear day, the vistas from here are divine, stretching all the way to the deep blue Atlantic. Soak up the city sights then retreat to Penha Longa Resort south of Sintra, an exclusive resort with a 27-hole golf course immersed in a natural park.

Stroll Sète’s colourful canals

With its network of canals, it's easy to see why the southern French town of Sète is compared to Venice (Photo: Getty Images)

Dubbed the Venice of the Languedoc, the attractive port and seaside resort of Sète in southern France is located on the tip of the Thau Lagoon, with colourful houses lining a network of canals. The city greatly developed in the nineteenth century, when all manner of goods were traded, from wine to wood and iron. At the end of the nineteenth century, Italian fishermen settled here in search of a better life. Italian influences are still very much alive today, not just in the city’s maritime heritage but also in its cuisine. Sète’s most famous culinary speciality, for instance, is tielle, a seafood pie with a golden crust stuffed with octopus ragout that has its roots in the Italian dish tiella.

If you happen to be in the city at the end of August, don’t miss the water jousting festival that sees hundreds of spectators gather along the river to cheer on the two rival teams. Located a 30-minute drive north of the town, the Courtyard by Marriott Montpellier serves as the perfect base to explore the south of France’s many wonderful attractions.

Tuck into local specialities in the seaside town of Alaçati

Bursting with character and bougainvillaea, Alaçati is a jewel of the Aegean seaside (Photo: Getty Images)

Sitting on the northern shore of Türkiye’s Çesme Peninsula on the Aegean Sea, Alaçati is one of the country’s hidden gems. This seaside town bursts with character: its quaint cobbled streets are lined with cute stone houses with alcove windows, while huge blossoms of bougainvillaea in bright pops of colour drape pastel-coloured doors and vibrant window shutters. On Saturdays, the market is abuzz, with stalls piled high with fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and olives. Restaurants make the most of the area’s fresh produce, with spices, meats and fish forming the basis of many dishes, such as lamb meatballs, smoked octopus tentacles and crushed fava beans.

Lying only a one-hour drive from the Izmir Marriott Hotel, this delightful seaside resort is a must for any devoted foodie.

Breathe the alpine air in Lavertezzo

Gorgeous village of Lavertezzo in Switzerland

The double-arched Ponte dei Salti is a stunning spot near the gorgeous village of Lavertezzo in Switzerland (Photo: Getty Images)

The picturesque village of Lavertezzo is nestled in Switzerland’s Valle Verzasca, a verdant valley of idyllic landscapes offering fabulous hiking and biking opportunities. Stroll the village’s quaint streets lined with stone buildings, then head to the Ponte dei Salti, a double-arched stone bridge crossing the Verzasca River; its crystal-clear waters are one of the best places to enjoy a refreshing swim.

Stay at Giardino Lago, Minusio-Locarno, a Member of Design Hotels on the shores of Lake Maggiore and visit Lavertezzo as a day trip – the village is only a half-an-hour drive north.

Visit Rauma’s wonderfully preserved old town

When visiting Finland, head to the coast to discover the beautiful wooden houses and winding lanes of charming Rauma (Photo: Getty Images)

Finland’s coastal town of Rauma is a city rich in culture, with a long maritime history and age-old lace-making traditions. It’s a wonderful example of a Nordic wooden town, with narrow, winding streets lined with pretty, wooden houses dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Bobbin lace making holds much importance to the local inhabitants, and there’s even a week-long festival dedicated to the craft: the Rauma Lace week, which sees exhibitions, concerts, workshops and events take place throughout town. 

Rauma makes for the perfect day-trip destination from Tampere. If you’re travelling with children, don’t miss Tampere’s excellent Moomin Museum, housed within the same building as Courtyard Tampere City.

Get lost in the streets of Gyor

Gyor's early eighteenth-century Carmelite church and friary is one of the Hungarian town's many architectural highlights (Photo: Getty Images)

Sitting on the banks of the Moson arm of the Danube, pretty Gyor in northwestern Hungary has a gorgeous Baroque core, with winding, pedestrianised streets lined with pastel-coloured buildings. At the heart of the historic centre lies Széchenyi Ter, a large square that is perfect for watching life go by – sit back at one of the elegant cafes to soak up the atmosphere.

One of the town’s most recognisable buildings is Városháza, the Town Hall, a magnificent neo-Baroque edifice designed in the 1890s. Gyor’s compact core makes the town the perfect day-trip destination from Budapest, home to Matild Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Budapest, an elegant hotel set in a magnificent Belle Epoque building steps away from the capital’s major sights.

Published: January 10, 2023

Where to Stay

Book Now From 132 USD / night
Book Now From 90 USD / night
Book Now From 71 USD / night
Book Now From 201 USD / night
Book Now From 125 USD / night
Book Now From 399 USD / night

Related Articles

Culture & Style

When the Snows Thaw: How to Spend the Perfect Summer in Switzerland 

Family & Couples

The Best Hotels for an Unforgettable UAE Staycation


Soak Up the Sun on 5 Marvellous Mediterranean Road Trips

Travel with Peace of Mind

Best Rate Guarantee
Flexible Cancellation
Commitment to Clean
Contactless Services
Follow us: